Monday, October 20th, 2014 10:34 pm
post-tags: instagram, crosspost Decoding the Creative Process. Similar to deciding it. #ferranadria #scienceandcooking
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 09:47 am
"Intimate Touch" by angstytimelord
PAIRING: Will Graham/Sherlock Holmes
FANDOM: Hannibal/Sherlock
RATING: PG-13
SUMMARY: Based upon prompt 30: Touch.

Has just been added to Sherlock Holmes Slash and is listed on the new stories page and the other pairings page.

Crossposted to Chance's Archive.

Free Kindle Books.
Monday, October 20th, 2014 10:37 pm

crappy | melancholy | sad | distressed | pensive

sympathetic | angry | contemplative | numb | cynical
Monday, October 20th, 2014 03:14 pm

[dw-free]

6f135a2: Issue #961: Correct rename token email link format
Fix email message to use correct URL when buying a rename token.
6cccfdc: Issue #826: make admin tool to revoke and xfer rename tokens
Implement console command to revoke a rename token.
9da835c: Issue #665: Convert /entry/new to Foundation
Convert the beta New Entry page to use Foundation/SCSS.
fdb2098: Issue #977: Enable non-logged-in users to post from the new entry page
Open up /entry/new to logged out users.
10fe0fb: Issue #984: perldoc and DW::FormErrors don't play nice.
Whitespace changes to the DW::FormErrors module for the sake of perldoc.
57ff899: Issue #986: create errors component which accepts DW::FormErrors objects
Create an errors component for TT files that don't yet use Foundation.
61ff57c: Issue #986: create errors component which accepts DW::FormErrors objects
Add CSS styling for alert-box on non-Foundation pages.
8d7f3c1: Issue #963: Convert htdocs/support/submit.bml and associated widget to use TT and a controller
Convert support/submit from BML+widget to controller+TT.
34bc6f5: Issue #990: Finish stripping views/rename/swap.tt
English-strip text in /rename/swap.

[dw-nonfree]

257b13e: Issue #665: Convert /entry/new to Foundation
Remove code-color override in Tropo SCSS.
dd751e4: Issue #665: Convert /entry/new to Foundation
Fix top (masthead/navigation) bar in Tropo SCSS.
9424b07: Issue #84: Tweak the github bot labelling behavior
Let the bot set curated labels, and don't unlabel newly created issues.
8f7b76a: Issue #986: create errors component which accepts DW::FormErrors objects
Add CSS styling for alert-box on non-Foundation pages.
Monday, October 20th, 2014 08:24 pm
* posted ebay parcels
* picked up train tickets
* cycling diary
Monday, October 20th, 2014 02:22 pm

Banner with seven circles and a price tag in the second one, reading 'Seven Years, Seven Wonders, Organization for Transformative Works, October 19-26 2014 Membership Drive'

Do you remember the first moment you searched the internet for that thing you loved and found out there was a fandom for it? The first time you picked up a fanzine, or saw an amazing piece of fanart for that ship you didn't even know you needed? So do we! The OTW was built entirely by fans — fans who wanted to hold onto that spark of fannish wonder, share it with others, and make sure it would never go out.

Here in the OTW, fandom is our fandom. There's nothing we celebrate more than fans themselves, and fandom in all its forms. We do what we do out of love — and there's nothing more rewarding than to see the Organization and its projects flourishing, growing exponentially every year.

With growth comes a lot of hard work. The OTW is run entirely by volunteers: over 500 fans worldwide donate their time to bring our projects to you, to preserve and document fanworks and fan culture, and to keep the organization up and running. From coders to wranglers, translators to lawyers, directors to academics — each of us dedicates countless hours every month to this passion. The AO3 alone has a huge codebase, which took an estimated effort of 22 person-years to build — this would amount to over US$1 million in salaries according to open source tracker Openhub! The infographic below can give you some idea of the work that goes into keeping the OTW and its projects together.

2014 By the Numbers: 283 bugs fixed and features implemented at AO3, 1,868 AO3 Abuse reports submitted, and 98% resolved, 4,370 tickets sent to AO3 Support with 97% resolved, 7,756 works preserved on AO3 by Open Doors, 20 surveys deployed by Strategic Planning to help plot our course for the next 3 years, 260 issues resolved by Systems while maintaining OTW's infrastructure, 16,173 fandoms managed by 171 tag wranglers, 202 new staff and volunteers added making 527 volunteers total, 108 issues reported and fixed on transformativeworks.org, 671,894 words translated by our translation volunteers into 19 languages

To keep on doing all this work and grow even more, we need your help! The OTW depends on your donations, so please consider supporting us with a donation of US$10 or more. Our goal for this drive is US$70,000 to celebrate the OTW's 7 years of existence. Please help us meet this goal today!

Monday, October 20th, 2014 11:58 am

<looks at subject line> Apparently I’m in a weird mood today. :-P

Found out recently that a friend of mine is running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the post-production for a documentary on the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. Why the post-production only? Because they ran a Kickstarter to raise the money for the whole project, but so many of their pledges defaulted that although they officially made their goal and then some, they didn’t actually collect all the money they needed to finish the task. They’ve been traveling the country to film and interview the various casts, and the result is likely to be awesome . . . but they do need the rest of their funding. Since it’s an IndieGoGo flexible funding campaign, every bit of money you pledge will help — it isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.

And while I’m at it, I should mention that both the Not Our Kind and Daughters of Mercury campaigns are still running, if you haven’t checked them out already.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Monday, October 20th, 2014 11:28 am
Banner with seven circles and a price tag in the second one, reading 'Seven Years, Seven Wonders, Organization for Transformative Works, October 19-26 2014 Membership Drive'

Our volunteers save fandom countless salary hours but everyone needs to do their part – make a donation today!

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Monday, October 20th, 2014 01:25 pm
- recent reading
I bailed on Wendy Thorpe Copley's Everyday Bento because the title LIES. I should have realized it from the cover [Amazon listing], which shows those cutesy bits of food done up in shapes and stuff. Let me tell you, I remember taking sandwiches cut out in the shape of hearts to school when I was in high school and it was embarrassing. Oh, Mom. :) Anyway, while I have developed an interest in bento (the boxes! adorable geometrical compartments!), I still hate cooking and want to do easy food, not complicated decorative preparations that will be wasted on the audience anyway.

Ann Leckie. Ancillary Sword. (This is the nonspoilery writeup; long, spoilery analysis here.) This is the sequel to Leckie's Ancillary Justice, and it is more complex, more ambitious, and aggressively more successful than its (already pretty good) prequel. It's like everything suddenly pulled together. (Not that I am privy to Leckie's writing process!)

Sword follows up on the events of Justice, but at heart it is an exploration of the foundational problems that plague the Radch. I can't say much more without additionally spoiling Justice. But it's worth reading Justice (which, again, was good, but not as good) to get to Sword.

- recent viewing
Hellsing Ultimate ep. 1. So back in college Joe and I watched the first Hellsing anime, which was both weirdly inappropriate, weirdly stylish, and gory as all get-out, and then later I got seven volumes into the manga before getting rid of it because I was afraid baby!lizard would stumble onto it (she was a climber) and be SCARRED FOR LIFE. Hellsing features vampires, gore, at least one Nazi werewolf, gore, loving and improbable portrayals of blasphemous (or blessed, depending) guns, gore, big-breasted female characters, gore, evil vs. evil, a crapsack universe, fanservice, gore, a demented portrayal of Catholics vs. Anglicans, gore, airships, gore, and...well, you get the idea. What I'm trying to say is that while I enjoy this for what it is--and indeed, all the versions of animanga Hellsing that I am familiar with advertise what they are up front, unrepentantly--it is not remotely in good taste.

My memories of the original Hellsing anime are hazy, but I seem to recall there being more filler and a rather unsatisfactory ending arc involving some kind of shaman making threats against Sir Integra Hellsing. (I believe it was [personal profile] londonkds who informed me that they get all the peerage title things wrong; or it might have been someone else, sorry my memory is so bad! As an American, I can't, er, tell the difference [edit] between nobility titles [end edit] without being explicitly reminded.) The manga was complete crack, but complete crack apparently building toward some kind of arc; unfortunately, since I bailed seven volumes in (there are apparently ten total?) I have no idea how that ended.

Anyway, Joe and I decided we were curious about this, so we gave it a try. This appears to be following more along the lines of the manga--which makes me hopeful that I will get a glimpse of the manga's ending--and is just as gory, cracky, and inappropriate as I thought it would be. But again, the show doesn't try to hide what it is, so I can deal. There are no characters so far that achieve any better than dark gray and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. But hey, it's only ten episodes (one hour each) so we will probably continue watching.
Monday, October 20th, 2014 05:03 pm

Posted by John Scalzi

“It’s all beautiful and nothing lasts.” It’s a phrase that showed up in a dream of mine last night, as something I said to my wife as we were crossing a street in a big city. The street was where her father’s family’s farm used to be, in the dream — something that had some resonance in the real world, as her father’s family’s farm is now part of the Dayton International Airport. The dream me made the comment not about the farm in particular, but about life in general, prompted by the farm turned city street.

And it’s a true statement. All of it is beautiful, and it doesn’t last. I’m old enough now to be at the point where I see the movement of life, and me through it, to see people I like and love pass away and to see people I like and love grow up and become who they are. People move, stay and move again; houses become homes, and homes become vacant houses once more. Strangers become friends and sometimes become strangers again. Life happens and it’s a gorgeous thing — all of it, even the annoying parts — and it doesn’t last. It’s all temporary and doesn’t stay.

Before you ask: I’m fine. Everyone around me is fine. Even my pets are fine. Indeed, generally speaking, life is very good. If I had to peg a predicate cause for any of this, it would be going to a memorial service of a distant relative yesterday, who I knew only from family reunions, and coming across a comment in a discussion thread from my friend Jay Lake, which because it was part of a back and forth with several other people, momentarily gave the illusion that he was still with us, alive and engaged. But I think it’s just simply more that I’m now aware that life moves, and I do too.

One thing I think is worth noting is how my brain phrased the statement: “It’s all beautiful and nothing lasts.” This is a qualitatively different statement than it would have been if the dream version of me had said “it’s beautiful but nothing lasts.” That to me feels defeatist — what’s the point of acknowledging the beauty of life if it just goes away. That fact that it doesn’t last is why you should acknowledge it: it won’t stay, it will be gone and you will be gone, too. But while you live, that beauty exists and it is there for you to love and cherish, and to be a part of and to add to if you can.

It won’t last. Nothing lasts. But it’s here, and you should be here for it, and in it.

Thank you for being part of it, in this moment. I appreciate it, and the moment we’re sharing. I hope you do too.


Monday, October 20th, 2014 10:00 am

The 20th anniversary HD remake of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers came out last week.

This is one of the few video game series I’ve ever really fallen in love with. It had drama! Character development! Random trivia about real-world history! My sister introduced me to it, and sat with me during my first playthrough, offering advice and possibly taking the controls from me when I couldn’t get past that one mummy in the mound. So, naturally, when I heard the HD remake was coming out, I a) bought her a copy as a gift and b) invited her over for a slumber party/playthrough evening.

First things first: the voices are different. Apparently they lost the original recordings in the intervening twenty years, and the result they got from stripping the audio out of the game files was not good enough. And I’m guessing they could no longer afford the services of Tim Curry and Mark Hamill. I was very apprehensive about this, because Tim Curry’s terrible Nawlins accent is such a memorable part of the game; what would it be like without him?

The answer is, much the same. They did an excellent job of casting voice actors who could match the sound of their predecessors. There were a few lines where I remembered the original intonation enough to cock my head at the difference, but the rest of the time, I forgot I was listening to a new voice. I’m sure that if I did a side-by-side comparison of the two, I would find places where the HD version is lacking, but it passes muster on its own — which is what really matters.

Things that are distinctly improved: the graphics! (Duh.) Holy crap, you can tell what things are. There are books in cases and bottles on shelves, rather than indistinct blobs on horizontal lines. Gram’s house has wallpaper! Rugs have patterns! It’s not the highest-quality graphics and animation — in particular, there’s the creepy thing where people’s mouths seem to be moving independently of their faces when they talk — but it’s a massive improvement over the old look. They’ve also changed up the gameplay a bit: the mime is still a pain in the ass, but getting past that one mummy just involves grasping the general principle of “you need to dodge,” rather than having to move to exactly the right spot, wait exactly the right amount of time, move again, wait again, and then finally break for the door. And the #@$@!!! beignet guy? IS GONE. Replaced by a much less Rube Goldberg-y solution to “how do I get into Mosely’s office?” (And a really creepy moment, too, which I don’t remember from the original.) There are a couple of new puzzles to balance out the simplification of the old ones: a lever puzzle in Magentia Moonbeam’s house that isn’t nearly as difficult as it might have been, a minor unlocking thing in the Gedde crypt.

Some of the changes are amusing. I opened the window in Schloss Ritter and was perplexed to see that the pile of snow had vanished, replaced by a puddle on the windowsill — until my sister pointed out that it’s late June and really, why was there ever snow there in the first place? Gerde no longer looks like she ought to be serving beer at Oktoberfest. Gabriel says “fuck” a few times, and I’m pretty damned sure that’s new. Other things I’m less sure of; weren’t you able to go to your grandmother’s house on Day One before? And you find the sketchbook there? I’m pretty sure the priest’s collar used to be in the vestry; possibly that got moved because the placement of hotspots would have made the door we think was the vestry too difficult to click on. And I wonder how much of the dialogue was changed, apart from Gabriel swearing. They’ve definitely altered the pronunciation of several of the voodoo-related terms (presumably to make them more accurate), and I think they may have added in some more context about things like the racial politics of Malia’s family being so influential in New Orleans.

Mostly it’s the same, though, with better graphics and a score that no longer sounds quite so MIDI. I’ll probably look at the original version again before I decide, but it’s entirely possible that this will become my preferred version to play. It’s nice to have the game look less primitive, and I will put up with a lot just to avoid that mummy and the stupid beignet guy. :-P

The real question is this: what now? Apparently Sierra was revived recently; they have a shiny website and everything, complete with what looks like a teaser for a new King’s Quest game. Will there be remakes of The Beast Within and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned? Redoing the former would be interesting, seeing as how they’d probably have to just scrap the FMV entirely and redo the entire thing as standard point-and-click, but you could probably rebuild the latter quite easily, with some off-the-shelf 3D engine that would blow the original one out of the water.

Or — dare I dream — might we finally get a fourth game?

I’m trying not to get my hopes up. But if this remake sells well . . . who knows? :-)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Monday, October 20th, 2014 02:00 pm

Posted by Sarah Wanenchak

In truth, I didn’t pay a tremendous amount of attention to iOS8 until a post scrolled by on my Tumblr feed, which disturbed me a good deal: The new iteration of Apple’s OS included “Health”, an app that – among many other things – contains a weight tracker and a calorie counter.

And can’t be deleted.

1 (3) - Copy

Okay, so why is this a big deal? Pretty much all “health” apps include those features. I have one (third-party). A lot of people have one. They can be very useful. Apple sticking non-removable apps into its OS is annoying, but why would it be something worth getting up in arms over? This is where it becomes a bit difficult to explain, and where you’re likely to encounter two kinds of people (somewhat oversimplified, but go with me here). One group will react with mild bafflement. The other will immediately understand what’s at stake.

The Health app is literally dangerous, specifically to people dealing with/in recovery from eating disorders and related obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Obsessive weight tracking and calorie counting are classic symptoms. These disorders literally kill people. A lot of people. Apple’s Health app is an enabler of this behavior, a temptation to fall back into self-destructive habits. The fact that it can’t be deleted makes it worse by orders of magnitude.

So why can’t people just not use it? Why not just hide it? That’s not how obsessive-compulsive behavior works. One of the nastiest things about OCD symptoms – and one of the most difficult to understand for people who haven’t experienced them – is the fact that a brain with this kind of chemical imbalance can and will make you do things you don’t want to do. That’s what “compulsive” means. Things you know you shouldn’t do, that will hurt you. When it’s at its worst it’s almost impossible to fight, and it’s painful and frightening. I don’t deal with disordered eating, but my messed-up neurochemistry has forced me to do things I desperately didn’t want to do, things that damaged me. The very presence of this app on a device is a very real threat (from post linked above):

Whilst of course the app cannot force you to use it, it cannot be deleted, so will be present within your apps and can be a source of feelings of temptation to record numbers and of guilt and judgement for not using the app.

Apple doesn’t hate people with eating disorders. They probably weren’t thinking about people with eating disorders at all. That’s the problem.

Then this weekend another post caught my attention: The Health app doesn’t include the ability to track menstrual cycles, something that’s actually kind of important for the health of people who menstruate. Again: so? Apple thinks a number of other forms of incredibly specific tracking were important enough to include:

In case you’re wondering whether Health is only concerned with a few basics: Apple has predicted the need to input data about blood oxygen saturation, your daily molybdenum or pathogenic acid intake, cycling distance, number of times fallen and your electrodermal activity, but nothing to do with recording information about your menstrual cycle.

Again: Apple almost certainly doesn’t actively hate cisgender women, or anyone else who menstruates. They didn’t consider including a cycle tracker and then went “PFFT SCREW WOMEN.” They probably weren’t thinking about women at all.

During the design phase of this OS, half the world’s population was probably invisible. The specific needs of this half of the population were folded into an unspecified default. Which doesn’t – generally – menstruate.

I should note that – of course – third-party menstrual cycle tracking apps exist. But people have problems with these (problems I share), and it would have been nice if Apple had provided an escape from them:

There are already many apps designed for tracking periods, although many of my survey respondents mentioned that they’re too gendered (there were many complaints about colour schemes, needless ornamentation and twee language), difficult to use, too focused on conceiving, or not taking into account things that the respondents wanted to track.

Both of these problems are part of a larger design issue, and it’s one we’ve talked about before, more than once. The design of things – pretty much all things – reflects assumptions about what kind of people are going to be using the things, and how those people are going to use them. That means that design isn’t neutral. Design is a picture of inequality, of systems of power and domination both subtle and not. Apple didn’t consider what people with eating disorders might be dealing with; that’s ableism. Apple didn’t consider what menstruating women might need to do with a health app; that’s sexism.

The fact that the app cannot be removed is a further problem. For all intents and purposes, updating to a new OS is almost mandatory for users of Apple devices, at least eventually. Apple already has a kind of control over a device that’s a bit worrying, blurring the line between owner and user and threatening to replace one with the other. The Health app is a glimpse of a kind of well-meaning but ultimately harmful paternalist approach to design: We know what you need, what you want; we know what’s best. We don’t need to give you control over this. We know what we’re doing.

This isn’t just about failure of the imagination. This is about social power. And it’s troubling.

Sarah Wanenchak is a PhD student at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her current research focuses on contentious politics and communications technology in a global context, particularly the role of emotion mediated by technology as a mobilizing force. She blogs at Cyborgology, where this post originally appearedand you can follow her at @dynamicsymmetry.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

Monday, October 20th, 2014 12:54 pm
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields
Woods or steepy mountain yields

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flower, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
Monday, October 20th, 2014 12:09 pm
One apology can be found here.

Another apology can be found here.

For various reasons, my tolerance for hosting extensive flamewars is somewhat lower than it was two weeks ago, so if I think the conversation here is getting out of hand, I will lock comments down with no warning.
Monday, October 20th, 2014 03:40 pm

Posted by John Scalzi

And they’ve done an unsurprisingly thorough job of it. If you’ve ever wanted to do your own Kickstarter/crowdfunded project, you’re going to want to read this. What I particularly like is that it emphasizes the fact that Kickstarting a project is a tremendous amount of work, which is a thing I think a lot of people gloss over to wallow in the idea of Kickstarter/crowdfunding as this sort of cosmic ATM that just shoots free money at people. Doesn’t quite work that way, folks. Trust the Doubleclicks on this one.