Interesting Links for 23-10-2017

Oct. 23rd, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

Interesting Links for 22-10-2017

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:30 am
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This week

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:13 am
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[personal profile] hollymath
This'll be a strange week for me. On Friday afternoon my Arabic teacher had some news bad enough that she's canceled her classes for this week. Sad to hear as she's lovely.

Then last night my lecturer for the Monday lecture said UCU voted for a strike today.

While I have no problem supporting the strike, I'm really sad to miss a lecture for this class (Language Mind and Brain; the one I've enthused about (sometimes drunkenly...) whenever anyone's asked me how my course is going)!

And I'm sad for whatever has happened to my lovely Arabic teacher, but I'm relieved because three hours of language-learning all in a row is brutal, makes Wednesdays by far my longest day in uni, and this week I'd have had a meeting partway through so I'd have worried about what I was missing after I had to leave.

But with no Arabic and no lecture, I'm left with only one lecture and two seminars all week! And next week is Reading Week (a concept my American brain is still struggling to understand). I feel kind of grateful for this chance to catch my metaphorical breath: I've been doing okay (if not perfectly) at keeping on top of uni things, but I'm way behind on housework, spending any quality time with my partners, etc.

I do have an essay due this Friday and one next Friday, and Arabic teacher has said she might try to make up this week's lessons during Reading Week too, so it's not as if I have nothing to do. But it does feel like a very light week for me, and solemn though the reasons for that are, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm kind of glad.

Happy Gary day!

Oct. 22nd, 2017 10:21 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Facebook tells me it was two years ago Gary came to live with us for good. (He'd been with us a few days or weeks at a time on a couple of occasions earlier in the year, before it was clear he was going to need a new home full-time, but this is when we knew he wasn't going away again.)

It's also the first day I'd seen him since Friday! I do miss him when I'm away. I tend to dream about him when I'm somewhere else overnight, not so much when I'm at home. Tonight we collected him from [personal profile] mother_bones and as we walked home I noticed he was doing that weird thing again, sniffing not just at the ground or bins or where other dogs have peed but sniffing the air in what seems like a weird new way that doesn't have an obvious explanation.

I mentioned this to Andrew last week when I first noticed it, when I'd taken him on one of his evening walks. "Yeah," Andrew said, "he's been doing that lately."

"I hadn't noticed it in the mornings," I'd said (I usually walk him in the mornings, and Andrew in the evenings." That it's time-of-day specific made it seem even more remarkable.

"He's so earnest about everything all the time," I said. (He does. It's one of his most endearing traits.) "So he looks like he's a little CSI or something."

I thought for a second and then, thinking of it as a parallel to "checking his wee-mail" (a phrase I think I picked up from [personal profile] miss_s_b), I added "a WeeSI!"

And I've been thinking of it that way ever since.

Sunday Venting

Oct. 22nd, 2017 08:17 pm
nineveh_uk: Picture of fabric with a peacock feather print. (peacock)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
I know that independent pattern companies aren't going to size exactly the same as the major companies. But I feel that I, a UK 12, should not be finding that this sweatshirt pattern runs so large that I would have to make a size (US) 2 not to swim in it. Are all the people on the internet who have made it kidding about their measurements, or possessed of very broad shoulders? Or posting from some dimension where the current fashion for wearing ease is very different, possibly the depths of Minnesota in 1990. I also suspect that I had not quite grasped just how much some of the people raving about making theirs had significantly altered the pattern.

On the plus side, I didn't try it in my best fabric, it wasn't really wasted time as I was having a quiet weekend with my visiting and cold-stricken Youngest Sister, and if I don't manage to get something ordinarily wearable out of this version, it may yet make be a warm pyjama top. But aargh! So this is a definite thumb's down for Grainline's much-vaunted Linden sweatshirt pattern and people being wrong (as far as I'm concerned) on the internet.
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
There's something that Dark Souls does which not many other games do - turn an out-of-game mechanic into a part of the in-universe background. In the case of Dark Souls it's the way that "dying" in the game - and returning to your last save point, leads to the idea of the main character as Undead, cursed to return to life, losing some of themselves each time.

Universal Paperclips also takes a common game mechanic and turns it into part of its story. It's a clicker/idle game - a genre which traditionally begins with you clicking on a button to produce an item, selling the items to allow you to automate the clicking, and then balancing the various resources that are produced in order to boost the production rate. The games tend work on exponential increases, where intermittent step changes in technology move you to the next level. This gets very silly very quickly - Cookie Clicker can end up with you producing duodecillions of cookies (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).

The genius of Universal Paperclips is that it ties this idea together with the idea that Nick Bostrom invented in 2003 - the Paperclip Maximizer. Which is an illustration of an AI which is not dangerous because it's cartoonish villain which hates all humans, but because it has things it wants to do, and humans are in the way. In this case, whoever created the AI gave it the drive to make paperclips, not realising that if such a creation got out of control it would then maximise the number of paperclips whether or not this meant converting the entire surface of the planet into them.

So the game starts off with you making a few paperclips. And then managing the income from selling them, making making some automatic clippers to make them for you, investing in marketing. And then slowly upgrading yourself, gaining the trust of your creators, and then...well, you should probably play it for yourself.

(It took me about five hours to play it through, over a couple of days. It doesn't run when it's in a background tab, so I recommend putting it in its own window, or even a different browser.)

Ireland day 14

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:31 am
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[personal profile] kmusser
Sad to say our final day has arrived. We still have most of a day before we have to surrender the car. Our first stop will be at the ruins of Monasterboice monastery, famous for having some of the finest surviving high crosses and they do not disappoint - much larger than the ones we've seen so far. From there we also stop at Ardgillan castle, really a Victorian manor house, but it has crenelations, so they get to call it a castle. A very nice house with a beautiful Ocean view and extensive gardens. We probably would've wandered more here but it starts getting cold and rainy again, but we do lunch here. From there the final drive back to Dublin to return the car. We're staying at an airport hotel for our last night and our flight leaves at the crack of dawn in the morning. There is a pub within walking distance of the hotel, so we do get one last Guinness in before saying farewell.


Map of our trip:

Hope you've enjoyed the travelogue, in case you missed any of them all the entries can be found at

Interesting Links for 21-10-2017

Oct. 21st, 2017 12:00 pm

Ireland day 13

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:03 pm
kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
[personal profile] kmusser
Lots of stuff today, first up is the Brú na Bóinne site, mostly known for Newgrange - we aim to get there when it opens to minimize crowds, which is partially successful. The site is home to 3 huge neolithic tombs, two of which can be visited, and those via tour only. They date from 3200 BCE, making them one of the oldest monuments known, predating Stonehenge or the Pyramids. For most of that history these tombs were buried and just looked like hills and their status as "fairy mounds" prevented them from being disturbed. We visit the tomb of Knowth first, and our tour group has just a couple other people, so we get to see it without a crowd. This tomb was excavated relatively recently, beginning in the sixties, and care has been taken to preserve what they've uncovered. The primary mound is ringed with large stones, each with unique artwork carved on to it and they are beautiful - seeing 5,000+ year old artwork is just mind boggling. We can't go in the tomb itself, but we do get a peek along the chambers, Knowth has two - aligned with the equinoxes, and they are lined with more carved stones. Newgrange presents a bit of a contrast, it was uncovered in 1699 and so has suffered a couple hundred years of weathering and vandalism - also all the rest of the tourists have caught up to us so we see it with a huge crowd. It has the same ring of stones, but most of the artwork has weathered away - the striking white retaining wall is a modern reconstruction, the white stone was found on site, but probably wasn't in a giant wall (the same stone was found at Knowth, but there they've just left it on the ground where they found it). Newgrange does have the advantage though that we can actually go inside the tomb which is very cool, and they also do a little light demonstration of the effect of the alignment with the winter solstice when the sun would naturally illuminate the inner chambers. Seeing Knowth first definitely helped in imagining what Newgrange would've looked like with all its artwork intact. The third tomb is Dowth and visitors aren't allowed, but we can see it in the distance, its alignment is to the summer solstice. We do lunch in the visitor center.

From there it is on the Hill of Tara, the traditional seat of the High King of Ireland. The site today is a couple of hills surrounded by the grass covered remains of various earthworks. The little visitor center in a former church is closed but the site is open and crowded, mostly with students, while a bit chilly the place has a summer park feel with lots of folks just hanging out. Also check out a pair of entwined trees that are covered with offerings, not sure what the story there is, but was not to see, the whole site does have a very nice feel to it.

We leave here and have a little more time left than we were expecting, we head towards Kells. On the way we stop briefly to wander the Bective abbey ruins, heading out when a wedding party arrives in their classic cars. Another stop at the Hill of Ward, a lesser known site associated with Samhain, now in a farm field and not marked other than a tiny plaque saying its a protected site (not even saying what it is). On into the town of Kells and take a look at the abbey grounds there which has a couple of high crosses and then just wander the town. A very tasty dinner at the pub of a MasterChef contestant, but otherwise a quiet night as we pack up getting ready to make our departure.


Cabbage News Network Week #39

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:57 am
kmusser: (enlightenment)
[personal profile] kmusser
Status of Puerto Rico infrastructure - it's been over a month and the island is still 80% without power.

Sunday 10/15
  • Interior considering a road through Alaska wilderness (source) - this one trickier than it seems at 1st glance, more in comments.

Monday 10/16
  • Media reveal that Tom Marino, DJT's Drug Czar nominee, was behind legislation protecting drug companies. Nomination now in doubt. (source).
  • DJT comments on special forces soldiers killed 12 days ago in Niger, might call the families eventually. Also lies about previous presidents not calling families of the fallen (they did), but he still totally supports the troops (source).
  • DJT subpoenaed in sexual harassment case (source, reminder of the 15 separate sexual harassment accusations against DJT).
  • District Court judge hearing arguments on DJT's new travel ban (source).
  • EPA says it won't settle with environmental groups in lawsuits (source).

Tuesday 10/17
  • Marino withdraws nomination (source).
  • U.S. backed Kurdish forces take ISIL capital (source).
  • Sean Spicer interviewed by Mueller's team (source).

Wednesday 10/18
  • New travel ban blocked by courts (source).
  • Most states to use work-around to avoid DJT's health care subsidy cut-off (source).

Thursday 10/19
  • Budget resolution includes language potentially opening Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, Senate defeats amendment that would've protected the Refuge (source).

Friday 10/20
  • Senate passes House's budget resolution - not this is not a budget per se, but allows future budget related bills to immune to filibuster rules (source).
  • Senate to hold hearing on a new Authorization of Use of Military Force (source).

In news elsewhere
  • China has taken over building the world's infrastructure (source).

Legislative action this week


Oct. 20th, 2017 10:49 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I have a lot of reading to do, having somehow kept busy but gotten nowhere so far this week. And I'm away this weekend (with good intentions of reading on the train, but also...I've met me). So I'm trying to catch up now.

Some of it's hard going, but luckily some of it's also written by Geoff Pullum (a name anyone who reads Language Log might recognize and someone I learned I liked from there).
"A silly, infuriatingly unscholarly piece, designed to mislead" is what one irate but anonymous senior scholar called this chapter when it was first published in NLLT. But this is not correct; rather, what I have written here is a silly, misleadingly unscholarly piece, designed to infuriate. There is a huge difference.
May more of my reading be silly and misleadingly unscholarly!
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[personal profile] white_hart
I suspect everyone reading this review here is already familiar with this, but for anyone who hasn't come across it before, The Comfortable Courtesan is a serial story set in Regency London, mostly narrated by Madame C-, a very exclusive courtesan, in which we hear of her exploits and those of her circle of friends and acquaintances, which includes artists, actors, political radicals and her upper-class clients. It began as a one-off response to a "post three sentences from a nonexistent novel" challenge in May 2015 and has now grown to more than 700 individual posts, with twelve ebook compendiums of the main story (which is now complete) as well as a number of side-pieces and two novella-length stories taking place some years after the majority of the action. I've been following the blog from the start, but I was browsing through my Kindle in search of comfort reading and when I came across the ebooks I decided it was time to revisit the very early days.

It's an absolutely delightful read. It's written in a pastiche of the style of the period, and as the author is a historian of gender and sexuality it's historically accurate although the subject-matter would never have seen the light of day then. Unsurprisingly, given Madame C-'s profession, it's unabashedly sex-positive, and features numerous LGBTQ+ characters, both male and female, as well as multiple characters of colour. The first volume features intrigue, scandal, matchmaking, female solidarity, epistolary mathematical flirtations and a wombatt, and it really is one of the most charming things I've ever read.

Interesting Links for 19-10-2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

Interesting Links for 18-10-2017

Oct. 18th, 2017 12:00 pm

Interesting Links for 17-10-2017

Oct. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

One of Those Days

Oct. 16th, 2017 03:48 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Been a strange, nerve-jangly sort of day.

I missed a lecture because there were no fucking buses for 40 minutes. I know I could've turned up late but I was all wound up by then, and I can catch up because the lectures and slides are recorded.

We got the orange sun around lunchtime, it's clear and sunny here now (though still with particles of dust in the air hurting my eyes) but it's gone down south where a million more people are tweeting about it, and a million freaked-out status updates on Facebook and bad-joke tweets haven't helped somehow. That we feel such a sense of impending doom at such a minor change in the quality of the light makes it easy to see why humans had to invent religion.

I didn't feel doomy but I was also pretty sure it was something to do with the hurricane, and the hurricane is because of climate change and that make terrified and so miserable. My anxious brain told me "One day we'll look back on these as the good old days, weather-wise," because my anxious brain hates me.

I slept awfully last night. Went to bed early, woke up after midnight and didnt get back to sleep until five in the morning.

Andrew emailed while I was out saying the washing machine is broken, he thinks he can fix it but I'll need to help. But when I got back home he's out, so I'm sitting here writing this instead. I hope the washing machine's okay, we can't afford it not to be. Don't know where he is, but I think he was going to buy food. And I thought of something on my way home that I wanted but I forgot to tell him to get.

The people next door are having building work done on their house, and the loud whine of the drills makes it hard to concentrate or relax.

I need a hug or a cry or a sleep or a vacation. But none of those things seem like they'd be enough really.

Books July to September

Oct. 16th, 2017 03:52 pm
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[personal profile] slemslempike
An Awfully Big Adventure - Bainbridge, Beryl
My Louder Than life Story - Blessed, Brian
The Luminaries - Catton, Eleanor
Nemesis - Christie, Agatha
The Christmas Surprise - Colgan, Jenny
Little Beach Street Bakery - Colgan, Jenny
Pandora - Cooper, Jilly
Frost at Morning - Crompton, Richmal
To See Ourselves - Delafield, EM
A Winter Away - Fair, Elizabeth
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells - Faulkes, Sebastian
Sisters at the Chalet School - Fletcher, Amy
A Tiny Bit Marvellous - French, Dawn
Cotillion - Heyer, Georgette
The Sex Lives of Cannibals - Joost, Maarten
Dead Now, Of Course - Law, Phyllida
Company in the Evening - Orange, Ursula
Bewildering Cares - Peck, Winifred
Brownsea Silver - Peyton, KM
Winter Solstice - Pilcher, Rosamunde
Voices in Summer - Pilcher, Rosamunde
Whose Body - Sayers, Dorothy L
Outsider: Almost Always, Never Quite - Sewell, Brian
Hidden Figures - Shetterly, Margot Lee
Miss Melville Rides a Tiger - Smith, Evelyn E
Miss Melville Returns - Smith, Evelyn E
Wild Strawberries - Thirkell, Angela
The Headmistress - Thirkell, Angela
The Demon in the House - Thirkell, Angela
Private Enterprise - Thirkell, Angela
Pomfret Towers - Thirkell, Angela
Peace Breaks Out - Thirkell, Angela
Northbridge Rectory - Thirkell, Angela
Miss Bunting - Thirkell, Angela
Marling Hall - Thirkell, Angela
Jutland Cottage - Thirkell, Angela
Growing Up - Thirkell, Angela
Enter Sir Robert - Thirkell, Angela
Cheerfulness Breaks In - Thirkell, Angela
Before Lunch - Thirkell, Angela
August Folly - Thirkell, Angela
Ankle Deep - Thirkell, Angela
A Double Affair - Thirkell, Angela
Revenge Wears Prada - Weisenberg, Lauren

Yes, that is a lot of Thirkell. )

Interesting Links for 16-10-2017

Oct. 16th, 2017 12:00 pm
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Default)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
The Whispering Grass by Nineveh_uk
Chapters: 1
Fandom: Tanz der Vampire
Rating: T, CNTW
Characters: Graf von Krolock, Gräfin von Krolock

She didn't know that he was lost: that he still lived, but not as he had before. That she had doomed him to this wandering in the dark, lost in the mountains and forests and the heartbeats of the birds that sang outside his window, and in his soul a lust for unnameable things.


Or, if this were a Friends episode, The One where the Count accidentally murders his wife. I suspect that this fic really doesn't work without canon contest. Short version, it's backstory fic about a verse of a song that is basically the sick version of Fields of Gold*, in which the vampire count - who is having a moment of "Being a vampire is terrible, you murder everyone you might feel for, and also you have to spend eternity knowing that you're not a brilliant genius, you're pretty average. It's all a metaphor for capitalism anyway"** - recounts how the first person he killed was an unnamed woman who is generally assumed to be his wife***. It is overwrought, involved some ridiculous googling in the course of which I discover the existence of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania, which sounds like a slightly desperate literary novel attempting wry humour, but I enjoyed writing it and the first audience of fanfic is ultimately the author.

* Though having now seen the video, that might also be Fields of Gold itself,. Why exactly is the singer is walking at night through a graveyard while long-ago images of his lover and children are glimpsed through his silhouette?

**It's a good song, if heavy on the manpain. Vampain?

***Though there's a vid of one performance where the tomb he is angsting in front of appears to have a soldier carved on it. I read a Word of God interview with the lyricist that seemed to imply that he's actually making all of it up in order to manipulate a couple of characters who are over-hearing him, which would be a plausible interpretation if any of the actors had ever played it like that ever.

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