Guess the author!

Oct. 16th, 2017 10:07 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
"Atwood lifted much of HANDMAID from Heinlein. Yet the world thinks she’s an original."

The thing in my brain

Oct. 15th, 2017 10:34 pm
aris_tgd: "Tune your ear to the frequency of despair and cross-reference by the latitude and longitude of a heart in agony." (Lyttle Lytton Spider-Man Agony)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Still haven't finished updating my Yuletide letter, but I did finally finish watching one more episode of Brooklyn 99. Sometimes I really dislike the cringe reflex in my brain that makes watching new episodes of things difficult--it took me something like a week to watch one episode (episode 3 of season 1, I am not exactly moving at a fair clip.)

Went shopping today and finally have new bras, YES. Also I have finished putting away a bunch of socks and tights, woohoo! Eventually I will actually have all my clothes in my dresser instead of in various laundry baskets, but that seems like a distant dream right now. Hahahaa. Also one of these days I'll hopefully have enough closet space and shelving. I have small dreams at the moment, okay?

Life

Oct. 14th, 2017 08:31 pm
aris_tgd: Daenerys "Come not between the dragon and her wrath" (Daenerys dragon)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
I am still sick! *hands* I'm getting less congested, but I'm still coughing and drippy and gross. Just... ugh. I stayed home on Wednesday being sick and cleaning my room a bit, which felt good. I laundered sheets and towels too, so I can take showers with clean towels which is super nice. And I handwashed all the tights I own which fit and threw out a bunch of old ones, which is great.

I also looked up a bunch of videos on tight repair because I would really like to repair some of my stockings, not just throw them out, especially the expensive imported silk ones. I've saved a couple nylon ones with runs to practice on, and I have a pair of fishnets with one hole that I'd REALLY like to save--they're Spanx brand which is ridiculous, but they're really sturdy and have a great pattern on the backs. Except for the hole at the top of one they're terrific.

I need to go out bra shopping and grocery shopping this weekend, but I was so tired today, I slept in and ordered pizza. I do not want to be out around humans at all. Hopefully tomorrow those things will occur!

Also finishing my Yuletide letter because eeeeesh.

B-5: The Cortez

Oct. 14th, 2017 01:34 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
B-5 things that look poor in retrospect: who the hell named a peaceful exploration ship the Cortez?

"Pleased to meet you, Hoo-Mans. Why is the name of your ship?"
"Oh, a man from our history, who conquered an empire with a scant expedition force."
*aliens open fire*

joining the Rust cult

Oct. 12th, 2017 03:57 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
So, programming languages. Years ago I'd run across D, aiming to be a better C++, or even a better Python -- enabling high level coding without giving up type safety or speed. It had lots of features, including contracts from Eiffel, and being functional friendly; overall it seemed like a language I'd design. It was cool, but I didn't code actively enough to bother learning it.

Last weekend I did start, but also started on the new cult kid, Rust. I went in parallel a bit, but Rust has pulled ahead.

D is not very exciting or revolutionary; it's like a better done kitchen sink. There's a lot of value in that, and in what it's trying to be, and AFAICT the language itself is pretty good. I've seen people criticize the toolchain, and uptake has been rather modest -- though the forums do see daily activity, at least.

Rust, OTOH, is trying to be revolutionary: compiler-enforced memory safety, meaning not just no memory leaks but "fearless concurrency", where the compiler would enforce no data races in multithread code unless you did something specifically unsafe. "No leaks" doesn't sound exciting unless you're an engineer who's had to worry about them; "safe concurrency" is potentially sexy to lots of people.

On diving in, I noticed something else sexy to me: it's like the unholy love child of C and ML and other functional languages; one blog post even called it a functional language in C clothing. Enums/sum types/algebraic data types/tagged unions, which I quickly fell in love with while playing with Ocaml; 'traits' or type classes a la Haskell, which serve for generics, dynanmic dispatch, and overloading, all with one coherent mechanism; hygienic macros a la Scheme, something I thought I'd never get to play with seriously unless I got into Clojure. Also, supposedly, an easy and powerful package system, and a minor taste of mine, nested comments.

The failure mode for my Kobo Aura

Oct. 11th, 2017 11:06 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The screen turned white a few times in the summer and I thought maybe that was how it would cease to function. Now I think it will be the battery that goes first: it lost something like 25% of its charge in an hour.

Re-reading Harry Potter

Oct. 10th, 2017 11:33 pm
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
[personal profile] mindstalk
I re-read the first three novels last week, and have started the fourth. Observations:

* It is a fast and easy read, it feels like I'm zipping through in no time.
* It feels like we barely see Quirrell, especially as a teacher. But then, we see very little of any classes in the first book.
* Arthur Weasley seems feckless as a person and silly in his ignorant Muggle-enthusiasm but he's pretty competent as a wizard, making a flying TARDIS car, and casually repairing Harry's glasses.
* Rowling's naming wordplay is still great. Yes, it's 'childish' compared to Tolkien or Hodgell, but it works, and there's so much of it.
** "Quirinus is also used as an epithet for the Roman god Janus"
* I remember thinking Harry/Ginny came out of the blue when I first read the 7th book, but Ginny's crush on Harry is pretty starkly obvious from book 2 on. Harry's interest, I dunno. I still favor Harry/Luna myself.
* People often say the Wizarding World is stagnant but there are a lot of counterexamples. One early one is broomsticks, which get better and better over the course of the first few books. Possibly too much so, for something they've been using for centuries. Also, the werewolf suppression potion Snape make for Lupin was a recent discovery, postdating their time at Hogwarts.
* What's with Crookshanks the intelligent cat?
* Owls have some convenient deep magic to be able to find people otherwise in hiding but not be abused to reveal their location or deliver a letter bomb. Well, maybe you could do the latter. [Edit: reading the wikia, there is in fact magic you can use so owls don't find you.]
* First book is 350 pages, 4th is 750. :O

And finally... so, more obsessed minds than mine have grappled with the Wizarding World demographics, but some things leapt out at me. It's very explicit that there are 5 boys in Harry's Gryffindor year, and 20 broomsticks in a two-House flying class. Assuming uniformity, this points to 40 students a year, 280 for the whole school. Given the number of teachers we see, and that one teacher will teach a subject for all seven years, this fits.

Assuming an average lifespan of 150, that'd be 40*150 = 6000 wizards in Britain. Maybe up to 12,000 if you assume severely damaged demographis due to Voldemort.

IMO this fits too. 6000 is a large town or small city by medieval standards, certainly capable of supporting a fair number of businesses, especially given that wizards are quasi-post-scarcity in mundane ways. They don't have an actual city, but with Floo and Apparate teleportation they can basically be a distributed city. The economy is Vague but being based largely on doing magical services for each other fits. Having a top-heavy government for the population kind of fits; you've got a heavily armed population with a lot of free time and a lot of secrecy, leading to high regulation and high "keep them busy". No idea how that's paid for, though.

Some oddities though. 200 people show up on Slytherin's side in a Quidditch match, but maybe they were from outside the school.

If most people don't break their wands much, Ollivander's main business would be supplying 40 students a year. But he's best in the world, maybe he gets a lot of international business. And if 1% of British wizards break or lose their wand a year, that'd be another 50+ wands a year.

6000 wizards in Britain implies 600,000 in the whole world. 100,000 showing up for the World Cup would be 1/6 of the population! But again, middle-class population with teleportation.

JKR apparently has opined 1000 students at Hogwarts and 3000 wizards in Britain, which is an insane population distribution. 1/3 of the population would be in the 11-18 age range. That's not a high life expectancy. Having gone to a 900 student college, I'll say Hogwarts does not feel like that to me.

I'm assuming a modern age pyramid, stable population, tapering off in the mid-100s. One fan disagrees, noting that wizards died of Dragonpox, and suggesting that while wizards have great healing magic when it comes to injuries, they may be subject to diseases, magical or even mundane (how many are vaccinated?) As well as a rather higher death rate from violence, what with being a population of gunslingers, Voldemort being the most feared Dark Lord of the century... implying more Dark Lords. (We *know* of Grindelwald.)

Other questions:

* How do they get food and raw materials? You'd think they magic it up, but the last book sai they can't live on conjured food, IIRC. Though magic could steal food or tranform biomass, I'd warrant.
* Do pure-bloods like the Malfoys and Weasleys, or Dumbledore, even exist as far as British bureaucracy is concerned? Harry and Hermione should, 'just' living a rich secret life, but what about others? Do their houses exist on Muggle records of title, or are they all mentally invisible to Muggles? We're told Hogsmeade is the only all-wizard community, implying everywhere else wizards have Muggle neighbors, but their deep ignorance of Muggle life belies that. The Malfoys have a manor, but the Blacks had a "don't notice me" house right in London.
** Likely this simply doesn't stand up well to critical thought.

Dear Yuletider!

Oct. 10th, 2017 12:40 pm
aris_tgd: (shell beach)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Eep, so, I haven't finished my letter yet. OH NO. But! I linked you to my Dear Author tag for a reason, because I'm reusing a few prompts from previous years, and for most of those fandoms you can probably find tons of squee about what I love no matter what. (ETA: I have added some clarification to the A Series of Unfortunate Events prompt, which was confusing!)(ETA2: The mods have fixed my signup, so hopefully that, at least, is officially less confusing.)

In the meantime, here are my prompts under a cut:Prompts! )

If you can't find a fandom on my tag list you can try looking under "Yuletide Fandoms", which includes reviews I've written of media that was (at least at the time) fannishly small enough to include in Yuletide or that I otherwise didn't classify.

Thank you so much, Yuletide author, happy Yuletide!

Gun ownership vs. homicide

Oct. 8th, 2017 03:21 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Gun ownership vs. total homicide rate, by state and country. Some observations:
* high gun ownership is compatible with low homicide rate
* there's an empty quarter of low gun ownership and high homicide rate
* Many low-population states are low in homicides, but Alaska is high.
* This is still total guns, not handgun specific; it also throws in Switzerland, where yeah they have guns but the control regime is very different.
* Compared to the US all the other countries listed are low, but there's still a large multiple between Japan or Switzerland and Finland.
* The 'empty quarter' effect holds for those countries.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Household_gun_ownership_vs_Homicide_rate_2000-2001.png

By the way, if you dip into current gun control debates, you may see people repeating an AEI talking point that "gun ownership has gone up but crime has gone down". This is "damn lies and statistics", as I'd expect from the AEI; the number of guns owned in the US has gone up a lot, but the number of people owning guns has gone down.

(Gallup disagrees with GSS and Pew in that, but it also disagrees with a claim of rising gun ownership. Their data also looks noisier.)

Pew also says that "protection" is now the top reason given for owning a gun. Given that crime rates have been going down, and that gun owners tend to be suburban or rural white men, not exactly high crime targets, this seems rather absurd.

Yuuuletiiiide

Oct. 7th, 2017 10:43 pm
aris_tgd: Daenerys "Come not between the dragon and her wrath" (Daenerys dragon)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Signup is accomplished!

I'll have something to say about my requests on my letter tag in a minute, but for now, signup is done and I am going to bed.

Updates

Oct. 7th, 2017 07:15 pm
aris_tgd: Sinclair and Sakai, "Time for a moment." (Time for a moment)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
So I still haven't signed up for Yuletide. Eeeek. I need to get on that tonight or first thing tomorrow. Probably tonight, knowing me.

This weekend I need to study for a cumulative exam on Thursday (last one, if I do well) and read some papers for my lab. And get over my cold.

Ugh, can I get another day added to the week? Scratch that, can I get another day added to the weekend?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Poll #18908 A poll for people who have both an ebook library and an ereader
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 132


What fraction of your ebook library do you load onto your ereader?

View Answers

A very small fraction
13 (9.8%)

A small fraction
15 (11.4%)

Some of my ebooks
23 (17.4%)

Most of my ebooks
33 (25.0%)

All of my ebooks
39 (29.5%)

More than all of my ebooks; some of the review arcs expired
1 (0.8%)

I would like to complain about this poll
3 (2.3%)

Some other answer (see comments)
5 (3.8%)

New Hope for the Lunarians

Oct. 6th, 2017 12:35 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
New NASA study shows moon once had an atmosphere

Seventy million years is longer than I would have guessed the Moon could hold onto an atmosphere.

Kobo Question

Oct. 6th, 2017 11:58 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Say I upgrade my Kobo in the new year. I have a lot of ebooks. I notice whenever I get a large stack of ebooks (from Orbit, say), my Aura takes a while to process them all. If I drop a thousand ebooks into a brand new Kobo, how long will the sort take? Hours? Days?

I would prefer it

Oct. 5th, 2017 10:48 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
If the elderly cat I am caretaking is _not_ pregnant, thanks.

Seen in park

Oct. 5th, 2017 10:46 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
One squirrel trudging alone, a nut in its mouth, while another, equally tired looking squirrel trudged after the first.

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