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Always Coming Slayers

For various reasons I was browsing AO3 last night, and noticed that there was Always Coming Home fanfic. This was surprising. If you don't know ACH, it's mostly fictional anthropology by Le Guin, of some future, post-post-apocalyptic, Pacific Northwest society, living in harmony with nature and itself and all that. There's a bit of story interleaved through it, of the Condor People re-inventing armies and warfare and how everyone else deals with that, but mostly it's pure 'study', like the appendices to the Lord of the Rings without the LotR itself. Somewhat interesting, though I don't think I ever read it through. Anyway, there's a shortage of characters and conflict, so what do you write fic of?

All of the fics turned out to be one series, linked above. A series crossover with... Slayers. The novel/anime Slayers. Lina Inverse and all. If you asked me to name anime/manga that at least fit the mood of ACH, I'd go with Mushi-shi. Kino no Tabi. YKK. Aria, even. Not Slayers. I'm sure Lina would be considered mentally ill, or "backwards-headed", by the locals.

That, in fact, provides much of the conflict: not so much fighting as talking. The gang turn to be chasing a prophecy/oracle that they needed to get something from the City of Mind, so they're adventuring in the ACH lands, which from their own POV is the far Outlands. (In return, they seem to be from within the Cyst.)

This particularly caught my attention, since the City of Mind... well, so, ACH is mostly about this anarcho-primitivist society, right? For hundreds of pages. But buried somewhere in the book is a few pages, or half a page, not much, about the City of Mind... an AI civilization/network busily exploring and cataloging the universe at a good fraction of the speed of light, and incidentally providing communication/library/satellite services to its an-prim progenitor-cousin humans back on Earth. Rather useful services, in fact: I think the army was dealt with partly by tracking its movements on satellite imagery and using that to run away more effectively. I'm a sucker for robots and AI in general, not to mention Culture-like AI civilizations, but also it was weird that this lovingly described primitivist society is dependent on high tech support they're culturally ill-equipped to even understand, let alone maintain on their own.

Well, Le Guin is famous for a couple of ambiguous utopias (The Dispossessed and "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas"), I guess this can be another one. Embrace the contradictions inherent in the system, or whatever.

As for the fics themselves, I found them pretty engaging. I have seen some Slayers, but I think you might be able to enjoy them even if you don't know much about Slayers or ACH. Seven pieces, not too long -- 2000-6000 words each.

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Fantasy timelines and 1500 years

James Nicoll recently seemed to recommend Tekumel. I've known of this for a long time, but never gotten into it. Someone linked to tekumel.com and I started reading its history... then stopped, it wasn't that exciting to me. But it's got the common huuuuuge numbers. The world was settled 60,000 years after our present, time passed, disasters happened, now the 'currently' oldest written records are 25,000 years old. I read something about how some century was full of specified events, then the next 500 years were full of petty infighting.

Not unique to Tekumel. Game of Thrones has 12,000 years of alleged history. Eberron has hundreds of thousands of years, maybe millions. Dragaera has 250,000 years.

On the one hand I would like to believe in the longevity of intelligent beings, so at some point you 'need' deep timelines, but I feel they also fit science fiction and far speculation better, rather than fantasy stasis. And either way, authors will have trouble filling the time plausibly.

Tolkien's comparatively modest, with 6500 years since the Noldor returned to Middle Earth, and 1400 years for the Shire. Exalted has 5000 years since the Primordial War, and only about 750 since almost everyone died and half the world dissolved into chaos.

Then there's Glorantha, which in the RuneQuest III box set, is introduced at the end of its Third Age, 1500 years after the invention of Time itself. There's overlapping and contradictory myth stuff 'before' that, but actual history is 1500 years. (I'm assuming they started with writing, from the myth/hero age.) No wonder they're still using bronze! I don't know that much about the history, but the second age was dominated by two magically powerful empires, that lasted for some centuries. And not millennia.

In the real world, the oldest written symbols are from about 3500 BC, but the oldest coherent texts from 2600. Those are about earlier times, somewhat, so let's say history starts around 3000 BC. What does 1500 years get us?

In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians have come and gone (though Sumerian remains a literary language, alongside daily Akkadian), and Hammurabi of Babylon was a few centuries ago. Iron and the Bronze Age collapse are a few centuries in the future.

In Egypt, both the Old and Middle Kingdoms have passed. The pyramids are ancient history to Egyptians.

I don't know anyone else for that period. Advancing to the 'historical' eras of other places: 1500 BC to 1 BC in Greece gets you the high Bronze Age and Myceneans, Bronze Age Collapse, dark age, whatever happened that became the Trojan War stories, Homer, weird art most people don't know about, the Classical period, the Hellenistic Age, and conquest by Rome.

Rome itself only starts around 750 BC, 1500 years takes us to 750 AD. So kingdom, Republic, Empire, fall in the west and displacement to the east, the rise of Christianity, the advance of Islamic Arab armies. Dark Ages and Charlemagne in the West, well past Justinian in the east.

In China, 1600-100 BC covers the Shang, Zhou, Warring States, Confucius and other philosophers, Qin, and Han. Okay, so most of us probably don't much about those periods beyond museum pieces, still the names suggest change. 100 BC to 1400 AD covers the Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming, and the invention of much of what we consider "Chinese": civil service exams, porcelain, paper, gunpowder, the compass, printing...

The history of England is about 1500 years if you count from when Roman support left and the Anglo-Saxons showed up. From 1066, not quite 1000 years.

Japan barely even *has* 1500 years of written history; we can go back to some Chinese mentions in the 200s, or spotty Kofun era records before 500.

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Photo stuff

I checked out the Lesley University galleries today, and all three galleries -- two in the new art center, one in 1815 Mass Ave -- are given over to Irving Penn. Some neat stuff. I learned platinum-palladium printing is a thing, and that there are people out there with the surname Sullavan [sic], like actress Margaret Sullavan. Reminds me of my first crush, a girl surnamed Hattaway, apparently a rare mutation of Hathaway, something one of her math teachers never mastered.

Anyway, after leaving, I was inspired to mess around with the color filters on my phone, with results here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskH6DjFk Mono, sepia, negative, plus a few normal garden photos because the light looked interesting, though I think I lost the moment in having to reboot my phone after camera crashes. Negative gets samey after a while but I found it pretty neat at first.

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Too many ls options?

On IRC we'd been discussing procmail, and its lack of maintenance, and whether it *needs* maintenance other than security fixes. I snarked about wc not needing updates... then checked and found that its web page was dated Jan 2016, because GNU. This led to Ian complaining about ls having too many options, and he didn't even know about the dired output ones for emacs integration. I count about 56 options. That's a lot!

OTOH, I use a lot of them:

All my aliases use -F and -color=auto.
lt uses -ltr
Others use u, A, s, h, and d. That's 10.

I discovered L recently, and found it useful. Others on the list look interesting: --group-directories-first, R, S, X. 14 total! Still a fraction of the total, but I'm not going to say the others are useless.

Are they redundant with the Unix way? E.g. all the sort options could instead be piped to /bin/sort. OTOH that would be more verbose, and less efficient, especially for e.g. a numeric sort on filesize: easier to sort within ls, which has the numbers as numbers, rather than to print them as text to stdout, read them in again and convert, then print out again. Or more commonly, sorting by modification time, as a human readable thing? Ew.

*** Reference

-F: append / for directories and * for exectuables and @ for symlinks.
-color: colors by type
-l: detailed listing
-t: sorts by modification time, newest first
-r: reverses sort
-u: show last access time
-A: show dotfiles, but not . and ..
-s: show file size in blocks
-h: print size in human friendly form, like 4.3M
-d: shows properties of a directory, rather than its contents.
--group-directories-first: duh
-R: recursive
-S: sort by size, biggest first.
-X: sort by extension.

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Trinidad surprise

I've been reading a book of Caribbean history. So, in the 1800s slavery started getting abolished, and it was hard to still find workers on sugar plantations. Paying ex-slaves enough to work made the sugar more expensive than slave-produced sugar, and they were frankly not very enthusiastic about doing sugar work at any wage, preferring to be independent peasants, and who can blame them? There were various adaptations, for example Haiti tried inventing state socialism way early, conscripting the population into sugar work -- replacing private slavery with state slavery, woo.

Down in Trinidad, they somehow found it economical to import indentured laborers across the world from India. After 10 years the workers got a subsidized trip back to India, but many stayed; as a result Trinidad is now plurality (Asian) Indian, (38% or so), and also 18% Hindu. (Also 5% Muslim, and noticeable minorities of Bahai and Sikh.) I vaguely knew something like this had happened but not that there was a significantly Hindu-minority country south of the US. I feel kind of like when I discovered, in senior year of high school, that Belize existed and spoke English.

(I would swear that it simply never came up in my MacNeil-Lehrer watching childhood, unlike every other Central American country. And my parents' old globe probably had "Brit. Hond.")

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machine go boom

College (and other) friends and I have shared a server for many years, racked in some colo place. This instance, the third, was bought in 2003, and has served us far longer than we expected. In the past couple days we basically got to watch the RAID die in real time. Still not sure if the disk filling up was a trigger or result or unrelated, but today I watched it die with only 88% full disk. I got to see even some of my own files turning corrupt, like being owned by another user.

Robbie and another friend had unkind things to say about hardware RAID. We'd gotten hardware RAID, 3wire, set to redundancy mode for the server. We'd thought we were doing really well, with some tool reporting no disk failures... now someone else says it may have lied, with disk problems we weren't told about.

OTOH other friends say software RAID really wouldn't give performance or even safety guarantees. I dunno. But the damn thing did survive 13 years of probably somewhat heavy use, with our disks from one vendor; we sure got our money's worth.

The question now becomes "what next?" A bunch of us were still using it as an active server, like for mail, so a replacement would be nice. Previous machines were graciously retired and replaced on a plan; I'd kept urging us to go to machine 4 over the past few years, but people were lazy, and I was in no position to physically volunteer.

Of course, today we have VPS. Since I cleverly had mail going to my own domain, hosted on the server, I found I was able to get my own linode, transfer DNS, and get basic mail working, in under 3 hours. Hopefully at this point I won't *lose* mail, though I have yet to get procmail -- or some more secure replacement -- up; I really depend on filtering. And I don't know about spam... we had greylisting going, which probably prevented a lot of spam even before my powerful spamprobe filter; right now I'm exposed. But it's after 3am, it can wait a day or two.

Anyway, someone could probably replace our machine with a VPS quickly... if they had control over our DNS. That's probably one guy, on vacation right now. Whee. Also, while I backed up my own files, I never thought to grab the passwd or shadow files; if no one else did either, actually making accounts for everyone would be a pain.

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Grandoffspring of yogurt

So, my previous described batch was pretty much perfect, I realized. Good medium-sour taste, good 'texture', much like the European Yogurt that it starts from. Can I replicate it?

I tried batch 3 just now, and the answer is "not quite". The taste is fine, but it's a bit firmer: it can actually hold some shape.

I made it the same way: add milk from the fridge to the jar containing the dregs of the previous batch, shake[1], stick in oven for maybe 18 hours.

Pickiness of texture aside, it certainly tastes good; I ate like 1/3 of it straight away before stopping.

[1] I've read you shouldn't stir the incubating yogurt, that the bacteria don't like being disturbed. (How can they tell? They're so small!) But I can't avoid the feeling that it's better to disperse the starter, rather than letting it grow up from the bottom and walls. I suppose I could test not shaking it, sometime.

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nested functions in Perl

As mentioned in the previous post, I found Perl has problems here:

[Zefiris:0] cat unbound.pl
sub outer {
    sub inner {
        print "inside inner\n";
    print "inside outer\n";


[Zefiris:0] perl unbound.pl
inside outer
inside inner

Perl's inner() enters the global scope, even from within outer()


[Zefiris:0] cat unbound.py
def outer():
    def inner():
        print("inside inner")

    print("inside outer")


[Zefiris:0] python unbound.py
inside outer
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "unbound.py", line 8, in 
NameError: name 'inner' is not defined

Python does the scoping I expect, though not any compile time checking for undefined functions. Though Perl doesn't here, either, even with 'use strict;'. Well, I suppose it's possible that in these languages, outer() could have done something to define inner() before it was called.

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languages and first class functions

I've started learning Scala. Don't know how far I'll get unless someone's willing to hire me ot learn it (not impossible, I see a few jobs saying just that.) So far it at least seems like a nice blend of functional programming (ML type inference branch) and practical utility (JVM base, willingness to let you get dirty and imperative.) Though I'm also getting whiffs of C++ complexity... possibly unavoidable if going for that amount of flexibility in both coding style and performance.

It reminded me that I have trouble respecting a language that doesn't have first class functions, which got me wondering about the languages I know well.

C: no.

C++: no, directly, though you can make function objects with classes and operator(). Bit verbose, though. C++11 made improvements.

Java: I don't know, actually. Searching... looks like not really, though Java 8 made improvements.

Perl: Wikipedia says yes, though you hand around references to subroutines, and I found recently that nested functions aren't actually bound to their scope: function 1 defined in function 2 is still callable outside function 2. Wikipedia does say that nested named functions are in Perl 6, vs. the Perl 5 that AFAIK everyone still uses, if they use Perl at all.

Python: pretty much... but as Robbie and I found recently, Python doesn't do proper lexical scoping. And WP says it doesn't really do anonymous nested functions; Guido seems to have a reluctance to embrace FP. (Also see reduce being exiled to a functools library, not that Perl is better, to my surprise.)

So, wow, none of them.

Ruby I know basically nothing of, but WP says no. JavaScript I don't know enough of, though WP says yes. It also says mostly yes for Rust and Go. I'm sad D isn't on the table.

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Regarding the previous batch: I realized that it wasn't sour or tangy at all. This was both alarming and disappointing, as I like a tang to my yogurt, up to a point (some of my previous late-generation long incubation batches were approaching battery acid, metaphorically speaking.) Also, the remainder of the milk it was made from went bad days before the sell-by date, which was also alarming; what might have slipped into the yogurt?

But I soldiered on, and made a new batch with the dregs of the old one, and new milk. Same lazy process, though I left it in the oven for a lot longer, maybe 18 hours? Similar texture, thickened-gooey. Does have some sourness to it. These two batches have been thick enough to be difficult to drink straight, unlike my usual, though they still run (or goop) off a spoon, unlike gelatinized yogurt that can hold a shape.


Also, no, even Kerrygold butter isn't soft enough to spread easily right out of the fridge... hmm, granted, I decreased the fridge temperature yesterday, partly as a reaction to the bad milk.

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I expect most of my readers know that Columbus didn't "prove the Earth was round", but an interesting question is how widespread knowledge of the globular Earth was, e.g. among the uneducated. Hard to answer for sure. But this reddit thread gives some interesting quotes about elite knowledge, including citing the Venerable Bede quoting Augustine, and someone writing in 1170s about longitude and time differences (from the observed local time of eclipses.) And:

"the key piece of evidence with regard to unlearned people is a book of sermons published in vernacular German and translated into multiple languages which mentions a spherical Earth multiple times as a metaphor; that is, something ordinary people listening to a sermon would understand and relate to."

Bad news for any Ars Magica campaigns that assume people believing in a flat Earth...

This post discusses the Treaty of Tordesillas; no, a line dividing up the Americas didn't mean they thought the world was flat.

Finally, this blames the 19th century for creating the myth that medieval people thought the world was flat. Not the only historical bullshit that came out of the 19th century...

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Butter, yogurt, Digger

I've been buying butter in small tubs, so I can leave it out to get soft, and not mess with sticks in a tray. I'd been buying Plugra. Last time I bought Kerrygold, and after leaving it out it was practically turning into butter soup, in temperatures not as hot as they had been. It claims to be naturally softer, because it's from grass fed cows. It doesn't say that grass means more Omega-3 fats, but that's usually the case, and O-3s have lower melting points than O-6 (maybe why deep sex fish use them.) So, that checks out. And O-3 would mean marginally healthier butter.

Question remains whether it's "naturally softer" enough to not be annoying to spread straight out of the fridge.


Yogurt making continues, and my latest batch is like the best-set I've ever made. I went for maximum laziness, simply filling the mason jar with milk and sticking that in the oven (heated by pilot light); no pre-heating of milk, no heating of the oven to get the temperature above 106 F. I did add a bit of yogurt from the Trader Joe's tub, in addition to the yogurt already in the jar. I left it incubating for a while, 13 or 15 hours, I think. Came out not very sour, and a mix of semi-solid and stretchy-goopy, vs. my more common "solid on top, fermented liquid beneath" or the "totally separated curds and sour whey" of previous late-generation attempts. I am pleased, if unsure about being able to replicate this.


I re-read the webcomic Digger for the first time, a couple days ago. It really is good! Serious story but also hilarious in many places. Pseudoniece G' seems to be liking it, too.


I re-read the webcomic Treading Ground last night, for the second or third time. Much quicker, only 251 strips, vs like 750 pages. It's a lot cruder and I'm not mentioning it to 13 year old pseudonieces. But funny in its own way. It also had advice on cutting meat with dull knives (apply pressure and speed) which has served me well since first reading it.

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On cul-de-sacs

problems of cul-de-sacs
From the 1950s until the late 1980s, there were almost no new housing developments in the U.S. built on a simple grid.

networks that have 45 intersections per square mile (like Salt Lake City) and others that have as many as 550 (Portland, Ore).

In their California study, Garrick and Marshall eventually realized the safest cities had an element in common: They were all incorporated before 1930.
These cities were built the old way: along those monotonous grids. In general, they didn’t have fewer accidents overall, but they had far fewer deadly ones. Marshall and Garrick figured that cars (and cars with bikes) must be colliding at lower speeds on these types of street networks.

foreclosure hotspots tend to be focused in places with the least location efficiency – in spread-out subdivisions

On the other hand, there's the problem of having to drive your car almost everywhere. Or, in Speck's words, the uneasy feeling that "your car is no longer an instrument of freedom but a prosthetic device."

cul-de-sac communities turn out to have some of the highest rates of traffic accidents involving young children.
"The actual research about injuries and deaths to small children under five is that the main cause of death is being backed over, not being driven over forward," he says. "And it would be expected that the main people doing the backing over would in fact be family members, usually the parents."

making walkable cul-de-sacs

Bit more history, and a schematic diagram of changing patterns: https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/4yfhx9/eli5_why_arent_neighbourhoods_built_gridstyle/d6ngpp4

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Plants: mostly not dead

It's been really hot and humid in Boston the past week. It had been cooler, enough so that I broke down and bought a new box fan, despite the uncertainties of my future, and it did good work in my bedroom. But now the weather has gone the other way, and fanw's donated air conditioner is slaving away not just at cooling my room (which it is good at) but most of my apartment (not so good, given both insufficient power and terrible air circulation... still, it does help, as a few seconds on my "balcony" demonstrate.)

My A/C is not asked to cool my second bedroom, aka storage room, aka solarium for my plants. I checked in on those plants just now, and yeah, I let things go too long; the room is an oven, and the soils are dry. Still, they're holding up:

The spathiphyllum is looking droopy and kind of pale, but most of the leaves are green, or a sunburnt yellow, not dry and brown, which is actually pretty good show for it. It has been watered and put on my desk, where it's only 30 C and the sun is filtered.

The basil is still alive, which is amazing given that I bought the annual last summer; it's rather lanky, as the two living stems are making a show of being beanstalks, but it was even putting forth little flowers earlier. It has been watered and put in my bathroom for now, because hey, humidity? I should probably research what it likes about that.

The jasmine has gone really weird: one half is completely wilted and pale yellow, like ghost leaves, the other half is a vigorous green. I don't remember how it was oriented, maybe one part got too much sun? Or not enough? It is draining in my sink, since it lacks a drainage dish, I'm not sure where I'll put it. Probably in my living room with the others.

And finally, the terrarium. I posted about this last year; time has not been good to it. It did quite well for a while, with the rainbow plant finding its way through one of the wholes and growing outside of it. Finally I cut that off; then, worried about water lost to transpiration, I added some. Then I taped over some or all of the holes, for better recycling, also to keep things from growing through. When I next checked, it had all gone moldy. I untaped the holes but still. :( Then the plants died and the mold dried out. But then, later, something managed to sprout again! So that was cool.

But tonight, even that was dead and brown. I finally opened the terrarium again, for the first time since setup, and the soil/matrix was completely dry. I guess its magic recycling powers were defeated by the sheer heat. But I remembered not using all of the seeds, so I added some water and broke up the soil, then added the seeds... and cuttings of jasmine and spathiphyllum, because I didn't have many seeds, actually. It's now in my living room, closer to light than the spathiphyllum.

The spathi and the jasmine are still looking better than when I first rescued each of them from the garbageway. The jasmine only flowered a bit this year, like three blossoms... which still managed to put out a whole lot of fragrance.

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more on first person narrative

A followup to my previous first person narrative post:

Some of the reddit threads that spawned the previous post:


I still find the aversion weird. First person is natural for letters, a diary, autobiography, or any other version of someone telling their own story.

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Simplified Shadows of Python

I spent longer than I expected figuring out the problem described in Robbie's Shadows of Python post. I kept revising my e-mail to him: "You're wrong because of X. No, I mean Y. Um, Z?" Eventually I got it, I think, and distilled it to a simpler piece of contrasting code:


def f():

def g():

>>> f()
>>> g()
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 1, in 
  File "r.py", line 8, in g
UnboundLocalError: local variable 'x' referenced before assignment

Simply because we will (or even might, it works if the assignment is in an if clause) assign to x in the future, it becomes a local variable for the scope of the whole function, blocking access to the outer scope definition. This compile-time annoyance from the same language that has no equivalent to Perl's 'use strict;' to stop you from using misspelled variables. Thanks, Python.

Checking against the other big scripting language, Perl:


sub f {
    print $x, "\n";
sub g {
    print $x, "\n";


[Zefiris:0] perl r.pl

Happy access to a global variable. If you use 'my $x=2;' in g(), then the change to the global-level variable is avoided, of course.

Python would let you use 'global x' in g(), or 'nonlocal x' for intermediate scopes, but that gives you full access to x. There's no "I'm going to create a new local variable from this point on, while having used an outer variable earlier in the function." And this doesn't work:

def h():

You can do that in Perl, with or without 'my', getting expected behavior in each case.

This is part of the reason I'm willing to work in C++ again; yes, it's annoying, but I've seen no language that doesn't have mindbendingly stupid shit in it somewhere.

Edit: someday I'll remember I want the pre tag, not the code tag, for preserving indentation.

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links: cities, labor, evolution

Discussion of urban taxes, which introduces me to the idea of frontage taxes. My new love, along with land tax. http://urbankchoze.blogspot.com/2016/07/city-taxes-as-urban-growth-policies.html?m=1

GE drops annual employee ratings

Massachusetts bans employers asking for salary history

Evolution of urban animals is rapid

evolution of Europeans and white skin

Some friends got really excited by this: library furniture maker http://www.wcheller.com/index.html

convention bumps may be due to changing willingness to talk to pollsters, rather than actual changing opinion. Though I wonder if this year is an exception. http://www.vox.com/2016/8/1/12341802/polling-clinton-trump-winning

Advocacy of backing into perpendicular parking spaces http://www.vox.com/2016/8/1/11926596/safer-back-into-parking-spaces

Feynman wrong about Faraday cages?

(PDF) 21 page article on Greek voting, acclamation vs. counting: https://melissaschwartzberg.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/schwartzberg_shoutsmurmurs.pdf

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Time for another dump.

Israel's massive desalination project.

Messing with prices works: 5 cent charge cuts UK plastic bag use by 85%.

Smoking gun found in North Carolina: voter ID laws are explicitly racist in their intent, aimed at disenfranchising black voters.

Long piece on Hillary's climate policy.  The DNC pro-gay rights platform.

Houston Chronicle endorses Hillary, way early. They went for Romney last time.

Story on how Hillary helped a constituent with cancer.

Trump claims a tax exemption for people with income <$500,000.  Bit odd for an alleged billionaire.

Apollo http://observer.com/2016/07/space-radiation-devastated-the-lives-of-apollo-astronauts/observer.com/2016/07/space-radiation-devastated-the-lives-of-apollo-astronauts/ dying off of heart disease.

GOP thinker thinks modern GOP is doomed, by its original sin of Goldwater and racism.

Trump blames GOP for RNC ratings.  What a leader.  Such responsibility.  Wow.

Trump talks about a http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/politics/trump-may-have-just-leaked-classified-info-on-his-first-day-getting-intelligence-briefings/www.ifyouonlynews.com/politics/trump-may-have-just-leaked-classified-info-on-his-first-day-getting-intelligence-briefings/ or secret base in Saudi Arabia.  Neither one reflects well on him.

Hillary's DNC speech, annotated.  Trump's speech, annotated.

Another article arguing dieting doesn't work.

Hillary's paid speeches in context.

"Why should I *like* Hillary, rather than fearing Trump?"  A list.  A similar list -- haven't checked to see if they're kept in sync.  Not included: what she did for trans people.

America's gridlock. "What if D's won every place w/ electorate less than 75% white, lost everywhere else? D's would win 292 EV's but just 36 Sen/191 House seats."

Green Party platform calls for something that was done in 2009.  Such updating.

"what if Hillary accepted the nomination with 5 children by three different men, like Trump?"

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I got into this comic in late May, I don't remember exactly why. In short, I liked it a lot, and have re-read various stories out of it several times, and even sketched a bit of continuation fanfic. So, big hit here.

Why do I like it? I guess the usual for me: interesting and sympathetic characters, funny lines (and images) while having a somewhat serious tone (so, like Bujold and Cherryh at times, though much lighter than either), somewhat interesting stories and worldbuilding.

How to describe it in an interesting way? Eh... Like many other webcomics, it's modern day + weirdness, I guess you could put it under urban fantasy. High school students in this case, dealing with magic, alien tech (also magic) and their lives. The soap opera content is actually pretty low; the kids are pretty sensible, and Shive isn't big on darkness or angst.

Special theme: transformations, especially genderbending ones. This strip argues that if magic were real and general, transformation magic would be huge. I believe it.

Also, the government shown has generally been knowledgeable and helpful, along with having a good excuse for covering up magic.

The title doesn't mean anything really, it's just a title.

As with many webcomics, it starts off pretty rough, in both art and writing. Page #2: "There will be moments in this comic where it will be particularly obvious that I began writing it when I was a young man shortly out of high school. This is one of those comics." I would say the comic has found its voice, though not its art, by the end of "Sister". If you can take a lot of in media res, then you could start at the beginning of that. Further back, 'story' starts happening with 'Goo'.

Reasons not to read it: it's ongoing, and not super fast. I think the last year or two of our time covered a day or two of comic time (granted, very busy days.) There's a reason I got tempted to continuation fanfic, after catching up.

Comic has been going since 2002, but the archives don't feel *that* deep to me. Not like a daily regular such as Sluggy Freelance.

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Turkey context:

Turkey's military is sworn to uphold secular democracy. This might be the sixth coup since 1960.

Turkey joined NATO in 1955: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO#Members so being a NATO member with a coup isn't new. For that matter, Portugal joined in 1949, and was run by the dictator Salazar until 1968. Greece was run by a junta of colonels from 1967 to 1974.

Erdogan has been undermining democracy, going after opposition MPs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/08/erdogans-draconian-new-law-demolish-turkeys-eu-ambitions and prosecuting more than 1800 people since 2014 for "insulting" him.

And this weirdness, from what I'm told is the third largest newspaper in Turkey and legit: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-one-should-do-politics-in-turkey-except-erdogan-says-chief-adviser-yigit-bulut.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100501&NewsCatID=338

'With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the helm in Turkey, there’s no need for anyone else in the country to engage in politics, presidential adviser Yiğit Bulut has said.

“There is already a leader in this country and he is engaging in politics. There is no need for anyone else to engage in politics. He is engaging in politics both at home and abroad. Our duty is to support the leader in this country,” Bulut, Erdoğan’s chief economy adviser, said during a program on state television TRT Haber on June 14.'

'Bulut, a former news anchor and editor-in-chief of the private broadcaster 24 TV, was appointed as then-Prime Minister Erdoğan’s chief adviser in July 2013 during which time he unraveled a vast and nefarious international conspiracy to assassinate Erdoğan “using telekinesis.” After Erdoğan’s election as president in August 2014, he was appointed as his chief adviser on economics.'

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Damien Sullivan

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