Friday, February 24th, 2017 03:52 pm
On Wednesday I finally got the home office area set up. Now I can work from home with an actual monitor and keyboard and trackball and standing-desk, rather than laptop on couch/bed.

It's all in acceptable shape, but only just. I'll need to drag in another mat or two to stand on, to get the desk to the right height. My Mac keyboard has lost the use of the S key and spacebar, but I've got a Windows keyboard which works well enough for now. The real problem is that Microsoft hasn't updated the Mac software for my trackball in several years, and it won't talk to the latest version of macOS. So the trackball works, but the buttons are ALL WRONG. I've found a couple of potential workarounds but they looked more involved than I wanted to get on Wednesday afternoon. Sometime next week, I expect.

The office is actually the back of the second bedroom. It's got yellow walls that desperately need some art hung, the (two? three?) TUCKER'S OFFICE boxen need to be unpacked onto desk / bookcase, and there's some other miscellaneous /stuff/ that needs sorted or scooted or something. But the window's nice (though glare is problematic in the afternoon) and it's good to start to feel like there's a space that's mine again. The 'office' in the New West place was that, more or less, but it was dim and stuffy and caught a lot of dust from the dryer vent. This room is substantially nicer, if more cramped.

There are things about this apartment that frustrate and irritate me: the laundromat-style laundry, the dining room being a little narrower than we'd thought, the kitchen in general. Overall, though, it's not so bad. It'll do for now.



I am also now the proud owner of a bass guitar (Freeway 4) and an amp. My friend Chani's partner had been talking about selling his bass and amp for, o, months now, and it's sort of been at the back of my mind since then.

I think I have this idea that it'll be faster to pick up bass than it has been for viola, or that I'll be more readily able to find places/people to play bass with than viola, or something. This of course all depends on me finding my way to the alternate universe where I have enough time to learn not one but two instruments.

I'm also looking into an ear-training app for the phone, for commutes and such. And perhaps some actual formalised music theory learning, instead of the ad-hoc bits Tegen's been teaching me.

I'm not sure why music's becoming more of a focus than fiction-writing. Maybe it's that I understand how to get better at music, or that I'm more comfortable with not being very good. There's something in there about smashing awful pots, too. With music I'm learning a skill; writing feels more like creating a work. And yes, I do know that there's a hell of a lot of skill inherent in writing, skill that improves with practice, but I've not figured out how to feel comfortable practicing my skills in fiction.

Or maybe it's as simple as music being what's pulling me right now. Being more interested in accessing a space without words.

It's not like I can make rent (well, "mortgage payment," which sounds even worse despite being a smaller number) on either of those activities in any case. So in that sense it doesn't really matter which it is, as long as I'm having fun with it.

As always, we shall see.
Friday, February 24th, 2017 01:56 pm
What have you recently finished reading?

Ninefox Gambit,
by Yoon Ha Lee. I...don't know what to think about this. I liked it, but a lot less than the hype led me to think I would. The story was interesting -- there was never a point when I had to work up the motivation to read -- but I never got that emotional pull I need to really invest in its characters. OK, maybe not never -- I started to get that pull at the very end, but, in a too little too late sort of way. Partly, I think, the twist that I was waiting for -- I didn't know what it would be, but I knew there had to be one -- came about 85% of the way into the story. I did not need quite as much time on the battle tactics/war is hell stuff as we got for most of the story.

The most interesting aspect of the book for me was the presentation of the Kel, and what loyalty and obedience to authority meant for the various Kel characters. That obedience is achieved through physical changes to the brain that basically force it, but as far as I could tell all service to the Kel was voluntary, so the Kel do have agency (and very distinctive personalities) despite the brainwashing. Cheris, the main character, joined the Kel because she wanted to fit in. This seems to be directly connected to her position as an outsider -- someone whose people were recently colonised, whose native language is not the high language of the empire, etc. The formation instinct comes up in many ways: we see one Kel character resent of the forced obedience, we see a character for whom the process fails, and we see a character whose fear is only barely overcome by the formation instinct. And of course, in the end, it becomes central to the story.

But also the book was gory, with references to violence and torture so extreme it became tiresome. (On the other hand, it wasn't actually any worse than the horrors shown in the original Star Wars trilogy, it was just that there was actual substantial narrative attention to the magnitude of destruction.)  And I was not that into the magic tech -- it was frustrating to have something that fundamentally makes no sense, way beyond the way that FTL or transporters or other standards of SF make no sense, be so central to the mechanics of the plot. I heard one booktuber describe it as a sort of magical realism, but for me magical realism gives a sense of the uncanny, and I just...didn't feel that with Ninefox Gambit.

Given how popular this book has been, I sometimes wonder if I don't actually like scifi as much as I think I do.

What am I reading now?

After Atlas, by Emma Newman, in my quest to have something to nominate for the Hugos. I was a little reluctant to read this because I'm not generally interested in the detective genre, but I (mostly) loved Planetfall so I wanted to give it a shot. What I loved most about Planetfall was the main character Renata, and I knew it was unlikely After Altas would feature a character who I'd identify with that much. That is true, but Carlos, the protagonist of After Atlas, is a fantastic character and I'm really enjoying the book so far. I've concluded that Newman is a master at writing characters whose perspective you can deeply understand and empathise with, while also being able to recognise where their judgment is wrong. That is quite an impressive skill. I also really like the way that the book explores the impact of technological changes on people and society, especially in that technology that is genuinely useful and pleasurable is *also* used for social control.

Also, the book seems to be indirectly exploring the effect of automation in creating a vast surplus population whose labor is no longer needed. This is an interesting contrast to Planetfall, where the small society is basically living with full communism and a high level of automation and sustainable technology -- a high-tech ecotopia. The same tech (except light-speed space travel) exists on Earth in After Atlas, but under capitalism the technology creates misery even as it creates convenience and solves problems like food production.

So maybe I do like scifi, just not space opera? But I have a feeling there is some space opera I would like.

What's up next?

More potential Hugo nominations -- I'm thinking of reading A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers even though I haven't read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. I get the impression the former can stand alone.

I've also downloaded the audiobook version of the Great Courses Plus lecture series about the French Revolution, but I haven't started it yet as I've been listening to podcasts.

Friday, February 24th, 2017 05:05 pm
I ordered a little 12VDC vacuum cleaner from AliExpress (stuff direct from China... if you haven't looked at the site yet beware, it can be addictive). I thought that maybe I could use it to suck chalk dust as it claimed to have a HEPA filter (it most assuredly does not... another lesson for AliExpress: buyer beware... some stuff has been wonderful, some total junk). I figured that worst case, when it arrived, I would use it for what it was for: cleaning the inside of my car. It does have a wonderfully long cord.

The reason for this post is the instructions sheet included with the vacuum. Oh, my. I have faithfully reproduced the text, including punctuation. The last note is perhaps the best, but it needs a proper build-up to truly appreciate. My comments are intersperced in italics...

USE INSTRUCTIONS

1. Please confirm access the switch have all;

illustration shows power plug being inserted into 12VDC receptacle in car

2. Difficult to clean it can be used to clean up his mouth;

illustration shows a tiny hand holding a tiny crevice tool (a Canadian "classic", fyi) next to a huge version of the vacuum

3. Clean up garbage bags please ensure that connection, the switch have;

the vacuum has a cup with a cheap filter glued into it to catch cruft... the illustration shows the button [not switch] to press to open the front and remove the "nose" and cup insert... oh, and there are no "bags"

4. Every time after using the front cover;

not sure what this illustration is telling me... there appears to be some sort of white splotch on a surface next to the nose "part" with the other bits of vacuum sitting next to it

MAINTENANCE

Please use a soft cloth lightly polishing machine, a thorough cleaning vacuum

a distant 1880s wash tub and modern dish soap bottle, a proximate vacuum being wiped by a hand holding, I guess, a cloth

WARNING

1. Avoid a direct the sun in the sun or a hot place to avoid being melted;

no illustration

2. Every time after its use should be thoroughly cleaned before. If a clear for a product will decrease power;

illustration shows vacuum rattling or vibrating with smoke coming out of it with a superimposed X... I presume it is about to blow up?

next, there is an illustration with no text that suggests to me that one should not open the vacuum while it's running... I'm not quite sure, it's very confusing

3. Do not use vacuum cleaner to suck cigarette butts, which may block the cleaner (vacuum cleaner) and even cause fire due to it's high temperature

I'm pretty sure they stole this piece of text from somewhere else... there is an illustration that kind of makes sense with the text with a lovely X through it

4. Do not use the vacuum cleaner

Wait... what?
Friday, February 24th, 2017 03:45 pm

Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Misogynoir; police brutality; images of police violence against Black women and girls.]

Via Monica Roberts, I just watched this video of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw giving a TED talk on intersectionality in December. Please take the time to watch and/or listen to the entire thing. A complete transcript is also available.

Friday, February 24th, 2017 02:45 pm

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian: White House Confirms Conversation with FBI about Trump and Russia.
The White House has confirmed that its chief of staff spoke with top FBI officials about the bureau's inquiry into links between Donald Trump's associates and Russia—a conversation which appears to violate justice department rules to ensure the integrity of investigations.

The administration had sought to push back against reports from CNN and the Associated Press that the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had asked the FBI's top two officials to rebut news reports about Trump allies' ties to Russia.

But in doing so, the White House on Friday acknowledged that Priebus, the FBI director, James Comey, and deputy director, Andrew McCabe, had discussed what the FBI knew about Russian ties to the Trump presidential campaign.

"The White House appears to have violated accepted protocols and procedures," said former FBI special agent Ali Soufan.

...Another retired FBI special agent, Michael German, said the FBI leadership had potentially jeopardized an investigation.

"It is illegal for an FBI employee to take information from an ongoing criminal investigation and share it with a potential witness or subject of that investigation. Obviously, if the justice department ultimately initiates a prosecution in this matter, this purported conversation would be exculpating evidence. Again, if it is true that high bureau officials believe the current FBI investigation is [bullshit], they should close the investigation and be prepared to justify this decision, not leak their opinion to anyone outside of the investigation," German said.
There is much more at the link.

The general gist, however, is this: The White House was pissed about leaked reports about FBI investigations into TrumpCo's ties with Russia, and the investigations themselves. So they tried to press the FBI to publicly push back. That conversation was leaked, and, in pushing back on that, the White House told their version of events, which reveals said conversation compromised the investigation.

Out of the frying pan; into the fire.

Part of that is because Trump and the rest of his corrupt coterie don't believe the rules apply to them. But part of it is also because most of these reprobates have zero experience in the federal government and don't even know what the rules are. Which is why they stupidly admit to shit that is just another level of corruption.

If you haven't done so recently (or ever), now would be a good time (if you're USian) to contact your Senators and representative and ask them to thoroughly investigate Trump and his associates' ties to Russia—and every bit of unethical and illegal behavior that has arisen therefrom.
Friday, February 24th, 2017 09:15 pm
MARKED - 4.3

Nilien bit her lip. She looked down at Ember, who turned to look at her. “A tracking mark? So whoever put it on me, no matter where I am, they can find me?”

“That’s the idea. Sometimes students do things like that as a prank, dear. It’s probably nothing to worry about.”

“Nothing,” Nilien repeated numbly.

You do not think it is nothing, do you? Ember’s ears raked back.

“No, I —” she turned to look at Professor Vaudelle. “Could it be, I mean, might it have been done by the assassin, professor?”

read on...
Friday, February 24th, 2017 09:15 pm
I can't believe February is almost over already. But our regular reccer recruiting post to look ahead to the next month is overdue. So far we have ONE volunteer reccer who signed up for March with this fandom:

* Gundam Wing ([personal profile] turlough)

So while we already have some recs to look forward to in March, it would of course be awesome if we had more recs. There is still plenty of opportunity for you to jump in and volunteer to rec next month (or to convince your friends to do some reccing). And many cheers for all of our members who volunteer to rec, especially if you rec regularly. Your valiant repeat efforts keep the comm alive.

Looking even further ahead so far NO reccers have volunteered for April, so that month definitely still needs some love (and recs! *g*) too. So please consider reccing in a fandom of your choice, whether small or huge, and comment on the sign-up post and volunteer for March, April or even further ahead if you are so well organized, that you know your fannish interests and time commitments in advance. It's only four recs as a minimum, and you can rec any genre or rating. Or promote us to your friends or in your favorite communities so others do the work.

Open Rec Posting

The monthly open reccing period for all members starts now and lasts until the end of February. Since the general prompts don't seem to work as inspiration, I've decided to stop adding them, but to keep the open reccing period in case anyone wants to slip a rec in, without having to come up with three others for a fandom. However the recs do still have to conform to the usual rec format and follow the rules for what is allowed to be recced here.

(Comments here are disabled, because I want to bundle volunteering in the sign-up post so that nothing gets lost, and you can see the list of claimed slots there too.)
Tags:
Friday, February 24th, 2017 01:08 pm
Spotlight on Legal Issues banner by Erin

In honour of Fair Use Week, OTW's Legal team presents preliminary results from their copyright survey: https://goo.gl/aGM8Au
Friday, February 24th, 2017 01:54 pm

Posted by Aphra Behn

After an afternoon address at CPAC in whcih Donald Trump renewed his attacks on American journalism and unnamed press sources, the White House excluded a number of news organizations from its press gaggle.

According to a report from Michael M. Grymbaum at the New York Times:

Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in to the briefing, chose not to attend in protest of the White House’s actions.

Jordan Fabian at The Hill reports:

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations that President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN.

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.

Among other things, I note that the BBC is not even an American press outlet. It is, in fact, the journalism arm of the public service broadcaster of one of the United States' closest allies.

CNN's PR tweeted the following response:

Of the non-propaganda outlets in attendance, I hope the first question is: "Why did you exclude those organizations?" And when the question is stonewalled, I hope the next question is "Why did you exclude those organizations?" And so on.

It goes without saying, but: this is not what free and open democracy looks like. This is what it looks like to slide into authoritarian dictatorship.

Please feel free to update in comments.

Friday, February 24th, 2017 01:30 pm

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat all curled up on the couch, asleep, looking very tiny and very adorable
Wee little monster!

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.
Friday, February 24th, 2017 11:54 am
I just did a quick read of Girl Trouble, an "illustrated memoir" of female friendships by Kerry Cohen illustrated by her older sister, Tyler. It's really good. It's got me thinking about my own friendships, or sometimes lack thereof. I think [livejournal.com profile] debbieann in particular would enjoy this book.
Friday, February 24th, 2017 11:41 am
You can hear everything that crosses the roof of the Beautiful Shed, including squirrels, cats, rain, raccoons, and hail. My sleep was thin last night; I think I heard each in turn and in combination. I definitely heard the hail sometime in the small hours. Therefore, here is another bit of a story about the cold, since it is on my mind.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

No particular title )

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Mostly I was wishing for the lyricism of a recent post of [personal profile] aldersprig's.

{rf}
Friday, February 24th, 2017 01:12 pm
The Harp Twins are crowdfunding new harps. (Remember, they need two of everything. Yikes.) At the concert we saw, they had acoustic pedal harps, and electic lever harps. Now they're saving for electroacoustic pedal harps, which will have special effects pedals along with the usual ones for changing the pitch. Pay close attention to the status: $13,615 of $6,000 goal.  $6000 was the amount they were short of the downpayment for having the harps made, after saving money on their own.  The overage all goes toward the monthly payments, which are also large.  So the more, the merrier.  If you've got a few bucks to spare, chip in and let there be more harping!

I have to say, my farmemory makes this all the more squeeworthy.  Concert harps were exciting enough -- the classic harps could only be repitched with a tuning key.  Special effects pedals?  My historic and futuristic aspects are both geeking out at the same time, and that almost never happens.  :D
Friday, February 24th, 2017 11:15 am

userpic=divided-nationAccording to the LA Times, President Trump is conquering conservatives at CPAC. They state that his dominance at the forum, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is hard to miss. Even those who do not agree with all of Trump’s ideas seemed pleased with the excitement in the halls of the waterfront convention center outside Washington. And they believed he was winning over the conservative movement, even if Trump has historically low popularity ratings with the wider public.

So, here’s my question: Do Conservatives really believe that:

  1. We should deny anyone the right to an attorney and the ability to defend themselves when faced with deportation?
  2. We should permit public officials to personally profit — beyond their legal salaries — from their public office?
  3. We should permit states to have the right to dictate where people can go to the bathroom, but not what they can do recreationally, even when the people have voted to permit a particular behavior?
  4. The right to practice my religion can interfere with your right to practice your religion (and vice-versa)?
  5. The government has the right to impose one religion’s beliefs on someone else?
  6. The government should take away rights and privileges that have been granted to US citizens?
  7. The government should not treat all people equally, and ensure freedom from discrimination based on skin color, sex, religion, or any other factor that has been used to discriminate?
  8. The government does not have an interest in ensuring the citizens of the United States have clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and clean soil in which to grow crops?
  9. The government does not have in interest in ensuring that medicine distributed in the US is safe and effective, and that food is safe to eat?
  10. Use of nuclear energy should be permitted everywhere, without suitable oversight?
  11. When Federal tax dollars are distributed to educational institutions, that those funds must be used within the bounds of what is legal under the Constitution?
  12. The government does not have an interest to ensure that workers are safe, get paid on time, and are not taken advantage of by large employers?
  13. The government does not have an interest in ensuring infrastructure and public spaces exist that benefits the nation, and that might not be profitably operated by a private concern?
  14. The individual states should not work together for their mutual benefit?
  15. A free press is the enemy of the people, and we should restrict the press to only agree with the government?
  16. Some people are inferior to other people?
  17. People cannot speak out when they disagree with what the government is doing?
  18. Standards for ethics and integral behavior are different depending on the political party of a public servant?
  19. It is acceptable for a foreign government to provide things of financial value to actually or potentially influence the behavior of a public servant?
  20. Is it reasonable to allow anonymous whistleblowers of government abuse, as long as facts are confirmed independently before any prosecution?

If you believe in one or more of these, please let me know which ones and a strong rationale of why you hold that opinion.

This entry was originally posted on Observations Along The Road (on cahighways.org) as this entry by cahwyguy. Although you can comment on DW, please make comments on original post at the Wordpress blog using the link below; you can sign in with your LJ, FB, or a myriad of other accounts. There are currently comments on the Wordpress blog. PS: If you see share buttons above, note that they do not work outside of the Wordpress blog.

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Friday, February 24th, 2017 10:51 am
Branch: refs/heads/release-1.32
Home: https://github.com/dreamwidth/dw-free
Commit: f443ce45af34b61409a5b3099ece530652cbf60e
https://github.com/dreamwidth/dw-free/commit/f443ce45af34b61409a5b3099ece530652cbf60e
Author: Kareila <kareila@dreamwidth.org>
Date: 2017-02-24 (Fri, 24 Feb 2017)

Changed paths:
M cgi-bin/DW/Controller.pm

Log Message:
-----------
[#2003] also use error header for Cache-Control

@alierak explains that there are two header tables, one
for successes (which header_out uses) and one for errors
and redirects (which err_header_out uses). So we need to
make sure that user cookie bounces use err_header_out to
avoid caching.

He says we could probably set this header on every request,
but let's start with the one place where we know we need it.

(Most of this is whitespace cleanup; the last line is the
bit that does the thing.)


Commit: 1d34018a37d8653db5123fe1200bc9d985de6283
https://github.com/dreamwidth/dw-free/commit/1d34018a37d8653db5123fe1200bc9d985de6283
Author: Kareila <kareila@dreamwidth.org>
Date: 2017-02-24 (Fri, 24 Feb 2017)

Changed paths:
M cgi-bin/DW/Controller/Media.pm

Log Message:
-----------
also use no-cache for image load 403 errors


Compare: https://github.com/dreamwidth/dw-free/compare/861a018829ee...1d34018a37d8