good morning, it's 28 march 2017

Mar. 27th, 2017 10:54 pm
solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Lots on the Russia situation - first, on Nunes's continuing interference-run on behalf of the Trump administration. "Nunes met source at White House before surveillance announcement," "Chairman and partisan: The dual roles of Devin Nunes raise questions about House investigation," "Nunes’ Surveillance Claim: It’s Coming From Inside the White House," "House Democrats Ask Devin Nunes to Recuse Himself From Russia Inquiry." Good luck with that last one.

I wish I could expect more out of "Senate Committee to Question Jared Kushner Over Meetings With Russians." But, as we've seen, lying to Congress doesn't mean anything anymore, so even if he's truthful, we can't really know that, right? (Another version of that story, more partisan but not paywalled: "Trump’s son-in-law had undisclosed meeting with Putin crony with KGB ties.")

In "so much for breathing" news, "Trump moves decisively to wipe out Obama’s climate-change record."

An opinion piece states the obvious: "The All-Male Photo Op Isn’t a Gaffe. It’s a Strategy." The channers loathe women. I cannot overstate how much they hate, despise, loathe women. It's the ocean in which they swim. And that extends well into Trump's larger base.

"White House keeps up sanctuary cities pressure with funding threat" and "King, Snohomish counties may be targets in Justice Dept. threat against ‘sanctuary cities’" are - well, the latest version of threats and stories made before. Still, keep an eye on it. Also in economic war news, "Next up for Trump Amateur Hour: NAFTA?" Cascadia is a net exporter. Hell, Cascadia runs a surplus with fucking MAINLAND CHINA. Or did, last time I saw figures. I can't wait to see how the Trumpists manage to screw that up.

"Seven Ways the Trump Administration Could Make Obamacare ‘Explode’" goes into detail about some of the ways the GOP will continue to play sabotage over the next few years.

In corruption news, we have a trifecta: "Carl Icahn Is Apparently Profiting Enormously From His Role as an Adviser to Donald Trump," "Finally, a Cure for Government Dysfunction: Nepotism," and "Why Republicans Are Ruling With Utter Incompetence." Well, okay, the last one isn't really... no, it is. "Trump keeps demanding credit for Obama’s successes" kinda is - let's call that the Plus4.

"Trump Repeals Regulation Protecting Workers From Wage Theft" is self-explanitory. "AP Exclusive: 'Bathroom Bill' to Cost North Carolina $3.76B" is kind of a lowball estimate, but is pretty solid as such and I'm good with that.

Finally, an historical: "How resistance overcame hate in Hood River" in World War II and after.

It's March 28, 2017; this is the news )
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
Now with bonus Marna:

black and white cat stretched out on the lap of a woman with blue hair

Soaring progress

Mar. 28th, 2017 11:53 am
submarine_bells: Boomerang glider (Boomerang glider)
[personal profile] submarine_bells
Since last I posted about my aviation exploits, I've continued to make steady progress on the soaring front. For one thing, I've learned various ways of flying a glider sideways. Yes, really! For example, you can fly sideways-ish (relative to a landing strip) to cope with a crosswind while landing. Of course you're flying forward relative to the wind itself, but from the ground it looks as if you're skidding diagonally along the strip. This is also referred to as "crabbing", and there's actually a bit of an art to it - as you "crab" down toward the landing point, you keep one wing dipped down into the wind as you approach, and you kick the glider "straight" (relative to the strip) with the rudder at the very last moment just before you touch down.

Another useful way of "flying sideways" is the manoeuvre known as a "sideslip". In this case, you are actually flying more-or-less sideways: you "cross the controls" (e.g. put one wing down while you kick the opposite side rudder), which is a handy way to lose height in a hurry without all the mucking about of aerobatics (or terrifying passengers and/or trainees, if you pull a dramatic sideslip on final approach without warning them) :-)

Learning how to perform these manoeuvres was part of achieving my A and B gliding proficiency badges. These are the very first steps in an extended series of glider pilot achievement badges, and involve passing oral exams on aerodynamic theory and meteorology as well as demonstrating a bunch of basic flight competencies. Next on the list is the C badge, for which I have already passed the oral exam, and I'll be working on the rest of it (which involves learning essential cross-country flying skills such as navigation and out-landing, and getting approved to fly passengers) over the winter.

Of course, doing all this training has meant that most of my flying over the last little while has been in the two-seat trainer, the K-13. Which is all very well, but since I'd converted to the Ka-8 single seater a couple of months ago I've been itching to get more time in that aircraft, as well. So imagine my delight when I found out that last Saturday I'd have one of the club Ka-8s (we own two) ALL to myself! And as an extra bonus, it was the one that I hadn't flown before. While they are they same model, they are not identical - the cockpit layout is slightly different, and it turns out that this aircraft has a somewhat better variometer (extra-sensitive rate-of-climb indicator) than the other one. Also, this one has about 20kg of extra paint on her - I guess her previous owners' solution to any regular maintenance needs must have been Slap another coat of paint on! She'll be right! - and as a result her maximum cockpit weight is that much less. No problem for me, but it does mean that some of our bigger pilots can't fly this particular plane.

QU ready to launchQU on final

My mood was only slightly dampened when it turned out that the soaring weather forecasts (which looked awesome) were in fact a wee bit wrong, and we had a heavy layer of cloud blocking the sun from warming up the ground and generating thermals to soar on. Not to worry; I figured I could use some circuit practice in the Ka-8 anyway. And the cockpit layout in this particular aircraft allowed me to set up my camera in a couple of different positions, which others didn't permit; so that was something else to experiment with. I cheerfully flew circuits in this warm-but-overcast weather. It was actually kind of fun: the total absence of convective action in the air meant that the sky was as smooth as a baby's bottom - no thermals, no turbulence, just milky smoothness which led to short but very pleasant flights. I bashed out several circuits, and then on my last one, as I tootled cheerfully around the airfield expecting more of the same I was astonished to discover some real actual LIFT!

Soaring in the Rain from Submarine Bells on Vimeo.

I still, several days later, have no idea where that lift came from. One of our more meteorology-savvy pilots had predicted the possibility of convergence lift, so I assumed that was what I had run into; but a later poke through my meteorology-for-glider-pilots textbooks left me doubtful of that since apparently convergence lift tends to be turbulent and difficult, and the lift I found was very smooth (albeit rather broken in places). So... yeah. Maybe it was a bit of atypical wave lift in an odd place? I really don't know. But it sure was fun to get the only soaring flight of the day and to be able to keep it up when nobody else could. :-)
fairestcat: two silhouettes sitting against a wall, they are spider-man and spider-woman (Spider-people)
[personal profile] fairestcat
It's almost Wednesday and I'm two weeks behind on my comics posting. So, lets try to catch up a bit with my comics from two weeks ago.

Behind the cut: Sex Criminals #17, Black Panther: World of Wakanda #5, The Mighty Thor #17, U.S. Avengers #4, Star-Lord #4, Spider-Man #14, Ms. Marvel #16, Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat #16 and Bombshells Vol. 3: Uprising

Highlights of the week were definitely Sex Criminals and Ms. Marvel.

So many comics )

(no subject)

Mar. 27th, 2017 09:15 pm
kaffyr: (Tired of typesetting)
[personal profile] kaffyr
This Is Me Today

 photo buffalo_zpse5f92fdf.gif

I'm sure I'll be a nicer mammal tomorrow.  

Burnt-out end of smoky March

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:50 pm
flemmings: (Default)
[personal profile] flemmings
So last night with my shoulder spasming and tennis elbow grinding in response, I took a whole ativan and, no surprise, fell asleep in the side room at about 10. Woke at 5, moved to bedroom, and fell asleep till 9:30. Ativan doesn't usually do that to me; must be a boost from the anti-histamines. I had some lovely dreams but all are gone; I vaguely remember only the one from Saturday night where I was in the Tale of Genji, and the various courtiers and bigwigs were my RL brothers and cousins. (Or possibly I was Murasaki Shikibu writing The Tale of Genji; these things naturally get confused.)

The neck has calmed a bit, partly because a wonderful person did half my shift after her own one. Tomorrow should be doable; the next two days are long shifts but I'm determined to cross those bridges when I come to them and not pay any attention beforehand.

I could talk about how this time of year my mind goes back to Japan in '96 just before I left it, and how the weather today looks the same- grey, soft, instinct with growing things-- and how at these times I can clearly see the emptiness of Japan even if I still can't trace its origin or why it feels that way. But like all things Japanese, the idea fades even as I think about it. A feeling for which there are no words: which is most of... not Japan, but Tokyo for me.

Names Still Matter

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:35 pm
dewline: (Books)
[personal profile] dewline
Brain is not working properly tonight. Focusing on names for the moment...

How Tolkien inspired some Dutch street-naming.

From the BBC: The place where children can be very unlucky with their names, a profile of some - not all - of the naming practices of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Heather Mallick noting some similar pitfalls, but in Europe.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
[personal profile] hawkwing_lb
Books 2017: 43-49

43. Emma Newman, Brother's Ruin., 2017.

Read for column. Entertaining, if a bit weird.

44. Marie Brennan, Lightning in the Blood., 2017.

Read for review for Locus. I REALLY liked it.

45. Lois McMaster Bujold, Penric and the Shaman. Subterranean Press, 2017.

Read for column. Kind of perfectly exactly what I wanted.

46. Elizabeth Moon, Cold Welcome. Orbit/Del Rey, 2017.

Read for review. Meh.

47. Aliette de Bodard, The House of Binding Thorns. Gollancz/Ace, 2017.


48. Robyn Bennis, The Guns Above. Tor, 2017.

Read for review. A hell of a lot of fun.


49. Matthew Wright, The Lost Plays of Greek Tragedy: Volume 1: Neglected Authors. Bloomsbury, London, 2016.

I will have more to say about this later - I believe I will write something about it at length for Patreon, maybe. But it is really interesting and extremely accessible, and makes me want to learn more.

(no subject)

Mar. 27th, 2017 09:31 pm
jayblanc: (Default)
[personal profile] jayblanc
Back from a visit up-north to my parents. Manchester City Centre continues to resist the colonisation of gentrifying hipsters. So you can get a soy latte at the mexican hong kong fusion street food diner, while watching an noonday drunk sixty year old retch on the street in front of you.

Spring is coming

Mar. 27th, 2017 07:20 pm
[personal profile] karinfromnosund
Today was the day when the ground went from being mostly covered in ice, to being mostly not covered in ice. I think most of the ice disappeared in the storm.
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
This is a fantasy RPG based on the series that began with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and subsequent adventure books. Probably not my cup of tea, but it supports a very worth cause, Yorkshire Air Ambulance:

This offer features the Arion Games tabletop fantasy roleplaying game based on the phenomenally popular Fighting Fantasy gamebooks by Steve Jackson (the British one) and Ian Livingstone. Originally published in 1989 as Dungeoneer and several expansions, now available in a handsome 2011 Second Edition, Advanced Fighting Fantasy is a complete RPG set in the classic Fighting Fantasy world, with a fast and adaptable system ideal for beginners and well suited to long-term campaigns. (For more about AFF and the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, see the links below.)

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to the charity selected by Arion Games publisher Graham Bottley, the Yorkshire (UK) Air Ambulance. "In the area where I live it is a literal life saver," says Graham. "I very nearly needed it myself a couple of years ago, but it could not fly at night at that time. In the United Kingdom, these services are funded only by charities, and because there is a reasonable chance I may need it again, it is the main charity I support!"

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$88. Customers who pay just US$7.95 get all four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $40) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:

  • Advanced Fighting Fantasy Second Edition (retail price $14): Graham (Maelstrom) Bottley's completely rewritten RPG (2011) that revises and reorganizes Marc Gascoigne's original 1989 rules and adds lots of new material.
  • Heroes Companion (retail $9): Mass battle rules, loads of new magical styles, wilderness creation, organizations, hirelings, and more.
  • The Sorcery Spell Book (retail $6): The AFF version of the grimoire from Steve Jackson's four-book Sorcery! gamebook series (1983-85).
  • Out of the Pit (retail $11): The original, indispensable monster book with 250 loathsome creatures.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles (retail value $48):

  • The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (retail $7): A full-length RPG scenario based on the first and most famous Fighting Fantasy gamebook.
  • Titan (retail $11): A 128-page sourcebook about the Fighting Fantasy world. Discover Titan's history, kingdoms, and great powers. Includes the Titan Map (retail $3).
  • Beyond the Pit (retail $12): Another 250 dangerous and intriguing denizens of Titan.
  • Blacksand (retail $11): The City of Thieves, Port Blacksand, is home to rogues and pirates, and a destination for the bravest Heroes. This sourcebook includes rules for Firepowder weapons, naval sorcery and sailing. Includes the Blacksand Map (retail $4).

At least one more title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early.

Fighting Fantasy resources

As I said, this probably isn't my cup of tea, but it does look like you get a reasonable amount for your money, and a reasonably fun game world. But as usual YMMV.

And it's probably time for me to ask again if people mind these turning up on their friends page?

Television! I Watch Some!

Mar. 27th, 2017 12:46 pm
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . The state of exhaustion and a bit of gippy tum continues.  I continue my attempts to catch up and get back on keel, to greater or lesser success, depending on. This weekend I ate something that wasn't toast or mashed potatoes, but I still can't read and stay awake. This weekend I did watch some television.


Netflix is currently streaming two series that could be specifically targeted for me, personally, and my current state of being. Despite the variety of choices available it is only these two that appealed to me enough to sit and watch, instead of just going to bed.




The first one is the Netflix original 8-part documentary, The Cuba Libre Story (2016) the story of Cuba, which, naturally centers Fidel's Revolution, for better or worse.  For one thing, the supply of contemporary television and film footage is boundless, the number of recognizable figures involved are without number, and a lot of them are still living,  if only barely, including people with Fidel at the beginning, but who went into exile either voluntarily or to save their lives. There is an international cast of historians, authors and journalists, specialists all in Cuban history and / or the Revolution, all ready and willing to talk on camera.

I have more than quibbles with the perspective on certain things, including "the mafia corrupted Batista." It seems to me they skid over his fundamental character, which needed no outside pressure to become corrupt.  Nor do any of the talking heads explain why and how Batista came back  from Miami to take power in Cuba, this time as tyrant and dictator. They also skip over the role of Nixon in this regime, among other things.  There's more than a whiff at times of the producers falling far back from confronting certain issues in the interest of not offending certain people, whether inside or outside of Cuba.

This is an outline of 20th century Cuban history, heavily weighted, while pretending otherwise, to the perspective of the anti-Cubans, the old CIA (that failed so hugely in its long objective to overthrowing Fidel and the Revolution. This becomes most obvious in the last two episodes, particularly insisting that Fidel was instrumental in Cuba trafficking in the coke trade to the US. That much of this cannot be true is due to the obvious the state would never allow drug gangs in Cuba -- they would be a challenge to the hegemony of the state.  There are some elements in the series that are outright lies that leap out, particularly what they say about the children. People who have worked with them, meaning, literally work, at jobs, have told us, for instance, that they worked along side one of the kids for months, and never knew who the kid was.  Raul's daughter, who works so hard for LGBT rights and recognition, rides the public buses to work every day. No playboying around at all, unlike what the docu talking heads state.

 As said, the more episodes in, with the more CIA operatives, Cuban double agents (whose whole life is about lying plausibly, meaning they believe themselves what they say), the more exiles, the more people out of the former Soviet Union, etc. testify, the more problematic the series's plausibility becomes.



Grace and Frankie's 4th season went up on Netflix this weekend.  Lily Tomlin! Jane Fonda! It makes me laugh out loud here all by myself at least three times during each half hour episode. Also Sam Waterson! and Martin Sheen! as their ex-husbands who left them for each other.  The actors playing their children are almost as splendid as Fonda and Tomlin.  They also fill in their roles more so every season.  Some might criticize the glossy, monied, perfect southern California milieu of the show, but within the context of the comedy, which is these people are spoiled and often immature, while experience the irrevocable fact that they are old, they were dumped by their husbands, and all the many other tribulations that come with that, no matter how well-off one is, the gloss and prosperity allow us to laugh at and with them guilt-free.  In one of this season's episodes both women have their back go out at the same time, and they're marooned on the floor -- with no way to contact anyone. It's a prolonged scene that is both genuine and very funny.  At times Lily Tomlin channels the Comic Spirit directly, without any buffer between herself and it  -- and what she does is randomly spontaneous.  Fonda plays off Tomlin's antic inspirations with perfect timing and reaction, enhancing and deepening the scope of these scenes.  Their two characters have now gone into business together, marketing the the perfect vibrator for older women.  Their search for capitalization of the vibrator's manufacture within the truly strange contemporary world of business finance is an boundless source of comedy as well as very pointed criticism of national economic structure that no longer has any interest in making anything, only in the marketing of an online meme.  Highly, highly recommended!

solarbird: (made her from parts)
[personal profile] solarbird

Build reports are nice enough. (I wrote up a little errata post yesterday, by the by.) But the real question, of course, is how does the RK-47/990B kit mic sound?

Early impressions are surprisingly good. Even with only the single microphone, there’s a sense of presence and space – even with a purely mono signal path – that I normally have to dual-mic to attain. Also, it has tremendous precision – this is a mic capable of great subtlety. And the amount of gain built into the microphone itself is crazy – this is one spicy meatball of a microphone. That’s something you won’t hear in recordings, but it results in a lower noise floor, which is always good.

Let’s start with some unsubtle differences, ones that’ll show up on laptop speakers. Because while I’ve never liked the MXL-990, they sell a zillion of ’em, and we should make a couple of direct comparisons.

Here’s a snippet of chords from “Lukey,” alternating between the MXL-990 (unaltered factory) and the RK-47/990B. It starts with the MXL-990, then transitions in-song to the RK-47, then back and forth. It ends with the RK-47. It’s a pure mono signal path until prepped for uploading to Soundcloud.

And here’s a short melody, on zouk – again, starting on MXL-990 (factory stock), then RK-47, then back to MXL-990. The last phrase is repeated to allow us to end on the RK-47; also, I wanted that ending bit to be presented on both microphones. The glissando really highlights some of the differences.

But that’s shooting fish in a barrel, as it were. The MXL-990, while popular, is not a good microphone. We should do comparisons to microphones I actually like – let’s say, the M-Audio Nova. At about twice the price of the MXL-990, it’s still a cheap microphone, just one I consider entry-level competent. But it has issues – not the least of which being it’s kind of a noisy beast as these categories of microphones go.

So let’s take the easy swing – here’s a sharply boosted noise level comparison of the RK-47 to the M-Audio Nova, at equivalent gain levels. This is not the noise you’d actually hear; I recorded a silent room at gain appropriate on each microphone for instrument recording, then cranked that recording up 32db for easy noise levels comparison.

Unfortunately, this really requires headphones, because it’s RK-47 on left, Nova on right:

NOT SUBTLE. But also, an easy shot. The Nova is noisy and everybody knows it. There are some mods out there to improve that, but they change the sound a bit in ways I don’t like, so I work with it.

comparison of waveformsSo let’s dig down a bit. Pictured here is a snippet of waveform from a bit of music played, in mono, over my studio monitors, into identically positioned microphones relative to those speakers. These two recordings were made simultaneously.

You’ll note in this highly-zoomed-in render how the RK47 waveform remains clear and unmuddled in these extremely rapid changes, while the Nova’s blurs into a bit of a mush. That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about, and also, the sort of thing you can hear in these very short snippets of horns from a jazz track. This comparison requires headphones, possibly good ones:

They’re short because they must be uncompressed for best comparison – sorry about that – but listen to them a few times and compare. Note how the edges of detail – bits which add flavour – are blurred in the Nova, but retained in the RK-47. Neat, eh?

That out of the way, let’s step up a level in comparator microphones. Oktava 012s are considered very good affordable microphones, particularly strong in their price ranges, and street for a new 012 and one pickup is comparable to the cost of this kit. With a second head (to add a second pickup pattern, as this mic has), it’s a bit more. They’re small-can capacitor instrument mics, rather than large-can, but we’re doing instrument recording, so that’s fair. The components inside – particularly older ones picked up used – can be a bit dodgy, but the design is great and the pickups are great, and you can upgrade the iffy capacitors and the suspect transistor if necessary. I have, of course, done this with mine.

Here’s the intro to “King of Elfland’s Daughter,” on the Oktava 012 (upgraded components) and the RK-47/990B kit. This recording repeats phrases, with the Oktava 012 first, then the RK-47/990B. Pure mono signal path, identical recording setup made within a few minutes of each other, but not simultaneously, as you can’t put two microphones in exactly the same place and I wanted the most equal comparison I could, modulo performance limitations. This probably also requires headphones, as the 012 is a pretty darned precise microphone itself:

44.1khz/16-bit uncompressed WAV file version here.

Once again, I’m finding that the RK-47 has a real staging advantage. There’s a sense of in-the-room presence with the RK-47 that I can make happen by dual-miking with my other microphones and mixing down, but not directly in mono.

Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that it is BEST AT ALL THINGS, because it’s not. These aren’t the only recordings I made – they’re just ones that show differences best. The first example I found was mandolin – the Nova likes my mandolin better than the RK-47 does. The specific response behaviour and foibles of the Nova work in its favour; a single RK-47 may have more presence and precision than a single Nova, but the Nova recording sounded more musical just the same. I’m sure there will be other examples as well.

In the end, I think this will probably become a heavy-use microphone in my kit. It may even become my go-to mic on the zouk – I need to do some stereo and multi-distance comparisons before I will know that for sure, but it’s looking very good. I also like what it does with piccolo and flute. I haven’t done any playing around with fiddle or drums, and one thing I want to play with is a two-mic setup with the ribbon kit mic I built, to see how those behave together – it’s a mic placement technique I’ve wanted to try for a while, but have never got round to testing. Now is probably the time.

I kind of wish I’d ordered the matched-pair version of this microphone kit. But it would’ve cost twice as much and I couldn’t know in advance I’d like it this much, so.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

Cover Reveal: PROVENANCE

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:40 am
ann_leckie: (AJ)
[personal profile] ann_leckie

So, as it happens, I have a book coming out this year!

Also as it happens, it turns out I lied a little when I said folks who didn’t follow me on Tumblr weren’t missing anything but silly stuff. It’s mostly true–mostly I’m just silly on Tumblr. But this weekend Tumblr followers were treated to a slow-motion reveal of (most of) the cover (and title, since the title is, you know, on the cover) of my next book. It was pretty fun, actually, with people trying to guess the title from incomplete information, and cow poems, and just a good time.

And now, today, Book Riot has the official, internet-wide reveal. So click on over to take a look at the cover and the description.

If it seems appealing to you, the book is pre-orderable, though last I checked there was still a placeholder title and cover (which nonetheless I can see from the amazon rank that folks have been pre-ordering it, which is equal parts amazing and terrifying). It’s out October 3, I hope you like it!

At any rate, Amazon links! US Amazon, and UK Amazon.

Mirrored from Ann Leckie.


james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

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