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Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 01:08
1. I get to sleep in tomorrow! Looking forward to that.

2. Despite the warm weather, it's still cooling off a lot at night and in fact is quite chilly tonight. Yesterday was supposed to be the peak of the heat, so hopefully it will keep getting cooler.

3. Tonight I didn't really play a whole lot of Mario, but I managed to 100% a couple levels where I was just a few percentage points short. It can be really hard to find the last spot to color in sometimes, and I'd already been through these levels several times each, so I'm glad to have finally finished them up!

4. I love when Chloe sleeps with her arms stretched straight out (and she does it a lot). So cute! (She also looks cutely grumpy at being woken up by Carla trying to get a picture.)

Friday, October 21st, 2016 23:35
A large part of the internet became inaccessible today after a botnet made up of IP cameras and digital video recorders was used to DoS a major DNS provider. This highlighted a bunch of things including how maybe having all your DNS handled by a single provider is not the best of plans, but in the long run there's no real amount of diversification that can fix this - malicious actors have control of a sufficiently large number of hosts that they could easily take out multiple providers simultaneously.

To fix this properly we need to get rid of the compromised systems. The question is how. Many of these devices are sold by resellers who have no resources to handle any kind of recall. The manufacturer may not have any kind of legal presence in many of the countries where their products are sold. There's no way anybody can compel a recall, and even if they could it probably wouldn't help. If I've paid a contractor to install a security camera in my office, and if I get a notification that my camera is being used to take down Twitter, what do I do? Pay someone to come and take the camera down again, wait for a fixed one and pay to get that put up? That's probably not going to happen. As long as the device carries on working, many users are going to ignore any voluntary request.

We're left with more aggressive remedies. If ISPs threaten to cut off customers who host compromised devices, we might get somewhere. But, inevitably, a number of small businesses and unskilled users will get cut off. Probably a large number. The economic damage is still going to be significant. And it doesn't necessarily help that much - if the US were to compel ISPs to do this, but nobody else did, public outcry would be massive, the botnet would not be much smaller and the attacks would continue. Do we start cutting off countries that fail to police their internet?

Ok, so maybe we just chalk this one up as a loss and have everyone build out enough infrastructure that we're able to withstand attacks from this botnet and take steps to ensure that nobody is ever able to build a bigger one. To do that, we'd need to ensure that all IoT devices are secure, all the time. So, uh, how do we do that?

These devices had trivial vulnerabilities in the form of hardcoded passwords and open telnet. It wouldn't take terribly strong skills to identify this at import time and block a shipment, so the "obvious" answer is to set up forces in customs who do a security analysis of each device. We'll ignore the fact that this would be a pretty huge set of people to keep up with the sheer quantity of crap being developed and skip straight to the explanation for why this wouldn't work.

Yeah, sure, this vulnerability was obvious. But what about the product from a well-known vendor that included a debug app listening on a high numbered UDP port that accepted a packet of the form "BackdoorPacketCmdLine_Req" and then executed the rest of the payload as root? A portscan's not going to show that up[1]. Finding this kind of thing involves pulling the device apart, dumping the firmware and reverse engineering the binaries. It typically takes me about a day to do that. Amazon has over 30,000 listings that match "IP camera" right now, so you're going to need 99 more of me and a year just to examine the cameras. And that's assuming nobody ships any new ones.

Even that's insufficient. Ok, with luck we've identified all the cases where the vendor has left an explicit backdoor in the code[2]. But these devices are still running software that's going to be full of bugs and which is almost certainly still vulnerable to at least half a dozen buffer overflows[3]. Who's going to audit that? All it takes is one attacker to find one flaw in one popular device line, and that's another botnet built.

If we can't stop the vulnerabilities getting into people's homes in the first place, can we at least fix them afterwards? From an economic perspective, demanding that vendors ship security updates whenever a vulnerability is discovered no matter how old the device is is just not going to work. Many of these vendors are small enough that it'd be more cost effective for them to simply fold the company and reopen under a new name than it would be to put the engineering work into fixing a decade old codebase. And how does this actually help? So far the attackers building these networks haven't been terribly competent. The first thing a competent attacker would do would be to silently disable the firmware update mechanism.

We can't easily fix the already broken devices, we can't easily stop more broken devices from being shipped and we can't easily guarantee that we can fix future devices that end up broken. The only solution I see working at all is to require ISPs to cut people off, and that's going to involve a great deal of pain. The harsh reality is that this is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg, and things are going to get much worse before they get any better.

Right. I'm off to portscan another smart socket.

[1] UDP connection refused messages are typically ratelimited to one per second, so it'll take almost a day to do a full UDP portscan, and even then you have no idea what the service actually does.

[2] It's worth noting that this is usually leftover test or debug code, not an overtly malicious act. Vendors should have processes in place to ensure that this isn't left in release builds, but ha well.

[3] My vacuum cleaner crashes if I send certain malformed HTTP requests to the local API endpoint, which isn't a good sign
Friday, October 21st, 2016 17:35
I tend to assume that everyone I know who spends any amount of time on the Internet is aware of xkcd but then every so often I will bump into someone who doesn't know it, so I'm mentioning it here on the off chance...

xkcd is a web comic with a minimalistic style and exceptionally wide-ranging content. Its comics tend to be just a few panels with a gag built in, and often with a computer, science or nerdy theme (and sometimes they are really obscure, I'd be surprised if there was anyone out there who has "got" every xkcd joke without some googling) however there are many many exceptions to that format from comics where the gag is only apparent from the "alt text" that pops up when you hover your mouse over the comic image to comics that are stories, games or serious infographics.

A representative sample:

Duty Calls:

Probably my favourite straight gag comic

Movie Narrative Charts:

An infographic showing the interactions of groups of people over time in several popular blockbuster movies

Time - Time was an animated story that updated slowly over nearly 6 months. I'm fairly sure when this first appeared I saw only the first frame, assumed it was an xkcd joke I didn't get and moved on, only to discover later that it was telling a story. The link her goes not to xkcd (which now only displays the final few frames of the animation) but to a separate site which lets you play the animation at the speed of your choice.

Hoverboard: Hoverboard appears to be a fairly simple, collect the coins game. By the time this appeared I was fairly wise to some of the tricks xkcd plays and so realised it was possible to escape from the initial simple space into a much larger world. It must be said I explored it a little and then moved on, but G. saw me doing it and she explored the whole game thoroughly managing to collect all but one of the coins.
Friday, October 21st, 2016 01:31
1. Oh man, I saw the video for the new Nintendo Switch and it looks so awesome! I think it's being released in March, which I'm sure will be here before we know it, but sounds so far away now!

2. I ended up having to go in to work today for a few hours, which was no fun, but I did manage to keep it fairly short and it ended up making less of an impact on my day than I'd feared. (Also it was mid-afternoon, so didn't impact my ability to sleep in!)

3. I have been wanting to get my hair cut for a while but just not getting around to it. Like, I don't want to go on a work day, but on my day off even if I plan to do it, I'll end up deciding I don't want to go out or whatever, and today was another one of those days, but then I already had to go out for work, so I decided I was just going to swing by on the way home and get it done and I'm sooooo happy I did. I feel so much better now.

4. I actually ended up getting quite a bit translated today and finished up two chapters.

5. Just ridiculously cute kitties today.

Friday, October 21st, 2016 00:08
Of course I had to get the new Ghostbusters on DVD as soon as it came out. Since the rest of the usual suspects missed out on seeing it in the theater with me and Heather, I brought it over to watch with them. The extended edition isn't better than the theatrical version, but it's interesting, and worth it for the additional dance sequence and the brief scene with the old Columbia dude after the barrier comes down. The deleted subplot featuring Erin's worthless Columbia boyfriend was painful to watch, more evidence we didn't need that Erin was trying too hard to be someone she wasn't. As for Holtz, between the alternate takes in the extended edition and in the bonus features, it seems pretty clear that the funniest parts of her dialogue were completely ad-libbed, and we'd already seen the best takes.

I also managed to catch a matinee of Queen of Katwe with Heather before it left theaters. Such a fantastic inspiring movie! We were both reaching for tissues at the end.

Will came home from math team yesterday with one of his premolars in a plastic bag. It's been about 4 years since he's needed any fillings, but at his last checkup, his dentist said it would be time to start thinking about braces soon, since his front teeth are just a bit crooked. As a four year veteran of orthodontia myself, I'm not looking forward to any aspect of that experience.

My replacement LEGO Dimensions parts came today, and Connor and I were finally able to play through the (original) Ghostbusters story level. I think we may get the Harry Potter/Voldemort team pack for Halloween. I will most likely wait until after I see Fantastic Beasts to decide whether to get that story pack as well, but right now I'm leaning toward not, since I already have so many other expansions, including the new Ghostbusters, that I've put up for Christmas gifts. I also saw today that they have announced a story pack for next year's LEGO Batman movie, containing the new adorable Robin and... Batgirl! Yay!

I'm mostly caught up on library books, although I still need to finish the Lunar Chronicles. The church's fall festival is Saturday afternoon and I'm signed up to run a Go Fish game and bring cupcakes for the cake walk. Saturday night is the Postmodern Jukebox concert that I bought tickets for like six months ago. Connor has another big homework project to work on this weekend, and my mom has some medical tests scheduled for Monday. Hopefully things will slow back down a bit after that.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 13:22
What are you currently reading?
Currently reading The Enlightened Cyclist by Bike Snob NYC (Eben Weiss), which Carla picked up at Book Off. I wasn't sure what to think of it by the title, but it's definitely tongue in cheek, and I'm enjoying it so far.

Mangawise, I'm reading vol. 16 of Kurage Hime, which wraps up the Singapore arc. Apparently it's no longer being published on a regular schedule, so who knows when vol. 17 will be out (there was a year+ gap between 15 and 16).

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished All I Asking for Is My Body. It was pretty good, but I never really got that into it.

I also finished Shibito no Koe wo Kiku ga Yoi vol. 8, which I did enjoy a lot.

What do you think you'll read next?
Well, Raising Steam is still next up on my phone, but I haven't actually started reading it yet. ^_^;;
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 14:57
There once was a man from Tuscany
Who went home to his Dad seeking money
He was studying the law
but wanted books more
His pa didn't find this at all funny.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 13:15
There once was a student presenting
The Green Knight's poetic beheading
From experience he knew
it's a hard thing to do
to cut off a head without hewing

There are poems like cats, a prof said,
that are pretty too look at, or read,
but more complex by far
when you take them apart -
but then cats, unlike poems, are dead.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 01:20
1. Super hectic, long day at work, but it's over and I have tomorrow off!

2. It did end up being quite hot today, but it cooled down quickly at night and the humidity was really low, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It's supposed to be a bit hotter tomorrow, and as I'll be home and not at work where it's air conditioned, I'm really hoping for the low humidity again!

3. Man, Paper Mario Color Splash is so good!

4. We watched the Halloween episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine tonight and it was great! Actually this whole season so far has been pretty great, but then that is not at all surprising as this show is generally awesome.

5. Carla left a paper bag on the floor yesterday and Chloe has been TOO CUTE with it. Just unbearably cute. Really illegal levels of cuteness.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016 00:03
We've arranged for our vet to come over on Saturday afternoon and euthanize Noah, who's reached the point where all he wants to do is hole up in the basement and sit in his cat bed. He's still eating, and he still purrs up a storm when you come to pet him, but Sarah and I both think he's going downhill and we don't want to drag things out until he's suffering.

This year keeps getting worse.

(Comments off because I am at the end of all my cope. About, like, everything.)
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 15:54
Whenever I go to Subway I get a 12", even if I'm not that hungry, because you never know when you will need that other 6". Well, at the airport they wrapped the two halves separately, which was great, because I ate half before the flight and now I'm in my hotel room with the other half plus two cookies. With the timezone change I was definitely getting munchy before dinner. This means I'm only paying once for two meals, and I don't have to venture out to find something when I'd rather hermit. Plus I'm keeping all receipts, because reimbursement and/or a per diem are still possibilities. Bonus.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 19:00
Apparently I managed to find and bring the San Francisco summer back to New England. 84F in Boston on October 19; cherishing the likely-last bare-legged day of the year.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 13:45
As an experiment and in response to inquiries, I've moved my weekday time slots next week from 10-11:30am to 1-2:30pm. I am also open to other alternatives if needed; just let me know!

The medium that I've chosen for scheduling office hours is a site called Sign Up Genius. It is pretty easy to use in my experience, and all of my kids' teachers use it for conferences, parties and such. You don't have to have an account on the site to sign up for time slots, which is pretty great - just give them your email address. They will send you a confirmation and a reminder, and nothing else. But if for whatever reason you have trouble claiming a time slot using that site, you can also comment here and I can take care of it for you.

I am only doing signups for a week at a time, because that's about how far in advance I can be fairly confident of my availability. Each week will start on Friday, and I'll post the signups for the following week on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Each signup slot is scheduled to run 90 minutes, but since they're non-adjacent, it's OK if we need to go longer. Anything Dreamwidth-related is fair game: we can talk about code you're writing, code you want to write but don't know how to proceed, code someone else wrote, or things that don't involve code at all (I hear such things exist). My only request is that you don't take more than two slots in a single week, to make sure there is enough of my time to go around. Of course, you're still welcome to catch me on IRC at other times if I seem to be around, and PMs are open 24/7. :)

Here's the link for my available meeting times for the seven-day period starting October 21:

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 13:34
Via [livejournal.com profile] philmophlegm. Very bizarre, am I very, very certain that I'm not an Elf. I definitely put "Very Short" when it asked me my height.

I Am A: Lawful Good Elf Wizard/Sorcerer (3rd/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:







Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Primary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 01:32
1. Very busy day at work today, but I managed to get everything I needed to get done.

2. Played some more Mario tonight and beat the second boss.

3. The weather has been so nice lately. It even rained a little bit the other day. We're supposed to have a small heat spell over the next couple days, but it's not even supposed to get that hot and only lasting for one day, so if it sticks close to the prediction that won't be bad at all.

4. Look at this cutie Molly!

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 21:20
Merrily We Go To Hell, directed by Dorothy Arzner

I may at some point have considered thoughts on this, but in the meantime I thought it might be amusing to post an attempt at a transcript of my reactions in the moment.

There are sort of spoilers in this, but you probably won’t be able to make them out past the incoherent screaming.

at circa 15 mins in: OH NO HONEY DON’T DO IT. SWEETIE, NO. He is sweet and adorable* and really, really obviously an alcoholic, and also he is going to keep on letting you down in just the way he’s already started doing.

circa 30 mins — I guess this is the era when people didn’t really have a vocabulary about alcoholism or toxic relationships, because nowadays in five minutes someone would be having That Conversation with her. There are about twenty Captain Awkward columns in this film.

39 mins — Oh shit no, they’re having that conversation, in that hideously awkward way where you don’t want to hurt someone, but you have to warn them, but you can see they’re still madly in love and you still want to hope that it might somehow work out and it’s not going to be the train wreck you can see coming. “Or if it does — take my advice and get out in time.”

45 mins — okay, this is being done really well.


57 — HOLY FUCKING SHIT. She opens the door. “I’m no jailer.” YES THANK YOU DON’T LET HIM PUT IT ON YOU.

1:02 ... is that Cary Grant?**

1:06 “Vi? Do you remember once telling me to get out in time? That you can become cheaper through loving someone, and, through -- through hating someone? Well I didn’t get out in time.”

1:10 — how did fucking Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? timeslip back to 1932? This kind of shit didn’t get written until the 60s at least, did it? She even has a quasi-kaftan.

1:12 — oh, fuck you and your corny epiphany, Jerry. Claire isn’t impressed either. Observe how very few fucks she gives. “You really should save those speeches for your plays.”

1:15 — It’s called stalking, Jerry. Ha ha suck it. It’s too late.

1:18 — It’s really too late.

1:22 — I don’t think this is a happy ending and I don’t think Arzner thinks it’s a happy ending, I love Mick LaSalle but he is wrong, this is not redemptive, I don’t think Jerry has changed in any fundamental way just because he’s (currently) sober, it's too late for this to be saved by the right magic words. “My baby, my baby.” Yes a mother-son dynamic is totally right to evoke in this context and not horrific in any way. OH MY FUCKING GOD THIS IS TERRIFYING. *screaming*

... I think this is possibly a horror film about how heterosexuality and alcohol will destroy you.

Content notes (covering as much as my shell-shocked brain can come up with, no guarantees of completeness — sorry, that should be a standing disclaimer):

ALCOHOLISM. Handled with sufficient emotional realness that I think this could be excruciating for anyone who’s got/had substance abuse issues or loved someone who has; look after yourselves, okay? Child death (offscreen). Co-dependency. Weird “Uncle Tom” joke. Darth Vader boyfriend/husband. Woman destroys herself slowly over useless man. “Open” relationships of the “I can’t stop you cheating so I’ll pretend to be cool with it and not care because we’re so modern and sophisticated” kind. Heartbreakingly awful relationship dynamics. The horror of watching people you care about enmeshed in heartbreakingly awful relationship dynamics. The slow, grinding remorseless disintegration of souls (I swear the actors age visibly before your eyes, in a way that has nothing to do with make-up), garnished with charm and snappy lines.

{*Maybe don't watch this right now if you have just watched Design For Living and are still thinking happy thoughts about Fredric March's charm and adorableness? He is equally charming and adorable here, and it's a brilliant, utterly un-self-sparing performance which will thoroughly poison your feelings about said charm and adorableness. Enjoy the happy for a while longer.}

{**It is Cary Grant, pre-famous, in a tiny bit part.}
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 16:16
great, detail-rich post from [personal profile] jekesta:

Hillary Clinton is the very best.

They're keeping all of these articles on why people are enthusiastic about Donald Trump (they are divided between "hey, it's not fair to say Trump enthusiasts are all racist," and "um, Trump enthusiasm is pretty goddamn racist"). Or, as [twitter.com profile] adamserwer puts it, "This economic anxiety is getting out of control."

But perhaps because it's less alien to the journalists, I never see articles about people who are enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton. There's tons of thinkpieces about the enthusiasm gap or about the weird nature of Trump enthusiasts, but nobody ever talks about Clinton enthusiasts. Which ends up being self fulfilling--no one hears about the reasons to be actively excited by Hillary Clinton.

So thanks, [personal profile] jekesta.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 20:39
I watched Baby Face and also Merrily We Go To Hell and now my brain is vibrating. This was a misjudgement on my part. I need to space out the super-heavyweight fighters of the pre-Code world with more of the kind-of-interesting-ish mediocre minor ones.

In my defence, I did not know that the last 40 minutes or so of Merrily were going to leave me feeling as if I'd spent that time staring head-on into a windtunnel (I thought it was one of the minor ones, albeit interesting/good). My face actually feels as if it's been blasted back towards my ears, probably from prolonged time frozen in horror.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 21:20
It's Wednesday in Australia. Again. And I have read more books, again.

Currently Reading: Glenarvon, still. Dinshaw's 'Getting Medieval'. Other bits and pieces for work.

Recently Finished:

Patience and SarahPatience and Sarah by Isabel Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Huh. Huh.

First up, I really ENJOYED reading this. It was comforting and engaging and low-demand reading and I expect I will read it again. I do have a great soft spot for rural / colonial narratives with a sense for class and gender wossnames. (Caveats, as usual: this book has next to no racial awareness.)

On the other hand, though, I was left disappointed by where the book STOPPED. It was very much a romance novel in that its narrative thrust was toward first, overcoming interpersonal conflict, and second, overcoming external barriers to Settle Down. I think I would have loved this book 5x more if it was about two women struggling to make something of a small farm, rather than two women trying to ACQUIRE a small farm. It could be a family drama (established relationship) type, or a Romance Novel type (flung together by Circumstance, heiress of small farm and peculiar female farmhand who doesn't want your pity take on the rural life and face Feelings!). I just. That's what I wanted, and did not quite get.

Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher, #6)Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this a while ago, in a batch buy of Kerry Greenwood e-books, and somehow skipped it (I've read 5, 7, 8 and 9). Overall, a good read - the murder plot was pretty simplistic, but the cast of characters was interesting, the juggling of gender-deviance and intersex issues against historicity was reasonably managed, and I was a fan of the sweetness in which Phryne's two lovers joined together to back her up instead of fighting. The Themes of the Week were pretty hard-hitting, though - the point was to put Phryne in positions of financial, social and sexual vulnerability that she doesn't normally inhabit, and it certainly did that.

The Good BodyThe Good Body by Eve Ensler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I... I think I liked this *as a play*. I did not actually like the main 'character' or many of her opinions, but damn, as a play, it would be FANTASTIC to stage. So fantastic. I'd do it with italicised-Eve as a voiceover, have her walk out of the wings in the second-to-last dialogue scene where Priya takes her home. All the preceding dialogue scenes, including the one with the husband, would be done with the other character speaking to a space somewhere in the audience.

Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace, #3)Roller Girl by Vanessa North

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute! I got the rec from KJ Charles' recent review - it's good to see Riptide coming up with more f/f material.

Plus a couple more Riptide romance e-books, to be reviewed later.

Up Next: Unsure. This week's reading was evidently reading for the tired brain, aside from the Ensler. Perhaps I will give the tired brain some Pratchett, or some of the e-book classics I found when tidying up my hard drive.

Music notes: bought another Mountain Goats album at the beginning of the month (Transcendental Youth), and it's good, but hasn't really grabbed me yet like Talahassee did. Still into Gillian Welch.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 02:00
1. I played a lot of Mario today. My wrist and arm are not happy with me, but it was worth it.

2. I also got some translating and housework and other stuff done.

3. Super sweet sleepy Chloe today.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 03:43
Now you see it, now you don't. Hide and seek with the Sutro Tower and @karlthefog.
Monday, October 17th, 2016 19:24
People have complimented me a few times lately on my positivity as a person and it's nice that they notice. But I'm not sure it ever comes across that it is not a natural personality trait for me.

Like, in my natural state, I think I'm a neurotic, judgmental cynic. I'm always quick to poke holes, to see downsides and hypocrisies, to figure out limits and inevitabilities. And for my formative years, I really drew on that trait to make myself a sarcastic, elitist snarker. I was capable of optimism and kindness, yes, but I didn't use them nearly as much.

I'm the way I am now because one of the only things that worked with my depression was absolutely banning negative self-talk. I had to cut off denigrating myself cold turkey. I still believed negative things about myself, but I was no longer allowed to state them as the truth about myself, whether aloud or in writing, and in thought as little as I was able.

Which is funny, because I'm usually pretty terrible at rules. I'm usually the master of the exception, the lawyerly runaround. But if I started even a little, it prompted a spiral that I couldn't stop. I had to state my negative feelings as opinions or moods--"I feel really terrible about myself," "I'm really tempted to call myself stupid," "I don't think of myself as a likeable person." For a while I was like an alcoholic who can't be around alcohol--it was hard to even listen to other people speak poorly of themselves, because I was so rigidly used to routinely fending off and re-writing those kinds of statements.

I'm not positive because that's who I naturally am. I'm positive because my brain is so damaged that indulging in negative patterns of thought ruins my ability to function as an adult. And because I've spent ten years now with that pattern of behaviour ingrained into me on an hourly and daily basis for a decade.

I guess that's pleasant for other people to be around, but it's a wholly selfish motive. I love the things I do because if I do things I don't love I self-destruct. I have hope for the future because my only alternative is soul-annihilating pessimism. I'm kind to people because otherwise I'm a judgmental, petty, pedantic bitch. I have empathy because without it I would just forget about the humanity of vast swathes of the human race.

Like, it was a choice to be like this, but not actually much of one. (A choice I got to make because my brain chemistry was kind enough not to try to assault me when I imposed the behaviour change; other people aren't so lucky.) A choice, but a heavily weighted one with terrible consequences if I didn't do what I'm doing now.
Monday, October 17th, 2016 18:42
The white flight of Derek Black, by Eli Saslow for the Washington Post (2016-10-15). I am not sure how much credit former white supremacists deserve for coming to their senses, but nonetheless, this is a pretty gripping story about the son of one of the founders of Stormfront disowning his previous involvement with white supremacist groups. Education can and does change people sometimes, even though doing the work of educating isn't any specific marginalized person's responsibility.

Discerning Emotional Abuse in Relationships, by Xan West (2016-10-14).

D&D For Young DMs and Players 3: The X-Card, by Rory Bristol (2016-10-03). Interesting example of content warnings in practice (in the context of roleplaying games.) h/t [personal profile] joxn

[CW: rape, rape culture] When Men Brag About Sexual Assault, by [livejournal.com profile] siderea (2016-10-10). I also recommend its predecessor piece, Trump's Sexual Inkblot. This is about much more than just Trump:
The "locker-room banter" excuse says to women (and others), "you don't get to make the same natural surmises that men get to make about the very same speech acts applied to other crimes". It's a double standard: when the crime being boasted about is sexual in nature, women (and others) are supposed to give it a pass. "He's just saying that. It doesn't mean he does it."

When it comes to sexual crimes and torts, women (and others) are told they are supposed to suspend operation of their common sense. What men say when bragging about sexual misconduct is to be held in a little epistemological bubble, where none of it means, signifies, or counts in any way outside the bubble. Within the bubble – the rhetorical "locker-room" – those speech acts are to be understood and evaluated only by a special set of rules, which insist such utterances are not of relevance to the (presumed female) parties spoken of, only to the (presumed male) parties spoken to. Those utterances are not to be taken outside of the bubble; they are not to be exposed to reasoned contemplation in the light of anything outside the bubble whatsoever. We are to pretend under all circumstances not to have heard that which we have heard that men arrogate to the bubble; we are to pretend not to know anything the knowing of which men arrogate to the bubble. It is, Orwellianly, knowledge that, if we know it, we are forbidden to know.

[CW: suicide, discussion of mental illness hospitalization] Suicide Didn’t Kill Me, But Capitalism Might, by Beck Levy (2016-09-09). 'The bottom line is that in this ongoing crisis, “awareness” and “ending stigma” are toothless if depoliticized. All the awareness in the world won’t dismantle for-profit healthcare. Applying free-market principles to human needs wreaks havoc on our bodies.'

North Carolina Governor: My wife and I are being shunned by friends over anti-trans law, by Nick Duffy for PinkNews (2016-10-13). The lack of self-awareness here is breathtaking.

Men, You Can Survive Without Us—Please Try, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment (2016-10-14). "All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead."

The Ada Initiative’s legacy, one year on, by the Ada Initiative, 2016-10-17. Includes a list of ways you can continue supporting women in open technology and culture!

How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women, by Imani Gandy for Rewire (2016-08-20). On how Margaret Sanger's views on race have been grossly misrepresented by the pro-forced-pregnancy movement.

on #notallmen, derailing, and the fury it causes, by Jay (2015-08-01). Because this can never be said enough times:
Let’s talk about metonymy.

thefreedictionary.com defines the kind of metonymy I’m talking about as “a figure of speech in which the name of one object or concept is used for that of another to which it is related, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink”. So, if we extrapolate, we see how saying “I hate men” could stand in for “I hate the kind of man that rapes, kills, refuses to listen to me, voids my agency, trivializes my experiences, speaks over me, and makes jokes at my expense.”

You can see how the one is quicker and easier than the other.

White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness, by Elspeth Reeve for Vice (2016-10-09). White supremacists got their 23andMe results and you won't believe what happened next! (Truly delightful.)

Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-10-11). Good.
Monday, October 17th, 2016 01:23
1. Super busy day at work, but despite it being really hectic, I actually feel like I got quite a bit done, including something I've been meaning to do for a while. Also it wasn't just the sort of busyness where everyone is needing me to do stuff, it was actually busy with customers, too, and we had very high sales for the day.

2. I played some more Mario. It's the best. If you have a Wii U and haven't played Paper Mario Color Splash yet, you really should.

3. Carla got some super cute pics of Molly tonight.

Monday, October 17th, 2016 00:09
Monday was a quiet day. I had dinner with Purple. It was unremarkable, other than the way I was a little sneezy.

A little sneezy turned into explosively sneezy and then my sinuses were an impassable wall of woe. I got approximately three hours sleep, out of 7+ horizontal.

Tuesday was not a great day. I realized that I should not be driving anywhere. I also had a care package to send, a package to pick up, and building plumbing problems. I made the best of it, and walked to the post office to grab a shipping box.

On the way there, the sleep department in Oakland called me to let me know that they saw that I had an appointment in SSF, did I want to take that appointment in Oakland too? I wasn't near the computer, so I had no idea; I wasn't expecting the call, and I had three hours of sleep. I had no idea, and very little vocabulary to put things together. I informed them to email me.

I sent a care package of old tech off to my Gentle Caller. The great thing about flat rate boxes is, it's the same price to send a small box with three bits of old electronics as it is to send that same box with three bits of old electronics, two plastic bracelets with a plastic recorder and a plastic maraca each, a baggie of glitter, and a handful of dark chocolate.

And that was only Tuesday. )
Monday, October 17th, 2016 03:22
#Twilight under the dome.
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 16:28
I'm not usually around on Wednesdays, and then when I'm catching up on the weekend and seeing your posts about what you're reading, I tend not to post because it's not Wednesday, but a while back, I decided to just post when I post. I want to have a log of what I read, and this is as good a place as any to keep it.

Recently finished:

N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season. Gorgeous, complex, highly readable, magically real, utterly wrenching in places but purely enjoyable all the way through.

Natalie Goldberg, Thunder and Lightning. I like her writing about writing and zen. I am more aware of issues of privilege than I used to be, so I'm less enamored of her presumption that everyone can do the kind of writing practice she prefers, but still, I got a lot from the book, and it's directly responsible for the fact that I'm writing again. Remind me never to do NaNo again -- every time I do it, I end up quitting writing for a long time. This time, it was nearly a year. But then, that happened after I finished my degree, too.

Currently Reading:

Octavia Butler, Kindred
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

On the TBR pile:

Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir
Anna Newell Jones, The Spender's Guide to Debt-free Living
re-read Steve Kowit, In the Palm of Your Hand
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 18:26
Design for Living (1933) on YouTube

(Note: it's broken up into 10 parts; the link goes to part 1. If they don't auto-play in order for you, they can all be found here)

Loosely based on Noel Coward's play, rewritten into something substantially different by the legendary Ben Hecht, starring Miriam Hopkins, Fredric March and Gary Cooper.

Although, alas, the phrase "disgusting three-sided erotic hotch-potch" doesn't make it into the screenplay (and Mick LaSalle says the gay subtext is much reduced* compared to the play, which I haven't read in forever), the ending is just as canonically poly.


Miriam Hopkins may make a verbal call-back back to the no-sex just-platonic-friends-and-housemates "gentleman's agreement" between them (which she discarded multiple acts ago: "I am no gentleman"), but the fact that, nestled between them in the back of a car, she's just tenderly kissed Gary Cooper on the mouth, then turned and equally warmly kissed Fredric March, and it's very evident that none of them believe it for a second, means that ... you can't even call that a token attempt on the filmmakers' part to figleaf it. I'm sorry. You just can't. I don't buy there being a credible non-poly reading of that scene that doesn't involve mental contortions. It's canon.

Gilda falls in love (and lust) with Tom and with George simultaneously, and when asked to decide who she wants she helplessly and fervently says "BOTH", and in the end she gets BOTH.

(And yowza, the desire and sexual tension in Hopkins's performance is startling -- there's a point where she's sitting almost wringing her hands with determination not to touch Cooper -- and so is the genuine fondness and regard for both of them. As expressed through snarls of "ROTTEN" when their art isn't up to scratch.)

(And look at that entirely-silent bed-buying scene, that we only see through a shop window but which is entirely legible through gestures and tape-measuring: even when engaged to Max Plunkett, Gilda is instinctively looking for and insisting on a bed that will fit three people.)

It barely squeaked past to get released as it was, and was promptly banned from re-release in 1934 when the Code started being enforced.

Content notes: cheating, before the characters invent poly. Brief comedic punching. Gilda seems happy to give up her career (she's an artist too, albeit a commercial one) to be a live-in muse/critic/secretary, even of an unusually tough-love kind.

{*Nonetheless: that Remington goes DING very loudly between Tom and George too, just after it's been heavily symbolic between Tom and Gilda. And the film lets George say "I loved you both". What I'm saying is, if you want to ship it, the film certainly isn't going to stand in your way.}
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 13:38
Previously unread.

Second book of Betacourt's Amber prequel books (initially, from what I can tell, planned to be a trilogy; with four books published and a fifth planned, that seems to have failed).

Still quite readable. I guess this book roughly doubles the amount of "views from within the immediate surroundings of the Court of Chaos" that I've read.

This starts a couple of days after the end of the first book (Dawn of Amber). Oberon is not necessarily the most well-adapted to being in the immediate vicinity of the Court. For those of us who started out with Zelazny's books, this doesn't really come as a surprise.

I don't know if it's just me being negative or if it's an actual reflection of reality, but I still think these have less of a... sense of wonder than the original books. Good enough that I'm continuing to read, though.
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 01:46
1. Well, basically all I did today was go to work, watch some Simpsons and YouTube cooking shows, play Mario and watch a couple episodes of a Mario let's play, and I'm okay with that.

2. Got some super cute pics of Chloe tonight.

Saturday, October 15th, 2016 17:21
Who needs sleep when you have eye make-up? #rufflecon
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 16:05

The cover of Doctor Who Monthly number 64 (EDIT: 62!). The first issue I bought. It was subsequently raided for pictures to cut out and stick onto things so I no longer appear to have the actual cover myself.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 13:35
Previously unead.

This is the first of Betancourt's Amber prequel books. For a long while, I resisted buying them, because it felt to me as it would be impossible to parallel Zelazny's Amber pentalogy (or pentalogies, depending on how you feel about the Merlin books).

All in all, eminently readable, although I don't think they quite parallel what I suspect the original author would have done. Saying that, there's some fascinating details.

The book starts with Oberon (or "Obere" as he knows himself) being rescued by Uncle Dworkin, then taken away from all he has ever known to become a lord in Juniper. And, also, to learn that Dworkin is less Uncle and more Dad.

I don't know that it would be a bad starting point, being a prequel and all, but I still suspect you'd be better off starting with Nine Princes in Amber.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 13:26
Previously unread.

This is the third book in Cole's Shadow Ops series. It's grim, gritty and mostly takes place in New York, during battle conditions. There's also a bunch of flashbacks.

All in all, eminently readable, although on the "grim" side of this. Definitely helps having read the previous two volumes, but it might just be possible to jump straight into #3.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 10:03
You've Been Trumped Too is having its worldwide theatrical debut on the 28th Oct in New York, "just a stone's throw from Trump Tower". Which should help them get more media attention.

They're at 74% of their Kickstarter goal with 15 days to go, so please throw money at them if you can, and (whether you can or can't), spread the word. This deserves to go viral. It would be so beautiful to have this on TV or free online before the election.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 01:19
1. Today was one of those ridiculously hectic days where I kept getting interrupted every five minutes and it took me the entire day to finish one not terribly complicated thing, but I did get it done eventually, which is good because it was due today.

2. I got some translating done tonight.

3. I posted manga! Somehow this is only the first chapter I've posted this month even though it's almost halfway through the month, so I'd really better get going on things. D: But the second half of the month shouldn't be as busy workwise as the first half was, so hopefully I'll have more energy to do translation when I'm at home.

4. Look at these sweet kitties sharing a sofa.

Friday, October 14th, 2016 21:44

Title: Yasha
Author: Yoshida Akimi
Publisher: Flower Comics
Genre: Shoujo
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations feat. Molly
Status in Japan: 12 volumes, complete
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: Twelve-year-old Sei lives a normal, quiet life on a small island in Okinawa until one day a strange man who seems to know his mother shows up and tries to kidnap him. After that, nothing is normal or quiet in this sci-fi thriller from the author of Banana Fish.

Chapter Summary: The Amamiyas appear to have the upper hand...

Chapter 49
Friday, October 14th, 2016 22:43




Friday, October 14th, 2016 16:30
I had to call the LEGO Dimensions (WB Games) customer service department just now because two of my characters stopped working with the game after the Series 2 content update. The person I spoke to was very nice and said it was definitely a problem they were aware of, and that they should be able to send me replacement character bases (which contain the RFID chips that tell the game which character to activate). No telling how long that will take, though. It's also possible that the characters I bought a few months ago to save up for Christmas will have the same problem once I try to activate them, and then I'll have to do this dance again.

I'm persevering with Stranger Things - I'm now five or six episodes in. This is actually a big deal for me, since I'm really bad at finishing things, especially TV series, even the ones I really like. Maybe even especially the ones I really like.

Swim lessons are happening again this weekend, but on Sunday after church because Saturday was unavailable. Instead I'm planning to spend Saturday helping out with church projects and then taking my shiny new Ghostbusters Blu-Ray over to H&P's house to watch together. As far as church business goes, the meeting earlier this week went well, and the position I ended up getting was finance committee chair, which is much less work than the assistant treasurer job I've had for the past 3 years.

Connor is signed up for a Minecraft activity camp at school tonight, so I need to sign off here and get him ready to go.
Friday, October 14th, 2016 20:15
"Complicated Women" on YouTube

Inspired by the book of the same name about "sex and power in pre-code Hollywood" by Mick LaSalle, featuring interviews with him, Molly Haskell and other film critics, various surviving actresses from the era, and lots and lots of clips. Doesn't go deep in its analysis (and the narration spends a lot of time emphasizing that these were very SEXY movies, all RAUNCHY and SEXY and FUN and SEXY), but I'd bet that there'll be at least one clip to make your jaw drop.
Friday, October 14th, 2016 19:31
Alan is one of the Principal Investigators on the Verifiable Autonomy project (which employs me for half my time). He has a long standing interest in the various aspects of ethics and robotics, both how a robot might be programmed to behave ethically and the ethical issues surrounding the use of robots in homes, workplaces and other places. He is also involved in a number of committees involving robotics. He blogs about his work at Alan Winfield's Web Log, both reporting on current research in an accessible fashion, and discussing various activities he has been involved with. It's not a high volume blog, but worth checking out if you are interested in these kinds of issues. He's also active on twitter ([twitter.com profile] alan_winfield) and, I get the impression, very much enjoys discussing his work, ethics and robotics with people.
Friday, October 14th, 2016 01:10
1. I had a pretty relaxing day off.

2. Carla made super tasty spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

3. I played some more Paper Mario today and am enjoying it so much. It's good that I'm really busy and don't have much time to play, though, because otherwise I would definitely be tempted to play way more per day than I should! My arm is a little twingy now, but hopefully not enough to keep me awake.

4. The kitties were super sweet and cute today, but somehow I did not get any pictures of them, so here is a Chloe from the other day.

Thursday, October 13th, 2016 23:42
Crowds gather in King Bhumibol Adulyadej Square in #Cambridge to pay tribute to the King of #Thailand, who died earlier today. Adulyadej was born just down the street at Mount Auburn Hospital while his dad attended Harvard Med.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 15:13
I had the most astonishingly atmospheric dream this morning, in between the time I woke up to feed my cat breakfast and the time I woke up because the internet repair guy came into my apartment around lunch.

Details! Content notes: colonialism, dubcon marriage, gore )
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 19:29
I have found some more Edinburgh LARP photos and these ones even (*gasp at the new fangled-ness of it all*) have an accompanying CD with them all on.

I think these must be NPCS (it would be difficult to get a party all to wear matching tartan shoulder sashes). Note youthful looking B. on the far left.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 16:40
Look, I have to share this, okay?

This page will try to open a tonne of pop-ups and is probably infested with all sorts of stuff, but it will let you watch the film for free:


These look like legit rentals:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpR_1aI3bSc (Warner Movies on Demand, sadly not available in the UK)

Also available on DVD and so on.

So here's why you have to watch this:


Norma Shearer and Chester Morris are a nauseatingly happy young couple, who are very modern in the manner of 1930 and have vowed to be equals and pals forever.

Then she finds out (on their third wedding anniversary) that he's cheated on her. And he insists it meant nothing, can't she see, darling, he loves only her, can't she understand the masculine perspective and not let a meaningless little thing like this stand in the way of their happiness.

(Note: you will want to punch Chester Morris in the face a lot. Red-Headed Woman will really not help with this.)

So he goes away on a business trip, and she ... goes out and has sex with a mutual friend of theirs.

(And Shearer plays this so brilliantly -- there's grief there, and spite, and curiosity, and vague attraction to that charming guy who's always had a bit of a thing for her, but as Mick LaSalle points out, there's also moral seriousness; she's earnestly trying to find out for herself: can she do this and have it mean nothing?)

(And one of the elements of the film seems to be that while sex -- extra-marital or non-marital -- doesn't sully or cheapen her, it also turns out that for her, it's not something she can happily treat as meaningless, either.)

And then Chester Morris comes back and she tells him that she's "balanced [their] accounts."

And he loses it, demanding to know the name of the man involved, outraged at the idea that her cheating could be as meaningless as his little peccadillo, and finally furious at the idea that one of their circle of male friends might be secretly laughing at him.

And she tears a strip out of his hypocrisy and double standards in an epic speech and walks out and subsequently divorces him.

We are halfway into the film at this point.

Warning: the last few minutes will almost certainly piss you off. Though the film does dodge an ending which might have pissed me off more.

(Also the film seems to assume that someone could only marry a woman with facial disfigurement out of pity and guilt. Or at least some of the characters assume this. Certainly Paul, because he's an asshole.)

(All the men in this film are fail.)

And here is A Free Soul (in which, as previously mentioned, Norma Shearer uses Clark Gable for his body, and seriously, pre-Code Shearer has been a revelation to me):


Also she wears this dress.

(Here she is wearing this dress and looking at Clark Gable.)

The films are still products of their era, but damn; they are doing stuff that would have been literally unshowable from 1935 onwards. And it's a jolt to the brain to see how far ahead they were in their frankness relative to the films of the 40s and 50s.

There's clearly a lot that's being done because as always (especially in Hollywood) sex sells. But they still feel far more woman-centric than many much, much later post-Code films that were considered ground-breaking in their time.