Hey, Geos! Ask Me What Time It Is!

You know the answer, you do. It’s always beer-thirty:

The featured comments are hysterical. But if you need more than this video and the persuasive point that empty beer cans make a great field seismograph, allow me to provide you all the justification you need:

So there you have it. Beer is important, people. Geologists have had it right all along. And if anyone argues that point, and says this television program was too filled with hyperbole and shaky logic and outrageous extrapolation to take seriously, give them another beer. They’ll soon come round.


Los Links 12/23, Part I

You know, I meant to use the holiday to catch up on stuff. The best laid plans oft gang aft agley, as Burns put it.  But Los Links you expect, and Los Links you shall have, even though I’m going to have to break it into parts. Between family, friends, Castle, and the Muse – who showed up after a few weeks’ absence bubbling over with ideas – I’ve not had time to compile them all.

I think this’ll do for a start.


Occupy Wall Street

Slacktivist:  The very worst thing Nathan could imagine.

Portland Occupier:  Occupy Portland Outsmarts Police, Creating Blueprint for Other Occupations.

SmartPlanet: Ancient Rome had less income inequality than modern America.



GOOD: Why SOPA Could Kill the Open Education Resource Movement.



JREF: We’ve lost a giant.

The Staggers: Preview: Richard Dawkins interviews Christopher Hitchens and  Preview II: Richard Dawkins interviews Christopher Hitchens.

Daily Mail:  In Memoriam, my courageous brother Christopher, 1949-2011.

The Digital Cuttlefish: For Hitch.

The Daily Beast: Christopher Hitchens Is Hailed by Stephen Fry as a Man of Style and Wit.


Geopic Meme

Volcanoclast: More Geo-Pics of the Day – Lago de Nicaragua, What? There’s a Geysir called Geysir! Thursday Geo-picture and Friday Geo-Pic – Faulted Radiolarian Cherts.

Tannis Likes Rocks: Geology photo of the day – Friday.

Research at a Snail’s Pace: Friday Field Foto (Geopics, Day 5).

Geotripper: Geo-Picture-a-Day Week: Moon, Sky and Rock and Geo-Picture-a-Day Week: Hoodoo you do?

Paleoseismicity: Saturday Geology Picture: Delphi, Greece.

Tuff Guy: Saturday Geophoto: L’escargot and Sunday Photo: Aberystwyth Castle.



RRTeaching:  What genetics should all our students learn? (“Stop, you’re teaching the wrong stuff!”)

Ron Schott’s Geology Home Companion: On the Passing of Arnold Bouma.

WWJTD: Edge.

Future of Technology: Diapers made from silk and discarded shrimp shells?

Highly Allochthonous: Friday(ish) Focal Mechanism: a kinky slab beneath Mexico.

The Atlantic: The Year in Volcanic Activity.

Life, Unbounded: A Planet on Fire.

The Planetary Society Blog: What do we know about planetary rings? Quite a lot, actually!

Plugged In: Geoengineering? The Earth Doesn’t Need to Change – We Do.

Dkos Atlas: New Madrid at 200: A Disaster Deferred?

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog: “The question is not whether sea ice loss is affecting the large-scale atmospheric circulation…it’s how can it not?”  

Science-Based Medicine: Alas poor Craniosacral. A SCAM of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.

The Science Essayist:  Lessons from Plants in Pain, or What We Talk About When We Talk to Ourselves.

Glacial Till: Post-Fall Term Musings.

Clastic Detritus: Friday Field Photo #162: Folded Quartzite in the Cape Fold Belt and What I Learned During My First Semester of Teaching.

Highly Allochthonous: Scenic Saturday: Mammoth Cave, where surface water and groundwater meet.

History of Geology: Geology of the Mountains of Madness.

RH Reality Check: Mainstream Media Perpetuates HPV Vaccine Mythology.

Reading the Washington Landscape: A Moment in Deep Time: Back to Back Unconformities on Highway 174.

Slobber and Spittle: Sunday Photo(s).

The Dragonfly Woman: Science Sunday: Online Citizen Science and Scientific Research.

Puff the Mutant Dragon: The poisoned wedding: a toxic love story.

Listverse: 10 More Common Faults in Human Thought.

Chaotically Flow-Banded: Carbonatite lavas of Ol Doinyo Lengai –with the actual movies this time!



The Passive Voice: Amazon Says Long Term And Means It.

The Business Rusch: Traditional Publishing and Its Suppliers.

SCBWI: Rethinking the Book Tour.

Nathan Bransford: Amazon vs. the Indies.

The Season Blog: How free is working for me!

Romance University: Sara Megibow Sells Romance – What Newbie Mistakes Have I Made As An Agent?

AARdvark: The Tipping Point Holiday.

Edittorrent: Call to action.

Annie R. Allen’s Blog: Why One Author Chose Traditional Publishing–And How to Decide if it’s Right for You.

Austin Kleon: How to Steal Like an Artist.

Patricia C. Wrede: When they don’t wanna.


Women’s Issues

Jezebel: Once And For All, It’s Time To Stop Blaming Rape On Women’s Drinking.

Retronaut: The Invisible Mother.

Fast Company:  The Case For Girls and The Case For Girls Infographic: Women In Numbers.


Atheism and Religion

No Longer Quivering: Daughter of the Patriarchy: Admissions.

The Friendly Atheist: Rogue Catholic Group Vandalizes Anglican Church Billboard.

The X Blog:  A scientist’s atheism must be declared along side his/her theory if taught in a New Hampshire public school.

The Huffington Post UK: Affair Baby At Risk Of ‘Honour Killing’ Must Be Adopted, Says Court Of Appeal.



The Planetary Society Blog: NASA and NOAA Hit Again by Across-the-Board Budget Cuts.

Mike the Mad Biologist: No, We Don’t Have to Pay Back Government Debt.

The Conscience of a Liberal: The Meaning of Mercury and Politifact, R.I.P.

Political Animal: PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself.


Society and Culture

Jezebel: Gay Dads Find Out They’re Going to be Grandpas, Epic Awesomeness Ensues.

Business Insider: Meet the Infomercial Scam King The Feds Just Nailed For $38 Million.

Wandering Gaia:  Gently into the night.

The Bloggess: The most fascinating dinner party IN THE WORLD.

The Atlantic: Facebook Tries to Find the Right System for Flagging Suicidal Behavior.

The Express Tribune: Agents of change: Girls armed with education fight for their rights.

The New York Times: Why Is the N.Y.P.D. After Me?

Geoblogosphere Conglomerate II

Another hodge-podge of geologic goodness for your pleasure.

Brian Romans gets to walk by this enormous geologic map of China at work. I’m surrounded by corkboards filled with sad little corporate slogans. I must admit some jealousy.

Geological map of Asia on the wall in Braun Hall

Cartography can be beautiful, especially when it’s that fabulous swirl of color and texture that reveals the geology of a place.

Geology has a wonderful motto, too, courtesy of Volcanoclast:

Allow me to close the hammer discussion with the unofficial motto of geology. "mente et malleo", with the mind and the hammer.
Ian Saginor

This summer, I’ll be shouting that every time I bring the hammer down on an outcrop. I suspect it will be fun.

And, for those of us pining for the days when El Hierro was trying to become the new Surtsey, a fabulous video from its glory days via Pablo J. Gonzalez:

Nobody has to ask why geology makes me so damned happy, right?

A Sandatlas Christmas

This is one of the most genius things I’ve ever seen, and I’m very pleased Siim allowed me to repost his gorgeous Christmas card here:

White snow is quartz sand from Florida. Stars are forams (Baculogypsina) from Japan. The snowman is made of forams as well (Sorites from Cyprus). His eyes are amphibole grains (from Spain). There are some sea urchin spines (Baleares Islands) and bryozoans (The Caribbean) as snow-covered bushes. Red lights are almandine garnet crystals (California). The whole scene is about 15 mm in width.

I’m usually pretty bah humbug about Christmas kitsch, but when someone creates a snowman out of sand grains, I squee. This is a geology geek’s holiday delight. I especially love the garnet crystals along the sides – I’m a sucker for all things garnet – but stars made of forams? Those are brilliant.

Sandatlas quickly became one of my favorite blogs. This is just one of the many reasons why. I’ve linked it quite a bit in Los Links, but if you somehow missed it, go remedy that. Consider it my Christmas present. And as a bonus gift, visit Michael Welland’s wonderful Through the Sandglass as well.

Sand seems so small, so inconsequential, but these two blogs reveal the worlds contained in those tiny grains. William Blake was so very right. The next time you’re by the water, pick up a handful of worlds and allow yourselves to dream deep.

Enjoy your holidays, my darlings.

Saturday Song: Christmas Eve Sarajevo

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is one of my favorites. I love metal, I love classical, I love the fusion of the two, and I love the fact someone managed to make Christmas music that doesn’t suck.

Of course, I had no idea they existed. I first became acquainted through Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead album, on which this song appears. A friend said, “Hey, you know that’s actually a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song, right?” And I said, “Who, wha?” and he gave me that look that said pity the poor TSO-deprived fool and introduced me.

And I was amazed that there was Christmas music I could play without wanting to vomit.

Being an SF writer, I’m quite fond of “Wizards in Winter,” as well:


I love the fact we live in an age where people can program Christmas lights to play along to heavy metal and win prizes for it.

There. Now you’ve got all that insipid Christmas crap washed out of your brain. You can sleep to a more satisfying soundtrack, and if you’ve been a very naughty geologist indeed, maybe Santa will have been so kind as to put some nice coal in your stocking.

Pathological Accommodationism

Sigh. Another day, another dumbass bashing the Gnus:

It’s accommodationism day in the neighborhood…I guess it’s a Christmas thing. Baby Jesus is born, Tim Minchin got his (requested) song dropped from a tv show, Julian tries to square a circle, and to make it all complete, Chris Stedman writes yet another “mean atheists are doing it wrong and I am doing it right” article for the Huffington Post. I had been ignoring Stedman for months, but he does make it difficult.

Chris Stedman has a distressing habit of mistaking outspoken criticism for cruelty, it seems. And a terrible blind spot.

However: effective criticism of religious dogmatism accounts for the diverse spectrum of religious expression. It is balanced, it is rooted in compassion, and it responds to what people actually believe and practice, not just the most extreme forms of religious thought.

Um, Chris? Those “extreme forms of religious thought” are wildly fucking popular amongst religious believers. We’re not talking a tiny minority. We’re talking about enough people to make the Middle East a hell on earth for women. Is it an inconsequential minority of believers who murder gays and people accused of witchcraft in Africa? What about the bible-believing Christians in this country who have enough political power now to launch a full-out assault on women’s reproductive rights? I could go on. I shouldn’t have to.

And for as much as you whine about people who don’t understand what you’ve supposedly actually said, you show a remarkable lack of reading comprehension yourself.

What Stedman cites as objectionable are (except for Stefanelli’s, which is in the middle of a post that cites relevant passages from the Koran, making it rather bizarre that Stedman would level that particular criticism at it) offhand remarks in blog posts about things like threatening the lives of cartoonists who have depicted Mohammed or condoning forced child marriage and rape. The actions being condemned are, in fact, spurred by specific beliefs with their basis in the Koran, even if the bloggers don’t stop to cite chapter and verse.


Stedman has read the blog posts he cites, right? He knows that people are dying, that others are in hiding or pretending to be someone they’re not so they don’t die, that children are being mutilated and raped, that they’re being groomed for martyrdom instead of educated and employed–and that the authority conferred by Islam plays a huge part in making these intractable problems? He knows that most if not all of those things, plus a few special others, happen in places where Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism plays the role of the heavy instead?

Ophelia and Stephanie paddled the man thoroughly (I thought I’d noticed the Smack-o-Matic missing from my wall earlier), and I haven’t got much to add. It’s just that Stedman and his ilk have a remarkable habit of ignoring reality in favor of their own kumbaya fantasy. It annoys.

Yes, there are liberal believers out there. There are lots of religious folks who are moderate. And we can even work together, without compromising our principles, when the situation calls for it. Religious folk who don’t want creationism taught in schools, or the frothing fundies to have control over every uterus in the land, won’t back down from the good fight just because they find themselves shoulder-to-shoulder with those icky Gnus.

Moderate religious believers are even smart. Much smarter than Stedman gives them credit for. Most of the moderates I know accept that we Gnu atheists are going to say things they dislike intensely about their beliefs. They also know what we’re aiming at when we launch a broadside. Those quotes that gave Stedman the vapors are understood as being targeted at a particular, unfortunately large, subset of religious belief that troubles them, too. And aside from a few fainting violets, they don’t seem to need coddling. They don’t require us to pause during every post excoriating the latest fundamentalist outrage, pat them on the head, and say, “But not you, pookie-kins. I know you’d never throw acid in a schoolgirl’s face just because she’s getting an education and you think your god disapproves.”

They get that we have a different view of religion. They understand that atheists are going to criticize religious belief – all religious belief, not just the super-nasty stuff. But they also understand that we see them as human beings, and while we may think their religious beliefs are silly, we quite like them as people. And it’s a two-way street. Believers think we’re pretty silly for not believing. Fair enough.

Chris Stedman, for all his “outreach,” can’t seem to credit believers with having a functioning brain and the ability to handle a vigorous critique. How is infantalizing them supposed to help us all get along?

Geoblogosphere Conglomerate I

Right. It’s the holidays, you’re likely all busy doing holiday stuff, and even if you’re trying to avoid all that, you’ve still got plenty of Los Links you haven’t caught up on. And I’ve got a file full of geologic odds and ends I’ve collected from Twitter and other sources that I’ve meant to do something with. Since it’s all kind of jumbled together and cemented by the common theme of geology, we’ll call it conglomerate, then, shall we?

Via Brian Romans, my favorite metamorphic facies diagram ever. Pay especial attention to the upper left category.

Metamorphic Facies Diagram

For those with a time-lapse addiction, check out Finding Oregon on Bad Astronomy. I swear to you, we will turn Phil Plait into a geologist someday. All right, maybe an astrogeologist, but it’ll still count.

From Lockwood, a fun practical joke. Keep this in mind if you’re subjected to relations you must distract before they launch into yet another long-winded description of some embarrassing personal problem:

How to fool students into thinking ice cube might be floating in middle of water column: Fill first 1/2 column w/water; 2nd 1/2 w/ethanol...
Lockwood DeWitt
...then gently drop ice cube into column. Refractive indices of H2O & EtOH similar, diff not visible at distance. But ice sinks in EtOH.
Lockwood DeWitt

Scientists make the best magicians, really.

Here’s a little something beautiful Callan Bentley found:

And, finally, ammunition just in case someone questions the wisdom of having a geologist in the family.


The Joye of Ancient Literature

Literati observing me as a youngster might have despaired. I had no real interest in musty old tomes. For a long time, my tastes ran to mysteries and Westerns. Then I became addicted to fantasy and science fiction. I still adore all that stuff, and I believe some of the best fiction ever written is genre. Michael Hann and his ilk would faint at the idea. These, mind you, are the very same people who wouldn’t be ashamed to see clutching Homer in public – a patina of age, apparently, puts a suitable shine on monsters, demigods and other tropes of fantasy.

The poor buggers will need a fainting couch when I tell them it’s a Western writer who helped get me hooked on ancient literature. But it’s true. Louis L’Amour wrote The Walking Drum, which brought some very old texts to vivid life. I’ve sung that book’s praises more than once, and I’ll sing them again: it was one of the best books I’ve ever read.

While the Michael Hanns of the world clutch their Trollope and Proust, I’ll turn to my fantasists, thanks ever so much. Guy Gavriel Kay. Susanna Clarke. That’s all I’m saying. Oh, and these folks, too, among about a billion others. I’ll put the best SF authors in a ring with your literary greats any day, and I know who I’m putting my cold hard cash on.

So yes, I loves me my modern SF, and quite a lot of genre (excepting most romance, although there was that one book by Catherine Coulter that I picked up and read because the blurb contained this aside: “What is a marten, you ask? A marten is a sable; a sable is a weasel. What is a weasel, you ask. See marten.” And I figured anything that snarky couldn’t be half bad, and it actually wasn’t). But there are times when I love to immerse myself in ancient literature.

I love snark, and while schools try to carefully conceal the fact, ancient authors could be quite snarky. Lucian made a career on snark. I’m reading a collection of his works just now and adoring every minute, even the footnotes necessary to understand the in jokes. And for a little while, now, I’m walking alongside him, sniggering at the philosophers and socially pretentious, marveling at his command of language. Well, his and the translator’s – I can’t speak much ancient Greek.

Sappho? Oh, my darlings, I am such a sucker for Sappho. Go read A.S. Kline’s translation of this poem. Then sample the rest of his site – the words there will intoxicate you. I’ve talked about Sappho and her friend Alcaeus before. Rhapsodized, really. I love them both dearly. And dear Father Locks, Abu Nuwais, who probably couldn’t be taught in school without some stern censorship, because heaven forfend we should tell the kiddies it’s okay to get all lyrical about drinking and sexuality – even homosexuality.

I love words that seem like they couldn’t have been written by a mortal, deep words, powerful words, such language! But I also love words that use all of those elegant and graceful stylistic tools to speak of the human condition. Not the noble, not the elevated, but the ordinary things, the things we’ve been taught to avert our eyes from. Clay feet are nicely set off when framed in gold, aren’t they just? And the ancients, they knew how to do that. So do the moderns, truth be told, but there’s just something about reading the words of writers thousands of years dead and seeing ordinary people. You could lift some of them out of their context and set them down right here. Once they got over the culture shock and learned how to navigate our technology, you’d have a full population of pompous asses and internet trolls and worrisome children and interfering parents. You’d have your truly good, situationally good, and not really good at all. You’d have your quacks and charlatans. You’d have your rednecks and your metrosexuals. You’d have people who understood “You’re So Vain,” and people who’d probably think that song was about them.

That was the thing I didn’t get through much of high school. Literature is taught as this great and solemn thing. It’s approached with the white gloves and reverence. It seems to have no relation to a modern life. Now, I’m a book nerd. I didn’t have to be told to like Shakespeare, but it sure as shit helped the addiction along when Mr. Vail, our British and Senior English teacher, took me aside to show me some educational contraband. If you read that post, you’ll also discover Mrs. Putman, who got a whole bunch of hormonal teenagers hooked on French literature that year. It wasn’t required reading, but the local bookstore ran out of copies of Les Miserables. The unabridged edition, mind you.

You know why we loved that stuff? Because the humanity hadn’t been stripped from it. It hadn’t been sanitized. And it wasn’t presented as something we should read because it was Great Literature, but because it was all about well-written stories.

That’s what’s been so wonderful about getting out of school. I’m not reading things considered inoffensive to Good Taste, but stuff that survived because people enjoyed reading it. Uncensored. Complete, whole and gorgeous, warts, double entendre, fart jokes and all.

What really amuses me about people with literary pretensions is that they so often laud Shakespeare, who wrote for the unwashed masses. I wonder just how much of the literature we venerate today was yesterday’s popular entertainment?

It’s certainly entertaining to me now. And there’s nothing quite like going back to the old works. Let me tell you, if you haven’t touched an ancient writer since being forced to pick one up in high school, or found yourself limited to only the venerable old farts sanctioned by the people in charge of providing as inoffensive an education as possible, you’ve missed out.

Wash the stodgy old dust of neutered texts out of your mouth. Get your Xenophon on. Go hang out in the clouds with Aristophanes. And tell us about the ancient delights you’ve discovered.


Layover Geology: Discovery Park

I believe Andrew Alden may have started a new meme:

If you travel enough, one day you’ll be laid over in some airport city for a day. What if it were here? Sure you could party with local friends, but you could also take those friends with you on a field trip!

He’s soliciting suggestions for layover geology. I have just the thing: Discovery Park. Fantastic examples of coastal landforms and glacial sediments, gorgeous location, and conveniently located on bus lines that will zip you from the airport to the lovely landscape and back again.

On a clear day, you’ll have a view of the Olympic Mountains, Mt. Rainier, and Puget Sound. On a not-so-clear day, you’ve still got the bluffs. There’s a lighthouse and beachcombing opportunities for those in your party who may not be as enthralled by geology as you are. Birders can get their jollies. You might even run in to a baby seal.

Baby seal and lighthouse, Discovery Park

Baby seal and lighthouse, Discovery Park

The trails are pretty simple to navigate, and they have a delightful little interpretive center.

It’s absolutely perfect if you find yourself stuck in Seattle for a day, and if you’re overnighting, it’s close enough to downtown for some fun down at Pike’s Place Market and other local city delights. You can have it all.

For a detailed description of the geological goodness, see my old post Do Ya Think I’m Bluffing, Punk? Well, Do Ya? And watch this space – it may take me a while to write ‘em up, but I’ve got plenty o’ places one can visit in an afternoon when stuck at SeaTac.

Thank you, Andrew, for such a marvelous meme!

Bluffs and Sound, Discovery Park

Bluffs and Sound, Discovery Park

Dana’s Dojo: So You Wanna Be a Pseudonym

Today in the Dojo: To ‘nym or not to ‘nym, and how to make it work.


Yes, I’m plucking the low-hanging fruit from the Pitch 2.0 tree, but this is actually a rather important topic. We’ve already established that a ‘nym’s not a problem, per se. Jason Black was kind enough to drop by and confirm my suspicion: that it’s about identity, not the name on your photo I.D. So far, so good.

Now, let’s explore the topic in further detail. Those of you who are veteran ‘nyms can probably skip lightly over this one and get on with the holiday traditions like trying to avoid stores and hiding from the more vexing relatives. Those of you who aren’t yet established ‘nyms and wondering whether and how you should be come so, stick around.

To ‘Nym or Not to ‘Nym

How do you know if you should choose a nom de plume? Doing it because that’s what all the cool writers do is a silly reason. There are others, less silly, or frivolous but fun. The following explores some possible scenarios, but is by no means an exhaustive list.

1. Is your real name teh awesome or teh suck? This, for me, was the defining question when I chose a ‘nym all those long years ago, before the advent of the intertoobz. My real name consists of a first name that got filched by a character who won’t give it back. My last name has led to a great many retail jokes. And I decided that whacking adoring fans over the head with a bloody great hardcover copy of my magnum opus does nothing for public relations. But there would inevitably be readers who’d make the obvious joke, and I would be required to apply the Hardcover of Loving Correction (h/t Jennifer Ouellette and her Mallet of Loving Correction™). So, my legal name had to go.

If you have a name like Dick Hardman or Ima Lipshitz, and you mumble it as incomprehensibly as possible when introducing yourself to people, and shudder when you envision it embossed beneath the title of your precious opus, then choosing a ‘nym may be right for you.

2. Would publication under your legal name cause unnecessary complications? Perhaps your workplace would prefer some plausible deniability. Maybe you want to keep your writing and the rest of your life in separate spheres (good luck with that). Perhaps there would even be danger in being known. Whatever your situation, if self-censorship or on-the-job discomfort or possible threats to life and limb would haunt you under your legal name, or you just want people not to be able to find you easily, choosing a ‘nym might be an excellent idea.

3. Are you already known by a ‘nym? Perhaps you got one of those shiny new internet handles back when everyone was reveling in the freedom of being whomever they damned well pleased, and now you’ve got a following of thousands who’d look at you blankly and say, “Excuse me, who?” upon hearing your real name. Even if you tell them what it is, they insist on calling you by your handle in all possible situations. And when they sing your praises to other people, they use your ‘nym. Congratulations! The choice is easy. You are a ‘nym. No use trying to change it now.

(That goes for your real name, too. If you’ve forged a reputation under it, think long and hard before you start afresh. You’d be throwing away a ready-made audience, causing yourself the effort of establishing a new one, and for what? Because you’re afraid they may giggle when they discover you, O Person of Some Authority on Some Subject or Other, are writing a book? Because you don’t want them to see your amateur stumblings? People are more flexible than you think. Be honest with them, and the vast majority of them will go along for the ride. You don’t have to hide.)

I’m sure you, my darlings, can think of a myriad of other situations in which you’d use a ‘nym rather than a legal name. Let’s move on to getting it right, then.


Becoming a ‘Nym

Right. So you’re currently some anonymous soul, and you’ve decided you’re going to choose your own identity. But you have no idea how to go about it. I know there’s at least one of you out there, because I talked to you at the Pitch 2.0 event.

1. Choose your ‘nym. I know, this sounds easy, but it’s not. I went through several before I settled on mine. Try on some names. Mix and match. Find something that fits, that seems the most you, and that you don’t mind hearing shouted in a crowded room. Preferably, it will be something people can remember and spell. You want readers to be able to find you. It should probably be somewhat distinctive and memorable, although that’s not an absolute requirement. A little touch of the unique is nice, but very hard to obtain without being obscure. Does it roll off the tongue? Can you say it like you’ve been saying it all your life? Can you develop a signature for it? And will you still love it in the morning? Consider all of those things, because once you’ve got it, you should stick with it.

Choosing something that looks like a real name is common, but in our internet age, odd handles aren’t so odd anymore. So I won’t tell you to stay away from weird, one-word names that don’t look like names at all. The most important thing is to come up with something that pleases you, and that, if the absolute best should happen, you can spend an entire afternoon signing without getting terribly cranky.

Also, do keep in mind that an odd name will possibly cause issues with real-name demanding sites like G+ and Facebook. Be prepared to become a veteran of the ‘nymwars if you decide to go for a non-Western name anyway, at least until that war is won.

2. Start using it. Introduce yourself with it. We’ll be talking later about building a platform, so I’ll just skim lightly over the particulars of that: blog, Facebook, G+, Twitter, and all that. But start forging your identity as this ‘nym. Get used to using it. Get people used to seeing it, and associating it with you.

3. Develop your identity. Let your ‘nym be you. Perhaps there’s a few details withheld for various reasons, but your ‘nym probably shouldn’t be a brand-new person. I’d advise against creating a whole new persona for it. Personas are a lot of work to maintain. And readers like genuine people. They usually need to sense there’s a real person behind the ‘nym. Decide which bits of you are public and which private, and keep the private ones out of your ‘nym, but don’t ever lie about who you are, or your degrees and qualifications and so forth. You’ll get caught out someday.

You can be as mysterious or as intimate as you’d like. Just be consistent. And did I mention, don’t lie?

4. Pictures or it didn’t happen. You may use an author photograph or not, depending on how determined you are to remain anonymous. If you really, seriously, want to keep people from finding out who you are, don’t use photos of yourself, but especially on your blog and Twitter and so forth, an iconic image is nice. Something people can attach to your ‘nym. It can be a cartoon or an animal or some other avatar, something funny or profound or just nice, but choose something that can stand in for you.

And that’s how you get started. This is just an introduction, Pseudonyms 101. Let me know if you have questions or concerns, and we can possibly discuss them in future posts.