Cool Links For August

Meet the Wendiceratops, named for discoverer Wendy Sloboda:

Unlike any other dinosaur, this creature’s skull is ringed with bone protrusions that curl inward toward the animal’s nose like gnarly crochet hooks. “They remind me a little bit of a weird sea anemone or something,” said Ryan, the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The dinosaur also has a medium-sized horn over its nose. The researchers suspect that it had horns over its eyes as well because its relatives, like Triceratops, boast prominent eye horns.  The researchers hypothesize that the dinosaur’s lavish array of horns may have helped it attract mates, “just like modern birds, which have all these ornate plumages and long feathers and short feathers,” Ryan said. Another possibility is that the horns allowed males to demonstrate their strength and fitness to the opposite sex, just as big-horned sheep butt heads to determine who will get to breed with the female.

BookEnds on “The Death of the Midlist.” Ever since I can remember, writers have been lamenting ‘the death of the midlist.’ Midlist is just that, neither best sellers nor abysmal failures. If that sounds blah, remember that this is where some of the finest writing falls. Writing that isn’t mass appeal mind candy but is solid enough to generate a modest but loyal following.

Here’s the truth as I see it where the midlist is concerned. Authors who languish in the midlist are not going to be given contract after contract just to remain midlist authors. That’s not what the midlist is about (at least not these days). The midlist is a place for publishers to grow authors from. Its where great books go to grow. A publisher will always have a midlist of some sort because a publisher will always be buying new books from new authors and somewhere along the way someone is going to have numbers that aren’t top selling numbers, but aren’t at the bottom either. When those authors come along the publisher is going to look at those numbers to see which direction they are going and what can be done to boost that author, those books and those numbers into the top selling range.

When rumors abound that a publisher is cutting the midlist it isn’t mean that a publisher is taking out one kind of book over another, it means the publisher is making room for more. Have I ever told you that I’m an eternal optimist?


From Astronomy Picture of the Day, gorgeous clouds in Rho Ophiuchi

Fine dust illuminated from the front by starlight produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the lower center of the featured image.



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