"john mcdaid"

That's Trump: a Pete Seegeresque anthem

Madeline Ashby (previously) writes, "This is a protest song in the vein of Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger, written by the wonderful John McDaid (previously, and it's great."

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Nostril-wedged maggots of Portsmouth: Otorhinolaryngologist's expert opinion explained

More on yesterday's story about a nasal-wedged maggot scare in Portsmouth, RI's middle school (refresher: the Portsmouth Middle School sent parents a terrifying letter warning of a student Smartie-snorting epidemic and predicting that children would end up with maggots in their noses that feasted upon the sugar residue).

John McDaid, the investigative blogger who broke the story, tracked down Dr. Oren Friedman, Associate Professor, Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania, who was quoted in the letter the school sent home as warning that "frequent snorting could even rarely lead to maggots feeding on the sugary dust wedged inside the nose." Read the rest

Portsmouth Middle School warns parents about Smartie-snorting epidemic and the risk of nasal maggots

Parents in Portsmouth, Rhode Island got a letter from the Portsmouth Middle School warning them that students may be snorting and smoking ground-up Smarties candies. The letter warns of risks of cuts, lung infections, nasal passage scarring, nose-wedged maggots (!), and future cigarette and drug use. John McDaid, a writer and local investigative blogger, got a comment from Portsmouth School Committee chair Dave Croston, who stated "I can say only that this behavior raises troubling issue of modeling." Read the rest

Hyperlocal news manifesto

Ned Berke, editor of the Sheepshead Bites site -- which provides comprehensive local news for the neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay -- has a great manifesto about the delights and rewards of making hyperlocal news.

I believe local journalism, local government and local economies are the linchpins of a vibrant, healthy nation. For decades, as conglomerates swallowed up independent news outlets across the nation (our own local paper, Bay News, is owned by News Corp. – the same company that owns Fox News and the New York Post, for example), local coverage was watered down because community reporting is expensive, and stockholders want dividends. And because corporations can view employees as easily replaceable cogs, one reporter who lives in the community and has covered it for decades is just as valuable as one straight out of journalism school three states over.

But community reporting requires more than cogs. It requires more than an academic familiarity of those it covers. What meaningful local reporting requires is a personal investment. If the reporter doesn’t stand to benefit from a healthy community, his coverage will serve to dramatize and exacerbate problems rather than solve them.

When Sheepshead Bites ventures to cover the community, we do it because we’re neighbors. Our writers live here. Our business is based here. And we endeavor to support and uplift our neighbors for all of our benefit.

Our reporting sees results. When we complain about garbage, it gets cleaned up. When we question politicians, they endeavor to meet our concerns.

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Checking the math in RI GOP Senate candidate Barry Hinckley's "economics for 5-year-olds" campaign spot

Citizen journalist John McDaid looks at RI Republican Senate candidate Barry Hinckley's campaign spot in which Hinckley's five-year-old son gives a lecture on economics and gas prices. The spot resulted in some pretty weird stuff (McDaid describes the "bizarre followup interview he and his son gave with Fox's Neil Cavuto, where Hinckley appeared to be lip-synching his son's responses like Fats in Magic"), but really takes issue with the frankly misleading gas-price chart shown in the ad.

I can understand that a five-year-old doesn't know enough to label both the axes, or make sure his line crosses the origin. And, granted, I'm a bit of a chart geek (after all, I slammed the chair of the Portsmouth School Committee for showing a chart with a distorted Y axis). But that's just not what the shape of the line looks like, either in outline or detail. Based on numbers from the US Energy Information Administration, it should look like this chart over here.

Economics for five-year-olds; data visualization for adults Read the rest

Hugo Nominees 2011

Congrats to the nominees for the 2011 Hugo Awards, to be presented at this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, NV. I'll be there and rooting for my favorites!
Best Novel Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra) Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen) The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr) Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Best Novella "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window" by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010) The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean) "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon" by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow) "The Sultan of the Clouds" by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov's, September 2010) "Troika" by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)

Best Novelette "Eight Miles" by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010) "The Emperor of Mars" by Allen M. Steele (Asimov's, June 2010) "The Jaguar House, in Shadow" by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov's, July 2010) "Plus or Minus" by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's, December 2010) "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)

Best Short Story "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010) "For Want of a Nail" by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov's, September 2010) "Ponies" by Kij Johnson (Tor.com, November 17, 2010) "The Things" by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)

Here's a telling stat for you: "1006 valid nominating ballots were counted, 992 electronic and 14 paper."

The Hugo Awards (via John McDaid) Read the rest

Bullshit about newspapers' future, dissected

Xark's Dan Conover, evidently a newspaperman, writes in "The newspaper suicide pact" about the mountain of bullshit that has entered the discussion about the future of newspaper business-models. This is some of the clearest, most interesting, best-referenced criticism of the newspaper industry's thrash-and-FUD I've read:
Newspapers that are turning to paywall plans today are gambling on a risky revenue stream that even the experts aren't predicting will provide a replacement to their lost advertising revenues (their biggest financial problem is the rapid decline in advertising rates, not the slow decline in print circulation). It's a "well, we've got to do SOMETHING" solution, not a logical, do-the-math solution. And since since most media companies are owned by shareholders, the resulting loss of confidence could be catastrophic.

What will these media executives do when that reality hits them? When these debt-burdened chains, stripped of journalistic talent by a decade of profiteering, their web traffic reduced by 60 percent by their paid-content follies, their pockets emptied by the cost of the proprietary paywall systems offered by Journalism Online LLC and other opportunistic vendors, what will they do?...

They don't get it. They don't want to get it. And in many cases, they're literally paid not to get it.

America's journalism infrastructure - from corporate giants to non-profit foundations like the American Press Institute and the Newspaper Association of America - is funded by dying companies. So when you hear about efforts to save newspapers (and, by extension, journalism), understand that answers that don't return the possibility of double-digit profits and perpetual top-down control aren't even considered answers.

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John McDaid's "(Nothing But) Flowers", sweet and haunting sf story

When Alice and I got married last autumn, we received many wonderful gifts from our friends, but one of the absolute standouts came from John McDaid and his family. John -- a brilliant, award-winning science fiction writer -- wrote a story for us called "(Nothing But) Flowers," a sad, haunting, hopeful post-apocalyptic tale that we both read with delight and wonder on our honeymoon. Now John has released the story as a Creative Commons download (natch!), and you can read it too.
Every afternoon the rains, as they had for generations, swept in from the saltlands to the west and drove the scavengers into the shelter of the ruins ringing the lagoon. The sky grayed, and wind, pungent with ozone and canebrake, flung stinging flights of droplets into the dank concrete holes.

The Fox Man ran from squat to squat, warning. "Big storm coming." He wore an outfit of scraggy orange fur, scabrous and holed, and as he pranced past, fat raindrops spattered his costume to a blotchy patchwork. Women set out plastic jugs, gathered utensils, and shoveled coals from cooking fires into logs to hustle indoors. Naked children danced in the puddles.

Donal paid no mind to either the storm or the Fox Man, but he always had to smile at that fancy outfit, in a World of loincloths and grass skirts. To Donal, the costume looked more like a dog, though for effect the Fox Man -- or someone who owed him a favor, he was no Hunter -- had hung a poorly preserved fox head from a leather necklace.

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McDaid's amazing story "Keyboard Practice" as an MP3

John McDaid's amazing, Nebula-shortlisted science fiction story "Keyboard Practice" is now available as a free MP3.

Earlier this month, I blogged about how John had posted a free electronic edition of his groundbreaking story "Keyboard Practice, Consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals," which I had the good fortune to workshop with him some years ago. Keyboard Practice is a mind-bending, playful, hilarious story about artificial intelligence and the Goldberg Variations, and it has earned John a spot on the shortlist for the 2005 Nebula Awards.

I made the same list with my story Anda's Game, and I recently released an MP3 of game-blogger Alice Taylor reading it aloud in three parts (1, 2, 3). (Incidentally, Anda's Game was workshopped by John as well).

Now John has released his own reading of Keyboard Practice as a 60MB MP3. I can't wait to listen to this on the way to the office today. I wish every story on the Nebula shortlist was available this way! 60MB MP3 Link (via John McDaid)

Update: Remmelt's posted a torrent of this file. BTW, I finished listening to it today and MAN is it ever good. Better than I remembered, even. Read the rest

John McDaid's brilliant sf story Keyboard Practice free online

One of my favorite sf stories of the past ten years has been shortlisted for this year's Nebula Award, and is being made available for free download during the final balloting season.

Last December, I blogged about John McDaid's "Keyboard Practice, Consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals," I story I workshopped with John in Toronto a few summers ago. John's an amazing, polymath of a writer, one of those short story writers like Ted Chiang whose all-to-infrequent work breaks new ground with each new installment.

Keyboard Practice is hard to summarize here: like much of John's work, it is stupendously weird and expansive. I am so mightily pleased that it is available online in full, at last -- not least because it spares me the near-impossible task of summing up a major work of fiction by John McDaid. Run, don't walk.

(I'd be remiss if I failed to point out that my story Anda's Game (originally published in Salon and reprinted in Michael Chabon's Best American Short Stories -- podcast reading by Alice from the Wonderland blog is here) is up against "Keyboard Practice" on the preliminary Nebula ballot -- whew, tough competition.)


I'm an unreliable narrator. Everything I know about classical piano could be stored handily, uncompressed, in the lobotomized set-top box of an antique cathode television. Still, it falls to me to transcribe the events surrounding the Van Meegeren Piano Competition of 2023 and the alleged visitation by the late Stefan Janacek.

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If authors want to restrict indexing, why not restrict reading, too?

COCOA is a silly organization that is pushing for Amazon, Google, and other services that provide indexes and excerpts from books to abandon this perfectly legal notion in favor of a cumbersome process whereby any author could demand that scanned page images of parts of their books not be shown -- for example, you could say to Amazon, you can only show pages one through 23 of my book. (The founder of this org previously patented a software method for progressively ruining ebooks as a means of discouraging people from reading books they find online -- thanks, just what authors need in a dwindling-readership universe).

In response, award-winning science fiction author John McDaid has proposed to form KOKO, Klutching Obsolete Krabs of Ownership, which petitions those who buy books to promise to voluntarily eschew reading or looking at whatever pages the authors specify:

Copyright owners use it to say, "Only allow people who have purchased my book to let people look at *this* many pages" – be that 100%, 99%, 75%, on down to 0%. (Compare to the current choices of whatever you want to read.)

The result will be not just legal access, but access to far more copyrighted material than now. War is Peace. Freedom is slavery. Everyone wins.

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SF short story that you should seek out RIGHT NOW - UPDATED

Three years ago, I had the privilege of workshopping John McDaid's brilliant story "Keyboard Practice, Consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations for the Harpsichord with Two Manuals" (see the all-too-short excerpt here). I have never read a story that was its like, before or since. Just thinking of it today can render me stuporous. Finally, years later, the story has been published in the January issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which is on stands now. It's a little hard to find, but the publisher's website can give you some pointers. Stories like this are the reason that it's worth subscribing to the sf mags. Just getting to read a story like this once in a year, or in a decade, can make you a better person.

I'm an unreliable narrator. Everything I know about classical piano could be stored handily, uncompressed, in the lobotomized set-top box of an antique cathode television. Still, it falls to me to transcribe the events surrounding the Van Meegeren Piano Competition of 2023 and the alleged visitation by the late Stefan Janacek.


Variation 1

Stassy intro, nep?

Yar, yar, copied; 'swhatcha get when I type not talk. Gomenasai. Not a storyspeaker -- ich bin eine musicalische opster. I clip, I doop, I rap, I dub and shunt, pull leitmotifs from the noosphere 'n' singledoubletriple layer, pack and run the tuples, skiffy ins-n-outs wrapped moebial around sparse, selective, show-don't-tell syllables relevated from the subway and limousine earth. A hardwired hook sniffer: What edge will cut through the commodified wash of minute-15 Will-Have-Beens?

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