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Messages - cass

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Cinder Spires Spoilers / Re: Warriorborn
« on: September 30, 2015, 03:44:42 AM »
Well, it's definitely a genetic trait-- probably recessive, but I suppose it could just be rare enough (and considered undesirable enough in a prospective parent) to keep an otherwise dominant gene in check.  It runs in families, too.

I would say that it was a blending of cats and humans-- maybe to try to create a closer and more visible partnership between the groups?

Cinder Spires Books / Re: Win book here! (Added another contest I spotted)
« on: September 24, 2015, 04:29:38 PM »
Does it bother anyone else that the penguin contest dresden books are not in order in the image?   :o 

To Artish's point, Alcohol mostly comes about by letting fruit juices and such spoil, and the secret to all cheese in history is cooking the stomachs of baby mammals (requires an enzyme from before they switch to solid food) which i imagine happened pretty often when they threw all the scraps into a stew-pot and notice that the cream soup stock has gone all chunky.  I could see something similar happening to make a homogeneous tofu-style protein paste, scrounging whatever scrap animal matter they could and rendering them down into Pink Slime.

But to go to all the effort to artificially sculpt realistic animal tissues for what would be essentially a cosmetic "texture" difference seems a stretch to me. Especially if animals are rare enough that they arent typically raised and slaughtered for meat, so the majority of the population wouldnt know the difference enough to warrant the extra effort.  I see it as kind of like them developing massive advanced tech to make all their meat turn purple; it's probably possible, but I just cant see how the motivation would develop.

PS  In modern times not all cheese is actually Animal stomach enzyme (animal Rennet), they have created a vegan version that is processed from a mold byproduct.  Because mold poop is somehow healthier, I guess.

And yet people (and chefs) do all sorts of crazy things to alter the texture/color/smell of food products. I guess all I'm saying is that it would not break my suspension of disbelief if over the however many years people have been living in the spires they developed variations on basic food production that allowed for vastly different-seeming products.  I'm not arguing for growing whole animals in a vat, just that whatever form the products of the vatteries ultimately take, there is likely quite a bit of development behind the method used to make them.

Hmm. Well, the technology itself isn't complicated-- even Dresden couldn't hex it up.  As Quantus points out, it's the knowledge of biochem that's a sticking point.  I could suspend my disbelief for it though: ancient peoples couldn't tell you the reactions that made grain-water into alcohol or made milk into curds, but that didn't stop them from making beer or cheese! Maybe the people who run the vatteries don't know exactly what is going on, in the biological or chemical sense, but they do know what they have to do to produce something edible?  That covers a lack of scientific (rather than practical) knowledge of the process...

Ah.  And I was coming at it from a necessity-drives-development direction.  I don't read much steampunk, so I'm unfamiliar with the typical tech level. Is limited living space (and therefore different methods of food production) a theme? I just sort of jumped from 'surface is inaccessible' to 'culturing meat makes sense if they can't raise it' without a huge amount of in between.

I dunno.  Growing cultures on a framework isn't particularly advanced stuff. You can grow rock candy/sugar crystals on a string, after all.  Growing bacterial cultures isn't hard-- god knows I do it all the time in my fridge-- and I could well believe that they could induce edible tissue to grow from a broth of otherwise inedible proteins/lipids/sugars without the use of computers, etc.  I could also believe that there's skill in it-- inducing the fibers to grow in such a way as to give it a tender (or firm or whatever) texture.  Sort of like making a rock candy rib cage, instead of just a string with lumps hanging from it.

The whole 3D printed/culture-grown meat thing isn't particularly far along in our world because, frankly, there hasn't been a need. Ranching/livestock farming  produces meat cheaper and quicker, and thus far there hasn't been a need to curtail it.

DF Reference Collection / Re: Dresden Files: Series Timeline
« on: September 08, 2015, 04:32:41 PM »
I listened to Turn Coat recently and noticed some details I think would be helpful for the timing. The heat mentioned in the first chapter notwithstanding, Harry says that the lilacs are blooming outside his apartment building-- that generally happens in May/June.  Murphy is also wearing a jacket when she meets up with Harry after the encounter with the skinwalker at Billy's, which means that the evening temperatures are cool-- you don't generally need a jacket at any time of the day or night in full-on summer in Chicago.  (Or rather, you don't really need it in Minneapolis, and I can't imagine that Chicago is cooler, even with the lake.)

As for locating the series relative to real-world year, Circuit City is apparently still in business, as Harry mentions that he keeps getting flyers from them in his mail.  CC closed all of their physical locations in ~2009 (it was announced in January and took effect by the end of March.)  Those flyers might have been for their online business, however, which apparently continued for a while, so it's not as firm a date as I would like.

DF Books / Re: Perfect Casting Part Three
« on: November 26, 2014, 07:09:40 PM »
As an American, I can definitively state not even all Americans would get it. I know the phrase, but I've never really been clear on whether it's a good or a bad thing to be built like a brick ****house.  I mean, on one hand, I'd rather that then something easily tipped or otherwise destroyed, but on the other, it could totally be interpreted to mean someone who is built blockily and sturdily and not particularly conventionally prettily. (Someone saying this in admiration could simply be commenting on strength, not hotness.)  I never interpreted it as meaning "constructed of superior quality than necessary".

DF Reference Collection / Re: Deirdre's Coin [Possible Spoilers]
« on: November 24, 2014, 05:36:00 PM »
Did we ever find out the name of Deirdre's Fallen? Her angel in the coin? If not, I'd like someone to ask JB about it if they get ever the chance.

I do have a suggestion for a name, "Urumiel" taken from the name of this sword, the Urumi, which resembled her hair:

Going back to SmF, there's a Denariian called "Urumviel" (yes, I know there's an extra "v" in there) that's described as having lots of muscle and a ridge of leathery plates going down its spine.

We've got nothing on the name of Dierdre's denariian, from SmF or elsewhere, though, so Urumiel is as good as any other.

DF Spoilers / Re: Skin Game Interview gathering topic
« on: May 30, 2014, 04:06:52 PM »
I don't have a means of recording it, but I will attend and take notes at the Houston signing 5/31.

Community Cork Board / Citizen Science Game
« on: May 06, 2014, 05:14:41 PM »
In my offline life, I am a graduate student in geology-- specifically, I study how gravel, sand and mud are transported by rivers and the oceans, and the patterns they make as they are buried (or not!) by more sand and mud and gravel.

Some of the largest deposits of this kind of stuff are river deltas, and another graduate student and I have developed a crowdsourced game where the users classify deltas by shape.  It's deliberately very freeform: we give you 5 to 13 images of river deltas and you simply drag and drop images that you believe look similar into groups. (Or, if you don't think a delta looks similar to any other, don't group them. That's also really useful information.) The criteria you use for similarity are up to you-- we're trying to develop a classification system* from your responses.  There are no wrong answers. At all. We'd love it if you added tags to the groups to let us know why you grouped them together, but it's not a requirement. 

If you're interested (or simply have five minutes to kill), please check it out at

*Honesty compels me to add that there is an existing classification system, but it runs on interpretive thinking-- "This delta is type R because it looks like a type R delta" rather than observation alone. And everyone who is professionally interested in this sort of thing has already been brainwashed into the system to the point of being unable to see deltas in any other terms.

Author Craft / Re: Any Grad Students/Scientists/Technical Writers?
« on: April 14, 2014, 02:01:10 AM »
Even when the work is written, the work is speaking to an audience. The audience is this case is the review committee then a suitable publication for peer review, which assumes some level of expertise.

And yes, when speaking to a live audience you're lucky if you don't lose a number of them to a pure lack of interest or to many of life's distractions, especially if the conference is in Las Vegas and most of them were up partying half the night.

Or to the free beer offered by the conference organizers! (No joke. The lines wrap around entire aisles in the exhibit hall.)  It's kind of comforting, really: one lousy talk won't derail your career.

There's a certain amount of lack-of-expertise inherent in any committee that is required to have members from outside the field, not to mention a certain amount of...reluctance? to adopt mathematical methods in a field that is traditionally dominated by observation and (verbal) description.  I'm going to have to write my thesis in accessible language for those reasons, but I also want to write in a style that's understandable to everyone.  I hate it when technical papers play "hide the verb" with subordinate clauses-- it makes it really hard to grasp the authors' main argument.

Author Craft / Re: Any Grad Students/Scientists/Technical Writers?
« on: April 03, 2014, 12:44:03 AM »
I was a tech writer for about 20 years.  Did museum exhibits, plumbing and zoning codes, landmarks preservation law, hazmat regs, and National Register nominations. 

In all those disciplines, you have to write as if you are explaining to someone outside the field, and also be clear not to leave loopholes or ambiguities that could possibly be exploited (Plumbing code, Zoning an Preservation law.)  Hazmat regs need to be written so a fourth grader can understand them. 

What is your dissertation on?

I'm writing about the controlling factors for the shapes of (river) deltas in map view-- basically, why the Mississippi Delta has a very different shape when seen from above than the Nile than the Ganges-Brahmaputra than the Indus.  I'm trying to add numbers to a qualitative classification system that's been in use for ~40 years to help try to drag the field kicking and screaming into the new millennium.

Since this is probably only going to be read by people in my field (if at all--I am under no illusions as to the wider appeal of this project), I probably don't have to worry about leaving loopholes-- but I suppose my committee is liable to willfully misinterpret!

"Slowly and with extreme psychological discomfort" is a very apt phrase....

Author Craft / Any Grad Students/Scientists/Technical Writers?
« on: April 02, 2014, 05:13:32 PM »
Are there any grad students or writers of technical/scientific papers on the board who want to discuss what helps them get their thoughts down?

(It's not *quite* the same as writing fictional works....but I don't think it's so different that it shouldn't be in this section of the boards....)

I'm in the middle of my dissertation, and I'm finding it helpful to write as though I'm explaining it to an outsider to the field....

Well, now I *have* to take that internship......

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