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grapefruit is weird


Article via conuly.

* citrus genetics were weird and messy, if you didn't know that already.

* grapefruit is a feral hybrid discovered in Barbados, halfway around the world from Citrus Central.

* As you should learn if you don't know already, grapefruit has lots of drug interactions. Seems that's indirect: grapefruit disables stomach enzymes that normally break down most of an oral medication, so if you take the drug within 12 hours of grapefruit, you get much more drug than the prescription calls for. It can also disable some drug transporter proteins that bring things (like drugs) into cells, so in those cases you get less drug than expected.

* Tylenol is one of the drugs, though I'm not sure which class. I assume the second, from the lack of more strident recommendations not to mix them, because it's already too easy to OD on Tylenol.

* All the bitter pomelo derivatives have that effect, but you're "unlikely" to consume enough lime or sour orange for it to hurt, and I assume sweet orange doesn't have enough pomelo heritage, or didn't inherit the right genes. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/570103.html#comments


homelessness in US and Japan

The US feds claim 500,000 homeless people in the US; outside counters claim 1.5 million. (Wikipedia, numbers a few years old and different years.)

Japan, with 1/3 the population, claims 25,000 homeless people at the 2003 peak and 5,000 in 2018.

I don't know anything about comparative methodology, or homeless specific policies; I do know Japanese zoning, and it's much closer to a 'free market' in housing than the US has seen since 1930. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/569619.html#comments


happy happy crossover

Leaf on the wind
Falling so fast
Like fragile fireflies
Drifting in a storm
See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/569404.html#comments

Prydain feudal oppression

I've forgotten this, or somehow passed it over.

On the little farm, while Taran and Coll saw to the plowing, sowing, weeding, reaping, and all the other tasks of husbandry, Dallben undertook the meditating, an occupation so exhausting he could accomplish it only by lying down and closing his eyes. He meditated an hour and a half following breakfast and again later in the day. The clatter from the forge had roused him from his morning meditation;

Like damn, that feels like Pratchett level commentary. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/569147.html#comments


Tolkien queer humor


‘But what about this Frodo that lives with him?’ asked Old Noakes of Bywater. ‘Baggins is his name, but he’s more than half a Brandybuck, they say. It beats me why any Baggins of Hobbiton should go looking for a wife away there in Buckland, where folks are so queer.’

Anyway: there was this Mr. Frodo left an orphan and stranded, as you might say, among those queer Bucklanders, being brought up anyhow in Brandy Hall. A regular warren, by all accounts. Old Master Gorbadoc never had fewer than a couple of hundred relations in the place. Mr. Bilbo never did a kinder deed than when he brought the lad back to live among decent folk.

Farmer Maggot, a short ride from Buckland:

‘Then I’ll tell you what to think,’ said Maggot. ‘You should never have gone mixing yourself up with Hobbiton folk, Mr. Frodo. Folk are queer up there.’ See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/569060.html#comments


40 hour week job

A friend of mine linked to https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=907720996370834&id=100013988260274 which is world-viewable, but basically is someone saying they can't balance a job with dinner, exercise, a clean apartment, and weekends, and someone else saying you're not meant to, 40 hour jobs were 'meant' to have a homemaker.

longCollapse ) See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/568718.html#comments


fire lizard ostriches

So, you've read the Pern books. Five colors of dragon and fire lizard, reliably matched to sex and to reproductive strategy, at least for females. Gold fire lizards lay clutches and watch over them, green fire lizards just lay them and run. Kind of weird, like drudge classism for fire lizards, right?

Or not! https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/wir-dragonriders-of-pern-spoilers.859004/post-23249907

I have my own headcanon about fire lizard breeding practices. Their clutches are HUGE: dozens of eggs, up to fifty in F'nor's clutch. Menolly can hold three eggs in one hand while climbing. A tiny fire lizard queen couldn't possibly lay thirty or more eggs of that size in a few hours or days. They would weigh far more than she does.

Ostriches have an unusual reproductive strategy. A dominant pair will make a nest and the dominant female will lay up to a dozen eggs. Other females in the area will add their own eggs, which may or may not have been fertilized by the dominant male. The dominant pair doesn't object to the additions, which can bring the total number of eggs in the nest up to 60. The female, who can recognize her own eggs, makes sure they're in the middle and pushes out some of the excess, then the long incubation begins. The extra eggs reduce the chance that a predator will steal all the dominant's eggs. The secondary females have a small chance of surviving offspring without putting in any work. Everybody wins!

A gold fire lizard only lays a dozen eggs, with the rest of the clutch contributed by greens. They're not lazy or stupid, any more than a cuckoo is lazy or stupid for abandoning her eggs. When greens get their eggs in a gold's nest, the eggs get a measure of protection from a larger fire lizard who can command her fair to help. The queen allows it because she puts her own eggs at the center, where they are less vulnerable to tunnel snakes. And when the eggs hatch, the queen's hatchlings have a better survival rate because of their size and strength. Again, everybody wins. Sometimes a green can't find a willing gold's nest. They make their own, smaller nests and abandon them to fate.

And then, even better, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side-blotched_lizard

"it turns out that there's a real-world example, the side-blotched lizards, who have three types of male and two types of female, each of which has a different reproductive strategy and is helpfully color-coded to match:"

Orange-throated males are "ultra-dominant, high testosterone", who establish large territories and control areas that contain multiple females. Yellow stripe-throated males ("sneakers") do not defend a territory, but cluster on the fringes of orange-throated lizard territories, and mate with the females on those territories while the orange-throat is absent, as the territory to defend is large. Blue-throated males are less aggressive and guard only one female; they can fend off the yellow stripe-throated males but cannot withstand attacks by orange-throated males.

Orange-throated females lay many small eggs and are very territorial. Yellow-throated females lay fewer, larger eggs, and are more tolerant of each other.[4]

Now, none of that matches fire lizards all that closely, even the two female strategies are different from the ostrich or inferred green/gold division. And the males don't match up, even if we assume there's 'control' of green females by brown or bronze fire lizards. (Golds are clearly in charge when around.) But five color-coded strategies? Neat.

As presented the male fire lizards seem pretty redundant. I did speculate about blues doing more fishing than others, and being camouflaged from prey fish or predator wherries. Alternatively they might be using handicap principle sexiness: "Sure the bronze is big and flies high, but I'm so quick and clever that I can thrive despite looking like a flying sapphire, mate with me."

Tempted to say that bronze/brown is a human distinction, and browns are just bronzes who didn't grow as big.

You could do more if it weren't so clear that fire lizards had colors fixed at hatching, like browns becoming bronzes and dominant if they're the biggest male around.

The wiki tells me that 'modern' fire lizards are actually feral engineered organisms that displaced their wild progenitor; the original 'dragonets' were given Mentasynth and other genetic hanges, which may explain why an alien species Impresses to readily on humans. So maybe there was originally a more dynamic color thing that got 'fixed' by the humans.

There's also the question of whether alien compound eyes see color the same way we do... See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/568414.html#comments

Once More With Feeling

I just re-watched the famous Buffy musical episode, after years of listening to the soundtrack. It's still fun and good as a coherent whole.

It did occur to me that Giles' reaction to Buffy's depression, "turn away to force her to stand on her own", is probably terrible. I guess it makes sense if he thought she was being 'detached' or 'lazy' or something, and not 'depressed'.

Xander no.

I've never re-watched the later seasons. Part of me is thinking "apart from the amnesia episode, it's all downhill from here." See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/568283.html#comments


Smokey the Bear State

Living in Indiana, Massachusetts, and Japan, I've missed the growing west coast fire seasons over the years. Had a few summer visits, but missed any fumes. Had covid not happened, I would probably have moved somewhere by summer -- Montreal perhaps, being cooler and cheaper than other humid alternatives while my job hunt continued. (Then again, had covid not happened, I might have a job, which might add other constraints.)

But covid did happen, and I'm still hiding in LA, and as the summer went I thought maybe I'd gotten lucky. Or that the state had burned itself out last year.


LA was escaping the Bay Area fires for a while; I saw a big "thundercloud" from an Azusa ranch a few weeks ago but it didn't seem to affect overall air quality. Now, though, it's bad. Not sure how bad, online sources very a lot (my phone weather apps are very cheerful, aqicn predicts 400+ dooms that never happen.)

The outside air has definitely smelled smoky the last few days, though varying: stronger at noon, weaker at 5pm. Just as notable was the light: 5 pm a couple days ago didn't smell, but looked very weird, what I assume is from the total diffusion of light. Yesterday I saw a bar of red light through the kitchen window -- at 3pm, long before sunset.

Through the magic of Amazon, I now have an air purifier. I'd about DIY ones, where you get a 20" filter and a box fan, but just getting a True HEPA purifier wasn't that much more, and at an alleged 5 pounds I thought it might even be portable if I moved, though it looks and feels more substantial in person. I have no idea if it's helping; my first reaction is that I'm smelling plastic from the newly unboxed thing... See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/567869.html#comments


what if: a fast moon

Phobos, the lower moon of Mars, has an orbital period under 8 hours, so from the surface it looks much like a artificial satellite of Earth: over the course of a night it rises in the west, sails across the sky, and sets in the east. In fact it does so twice. Nothing in Earth's natural sky is so quick and regular, and I find myself wondering how astronomy and astrology might have been different if we'd had a Phobos. Not very productive wondering, but still. I suppose it might have been a nocturnal timepiece.

The fact that it really obviously moves west to east seems like it might have had some effect, compared to everything else rising in the east. (The Moon moves eastward over the course of the month[1], but that may be less obvious.)

The other moon, Deimos, has a 30 hour period, slower than Mars's day, so it rises in the east. But it should move quite visibly against the stars, and it takes a couple days to set for a Martian observer.

Wondering about all this reminded me of my old wondering whether the local presence of monkeys, an obvious link between humans and animals, had an effect on Eastern religions.

[1] Over the course of a night the moon moves east to west, like the sun and stars. But night to night, the moon at dusk starts over the western horizon as a waxing crescent, moves overhead as a waxing half, and appears over the eastern horizon as a full moon. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/567597.html#comments

aphantasia check

(Pasting from a registration-only forum)

I've seen discussions here and elsewhere about aphantasia, the inability to have mental imagery. One thing that strikes me is that they've been mostly about reading fiction, about whether some of us are having a mental movie playing as we read. It's the sort of unreachable subjective experience that's hard to compare, leaving open the possibility that at least some people are having the same experience I am but labelling it differently: I would say I have imagery, but also that it's vague and ghostlike, not at all like hallucinating a full color experience. (I'm also not sure how much I spontaneously 'movie' my fiction, vs. sometimes making a deliberate effort to visualize a scene.)

But there are things I do with my imagery which have measurable outcomes. Most trivially and accessibly, I can play out a game of tic-tac-toe in my head, or play it blindfold, and I would be indeed visualizing a board and 'seeing' whether rows are completed, not doing math on a list of coordinates. I can imagine trying to play blindfold chess though I expect I would be overwhelmed by the detail[1]. I can do multi-digit multiplication or long division in my head much as I would on paper, 'writing' the numbers on mental scratch paper and remembering their positions. I've discovered geometry proofs in my head, and I can run a simple orrery of Earth and Moon motions around the Sun, to explain why the phases of the Moon look the way they do or why most artificial satellites rise in the west.

So for aphantasia people... are these things you simply can't even attempt? Or would you do them differently? I can maybe imagine less visual approaches to the arithmetic, and maybe a numeric coordinate-based approach to tic-tac-toe or even chess, but the others seem inherently visual. Naively, asking whether you can do visual tasks seems more definitive than asking how vivid imagery is.

[1] Chess masters are said to rely on high level functional grouping of pieces, and the experiment behind that is somewhat relevant: asked to look at a board and reconstruct it from memory, they do quite well if it's from a real game and thus makes sense, but on random boards they do no better than the rest of us. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/567505.html#comments

sotd: december of cambreadth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvRySNgS_Hs See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/566881.html#comments


legalizing affordable housing

Sightline has a bunch of related article if you explore before and after links, but I'll call out two:

https://www.sightline.org/2012/12/03/emancipating-the-rooming-house/ on allowing rooming houses again (previous link is on their history), and Japan's capsule hotels as a modernized version of the old flophouse.

https://www.sightline.org/2013/01/16/servants-welcome-roommates-barred/ Perhaps the high point of a series on occupancy limits and how utterly unjustifiable they are.

Some quotes, not necessarily from those two articles:

(Racist hypocrisy of minimum space requirements) "you might expect sweeping changes in many kinds of crowded, residential buildings: military barracks, college dormitories, summer camps, prisons, single-family homes with many children, lumber camps, and crew quarters aboard ships. But the rule did not apply to these categories of housing. It applied only in neighborhoods where Chinese immigrants lived"

"In 1909, San Francisco banned most cubicle-style hotels, which was a common form of cheap lodging for itinerant workers and others on very tight budgets. The city rationalized the policy as a fire safety precaution. Had fire safety actually been the goal, the city would have demanded fire escapes, fire-slowing walls at certain intervals, and fire doors. Cubicles remained perfectly legal for offices and workshops across the city, but for sleeping? That became a code violation."

"The law now prohibits the demolition of any SROs that remain, while building codes make it impossible to build any new ones."

Why capsule hotels would be illegal here: "The “rooms” are much too small: habitable rooms may not be less than 7 x 7 feet in Seattle, for example; sleeping rooms must be bigger still. ... The hotels do not provide off-street parking for each room, and some of the hotels do not have enough bathrooms per room to satisfy Northwest codes (typically one per eight units). The “rooms” themselves — the capsules — are code-enforcers’ nightmares: among other things, they lack the windows, fire-safe doors, smoke detectors, and closets required of each legal bedroom in most Northwest cities. Yet Japan has many such hotels, and Japan’s fire-safety record is better than the United States’s."

occupancy limits have nothing to do with crowding: "Ten unrelated people in Meridian, Idaho, can share either a 20-bedroom mansion or a studio apartment, but eleven unrelated people may not live in either."

"Scraped clean of rationalizations, roommate caps are simple. They are tools that privileged people use to exclude from their neighborhoods people without much money, such as immigrants and students." See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/566717.html#comments


watermarking ebooks

I've bought RPG PDFs. They're never DRMed, but from DriveThruRPG they're allegedly watermarked.

I've bought DRM-free ebooks. Watermarking isn't mentioned, but I wonder if you could. I assume you could stow an extra blob in an EPUB file. What would you stow?

  'customer': "Jane Doe",
  'title': "This book is awesome",

Encrypt that with a publisher secret key, stick it in the EPUB.

What does that get you? If someone is lazy and uploads their book to public places, you know where it came from. (You don't know for sure they did it -- maybe a hacker plundered their hard drive.) The encryption means someone can't forge an upload, pretending it came from someone else. The salt complicates known-plaintext attacks trying to recover the secret key.

Most ebooks have at least one image, the cover. You could use steganography to stash the blob there; it's encrypted text so should fit. Given that it's an encrypted blob, people may have trouble knowing whether you did anything at all, until you reveal your process.

After which, non-lazy pirates could delete the blob, or scramble where you're hiding the cover image. The watermark is hardly foolproof. But it's cheap. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/566414.html#comments


Had my first salad -- non-cooked lettuce -- in months. Figured I'd listen to "food isn't much of a risk". Actually I'm mostly interested in what happens when I put the lettuce head in water, but I figured I should eat at least some of it! Green leaf, bottled balsamic vinaigrette, black beans, cashews. Oh, and scallions, though I could barely notice them. Sadly my local market is too downmarket to carry any tomatoes other than US Generic unless I've been overlooking them for months. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/566066.html#comments



Have continued to make roast garlic.

Have tried to make peanut sauce and yellow curry. The former seems relatively straightforward: peanut butter + water (for consitency) plus various flavorings. I have no access to curry paste so the curry was a bit more ad hoc: coconut milk, turmeric, "Thai spice mix", chipotle and Sichuan pepper, with pork stew meat simmering in it.

My personal laptop is in a storage unit and has been since I started traveling in 2018. I thought I had its contents on an external hard drive, but I think I must have done something wrong with an rm command, because I don't. So no acccess to my fansubbed anime or RPG PDFs. I did have my music on my phone; I only just got to extracting all that onto my work laptop (now my new personal laptop, half the weight) and thence to the backup drive. Yay, I can listen to more than a dozen things on my laptop now!

I've re-read a bunch of the Twelve Kingdoms novels, and read The Children of Sanchez

Finally exchanged phone numbers with one of my housemates, so things are a bit friendlier there. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/565774.html#comments


a few long links

On phonics vs. cueing in teaching kids to read. Fairly long. I find it baffling that alteratives to phonics were ever seriously considered. What do people think the alphabet is for? Mapping letters to sounds in a composable way is the entire point!

Old urbanism vs. sprawl in Bellevue Kentucky. Not too long. Makes the point that old walkable mixed use neighborhoods aren't just nice, they're more economically efficient -- more tax value, less infrastructure expense.

Two pieces by the same guy on covid-19 aerial transmission and hygiene theater. People should worry less about sterilizing surfaces and more about not breathing each other's air.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/scourge-hygiene-theater/614599/ See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/565744.html#comments

pastrami and gyoza

My local market sells commercial packets of pastrami and roast beef, $9/14 oz. Compared to the kielbasa at $2.50 for 14 oz, expensive. But I can make a sizable pastrami sandwich for like $3, compared to $9 at the downtown lunch places in Boston. And I can't tell much difference between this pastrami heated up and "real" pastrami.

The beef OTOH is grayish-brown, not reddish. May actually taste better chilled from the fridge rather than microwaved.

One thing I've bemoaned about Highland Park life is the lack of Asian options. Not a lot to walk to, not much in the stores. OTOH I finally, finally, found in the freezer a big pack of chicken and vegetable gyoza. There's no choice, it's the only one, but it's there. Yay! Also a box of egg rolls.

The gyoza comes with sauce packets, though fewer than I expected. Tonight I made my own: soy sauce, sriracha, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, Sichuan papper. Oooh, I forgot to add ginger powder. Still tasted pretty good.

Pork has been cheap at the market. Last trip it was super cheap: pork steak or something, I forget the cut, for $0.99 cents a pound. That's scary cheap. I found a packet dated for the 16th rather than the 13th, but still, it was starting to smell a bit whiffy yesterday, on the second batch, and really off today, when I tossed the remaining half. Was still a decent deal at that price... :O The fridge has been having trouble, whether inherent or because the A/C was off and the kitchen was hitting 85 F, so I don't know if the pork was already on the edge of going or if it got pushed over by sitting at 50 F for a day or something. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/565389.html#comments


Central Appalachian economy


A 2017 longform article that I just got around to reading, on the economic abuse of West Virginia/central Appalachia. Outcomes: high poverty, low income, low education, higher mortality, higher opioids...

It's an absentee extractive regime, like many colonies. Mines are owned by outside companies, coal wasn't taxed by the state until the 1970s, tons of profit simply exported. Quintessential company towns: workers living in company housing, paid in script, stuff with overpriced company stores. (Maybe less so now, but significant history.) Classist and underfunded schools. Public pays in pollution and land degradation, and now subsidizes the coal companies with outright money.

'Mullins made the National Honors Society. But in eighth grade, an administrator had talked him out of taking the advanced-track classes, telling him his course load looked like too much work for him to handle. Not that he needed much of a push—those classes were filled with the coal-boss kids, who bullied anyone whose dad actually entered a mine.'

'She told her mother she would go anywhere that had at least one stoplight.'

'They come from where even a community college is mostly unheard of. Especially thinking you could move away to a university—that’s not even in the realm of possibility.' See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/565063.html#comments


Damien Sullivan

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  • 17 Aug 2019, 04:45
    I use Yardley's English Lavender soap, and a bar lasts a good long while.
  • 19 Sep 2018, 20:20
    The block south of me is the 400s, whereas mine has addresses like 17-11.

    Ah, gobbled up in the rift, no doubt.
  • 10 Sep 2018, 20:14
    The most systematic way I have is working through a tutorial for the language.

    A couple years ago I'd been working on what I called Language Reference Suites, which were big blobs of code doing…
  • 10 Sep 2018, 20:10
    No, but my roommates had a cat that would stalk and attack me.
  • 10 Sep 2018, 15:26
    Do you have some systematic way of learning a new coding language, or characterizing it for reference as you learn it?
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