Thursday, October 19th, 2017 08:30 am
Research Risks

I have some thoughts:

1. Marine biology is low risk of misuse by supervillains? Come on! Sharks!

2. Molasses storage's low risk of breaking free and threatening local population: didn't that actually happen at least once? If we're counting trucks as facilities, I mean. Never mind, I should have looked at the mouseover text before posting.

3. I wouldn't put linguistics that low for supervillain risk, assuming the validity of the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. (Yes, everything I knew about Sapir-Whorf did come from that one Delany book.)

4. But then, he put palaeontology low as well, and. Well. Do that right/wrong enough and you get both microbiology (bubonic plague! anthrax!) AND ornithology (dinosaurs!)

5. HE LEFT OUT ECONOMICS. And poli-sci (between history and sociology?) but imo economics is WAY scarier from both a supervillain and accidental escape perspective.

6. Really, isn't any discipline high supervillain risk if the supervillain has the right mental attitude?

7. If prosthetics is high supervillain risk/low escape risk, and dentistry is low supervillain risk/low escape risk, are dentures high or low supervillain risk?
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 03:31 pm
So, having made a resolution to try to use dreamwidth more and had the daily come up on Habitica without having read enough for a review post lately, I am going to try to write about something else.

The first subject that came to mind was writing process, so here goes.

There is a lot of advice on the internet that tells you to write every day on one project/novel at a time until it is finished. This is not bad advice per se; I would even say it is probably the first thing a new writer who wants to write more should try, in part because it will give you the most practice, and at the beginning that is the important part; and in part because it apparently works very well for a lot of people going around with the specific problem "I am not getting anything written."

However. )
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 01:45 pm
Unicorn at  fountain-4Web
[Image description: “The Unicorn is Found” or “The Unicorn at the Fountain”. The second tapestry in The Hunt of the Unicorn series, from circa 1495 -1505.

A tall ornamental fountain with lion-mask spigots is spilling water into a forest stream, where animals (a lion and lioness, a leopard, a weasel, a wolf, a stag, a pair of pheasants, a pair of goldfinches, and a pair of rabbits) have gathered to drink, while a pair of ducks swim past in the stream itself.

A unicorn is kneeling on the far side of the stream from the viewer, dipping the very tip of its horn into the water (a cure for all poisons), which makes the water safe to drink.

Behind the bushes surrounding the fountain are a dozen hunters with long pikes over their shoulders, along with their hunting dogs. They are talking and gesturing to each other, discussing exactly how to kill the unicorn, so they can bring it back to the king and queen.

The towers of the royal castle can be glimpsed in through the trees in the far distance (in the upper left corner of the tapestry). Description ends.]

When I was a tiny thing (maybe I was still in kindergarten/infant school) my parents took me to see the original Unicorn tapestries in the museum, and I got to see them ultra up close (like less than a couple feet away) -- and this one is nearly 12 and a half feet (3.78 meters) tall ... almost life sized (!).

Naturally, the experience made an impression. And the tapestry I posted here made the biggest impression of all: this is what “unicorn” means to me. Throughout the rest of my childhood, I was bitter and salty about all the “rainbow-sparkle/magic glitter” unicorns with Kewpie doll eyes that were absolutely everywhere (and well-meaning friends kept giving me, "’Cause she loves unicorns!”). ...And frankly, I still am.

Why I Wish This Tapestry Were the “Famous One”:

(Rant follows -- wherein I absolutely do spoil the story [plot wise] that these tapestries tell, and where I hope to spoil [popularity-wise] the most famous medieval tapestry of them all)

(The links behind the cut lead to The Metropolitan Museum of Art's online display of each of the Tapestries)

The story of 'The Hunt of The Unicorn' narrated -- warning: there is violence, gore, and more than one animal death )

Like I said at the beginning, “The Unicorn at the Fountain” is what “unicorn” means to me. Unicorns are wild and fierce -- able to kill you as easily as slice through butter (if they must, in self-defense). But the unicorn’s first impulse is to use their magic for the good of others -- to protect all the creatures of the forest, even though doing so makes them vulnerable to attack -- even though the powers of the State polluted the stream in the first place -- even though the powers of the State wanted to steal all that magic, and keep it for itself. Unicorns still take that risk.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

And then, with great responsibility, comes great kindness.

How is that not the most radical thing of all?
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 05:48 am
It's been a week of 30 degree days (86 if you use Fahrenheit) and there seems to be a storm coming right about now. I have just realised that this might be why Dorian's been quite this excitable all day. The changing barometric conditions might be sending him into Anxious Soccer Ball mode.

Beatrice, being pounced on, responded to this by playing soccer.
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 04:02 pm
  • Ella Enchanted - Very pretty reworking of some of the fairy tale tropes, especially focused on the fickleness of fairy gifts and human nature. There are some cringy scenes, and I really really struggle with the pushing of the agenda finding a perfect ever after partner is a thing that teenage girls/young women should be looking for (and yes, a little bit there is that for the young man, but he seemed that bit older). I'm dithering on giving this one away, or whether I would watch it again (will check with youngest). 7/10
  • Finding Neverland - Aii, movies that make me cranky. There is 'based on a true story', and then there is 'killing someone off at the wrong point in history so that you can make a scandal where there wouldn't have been one'. Supposedly about JM Barrie, his friendship with the Llewellyn-Davies family, and the writing of Peter Pan. I'm not intending to ever watch this one again, because shouting at the screen is not actually one of my hobbies, regardless of how much I indulge in it. 3/10
  • Hinterland, S1E1 "Devil's Bridge". Billed as a "Welsh Noir Crime Thriller", it wasn't surprising that this was on the dark side, and that the crime aspects opened with quite the nasty crime scene. There are a lot of dark elements in this story, and in some ways it isn't the opening murder that is the darkest part. I'm hoping that some of these will continue into the other episodes of the season, because there are historical crimes/events referenced that haven't been dealt with. I'm not going to specifically reference them here, because learning about them is an important part of the story, and wouldn't want to spoiler people who might be inclined to watch it.

  • ICO: Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe. Novelisation of the computer game of the same name. Very pretty story, lush language and detailed set pieces. Pacing is a bit wonky, probably reflecting said origins as a computer game. Some fascinating world-building, but no idea how true it might be to the original game. 8/10
  • The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y S Lee. In this, the third of the four existing Mary Quinn mysteries, author Y S Lee has upped the ante, sending Mary in to the royal household to investigate a sequence of petty thefts. The story feels even more convoluted than the previous one that I read, which is quite the challenge. Characterisation is detailed and considered, the world-building and sense of place descriptive and evocative (although more so at the visual level than the tactile or olfactory), while the story thunders on at a great rate. An enjoyable read. 8/10
  • The Wicked and the Divine: Imperial Phase Part 1 by Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson/Cowles (Vol 5 of the trade paper back collections of the comics; issues 23-28). The conspiracy elements are ramping up, the remaining avatars are splitting in to camps, and the woman who might have been able to explain what was going on shared tidbits of information unevenly amongst her favourites before her death (in a previous volume) so no-one really has any idea of how bad things are going to get. The plot line of the coming Great Darkness gets a lot of attention, and the morality of the gods gets delved into. 9/10

I'll note that I'm not being particularly critical in my reading, or it might just be that these three really were all of a level. I enjoyed them, I'd probably be willing to reread them, but I'm not really feeling like recommending them all over the place. Except maybe the Lee, because actually that one has a lot of really interesting details that I don't see elsewhere (the graphic novels have a new conceit, but there are two many complex conspiracy theory comics out there for me to point to this one as special).
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 07:23 am
Are you hungry like the wolf? Or do you have to install microwave ovens or walk like an Egyptian despite your baggy trousers?

It's come to my attention that 80's Inc are playing at the Carine on Saturday 21st - that's this Saturday.  Earl of the golden voice and Louise of the magic flute and sax gave Swancon attendees an energetic show this year, now come and see the whole of this impressive 6 piece band strut their Best of British 80's stuff.

My mum was so impressed she's coming with us!

We've seen them play several times and they're terrific.

The 'best of the 80s
– UK' show will feature songs made famous by the likes of Simple Minds,
Queen, Dire Straits, Duran Duran, Rick Astley, the Eurythmics, Depeche
Mode, Bananarama, Madness, The Clash, Wham , Tears For Fears and David
Bowie. Many other well known artists will be covered.

You can buy a ticky ticket here

Band's website here  - and scroll down for my reviews of 80's Inc shows from the past performances.

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 04:47 pm
I first saw Fies' work with Mom's Cancer, a sweet and terrifying tour of hope and loss (now available free online):

He and his wife just lost almost everything in the Santa Rosa fires blazing in central California, and he's made an almost instantaneous comic about it:

A Fire Story.
(thanks to [personal profile] umadoshi for the link)

I've started to make a transcript/image description:

Ping me here if you'd like to help create this.
Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 08:12 am
I usually ignore the salt measurements except when baking, and just salt to taste, but that's because I've been cooking since I've been old enough to drag a chair to the stove and push vegetables around on a skillet. This is potentially disastrous to people who don't know as much about cooking!

Sometimes your recipes call for a specific type of salt - and there could be an actual reason why. Not if it's trendy salt, usually, but if it's "sea salt," Diamond kosher salt, or Morton's kosher salt, there's a specific reason and you should actually pay attention. Who knew?

I mean, I've been cooking for multiple decades and I had no fucking clue before this morning, so if you didn't know, don't feel bad! Hell, Bon Appetit magazine didn't even know until 2013, and they're goddamn Bon Appetit gourmet magazine.

This is going to make a world of difference in my pickling, that's for sure. No wonder my pickled turnips always turn out too salty.

The Kosher Salt Question

Tagline: Prized for its purity and flaky texture, kosher salt has been a home-cooking standard for decades. But the two major brands, Diamond Crystal and Morton, are very different products. Your ruined meatballs can attest.
Monday, October 16th, 2017 06:25 pm
Arrrrrgh, so Ruby's orthotics appointment at PMH will not come up until next July.

I feel a strongly worded letter to the Minister of Health coming up.

Also, can anyone recommend a good, cheapish orthopedics place? The quotes from the private providers recommended by PMH were all around $500 and I was really thinking more like $100.
Sunday, October 15th, 2017 10:34 pm
Still haven't finished updating my Yuletide letter, but I did finally finish watching one more episode of Brooklyn 99. Sometimes I really dislike the cringe reflex in my brain that makes watching new episodes of things difficult--it took me something like a week to watch one episode (episode 3 of season 1, I am not exactly moving at a fair clip.)

Went shopping today and finally have new bras, YES. Also I have finished putting away a bunch of socks and tights, woohoo! Eventually I will actually have all my clothes in my dresser instead of in various laundry baskets, but that seems like a distant dream right now. Hahahaa. Also one of these days I'll hopefully have enough closet space and shelving. I have small dreams at the moment, okay?
Saturday, October 14th, 2017 08:31 pm
I am still sick! *hands* I'm getting less congested, but I'm still coughing and drippy and gross. Just... ugh. I stayed home on Wednesday being sick and cleaning my room a bit, which felt good. I laundered sheets and towels too, so I can take showers with clean towels which is super nice. And I handwashed all the tights I own which fit and threw out a bunch of old ones, which is great.

I also looked up a bunch of videos on tight repair because I would really like to repair some of my stockings, not just throw them out, especially the expensive imported silk ones. I've saved a couple nylon ones with runs to practice on, and I have a pair of fishnets with one hole that I'd REALLY like to save--they're Spanx brand which is ridiculous, but they're really sturdy and have a great pattern on the backs. Except for the hole at the top of one they're terrific.

I need to go out bra shopping and grocery shopping this weekend, but I was so tired today, I slept in and ordered pizza. I do not want to be out around humans at all. Hopefully tomorrow those things will occur!

Also finishing my Yuletide letter because eeeeesh.
Sunday, October 15th, 2017 09:02 am
The proper grown-up blog I share with [personal profile] yiduiqie has been linked from some amazing places in the last month, and I just want to document it for posterity and ego boosting:
  • The New Yorker linked to our 2015 post about the sinister subtext of Thomas the Tank Engine. Yes, that New Yorker. Ain't no thang. *hairflip*
  • (That article was then shared at BoingBoing, where the comments were filled with nerds taking our silly post very seriously indeed.)
  • BookRiot's crime fiction podcast discussed our post on why we're not supporting the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries film Kickstarter, and our earlier post (linked in our recent one) about the racism in the books and TV series, and how it's something that non-Australians seem to overlook.
  • The podcast included a wonderful bit where the hosts were like, "Well, these Australian ladies say the books are problematic, but we wanted to make up our own mind, so we read one each." But they chose the books at random, and had the misfortune to end up with Blood and Circuses, The One With The Infamous Clown Sex. (If you watched the series -- which I really love, when it's not being incredibly racist -- you should take a moment to appreciate the lack of clown sex. Really.) Anyway, they concluded that, yes, the books are very bad in terms of exotifying and othering people of non-Anglo backgrounds, but they're also just not well-written and ... bad. Which is fair. 
  • And The Monthly, an Australian publication whose essays and articles appeal to flat white-sipping inner-city lefties (so, me), linked to our first Discovery post in an article about angry, racist nerds complaining that Trek is "suddenly" appealing to an "SJW" agenda.
  • (I am extremely proud to get the word "feelpinions" into The Monthly, BUT I also wonder if my use isn't a bit defensive, ie, no one can accuse me of being emotional, irrational or otherwise a silly lady fan if I say it first. Am I putting myself at a disadvantage by emphasising that my posts are reactions, not reviews, and that my opinions derive from my emotions? On the other hand, what is television for but to elicit an emotional reaction?)
Finally, here is this week's Discovery post, which I almost didn't share because it wasn't wholly positive and ... IDK, I guess I've become protective of this ridiculous show, and don't want to play into the narrative of it being The Worst. On the other hand, it made some Bad Choices this week, along with some better ones. (And I note that the dude reviewers who have decried it as being The Worst really liked this episode, which only reassures me that I'm on the right track.)

Sunday, October 15th, 2017 02:19 am
Did I mention I started a new Dragon Age Origins playthrough with the Complete Bi Overhaul, Polygamey, and Improved Atmosphere mods? It's been great.
Read more... )
Saturday, October 14th, 2017 01:09 pm
Hey, it's [community profile] thefridayfive, and I came up with these questions (and why am I finding them so hard to answer?)

1) What is the first song you remember from your childhood?
"Never Mind the Why and Wherefore" from Gilbert and Sullivan's 19th C operetta Pirates of Penzance.
song and lyrics

2) What is the first music you purchased with your own money?
Joni Mitchell's Song to a Seagull, 1968. I think I wore out the grooves.

3) What's a piece of music that you know by heart?
"How Can I Keep From Singing" happens a lot in the shower.

4) What's a song that makes you turn off the music right away?
"Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

5) And why?
Lived below someone who played that song 20 times a day for a week.
Saturday, October 14th, 2017 07:50 pm
I missed the Yuletide sign up.
Saturday, October 14th, 2017 09:42 am
Now that the performing arts festival and such are out of the way, I've been able to get to the gaming group again. Last time, I played two games, Lovecraft Letter and The 7th Continent.

There are a few people in the gaming group who seem to be collecting variants of the card game Love Letter, and Lovecraft Letter is another of those. This one takes its theme from the works of HP Lovecraft, with heroic investigators battling horrific tentacled monstrosities and Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. The variant mechanic is the addition of that thing no Lovecraft-themed game is complete without, a sanity meter; losing sanity makes a player more susceptible to being knocked out of the game but opens up access to more powerful cards that a saner character wouldn't consider using.

The 7th Continent is an exploration and survival game in which a group of characters explore a mysterious and recently-discovered continent. The full game map is reportedly several metres across, but it's broken up into small numbered tiles that are laid out one by one as the characters explore, so at any given point there's only a small portion of the map visible and taking up table space. Each game begins with a card that gives a starting tile and an objective (the one we used for our game, which is recommended for beginners, has a picture of a crudely drawn map with X marking the spot; other cards apparently have more cryptic instructions). The journey includes a mixture of random encounters and scripted events (the details of which will vary somewhat depending on which characters are being played and what inventory they're carrying), and is designed to play out over many hours; the game includes a "save" mechanic where you can store your current location tile, character and inventory cards, and other cards representing the game state, and begin again later from where you left off.

I'm trying to decide what I think of The 7th Continent based on the couple of hours I've played, because the the second edition is currently on Kickstarter and they're saying Kickstarter is likely to be the only way to get a copy because it's too complicated and expensive a game to be viable as a mass-produced retail item. The expense is not unfair given how much stuff there is in the box, but it might be a bit much for me considering that if I do buy a copy I may not get to play it very often.
Friday, October 13th, 2017 04:28 pm
There was some discussion on twitter about how appalling twitter is, and since Mastodon seems to be the most popular alternative I decided to check it out. And then the helper tool led me to an instance that let me be and I had to join.

Anyway, if you have an account add me so I have someone to follow! I can't really speak to whether it's a good social network since my network right now is just me and the status account, but it seems ok for posting and stuff. And I know I have seen interesting looking people mention having accounts, so next time that happens I can follow them.
Friday, October 13th, 2017 02:44 pm
Tagged by [personal profile] anghraine, copying her in just doing the top ten by kudos.
Read more... )