T minus two weeks

Jul. 25th, 2017 07:53 am
kareila: (escherknot)
[personal profile] kareila
I had a pretty good weekend - went to see Valerian with the usual suspects on Saturday and Dunkirk with my mom on Sunday. I don't usually seek out war movies, but Dunkirk was more a story of survival, and the braided narrative structure helped to make an overwhelmingly large-scale event feel character-driven. I would see it again. On the other hand, Valerian was surprisingly disappointing. The visuals were amazing, but the humor and ensemble feel of Fifth Element were missing, and the human characters had no depth. It reminded me more of Jupiter Ascending, except JA was more fun.

I've made some progress on reorganizing the kids' bedrooms. I had originally considered moving both bookshelves into Connor's room, but now I'm thinking a better use of space would be to leave Will's shelves intact and figure out some new clothing storage. Right now, most of Connor's clothes are stored in Will's room in their old changing table, and Will's shirts and jeans are in stacks on the floor. Some lightweight, relatively narrow storage shelves might be a good solution in both rooms.

I was inspired to start yet another knitting project following a conversation with my mother-in-law last week. I had read about Moebius strip scarves but hadn't tried making one until now. They're surprisingly fun!

I've also successfully cleaned out the worst of my email inbox and cleared some space on the DVR. Breathing room is good.

Today we're going to go see what's new at the McWane Center, since we haven't been all summer.
umadoshi: (StarCraft - Zerg symbol)
[personal profile] umadoshi
--My sleep has continued to be all over the place. Last night I managed to get to bed around 1 AM or so (IIRC) and didn't get up until 11:30 today; the night before, I was in bed by 1:15 so I could get up at a reasonable hour and [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose, [dreamwidth.org profile] ginny_t, Kas, and I could go raspberry picking, and I managed, at a generous estimate, two hours of sleep. FUN.


--I had these notions of finishing a fic for this round of [dreamwidth.org profile] smallfandomfest, but it wraps up at the end of this month, so...ha ha ha no. ^^; But hey, I got it started and made some actual progress during [dreamwidth.org profile] nanodownunder, and unfilled [dreamwidth.org profile] smallfandomfest prompts remain available for claiming past the round when they're prompted, so it's not like I won't have another chance. I just liked the idea of doing it now.


--I haven't taken pictures yet, but when we were out watering the garden a couple of days ago, there were the beginnings of blossoms on one of the two clematis plants!


--Amidst all the political awfulness, personal stuff, cute gifs, and book-blogger chat, my Twitter feed has been full of people being gleeful about "Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator"--enough so that I briefly pretended I don't have something like 100 unplayed games and can't remember the last time I played anything and went to check it out. I was saved by an impulse buy by the fact that the game's currently Windows- and Mac-only; I do still have a Windows partition for games, but realistically, I also can't remember the last time I booted into it for anything but StarCraft. (And that wasn't terribly recently. I did buy at least the first of the SCII Nova mission packs, but I don't remember how far I got.) (Separate parenthetical: I've preordered the remastered original StarCraft, so for that, booting into Windows will undoubtedly happen. Unless it magically runs under WINE.)


--I need to keep reminding myself that Rogue One is on Netflix until I finally watch it (having literally slept through most of it in the theatre, which was not the movie's fault!). I should also rewatch TFA sometime in the next few months.


--It turns out Black Sails is shorter than I'd been thinking in two ways: I'd somehow had the impression it's five seasons, not four, and I also hadn't realized the seasons are so short (eight to ten episodes each, I think?). All of a sudden bumping it up to basically the top of my to-watch list (which seems to be a good plan, judging from how many people I know are in love with the show) is a way less daunting prospect.

Linkspam: fannish/geeky, misc.

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:19 pm
umadoshi: (lilacs 01)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] sgamadison, an update on Stargate Origins: be aware that the new digital episodes are only going to be ten minutes each.

"A Woman, Explaining Things". [Sarah Gailey on the casting of the thirteenth Doctor]

"Towards a Definition of “Fanfiction”: 3,564 people took our survey. Here’s what we learned". [Fansplaining]

"Does God exist in the Marvel Universe?" [Salon]

"Akiko Higashimura's Princess Jellyfish Manga Ends on August 25". [ANN]


Miscellaneous

"Radical Cartography" is...hard for me to describe. Very cool things with maps...and stuff...?

"All of my work on the “Irish slaves” meme (2015–’16)". In case you ever need to debunk the "but the Irish were slaves too!" crap that some flavors of racists like to whip out.

"Gratitude for Invisible Systems: One way to improve democracy is for more people to appreciate its complex technological underpinnings".

"My Father Spent 30 Years In Prison. Now He's Out". This is lovely and heartbreaking.

"Updated Syllabus for Journalism 101". [McSweeney's]

"This Is How Tough It Can Actually Be To Follow High School Prom Dress Codes". [Buzzfeed]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] bell, "When Your Teacher Keeps Saying You Can’t Draw Cats, But Your Paintings Are Photorealistic".

"Make a Magical Carpet Cat Hammock With an Old Towel".

"This Guy Spent A Year Exploring The Subculture Of Competitive Punning".

"How to Fall Down". [Lifehacker]

"Sapphic Stories || Around the world". "Sapphic Stories – Around the world does not intend to be a rec list that is ultimate and finalized, but just the beginning of a search for more pluralized stories. There are many other stories out there that we need to look for. Still, I believe that this post could be a nice start so that people can recognize these stories set in the places they grew up in or to know more about what it means to be sapphic in other places. This list contains F/F fiction books, books that have at least one women who feel romantic/sexual attraction to women, short stories, anthologies, and nonfiction about how it is to be LGBT+ in some places of the world."

"tim walker photographs all black cast for alice in wonderland themed pirelli calendar".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] dine, "Superb Cut Paper Artworks by Pippa Dyrlaga".

That Dice-Rolling Hobby

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:09 pm
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
Apart from dealing with multiple medical issues that I've raised in previous posts, I have had the opportunity to engage in my favourite hobby othe weekend - traditional roleplaying games. On Friday evening I participated in what I call Eclipse Phase Mars, on the basis of its standard location (although most recently this has involved extrasolar gatecrashing etc). This particular group meets primarily on Google Hangouts with players in Western Australia, Vietnam, Victoria, and New Zealand. I've missed a couple of sessions of this game, partially due to technology issues (my computer screen was completey destroyed on my last trip to NZ, so I've been trying to work with a dinky Asus Aspire One), and partially because of international trips. Both of these have affected my ability to complete Papers & Paychecks; although I did release an update on Saturday morning following completing the bestiary section, and integration a number of significant changes, even this late in the publication process.

Saturday was also a regular CheeseQuest day with [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla and [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce. Given the cool weather, our lunch feast consisted of a pumpkin gnocchi and Nova Scotia brown bread. The cheese feast included fried saganaki and halloumi, havarti, maasdam, gorgonzola, Dutch smoked, and two not-cheeses, a faux cheddar and "tree nut" cheese, which are quite tolerable. I was rather taken by the Devil's Corner pinot noir that our guests brought over, light but tasty and with a brilliant ruby colour. After lunch was the second session of our historical-fantasy Dungeons & Dragons game, using the very different 4th edition rules in the setting of Charlemagne's rule. The game went very well, everyone plays up their character ethno-religious background and character class, as they cleared out a old Roman-Germanic temple in Freisland haunted by Wiedergänger.

Sunday was also a gaming day, this time with my own game of Eclipse Phase. This session involved the PCs engaging in a short-case to an autonomist morph resleever on one of Neptune Trojans, then taking a stealth craft to intercept an Ultimate scout ship en-route to Eris. There was an almighty gun-battle that followed which eventually saw the PCs successful, and partially courtesy due an inside agent providing assistance at the last moment. After that was the challenging process of psychosurgery and the literal merging of minds. More on that for the next session. Appropriately I've started reading the two books entitled Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy (one published by Open Court, 2012 and the other by Wiley Blackwell, 2014)

Thoughts on the Star Wars universe

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:15 pm
kryptonitemonkey: (Default)
[personal profile] kryptonitemonkey
I really wasn't in any way interested in seeing Rogue One, but it showed up on Netflix the other day, so I thought what the hell. Turns out, it's a really good movie. Even with the ending it has, it makes it all seem worth it, so kudos to whomever directed/wrote it. Question though: are those bug-eyed aliens the Bothans? Because if not, the line from the first movie, which I went and watched last night, about many Bothans dying to get them this information wouldn't make any sense.

The more that time goes on, the less and less I want to see more in the current small moment in the universe. Granted, it's a cool story and all, but the one thing the Star Wars films did was lay out a huge map of possibilities. Even if they're not cannon, the various games and books made over the years have shown just how much more there is possible. There are so many numerous events that could be played with, and everyone just keeps trying to milk to Skywalker clan and their timeline. I would love to see another great story in KOTOR line. Heck, even just a movie running through the first KOTOR story would be great.

That said, I have to point out that I've been noticing a few disturbing things about the Star Wars universe that I keep seeing, specifically regarding non-human(ish) species. First off, if the galactic senate, troops, and Jedi were all different species, why is the empire made entirely of humans? Clone troopers were human (Mandalorian, but human really) because Fett was, but why were all subsequent storm troopers human? Why is there not even one single alien species even among the grunts, much less in command? Every other part of society seems well-integrated, and no one from the empire ever comes across as particularly "racist" or anything, yet there we are. It bugs me.

Though honestly, the part that really bothers me is how droids are treated. Specifically, they are treated, at best, as pets. Despite clearly displaying emotion, thought, and well-defined personalities and sense of self, droids are treated as property/slaves/equipment and are often wiped or rewritten to fit the owner's need. I've noticed several times throughout the various movies where someone mentions that a droid is getting quirky and should be wiped. Heck, between the prequel and original, 3PO gets his memories completely erased. To be fair, if I had to put up with him, I wouldn't want him to know me either, but I digress. In episode 4, which I just rewatched last night, droids have restraining bolts that are basically collars to keep them from running away. As soon as he can, R2 gets Luke to remove his, then scarpers to find Obi-Wan (who doesn't remember him? who got their memory wiped again?). I can't help but feel like droids are one bad command away from a major uprising and revolt, like how The War in the Matrix started... It's all pretend, of course, but I still chafe at the thought of such massive, all-encompassing slavery that no one seems to notice or care about.

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:29 pm
johnny9fingers: (Default)
[personal profile] johnny9fingers
So my old chum Aaron got married yesterday. I was best man, deputising for an unfortunately crocked Steve Asher, who is stuck Down Under and under doctor's orders not to travel. Aaron's whole family pitched up: the Hollywood crowd, consisting of his Dad, Laifun, Thomas, and Alexandra, who was there with her Bulgarian Fiancé, as well as Kate and Josh, Aaron's other siblings from Ted's first marriage.

Aaron married a distant cousin of mine so I was on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.
no dramas at the church; a sold C of E service of the traditional kind.
The reception was held at Aaron's house. Which is an 1890's large family house. Two staircases, bultler's pantry etc. Marquee on the croquet lawn. The wedding band did the gig, so I was on double duty and didn't get off my feet until 2.30am. Fuck-up over money so Aaron and I had to empty a local cashpoint to pay the band. Bit angry with the boss of the wedding band over that one. Never mind. Apperently Alexandra's upcoming nuptials are big news in Bulgaria. She's a very good-looking lass I suppose, and Ted Kotcheff is quite well known in Bulgaria, having some cultural significance and originally hailing from there. Mr K senior is looking a bit frailer than when I last saw him. Young Thomas is taking care of him adroitly. I like Thomas. Apart from the fact he's an exceptional musician and composer, he's also a nice guy. Mr K senior's second family are as cool as the first. First met Thomas at a UK premier of one of his compositions a few years ago. After the band packed up he played half an hour of flawless and beautiful Debussy in the parlour as antidote to the '60's and '70's soul, disco, and pop music that are the standard fare of the wedding band.

However the real stunner yesterday was Celine, who looked unbelievably beautiful. Good on Aaron, making an honest women out of her even if you had to drag her to the altar kicking and screaming... which you didn't, of course, but it still took you fifteen years and two kids to get around to doing it.
rydra_wong: Doonesbury, Watergate, two congressmen: "If only he'd knock over a bank or something ..." "By George, we'd have him them!" (bank -- watergate)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
So Sean Spicer's resigned (we all knew it was coming), Sessions discussed the Trump campaign and policy issues with Kisylak in 2016, and Trump looks like he's revving up to fire Mueller and Sessions and then pardon himself and his family for everything they've done ever.

And all I can focus on is this story that Sean Spicer stole a mini-fridge from junior White House staffers.

A Star Has Fallen

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:52 pm
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc"

Yesterday I was informed that an old friend and former housemate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Erica W., had died of a stroke. For those that knew her, this has been a terrible shock. She was relatively young, and seemed so alive, and seemed to have so much to contribute to this world. It is a harsh reminder that friends can be lost at any time with the randomness of life.

When I first met her she and her partner at the time, James, were in their mid-teens. Intelligent, attractive, highly alternative, and very fashionable, they were already living together and regularly visiting local nightclubs, where they were very well-regarded for the characteristics mentioned. There was an especially amusing moment when a local newspaper printed her in a vox-pop what her preferred nightclub was - and mentioned her age in the credit.

"Morphology, longevity, incept dates"

Whilst in Perth we shared two households at different times - the first was the famous "accelerated house", a dilapidated duplex pair with questionable plumbing. Part of the duplex was the home of the Accelerated Men, a goth band of some repute. The place was wired up a local area network with a AlphaMicro AM-100, and came with its own stray cat (Velocity) which I adopted. Several years later, at the final place where I lived in Perth, we were in more normal accommodation. I could help but chuckle a little at my highly fashion-conscious housemates who could spend hours in preparation on going out. I also remember showing them the Internet at the time; a text-based interface to usenet groups. "This", I implored sagaciously, "is going to change everything". I don't think they quite believed me at the time, so it was with great fondness catching up with James just a couple of years ago, and recalling that moment, he said: "And you were right!".

At the time Erica was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and despite being a witty conversationalist, was physically in the doldrums. A few years later however, and I suspect heavily because of the direction provided by our mutual friend Bruce T., there had been a complete change, as she had become quite a figure in the fashion industry and was running her own label and store, Alysian Empire. I still have some of their clothes to this day. Later she would go on to have another fashion label of even greater renown, ericaamerica.

In the post-Alysian Empire period we only caught up in person a couple of times, and more recently exchanged a few messages, courtesy of the 'borg of social media. Despite this we had the sort of friendship where years could literally go by and when we did get in contact our banter could continue as if no time had passed at all. It was a friendship built on mutual understanding and respect, of affirmation of each other, of strong and happy shared memories. The mention of her name in conversation would always brighten my day and bring me joy; but not this time.

"Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"

Linkspam: fannish/geeky, misc.

Jul. 21st, 2017 03:02 pm
umadoshi: (ocean 01)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things

"Here's how the new Star Wars novels will connect to The Last Jedi: The ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ books will explore details from the history of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia". I'm just gonna jump down here to Canto Bight: "This collection of four short stories will focus on creatures from the glamorous casino world of Canto Bight, described as the galactic version of Monaco. The book, which hits stores on Dec. 5, will be written by Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, and John Jackson Miller." [Also linked at [dreamwidth.org profile] aftertheendtimes, because awesome news is awesome.]

"Stargate Origins Series to Launch New MGM Digital Platform — Watch Teaser".

"Pacific Rim: Uprising Releases Teaser and Info on a New Crop of Jaegers". [Tor.com] And once again, we have a Jaeger with a slur (same one) in its name. :/

"Jenny, the Doctor’s Daughter, Finally Getting the Doctor Who Spinoff Adventures She Deserves" [in audio drama form]. [The Mary Sue]

"Dick Grayson vs. Toxic Masculinity". [Book Riot] [May 2017]


Miscellaneous

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] wendelah1, "Rape Choreography Makes Films Safer, But Still Takes a Toll on Cast and Crew". [Content warnings: what you'd expect from that headline.]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] dine, "The Kitten Rental Program is Saving Lives".

"The Lost Picture Show: Hollywood Archivists Can’t Outpace Obsolescence".

"Photobucket Is Holding People's Photos For 'Ransom': The company is now charging a $400 fee to hot-link images — which will break photos on tons of old websites and blogs.". [Buzzfeed]

"The Lost Cookbooks Of Black Chefs".

"Just 19 Fascinating Things About The Hair & Makeup On 'GLOW'". [Buzzfeed]

"How Eyeliner Defines My Womanhood". "My politics and my eyeliner became inseparable. Projecting my own sense of beauty, without shame or hesitation, scared the hell out of my opponents. My look was my armor and my weaponry. / But the fight took its toll. Somewhere in my late teens, I closeted myself again, without particularly noticing that I was doing so. I stopped wearing anything that scanned as feminine. I didn't even own eyeliner for 20 years. And I said nothing when people took me for a straight, cisgender man. [...] I’ve finally recognized, over years of trial and error — mostly error — that a wildly disproportionate amount of anxiety I experience arises from dressing like a man. A couple of years ago, that anxiety was swallowing me whole. I didn’t like who I’d become, and I wanted better for myself and my family. And, thanks to the wealth of information available online, and the supportive trans and queer community I found there, I had finally found the words to describe myself."

"Not in This Day and Age? On “Feisty, Cheeky, and Rebellious” Women in History".

"Cooling the tube – Engineering heat out of the Underground". "One of the biggest problems is a side-effect of what made it possible to dig the deep level tunnels in the first place — namely the very solid and nice to tunnel through London Clay which sits under the city.

In fact, when the early tube tunnels were dug, they were so cool down there that the cool tube was seen as a respite from the summer heat on the surface. Why suffer on a bus in the heat when there’s a cool tube to take instead, said the marketing men.

So why is the Bakerloo line, once the coolest place to be, now a mobile sauna?"

Trope Bingo (Round 9) card

Jul. 20th, 2017 01:14 am
umadoshi: (nonfictional feeling (oraclegreen))
[personal profile] umadoshi
This week I caved and requested a [dreamwidth.org profile] trope_bingo card to go with my cards for [dreamwidth.org profile] hc_bingo and [dreamwidth.org profile] seasonofkink. This time I opted to only get prompts from the main set (I just typed "pain set". Hmm), rather than also drawing from the AU, kinks, and/or art sets.

I haven't spent much time going through and thinking in terms of which ones are most workable for me, but there are several I like. Chosen family is one of my favorite things; "huddle for warmth" is one of those reliable classic tropes that I don't think I've ever actually written; I like domestic things, so both curtain fic and food/cooking fit... We'll see.

Anyway, here's my card:
under the cut )
umadoshi: (mermaid (roxicons))
[personal profile] umadoshi
A Pair of Kickstarters

--"Mermaid Hues: A Book of Mermaids" is a project by an artist whose work I enjoyed during Mermay, so I'm glad to see it's being made available for purchase!

--Sparkler Monthly just launched their Kickstarter for year 5: "Twelve more issues of women-oriented, LGBT+ friendly webcomics, light novels, and audio dramas in our digital magazine!" Their Kickstarter page includes a lot of info on the kind of work they do and publish, and links to a free downloadable Sparkler Starter Bundle.

(I do have to note that I'm friends with several of the founders/editors [and have proofread a few of their print volumes], but that means I can tell you with confidence that they bring a LOT of experience and passion to the table as long-term manga-industry professionals and as enthusiastic, thoughtful fans of female-gaze-focused Japanese and Japanese-style media.)


Cute Stuff

"10+ Times Corgis Mixed With Other Breeds, And The Result Was Absolutely Pawsome".

"Columbus Zoo And Aquarium Welcome A Squeaky Little Small-Clawed Otter Pup".

"22 Dogs That Prove We Don’t Deserve Dogs". [Buzzfeed]

[dreamwidth.org profile] naye posted June pics of her LaPerm kitties!

"I’ve Spent Years Photographing Rats To Break The Negative Image Of Rats By Taking Cute Pics Of Them".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] erinptah, "Senior Cat Was So Grumpy — Until He Became ‘Grandpa’ To Kittens: “I was expecting him to hiss or growl or slink away. But then one of the ginger kittens started licking Mason’s ear, and Mason sort of leaned into it and closed his eyes like it was the most amazing thing ever.”".


Miscellaneous

"Sleeps With Monsters: Stop Erasing Women’s Presence in SFF". [Tor.com]

Aww, yay! Sarah Kurchak is Writer of the Week at The Establishment.

"The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] alexseanchai, a fascinating piece of poetry/meta and commentary about translation between languages where the speakers of one have oppressed the speakers of the other. It's remarkable.

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] tielan, "5 Easy To Make Homemade Air Conditioners".

"How Clergy Set the Standard for Abortion Care: Fifty years ago, a network of religious leaders helped thousands of women find safe, comfortable ways of having the procedure". [2016]

"'Glow' Star Betty Gilpin: What It's Like to Have Pea-Sized Confidence With Watermelon-Sized Boobs", a piece about becoming comfortable in her body for the first time. (I'm not sure exactly what content notes to put on this; proceed carefully if you have issues tangled up with body image.)[Note: I have not seen Glow, although it's on the LIST OF DOOM.]
rydra_wong: Doonesbury, Watergate, two congressmen: "If only he'd knock over a bank or something ..." "By George, we'd have him them!" (bank -- watergate)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Trump had undisclosed second meeting with Putin, White House confirms

New York Times: Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation

Note: it was "private" as in "out of earshot of anyone except Putin's translator" and "not mentioned to the public". It was not private as in "it was held in view of most of the other G20 leaders OMFG ARE YOU KIDDING ME".

Just to make the whole thing even stupider (on Buttercup's part) and more of a blatant power play (on Putin's).

[tumblr.com profile] plaidadder breaks this shit down: A Million Encores: Putin And our Playable President

And spells out one point in particular:

Why do we know about this? Because some of the European G-20 leaders were so concerned about this that they called their global risk consultant to get his opinion on it. That’s what Ian Bremmer does: he assesses global political risk for people who want to use it to make investment decisions.
steorra: Illumination of the Latin words In Principio erat verbum (books)
[personal profile] steorra
'We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation. I am an oldster myself and might be expected to take the oldsters' side, but in fact I have been far more impressed by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents. Who has not been the embarrassed guest at family meals where the father or mother treated their grown-up offspring with an incivility which, offered to any other young people, would simply have terminated the acquaintance? Dogmatic assertions on matters which the children understand and their elders don't, ruthless interruptions, flat contradictions, ridicule of things the young take seriously--sometimes of their religion--insulting references to their friends, all provide an easy answer to the question "Why are they always out? Why do they like every house better than their home?" Who does not prefer civility to barbarism?

If you asked any of these insufferable people--they are not all parents of course--why they behaved that way at home, they would reply, "Oh, hang it all, one comes home to relax. A chap can't be always on his best behaviour. If a man can't be himself in his own house, where can he? Of course we don't want Company Manners at home. We're a happy family. We can say anything to one another here. No one minds. We all understand."

Once again it is so nearly true yet so fatally wrong. Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease, of the unguarded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers. But old clothes are one thing; to wear the same shirt till it stank would be another. There are proper clothes for a garden party; but the clothes for home must be proper too, in their own different way. Similarly there is a distinction between public and domestic courtesy. The root principle of both is the same: "that no one give any kind of preference to himself." But the more public the occasion, the more our obedience to this principle has been "taped" or formalised. There are "rules" of good manners. The more intimate the occasion, the less the formalisation; but not therefore the less need of courtesy. On the contrary, Affection at its best practises a courtesy which is incomparably more subtle, sensitive, and deep than the public kind. In public a ritual would do. At home you must have the reality which that ritual represented, or else the deafening triumphs of the greatest egoist present. You must really give no kind of preference to yourself; at a party it is enough to conceal the preference. Hence the old proverb "come live with me and you'll know me". Hence a man's familiar manners first reveal the true value of his (significantly odious phrase!) "Company" or "Party" manners. Those who leave their manners behind them when they come home from the dance or the sherry party have no real courtesy even there. They were merely aping those who had.

"We can say anything to one another." The truth behind this is that Affection at its best can say whatever Affection at its best wishes to say, regardless of the rules that govern public courtesy; for Affection at its best wishes neither to wound nor to humiliate nor to domineer. You may address the wife of your bosom as "Pig!" when she has inadvertently drunk your cocktail as well as her own. You may roar down the story which your father is telling once too often. You may tease and hoax and banter. You can say "Shut up. I want to read". You can do anything in the right tone and at the right moment--the tone and moment which are not intended to, and will not, hurt. The better the Affection the more unerringly it knows which these are (every love has its art of love). But the domestic Rudesby means something quite different when he claims liberty to say "anything". Having a very imperfect sort of Affection himself, or perhaps at that moment none, he arrogates to himself the beautiful liberties which only the fullest Affection has a right to or knows how to manage. He then uses them spitefully in obedience to his resentments; or ruthlessly in obedience to his egoism; or at best stupidly, lacking the art. And all the time he may have a clear conscience. He knows that Affection takes liberties. He is taking liberties. Therefore (he concludes) he is being affectionate. Resent anything and he will say that the defect of love is on your side. He is hurt. He has been misunderstood.

He then sometimes avenges himself by getting on his high horse and becoming elaborately "polite". The implication is of course, "Oh! So we are not to be intimate? We are to behave like mere acquaintances? I had hoped--but no matter. Have it your own way." This illustrates prettily the difference between intimate and formal courtesy. Precisely what suits the one may be a breach of the other. To be free and easy when you are presented to some eminent stranger is bad manners; to practice formal and ceremonial courtesies at home ("public faces in private places") is--and is always intended to be--bad manners. There is a delicious illustration of really good domestic manners in Tristram Shandy. At a singularly unsuitable moment Uncle Toby has been holding forth on his favourite theme of fortification. "My Father," driven for once beyond endurance, violently interrupts. Then he sees his brother's face; the utterly unretaliating face of Toby, deeply wounded, not by the slight to himself--he would never think of that--but by the slight to the noble art. My Father at once repents. There is an apology, a total reconciliation. Uncle Toby, to show how complete is his forgiveness, to show that he is not on his dignity, resumes the lecture on fortification.'

(From The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis. Chapter 3: Affection.)
umadoshi: (Feed logo (from Mira Grant's site))
[personal profile] umadoshi
In a shocking development, I'm going to try going to bed now (before midnight) rather than my more usual 2-3 AM. I can't even pretend to myself that there's any chance I'll produce any wordcount tonight, so trying to sleep seems like the right call even if it's wildly out of character.

PSA: the ebook of Feed (Newsflesh book 1) is currently on sale at all kinds of retailers, including the Canadian Kobo site, if you haven't tried it yet and feel at all inclined to fill my heart with joy by reading it and meeting Georgia Mason. (Here's my rec post for the series.)

As it happens, now is an extra-good time to pick up any of [dreamwidth.org profile] seanan_mcguire(/Mira Grant)'s books or support her Patreon: her beloved female Maine Coon, Alice, is extremely ill. ;_;

Medical Matters

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:38 pm
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
It's been a curious past few days; I spent most of Saturday working on the course for the researchers at Orygen Youth Mental Health which I presented on Monday. It went extremely well; I provided an overview of high performance compute clusters, environment modules and job submission using their preferred applications (MRtrix, Matlab, Octave, R, and especially FSL and Freesurfer. They were a large and very switched on group, and it brought me great pleasure when I received some rather positive responses in person and in email.

On Sunday visited the Unitarians to hear a presentation by the president of Dying With Dignity to speak on the upcoming legistlation such matters. Last year to the state government committee I contributed two submissions from different organisations on the matter, and legislation is expected soon. In a less positive manner, an old friend of mine has just found his way into hospital and I suspect he's in the position that he might not be getting better. Three years ago he appointed me enduring power of medical attorney. To top it all off, [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya's mother has found herself in hospital as a complication arising from her continuing illness.

It surprises me that there are those who begrudge public revenue raising and expenditure on health, as if the wealthy have more of a right to live than the poor. Even using the criteria of the 'dismal science', economics, it is obvious that having people alive and well is not just a private benefit to the person in question, it is also a public benefit. The is equivalent matter here with education as well, and likewise the private-public benefit is a continuum which includes current and future productivity of the person in question. All of this, of course, on top of matter of being in a society that cares for its less fortunate.
[personal profile] mjg59
In measured boot, each component of the boot process is "measured" (ie, hashed and that hash recorded) in a register in the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) build into the system. The TPM has several different registers (Platform Configuration Registers, or PCRs) which are typically used for different purposes - for instance, PCR0 contains measurements of various system firmware components, PCR2 contains any option ROMs, PCR4 contains information about the partition table and the bootloader. The allocation of these is defined by the PC Client working group of the Trusted Computing Group. However, once the boot loader takes over, we're outside the spec[1].

One important thing to note here is that the TPM doesn't actually have any ability to directly interfere with the boot process. If you try to boot modified code on a system, the TPM will contain different measurements but boot will still succeed. What the TPM can do is refuse to hand over secrets unless the measurements are correct. This allows for configurations where your disk encryption key can be stored in the TPM and then handed over automatically if the measurements are unaltered. If anybody interferes with your boot process then the measurements will be different, the TPM will refuse to hand over the key, your disk will remain encrypted and whoever's trying to compromise your machine will be sad.

The problem here is that a lot of things can affect the measurements. Upgrading your bootloader or kernel will do so. At that point if you reboot your disk fails to unlock and you become unhappy. To get around this your update system needs to notice that a new component is about to be installed, generate the new expected hashes and re-seal the secret to the TPM using the new hashes. If there are several different points in the update where this can happen, this can quite easily go wrong. And if it goes wrong, you're back to being unhappy.

Is there a way to improve this? Surprisingly, the answer is "yes" and the people to thank are Microsoft. Appendix A of a basically entirely unrelated spec defines a mechanism for storing the UEFI Secure Boot policy and used keys in PCR 7 of the TPM. The idea here is that you trust your OS vendor (since otherwise they could just backdoor your system anyway), so anything signed by your OS vendor is acceptable. If someone tries to boot something signed by a different vendor then PCR 7 will be different. If someone disables secure boot, PCR 7 will be different. If you upgrade your bootloader or kernel, PCR 7 will be the same. This simplifies things significantly.

I've put together a (not well-tested) patchset for Shim that adds support for including Shim's measurements in PCR 7. In conjunction with appropriate firmware, it should then be straightforward to seal secrets to PCR 7 and not worry about things breaking over system updates. This makes tying things like disk encryption keys to the TPM much more reasonable.

However, there's still one pretty major problem, which is that the initramfs (ie, the component responsible for setting up the disk encryption in the first place) isn't signed and isn't included in PCR 7[2]. An attacker can simply modify it to stash any TPM-backed secrets or mount the encrypted filesystem and then drop to a root prompt. This, uh, reduces the utility of the entire exercise.

The simplest solution to this that I've come up with depends on how Linux implements initramfs files. In its simplest form, an initramfs is just a cpio archive. In its slightly more complicated form, it's a compressed cpio archive. And in its peak form of evolution, it's a series of compressed cpio archives concatenated together. As the kernel reads each one in turn, it extracts it over the previous ones. That means that any files in the final archive will overwrite files of the same name in previous archives.

My proposal is to generate a small initramfs whose sole job is to get secrets from the TPM and stash them in the kernel keyring, and then measure an additional value into PCR 7 in order to ensure that the secrets can't be obtained again. Later disk encryption setup will then be able to set up dm-crypt using the secret already stored within the kernel. This small initramfs will be built into the signed kernel image, and the bootloader will be responsible for appending it to the end of any user-provided initramfs. This means that the TPM will only grant access to the secrets while trustworthy code is running - once the secret is in the kernel it will only be available for in-kernel use, and once PCR 7 has been modified the TPM won't give it to anyone else. A similar approach for some kernel command-line arguments (the kernel, module-init-tools and systemd all interpret the kernel command line left-to-right, with later arguments overriding earlier ones) would make it possible to ensure that certain kernel configuration options (such as the iommu) weren't overridable by an attacker.

There's obviously a few things that have to be done here (standardise how to embed such an initramfs in the kernel image, ensure that luks knows how to use the kernel keyring, teach all relevant bootloaders how to handle these images), but overall this should make it practical to use PCR 7 as a mechanism for supporting TPM-backed disk encryption secrets on Linux without introducing a hug support burden in the process.

[1] The patchset I've posted to add measured boot support to Grub use PCRs 8 and 9 to measure various components during the boot process, but other bootloaders may have different policies.

[2] This is because most Linux systems generate the initramfs locally rather than shipping it pre-built. It may also get rebuilt on various userspace updates, even if the kernel hasn't changed. Including it in PCR 7 would entirely break the fragility guarantees and defeat the point of all of this.
umadoshi: (facepalm - cat)
[personal profile] umadoshi
--My brain is refusing to settle on much of anything. It feels like a mix of my usual lack of focus with a few scattered side notes of...not impending anxiety, but flickers of it trying to settle in. (In a couple of cases I know that the anxiety is about, but can't shake the sense that it may be justified, which makes it harder to deal with. I may wind up having to send an email or two of the "I honestly don't know if you're mad at me and I'm picking up on it or if my brain is making it up wholesale or if I'm picking up on other stresses from you and my brain's misattributing them" [and the later makes inquiring much worse, because if someone is worn down or stressed because of unrelated things, I don't want to add "oh, and please help me regulate my possibly-irrational emotions" to their plate].)


--For the past several nights my sleep cycle was even worse than usual, resulting in far too little sleep, and last night/this morning some part of my subconscious took charge and I didn't really wake up until almost 2 PM today. o_o Fortunately I had the rewrite that was due today basically finished, so I just had to give it a final polish and read-through. And this afternoon Jinksy was randomly extra cuddly and came to snuggle on my lap at my desk twice while I was reading the paper and working.


--This evening [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I got some gardening done. I deadheaded some annuals; he took down the "prey TV" birdfeeder (because of this); we moved the tomato plants around a bit so the smaller ones will get more light; we added some height to a couple of stackable tomato cages; and we put down mulch in the perennial bed and around the two lilacs (in the latter case, in order to clear the encroaching grasses as much as anything else). The Sensation lilac is thriving in the face of getting actual care from us! It's significantly larger than it was at the beginning of spring. (Why, it's as if pruning, fertilizing, consistent watering, and putting lime down makes a difference!) And the lone Sungold tomato plant is growing rapidly, and still far bigger than any of the others. (Even after it lost a stalk [?] today. We moved it, and once it was away from the others two stalks weren't nearly supported enough, but weren't outright falling over...and yet in the time it took [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose to get some ties ready, one of them said "fuck it" and snapped. *sighs* At least it didn't have wee tomatoes on it.)


--Hey, remember how, in Toronto, I bought orange Enthusiast Fluevogs in orange because the purple had been discontinued? Guess what just came out in a new purple colorway for the new season? *facepalm* Fortunately, I don't like this purple version nearly as well as the discontinued one. (And also, the orange--which I really do like!--were noticeably on sale, so even if the new purple had been out, it would've meant not getting either pair this trip, not getting the purple instead.) But part of me is still just like "...really? Really?"
umadoshi: (Killjoys - Johnny 01 (inawhirl_icons))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I had theories about writing an actual post or two this weekend, but then the super-wordy (half-volume) of a Hana to Yume series* that's due tomorrow devoured every trace of brain power I had, apparently. OTOH, I have a draft, and once this is in I'll be back on track post-travel.

(That said, I'm already dreading the potential length and intensity of the fall bout of Casual Job and really hoping to actually get ahead on my freelance stuff, insofar as that's possible. *fingers crossed*)

Fannish/Geeky Things

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] spikedluv, "Riverdale Casts Supergirl's Brit Morgan in Recurring Season 2 Role". (I didn't read the article, as I haven't yet seen Riverdale, but yay, Brit Morgan!)

"Black Panther Is Cleverly Reimagining One of Its Major Villains To Avoid Racial Stereotypes".

I love [dreamwidth.org profile] chaila's (spoilery!) [dreamwidth.org profile] ladybusiness post about Wonder Woman from a couple of weeks ago.

"Star Trek: Discovery literally hired writers to fact-check new stories against Trek canon".

"Killjoys' Aaron Ashmore reflects on past Smallville, Veronica Mars roles". And a bunch of others!


Miscellaneous

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] larryhammer, "The Quest to Return Tomatoes to Their Full-Flavored Glory: We’ve bred the original tomato taste out of existence. Now geneticists are asking: Can we put it back?"

Also via [dreamwidth.org profile] larryhammer, "A third of marine megafauna died in a mass extinction that we didn’t even know about".

"Kill Your Old Ideas So You Can Be More Creative". [Lifehacker] Hmm.

This site lets you see if a Twitter user (one with a public account, anyway) is currently shadowbanned.

"Why bisexual men are still fighting to convince us they exist". [January]

"10 Coolest Ice Cream Traditions From Around The World".

"That Time the TSA Found a Scientist’s 3-D-Printed Mouse Penis: And other tales from the intersection of science and airport security".

"After a Revolution". [Dimas Ilaw at Uncanny Magazine] [Content notes: refers to a wide variety of murder, rape, assault, torture...] "Here is a secret that is not a secret. Here is a curse that is not a curse. Revolutions are not redemption. They will not save you, just as ours did not save us back in 1896, or 1986, or 2001.

It is not that revolutions are useless; it is that they are not enough. And, perhaps, that is what damns us: we give everything we have, blood and fire and all our screaming voices, and after that it is still not over—we still have to go on, to carry our country through the painful process of rebuilding and rooting out diseases infesting our systems and finding better ways to be just, and fair, and kind, which is an even longer, more difficult trial, for all that it is less lit by fire."



On RocketNews24:

--"Dominique Ansel gives us new eye-popping ice cream served in a slice of watermelon!【Pics】".

--"Sanrio and Sailor Moon finally reveal their lineup of My Melody collab goods!"

John 3:16 ad

Jul. 15th, 2017 10:57 pm
steorra: A cross that looks like a star, or vice versa. (christianity)
[personal profile] steorra
On my way to work today I saw a bus stop ad that had the text of John 3:16, the verse reference, and the name/website of a church on it.

As church/Christian ads go, it's pretty good. (Much better than the one I used to see in Columbus that really bothered me. It had a bible reference - probably the 10 commandments - and the text "What part of 'Thou shalt not' did you not understand?" Really, is that the message you want to send people about God and Christianity?)

And I found myself thinking that treating John 3:16 as a key summary verse is very Protestant. Partly the focus on belief (not that belief is insignificant if you're Orthodox, but it's different), and partly the "God gave his Son" which seems to imply more emphasis on Christ's suffering/death than on his resurrection. (Again, not that the suffering and death are insignificant if you're Orthodox, but the emphasis is different.)

I'm not sure off the top of my head what one verse I would pick as an Orthodox summary verse. Partly I think Orthodoxy is less favourable to "use a verse to sum things up" than Protestantism is - so that even having a "quintessential verse" is a rather Protestant thing to do. But putting that aside, I think a better Orthodox summary verse could probably be found.

So yeah, got scurvy again

Jul. 15th, 2017 09:08 pm
rydra_wong: Text: "Your body is a battleground" over photo of 19th-C strongwoman. (body -- battleground)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
For the sake of pedantic clarity: much as I like saying that, I don't actually have scurvy -- quite.

I do presently have plasma vitamin C levels which (Google tells me) would qualify me for a scurvy diagnosis if I was showing any particular symptoms. Which I'm not, beyond my usual levels of fatigue and physical crud (there's stuff -- flare-up of an old injury, etc. -- which, with hindsight I could construe as maybe related somehow, but basically I'm very well, and said stuff would not have made me suspect that anything was wrong). Possibly I'd get symptoms if I let the deficiency run on longer, but that's an experiment I am disinclined to try.

N.B.: this is on an intake of fruit and veg which should easily supply far more than the RDA from diet alone, plus supplementation of a gramme of vitamin C a day.

Which is absurd mega-dose levels.

It used to be two grammes, as that's what it took to drag my blood levels back into the normal range when this showed up on test results before; this past year I suggested tapering down to half-as-ridiculous and monitoring my blood levels to see if they stayed okay. Which they did, at least until last autumn.

Then I was getting a blood test for something else completely, my GP suggested checking my vitamin C levels, and boom, they have fallen through the floor again.

So now, back to double-ridiculous doses and waiting to re-test.

My medical Google-fu is usually pretty good, but it's failed me so far on this. I've asked my doctor to consult colleagues and see if I should be referred to a relevant consultant or WTF, on the basis that it's such a bizarre and extreme test result we should probably see if there's an underlying reason that could or should be treated (or, for example, something which might cause the test to give inaccurate results).

Anyway, I thought I'd lob it to the hive mind in case anyone's heard of a similar case or know of something that could cause this, because I am so baffled. And I realize that my belief that bizarre medical things should happen because of reasons has been shown to be delusional before, but still.

... maybe I have a tapeworm that consumes nothing but vitamin C.

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