World building begins with the world

Penny Higgins answered my question about ancient oceans. There’s some great info in her post about Pangea and other configurations of the continents.

A few other useful posts:

Great explanation of Earthquakes and Tectonics by Penny Higgins.

Earth Science Misconceptions

How mountains form.

Short video of Global Plate Reconstructions. Great way to get ideas for configurations of continents.

NASA’s global maps.

How did Britain become an island? Another article about the huge flood.


Describing human differentiation

Unlabeled Renatto Luschan Skin color map
The above is a map, from Wikipedia, of human skin color distribution in the world for native populations in 1940, based on Von Luschan’s chromatic scale.  It all comes down to melatonin and vitamin D.

Professor Nina Jablonsky, head of the Penn State Department of Anthropology says, we look back only 100 or 200 generations (that’s as few as 2,500 years), almost all of us were in a different place and we had a different color.

10 Great Resources for writing cross-culturally.

Describing characters of color in writing by N.K. Jemisin. Includes examples and links to follow up posts.

List of links at Writeworld for describing skin tone.

Post by a teacher who had her students label paint chips and name their own skin colors.

Here’s a tumblr that takes real pictures and assigns a pantone color to each person’s skin tone.

Fitzpatrick scale for describing skin color. Pictures.

List of skin tone words with color swatches.



Embracing my inner sharknado without jumping the shark.

The phrase jumping the shark gets tossed around when a show or popular figure does something that is considered ridiculous, out of character, gimmicky or all of the above. It comes from an old episode of Happy Days when Fonzie  jumps over a shark while water skiing.

I read an article by Fred Fox, Jr, who wrote that particular episode. He doesn’t think it is deserving of the title. But he admits:

…it’s clear that “jump the shark” is no mere fad. It has become a part of the American lexicon.

I wonder, how far a person or even a character in a show or novel can go outside their comfort zone and still be convincing.

Sharknado was silly gimmick but it was also entertaining and very popular. While there were plenty of shark jokes flying, I didn’t see anyone say that SyFy Channel had jumped the shark with this one. I think that’s because no one expected a scary Jaws kind of movie. The promos showed a campy, ridiculous premise and followed through.

So I think that is the answer. Jumping the shark is an accusation of false advertising. If I’m going to spring something new on people, something out of character or implausible I’d better give some warning.



Buy me a river

I read The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman, recently. One of the topics he covers in detail, is how drought impacts the overallocation of many of the world’s rivers.  Even if I could afford to buy a river, chances are, the river of my desire is already sold out or drying out, or both.

A sampling of rivers mentioned in the book.

Murray River in South Australia.

In the water years 2008-2009, the Murray River received only 1,860 gigaliters of water inflow total. The farmers alone take 7,000 gigaliters. (pg. 196)

The Colorado River in the US

Lake Mead in mid 2010 is 125 feet lower than it was ten years earlier… (pg. 55)

The Chattahoochie River in the US

The states of Georgia, Florida and Alabama have their own modern version of water wars during drought years.

The Tigris and Euphrates, shared by Turkey and Iraq

Shatt al Arab River, Iraq

No longer holds back the Persian Gulf, so that salt water is now flushed 100 miles inland. (pg. 281)




Why do I believe?

One person’s craziness is another person’s reality. Tim Burton

I enjoy conspiracy theories and ideas that seem totally out there. I like to think about how someone could come to a completely different conclusion than I do. I see a meteorite in Russia on the news and someone else sees an alien invasion. Some people believe those posts from the Onion.

Why do we humans think differently? Are there ten points of view?

An article about the allure of the mystery behind the disapearance of Flight MH370, says  that people who tend to believe conspiracy theories are more likely to buy into a theory that the researchers just made up, and will even entertain logically inconsistent theories.

John S. Wilkins, writes: The development of beliefs is not merely a metaphor: it is a literal developmental process. in his fascinating blog post, Why do believers believe silly things? The function of denialism.