JW&TCTM is HERE!

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At long last, Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, my fourth published novel, is OUT in the world! You can get it wherever fine books are sold:

The Clockwork Time Machine tells the story of Jeremiah Willstone, a female adventurer from an alternate world called Victoriana, where, because women’s liberation happened a century early and twice as many brains ended up working on hard problems, science has advanced more in 1908 than it has in our world today – but inadvertently, these scientific advances attracted the attention of aliens called Foreigners, who have come calling to make this world their own!

When Jeremiah’s treacherous uncle steals a dangerous alien weapon and secrets it away on an airship to a possibly hostile shore, Jeremiah leads a strike team to retrieve it – and finds herself chasing him across the seas of time itself, with her uncle just possibly aiming to upend the entire world order she holds dear! With time running out, Jeremiah must sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

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Enjoy!

-the Centaur

No, I’m Not Dead

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It might not be immediately apparent from this shot, but outside, it’s sunny and the weather is nice. That’s despite the mammoth evacuation of San Jose yesterday … which, for the record, was nowhere near me:

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I live near Coyote Valley, not Coyote Creek – two totally different areas miles apart – so my home was providentially spared.

I was, however, woken up yesterday morning by a text, a call, and a Messenger message, all wondering whether I was OK. My wife, off to the East Coast on a business trip, called to ask if I’d evacuated yet; I looked out the window to sunny skies, sleeping cats and the early-morning sound of a leaf blower, and said no.

Sorry for concerning you, I know there have been three different disasters / evacuations in San Jose recently! Last night at dinner at Alexander’s, the server, my good friend Todd, reported three different closures of Highway 17 that kept him from work – one that involved a gun battle and five hours trapped in his car, but the rest, weather. 101 in San Jose has suffered similarly. I think these are somehow all related to “atmospheric rivers” which fortunately have dumped all their water before hitting my area. I’d never heard of these before, but apparently the terminology has been around since the 90s.

Thanks for your concern, though! I too am pleased I am not dead! I’ll try to keep it that way!

-the Centaur

JW&TCTM Release: February 23rd, 2017

Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine will be out next week – February 23rd, 2017! Order it on Amazon, review it on Goodreads, or ask for it wherever fine books are sold!

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From an Epic Award winning author comes a sprawling tale of brass buttons, ray guns, and two-fisted adventure!

In an alternate empire filled with mechanical men, women scientists, and fantastic contraptions powered by steam, a high ranking officer in the Victoriana Defense League betrays his country when he steals an airship and awakens an alien weapon that will soon hatch into a walking factory of death.

Commander Jeremiah Willstone and her team must race through time in a desperate bid to stop the traitor’s plan to use the alien weapon to overthrow the world’s social order. With time running out, Jeremiah may have to sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

“Addictive, sassy, sexy, funny, intense, brilliant.” -Bitten By Books, on Frost Moon

Epic Award winner Anthony Francis writes the Dakota Frost, Skindancer series and the Jeremiah Willstone series while working on robots for “the Search Engine Which Starts with a ‘G’.”

Cover Reveal: JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE!

For those wondering what I’ve been up to for the last six months, the biggest thing is THIS …

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At long last, JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE is coming to print! We’ll be picking the actual release date in the next few days, but I can’t think of a better gift for my birthday than seeing the cover of my new novel!

Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover blurb:

From an Epic Award winning author comes a sprawling tale of brass buttons, ray guns, and two-fisted adventure!

In an alternate empire filled with mechanical men, women scientists and fantastic contraptions powered by steam, a high ranking officer in the Victoriana Defense League betrays his country when he steals an airship and awakens an alien weapon that will soon hatch into a walking factory of death.

Commander Jeremiah Willstone and her team must race through time in a desperate bid to stop the traitor’s plan to use the alien weapon to overthrow the world’s social order. With time running out, Jeremiah may have to sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

“Addictive, sassy, sexy, funny, intense, brilliant.” -Bitten By Books, on Frost Moon

Epic Award winner Anthony Francis writes the Dakota Frost, Skindancer series and Jeremiah Willstone series while working on robots for “the Search Engine Which Starts with a ‘G’.”

Prevail, Victoriana!

-the Centaur

Welcome to the Future

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Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen. Here in the future, the obscure television shows of my childhood rate an entire section in the local bookstore, which combines books, games, music, movies, and even vinyl records with a coffeehouse and restaurant.

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Here in the future, the heretofore unknown secrets of my discipline, artificial intelligence, are now conveniently compiled in compelling textbooks that you can peruse at your leisure over a cup of coffee.

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Here in the future, genre television shows play on the monitors of my favorite bar / restaurant, and the servers and I have meaningful conversations about the impact of robotics on the future of labor.

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And here in the future, Monty Python has taken over the world.

Perhaps that explains 2016.

-the Centaur

TCTM is on its way to production!

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JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE is now on its way to production at Bell Bridge Books. It only took me about a month to go over the page proofs after all the crap that’s been going on in my life, but at last, at last, it’s out of my hands. Now all I have to do is market the thing! Oh … on that note …

http://www.jeremiahwillstone.com/

More content landing there Real Soon Now … but as for me, I’m going to go have a well-needed drink. (*)

-the Centaur

(*) Axually, I had it already, nonalcoholic of course. I elect not to drink unless I know I’ll be spending more than a couple of hours at the location of my consumption, and even then, it’s “one and done,” baby.

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I’m so sorry, web …

… I had to install an ad-blocker. Why? Firefox before any ad block:

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Firefox after Adblock Plus:

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Yep, Firefox was TEN TIMES SLOWER when loading a page with ads, and it stayed that way because the ads kept updating. Just one page with ads brought FF to its knees, and I did the experiment several times to confirm, yes, it indeed was the ads. I don’t know what’s specifically going on here, but I strongly suspect VPAID ads and similar protocols are the culprit, as documented here:

http://techaeris.com/2016/06/14/vpaid-ads-hurting-internet-experience/

… publisher and website owner Artem Russakovskii took to Google+ and The Hacker News to share some of his findings concerning VPAID ads. He shows how VPAID ads can degrade a user’s browser performance:

“… after several minutes of just leaving this one single ad open, I’m at 53MB downloaded and 5559 requests. By the time I finished typing this, I was at 6140 requests. A single ad did this. Without reloading the page, just leaving it open.

A single VPAID ad absolutely demolishes site performance on mobile and desktop, and we, the publishers, get the full blame from our readers. And when multiple VPAID ads end up getting served on the same page… you get the idea.”

Similarly, John Gruber reports that a 500-word text article weighed in at 15MB – enough data to hold more than 10 copies of the Bible, according to the Guardian. Gruber links another post which shows that web pages can get more than 5 times faster without all the excess scripts that they load.

The sad thing is, I don’t mind ads. The very first version of my site had fake “ads” for other blogs I liked. Even the site I tested above, the estimable Questionable Content, had ads for other webcomics I liked, but experimentation showed that ads could bring Firefox to its knees. QC I always thought of as ad-lite, but guess it’s time to start contributing via Patreon.

The real problem is news sites. Sites were opening a simple story kept locking up Firefox and twice brought down my whole computer by draining the battery incredibly fast. I don’t care what you think your metrics are telling you, folks: if you pop up an overview so I can’t see your page, and start running a dozen ads that kill my computer, I will adblock you, or just stop going to your site, and many, many other people across the world are doing the same.

We need standards of excellence in content that say 2/3 of a page will be devoted to content and that ads can add no more than 50% to the bandwidth downloaded by a page. Hell, make it only 1/3 content and 100% extra bandwidth – that will be almost 100% more content than a page totally destroyed by popup ads and almost 3000% less data than one bloated by 10 copies of the Old Testament in the form of redundant ads for products I will either never buy or, worse, have already bought.

-the Centaur

Wishful Thinking Won’t Land a Man on the Moon

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Wishful thinking won’t land a man on the moon, but it might get us all killed – fortunately, though, we have people who know how to nail a good landing.

All we have to do now is preserve the fruits of their labors.

Now that a climate denier is barreling towards the presidency, other climate deniers are coming out of the woodwork, but fortunately, NASA has a great site telling the story of climate change. For those who haven’t been keeping score at home, the too-simple story is that humans have pumped vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the past few decades, amounts that in the geological record resulted in disastrous temperature changes – and it’s really convenient for a lot of people to deny that.

Now, don’t worry: NASA results are in the public record, so even though Trump’s team has threatened to blind NASA’s earth sciences program and looks poised to conduct a witch hunt of climate change workers in the Department of Energy, even though climate deniers are wringing their hands in glee at the thought of a politicized EPA attacking climate science, scientists are working to save this climate data. If you want to get involved, check out climatemirror.org.

Now, I said it’s a too-simple story, and there are a lot of good references on climate change, like Henson’s The Rough Guide to Climate Change. But, technically, that could be considered a polemic, and if you want to really dig deep, you need to go for a textbook instead, one presenting a broad overview of the science without pushing an agenda. For example, Understanding Weather and Climate has a great chapter (Chapter 16 in the 4th edition) that breaks down some of the science behind global climate change (human and not) and why anthropogenic climate change is both very tricky to study – and still very worrisome.

And because I am a scientist, and I am not afraid to consider warranted arguments on both sides of any scientific question, I also want to call out Human Impacts on Weather and Climate 2/e by Cotton and Pielke, which in Chapter 8 and the Epilogue take a more skeptical view of our predictive power. In their view, well-argued in my opinion, current climate models are sensitivity studies, not forecasts; they merely establish the vulnerability of our systems to forcing factors like excess carbon, and don’t take into account areas of natural variability which might seriously alter the outcomes. And, yes, they are worried about climate groupthink.

Yes, they’re climate skeptics. But no-one is burning them at the stake. No-one is shunning them at conferences. People like me who believe in climate change read their papers with interest (especially Pielke’s work, which while it in some ways makes CO2 less of an issue and in some ways makes other human impacts seem worse). Still, Cotton and Pielke think the right approach is “sustained, stable national funding at a high level” and decry the politicization of science in either direction.

Still, do worry. Earth’s climate looks intransitive – it can get shoved from one regime to another, like the rapid-cooling Heinrich events and rapid-warming Dansgaard Oeschger events in the geological record, possibly triggered by large-scale ice sheet breakdowns and ocean circulation changes. Yes, global warming can cause global cooling by shutting down the existing pattern of global ocean circulation – and we’re pumping enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to simulate past triggers for such events.

Do you see why people who study climate change in enough depth to see where the science is really not settled end up walking away more unsettled about the future of our planet, not less? And why we stand up and say NO when someone else comes forward saying the “science is not settled” while acting like the science has already been settled in their favor?

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Have fun warming the planet!” Just hope it doesn’t inundate Florida. I’d love to tell you that the projected 1M sea rise discussed in the Florida resource isn’t as bad as the Geology.com map’s default 6m projections, but unfortunately, sea level seems to be rising in Florida faster than the IPCC projections, and if the science isn’t really settled, we could have a sea level rise of … jeez. After reviewing some of the research I don’t even want to tell you. The “good” news is, hey, the seas might fall too.

“Have fun rolling the dice!”

-the Centaur

Now I Know the Problem

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Hoisted from Facebook … what’s the biggest problem with the world today?

First I studied logic, and found out many people don’t know how to construct an argument, and I thought that was the biggest problem.

Then I studied emotion, and found out many people judge arguments to be correct if they make them feel good, and I thought that was the biggest problem.

Then I studied consciousness, and found out many people don’t argue at all, they post-hoc justify preconscious decisions, and then I thought that was the biggest problem.

Then I studied politics, and I realized the biggest problem was my political opponents, because they don’t agree with me!

-the Centaur

Pictured: Me banging on a perfectly good piece of steel until it becomes useless.