They’re at it again …

Shortly after a study from a former climate skeptic seemed to show that global warming is indeed happening, anti-climate skeptics are now accusing him of “hiding the truth” because the globe hasn’t warmed in the last 10 years.

Ok, let’s grant that, for sake of argument. I for one believe it. But climate is defined as the weather averaged over 30 years. So even if the temperature hasn’t risen for 13 years, as they suggest, that means that it has risen for 17 out of the last 30 – and that the temperature is still rising.

Wait another decade and then you’ve got a case to make that global warming has stopped. If the skeptics are right, as they haven’t been about almost anything for the past century or so, then we can throw a party. If they’re wrong … well, waiting another ten years makes fixing the problem much harder.

Understand: climate skeptics are just stalling in the hope the the problem will just go away. Personally, I wait in joyful hope for the Resurrection — but when dealing with temporal problems, I pray for God’s good favor, then get to work.

Why don’t we all try being real about what our problems are and working hard to fix them, for a change?

-the Centaur


John McCarthy, creator of Lisp and one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence, has died.

He changed the world more than Steve Jobs … but in a far subtler way, by laying the foundation for programs like Apple’s Siri through his artificial intelligence work, or more broadly by laying the foundation for much of modern computing through innovations like the IF-THEN-ELSE formalism.

It’s important not to overstate the impact of great men like John and Steve; artificial intelligence pioneers like Marvin Minsky would have pushed us forward without John, and companies like Xerox and Microsoft would have pushed us forward without Steve. But we’re certainly better off, and farther along, with their contributions.

I have only three stories to tell about John McCarthy. The third story is that I last saw him at a conference at IBM, in a mobile scooter and not looking very well. Traveling backwards in time, the second story is that I spoke with one of his former graduate students, who saw a John McCarthy poster in my office, and told me John’s illness had progressed to the point where he basically couldn’t program any more and that he was feeling very sad about it.

But what I want to remember is my first encounter with John … it’s been a decade and a half, so my memory’s fuzzy, but I recall it was at AAAI-97 in Providence, Rhode Island. I’d arrived at the conference in a terrible snafu and had woken up a friend at 4 in the morning because I had no place to stay. I wandered the city looking for H.P. Lovecraft landmarks and had trouble finding them, though I did see a house some think inspired Dreams in the Witch House.

But near the end, at a dinner for AI folks, I want to say at Waterplace Park but I could be misremembering, I bumped in to John McCarthy. He was holding court at the end of the table, and as the evening progressed I ended up following him and a few friends to a bar, where we hung out for an evening.

And there, the grand old man of artificial intelligence, still at the height of his powers, regaled the wet-behind-the-ears graduate student from Atlanta with tales of his grand speculative ideas, beyond that of any science fiction writer, to accelerate galaxies to the speed of light to save shining stars from the heat death of the universe.

We’ll miss you, John.


Image stolen shamelessly from Zach Beane’s blog. The title of this post is taken from the Lisp 1.5 Programmer’s Manual, and is the original, pre-implementation Lisp M-expression notation for code to remove an item from a list.

Rebel Magicians of the Urban Jungle

I’ve a guest post up at Reader’s Entertainment News blog: Rebel Magicians of the Urban Jungle.

When I wrote FROST MOON, I had fun exploring all the different kinds of tattoo magic … but already, I had started to wonder: what other kinds of magic live in this alternate Atlanta where werewolves run in the night and vampires rule like gangsters?
In the sequel, BLOOD ROCK, I explored one new magical practice: magic graffiti. The basic premise of the Dakota Frost universe is that if magic is real, then magic is real …

To read more, click through the link.

Y’all come back alive, hear?
-the Centaur

Crossposted at the Dakota Frost blog.

24 Hour Comics Day, Redux

24HCD at Sunnyvale

No, I’m not doing 24 Hour Comics Day 2 weekends in a row … but my buddy Nathan Vargas is. He’s the other half of Blitz Comics and through an odd set of circumstances involving the Alternative Press Expo we ended up signing up for a 24 Hour Comics event at Mission Comics 1 week before today, the official 24 Hour Comic Day. (And I completed mine!)

my 24 hour comic ... in my lap

I owe too many people too many things (fixing my wife’s computer, finishing edits of “Steampunk Fairy Chick”, finishing a draft of STRANDED, doing an interview, scanning last week’s comic, etc) to do 24HCD again, but after tonight’s Doctor Who finale I did drop by around midnight tonight with donuts and good cheer.

Krispy Kreme (and Pizza)

We hung out, gave donuts to the security guards, and watched some Batman fan film. Then, while the toiling artists toiled, I spent some time cleaning up the images from last week’s 24 Hour Comic Day (which I had scanned while watching Doctor Who). I just finished, it’s only been two hours, but it already feels like another 24HCD!

However, I’m happy with the results, and will do 24HCD again next year. I particularly like the dual page spread from Stranded, but I’ll hold it back until I get the whole comic uploaded to and will instead tease you with the first page of the novella:

The first page of the adapted STRANDED novella.

Onward! Upward! Homeward, for me!

And best of luck to the toiling comickers here in Sunnyvale!
-the Centaur