Shattered Visage

Shattered Visage Photo
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.
Shattered Visage
Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
Shattered Visage
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Shattered Visage
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away
Shattered Visage

Poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Photography by Paul Weimer

Ada Lovelace Day Post: Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia of Alexandria
Hypatia of Alexandria; born between AD 350 and 370 – 415) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt,considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy.She lived in Roman Egypt, and was brutally killed by a Christian mob who blamed her for religious turmoil. She has been hailed as a “valiant defender of science against religion”, and some suggest that her murder marked the end of the Hellenistic Age.
A Neoplatonist philosopher, she followed the school characterized by the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, and discouraged mysticism while encouraging logical and mathematical studies.
Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was her teacher and the last known mathematician associated with the museum of Alexandria. She traveled to both Athens and Italy to study,before becoming head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in approximately AD 400.According to the Byzantine “Suda”, she worked as teacher of philosophy, teaching the works of Plato and Aristotle. It is believed that there were both Christians and foreigners among her students.
Hypatia maintained correspondence with her former pupil Bishop of Ptolomais Synesius of Cyrene. Together with the references by Damascius, these are the only writings with descriptions or information from her pupils that survive.
The contemporary Christian historiographer Socrates Scholasticus described her in his Ecclesiastical History:
There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.
Many of the works commonly attributed to Hypatia are believed to have been collaborative works with her father, Theon Alexandricus; this kind of auctorial uncertainty being typical for the situation of feminine philosophy in Antiquity.
A partial list of specific accomplishments:
A commentary on the 13-volume Arithmetica by Diophantus.
A commentary on the Conics of Apollonius.
Edited the existing version of Ptolemy’s Almagest.
Edited her father’s commentary on Euclid’s Elements
She wrote a text “The Astronomical Canon.”
Her contributions to science are reputed to include the charting of celestial bodies and the invention of the hydrometer, used to determine the relative density and gravity of liquids.
Her pupil Synesius, bishop of Cyrene, wrote a letter defending her as the inventor of the astrolabe, although earlier astrolabes predate Hypatia’s model by at least a century – and her father had gained fame for his treatise on the subject.
Carl Sagan has a good piece on her in an episode of Cosmos, which is where I first learned about her.

13 episodes, rather than Billions and Billions

In case you hadn’t heard, the entire run of Cosmos is available to watch (with commercials) for free, on demand on hulu.com
If you haven’t seen this series before, what are you waiting for? This is THE series that got me interested in things science. The pacing may be different than modern TV, and science has marched on in many of the fields that Sagan touches on, and he touches on a lot in this series. (Think its just astronomy? Think again!).
Go forth and enjoy.

Book Review 2009 #19: Mortal Coils

Well, I am finally out of Advance Reader Copies (although I am always open to receiving more of them, dontcha know). So its back to my own reading pile, and a return to an author who hasn’t written a non media tie in novel for a very long time.
Once upon a time there was a fantasy/sf author named Eric Nylund. He wrote a couple of intriguing novels, not the least because another beloved author, Roger Zelazny, was explicitly an inspiration in his writing. In point of fact, his novel Dry Water has a character who is a deceased author in New Mexico who seems very very much like the (then recently deceased) Roger Zelazny. And another of his novels was inspiring enough for me to borrow elements of it for a one shot at Ambercon.
Unfortunately the author did not sell well enough to avoid having to write endless media tie in novels, from Crimson skies to HALO. Now, though, after years in that wilderness, Eric Nylund is back with an original novel of his own…

Continue reading Book Review 2009 #19: Mortal Coils

2009 Hugo Nominations up

The Hugo Nominations for 2009 are up!
Nominations
A total of 799 nomination ballots were cast and the nominees are:
Best Novel
(639 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
* The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury)
* Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor) — Free download
* Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit)
* Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
Best Novella
(337 Ballots / Bulletins)
* “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
* “The Political Prisoner” by Charles Coleman Finlay (F&SF Aug 2008)
* “The Tear” by Ian McDonald (Galactic Empires)
* “True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow (Fast Forward 2)
* “Truth” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
Best Novelette
(373 Ballots / Bulletins)
* “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s Jan 2008)
* “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Fast Forward 2) — Read Online
* “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel (F&SF Jan 2008)
* “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner (Asimov’s Feb 2008)
* “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
Best Short Story
(448 Ballots / Bulletins)
* “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Jul 2008)
* “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick (Baen’s Universe Oct 2008)
* “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two)
* “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
* “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 2008)
Best Related Book
(263 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan University Press)
* Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art by Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)
* The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold by Lillian Stewart Carl & John Helfers, eds. (Baen)
* What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction by Paul Kincaid (Beccon Publications)
* Your Hate Mail Will be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
Best Graphic Story
(212 Ballots / Bulletins)
* The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle Written by Jim Butcher, art by Ardian Syaf (Del Rey/Dabel Brothers Publishing)
* Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
* Fables: War and Pieces Written by Bill Willingham, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, art by Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy, color by Lee Loughridge, letters by Todd Klein (DC/Vertigo Comics)
* Schlock Mercenary: The Body Politic Story and art by Howard Tayler (The Tayler Corporation)
* Serenity: Better Days Written by Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews, art by Will Conrad, color by Michelle Madsen, cover by Jo Chen (Dark Horse Comics)
* Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores Written/created by Brian K. Vaughan, pencilled/created by Pia Guerra, inked by Jose Marzan, Jr. (DC/Vertigo Comics)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
(436 Ballots / Bulletins)
* The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer, story; Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, screenplay; based on characters created by Bob Kane; Christopher Nolan, director (Warner Brothers)
* Hellboy II: The Golden Army Guillermo del Toro & Mike Mignola, story; Guillermo del Toro, screenplay; based on the comic by Mike Mignola; Guillermo del Toro, director (Dark Horse, Universal)
* Iron Man Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, screenplay; based on characters created by Stan Lee & Don Heck & Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby; Jon Favreau, director (Paramount, Marvel Studios)
* METAtropolis by John Scalzi, ed. Written by: Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell and Karl Schroeder (Audible Inc)
* WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
(336 Ballots / Bulletins)
* “The Constant” (Lost) Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof, writers; Jack Bender, director (Bad Robot, ABC studios)
* Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen , writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
* “Revelations” (Battlestar Galactica) Bradley Thompson & David Weddle, writers; Michael Rymer, director (NBC Universal)
* “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” (Doctor Who) Steven Moffat, writer; Euros Lyn, director (BBC Wales)
* “Turn Left” (Doctor Who) Russell T. Davies, writer; Graeme Harper, director (BBC Wales)
Best Editor, Short Form
(377 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Ellen Datlow
* Stanley Schmidt
* Jonathan Strahan
* Gordon Van Gelder
* Sheila Williams
Best Editor, Long Form
(273 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Lou Anders
* Ginjer Buchanan
* David G. Hartwell
* Beth Meacham
* Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Best Professional Artist
(334 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Daniel Dos Santos
* Bob Eggleton
* Donato Giancola
* John Picacio
* Shaun Tan
Best Semiprozine
(283 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Clarkesworld Magazine edited by Neil Clarke, Nick Mamatas & Sean Wallace
* Interzone edited by Andy Cox
* Locus edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi
* The New York Review of Science Fiction edited by Kathryn Cramer, Kris Dikeman, David G. Hartwell, & Kevin J. Maroney
* Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
Best Fanzine
(257 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Argentus edited by Steven H Silver
* Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
* Challenger edited by Guy H. Lillian III
* The Drink Tank edited by Chris Garcia
* Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
* File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
Best Fan Writer
(291 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Chris Garcia
* John Hertz
* Dave Langford
* Cheryl Morgan
* Steven H Silver
Best Fan Artist
(187 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Alan F. Beck
* Brad W. Foster
* Sue Mason
* Taral Wayne
* Frank Wu
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
(288 Ballots / Bulletins)
* Aliette de Bodard*
* David Anthony Durham*
* Felix Gilman
* Tony Pi*
* Gord Sellar*
*(Second year of eligibility)
Congratulations to the nominees, especially those I am well acquainted with (Tony, Steven, Sarah Bear) and those to lesser degrees as well.
The novel category is especially strong this year.

From the Fed: Business Outlook

Philadelphia Fed Business outlook
The region’s manufacturing sector continued to contract this month, according to firms polled for the March Business Outlook Survey. Indexes for general activity, new orders, shipments, and employment remained significantly negative. Employment losses were substantial again this month, with over half of the surveyed firms reporting declines. Firms continued to report declines in input prices and prices for their own manufactured goods. Most of the indicators of future activity suggest that the region’s manufacturing executives expect declines to bottom out over the next six months, but the firms’ employment forecasts suggest continued weakness.