Week in review

Feb. 17th, 2019 04:23 pm
gentlyepigrams: (donut powered)
[personal profile] gentlyepigrams
Medical talk under the cut. )

(no subject)

Feb. 16th, 2019 12:00 am
randomness: Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), photograph by Malene Thyssen, cropped square for userpic. (Default)
[personal profile] randomness
Apparently vendors of Smart Home devices are under pressure from Amazon and Google to share their data.

From https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3070965/amazon-google-smart-home-tracking
Given that companies like Logitech Harmony and SmartThings are themselves hubs for smart devices, this could give the two tech giants a huge supply of new data. Smart remotes will tell them what you watch. Turning the light out will tell them what time you go to bed. Smart locks will tell them whether or not they're engaged. And all of it could tell them whether or not you're at home - if the location data doesn't already.

All of this data combined and analysed (probably by AI) could give a disturbingly accurate picture of your entire life, and coupled with your phone, it won't just be limited to your home.

Word of the Day

Feb. 15th, 2019 03:29 pm
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[personal profile] mathhobbit

101 in 1001

Feb. 15th, 2019 11:40 am
gentlyepigrams: (break the monotony)
[personal profile] gentlyepigrams
Looks like I didn't complete any items (not surprising since I've been sick this fortnight) but I did pull two more items onto my in progress list.

List under the cut. )

No significant changes here, just moving forward on the small things.

New World: Wedding Customs

Feb. 15th, 2019 06:00 am
swan_tower: (summer)
[personal profile] swan_tower

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

A truly comprehensive survey of wedding customs around the world and throughout history would probably fill several volumes. I’m not going to attempt that; we’d get so far down into the weeds we’d never see the sun again. Instead I’m going to do a more top-level sweep of the steps involved in getting married, with some attention to the specifics of how those can manifest.

It starts with engagement, i.e. the promise to get married later on. This doesn’t have to last for a long time — it can be as short as the gap between “hey, want to get married?” and finding an Elvis impersonator at a drive-through Las Vegas chapel to hitch you two together — but the longer the gap is, the more preparation you can do. Today’s wedding-industrial complex pushes the ideal that you should do a lot of prep (and spend a lot of money on it), which echoes yesteryear’s necessity of assembling a wedding trousseau. (I’m reminded of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s line in The Lion in Winter, dismissing the likelihood that Richard and Alais will get married any time soon: “The needlework alone can last for years.”)

But even engagement can involve more than mere agreement. There may be a prenuptial contract to negotiate, or permission to secure: from parents, a master, a liege lord, or anyone else with the authority to gainsay a match. Posting the banns is or was required in a number of Christian countries, giving the general public a chance to raise objections — though usually only within set limits, e.g. “he’s got a wife in another town.” This also creates a mandatory waiting period, helping to stave off the buyer’s remorse that often afflicts the clients of those drive-through Vegas chapels.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Swan Tower.

Confessional time!

Feb. 15th, 2019 07:59 am
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[personal profile] rmd
This year again brings us a Valentine's Day confessional post from [personal profile] aroraborealis's DW. So far it's relatively quiet but some delightful comments about small things people do for their partner(s) and some stuff about how the hell to adult.

(no subject)

Feb. 14th, 2019 10:59 pm
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[personal profile] janne
weird... where did my previous post go.

*pokes at dreamwidth*

ETA: Bweh, long post gone, too sleepy to redo. Project Kitchen proceeds well, it's still winter, all is well.

Weekly media report.

Feb. 13th, 2019 12:19 am
gentlyepigrams: (batman - starry night bat signal)
[personal profile] gentlyepigrams
Romancing the Duke, by Tessa Dare. I've taken on a thing of alternating my serious books with romances instead of mysteries for a while and I think after a couple of them I've come to a couple of conclusions. First of all, the sex scenes are sexier than they used to be and nobody waits for the ring to do the deflowering. Second of all, the sex scenes are the least interesting part of the books. This one was fun, though: the Duke was disabled and the girl was an author of a fairy tale series (attributed to her father). I liked it better than the last one and I think I may give another one by the same author a try before I give up the experiment.
Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Vol. 1 & 2, by Nick Abadzis et. al. Graphic novel of the many Doctors plus River Song and Jenny, focusing on the new series, as they combine forces to stop the universe from imploding. The gimmick was good but the art wasn't great, especially for the section with Four.


Bokanté, Metropole Orkest & Jules Buckley, What Heat. World jazz, or maybe jazzy world music, recommended by the Guardian, where I read a lot of my music reviews. Fun and lively (fantastic drumming) and I'm glad I heard it but it's not something I'd sit down and listen to without a specific effort.
Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000. Solo piano versions of the classics from the Middle Ages to today. Very well executed set of recognizable songs and pieces. I was very excited by hearing some of my medieval favorites rendered in a very different arrangement.
Ladytron, Ladytron. It was fine but I couldn't really tell the difference between this and the recent Marnie solo album I listened to earlier this week.
Isabelle Faust & Kristian Bezuidenhout, J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord. Beautiful and elegant take on the material.
Jeffrey Zeigler and Golden Hornet, The Sound of Science. This is a soundtrack that Golden Hornet was involved in and I kept looking back at iTunes to see what I was listening to. I miss Golden Hornet a lot and I wish I could be back in Austin for String Quartet Smackdown.


Get yer fairy tales on!

Feb. 12th, 2019 08:00 am
swan_tower: (summer)
[personal profile] swan_tower

About a year ago, I discovered that February 26th is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.

Now, like many authors with an interest in folklore, I’ve tackled fairy tales before. I have a whole collection of them, Monstrous Beauty. But that represents only one part of my fairy tale ouevre — the part that’s the most horror-tinged. I have others.

And I thought, why not do something with those?

This happened about a year ago, so it was far too late to do anything for that year’s National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. But I looked ahead to 2019, and discovered that this year, February 26th would be a Tuesday — which is, traditionally, the day of the week when new books get released.


Ladies, gentlemen, and other civilized people, I give you Never After: Thirteen Twists on Familiar Tales. Available for pre-order now; due to be released — of course — two weeks from now. It’s a tiny little thing; every one of those thirteen stories is flash-length, under 500 words, and two of them are about 100 words apiece, which is why the collection is priced at a mere $0.99 (or whatever that turns into in your local currency). You can pick up both that and Monstrous Beauty for two bucks, and have twenty fairy tales of variously warped sorts — the ones in Never After are not as dark as the ones in Monstrous Beauty, but I wouldn’t call them sweet and innocent, either . . .

Forget perfect princesses, handsome princes, and “happily ever after.” In this collection of thirteen flash-length fairy tale retellings, award-winning author Marie Brennan introduces you to a world of manipulative mirrors, treacherous pigs, and candy houses that will eat you right up. Each one is a subversive little gem, guaranteed to shock the Brothers Grimm.

Pre-order now!

Mirrored from Swan Tower.

randomness: Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), photograph by Malene Thyssen, cropped square for userpic. (Default)
[personal profile] randomness
As the MBTA makes its plans for AFC 2.0, its new fare collection system, it's important for all of us to keep privacy and due process in mind with a system that as currently proposed will require a one-to-one correspondence between riders and cards.

Certainly the legal framework is different in Massachusetts to what it is in Ontario. I've seen no suggestion that Massachusetts law enforcement intends to use its transit data in this way. Nonetheless, it's always best to get issues like this correct from the start.

From Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing (https://boingboing.net/2019/02/05/doug-ford-is-watching-you.html):
Metrolinx, the provincial agency that supplies the Presto cards used to pay for public transit rides in Toronto, has continued to hand over riders' travel history to Toronto-area cops without asking for a warrant.

Law enforcement requests to Metrolinx have mounted steadily, growing by 47% last year, and in 22% of cases, the agency handed travel history over to police without a warrant.

The Toronto Star first revealed this practice two years ago, but despite public outcry, Metrolinx continues to shun the rule of law, instead relying on what it calls "a balance" between "the commitment to protecting the privacy of Presto card users and maintaining the safety and security of the transit system and its passengers."

From https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/02/01/metrolinx-continues-to-share-presto-users-data-without-requiring-warrants.html:
“Broadly, the concern is that it’s very important that a mass transit system, a public transit system, doesn’t become a system of mass surveillance,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s privacy, technology and surveillance project.

National Pizza Day

Feb. 9th, 2019 11:06 am
randomness: Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), photograph by Malene Thyssen, cropped square for userpic. (Default)
[personal profile] randomness
I always did like Sandra Boynton's work.

And now I know what to do today.



New Worlds: Courtship

Feb. 8th, 2019 06:00 am
swan_tower: (summer)
[personal profile] swan_tower

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

The counterpart to arranged marriages are ones where the spouses choose each other, often referred to as a “love match.” When there’s no matchmaker involved (be it a family member or trained professional), it’s up to interested parties to find and woo their own future husband or wife . . . which can be a very fraught process.

Before we dive too far into that, I should say that there’s often courtship involved in arranged marriages, too. The Japanese matchmaking process is called miai and means “looking at one another;” nowadays it begins with looking at a photograph, but in the past it might instead be kagemi, a “hidden look,” arranging for the man to secretly glimpse the woman without her knowing. If that goes well, the families proceed to their children meeting face-to-face, usually in a series of three dates before a decision is made. European nobility sent portraits as advertisements for their kids, and the prospective pair might exchange letters to get to know one another if they couldn’t meet in person.

But with love matches/autonomous marriage, courtship plays a much larger role, because it’s the means by which people even find possible spouses, conduct their evaluations, and seal the deal. So let’s dig into that.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Swan Tower.

Mains and sides

Feb. 7th, 2019 01:28 pm
swan_tower: (summer)
[personal profile] swan_tower

It’s the return of the Tin Chef!

As some of you know, I’ve finally started actually cooking, after thirty-some-odd-years of basically never doing it. I now have a nice array of recipes I like and can do, and enough confidence now that I’ll happily browse a magazine or cookbook and go “oooh, that sounds tasty, maybe I should try it,” as long as the recipe isn’t too daunting.

But almost everything I make is a single-dish meal, or if it isn’t, then we just throw some spinach on the plate as a salad. I’m still not much good at making a main dish and a side dish to go with it. Partly because that type of multitasking is still a little difficult for me — making sure things are ready around the same time, but don’t demand my attention at the same instant such that something winds up burning — but also just because . . . I have a hard time judging what things will go well together.

I know that to some extent the answers to this are a) it doesn’t matter that much and b) I can experiment and see what works and what doesn’t. But I’ve got a whole list of side dishes I’d like to try someday, and every time I look at them and go “I dunno, would that pair well with this main item?” I wind up going back to the single-dish things I’m comfortable with. So I put it to you, the cooks of my readership: how can I get better at this? I have two different “meat with balsamic + fruit sauce” main dishes I like — one chicken with balsamic vinegar and pomegranate juice, one pork chop with balsamic vinegar and dried cherries — and the fruitiness keeps making me second-guess whether a given side dish would make a good complement. And there are a lot of main dishes I haven’t even really taken a crack at yet. If I had some guiding principles for figuring out what combinations are good, I might experiment more.

Mirrored from Swan Tower.

Interesting Things.

Feb. 7th, 2019 01:26 pm
gentlyepigrams: (guinness)
[personal profile] gentlyepigrams
Kind of a short week for this stuff but I have a larger than usual Pocket backlog.

2019 Puerto Rico Mission Trip

Feb. 6th, 2019 10:26 pm
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[personal profile] liralen

The Puerto Rico Mission Trip in a Nutshell. *laughs*  Or, really, a YouTube Video that Karina, one of the people who went, made from all the photographs everyone took.  It's lovely, and the lyrics go so well with the pictures.  I love that she put John in every time they sang "sweat", his sticking his landing, and Kaleia being the little girl who can do anything.

I'll do more details soon, I promise.

But I loved turning my face up to the rain when it was just pouring while we were replacing the plumbing at the camp.

Weekly media report

Feb. 6th, 2019 10:42 am
gentlyepigrams: (donut powered)
[personal profile] gentlyepigrams
A light week for some reason.

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone, by Juli Berwald. Half memoir and half popular science, this was a very interesting book on a subject I knew nothing about. The author lives in Austin and that gave it a nice local touch for me. I think there's a lot to unpack about her life as a millennial woman here but I want to think about it before going there. Definitely recommended.


Pierre Boulez, Boulez Conducts Debussy & Ravel. That's a six-disc collection and I feel like I have been thoroughly exposed to those two composers, at least in their orchestral repertoire. It was interesting how much of the music I already knew (and not just from the Art of Noise and 10).



Feb. 4th, 2019 09:44 pm
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[personal profile] randomness

This year's Google Doodle includes a game that uses the front-facing camera of a phone to teach shadow puppetry. (Click through for the story.)

February 2019


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