FMK: The Snow Queen

Apr. 28th, 2017 08:28 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
So, it turns out The Snow Queen is not high fantasy and is a fairy tale AU. Oops.

About the only other things I knew going in was that I had really liked Vinge's Cat book (not actually books about cats, books about a dude named Cat, sorry), that she had at one point been married to Vernor Vinge, and that I was pretty sure that years ago I had heard a rumor that her husband was a total POS.

...turns out that I was unable to find anyone saying anything bad about Mr. Vinge, but her current husband is Mr. Banned-From-Wiscon himself, so apparently I have been thinking poorly of Mr. Vinge for years for no reason. Sorry, sir! See, this is why this stuff needs to be out in the open, not whispers.


Anyway, as for the book itself: it's well-written, I didn't hate any of the characters, the world-building and plot mostly hang together (at least until the very end, anyway), the concepts are interesting, there is no compelling reason I shouldn't have liked it, and yet I never quite managed to get into it. It isn't even that it's not my thing, because it *should* be my thing, and yet )

Anyway, short version: You could probably do a Snow Queen retelling that used the story in a way that worked for me (I should really get my hands on The Raven and the Reindeer) but this was not it; and I would totally read an entire novel about Ngenet and Jerusha (as long as Jerusha got to finally show a tiny bit of minimal competence which she never actually did in the book - a plot line about how she is unfairly treated as incompetent because she's a woman doesn't work if she never actually is competent); and I should have listened to my instincts and run when the summary on the back ended with "...the one man fated to love them both."

...interestingly I also read Makt Myrkranna today (having never read Dracula all the way through) which is also about a pretty, innocent young man who gets lured into the clutches of an ancient powerful beautiful cold devouring woman and her consort, and how his true love traveled across a continent to rescue him and save the world, but somehow I don't have any of the aforementioned complaints about it. A++ worldbuilding, dude does not let heterosexuality make his choices for him, lady makes reasonable choices based on the knowledge she has at the time and caring about him as a human being she is fond of who is in trouble.

I also read Pale Guardian, but I think that's actually the first Ashers book in which nobody ever has to rescue James, so it doesn't quite fit the set.

(eta: no, wait, Simon rescued him at least once in between him and Lydia repeatedly rescuing each other, nvm. On a motorbike.)

(I have been sick lying on the couch all day, which is why all the reading suddenly. Also I still have four more library books and two fmk waiting lalala.)

new raised bed

Apr. 28th, 2017 07:33 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
Here is the start of my gardening blog. Let me know if the thumbnail previews are fine, or if you would prefer all pictures behind a cut.

So this spring I put in a new raised bed, which Neal built for me out of 2x4s. It's in the front yard, which has more sun and less exposure to dogs, but the dog deficiency means the feral cats my next-door neighbor feeds think it belongs to them.

I didn't dig up the grass, just put down a thick layer of cardboard,

set the box on top,

soaked the cardboard, to provide all the elements necessary to decomposition,

and filled it with compost.

The white tubes are the bases of a hoop cover. I have some smaller-diameter flexible pipe, bent into half-circles, whose ends go into the white pipes. Then I can put a big piece of UV-resistant polyethelene over the top, and have a mini-greenhouse.

Next step is to mulch. Usually, when you are choosing a mulch, the first consideration is "What do I have lots of?" and then you evaluate how well those things work as mulch:
- Does it shade the soil to suppress germination of weed seeds?
- Does it keep the soil cooler?
- Does it let water get to the soil?
- Does it slow down evaporation?
- How fast does it break down, and what does it add to the soil?
- Will it stay where I put it?
And so on. But for me, the second consideration is, "Will this make my lovely loose soil more or less attractive to the feral cats as a litter box?" So the first mulch I use is a few layers of brown paper that came as packaging material.

Here it is in the rain:

Right now it is covered with snow, but I don't have a picture of that.

More about mulching and planting next time.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Oh dear)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
This is because channel 4 are running a "How Autistic Are You?" test which is so cack-handed it would be laughable... if we didn't know that so-called experts are going to base things to do to us on it (why yes, Prof Baron-Cohen, I am thinking of you).

So just what is wrong with this test?
  • Before you even get to the test proper, it has several cock-ups on the demographics page.
    1. Under "sex" the options are "male", "female", "transgender" or "prefer not to say". Sex and gender are not the same thing and "transgender" is not a category any trans person of any gender would tick for their "sex".

    2. Level of Education is (oddly) ungranular. I know lots of people who did part of a degree but dropped out. There's no option for them.

    3. Scotland and Wales are not regions, they are nations.

    4. One thing all autistic people I know have in common is that inaccuracy really, really bothers us. If your test contains enough inaccuracies before you even get to the test proper that it's going to put most autistics off even starting it, you've got a problem.

  • Once you get into the actual questions there are further problems. Some examples:
    1. I would be able to taste the difference between apparently identical pieces of candy. - in what way are they apparently identical? Do they look the same? Are they different but in the same packaging? I need more specificity before I can answer this.

    2. "I would be able to tell the weight difference between two different coin sizes on the palm of my hand, if my eyes were closed." - I'd be able to feel the difference in size because the diameter of the coins would be different if they are different sized. But they might weigh the same if they are made of different metals; the question makes no sense.

    3. Part 2 is all about how good you are at telling how other people are feeling - I'm usually hypersensitive to this because I have taught myself how to do it. Long hard study of psychology texts. Pictorial studies of body language and facial expression. The questionnaire doesn't even consider if this is natural or a learned skill, though. I actually struggled to get past q 16 "I can tune into how someone else feels rapidly and intuitively" - quickly yes. Intuitively? Not in the slightest. But you can't pick "strongly agree" AND "strongly disagree" for the same question.

    4. "When I learn about a new category I like to go into detail to understand the small differences between different members of that category." - category OF WHAT? Again, this makes no sense whatsoever. Some things I am interested in; other things I am completely uninterested in. I don't know which of those this "category" is until you tell me more details.

    5. I usually concentrate more on the whole picture, rather than the small details. this is such a false binary. BOTH BOTH BOTH. Cthulthu, autism test designers, embrace the power of AND. Again, I really struggled to get past this question, and only did it to see what horrors lay beyond.

  • Hoo boy. And then we get to the results page. So, I scored autistic female on sensory perception, and autistic male on organisation (because YAY LETS GENDER EVERYTHING AND OFC THERE ARE ONLY TWO GENDERS). But because I am very good at the social skills it asks for (because I taught myself to be, remember), even better than most neurotypical people, it tells me I am neurotypical. In fact, beyond neurotypical. The typical neurotypical people are waaaaay to the right of me on the little chart. This is despite there being a growing body of research that shows many autistic adults, especially women, are hyper-empathetic.
Honestly, all of this could have easily been solved by having some actually autistic people involved in the test design. We're really, really good at nitpicking. It's one of our defining features. But, OfC, lots of autism experts see us as a problem to be solved, a disease to be cured, not a people with feelings and rights.

I'm not a problem.
I don't want to be cured.
I like being me.

All I ask for is to be treated as if I have the same intrinsic worth as my neurotypical fellows.
Is that really so much to ask?
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
The 5k obstacle course I signed up for is tomorrow.

So of course today I get sick.

I feel bad because I've already paid and I was planning to do it with my friend. But my body has very definitely done that "you've done Too Many Things so I'm going to make you sick enough that you stop!" thing that I recognize so well.

And I have done too much this week. But it's been worth it to keep Lib Dem stuff going, and it's been interesting. But man, even with 24 hours "off" between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon, it's taken a huge toll on me.

Not just in hours spent but being responsible and having to make decisions all the time is grinding me down. This is so the opposite of what I signed up for.ee

But things change, and things need doing, and done is better than perfect.

Gratitudes

Apr. 28th, 2017 05:16 pm
kass: A glass of iced coffee with milk. (coffee)
[personal profile] kass
1. It is warm today. I am wearing a sleeveless shirt and right now I am barefoot. This makes me happy.

2. Relatedly, I did my biannual closet swap -- moved the winter stuff into storage more or less, or at least out of the way, and moved the warm-weather stuff back into rotation. Now that I have done this we will probably get two weeks of cold-and-rainy, or something, but it still feels good to have shifted the closet over.

3. The flowers we planted in a box on our wee mirpesset last weekend are blooming and they are lovely.

4. I ran into someone at the co-op today who saw me doing my job recently and wanted to tell me that she's rooting for me to get the permanent position. \o/

5. Someone nearby has hung a beautiful wind chime, and I like the way it peals.

Shabbat shalom to all who celebrate.
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

How eBooks lost their shine: 'Kindles now look clunky and unhip'.

Which sounds to me a statement about 'at first it looked cool and cutting edge to have an e-reader, now everybody has one, meh'.

I.e. it's all about the lifestyle statements, which certainly seems to me to emerge like a miasma from all the to-do about books as lovely artefacts and saying something about the person:

#bookstagram, a celebration of the aesthetics of books, where books are the supermodels and where readers and non-readers can see cats and dogs reading books, books photographed in landscapes, books posed with croissants, sprays of flowers, homeware, gravestones and cups of coffee, colour-matched and colour-clashed with outfits, shoes, biscuits and in what can only be described as book fashion shoots. You just can’t do a shelfie with an e-reader.

No, but you can sit down and bloody read the thing, rather than poncing about making design statements.

We are in the same territory, I fear, as those interior designers who consider books as quirky objects and do not see shelves as things which should contain as many books as possible, fie upon your sea-shells and plants and framed photos taking up space.

Why mainstream publishers may be feeling the pinch on ebooks might possibly be because they price them like hardbacks rather than paperbacks. Okay, there are some authors whose latest work I would buy at that price, because I would buy them in hardback when they came out, and I am trying to reduce the number of books that come into the house.

(Stop laughing.)

And somebody please pass a) a sickbag and then b) a large codfish:

Once upon a time, people bought books because they liked reading. Now they buy books because they like books. “All these people are really thinking about how the books are – not just what’s in them, but what they’re like as objects,” says Jennifer Cownie, who runs the beautiful Bookifer website and the Cownifer Instagram, which match books to decorative papers, and who bought a Kindle but hated it. Summerhayes thinks that “people have books in their house as pieces of art”. One of her authors’ forthcoming works features cover art by someone who designs album covers for Elbow.

One is reminded of those arrivistes who bought tastefully bound volumes by the yard to fill up the shelves in the library in the stately mansion they had bought (or had built). NQOSD.

[libations, MA] We have a meadery?!

Apr. 28th, 2017 02:39 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
[Content Advisory: Contains booze]

I just discovered, compliments of Groupon, the existence of the 1634 Meadery, up in Ipswich. How did I not know about this? Did you know about this? How long has this been there? Is this somebody I know? Has anybody tried any of their stock? Is it any good? Is it any good by Scadian standards?

This is less exciting to me now than it would have been 20 years ago, but, still, I'm amused and hopes it turns out to be a viable source. It would be nice to acquire a bottle when I felt like it, and without all the washing of glassware and standing over a hot stove and multi-month wait, so say nothing of the crying expense of honey these days. I wish them success.

In any event, Groupon has a deal on tours which includes a tasting.

ETA: And they have six varieties on the shelves of my preferred liquor store! I shall launch an expedition forthwith.

How Not To Fight The Murder Zombies.

Apr. 28th, 2017 09:30 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

So the murder zombies are in your town again, ripping limbs from torsos. Everyone knows the best way to survive the murder zombie onslaught is to hide in a closet.

But humans react to murder zombies in funny ways, even when they’re not being personally devoured by the zombies’ hoof-hard teeth.

See, because “hiding in a closet” is the best way of riding it out when the murder zombie herd comes ravaging through town, you’ll have people who get really good at hiding in closets.

With each Culling they survive, these people will become increasingly cocky about their closet-hiding techniques.

Eventually, they’ll start making fun of people who don’t know how to hide in a closet properly. Complaints about the way the murder-zombies ate your child will be met with a sneering, “I guess somebody didn’t have their closet ready.”

And the end result will be, unbelievably, people who have more scorn for zombie victims than they do a hatred for the murder-zombies who want to tear them to shreds.

Yet that’s not the weirdest thing. The *weirdest* thing is that these expert closet-hiders genuinely come to think they’re fighting the murder-zombies by teaching these hiding techniques. “See, if you starve them, maybe they won’t murder so much,” the closet-hiders say.

But that’s not actually fighting the murder-zombies. That’s just surviving the murder-zombies. At best, the murder-zombies might slaughter the people in the next town over – but the expert closet-hiders think that’s just great, because at this point anyone who gets eaten by the murder-zombies is so stupid they deserve to die.

They think they’re fighting the murder-zombies, but in a way they’re actually very much aligned with the murder-zombies.

Whereas the truth is this: hiding in a closet is a useful skill to learn, and you probably need to learn it. But reducing the murder-zombie hordes to mere nuisances will take more than one person. You need an entire town to rise up, grab guns from the burning houses of those who have fallen, the mobilization of thousands of people so their response is not “Shit, murder-zombies, better prep my hiding-from-murder-zombie camouflage techniques” but “Sound the alarms, get the pitchforks, let’s make sure these murder-zombies don’t hurt another person!”

You need an organization to fight the horde, man. One man (or woman) can’t stop the undead stampede. One man (or woman) might as well just hide in the closet.

But the problem is this: that expert closet-hider is mocking the people who want to go out and fight (“What, don’t you have a closet?”), and telling everyone that the people who died deserved their deaths. And yes, maybe some of the people who died were unwise in some of their decisions. We might need a couple of staunch closets until we can recoup enough resources to take the fight to the murder-zombie larvae in their terrifying butchernest, and if you want to lead a respectful class on “Closet Hiding 101” then okay, sure, it can help.

Yet when you spend more energy denigrating the victims than you do saying, “*Of course* the murder-zombies are an evil necrotic horde who deserve no sympathy,” then you’re sapping the town’s efforts to rise up, man. We need to get out and shine sunlight on the necromancer’s cursed butchernest jewel and dissolve this murder-zombie horde after all – and your reliance on “BUILD A STURDIER CLOSET” just makes us all live in increasingly smaller closets.

So, you know, survive the zombies. Nothing wrong with that.

Just don’t forget that survival is very different from changing the landscape so zombie-survival is no longer necessary.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

*whistles*

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:47 am
ceb: (spotty)
[personal profile] ceb
Just posted off my first Pay It Forward present (ref: http://ceb.dreamwidth.org/257205.html). [personal profile] venta look out!

(no subject)

Apr. 28th, 2017 07:06 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Someone is vigorously bathing in my lap to make sure she looks lovely for her new human. :)

furiously grooming!

Barring disaster, we'll be transporting her in two weeks! And then she can get as much petting as she wants:

Thea getting lap scritches

Reading notes

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:33 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
This was technically a re-read, but I'd forgotten virtually all the details. This is a history of western philosophy textbook in disguise as a novel, and does a pretty good job at both. There were occasional bits where I wasn't entirely convinced that the philosophy was being conveyed perfectly accurately, and it's quite likely that someone with a more in depth grounding would find more to disagree with, but as a high level overview, it certainly did the job of making me want to read more of the originals.

Xenogenesis trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago) - Octavia Butler
I really enjoyed these - sociological science fiction set on and near a future Earth which has brought itself to the brink of destruction. The survivors are rescued by aliens, but as part of the rescue they are genetically modified to be infertile - descendants are only possible through interbreeding with the aliens, in an attempt to eradicate the human flaw of constantly seeking to build hierarchies and dominate. These novels are both great stories, and a powerful allegory for fear of racial integration.

Between the world and me - Ta Nahesi Coates
This is an autobiographical book written in the form of letters from the author to his son about the experience of growing up in a black body in America. His thoughts about the construction of whiteness as a means to enforce a hierarchy dovetail nicely with the ideas in the Butler trilogy. I found this fairly uncomfortable reading, as I expect I should have. It opened my eyes to some aspects of black experience that I'd been oblivious to before - in particular, the sense of all pervading fear, and the way that changes how you look at the world. Strongly recommended
miss_s_b: (Pratchett: Nanny Ogg)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Since today is Sir Pterry's 69th birthday, it seemed as good a day as any to remind you that Leeds Waterstone's (not as pretty as Bradford, but bigger and with more events) is starting a Terry Pratchett Reading Group. The first meeting is on Tuesday next week, and the first book to discuss will be The Carpet People. You have to sign up in advance to join in; I already have.

Maybe see a couple of you there?

Dodgy election graphs

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:35 am
[personal profile] swaldman
It's a general election, so as usual we have a deluge of dodgy and misleading bar charts designed to persuade us to vote tactically in a direction that we might not otherwise. Buzzfeed has a nice roundup of some of this year's offenders, of which this one is sort of local (another part of Edinburgh):

Graph from the Scottish Conservatives, annotated to show how wrong it is

What I find interesting about this is that they go to lengths to demonstrate that the numbers themselves are correct (if not always relevant), citing sources for them and so forth. I assume this is because demonstrably false numbers would leave them open to charges of electoral fraud (am I right? Is this the reason?). So why doesn't the same apply to the graphs? Is there a technical reason, or is it more of a cultural feeling that pictures are less definite than numbers, or something? Anybody know?

kaberett: Stylized volcano against a stormy sky, with streams of lava running down its sides. (volcano)
[personal profile] kaberett
... it being the UK release of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Exhibit A: Nazi Captain America holding Thor's hammer, with an associated discussion of symbology, senior Marvel staff donations to the 45th US President's campaign, etc

Exhibit B: Marvel asking comic stores to change their logos to Hydra symbols and staff to wear Hydra t-shirts.


Like. Especially maybe don't give them opening-weekend money for this shit, please?

The Blood is the Life for 28-04-2017

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

recent reading

Apr. 28th, 2017 02:41 am
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Robert Hack.

Okay, so I was as surprised as anybody when Archie Comics reinvented themselves as well-written, groundbreaking, genuinely quality comics for the twenty-first century, and the whole thing still feels vaguely surreal and as though at any moment the comics will vanish back into some kind of reality warp, but this? Is a goddamn delight, if you like horror comics at all. I grew up watching the Melissa Joan Hart TV series of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which adds another layer of frisson and piss-take to this book as a reading experience, but I don't think you need that to enjoy this, and I don't think you need to have read any Sabrina comics either. Basically, this just takes the premise of Sabrina the Teenage Witch-- witches live among us, desperately trying to keep their magic secret, bound by their own laws and customs, caught between two worlds-- and, instead of playing it for comedy, smashes it into the mass of genuinely creepy witch-based folklore out there and goes for the gusto.

Not to say that there aren't funny moments. Zelda and Hilda, Sabrina's aunts, have changed from the kind of dotty aunt who appears in sitcoms to a more Arsenic and Old Lace kind of vibe, now that they're supplementing the family larder by scavenging the town's cemeteries. Sabrina does, at one point, wonder whether she should attend her own dark baptism and consecration to Satan in the autumnal forest, or whether she should go to the pep rally and the game with Harvey Kinkle. Sabrina's talking cat remains a source of endless entertainment (when asked how he got turned into a cat, he mutters "This is what happens when you try to enact the Book of Revelations," and does a quick fade).

But mostly this is straight-up horror, aiming both at the occasional gross-out and at impressive psychological creepiness, and it's extremely well-written, with three-dimensional characters, cohesive (and unnerving) worldbuilding, and carefully researched folk magic. The art is gorgeous and expressive, and things like the (correctly icky) redesign of the 1940s Archie villain Madame Satan are labors of love (and footnoted for you at the back of the book). Literally the only complaint I have about this series is that it comes out so slowly, because I want more right away. This is both some of the best comics and some of the best horror of any genre I've read in quite a while, and yes, it will never stop being weird to find myself saying that.


Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys.

I shouldn't say too much about this because I beta-read it and am therefore pretty darn biased, but it's neo-Lovecraftiana for people who aren't racist sexist homophobic Other-haters, and it's out now, and it's great, and you should totally read it, especially if you find the Deep Ones and/or the Yith at all interesting. I am also told it works if you haven't read Lovecraft.


Within the Sanctuary of Wings, Marie Brennan.

So this is the fifth of the Memoirs of Lady Trent, who is an alt-Victorian naturalist who studies dragons, and it's the last one. You shouldn't start here-- you should start with the first, or possibly the second, as IMO they get better as they go-- but I thought I should mention that this is a five-volume series which comes to a tidy, pre-planned, and well-foreshadowed end without dragging on forever in endless not-written-yet limbo, and I am... trying to remember the last time I saw that happen ever, actually. M. L. N. Hanover's Black Sun's Daughter, I guess, a few years back, though that's urban fantasy, where I think finished series are somewhat more likely. Anyhow, it's a rare and precious thing. Also, there are many species of dragons in these novels, and they are interestingly differentiated and beautifully illustrated (literally, these illos are very cool).

I could wish the plot were a little less predictable, on both a volume-by-volume and an overall level, but by the time we get to book five the predictability has settled down into the kind of thing where you know pretty much what has to happen, but not how, and not necessarily why, and the details turn out to be fascinating. These are not spectacular books, but they are pleasant and down-to-earth and charming and comforting and should be read by persons who also like the Amelia Peabody series.
monanotlisa: (kara/lena - supergirl)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
It really didn't warrant its own post, but post-swim I made some tiny blue corn masa griddle cakes (somewhere between tortillas and unfilled gorditas or tlacoyos) sprinkled sea salt across them; roasted fresh rockfish with ancho chili and lemon in the same pan; ground two carrots into a fresh salad...and gobbled it all up. I love twenty-minute meals.

::

So the Supergirl showrunners did remember this series is about Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El, her beliefs and values! Yay. Supergirl 2x18  )

(no subject)

Apr. 28th, 2017 12:23 am
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
Sooo also, separately from the very deserving kitten, if anyone feels up to helping me out I'd really appreciate it.

I mean, I earned $80 last week! That's exciting. And I've been doing a lot of advertising things, like giving free talks and going to schools to sell principals and school counsellors on our services. But before I even get a permit to practice (ANY DAY NOW) I had to pay dues and application fees, which were over $500.






(no subject)

Apr. 28th, 2017 12:21 am
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
fuzzy calico kitten curled up in a sweater, gently touched by a hand


Hey guys, can you help? My friend Sarah just adopted a kitten who’d been dumped in her neighbourhood and was struggling to survive. Sarah and her husband are awesome cat guardians and I’ve seen them look after sick rescue kittens and geriatric family pets before with amazing love and dedication.

However, they’re not super rich and taking care of a new kitten properly is an unexpected expense. They’re looking to raise enough money to pay for vet visits, vaccinations, spay, and pet insurance to make sure Nimue (that’s her name) has a good start in life.

If you’re able to help them out, please send money to sadarkes@gmail.com via Paypal.

Thanks! (And thanks for signalboosting)

things

Apr. 27th, 2017 06:10 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
why are they so thingy?

Gratitudes

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:26 pm
kass: glass of white wine (white wine)
[personal profile] kass
1. Today I was good at my job and that felt good.

2. I am making roasted stuffed peppers right now and they are making my kitchen fragrant.

3. I am rich in friends, and there are a lot of people whom I love, and I am fiercely grateful for this, even when my heart aches because some of those beloveds are suffering.

4. The implausible chartreuse of early spring's first leaves, which I adore, every year.

5. The fact that even when life is not easy, I can feel in my bones that I am in a better place than I was a year ago.

Happy colony

Apr. 27th, 2017 11:15 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Still typing on my phone (Andrew's got a new laptop but until it's set up needs mine 24/7 so that he can keep up a steady enough stream of Twitter) so I'll have to be quick.

I finally got to see last week's episode of Doctor Who and while generally I liked it (at first I was wary of the premise for how Russell Davies it sounded, but it didn't do too badly with it), there was one thought I had during it that has stuck in my brain.

So I don't think this is spoilery but obviously opinions on what counts as a spoiler differ. I'd say this is in the "it contained the following general types of plot device" category, but I suppose that might be up for debate too.

Because I'd seen a lot of people's reactions to this episode already, I knew one of them went something like "you can tell white people write Doctor Who because when he asks Bill why she wants to go to the future instead of the past, her answer isn't just 'I'm a black woman.' "

Similarly, I can tell the show isn't written by immigrants because it inescapably hinges on the colonists' assumption that they can be happy all the time because they're headed to this utopia that's been built for them where everything is perfect.

Even if it had lived up to those utopian expectations, that would not have stopped grief being there.

Moving so irrevocably away from home leaves you grieving for everyone you left there. Except in some ways its worse than if they died, because you know they're grieving for you too. Some people (if you're lucky, all of them if you're not) you will probably never see again, no matter how much you love them.

There'd be homesickness. There'd be nostalgia in the sense it was first intended, as a proper disease people even died from, as well as its colloquial meaning today. There'd be dreams about the voices of lost people. We're sometimes fine when contemplating the big things, but then cry because we remember the pattern on the dishes, the noise the door made when it closed, or the colors in the sky.

You couldn't have a colony without grief.

Requiescat in Pace

Apr. 27th, 2017 03:48 pm
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx

Head

Apr. 27th, 2017 09:52 pm
squirmelia: (Default)
[personal profile] squirmelia
Head

She wandered inside the head, but at first she did not realise it was a head she was wandering in.

Apples

Apr. 27th, 2017 09:45 pm
tig_b: cartoon from nMC set (Default)
[personal profile] tig_b
“I love apples.” I thought, and I hadn’t seen one for many years. This would be a good test of the new system.

“Cera, please search for them and replicate some for me.”

Certainly Mrz, how many would you like?

I thought, almost tasting one in my mouth as I remembered how good they used to be, “three please Cera.”

My database search has identified several varieties, which do you require?

I could not choose, thinking of the crisp Granny Smiths, the succulent Russsels, soft Delicious and sharp Bramleys. “Just choose three different varieties, and provide one of each.”

There was a moment of low frequency buzzing, then a shimmering light in the exit portal. I could see red shapes forming.

Then a final burst of light and I saw three perfectly formed love apples.

Would you like salad with them Mrz? Or pasta?

Dietary thought experiment

Apr. 27th, 2017 12:22 pm
steorra: Part of Saturn in the shade of its rings (Default)
[personal profile] steorra
This is only a thought experiment; I have no intention of ever trying to eat this way.

Supposing one were to try to construct a diet based on seeds and seed-fruit, what resources would one have to work with? (I was trying to figure out if this is the same as fruitarianism but it looks like fruitarianism is often more restrictive.)

Cereal grains (wheat, rice, maize, etc.)
Pseudocereals (quinoa, buckwheat, etc.)

Legumes (lentils, beans, peanuts, soybeans, carob, etc.)
Tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.)
Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, squash/pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, poppy seeds, other edible seeds.

Essentially all culinary fruits (apples, strawberries, plums, blueberries, mangoes, dates, etc.). Exceptions include rhubarb and perhaps secondarily seedless fruits like bananas.
Culinary vegetables that are botanical fruits (tomatoes, eggplants, squash, peppers, etc.)

Olives, olive oil
Coconut, coconut oil
Seed oils (canola, sunflower, soy, peanut, etc.)

Coffee
Cocoa
Vanilla

Seed-based spices (pepper, caraway, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.)

Possible sweeteners include grain-based syrups (e.g., barley malt syrup, corn syrup) and fruit-based sugars.

peak Alex

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:18 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
"how much do you know about atomic ground states and the quantisation of energy?" I ask, while making custard

Greetings from Athens!

Apr. 27th, 2017 07:52 pm
mummimamma: moominpapa in hammock (Very busy relaxing)
[personal profile] mummimamma
I'm now well installed in Athens. I've rented a small flat through Airbnb in Pankrati, about 30 minutes walk from the Acropolis. The flat is okay, a bit dark and cold since it doesn't get a lot of sun - which would probably be great if I was here in July. There is a heater there, but I refuse to use it, it's almost May after all! The kitchen corner is a bit poky as well, but I've never really found a flat here in my price range that has the kind of kitchen I want. Thinking about it, not even I have the kitchen I want in my own flat...

As for what I'm doing: Tuesday and Thursday morning I attend a Greek course at Athens centre. They call it a newspaper class, but really it's a conversation course. We're five students and one teacher and we talk a lot. Today we read an article on Easter traditions, and discussed various traditions and other things along the way. I think it's rather fun. Besides me, there are a Finnish lady, a Chilean man who's a monk, an American woman some ten years my junior, there are also two people who have Greek as an heritage language, one British/Cypriot lady who is rather quiet, but also almost fluent, and one Greek-American lady who is kind of stereotypical Greek-American; rather like in My big, fat, Greek wedding; loud, and also very pink. All her accessories, from earrings to pens are pink. I'm trying, or at least pretending to try, to reserve judgement on her, but I'm not very good at it.

Aside from that, I've not been a diligent scholar. I've got a desk at the reading room at the Nordic Library here, but haven't been there much. Monday I slept, did some shopping and some administrative stuff, Wednesday I also slept late since I went to the opera (Macbeth, pretty good, although the scenography was a bit excessive for my tastes) and didn't come home until 2am, and today I got a message from my cousin asking if I really was in Athens, since she just arrived here from Santorini, and should we meet up?

So that's what I've been doing. Now I'm drinking coffee at a cafe in Thissio. I'd planned to read some articles, but I'd forgotten to download them to my tablet. But tomorrow!

Adjudicating

Apr. 27th, 2017 02:16 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
How to adjudicate when the GM and player have diverging expectations?

Someone has to act as arbiter, and by default that's the GM, but when the GM decides, what should they decide?

I have no one answer, but a few principles.

If it doesn't matter much, get it out of the way quickly, and defer any discussion about the rules till later.

If the player had a particular expectation, try not to undermine them. I think this is one of the most important things to try to deal with in the moment.

If the player misunderstood an explanation and tried to jump across a 100" wide chasm not a 10" wide chasm, you may need to clarify some other things, but at a minimum, you probably want to say, "you'll just fall to your death, do you want to do something else?" not "are you sure?" "uh, yeah, why?" "ok, you fall to your death".

That applies whether you have someone who knows what the official rules say and was relying on it. If they've set up a shot that depends on the cover rules working the way the rules say and you've never previously altered, it sucks for them to have that yanked out from under them if you improv something instead. Or whether you have a new player who doesn't know what's covered mechanically or not, and tries to do something dramatic like swinging on a chandelier that in-rules doesn't provide any combat advantage. In both cases, the player shouldn't have a hissy fit, but also in both cases, it's your job to do the best you can in the spur of the moment to allow the player's action or give a good substitute. FWIW, I would allow the first player their interpretation of the rules that once, and if it kills an important NPC, I never rely on an important NPC surviving. And for the second player I'd do something like, "make a dex check, if you succeed, attack with a modest bonus (or choose to knock the enemy back)". That fits the sort of action they wanted.

If it's a one-off, it probably doesn't matter much. If it's going to come up repeatedly (eg. rules for hiding), get past the immediate problem, and then review the situation later. Check what the rules really say. Decide if you'd prefer those, or some modification. Check with the player if they have a sensible request, and if so, consider if it makes sense. Then make a decision, make it clear and stick to it.

If you're not sure which rule to go with? Look for easy to adjudicate (if it doesn't matter, you can always go with what's in the book). Look for fun -- the beginner is right, random stunts should TOTALLY be in lots of combat, and it's a flaw in the rules they're not. Look for ones that avoid breaking a tone you're evoking. Look for which way your players would prefer.

Part of this is just, how to make good rulings in the heat of a moment whichever side you come down on.

Part of it is, where do you draw the line between "what happens because of common sense" and "what happens because what it says in the rules". There's a gulf of people's expectations. Both in terms of tone (is this action adventure where heroes do things humans MIGHT be able to do? Or more like an epic norse legend, where great heroes wrestle sea-serpents?) and in terms of pedantry (do you expect the GM to allow an unconscious villain to have their throat slit? or rely on the weapon rules on how much damage that deals?). There's an amount you can stretch to accommodate different players, but only so far: beyond that, you just have to accept you want to play different things.

It's important to figure out if that's happening or not. You can totally have a tone that has character drama all over the place, *and* swashbuckling *and* fart jokes (see: all of Shakespeare). But if 4/5 players want wall-to-wall drama and one wants fart jokes, it may well not work. And the same in reverse.

Likewise, you can easily have some characters who chose well-optimised powers for their class, and some who chose whatever felt cool, and as long as there's not a big difference in power, it's fine. But if some characters want to hand wave away combat to get to the character interaction, and the other characters want to use the class abilities they just levelled up into, it's a stretch to keep both happy. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't.

But that's often the underlying dynamic when players react in very different ways, they're focussing on different parts of the adventure, and you want to give both what they want, but avoid what you give one player obviating what the other player wants. Eg. if conversation is always pointless when combat happens, people who want to learn about NPCs are screwed. If you let one character do things because they're cool, but everyone else sticks to the rules, the other players are eclipsed. Can you do both, or not?
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

So I’d hoped the Republicans would grow up after being trounced in their first attempt at repealing/replacing Obamacare.  I’d legitimately love it if Republicans said, “People are being bankrupted by out-of-control health costs, and health care is complicated – why don’t we take some time to get the law right and come up with something America doesn’t hate?”

Instead, natch, they’re trying to ram through a hasty bill that’s even worse than the last one.  They may vote as early tomorrow.

Which is why you have to call your Representatives now.  And here’s how you stop do that:

CALL, DO NOT EMAIL.
Politicians can ignore emails the way you do. They can’t ignore calls. Their staffers have to take the calls, which means their staff doesn’t get anything done while they’re handling calls, which means the Senator is far more likely to hear about how the office is slowing to a crawl because the ACA issue is jamming the lines.

Last time, my super-conservative rep changed his mind on the repeal/replace from “YEAH LET’S DO IT” to “Uh, maybe?” because the calls were literally running 20 to 1 in favor of keeping Obamacare around.

SAY YOU’RE A VOTER FROM YOUR TOWN.
Let them know you’re local. Don’t bother calling if you’re not a potential voter. You do not have to give your name, though you can if you want; they may ask you for your zip code.  You may wish to force them to take your name to ensure they got your message.

HAVE A SCRIPT READY, IF YOU’RE SOCIALLY AWKWARD LIKE ME.
A good script is something like:

1) I’m disappointed that there’s a rush to shove through even worse health care legislation;
2) Please do not repeal the ACA without a strong replacement;
3) If you have a preexisting condition or the ACA has helped your life in some way, talk about that and make it personal how your life (or the life of someone you love) depends on this;
4) I will not vote for any Representative who helps repeal the ACA without a strong replacement, either in the primary or the general election.

You’re free to go on, if you like, but be polite. They kind of have to listen. In my experience, they’ll generally say they’ll pass the message onto the Representative, and hang up. But if you want to be that person who the office groans when they have to handle them – that polite-but-firm person who will be heard – then hey! You can contribute to the office gossip that people are really concerned about this ACA issue, which is good in politics.

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE, NOT YOUR SENATOR.
That means you have to make a maximum of one call, which will take ten minutes max. (Unless your Representative’s line is already clogged, in which case, keep calling.)

You can generally look up your senator by using Who Is My Representative, but if not you’ll find a phone number on their website. Calling the local number is generally viewed to be slightly better.

And here’s the trick: If you’re a conservative who’s opposed to mandating that insurers must be able to insure people with preexisting conditions (for some weird reason), flip the script and call as well. This is a republic, and you deserve to have your voice heard.

That said, there was a ridiculous idea last time that the ACA repeal only failed because it wasn’t conservative enough.  That wasn’t true.  The reason it failed was most because tacking to the right to appeal to the hard-core conservatives cost them more votes in the center, and trying to appeal to everyone made their base splinter.

So calling to register your complaint actually does work.  We’re not guaranteed, of course; the Republicans are desperate, trying to shove through a law they wrote in less than a month that nobody’s even fully read (as opposed to the ACA, which was introduced in July 2009 and voted on in March 2010 after heavy debate).  They may manage it.

But if they do manage to replace the ACA with something that literally punishes those with preexisting conditions (and that could easily be you, even if you’re healthy now!), let it not be because you didn’t try.  Make the call today.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

We are Legion (We are Bob)

Apr. 27th, 2017 02:07 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I saw this recommended online somewhere and the premise was v my sort of thing so I gave it a go.

Bob is a hacker who gets lucky rich, signs up for cryogenic suspension, and at some point in the future is scanned and turned into an AI in a semi-theocratic-dystopian future. This is before that tech becomes reliable or cheap, so it's only used where an AI is needed and the subject doesn't have much choice, specifically running a space probe.

The generally comedic tone allows a lot of interesting premises to be examined which I've rarely seen in other books, like automatically using multiple copies of the most effective uploaded personality, instead of using each once each.

There's a bunch of space exploration which is solid and pleasingly up-to-date, but not otherwise spectacular.

Bob is an example of the sardonic-witty low-self-esteem hacker who shows up in lots of books. An archetype I like, but have got sick of. The sexist comments are fewer than The Martian, but still not zero.

If you like this sort of thing, you will probably enjoy it a lot, but if you don't, it probably won't persuade you.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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