Friday, August 22, 2014

Interesting News About Facial Symmetry

One of the very minor plot points in my 2nd novel, No Brother of Mine, involves the fact that a mother-daughter pair (Kelly and Sarah) share a particularly interesting common genetic trait: slightly asymmetric facial features.  The narrator, Mitch, explains in the epilogue that he considers something like that attractive because the less symmetrical a face is (within reason), the more likely it is to stand out in a crowd and draw your eye to it.  He expresses that sentiment in contrast to what he admits is the more common attitude, which is that symmetry = beauty.

Now comes encouraging news that at least one of the reasons often cited for that shallow attitude, which is the notion that symmetry = health, has been called into question by a recent study. There appears to be no relationship between the two, in fact, which means Mitch wasn't so crazy after all!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lovely Judgment In The Sherlock Holmes Public Domain Fight

It's nice to see that sanity prevailed, and then some, in Leslie Klinger's fight against the Arthur Conan Doyle estate and its attempts to bully writers and publishers of new Sherlock Holmes material into paying licensing fees for work that's already firmly within the public domain.  The judges ruled entirely in Klinger's favour in the appeal, awarding him $30,000 for attorneys' fee, and my favourite part of the ruling was:

"[Klinger was] combating a disreputable business practice- a form of extortion– and he is seeking by the present motion not to obtain a reward but merely to avoid a loss. He has performed a public service." 

Yup, that's what the ACD estate's actions have amounted to: a form of extortion. Well said!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Ebola Situation

The headline of this article pretty much says it all: You Are Not Nearly Scared Enough About Ebola!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Amazing Open Letter To Ferguson Police Chief

David Simon, best known as the creator of the TV show, The Wire, has published an open letter to the police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, where for the past several days community members have been protesting the police shooting of a (black) unarmed young man, Michael Brown. It's a brilliant composition, calling out the decision of the police force to hide the identity of the shooter as the cowardly, hypocritical move that it is.

"If Ferguson police can’t protect one of their own — a fellow officer who is armed, who is allied with an entire department of armed comrades, who are themselves buttressed by their jurisdiction’s prosecutorial arm, who have the full weight of the law at hand in support of that officer — then how in hell are they going to protect me when I go down to the courthouse and testify?  How can they ask me, an ordinary citizen with no armament, alliance or authority, to stand up in open court and be identified?"

The whole thing deserves a read.

The Many Dimensions Of Robin Williams

I've been on an on-again, off-again fan of Robin Williams since I first saw him playing Mork the alien on Happy Days before spinning off into Mork & Mindy, way back in my adolescent days.  I loved him in Awakenings, Dead Poets Society and Goodwill Hunting, though at other times his schtick would completely take me out of a film.

Vicki and I were eating dinner at Crabby Joe's this week when I looked up and saw the TV screen showing CNN with the banner, "Breaking News: Robin Williams Dead at 63."  I actually said, "What the Hell?" to Vicki then, which was kind of cruel as she couldn't see what I was looking at.  Within minutes, of course, incredulity turned to realization and sadness, as usually happens in these situations.

In the wake of his death, we've learned all kinds of things that most of us would prefer to have never learned, such as the fact that one of the funniest people on the planet suffered from deep bouts of depression, and that his death was likely a suicide.  Maybe something good will come of it, though, as mental health is a topic that desperately needs to be discussed more and stigmatized less.

On a more positive note, I saw this wonderful article today, in which it's revealed that Mr. Williams required that all events and jobs that wanted to book him also commit to hiring a certain number of homeless people to work on it, as well.  Imagine that: a celebrity who made it a condition of his employment that some of the less fortunate members of society also benefit.  And considering that I've never heard this before now, I'm guessing he didn't exactly broadcast the fact, either.  Wow.  That's a good man for you.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The First Sale

Speaking of my brother (as I was in the previous post), he gets the credit for the first sale of a comic from my collection.  He mentioned to a friend what I was up to, and the next thing I knew X-Men # 12 was flying out of its long box and off to a new home somewhere in the Strathroy area.  Easiest.  Sale.  Ever!  Thanks, bro!

One down, several thousands to go...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

An Auspicious Anniversary Week

I was reflecting today how this week features the anniversaries of two significant changes to my life.

Six years ago, I quit my job and entered the world of semi-retirement / self-employment.  My writing career, which had just barely started while I was still working full-time, has obviously taken on a whole life of its own in the ensuing years.  I can't imagine I'd have seven books and four novels to my name in 2014 if I'd kept slaving away at the salt mines as I'd been doing for twenty-two years at that point in August of 2008.  It's been a great run so far and it's such a great feeling to have zero regrets about such a potentially disastrous decision.

Three years ago around this time, following the death of my Uncle Bruce, there was a family get-together organized to honour his memory.  It was at that barbeque that my brother Richard and I reconnected, and in the thirty-six months since then he and his wife Meena have become close friends to Vicki and I in a way that I could never have imagined before that encounter.  It's one of those things where, were I to travel back in time three years and a day, I doubt the version of me from 2011 would've believed for a second what the future would hold regarding that fractured relationship.

A couple of recent life-changing events for me, both hitting anniversaries as I enjoy the second half of this summer.  Not bad at all!