- Wed, 13:14: Obama Picks Openly Gay Delegates For Winter Olympics In Russia http://t.co/gfksc0Xchb via @HuffPostPol
- Wed, 13:43: RT @io9: 30 images from X-Men: Days of Future�s Past take us back in mutant time http://t.co/gYj0RvAKpL http://t.co/QNeMdaDUrL
- Wed, 13:56: "We’re taught when and how to be silent before anyone ever tells us we have the right to say no." http://t.co/toy8nzaXlY via @ismashfizzle
- Wed, 14:09: RT @rosefox: @marydell @deluxvivens @sinboy And then you get RDJ hitting on Hiddleston. And a million fangirls died of squee.
- Wed, 14:10: RT @rosefox: Last night @sinboy and I determined that someone should make a movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as Lord Byron.
- Wed, 14:53: RT @thetrudz: Why is Jennifer Lawrence the face of body image? Boo, you SKINNY. And White. And perfect looking. I like her but she needs so…
- Wed, 16:11: C, age 5: This juice is crappy. Me: Don't say crappy, that's a bad word C: I said clappy! see? *clap clap clap*
- Wed, 16:14: . @thewayoftheid oh christ your photo eek
- Wed, 16:23: RT @SirPatStew: Father Christmas! #gogodididonyc @TwoPlaysInRep http://t.co/9iu0O7xbKx
- Thu, 09:23: Here's a nice Hiddles pinboard to spoil your productivity with: http://t.co/MFFOgQFFXC @xicacha @unholyglee @deluxvivens
A paper in the British Medical Journal reviewed the literature on harms arising from laughter and produced a wide-ranging list of laughing-related dangers, from asthma attacks to cerebral tumors. The authors concluded "Laughter is not purely beneficial. The harms it can cause are immediate and dose related, the risks being highest for Homeric (uncontrollable) laughter."
Laughter is no joke—dangers include syncope, cardiac and oesophageal rupture, and protrusion of abdominal hernias (from side splitting laughter or laughing fit to burst), asthma attacks, interlobular emphysema, cataplexy, headaches, jaw dislocation, and stress incontinence (from laughing like a drain). Infectious laughter can disseminate real infection, which is potentially preventable by laughing up your sleeve. As a side effect of our search for side effects, we also list pathological causes of laughter, among them epilepsy (gelastic seizures), cerebral tumours, Angelman’s syndrome, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neuron disease.
Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful): narrative synthesis [R E Ferner and J K Aronson/British Medical Journal]
Derryl Murphy sez, "My son is home sick and found this video showing a 3D printer ItsJustJumby created for working inside the world of Minecraft. The engineering is way beyond the two of us, but we both still find it amazing and fascinating."
I could watch this all day. The description's actually very clear, and extremely clever. Great engineering smarts on display.
3D Printer With 16 Colors - Minecraft Invention (Thanks, Derryl!)
Charlie Stross's Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire presents a set of scorching denunciations of Bitcoin based on its technical, political, and economic demerits. On the way, Stross takes some vicious shots at libertarianism. It's one of those Christmas-season hornet's-nest kickings that are fun to watch -- at a great distance.
Mining BtC has a carbon footprint from hell (as they get more computationally expensive to generate, electricity consumption soars). This essay has some questionable numbers, but the underlying principle is sound.
Bitcoin mining software is now being distributed as malware because using someone else's computer to mine BitCoins is easier than buying a farm of your own mining hardware.
Bitcoin violates Gresham's law: Stolen electricity will drive out honest mining. (So the greatest benefits accrue to the most ruthless criminals.)
Bitcoin's utter lack of regulation permits really hideous markets to emerge, in commodities like assassination (and drugs and child pornography).
It's also inherently damaging to the fabric of civil society. You think our wonderful investment bankers aren't paying their fair share of taxes? Bitcoin is pretty much designed for tax evasion. Moreover, The Gini coefficient of the Bitcoin economy is ghastly, and getting worse, to an extent that makes a sub-Saharan African kleptocracy look like a socialist utopia, and the "if this goes on" linear extrapolations imply that BtC will badly damage stable governance, not to mention redistributive taxation systems and social security/pension nets if its value continues to soar (as it seems designed to do due to its deflationary properties).
As a kitten, Alice's name was "Ado Annie," and she was a prissy, prissy princess who didn't really care for any of the human suitors who came to visit her litter. Until she met me, and went to sleep on my arm, and I asked in a strangled voice if her breeder (my friend Betsy Tinney) took checks.
It took a good deal more time and conversation before Alice was ready to come home with me, as a sixteen week old fuzzball with firm ideas about the world, her place in it, and my place under her. She was my first Maine Coon, and after the learning curve was behind us, she quickly became one of my best friends.
She is pushy; loud; arrogant; prissy; very stinting with her love, and very particular about who deserves it. She gives affection when she wants to, not when people demand it. She won't eat human food, but she begs for it all the same, only to disdain it with a sniff if allowed to get a closer look. She sits like a human, and likes to hug the remote. She is, as I often tell her, my favorite thing.
Happy birthday, Alice. Let's celebrate a dozen more.
- Current Mood: loved
- Current Music:The Band Perry, "If I Die Young."
**This is not a Beyonce thought piece.
When we were all having #Scandal withdrawal last Thursday night, Beyonce dropped a surprise album, complete with a video for every song. As Sesali wrote yesterday, about the “Haunted” video in particular, “I think King Bey used the scenes to push back on our (sub)conscious societal fears.” The visuals for the album cover a myriad topics that have been on King Bey’s mind all of these years.
And while the album did spark a big debate over whether Beyonce, who samples Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s now famous TedTalk “We Should All Be Feminists,” can self-identify as “feminist,” for me the visual album game me new life.
Here are the reasons why in GIF form:
1. Disclosure: While I liked Beyonce before this album, I could never really connect with her. I always felt at arms length from her as an artist. This album allowed me for what seems like the very first time to see Beyonce, the person. For the longest time, I felt like Beyonce was always a little too polished, too perfect. She perfected the “fake” smile with the vacant eyes and that’s all I really saw when I looked at her, aside from her talents as an entertainer. “Pretty Hurts,” the very first track on the album changed that narrative for me; Beyonce shows us who she really is and I saw myself in her.
2. She defines “feminist” in the song “Flawless.”
3. And in my imagination this is Beyonce stamping out the patriarchy:
4. She made me get up and dance. Life is stressful, and fighting for equal rights can get exhausting. Sometimes you just have to get up and dance.
And then dance some more.
5. The track “Flawless” stands out to me as an ode to self-esteem. The hip-hop style boasting is perfect for my morning routine, serving as a reminder that self-love is key and that I’m a badass.
And sometimes you gotta let the folks know:
6. As with any art, we must approach it with a critical eye, but this visual album really just has some amazing images. It’s not perfect and there are sure to be more Beyonce thought pieces in the next few weeks. But right now seriously all I can think about is that whenever the wind blows around Beyonce apparently her scarves just land perfectly on her head.
I guess this makes me an official member of the #Beyhive.
Also, I have to pop out shortly to a funeral home meeting about my cremation and memorial contract.
Regular blogging service will resume later today, crises du jour permitting.
As part of our 12 Days of Christmas, we’re bringing you some of your favourite authors talking about what Christmas is to them…in whatever form they like! We’re also bringing you their books at only £1!
Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket3. Add the magic word ‘tinsel’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Orpheus and the Nymphs of the London Underworld
A shilling shocker short story featuring Victorian detective, Sergeant Campbell Lawless, known as Watchman because he was formerly a watchmaker’s apprentice.
© William Sutton MMXIII
“Finding things as is missing something of a speciality,” said Worm, “with a sideline in unfinding things as may be better off lost.”
It was the Scotland Yard fellow, Lawless, who gave me my first whiff of the Nymphs of the Underworld; but it was his little messenger, Worm, who put me on the scent of my fantastical snowbound quest. Since Eurydice vanished…
I know, the ridiculous name. But she was at least half-Greek; and when first I saw her dance, I thought her the closest thing to a nymph I had ever seen. When first she heard me play, when first I saw her dance, by the Hampstead Ponds… Forgive me.
Anyway, it was the beginning of December she vanished. I didn’t think much of S Division’s efforts to find her, and I said as much to the Hampstead Superintendent, Charles J. O’Logan. He told me I could try my luck down town.
So I trudge through the early snows down to the river of filth. There, at a bare counter in Scotland Yard, Sergeant Lawless receives me kindly. These detective policemen, they must get cranks of every description wasting their time: a daughter who’s run off; a sister who never came home from work; a wife who’s been abducted.
“Abducted, sir?” Sergeant Lawless tries to be gentle. “She may have been. Or smuggled away to a Turkish harem. Or fanged by a serpent and gone to the nether world. She may have been, but–” Sergeant Lawless suggests so kindly, without actually saying it “Most likely she has gone wilfully. Oh yes. You scared her off with too much toil and drudgery; too many beatings, or not beatings enough; too much love. That’s the truth of it. People are free to do as they wish. Happens all the time,” Lawless tells me, “and the police shan’t meddle in household affairs.”
“But Sergeant,” I tell him, “that’s simply not the scenario in this drama. We’re intimates, conjoined in art and love. Since first I saw her dance, since first she heard me play, that day upon Hampstead Heath, hair dark with pondwater, willowy limbs, dark brows over radiant eyes, skin as lovely as can be…” I stammer to describe to him my world, our world, vanished with her strange evanishment.
He raises a hand, sympathetical like. “Mr O’Fahy, I cannot help you.”
No help to find Eurydice? I clench a fist. I had already stomped and stamped, shrieked and wailed, thrown pots and pans, wrecked my home, rent my cheeks, torn my clothes, shorn my hair, all manner of griefs and mournings, kissed her portrait, blest her eyes, missed her, cursed her, missed her.
Of this operatic grief, the Sergeant heard only the pale echoes, yet he shivered as if the shades of the underworld had trailed their fingers down his neck. “I can’t. But I know someone who can.”
“Worm, sir, of the Euston Square Worms, public company as yet unlimited. Finding things as is missing something of a speciality, with a sideline et cetera et cetera.”
I met Worm by Seven Dials, a filthy spot for dirty business. As the snow fell faintly down upon us, I told him my woes.
“Mr O’Fahy,” said the urchin most sympathetical like, notwithstanding the whiff of sewer life he exuded. “Indeed Maestro, if I am not mistaken, given that I’ve seen your entertainments down Cremorne Gardens, and up the Evans, and Wilton’s Music Hall. Your troubles stir the old heart, not unusual though they may be in these days of abductions and garottings, knifings and beheadings, rape, pillage, plunder and politic collusion. My Worms are a dab hand at finding what is missing et cetera. But for this, oh I fear I may need to invoke the very gods of the earth. Give us a quid. I’ll see you next week.”
I stomped through the slush. The first flakes had formed a pristine blanket; now the sleet dissolved everything to slush. I was sick of it. London was sick of it. It was Christmas Eve. In every window, families crowded round the hearth, wishing each other good cheer. But my hearth lay bare, and cheerless. I raged. I raved. Bit my nails with need, tore my hair in terror, remembering when first I saw her dance by the Hampstead Ponds, shimmering, dark, Eurydice—
“Maestro O’Fahy?” Worm took me by surprise. “It’s a poser you’ve posed us, and no mistaking.”
“Can you do at?”
“No, old cove.” He gazed at me, his eyes a brilliant blue. “But I’ll tell you who can.”
Worm led me neath the petticoats of London, through layered depths to the darkest recesses of the old Mother City. Down at the river of death, separating the city of the living from the city of the dead, the ferryman waited to row lost souls across the river of Lethe. “You wouldn’t have a couple of shekels, old cove?”
Two obols, perhaps he meant. I had expected… I don’t know what I expected, but I brought out my instrument, and I played. The ferryman’s pockmarked face was stern as a skull. Yet at the first notes of my song he yielded. The oars took us rhythmically over, ever nearer Eurydice.
On the far side, three guard dogs fought at the gates to bite us. I struck up my song again. Straightway, the dogs lay down, becalmed.
We entered that shadowy palace, which Worm called the Underworld. The king and queen looked at me in wonder.
“Are you still…? Only we don’t normally get your type down here.” Hades glared at Worm. “Call yourself a psychopomp? You’re only meant to bring people so far ruined I may leech the final vestiges of life from them.”
Worm spread his heads and left the stage to me.
I told my tale: evanishment, torn clothes, finding things as is et cetera. Hades was unmoved.
I told how we met, when first I saw her dance, when first she heard me play, for I knew that even he, even here, could not be immune to love. Hades laughed. Actually laughed. I would have no help to find Eurydice. In desolation, I comforted myself the only way I know how. The song escapes unbidden from my fingers. His wife Persephone – the grimmest bawd you could ever wish to see – laid a hand on her black husband’s arm, as my song of love melted her icy heart.
“Maestro,” she called. “Maestro O’Fahy, stop, I beg of you, before you wring my poor heart dry. There may be something we can do.” She asked for a photographical daguerreotype; I sketched her, dancing. She asked of Eurydice’s accents; I played the sound of her sweet voice. They asked for five quid; I wrote a cheque for ten guineas.
“Give us a minute,” said Persephone.
They sent me to wait in their pit of stinking humanity: the Nymphs of the Underworld. Wraiths devoid of warmth; degraded spirits; fallen bodies, and faces I half-recognised from my long years of entertainments and dalliances. There I lost myself in a haze of whisky and laudanum. A minute, an hour, a week. I knew not, nor cared – if I might find my Eurydice.
Worm shook me to my senses.
I gripped his arm. “Have they found her?”
Without a word, he took up my instrument and led me to the viewing balcony. There I peered, dumbstruck, through the curtains, down at the bawd house floor where the nymphs were disporting themselves, and there –
My heart leapt. Among the lost spirits, the dead souls, I saw. The tangled hair, the dark brows, the skin lovely as can be, my Eurydice –
Before I could leap down to her, there fell upon my shoulder Hades’ icy hand.
“There are two conditions. Number one: bank notes to the tune of one hundred, please, and no more of your infernal plucking. Number two: if you take her, she is yours, and you must do with her as you please; only I warn you, do not look too close, else the nymph of your heart may melt away back to the underworld.”
Back to the river, her footsteps behind me, my heart singing and my song full of love. Worm showed us, discreetly, to our boat. And there, in the shadows, I took her in my arms, and I held her, and I had her. Until, as the mist cleared arose, I looked…I saw…this was not… This was not my Eurydice! This? This hateful creature. Pitiful. Painted. A ruined, soiled, shamed imitation of my Eurydice.
What happened I cannot quite tell. As I came to my senses, the boy Worm was looking at me. The ferryman’s oars plashed on the waters, chopping through the ice floes. The boat was otherwise empty.
Did I thrust her from me in disgust, back to that Underworld which had consumed her? Or did I toss that mocking shadow into the river of forgetfulness, thinking to throw my love with it? Only my love did not go.
Worm handed me my instrument. And since then, I forever play, and play – for Eurydice.
Unearthing scandal, sabotage and stink beneath Victorian London’s streets, it is the first book in the series featuring detective Campbell Lawless.
“Extravagant and thoroughly enjoyable,” wrote Allan Massie in The Scotsman
Lawless and the Flowers of Sin will be published in 2014.
Working with the ReAuthoring project and Portsmouth Writers’ Hub, William often wields a ukulele while performing; he has read on the radio, and at events from the Edinburgh Festival to Portsmouth’s Square Tower, from Canterbury Cathedral to the poop deck of Light Ship LV21, and from Eton College to High Down Prison.
You can listen to the audio version of this story:
A beautiful, informative, and surprising video from NASA. [link]
This video of the sun based on data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, shows the wide range of wavelengths -- invisible to the naked eye -- that the telescope can view. SDO converts the wavelengths into an image humans can see, and the light is colorized into a rainbow of colors.
As the colors sweep around the sun in the movie, viewers should note how different the same area of the sun appears. This happens because each wavelength of light represents solar material at specific temperatures. Different wavelengths convey information about different components of the sun's surface and atmosphere, so scientists use them to paint a full picture of our constantly changing and varying star.
Yellow light of 5800 Angstroms, for example, generally emanates from material of about 10,000 degrees F (5700 degrees C), which represents the surface of the sun. Extreme ultraviolet light of 94 Angstroms, which is typically colorized in green in SDO images, comes from atoms that are about 11 million degrees F (6,300,000 degrees C) and is a good wavelength for looking at solar flares, which can reach such high temperatures. By examining pictures of the sun in a variety of wavelengths -- as is done not only by SDO, but also by NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- scientists can track how particles and heat move through the sun's atmosphere.
On December 13, security researcher Brian Krebs reported that Target was investigating a data breach "potentially involving millions of customer credit and debit card records." Target confirmed this morning that 40 million such records were stolen.
“Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence. We regret any inconvenience this may cause,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Target. “We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”
Since this was apprently being leaked to security researchers a week ago, I guess Target's idea of "moved swiftly" is a little different to that of, oh, say, a quarter of the adult population of America.
We’re down to the final 15 hours, folks!
Over the past month, we’ve been honored, humbled, and frankly downright giddy that so many of you have donated to support the Feministing #Times Ten relaunch. We’ve never really asked our readers to give to a big fundraising effort like this before, and we were a little nervous about it. But we’ve been inspired to see how the Feministing community has stepped up. We can’t wait to show you what you’ve made possible.
In this final day of the campaign, it’s time for professional procrastinators like me to shine. Maybe you’ve been meaning to donate for weeks but never quite got around to it. If so, it is go time! Giving $1 is a way of showing how much you value independent feminist media (and will get you an invite to the campaign wrap-up party in NYC next month). If you can give $5, you’ll be entered to win a raffle for a seat at dinner with the founders of Feministing. Bump it up to $10, and you’ll get to be part of the team that tests out the hot new site redesign. If you can spare even more, there are still tons of other amazing perks–shot glasses, books, magazine subscriptions and more! Or donate on behalf of a friend and send them one of these cute illustrated holiday cards.
Thanks to your generosity, we reached our initial funding goal in just 2 weeks–and we’ve added a stretch goal of $50,000. These additional funds will be invaluable for strengthening our redesign and giving us a base from which to build a funding infrastructure. Every single dollar really does help–giving us more of cushion as we work to make Feministing bigger, better, and more sustainable.
Over 960 of you have donated so far, and we could not love you more. Can you help us get to 1,000 backers by the end of the day?
Walt Mossberg, in his last WSJ column</a>: "Some readers will complain that Apple is overrepresented." Above, a gadget from the last 22 years sadly excluded from the roundup. (Photo: Denn)
As Xeni posted yesterday, there is a serious shortage of Sriracha sauce a-brewing. Jason Kottke suggests some of his favorite alternative brands of the red stuff, singling out Shark Brand ($7/bottle).
Not that this stuff affects me. I'm happy so long as my pockets are stuffed with tiny catering-sized sachets of Tobasco, which I import the UK by the grosslot. Best thing about these: the TSA doesn't register them as liquids on their scanners, so you can go through airport security without worrying about digging them out, packing them into a moisture-terror baggie, and then restoring them.
What are your Sriracha alternatives for the Great Shortage?
CBC reported that Norman Feller had emerged from hiding after 15 years, all because of his fear of the Y2K virus that turned out to be no big deal. Alas, it's not true.
There are a few clues:
- Feller, an experienced prepper, didn’t bring a radio with him.
- Feller’s photo is clearly labeled as a stock photo.
- The show is produced in Canada, a country well-known for dishonesty and cruelty.
- The host is played by Peter Oldring, an experienced comedian.
- The show — This is That — is a popular satirical news show.
Isn't it odd how many imitators of The Onion (such as The Daily Currant) are really just writing zany untrue stories in an AP style? Guys, these things are supposed to have jokes and satire and stuff.
Assemblage sculptor Jeremy Mayer (who makes pieces out of deconstructed typewriters) teases us with a single shot of his latest piece: a chihuahua skeleton made from a disassembled, ancient writing-machine.
The isolation sphere in the center of the room looked like an oversized snowglobe. The room’s outer walls were two feet thick, built of steel and concrete to protect the rest of R&D from potential accidents. A good thing, too. Mrs. Claus brushed her fingers over the gashes by the door. Emma had been so excited by the potential for robotic reindeer…
Reluctantly, she turned her full attention to the fragments in the center of the transparent sphere. Every last splinter had been carefully retrieved and returned, laid out on the sterile white floor.
The team had also brought back the body of Yukon Cornelius.
Bumble hadn’t returned to the Pole, and the retrieval team hadn’t spotted him. At his age, and without teeth, he would have a hard time living in the wild, but she couldn’t risk sending her people out to try to bring him home. Not yet.
She was stalling. Forcing herself to project an air of calm, she turned toward Rudolph. “We’re ready. If you wouldn’t mind?”
Rudolph’s hooves clopped on the tile floor as he positioned his head in a specially designed metal hood secured to the outside of the sphere. When he spoke, his voice was muffled and tinny. “Ready.”
The hood was another of Emma’s designs. A sequence of lenses inside captured and amplified the light of his nose, sending a beam of piercing red light into the heart of the sphere. Hermie and Emma worked the knobs on the control panel. Inside the hood, a small mirror brought the beam directly onto the largest of the fragments.
The broken crystal acted as a prism, shattering Rudolph’s magical light into a rainbow … if you stripped that rainbow of every color save blue and violet.
Mrs. Claus waited for Emma’s spectrographic analysis of the crystal’s magic, though she already knew what Cornelius had found. “This was a weapon of the Snow Queen.”
They were similar to Mrs. Claus’ enchanted glass orbs, only far more potent. During the war, the Snow Queen had seeded the North Pole with her crystal snowflakes, hiding them beneath the drifts where they were all but undetectable, even to Santa’s magic. Feckless and Pacer, two of Santa’s original reindeer, had died after stepping on her buried traps.
They had been the lucky ones. While some of the Snow Queen’s crystals simply exploded, others cursed all within range. Illusion turned friend to foe, releasing its victims only after they had slain their closest allies, and forcing them to carry that guilt forever. Another variety froze the heart, leaving you with the memory of love, but stealing the emotion.
“I thought you killed the Snow Queen,” said Hermie.
“I did.” Years later, and she still relived that battle in her dreams. She pushed the images aside, forced the remembered screams back into the darkness of her mind. “She is gone. Whoever this is, they’re not the Snow Queen. But they may be looking for her arsenal.”
Time after time they had swept the Pole, searching for slumbering traps from that war. Each time she hoped they had found the last. Each time she was proven wrong.
“Could the Snow Queen’s magic control Frosty?” asked Emma.
“Oh, yes,” Mrs. Claus said softly. “Frosty, and so much more.” She turned and strode from the isolation room.
Rudolph pulled free of the hood and trotted after her. “Where are you going?”
“To the Snow Queen’s grave.” Frosty’s master would have to go there eventually. Even dead, much of the Snow Queen’s power remained trapped in her eternally frozen flesh.
“Excuse me,” Hermie said awkwardly. “We’ve all read about the war with the Snow Queen, but nobody knows who she really was. The elves who lived through it, they get this faraway expression and say they never saw her up close, or they can’t recall what she looked like.”
“They chose to forget,” Mrs. Claus said wearily. “We all did. Even Santa. You probably will too, when this is over.”
They walked the rest of the way in silence, through the paper mill and the wood-finishing factory, the greenhouse where elves harvested corn and grain for the reindeer, and finally to the guarded marble stairs spiraling deep into the heart of the North Pole.
The sounds of the Pole faded as they entered the mausoleum.
Gold plaques were mounted to walls of white ice. Many were older than Mrs. Claus. Most of Santa’s original reindeer were memorialized here, as were those elves who had died throughout the centuries. In the center of the far wall, holly and mistletoe bordered four large plaques. She tried not to think about the empty space below those plaques.
“I don’t understand,” whispered Emma.
Mrs. Claus touched the lower right plaque.
Rudolph’s nose painted the ice red. Hermie’s breath caught. Emma made no sound, but tears began to drip down her cheeks as she realized why they were here. She squeezed Hermie’s hand.
Santa Claus had been given the Mantle of Immortality, allowing him to serve for all eternity. His wife—his first wife—had been long-lived, but not even the magic of the Pole could preserve her life forever. Santa had grieved for each of his four prior wives, as he would one day grieve for her. But he was a being of infinite love, one ill-suited for living alone. And passion could blind even the greatest of men.
“The Snow Queen…” Mrs. Claus traced the icy words engraved in gold.
Rest in Peace
“The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air
When the song of angels is sung.”
– Phillips Brooks
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) is the free/open version of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the gold standard in secure email and other kinds of eavesdropping-proof, authenticated, private storage and communication. The GPG project relies on donations and voluntary subscriptions to keep up-to-date and support new platforms. They're running a crowdfunding campaign that's shooting for €24,000, which they'll spend on rolling out an all-new site (with Tor access!), as well as GPG 2.1, tutorials, subscription management, material for people throwing Cryptoparties (security-training events) and many other laudable goals. I rely on GPG every day, so I've put in €100. I hope you'll give, too.
- Brand new GnuPG website
- Release of GnuPG 2.1
- Anonymous Tor network access to gnupg.org
- New server for web infrastructure
- New user friendly design optimised for desktop and mobile
- Fresh download page catering to all devices
- Updated collection of external videos, guides, and courses
- New page for Cryptoparties
- Continued availability of all existing pages and manuals
- New subscription handling system for sustaining GnuPG development
GnuPG: new website and infrastructure (Thanks, John!)
The sudden increase in word count is an indication that the new structure is working beautifully and I am able to rescue quite a lot of what had been written Sunday thru Tuesday. Here is a little extract in which I have a new thought about Frances Hardinge's Gullstruck Island (still my favourite). Although it might need to be edited for comma-confetti.
The most knowing of the fantasy heroines around today however is probably Mosca Mye, protagonists of Frances Hardinge’s Fly By Night (2005) and Twilight Robbery (2011). Set in a alternative eighteenth century just recovering from a civil war that is at best in abeyance, and where the written words has come under suspicion and control, Mosca Mye, exiled daughter of a stationer, is a spark in a fireworks factory. As she roams her world with her goose Saracen in train, she asks the wrong (right) questions and collects words and stories relentlessly. Mosca is not precisely at the heart of the story in either Fly by Night or Twilight (a mildly more conventional story about a swapped child, set in a city that has divided its citizens into denizens by-day and by-night) what she is, is the catalyst, the one whose entry on to the scene sets change in motion. This structure clearly fascinates Hardinge because she uses it again in Gullstruck Island (2009, US Island of the Lost): Hathin is not the hero of her own story. She thinks of herself as only a tiny seed swept up by the wind as someone out there conspires to destroy her people and find and kill her sister, the Lady Arilou, the only one of the telepathic Lost who has not been killed in one night. Ironically it is because Hathin moves through the world creating a wake of change, that she can destroy the person who is behind it all, and who also thinks of himself as all but invisible, like Hathin nothing but a servant. These two invisible people are both represented by the figure of the Gripping Bird, for “whoever wore the Gripping Bird mask could change things just like clapping” (p. 493) and suddenly the knowing reader remembers the clap if you believe in fairies, or if you believe in change and remembers that neither fairies nor change are necessarily nice.
Technically, A&E merely "suspended indefinitely" Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, following his remarks about gay people. But they know there'll be hell to pay should he be permitted to return.
Interesting, mind you, that they're more afraid of progressive-led criticism than the backlash they're going to get now instead from the bigot community. Progress! Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd:
The network issued the following statement to EW: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
This is where some Christian conservatives do that thing where the First Amendment is held to guarantee Freedom of Reality Show, isn't it?
P.S. This reminds me that Ender's Game really did end up bombing hard despite the promising opening weekend. Data points!
You'd better not ___________, you'd better not __________, Santapus is coming to town.
In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time, I was joined by Ruben Bolling, the author of the weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug, which premieres each week on Boing Boing, and pre-premiers for members of his Inner Hive, which you can join by going to tomthedancingbug.com. I was also joined by Vanessa Davis, a cartoonist and illustrator living in Los Angeles. She is the author of Spaniel Rage and Make Me a Woman. See what she's up to at Spaniel Rage. Shownotes: Korak, Son of Tarzan, Volume One, a Gold Key comic book from 1964 by Gaylord DuBois and Russ Manning. QuizUp, an addictive iPhone trivia game. The Rockford Files on Netflix. Ski Tracks iPhone app, for tracking your day of skiing. When You Reach Me a middle school novel by Rebecca Stead. The Dan Clowes comic book story that Shia LeBeouf plagiarized, available in The Daniel Clowes Reader.
This episode of Gweek is sponsored by Warby Parker. Try out 5 pairs of prescription eyeglasses for free and get three-day shipping with the offer code GWEEK.
Jason writes, "Every year the YouTube community gets together for the Project for Awesome. A 48 hours event to raise money for all of our favourite charities by making, watching, commenting on and sharing videos about charities. This year, I've decided to support the Electronic Frontier Foundation in my contribution to the project."
The EFF works to promote free and open internet, freedom of speech, privacy for individuals and transparency in governments. Based on the essential information released by Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks we know that the US government has been spying on Americans and non-Americans alike for years. The EFF is currently waging multiple court battles challenging the constitutionality of these unwarranted spying programs. They need our help and support to keep the government accountable for their actions. </blockquote>
Daniel from McSweeney's writes, "At stake in the latest McSweeney's is nothing less than a celestial duel between Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Bradbury. Culled from old anthologies edited by Hitchcock and Bradbury, McSweeney's 45 includes stories by Franz Kafka, Roald Dahl, Josephine W. Johnson, and John Steinbeck, among others. Paired alongside these stories is new work from Brian Evenson, China Mieville, Benjamin Percy, and E. Lily Yu. Also featured is a letter from Boing Boing's own, Cory Doctorow. The result is an unmissable anthology filled with strange, propulsive, and often darkly funny work. "
We had a really good time chatting with Sam Sykes, author of the Aeon's Gate series. Among other things, we learned what a flying shark is good for, why he left the Horde, what a 'stealfie' is, and how Sam keeps his daily threat-making to a minimum. Plus your questions! Enjoy.
Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!
Yuval Sheer from The New York Center for Juvenile Justice sez, "Every year in the state of New York more than 40,000 youth are arrested and prosecuted as adults. The state views 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for criminal law purposes, and it also prosecutes children 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds as adults when they are accused of certain crimes. Prosecuting children as adults undermines their unique potential to overcome adversities and learn from mistakes made at a young age. Children tried as adults are exposed to a lifetime stigma of a criminal record and denied opportunities to receive age appropriate support. Furthermore, in New York, 16- and 17-year-olds are held in adult facilities."
This video asks a simple question. How can minors who are not allowed to even get a flu shot without their parents consent in New York, suddenly become adults when they make a mistake at a young age. It is a collaboration between Judge Michael Corriero, who presided over the cases of youth in New York’s adult criminal court system and T.J. Parsell, a filmmaker who at 17 was tried as an adult and incarcerated in an adult prison. The video was conceived by a group of young students who participated at the summer program of the New York Center for Juvenile Justice, an organization founded by Judge Corriero.
- Wed, 12:47: Why yes, smashing a full glass bottle of olive oil on the kitchen floor really DID make my day, thanks for asking... #sigh #oneofthosedays
- Wed, 12:51: And now my lunch is cold. #whinge #oneofthosedays
- Wed, 12:59: The worst thing about smashing the bottle? I was trying to get tea bags out of the cupboard when it happened - needed that cup of tea.
- Wed, 13:24: Did you know FableCroft Publishing has a Facebook page? Hit "like" to make sure you get all the updates! https://t.co/GoquWXCUWE
- Wed, 14:14: @katieLfielding Hi Katie – are you still missing Ice Breaker? Wanted to check it hadn't arrived before I email the publisher :)
- Wed, 14:25: Damn. Another book not entered in the AAs :(
- Wed, 17:17: RT @HachetteAus: And a huge congrats to @RobertHoge, with #Ugly chosen in Biography & Memoirs in the iBooks Best of 2013 http://t.co/FnUxJQ…
- Wed, 18:49: RT @KaleidoscopeTPP: Got a diverse contemporary SF/F story for young adults? Please send it our way: http://t.co/IADLk6pdLx
- Wed, 19:46: Maybe next year I'll be a lot less tolerant of people not following Aurealis Awards instructions for submission of entries… #overit
- Wed, 20:07: Old Claude font is the new black in picture book typography.
Italy has passed an Internet censorship bill that allows for a regulator to order the national blocking of websites without judicial review. If the website's operator wants to come to Italy to object, they have as little as 12 days to do so. ISPs that fail to comply with the censorship orders face fines of €250,000 per day.
The entertainment industry was quick to voice its satisfaction. "It's good regulation that gives us a much-needed 12-day fast track system," Enzo Mazza, CEO of Fimi, Italy's music industry lobby group, told ZDNet. "So far, when some international sites were involved we could rely only upon the criminal justice system which meant it was between 30 and 45 days before the access to a site was blocked."
However, some lawyers and activists hold a different view. According to them, by speeding up the process, the new regulations pave the way for unfair verdicts.
"Copyright is a complicate matter and I don't see how AgCom, which doesn't have a dedicated copyright team, could explore all the nuances of certain cases with the necessary diligence in such a short time," Guido Scorza, a lawyer and expert in online law at the forefront of the opposition to the document, said.
All this rush could also result in a restriction of the citizens' rights to freedom of expression, he added. With only five days (or three for the fast track) to file their counter arguments, it's very unlikely that any single user would try to fight for their rights to publish the disputed content, thus leaving the door open for uneven-handed decisions. "If you are a judge who would you rule in favour of, the party that was able to back its position or the one that did not even bother to make a case?" Scorza said.
Italy's site-blocking law comes into effect: A threat to Pirate Bay or a curse on online freedom? [Raffaele Mastrolonardo/Zdnet] (Thanks, Raffaele!)
One year ago today
New Seth Godin book could stun an ox: At 800 pages and 19 lbs, this book is ridiculous. In a good way.
Five years ago today
Heavy-duty overhead luggage with a chest of drawers and a seat: It's got a built-in seat and internal, stacking drawer-like sub-luggages, and it fits into overheads.
Ten years ago today
Recreating gone Disney rides online: At least two other sites are creating virtual versions of discontinued Disney rides: Adventure Thru Inner Space, a Disneyland attraction that gave visitors the experience of being smaller than an atom, and If You Had Wings, a Disney World ride to exotic travel destinations.
The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stunningly realised work that both fascinates and repels in all the right places, with a protagonist-- quadriplegic former police officer Lincoln Rhyme-- who is among the most immediately fascinating and layered characters I've ever read in a crime novel. The characters are well rounded and play off each other superbly, with distinct and discrete voices-- Rhyme's assistant-come-antagonist Amelia Sachs is also beautifully realised and a fascinating character in her own right, something that can't always be said for secondary characters in a novel of this type, and certainly not something that can always be said for female characters; the crimes are sufficiently shocking and contain an internal logic that makes them all the more riveting; and the counterplots that rumble along underneath the main narrative are taut and gripping in their own right. Let down only by a somewhat forced and slightly unbelievable double-climax which feels as the natural climax was added to in order to provide an additional moment of surprise, this is a rich, intense and gripping crime novel of the first water.
View all my reviews
Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Less a crime novel than a character study of a man in conflict with his domestic life, his uneasy friendships, his position as a black man in a white-dominated society and his own sense of worth, all explored while he sets out to commit one crime and ends up investigating another.
This is Mosley at his best writing Easy Rawlins at his best, slipping easily between conflicting states, moralising and making judgement of others while not being afraid to expose his own limitations and blind spots, and struggling to demand respect from the world while engaging all around him from a default state that automatically demands he lie and bluff as his opening gambit at all times. Rawlins-- and sidekick Mouse-- is a joy to follow as a character, and it really doesn't matter how convoluted or simple the crime might be. That's not why the reader is on board. And while the mystery and its convoluted path towards conclusion are enjoyable enough to keep the reader's interest in this novel, it really is only secondary to watching this fascinating, multi-layered, all-too human man wrestle with his demons, and decide which ones he will conquer and which ones he will, inevitably, call master. Superbly readable, thoroughly enjoyable, and full of style and humour. A delight.
View all my reviews
Seven days to go, and today is the first day I felt a wave of the tiniest bit of panic sweep over me. I've had a couple of curve balls come my way (nothing bad, just the planets way of making raising the high bar I'm trying to leap by a couple of centimetres, but this weeks chores have turned into more of a panicked run than the persistent quick walk that I was sticking with. Still, nothing is on fire - so I'm trying to keep my head. (I came perilously close to a freakout when Joe announced last night that he's working 10am -10pm for the next three days, but miraculously, I neither divorced nor killed him, but somehow managed to find something in my house that was simultaneous gratitude that I'm married to a hard worker, and absolutely nothing short of nauseating horror that I'm going to have to do all the shopping. I've decided not to make eye contact with the problem just yet.
The table of knitting to do looked like this yesterday:
And today there's big changes.
The scarf is back, blocking complete, and the little red sweater now has not just a back, but a left front as well. The little cream sweater got the buttons sewn on, and there's another few inches on one of the men's socks. The baby hat made no progress, the nearly finished pair of socks are still nearly finished, but behold! The slippers are all sewn together and felted, and they just need buttons and a little bit of sewing. An hours work, no more.
Not only that, but Sam and I finished the gingerbread, a leviathan task around here.
There's nothing in the kitchen that doesn't have icing on it, but I'm overlooking that - well, that and about a million other things, but the time for careful consideration is past. It's just me now, sprinting through random Christmas tasks with icing in my hair and tape stuck to my shirt right over my right nipple. (Didn't notice that one until I got home. Blast it.)
Gifts for Knitters? I have no idea today. Get them a bottle of wine. When this is over they're going to need it.
The Holiday Season is approaching fast, and as I had to pass through Bath on the way home I stopped off to buy cheese. The folks at the Fine Cheese Company were their usual, helpful selves. Here is what I’ll have on my Holiday Cheeseboard:
- Sparkenhoe Red Leicester
- Appleby’s Cheshire
- Reypenaer V.S.O.P. 2 year Old Gouda
- Lord of the Hundreds
- Fourme D’Ambert Xavier Morin
- Figue a la Rose
Next I had a look into Waitrose to see what they had. I came away with a couple of Buffalo burgers, which I’ll be having tomorrow and Friday, and a pheasant for the Solstice Feast. I didn’t want to get too much as I’m going to try to find time to pop down into Darkest Somerset to see my mum between Solstice and Christmas.
Finally I popped into Independent Spirit Bath to wish Chris & Cristian all the best for the Holidays. Besides being fabulous purveyors of high quality booze, they are also really friendly and I like to spend money there when I can. Sadly I can rarely justify buying whisky, but I did come away with a couple of bottles of beer.
As I whinged to Chris today, the trouble with their shop is that as soon as I find a beer I really love they stop stocking it and bring in a whole load of new stuff instead, which I then have to sample. It is a hard life.
First up was the Einstök Icelandic White Ale. I had two reasons for getting this. Firstly my brain is still on its way back from Canada. It seems to be refusing to leave Iceland, which is entirely understandable, but causes me sleep problems. So I thought I could bring Iceland to it. Secondly I need to read Snorri Kristjánsson’s book before he comes to read at BristolCon Fringe in February, so I thought I should have some fine Icelandic beer to drink while reading it.
I have also decided to try some of the output of the Wild Beer Company. These guys are certifiable. They do all sorts of amazingly adventurous things with beer, and they do it with more alcohol than most other people. The beer I have chosen to try is Wildebeest, an espresso chocolate vanilla stout. They say that it is, “Ideal for contemplation and speculation”. And at 11% ABV it is also ideal for falling over once you have finished it. Happy Holidays, people.
Brian Ewing's pop-inflected classic monster lithos are great favorites of mine. He's recently refreshed and added to the line for a show called "Horror Business." The lithos go for $50 each.
A magnificent shoop by vietworldkitchen.com: "You have to carry the fire." Source: Dimension Films; Huy Fong Foods.
Andrea Nguyen writes about how a recent battle in Southern California over smelly fumes from the Huy Fong Sriracha plant has led to a worldwide shortage of the beloved "cock sauce." It even has its own hashtag: #Srirachapocalypse. Her post offers a revealing look into the food biz, and includes some tasty alternatives to get you through the red sauce drought. For those following the foodie drama, "The outflow of details on the company, hot sauce industry, and immigrant business entrepreneurship is fascinating." [Via Pim Té]
Mitch O'Connell says:
First I tear the lid off the secret REAL origin of Scooby Doo - and now it looks like I'm about to get real again!M. Night Shyamalan …BUSTED!
Almost 40 years before "M" came out with his film The Village about a hidden town of present day Amish-like occupants of a small Pennsylvania village who are made to think it's really 1897, and kept secluded by the woods from venturing into the modern (evil) world, it seems Action Comics #324 had the same plot.
“I was scrolling through videos about feminism on YouTube” -Beyonce
Beyonce was scrolling through videos about feminism on YouTube.
Michelle Obama on the Affordable Care Act.
Finally! The Netherlands is changing the law that has required trans people to be sterilized in order to have their genders recognized.
Zerlina: “No one should listen to R. Kelly.”
9 things media called “The War on Men” this year. Excuse me…
OK I’m back.
I love this piece by Ngọc Loan Trần about “calling in” as opposed to calling out. In my experience, one-on-one conversations where both parties listen and respect each other can be a really productive response to mistakes for everyone involved.
Fellow procrastinators, there’s only a day left to back our Kickstarter to relaunch Feministing.
Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing.
It may seem premature. Presumptuous, perhaps. But I have reason to consider now an appropriate time to post my official feelings about fanfic of my writing.
I’ve given this a lot of consideration. I know it’s a topic that can sometimes be a bit contentious, and so I spent some time writing and editing my statement very carefully so that it fully conveyed my thoughts on the matter. Here it is. Please read it over carefully:
Ann’s Fanfic Policy:
You kids have fun!
No, seriously. I won’t read it, not because I’m afraid anyone will accuse me of stealing, but because I think it’s healthier for me if I don’t, for various reasons. And I won’t appreciate people trying to sell their fanfic, but I’m under the impression that’s already part of the fanfic community’s normative values, so honestly it’s not something I’m worried about.
I’m not a fanficcer (though I have committed a few small pieces, mostly pastiche or small amusements for friends, and one of which–the Wilson/Valasi slash–maybe three people have seen, and will certainly not be seen by many more), but I completely understand the impulse, and it looks like good fun, and how amazing to have people engage so intensely with your work? I mean, seriously.
So. Like I said. Have fun!
Mirrored from Ann Leckie.
House Speaker John Boehner, sitting with his wife Debbie, looks up at the tree before the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Dec. 3, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Speaker of the House John Boehner denies that his supple, tangerine skin is the result of sunless indoor tanning. The Ohio Republican says he spends a lot of time outside. But "not only has he accepted campaign contributions from a group called the Indoor Tanning Association, Boehner actually lives in a D.C. apartment owned by a lobbyist for the American Suntanning Association," The Daily Caller reports.