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Posted by Ars Staff

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Monster Hunter's trick—and it's a persuasive one—is to deliver us back to a time when giant lizards trod the Earth, while keeping our current enviable status as masters of the food chain intact. In Jurassic Park, when the dinosaurs escaped their pens, humans became frail prey, cowering in toilets, whispering prayers under trucks. Monster Hunter's vision of the Jurassic-flung human is wildly different. In its reality, we are fearless predators, able to fell a T. rex with little more than a pair of leather sandals, a sword, and a satchel full of health-restoring berries.

For most of its history, the Monster Hunter series has played out this vision on handheld devices, allowing clutches of strangers—Japanese, mostly—to gather in public places and team up to make quick work of the megafauna that roam its bucolic scenes. The series' evergreen popularity in Japan, where handhelds are ubiquitous and where playing video games with strangers on the train, in shopping centres, and at the school canteen is more socially acceptable, has been closely tied to the technology.

The move to consoles (and, at some point, Windows PC) with Monster Hunter: World is a daring one, then. Yet what is lost in portability is obviously made up for in spectacle. In its new, roomy home on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC Monster Hunter has space to flex and sprawl.

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Coming out as a Slytherin

Monday, June 26th, 2017 07:50 am
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Ars Staff

Cecilia Tan is the award-winning fiction author of over 20 books and a co-writer of GEEK ACTUALLY, a fiction serial celebrating fandom, female friendship and sexuality, and the power of online spaces to connect communities. Her new series, The Vanished Chronicles, will launch in 2018 from Tor Books. With Pride London in full swing until July 9 (and concurrently in many other cities around the country), we thought this piece would be rather topical.

It's Pride month, but I have a slightly different story of coming out to tell you. This is the story of how I became a Slytherin. More precisely, it's about how I discovered I already was a Slytherin and how internalized Slytherphobia had me in denial until I found my people.

Going to my first Harry Potter convention was very much like going to my first Pride parade. I loved Harry Potter from the moment I read the very first book, but I didn't fall headlong into the community of fandom until around 2005 when I started reading copious amounts of Harry Potter fanfic online.

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[syndicated profile] peter_black_am_feed
The latest news that sixty tower blocks across England have been found to have unsafe cladding is deeply disturbing. At the time much of this cladding was installed it complied with fire regulations. It appears that this is not the case now. But what about Wales?

In my view there needs to be an urgent review of building regulations so as to ensure that they are fit for purpose and to take account of new construction methods. That is a devolved function so why has the Welsh Government not announced that it is doing this work, or at least given an indication that it will do so once the causes of the fire are better understood?

The Welsh Government has offered reassurance that the material used in cladding schemes on our 36 social housing tower blocks is different to that affixed to the Grenfell Tower, Much of that cladding is mineral based and is therefore non-combustible. And with that information the media has refocused is attention on England. But is that enough?

I do not believe that there is any immediate threat to social tenants living in high rise blocks in Wales but I do think that more work needs to be done to reinforce the assurances that have been given to them. It is vital that tests are carried out immediately on all the materials used in cladding those blocks and the outcome of those tests publicised. Why is so little known about whether this is happening?

Equally as important we need to better understand the way that the cladding has been affixed to these buildings. Experts have said that the fire spread so quickly at the Grenfell Tower because the cladding was affixed to vertical pillars creating effective chimneys that carried the flames upwards. Is that a standard means of carrying out this work? Is that the case in Wales? If so then it may need to be revisited to break up those vertical funnels.

There has been a lot of focus on the 36 social housing towers in Wales and all those who own these buildings have done a lot of work on calming the fears of tenants, but very little seems to be known about other high rise buildings. Housing Associations own a number of towers, including in Swansea. Should they not be publishing the outcome of their investigations?

Seven of these blocks have been retrofitted with sprinkler systems, a tribute to the far-sightedness of the Welsh Assembly in insisting on passing a law requiring sprinklers in all new buildings. But isn't it time that the remaining blocks were also retrofitted in this way? Hard wired smoke alarms and robust safety instructions are important, but if a fire can be snuffed out as soon as it starts then that is invaluable.

There are also a large number of high rise towers in private ownership, many of which contain sub-let flats. Nobody knows what cladding or construction methods have been used on these towers. In many cases the developer would have overseen building regulation approval themselves under a delegated scheme agreed with local councils.

There are also non-residential public buildings containing offices which have been over-clad, not to mention cladding that has been affixed to schools and hospitals.

I do not raise these issues to create any sense of panic. I have no evidence that any of these buildings are at risk. However, I expect the Welsh Government and local councils to be seen putting together an action plan that over a short period of time will examine all these buildings and put in place any action needed to ensure they meet the highest possible safety standards.

We are getting regular updates on what is happening in England with regards to this work. Money is being promised to help to correct any deficiencies. Can we now see the same sense of urgency in Wales?
[syndicated profile] newsarse_feed

Posted by Neil Tollfree

There was relief amongst ministers this morning as they were able to access their World of Warcraft accounts for the first time after the cyber-attack on Parliament last Friday.
[syndicated profile] newsarse_feed

Posted by Gary Stanton

Glastonbury has become a torch-bearer for the free movement of people after erecting a massive fence to keep the hippies out.

Ohio sites hacked with IS message

Monday, June 26th, 2017 04:53 am
[syndicated profile] bbc_technology_news_feed
Governor John Kasich's site is one of those attacked, posting a threat to President Donald Trump.

Ridiculous comment of the day

Monday, June 26th, 2017 03:24 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
In response to this article:

White people are the only reason schools ever desegregated in the first place, so making broad generalizations here doesn't work.

0.0

That's some impressive ignorance there. I just... I don't even... wow. Thurgood Marshall must be absolutely spinning in his grave.

You know, for a not-very-wealthy neighborhood

Monday, June 26th, 2017 12:10 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
we certainly have a lot of classic cars. Not just old cars, but old in very good condition and the sort that even people with no real knowledge of cars (hi!) can say "Wow, that's a nice looking car!" over.

Yesterday when I walked the dogs with Eva, we passed one such car with a front bench seat.

Me: That's a nice car!
Eva: It's weird, it doesn't even have two seats in the front.
Eva: Wait, it has three seats. COOL! So you can have six people in the car! Why don't they do that now?

I didn't know the answer, but here it is. They were an option for much longer than I thought! I'd assumed they were regulated away, but apparently not. Whodathunk? (Random tangent - I wonder which is more common in English, "whodathunk" or "whodathunkit"? Google ngram viewer is completely unhelpful here.)

Anyway, today I saw three nice Cadillacs from the 50s or 60s... though given that they were all together, there was probably a thing they were going to. And last week I ran across an Oldsmobile that I'm pretty sure is from the 40s.

So as you can see, we do have a lot of classic cars in this neighborhood that you might randomly run across.

**********************


Chatter in the deep brain spurs empathy in rats

The day after Sweden switched from driving on the left to driving on the right, 1967 (LOL!)

'50s Ladies in Kodachromes: Looking Back to Women Fashion Over 60 Years Ago

Chickens may illuminate how humans developed sharp daylight vision

The story behind the dark Times Square subway poem (Yo, that's a really long tunnel, btw.)

Mosul celebrates first Eid without Islamic State in years (I didn't know henna was an Iraqi thing, but judging from those pictures I guess so...?)

Eid al-Fitr: What you need to know (Starting this year, NYC schools take off for Eid, but they're doing it tomorrow. And then I think school ends Wednesday. This is typical of the NYC school system. It'd make just as much sense to not take those two random days off in June and then end the year last Friday, but noooooooo. Don't know why I'm complaining, I don't have to deal with that nonsense, anyway.)

Muslims in Asia pray for peace as Ramadan holy month ends (There is a girl in one of those pictures wearing a red hijab with white polka dots and Minnie Mouse ears. It is so adorable, it must be seen to be believed.)

A Middle Eastern Spin On A Classic Latino Dessert: Rose Cardamom Tres Leches (Tres Leches is apparently quite popular in Turkey nowadays anyway.)

This Common Butterfly Has an Extraordinary Sex Life (Extraordinary and a little stomach-churning.)

Famous Women Have Been Defying Gender Norms and Rocking Menswear for Years

Gay pride parades sound a note of resistance - and face some

Stories About Disability Don’t Have to Be Sad

Planes aren’t the only things with wings buzzing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The base was the first military installation to earn the “Bee City USA” designation: The number of pollinator honey bees swarming around hives has flourished five fold in two years as the bees indulge in abundant food, water and nesting sites, officials say.

Philippine, Vietnam navies play sports on South China Sea island

The decline of electric guitar

Websites and apps are designed for compulsion, even addiction. Should the net be regulated like drugs or casinos?

Joe Arpaio on trial over immigration actions echoing Trump's

A Battle Over Prayer in Schools Tests Canada’s Multiculturalism

A risky fix to repair a city's gutted streetlight grid

The TSA is going to look through your books but promises not to notice what you're reading (When we talk about things that we should never have accepted as normal, the TSA and their shenanigans is top of the list.)

Journalists Condemn Trump Press Restrictions, But Don’t Expect Them To Boycott Briefings

Two factories Donald Trump bragged about saving are now laying off workers

Canadian leaders have given up on Trump—so now they're going around him

Shifting Dollars From Poor to Rich Is a Key Part of the Senate Health Bill (No shit.)

Pro-Trump group's health care offensive warns GOP senators to get in line

The Danger of Yemen's Secret Prisons (Content note: like all descriptions of torture, this is nauseating)
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Cyrus Farivar

Enlarge (credit: Saeed Khan / Getty Images News)

Two top Australian government officials said Sunday that they will push for "thwarting the encryption of terrorist messaging" during an upcoming meeting next week of the so-called "Five Eyes" group of English-speaking nations that routinely share intelligence.

The move indicates that Canberra is now running ahead with what the FBI has dubbed "going dark" for several years now. This is the notion that with the advent of widespread, easy-to-use strong encryption on smartphones and other devices, law enforcement has been hindered. Many experts say, however, that any method that would allow the government access even during certain situations would weaken overall security for everyone.

According to a statement released by Attorney General George Brandis, and Peter Dutton, the country’s top immigration official, Australia will press for new laws, pressure private companies, and urge for a new international data sharing agreement amongst the quintet of countries.

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More neural network guinea pig names

Monday, June 26th, 2017 12:06 am
[syndicated profile] lewis_and_quark_feed

So it turns out that neural networks, among their many talents, can come up with awesome names for guinea pigs.

I found this out when the Portland Guinea Pig Rescue contacted me one day, asking if I’d ever thought of training a neural network to name guinea pigs. I hadn’t, but it turns out that neural networks are amazingly good at this.

Soon, the Portland Guinea Pig Rescue had guinea pigs named Hanger Dan, Buzzberry, Princess Pow, Stargoon, Fuzzable, and Popchop. See Part 1 for all the names and guinea pig pictures, and the Portland Guinea Pig Rescue site for how to adopt guinea pigs, or donate to the cause.

Soon, I heard from the Morris Animal Refuge in Philadelphia, who had another batch of guinea pigs who needed names (often, the guinea pigs arrive unnamed, escapees, abandoned, or from hoarding situations). I was only too happy to fire up the neural network and generate some more names. These animals resulted:

 Hally Flope

Spooty and Snofer

Astrono

Mumpkans

Biinshecklesseon

These guinea pigs are all currently adoptable at the Morris Animal Refuge, which also has other pets up for adoption and takes donations.

I leave the future guinea pig namers of the world with two lists of guinea pig names. The first one is generated using the same neural network as the list above. Depending on the maturity of the network, as well as random flips of the coin, the names may be more or less suitable for guinea pigs… use at your own risk!

Funbees
Sporky
Faffle
Sratterson
Slofky Sugtle
Falasla
Spod
Butzoon
Faxley
Mr. Mister I
Mickle
Adory
Butchin
Halt
Swander Wrigty
Furpie
Bundu
Hax
Ping
Potty
Funzy
Splandaaa
Bit
Warpers
Mansy
Spy
Punches
Aaairg
Simples
Fuskle
Furzy
Finzlies
Buntyluttaus
Binky
Patter
Farter
Pigter Wiglil

And the SECOND list… I decided to add more variety by mixing two more datasets in with the guinea pig names. The first was a list of superheroes, to add some action and majesty to the names. And the second dataset… was a list of metal bands

To avoid overwhelming the other two datasets with the sheer size of the metal band dataset, I selected only band names that began with “Dark”, “Death”, and “Evil”. I interleaved the three datasets line by line, and sat back to watch. It turns out that the neural network was clever enough that it picked up on the pattern, and soon was dutifully producing output that alternated between the genres: “Dark Sender, Fuzzy Butt, Deathnip, Hawkeye, …”. But sometimes it would get its neurons in a tangle and result in names that were obvious mixups, sinister guinea pigs or adorable metal bands or super pigs.

And SO. Here is the guinea pig/superhero/death metal list:

Dark Piggy
Deathmlom
Fuzzy Night
Dark Darn
Dark Damn
Batson
Deathlike Destroyer
Magely
Roger Sin
Death Snifs
Dark Lard
Dark Hunnsy
Deathmop
Bun Roy
Spider-Woom
Dark Legendord
Deathmofs
Evil Bee
Dottie Dam
Death’s Halp
Dardles
Nofder King
Dark Laand
Fuzzy Tolt
Hulkey
Deathwark
Deathy of Mashow Wolls

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson


Wikipedia

Never before has main opposition party had such margins after an election

We have now had three voting polls since the general election and all of them, as can be seen in the table above, have shown clear leads for Labour.

This is highly unusual and almost unprecedented. Almost always the first polls after a general election see the winner doing better than it did in the voting on the day.

Thanks to Mark Pack’s excellent Pollbase place we can ascertain that there has only ever been one case before of the main opposition party beating the election winner in the early polls of a new parliament.

The exception could bring some cheer to the Tories because Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives struggled in the early days of her Parliament after her 1979 General Election win. Then Gallup and NOP recorded LAB leads of up to 1.5% in the first surveys and we all know that Mrs T went on to win a landslide four years later.

But 1.5% is nothing like the scale of the first three voting intention polls of this parliament which have seen gaps of 3-6%.

My reading is that Corbyn is still benefiting from the sheer shock of the June 8th result partly because most of the pollsters got it so wrong. If all of them had been producing numbers like Survation then my guess that the impact could have been less.

We move on this week to the vital vote on TMay’s Queen’s speech and what has actually been agreed with the DUP.

Mike Smithson


old door phased itself out today

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 07:58 pm
solarbird: (molly-thats-not-good-green)
[personal profile] solarbird
The 1995 P166 that has been until now door.murkworks.net has formally and abruptly retired itself. So I'm having to move the new box into place now. This is the DMZ box I was talking about earlier.

Henceforth, "Door" refers to "New Door," not the old machine that is broken. It is latest Debian.

Door has three network cards: eth0 going to cable modem, eth1 going to fixed IP LAN segment, eth2 going to DHCP LAN segment. Door is running both DNS and DHCP servers.

Door can see everything in the world, on all cards. Complete functionality.

DHCP side can see everything in the world, on all cards. Complete functionality.

Fixed IP machines can all see Door (including its DNS services), and each other, and talk to the DHCP side, but can talk to nothing living out on eth0.

tcpdump on Door shows Door handing off ICMP packets on eth0, so that direction seems okay.

I am not seeing ACKs coming back to Door on eth0 from google.com but I can't be sure they aren't doing something tricky and my filters are confused.

Kernel IP routing table
Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags Metric Ref    Use Iface
0.0.0.0         173.160.243.46  0.0.0.0         UG    0      0        0 eth0
173.160.243.40  0.0.0.0         255.255.255.248 U     0      0        0 eth1
173.160.243.42  0.0.0.0         255.255.255.255 UH    0      0        0 eth1
173.160.243.43  0.0.0.0         255.255.255.255 UH    0      0        0 eth1
173.160.243.44  0.0.0.0         255.255.255.255 UH    0      0        0 eth1
173.160.243.46  0.0.0.0         255.255.255.255 UH    0      0        0 eth0
192.168.1.0     0.0.0.0         255.255.255.0   U     0      0        0 eth2


Door is 173.160.243.41 (on eth0), 173.160.243.45 (on eth1), 192.168.1.1 (on eth2). 173.160.243.46 is the modem. 173.160.243.40 is a network to eth1.

Anybody know wtf?

eta: The router is sending out a lot of ARP packets looking for 173.160.243.42 and 173.160.243.43, and I'm starting to think it won't talk to a gateway box in the fixed-IP range. I try to add .41 as a gateway address for .42 and .43 and it refuses, saying illegal LAN address. SUPER RAGIFICATION ENGAGED.

eta2: And the new problem is that the PS4 won't pick up the gateway information from the Linux-based DHCP server. It will pick up an address! It's also not getting the DNS server number either. Why? Fuck if I know, everything else does it right.

Doctor Who 10.11 - "World Enough And Time"

Monday, June 26th, 2017 11:37 am
lizbee: (DW: Bill (garden))
[personal profile] lizbee
I can't believe it's taken the show more than fifty years to use that title. Teaspoon has ... okay, only four fics using it. That's less than I expected.

Anyway.

'No, dear, those were spoilers.' )

Theresa May is risking Ireland’s future

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 05:20 pm
[syndicated profile] new_european_feed

The Conservatives deal with the DUP risks undermining the delicate balance of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, says leading Sinn Féin figure

your moment of zen

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 05:27 pm

I had reason to link to The Authoritarians today

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 07:41 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
The first link that popped up on Google is no longer functional, and it doesn't work at archive.org either. The correct link now is https://theauthoritarians.org/

That's easy to remember!
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Eric Berger

Enlarge (credit: SpaceX)

4:40pm ET Sunday update: The Falcon 9 rocket took off amid a dense canopy of fog on Sunday, but nevertheless it successfully delivered a payload of 10 Iridium satellites into a good orbit. Then the first stage booster fired its engines for home. SpaceX founder Elon Musk had warned that landing conditions were marginal due to extreme weather, and that the droneship had had to be relocated as a result. But no matter, the first stage booster hit the mark on Just Read the Instructions all the same. Also, it appeared the new grid fins performed well, with little evidence of charring.

Original post: Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET.

This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable set of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

televisional thoughts

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 11:10 pm
nostalgia: (twissy touchy)
[personal profile] nostalgia
oh yeah dr who was pretty great this week, but i am holding back on whether i love it based on how certain plotlines are dealt with next week. i do however have a new appreciation for john simm. i still prefer michelle gomez but lbr she's the best master since delgado so she'd be hard to beat.

Challenge #659: ransom

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 09:34 pm
mad_jaks: 3rd Doctor, Sgt Benton, the Brig, Sarah Jane (03/Team)
[personal profile] mad_jaks posting in [community profile] dw100
Welcome to [community profile] dw100. Challenges are posted roughly once a week.

Challenge #659 is ransom.

The rules:
- All stories must be 100 words long.
- Please place your story behind a cut if it contains spoilers for the current/upcoming season.
- You don't have to use the challenge word or phrase in your story; it's just there for inspiration.
- Please use the challenge tag 659: ransom on your entry.




Good luck!

things that are making me happy this week

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 12:44 pm
ironymaiden: (chinstrap)
[personal profile] ironymaiden
  • i knit a dog toy out of fancy pencil roving. i am happy about how pretty the colors are (it's why i bought the roving originally) and i'm happy anticipating the fun times i'll have with Leela. i'm also pleased that i was able to get over myself and use the roving instead of hoarding it against some "more worthy" project.


  • i gave some AU Marvel/AU Potterverse crossover fanfic a try, and it was delightful. someone in my circle recommended it, and i left it unread in an open tab for days. thanks! Every Little Thing He Does Is, featuring Steve Rogers the auror, adventure, fixit for the Wizarding world in the US, lots of Marvel nerdery, and a sweet PG romance.


  • if you are an American woman of a certain age, Oprah Winfrey is a presence in your life (whether you want her there or not). The Oprah Winfrey show is thirty years old now, and WBEZ Chicago did an excellent series of podcasts about the show and its impact on American culture. it was completely absorbing on a day when i really needed to get my brain to shut up. Making Oprah


  • this rare SFW Oglaf comic


  • i've been reading Code Name Verity to C before bed. he's well and truly hooked, and he's caught on to spoilery things well before i did when i read it. it's such a pleasure listening to him try to puzzle it out.
  • [syndicated profile] newsarse_feed

    Posted by Davywavy

    Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson is understood to be 'stable' after his fist was brutally assaulted by a man's face at Ascot.

    (no subject)

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 02:15 pm
    skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
    [personal profile] skygiants
    I have never read Dhalgren or indeed any Samuel R. Delaney. However, as of yesterday I have at least had a Dhalgren Experience, thanks to [personal profile] aamcnamara, who turned up a local theatrical-dance-music-light-'architectural puppetry' performance of something called Dhalgren: Sunrise this weekend.

    Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.

    Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:

    Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.

    Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!

    Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.

    Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. [personal profile] aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.

    Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.

    Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.

    Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.

    It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with [personal profile] aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."
    white_hart: (Default)
    [personal profile] white_hart
    I tend to buy books in the Women's Press SF imprint when I see them in second-hand shops, and picked up this collection of short stories (or really, one novella and some short stories) in a bookshop we passed while walking at Easter. It dates from 1986, although only one of the stories was published for the first time in this collection; the others, including the title novella, had been previously published at various points between 1971 and 1980.

    The title novella tells of the adventures of revolutionary leader Jane Saint as she travels through an alternate dimension or astral plane, seeking to find a way to make a fundamental change to the natures of men and women which will allow humanity to move towards a more equal society. She moves through a shifting and often symbolic landscape, helped variously by an alchemist and his wife, a philosophical talking dog, a griffin-demon hybrid creature, Joan of Arc, and her own daughters; her adventures are absurdist and surreal and told with a great deal of subtle wit and humour.

    The other stories are much shorter. 'Woe, Blight and, in Heaven, Laughs' is a rather grim postapocalyptic reworking of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; 'Gordon's Women' is a more cheerful variant on the total-male-domination-secret-female-underground setup of Suzy McKee Charnas's Holdfast novels; 'The Message', which was probably my favourite story in the book, is an almost-realist story of lonely, repressed fiftysomething Edna, whose attempts to deliver a message handed to her by a dying person in hospital take her on a quest around her neighbourhood; 'Heads Africa Tails America' was very surreal and really left me cold; and 'The Pollyanna Enzyme' posits a situation where it turns out that the one thing that really does drive humanity to live in peace and harmony is its imminent extinction.

    Definitely worth a read if you happen across a copy.

    The level of anxiety is unreasonable

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 06:37 pm
    hunningham: (Default)
    [personal profile] hunningham
    My brother lives in the US. He & his family coming over to the UK, and the children will stay with my mother for some quality granny time while he and his wife bugger off to Paris for a week.

    Tomorrow I am going up to Scotland to stay with my mother and be her chief assistant child-wrangler. I volunteered for this, I wanted to do it, but now I am really panicky about it.

    It's partly child-related anxieties (small people! what do I do! aargh!) and partly just the prospect of my mother for a week unleavened by any other adult.

    She will want to talk about politics. To give you a flavour, she's against wind-farms, believes that nationalisation improved the railways and thinks that Corbyn is the Anti-Christ.

    I am also having packing panic, and trying to decide what I want to wear next week. It's Scotland. It will be cold. It will rain at some point. I want all the clothes and then some more.

    Parliament cyber-attack 'hit up to 90 users'

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 04:01 pm
    [syndicated profile] bbc_technology_news_feed
    Fewer than 1% of 9,000 parliamentary accounts were affected, says the House of Commons.

    Queen snubs forces heroes to go horse racing

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 02:39 pm
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    Posted by Spacey

    The Queen has shamefully shunned an official event to honour our brave forces heroes in favour of watching horse racing at Ascot.

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    Destroyer: Chapter 6

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 01:53 pm
    [syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

    Posted by Andrew Hickey

    In the tiny house in Torquay in which he resided, the Great Beast 666, To Mega Therion, Frater Perdurabo, or, as he was known to most of the population, Aleister Crowley, was making breakfast – a single boiled egg, toast, and a cup of tea. He told himself that his meditative practices would make this a sensory feast as great as any orgy, the texture of the yolk on his tongue as exquisite as the finest opium, but he still faced it with a weariness born of age.

    Crowley had, in the past, been an imposing figure, a great hulk of a man whose bald head and piercing eyes could intimidate the most fearless of men into submission. He had been a mountaineer of the top rank, and a practising yogi who could bend his body into asanas which would have caused agony for even the most flexible of non-adepts. Now, though, he was sallow, his angular cheekbones showing through sagging skin. His head, no longer shaved, was fringed by tufts of white hair stained yellow by tobacco smoke. His digestion was permanently destroyed by his herculean intake of opiates, coca leaf, and absinthe. While he railed against the privations rationing caused him, he knew that in reality his diet would not be much different even were he to dine at the Savoy every evening. He never had been much good at self-deception, though that would never stop him trying.

    He placed his egg-cup, toast-rack, butter dish, cup, saucer, and teapot on the tray with an exacting precision, then picked up the tray and shuffled over to his dining table. He placed the tray on the table, pulled out a chair, and sat down. He buttered his toast slowly, treating the rhythm of the knife strokes as a yogic mantra.

    There was a pile of post on the table, which he had collected earlier. He opened the envelopes with his butter knife, and flicked through the letters desultorily. There were the usual missives from admirers; one from Lady Frieda Harris talking about the stultifying details of an undoubtedly tedious, but potentially lucrative, exhibition of her art, would need his attention at some point. He put it to one side and looked through the rest.

    There was little of interest there. He sipped at his tea and winced to himself. There had been a time, not so long ago, when he would have disdained utterly a cup of tea made from what tasted like dust sweepings and mouse droppings, but that time had passed. This was his life now; soft-boiled eggs and flavourless grey liquids. He sighed and picked up the next letter.

    Bills. Bills from the Gas Board, bills from the grocer, bills from all sides. And nothing to pay them with except a meagre income which came from public speaking and the decreasing sales of his books. Crowley could remember a time when he could have his books printed in tasteful, unique, editions for initiates only. Now, they were a commercial proposition to be sold like jars of mustard, and to an audience that could not even tell that they were being insulted in every word. And yet they still didn’t sell enough.

    He sliced his toast into soldiers, each strip as thin as possible in order to prolong the meal. He picked up one, dipped it in the egg yolk once, twice, three times, timing his breathing to match the dunks, and took a bite. At least the egg was good, even if the bread was the cheap, nasty, stuff that was all that could be obtained at present.

    Let the yolk settle on the tongue. Feel the sticky, viscous, texture. Taste the sulphurous yellow liquid, and then let it slide down the throat along with the bread before the taste of the bread reaches the tongue. Maximise the pleasure, minimise the discomfort. Treat it as a yogic practice.

    He continued looking through the letters. Quite a mountain of post he’d collected today – if not an Everest, then at least a…no, best not think of that particular mountain. Some things were best forgotten, and into that category he put most of his correspondence as well.

    One letter, however, did have something of interest about it. It was from Naval Intelligence, addressed to “Mr. Aleister Crowley”, and he thought about casting it aside then and there without reading further, given the British Government’s stubborn refusal to use his proper title. He relented, though, and decided to show the usurper’s lackeys the grace and magnanimity they so obviously refused him. He glanced through it, and saw they were asking for his assistance in the matter of Rudolf Hess.

    He chuckled to himself. In the last war, half the press had been convinced he was a German spy, but now he was being asked to perform a similar task for the usurper’s Government. How times had changed.

    Only a few years ago, the same newspapers that had called him “the wickedest man in England” had been printing headlines like “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” and praising Herr Hitler’s wise governance. He wondered if, should the German invasion succeed, Rothermere’s papers would once again become the arse-licking lackeys of the German Führer. He suspected so.

    Crowley had no great love for the Government headed by the supposed King, and the chaos and disruption caused by war were distractions from his meditative practices. He composed his reply bearing these factors, and others, in mind:

    Sir,

    If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department, in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.

    Col. J. F. C. Carter …, Thomas N. Driberg …, Karl J. Germer …, could testify to my status and reputation in these matters.

    I have the honour to be, Sir,

    Your obedient servant Aleister Crowley.

    After writing his response, he carefully burned the letter he had received, while chanting under his breath, before heading off to the post office.


    This is an excerpt from my novel, Destroyer. If you like this chapter, please buy the book. It can be bought in hardback from Lulu. The Kindle and paperback editions are available from Amazon (UK) and (US). For non-Kindle ebook versions This Books2Read Universal Link will give you links for your preferred ebook retailer.


    Tagged: destroyer

    ALDC Campaigner Awards 2017 – nominations open

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 01:52 pm
    [syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

    Posted by ALDC

    Each year, ALDC recognises the outstanding work of local Liberal Democrat campaigners and campaign teams through our Campaigner Awards. And nominations are now open.

    The five categories:

    • Best By-election Campaign – We’re looking for local parties that have fought effective and strong by-election campaigns. We want to see your literature examples and hear about your strategy for winning the seat.
    • Best Online Campaign – We’re looking for local parties that have run successful online campaigns or developed a winning digital strategy. You may have used social media, emails, your website or another digital platform to achieve your campaigning aims, to fundraise or to grow your local party. Let us know what’s worked for you.
    • Best Literature Campaign – We’re looking for local parties’ examples of well-designed literature with strong messaging, photos and layout.
    • Best Community Campaign – We’re looking for parties that have successfully campaigned with local residents to benefit their area. We are particularly keen to hear from parties that have engaged hard to reach groups and used innovative approaches to do this.
    • Best Fundraising Campaign – We all know the importance of funding our campaigns and keeping our local party’s coffers in the black. Tell us how you engaged with your members and supporters to raise funds for your campaigns. You don’t need to have raised large amounts, but how you innovatively appealed to your audiences.

    How to submit your nominations

    Email Claire Halliwell (claire.halliwell@aldc.org), Campaigns and HQ Team Manager, explaining who you’re nominating (you can nominate your own party), why and to which category. Please include some supporting materials, such as examples of relevant artwork and literature, as well as photos.

    The deadline for us to receive your nominations is . A panel will then meet to decide each category’s shortlist and winner.

    The awards ceremony

    The ALDC Campaigner Awards will be presented during our AGM at Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference (16-19 September, Bournemouth) by a special guest. The winner of each category receives a cash prize. A final Overall Campaigner Awards Winner will also be announced too.

    * ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners

    Tim Farron’s message for Eid

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 12:55 pm
    [syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

    Posted by The Voice

    Here is Tim Farron’s message for Eid:

    I would like to wish all those celebrating a happy and peaceful Eid.

    For those celebrating, Eid will enable many Muslims to reflect on their own personal strength, particularly following the long fasts these summer days bring.

    When travelling the country, I am fortunate enough to witness many examples of this strength first hand. Whether it’s in hospitals where thousands of Muslim doctors and nurses continue to provide excellent healthcare despite the increasing pressure our NHS is under.

    Or in the countless towns and cities where businesses run by Muslims are driving our economy and overcoming the challenges of Brexit.

    Or in mosques up and down the country who are organising charitable initiatives and promoting inter-faith dialogue.

    These are just a few examples which make the heinous attack on Finsbury Park not just an attack on worshipers at the Mosque but an attack on us all.

    Politicians at this time come up with platitudes and empty phrases, while people call, rightly, for action. My view is that we combat hate with love. We beat terror in all its forms but more openess, not less, by more tolerance, more decency, more democracy and more love. This is how we win. We win by showing our society, our values are worth fighting for and we will.

    I therefore want to mark this Eid by celebrating the invaluable contribution to this country Muslims make, despite the ongoing challenges.

    As you gather with your family and friends, I hope you experience the joy and peace you deserve!

    Eid Mubarak!

    [syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

    Posted by TSE

    The Sunday Times report

    Philip Hammond is being lined up to replace Theresa May as prime minister as part of an alliance with David Davis to deliver Brexit safely.

    Ministers said this weekend that Hammond should be anointed as leader before October’s party conference provided he vows to stand down after two years so that someone else can lead the Conservatives into the next election.

    A former cabinet colleague has claimed the chancellor believes he is equipped to do the job. “He told me that if Theresa May could be prime minister, so could he.”

    The elevation of Hammond — dubbed “Spreadsheet Phil” — would be greeted with resistance by some Eurosceptics who are suspicious of his interventions demanding a soft Brexit that puts jobs and business before controls on immigration.

    But ministers believe that can be surmounted if he appoints Davis, the Brexit secretary, deputy prime minister and makes clear he is a caretaker leader.

     Under one plan gaining traction with Tory MPs, May’s successor would announce that there would be a general election after Brexit in 2019 in which the public could have a say on the final deal.

    If I were Philip Hammond, I’d offer to be Prime Minister for two years, then say he’ll trigger a Tory leadership contest in 2019 in which he’d stand rather than be a placeholder Prime Minister that Mrs May is now.

    What is clear following Mrs May’s calamitous decision to hold a snap election, which turned into the greatest strategic blunder since the fall of Singapore, which saw her lose David Cameron’s majority is going to cost Mrs May her job, it is now a matter of when she is toppled, not if.

    At the time of writing you can get around 7/1 on Hammond as next PM and with some newer bookies you can get 8/1 on him as next Tory leader, and 5/2 on Mrs May not to be PM on the 1st of October with William Hill.

    TSE

    F Sor, Etude op 35 no 2 flavio matani, guitar

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 01:50 pm
    flaviomatani: (Default)
    [personal profile] flaviomatani
    One for my students: a lovely little study by Fernando Sor.
    [syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

    Posted by Kyle Orland

    Enlarge (credit: Take-Two Interactive)

    When popular Grand Theft Auto V modding tool OpenIV was taken down by a cease-and-desist request from publisher Take-Two earlier this month, the fan reaction was fast and blistering. Players bombarded Grand Theft Auto V with thousands of negative reviews on Steam, and over 77,000 people signed an online petition demanding the tool be restored.

    Apparently, those gamers' cries have been heard loud and clear. As of yesterday evening, OpenIV is once again being updated and distributed by its creators.

    While publisher Take-Two has been going after cheating tools in GTA Online of late, developer Rockstar long ago said it wouldn't go after Grand Theft Auto V players for using single-player mods. That's why Take-Two's sudden legal threat against the single-player-focused OpenIV earlier this month was a bit surprising, to say the least.

    Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

    [syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

    Posted by Karen Wilkinson

    The key issue for me in the leadership debate is our strategy for the next election. My take is based on feedback from electors.

    On the whole, our manifesto is sound (although I can’t help adding a quick pitch for the addition of the term time attendance policy for tourism constituencies & to exemplify our trust in people over government/commitment to family life). There are just two huge, key exceptions.

    1. Ditch the referendum on the deal.

    Nothing in recent history, from the AV referendum to Brexit to the Scottish Independence Reernedum, gives cause to trust referenda. The electorate had already learned that lesson. It’s our turn now.

    Plenty agreed with Brenda from Bristol that “there is too much politics” and dread the prospect of another election soon, let alone another referendum on a complex issue in which passions ride high. Our system is deeply unsettled; elections/referenda in such circumstances add to the maelstrom, not calm it. More than that, Scottish Independence and Brexit weren’t just arguments between competing political factions, but caused tensions within families and friendships groups which still linger. Neither we nor the SNP gained by offering another such experience in the last election. We would be idiots to repeat the offer.

    Remainers are aware the LibDems don’t want Brexit, know we can’t stop the juggernaut and know we will do all we can to represent their interests. They just want us to get on with it without bothering them again.

    1. Switch tack on Coalition.

    We have to hold our noses on the prospect of coalition in the next Parliament (not in this one).   Once the 2nd referendum failed to generate a national tide, the argument that we would form the main opposition looked unrealistic, increasingly so once the unforeseen Corbyn bandwagon started rolling. In that environment, ruling out coalition made us an irrelevance.

    If another election is called before the end of the full Parliamentary term, it will be because government is untenable. The country will be in a state of great uncertainty and risk, just as we were in 2010. We stepped up then in the national interest. We may well need to do so again. In the meantime we point out only the LibDems in coalition will be able to hold the extremes of either the Tory or the Labour party in check.

    It won’t be comfortable and it may not reward us at a future election either, but it may well be a patriotic necessity. Ruling ourselves out of play and relegating ourselves to shouting negatively and ineffectively from the sidelines achieves nothing for anyone. Next time though, a Bill on changing the Westminster voting system.

    Finally, we need to be a solution, not part of the problem

    It’s about tone and balance. There’ll be a danger that whoever is seen as responsible for forcing this Government into another election will be punished in the ballot box. The ideal scenario for us is a collapse perceived to be the result of unnecessary Tory – Labour feuding. Tribal aggression and Pavlovian-response attacks on other parties are the biggest turn offs for the majority of the electorate.

    We are in very turbulent seas, with the two great warships of our political system, Labour and Tory, blasting cannons at each other. We can’t kid ourselves that we have anything like their firepower. Getting in between and firing shotgun blasts at both from our rowing boat just doesn’t cut it, much as we might want to blow them out of the water. My sense is we pull back and offer instead a haven of calm; sanity in a mad world. Can we bite our tongues and position ourselves as healers not combatants? I appreciate it’s a big ask given the air time we get but I think we start not by attacking Tories and Labour in our press releases and speeches, but by explaining them.   “Tories say this because they see the world this way…Labour react because they see it this way. We see it this way…”.

    * Karen Wilkinson was Parliamentary Candidate for Kingwood in June 2017

    [syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

    Posted by Attitude Magazine

    Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons has apologised for preaching that homosexuality was a sin during his youth.

    Reynolds, the lead singer of the Las Vegas rock band, received the Hero Award from the LGBT+ youth suicide hotline The Trevor Project last week.

    Dan was raised Mormon, and believed that homosexuality was a sin for much of his youth. He preached the religion’s teachings as a missionary for two years.

    Recalling the experience while accepting his award, Reynolds said: “I knocked on thousands of doors. For those two years when people asked me what the doctrine was and they said, ‘Hey I’m gay,’ I thought that it was a sin because that’s what I had been raised to teach.”

    Dan accepts The Trevor Project’s Hero Award

    He said that he now regrets what he did: “I hold regret about that until this day. I wish I could re-knock on those doors and tell them I was wrong. I can’t do that.

    “All I can do is come forward to you today and say I’m sincerely sorry.”

    Dan credits his wife, who was living with two lesbians when the couple met, with educating him on LGBT+ acceptance. “My wife was my missionary. She taught me what I already knew in my heart, which was that to be gay is beautiful,” he said.

    Reynolds helped organise the “Love Loud” festival, which aims to unite LGBT+ communities with religious communities. Proceeds from the event will go to LGBT+ charities.

    Watch Dan’s emotional speech below:

    More stories:
    Watch: What if straight couples were asked the same stupid questions as gay couples?
    Nyle DiMarco does summer right with lots of shirtless pictures

    Momentum builds behind Brexit deal referendum

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 10:55 am
    [syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

    Posted by Caron Lindsay

    We shouldn’t assume that our failure to break through in the General Election means that people don’t agree with our policy on a referendum on the Brexit deal.

    Polling is consistently showing that a majority of people are coming round to that position. For that reason, it would be unwise for us to ditch it.

    A Survation poll carried out less than two weeks ago found that 53% of those who expressed a preference favoured a further referendum.

    A poll of Scots for STV similarly showed that 61% of those polled said they wanted to see a referendum on the deal. This is particularly interesting given that 70% didn’t want a referendum on independence at the moment. It is significant, though, that 22% of those want to wait and see what happens with Brexit, so that argument isn’t entirely over.

    Over at the Huffington Post, Tom Brake set out the case to continue wth our policy on a second referendum:

    I do not agree with the view that we should just remain silent during the negotiating process and accept any deal the Government comes up with. This issue is far too important to give the Government a blank cheque. This is like saying that after a general election we should just accept and rubber stamp all decisions until the next election, without holding the Government to account.

    I believe, even more strongly than a year ago, that just as people were able to vote for departure from the EU, they should be given a vote on our destination in our future relationship with the EU.

    If the process started with a referendum, why shouldn’t it end with another one?

    As the compromises and realities of Brexit unfold following the negotiations and a deal is struck, the British public should be allowed to decide, in a referendum, whether it is the right deal for them, their families, their jobs and our country. Whatever the result of that vote would be, that decision would carry a much heavier mandate then one by a small clique of politicians in Westminster.

    If you were a Brexit voter for example, would you settle for a deal that still meant paying into the EU budget? Wouldn’t you want a chance to have a say if you disagreed with the Government’s deal?

    That is why the Liberal Democrats will continue to push the Government for a public vote on the deal at the end of the negotiations, so people are given the choice to vote for that deal or to remain in the EU.

    What’s interesting is that we are also constructively arguing for a cross-party cabinet committee to lead the Brexit negotiations and come up with a deal that should reflect a political consensus – and therefore be more likely to be accepted in any referendum.

    The Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party joint cabinet committee to be established to negotiate Brexit. This committee would be made up of MPs, selected by their parties and representative of the political make-up of parliament. The team would become the front line of negotiations with Brussels and ultimately have to agree to the final deal, which could then be put to the British people.

    This is a moment for those in the centre to gather together, whatever our parties, and work in the national interest. I am determined that the Liberal Democrats will be a constructive opposition in this parliament and will play our part in bringing the country together, working with people of all parties and none, to fight for the best possible deal for you, your family, your neighbours and our country Britain’s future relationship with Europe will be the most important issue in our country for years to come. As the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Brexit, I will continue to fight for an open, modern and inclusive Britain.

    * Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

    [syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

    Posted by Ross Semple

    We’ve all heard them, the stupid questions some straight people ask gay couples. Questions like ‘Which one is the man and which one is the woman?’ or ‘When did you decide to be gay?’

    These questions, sometimes asked with the best of intentions, are normally based on outdated stereotypes that have no place in our current cultural climate. At best, they make us gays feel like the representatives of all queer people the world over, and at worst they just make us feel bad about ourselves.

    At best, they put us gays in the position of being the representatives of all queer people the world over, and at worst, they just make us feel bad about ourselves.

    ATTN

    A new online video turns this idea on its head by asking ‘What if we talked to straight couples the ridiculous way we talk to gay couples?’

    The funny video features a number of different scenarios involving gay people asking straight couples intimate questions about their lives, or making passing judgement of their lifestyles. For example, one guy asks a straight couple not to kiss in public, while another scene features a guy telling a woman ‘I had a straight phase in college.’

    One guy asks a straight couple not to kiss in public, while another scene features a guy telling a woman ‘I had a straight phase in college.’

    The video highlights the double standards in the way gay couples are treated in comparison to their straight counterparts and brings a little humour to a serious issue.

    Watch the video below and see if you can relate to any of the questions asked:

    More stories:
    Nyle DiMarco does summer right with lots of shirtless pictures
    German parliament voids convictions of 50,000 gay men prosecuted during Nazi era

    Interesting Links for 25-06-2017

    Sunday, June 25th, 2017 12:00 pm

    About This Blog

    Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.







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