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April 2014

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Apr. 21st, 2014

boingboing_net

Silicon Valley asks, “What’s in a [company] name?"

http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/FL3nA1e5LU0/story01.htm

http://boingboing.net/?p=297936

 

“Articles Of Incorporation” is the first episode of Silicon Valley that really gets room to breathe, allowing the characters space away from the crunch time of the story to bring Pied Piper to fruition. This is a show with an eight-episode first season, so there isn’t a ton of time to waste on the plot front—so long as this season builds to Pied Piper hitting the market in some kind of nascent form. But this kind of episode is a test of what kinds of story Silicon Valley can tell when it gets away from the Hooli/Peter Gregory competitive binary and just focuses on some kooky developers chipping away at making a startup into a formidable company that puts out a viable product.

It begins with Gavin Belson’s way-too-early announcement of Hooli’s compression algorithm competitor Nucleus, styled like the smarmiest self-fellating Apple intro video imaginable. (“If we can make your audio and video files smaller, we can make cancer smaller…and hunger…and AIDS.”) Now there’s a bit of a time clock: Richard’s company needs to get to market before Hooli does, or risk getting its thunder stolen by a primitive version of the algorithm that Richard foolishly forwarded to his brogrammer former coworkers.

But trailing off of last week’s episode, when Richard couldn’t deposit Gregory’s check because Pied Piper isn’t an official software company, there’s another hiccup: somebody already has an irrigation company out in Gilroy with that name. To Richard, it’s a total letdown, but to everyone else, it’s a coveted chance to pivot to something vastly better than the t-shirts Richard shows off. (“It looks liks a guy sucking a dick, with another dick tucked behind his ear for later, like a snack dick.” Everyone ragging on the company name is a great ensemble scene, since each characters gets in a unique jab. Jared has the highly researched angle, noting that the Pied Piper is about a “predatory flutist who murders children in a cave.” Erlich assumed it was just a placeholder name, and has been embarrassed to tell anyone he owns a stake in a company with that name (even though he owns part of Grindr and a water fountain locator app). Dinesh thinks Placeholder would be a better company name than Pied Piper.

Discouraged but not undaunted, Richard sets out to negotiate the rights, and manages to iron out a highly beneficial deal, because the irrigation company owner thinks Richard has Asperger’s and tremors like his son. It’s a minor moment of triumph for Richard, who goes out and buys a margarita machine at BevMo for his employees, where he’s inundated by . But Erlich, trying to boost his own profile more than helping the company, gives an interview to a tech blog where he states that he and Peter Gregory have billions between them and they’re going to crush Hooli’s knockoff Nucleus.

That presents two big problems. The first is that Arnold, owner of Pied Piper Irrigation, thinks Richard is some kind of billionaire swindler, and wants a quarter of a million dollars for the name. But the sadder development is what happens when Richard goes to return the margarita maker, and the BevMo clerk tells him that his mom put a reverse mortgage on her house to fund his inane and unhelpful parking lot app because he claimed to know the Pier Piper guy. The pilot put forth the idea that everyone in the Silicon Valley area, exemplified by Andy Daly’s doctor character, has an idea for the Next Big App, if only they could get startup capital from a big time VC. The truth of my experience in the Bay Area isn’t quite that complicated. Sure, there are tons of people who want to start their own companies, and mobile app development has exploded. But this scene isn’t aiming for verisimilitude to the feeling that you would bump into an aspiring app developer anywhere in the Bay Area. The point is classic tragicomedy, resulting in the poor clerk’s crushed expression when Richard unleashes the harsh truth of being unable to cash his VC money: “I need to return this machine because I am broke and I need money for food.”

Ultimately, Richard charms Arnold when the guy sees the Pied Piper headquarters at Erlich’s house. Instead of a big building like Hooli, Arnold reminisces about starting his business in a garage, and they settle on the original, rather cheap deal for the name rights. It’s one of the few nice moments of recognition that the tech cycle is in some ways simply the next iteration of new businesses, with similar inauspicious surroundings. I was a bit disappointed at first that Richard hung onto the name, since the idea of everyone pitching ideas could have been a lot of fun. But then I started to see it as the first indication that deep down, Richard is able to summon the beginnings of a corporate leader. He doesn’t have any particular reason for wanting to keep the name Pied Piper, except that it’s what he came up with and he likes it. None of the others can come up with anything better, as that whiteboard of rejected names suggests. Richard wants Pied Piper to be the name, and like the stubborn minds of Gavin Belson and Peter Gregory, he sticks to his guns and finds a way to make it happen, proving in one sort-of insignificant way that he can conjure up the mettle to lead.

The Peter Gregory plot exists almost solely to examine a man so cripplingly brilliant he can barely interact with others while he does the human equivalent of compiling data in his brain before speaking. I think this plot only really works as a hypothetical first half, where at some other point in a future episode Gavin Belson gets the same treatment, as a way to explore multiple facets of billionaires who are removed from society because of personality differences.

It’s now well established that Gregory falls somewhere on the scale, and that means that other people have to figure out how to interact with him. Last week Richard and Erlich watched as Gregory turned to Monica to state plainly how poorly a meeting was going and that Richard didn’t seem to know what he was doing. This week, it’s the poor, unknowing leaders of another Gregory investment, who sit outside the guy’s office whiling away the hours until they have to layoff employees if they don’t get a huge influx of funding, completely out of the loop on what the venture capitalist has up his sleeve.

Without the benefit of any logos (Mike Judge probably can’t get any after Idiocracy so thoroughly skewered slogans and big brands), the Burger King sesame seed investigation loses a little pizazz, but it’s all about that final turn where Gregory reels off the three main countries responsible for sesame seed production, the two with cicada populations, and the coincidence that will lead to a spike in prices. It’s ingenious investing, even if it’s slightly ridiculous, and it shows that there’s something Silicon Valley can do outside of the Pied Piper app development plot. Of the entire cast, I like watching what Peter Gregory does the most, which in turn makes me sad that since the actor has since passed away, there won’t be much more of his mentorship style to explore with this series.

 

Extra Bytes

• Gilroy, California, where the irrigation company Pied Piper is supposedly based, is home to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which in my opinion is one of the strangest and best events in the state.

• Dinesh worries that inferior products that get to market first end up being the dominant platform. Gilfoyle counters, “Like Jesus. Over Satan.”

• TJ Miller is so terrifyingly gross as Erlich that he should do nothing but coo “Aviato” in that creepy voice while waggling his eyebrows. The end of the episode that sort-of resolved his failed vision quest with comedic complication fell pretty flat.

• This is the first episode without Josh Brener as Big Head, but he’ll show up at least once more before the season is out.

• The only, and I mean the ONLY, way that all the illegal immigrant jokes work is because Kumail Nanjiani is such a likable guy. The competition between Dinesh and Gilfoyle is the part of this show that makes me laugh most consistently.








cyanideandhappy

04.21.2014

http://www.explosm.net/comics/3533/

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic.

rosefox

"I don't even give a care"

Moving stress is THE WORST. I HATE IT. I HATE IT SO MUCH.

Tea and Daniel and Stacy C. came over and packed a ton of book boxes, because they are marvelous people, and now the "how will we pack everything?!" stress is gone because we can clearly pack everything that's left with minimal trouble, but instead there's all the stress of being surrounded by boxes and chaos and tiny ants (we have a bonus! infestation thanks to a hole in the baseboard that we don't have time to patch). I hate it all so much.

This apartment was never really home, not like our place in Inwood was. We always knew it would be temporary, so we overlooked or put up with a lot of things, and now all the cumulative impatience and dissatisfaction is crushing. The physical disarray of moving is crushing. The anxiety--what's going to break? what will we lose? how far will we fall behind our schedule? how much is this all costing us?--is crushing. We're all struggling a lot. I suppose later on I'll be able to look back with intellectual curiosity at the different ways our various neuroses manifest under this sort of pressure, but right now we're all at the emotional level of your average underslept five-year-old and it's kind of awful.

I'm just so glad that no matter how defensive or agitated or scared or sullen or cranky we get, we don't get mean. We're never cruel. We gripe but don't snipe. Some days that's all that saves us.

Today X and I got into a stupid verbal spiral and couldn't pull ourselves out of it, and then J knocked to ask about dinner plans, and we were so happy to be interrupted! We were utterly hating the conversation we were having and didn't want to be having it and couldn't figure out how to stop, and being jarred out of it was a huge relief. It was actually very heartening how glad we were to pull him into the room and talk about dinner and hug one another and let all the rest of it go. We were so eager to stop making one another unhappy. Everything was better after that. Not 100% better, but better.

The stress is making me slightly dizzy all the time. It's not vertigo. I know it's not because whenever I go over to the new place I magically feel better. I'm just lightheaded. But of course I keep checking to see whether it's vertigo.

Tonight I burst into tears and sobbed on X's shoulder, wailing, "I'm homesick! I want to go home!" But by this time next week I will be home, or at least in a place that we can make into a home instead of a place that we're dismantling. And then I hope we will stay there for many many many MANY years. Ideally without any ants.


You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.

kafbakersbanter

Chocolate Fudge “Blackout Cake”

http://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2014/04/21/chocolate-fudge-blackout-cake/

http://blog.kingarthurflour.com/?p=100101

Chocolate cake.

IMG_5086

Yeah, chocolate cake.

If those words (and this picture) don’t cause a significant uptick in your baking adrenaline, then you might as well stop reading right now.

Because you’re simply not a chocolate cake fan. And this post is ALL about chocolate cake. In fact, it’s about one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made.

Just ask my family; the guys at the auto shop, and the volunteers at our local nature preserve. Each and every one of my impromptu taste testers said, “Oh, man, this is THE BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever had!”

IMG_5084

Now given, these folks aren’t professional foodies; they’re normal people, people whose palates aren’t honed to perfection. Most would probably just as gladly down a Twinkie as tiramisu.

Still, they’re all regular recipients of my baking abundance. And as such, they’ve tasted some pretty darned good stuff. Just ask them about the chewy chocolate chip cookie bars sometime.

But this chocolate cake? Epic success.

And it all came about because I decided a recipe on our site needed updating…

IMG_5286

This recipe was born years ago. And, like many of us in the same boat, it needed some sprucing up. My main goal for baking the cake was to shoot a new photo; but as I got into it, I found all kinds of things I wanted to try.

Substituting Cake Enhancer for the ClearJel or cornstarch, for one. Cake Enhancer is a relatively new product, and works a bit better in cake than either of the two starches previously called for, in my opinion.

I love the Double Dutch cocoa blend this recipe originally called for, but Cocoa Rouge is a new favorite, as well; it adds a pleasing hint of deep red to chocolate cake and cookies, as well as rich flavor.

And espresso powder – seldom do I bake a chocolate recipe these days without adding anything from a pinch to a couple of teaspoons of espresso powder, an all-purpose chocolate flavor enhancer.

Then there was that filling… readers had noted that the current size can of Chocolate Schmear we sell is smaller than the can called for in the recipe; it just wasn’t working anymore.

So I thought, well, ganache is certainly the same consistency as Schmear, so why not substitute?

For the icing, yes. But the more I looked at photos of Chocolate Blackout Cake online, the more convinced I was that the filling needed to be different than the icing; in fact, it shouldn’t be icing at all, but pudding. Chocolate fudge pudding.

No, not Jell-O. Quick Pots de Crême. I can do that.

Anyway, I make no claim to this recipe assiduously following the ingredients and technique of the original Chocolate Blackout Cake, a cake made famous by Brooklyn’s Ebinger’s Bakery, and beloved by New Yorkers everywhere.

But I do hew to the spirit of that lost but not forgotten icon: a moist layer cake, filled with pudding, coated with icing, and smothered in cake crumbs.

And all of it chocolate, chocolate, CHOCOLATE.

Ready to add another chocolate cake to your recipe repertoire? Give this one a (chocolate) shot. While the steps below may seem numerous, none of them demands any particular skill – other than the ability to read and follow directions!

Let’s start with those pots de crême. Only we’re not filling individual pots – we’re turning this classic dessert into cake filling.

blackoutpuddingPut the following in a food processor or blender:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for enhanced chocolate flavor

Pulse until finely ground. Add 1 large egg, which you’ve brought to room temperature. Don’t want to wait? Submerge the egg in a glass of hot tap water for 10 minutes.

Pulse just until the mixture is fairly smooth.

Heat 1 cup heavy or whipping cream to just below a boil, with small bubbles forming around the edge of the saucepan (or microwave-safe bowl). Turn on the blender or processor, and slowly add the cream. Scrape down the sides of the container if necessary. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and pulse to blend.

Pour the pudding into a shallow bowl, and refrigerate it until chilled and thickened, 2 hours to overnight.

IMG_4949Or, try what I did: line an 8″ round cake pan with greased parchment, and pour the pudding atop the parchment. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

One caveat – if you only have two 8″ round cake pans, don’t try this; you’ll need both for the cake.

Next: the cake.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ x 2″ round cake pans. Line them with 8″ parchment rounds, if desired, and grease the parchment; this step will ensure your cake’s crumble-free turnout from the pan.

IMG_4938Here they are: some of the updated ingredients I mentioned. That’s Cake Enhancer in front. Let’s put them to work. Whisk together the following in a large bowl:

2 cups sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons Cake Enhancer, Instant ClearJel, or cornstarch
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) Double Dutch Cocoa Blend, Cocoa Rouge, or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for enhanced chocolate flavor

blackout1Add 4 large eggs, 3/4 cup oil, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Stir in the water; the batter will be thin.

IMG_4927Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again, and beat until smooth.

See the thick chocolate “gunk”? This is why you “scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.”

blackout2Pour the batter into the prepared pans. It’s easy to divide the batter evenly between the pans when you use a scale.

blackout3Bake the cakes for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The picture at left shows the cake when it’s not quite ready; see that ring of puckered, soft dough in the center? At right, the puckering has started to disappear; and when I stuck a toothpick into the center, it came out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven. Cool them for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.

Since the ganache icing needs to cool for 30 minutes or so, we’ll make that next.

blackout7Combine the following in a microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan:

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream

Heat until the cream is steaming and showing small bubbles around the edge.

Remove the chocolate/cream from the microwave or burner, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture becomes completely smooth, with no lighter areas remaining visible.

Refrigerate the ganache for 30 minutes.

IMG_4946Cut the domed tops off both cake layers; these will become your crumb coating, so hide them somewhere where they won’t get scarfed up by your “little helpers.”

blackout5To assemble the cake: Place one layer on a serving plate. For best presentation, lay strips of parchment around the edge of the plate before setting the cake on top; these will catch the inevitable icing drips, and can be removed once you’re done icing the cake.

Top the cake with the filling, spreading it evenly to the edges. Center the second layer of cake atop the filling.

IMG_5001Now, it you poured the filling into an 8″ round cake pan, you should be able to center it over the cake, tap the pan to release the filling/parchment, then peel off the parchment.

That was my theory, anyway. The implementation was something else again. I thought the filling, with the aid of the parchment, would just sliiiiiiide on out, right onto the cake.

Wrong.

It stuck. I shook the pan. Nothing. I shook harder. PLOP.

Unfortunately, by that time the pan was no longer centered over the cake. So after peeling off the parchment, I had to take a spatula and noodge and spread the filling from its precarious overhang on one side of the cake, to the bare edge of cake on the other side.

IMG_5004All’s well that ends well, right? And frosting, as always, can hide a multitude of cake-baking sins.

Now, back to that ganache.

blackout8Beat the chilled ganache briefly, until it thickens a bit and becomes spreadable; this only took me about 30 seconds at high speed of my KitchenAid.

Spread the icing over the top and onto the sides of the cake. Crumble the reserved cake, and gently press it onto the top and sides of the assembled cake.

Serve immediately, if desired.

IMG_5069However, an hour or so in the fridge helps set the filling, making the cake easier to slice cleanly.

See how neat and tidy the serving plate is once you pull away those parchment strips?

This cake is best served the same day it’s made, or within 24 hours. Freeze, well-wrapped, for longer storage. You may also choose to freeze individual slices – for those times when you HAVE to have a piece of chocolate cake!

IMG_5064In this late afternoon slant of light, you can really see the red from the Cocoa Rouge, can’t you?

So: soft (yet firm enough to slice) filling; fudge-like ganache icing; the cake itself, with its moist crumb and wonderful chocolate flavor; and those soft crumbs pressed over everything… well, it’s not surprising everyone loves this distinctive cake.

And, while it takes quite a few (simple) steps to make it, trust me; it’s worth every one.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Chocolate Fudge “Blackout” Cake.

Print just the recipe.

 

 

boingboing_net

California runaway teen survives flight to Hawaii in plane's wheel well

http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/dlVUh-6zfF4/story01.htm

http://boingboing.net/?p=298530

"A 16-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii on Sunday, surviving the trip halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen," reports the AP.

The young man snuck aboard from San Jose, CA, and made it to Maui. The FBI is questioning him.

“Kid's lucky to be alive,” said an FBI agent, who explained that the boy ran away from his family after an argument.






dilbertdaily

Comic for April 21, 2014

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DilbertDailyStrip/~3/ZNNWKZjv6PI/

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2014-04-21/

Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.

apod

Ash and Lightning above an Icelandic Volcano

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap140420.html

Why did a picturesque Why did a picturesque


wordsmith_daily

tractable

http://wordsmith.org/words/tractable.html

Easily handled, managed, or controlled.

calendula_witch

Home Just Like That

Whirlwind weekend! Norwescon was lots of fun–lots of people saw Mark’s art in the art show and liked it, and we saw lots of fun people in the bar and liked that too. :-) No programming, which (speaking of liking things) is just how I like cons.

I did spend significant chunks of time in our room, writing: I got to the end of the Our Lady of the Islands rewrite. Which doesn’t mean it’s done; it means I got to “the end”. Now I have to go back through and fill in all the bracketed bits and the “add scene here” parts, and generally reread and make sure it still makes as much sense as I think it does. And I have a whole week to do that! Sort of. More or less.

We drove up and back with Camille and Claude, which is just as much fun as you might think: i.e., tons. And I did actual business at the con as well (I mean, lest you think I drove hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to write in a hotel room and get drunk with my friends).

So, a successful weekend all around. And we came home to a completed deck and greenhouse! But it was dark when we got here, so though we’ve wandered all around it looking at everything, it was kind of hard to see, and impossible to photograph. So: tomorrow for that.

For now, I’ve still got several hundred pages of the book-group-book to read before Tuesday’s meeting, so…I’m off to do that. And sleep in my own bed. Ahhh…..


Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.


mechaieh

meeting doggies in St. Louis

This is Charma, the young Kerry Blue Terrier who was the "guest dog" at the Museum of the Dog in St. Louis this past Saturday.

Charma

As Herb and Kathy (her handlers) put it, she was "pushy-friendly." I told them that was exactly what my own dog is like. Charma greeted me by sniffing at the band-aid on my knee. Herb and Kathy told me about the local breeding and dog show scene and showed me how Charma's fur was turning blue lower down, closer to her belly.

Upstairs, the artifacts included a handsome armchair with daschund-shaped armrests:

armchair with dachshund-head armrests

armrest

Downstairs, the painting I kept returning to was Kathy Jakobsen's Dog Walking in Central Park. It is fabulously detailed (dog in a fountain! dog in a bike basket! doggies lined up like ducklings! dog distracted by something while two mohawked lovers embrace!) and I've requested her book on New York from the library because I want to see more. There were also exhibits on military dogs, police dogs, sled dogs, show dogs...

I wasn't expecting to pet any dogs today (although they are allowed at my hotel), but at Shu Feng's, there was a five-month-old Afghan Hound puppy, owned by two young women hanging out en route to a very dressy party. Like them, Sunshine was sleek and friendly. ;-)

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/81328.html.

jtdiii

A busy weekend...

So on Thursday my manager mentioned it was the end of the week.  I looked confused and then thought about what to do on Good Friday...

Friday Morning I got up, and started embroidering aprons for a friend.  His son owns a breakfast shop and wanted to give all of his workers name aprons.  I had to play for a bit to get the positioning and what fabric was needed to reinforce the edge of the apron so the hoop would hold it.   Friday afternoon I drove to Boston in some of the worst Easter/Marathon/Patriot's day traffic I have ever seen.  I picked up Devin at the MIT Museum and we went fabric shopping at the Cambridge and Framingham Sewfisticated Fabrics.  Linen selection was lousy... If we had more time I would have stopped at Fabric Place Basement, they are more expensive but at least have better linen.  We then headed back to traffic to movie night at her place where we were introducing a single new person to Dr Horrible's Blog.  I am not certain if having a room full of people scream out lines helped him to understand the movie...  All in all it was a great group and a lot of fun, although Crotch Frog as a drinking game seemed a bit weird.

Sat Morning found me driving home through much lighter traffic.  I was making good time and almost to I-84 when my eyelids drooped.  Not enough to cause any swerving, but it still scared me witless.  I had a full bladder and had eaten some carb heavy pizza for dinner and that can cause sleepiness as you drop from a too high sugar reading.  Even worse you normally do not notice it...  I pulled over first chance I could hit the bathroom, napped briefly, awoke, pounded a diet coke for more caffeine and broke into my emergency milk dud collection figuring it was better to have too much sugar in my system until I could get home and fall asleep properly.  No more nodding episodes and I made it home safely.  Awoke later that morning and headed out to Balfar's Challenge.  This is always a fun event at the beginning of spring.  Lots of merchants, Chef Jaji with an ever flowing day board with multiple grilled meats and lots of interesting pickled veggies.  I made several deliveries, picked up some useful fabrics and went home.  There I baked three chocolate cakes for a desert I was to assemble the next day;.

Sun Morning I work up, sliced the chocolate cakes and combined with whipped cream, various fresh fruits, and several interesting jams and jellies and some black cherries and syrup into a Black Forest Trifle.  I then drove that south for an Easter dinner with my family including my new great Niece who is out of the hospital and still looking tiny but much larger than in the incubator. The trifle was a hit and half way home my Niece's fiance called up in a panic, please bring home some trifle...  My sister who was holding a pan of it at the time assured him that it would be done.  I drove home with no issues and have been embroidering a few more aprons.  Alas I was hoping to have all of them done, but it looks like only 2/3rds will be done by tomorrow.  Ah well one more day should not be a killer.

Apr. 20th, 2014


nihilistic_kid

Sunday catch-up

I think I friended everyone now.

Here's a good pic and story of my grandfather, from my cousin's partner's Facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.27.29 PM

Sorry I missed most of you at Norwescon. Between obligations, I mostly just retreated to my room.

In good Norwescon news, Toh EnJoe won the Philip K. Dick Special Citation for Self-Reference ENGINE. See?

enjoe
If you have any interest at all in SF that is simultaneously hard and Phildickean, get this book.

boingboing_net

Game of Thrones recap: 'Breaker Of Chains' explores the many feuds of House Lannister [season 4, epi

http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/B6GRVmnPWIw/story01.htm

http://boingboing.net/?p=298091

HBO sent the first three episodes of this fourth season of Game Of Thrones out to critics. “Breaker Of Chains” is probably the most uneven of the three, and the one most sorely lacking a big event around which the rest of the scenes can hinge. But it has the most thematically intriguing back-to-back scenes of the season so far, and those scenes cement that season four is predominantly a story about the woefully unhappy Lannisters attempting to quell family infighting to keep an iron grip on the Iron Throne.

The episode picks up just before the end of what fans of the series have dubbed the Purple Wedding, as Cersei screams at the top of her lungs for Tyrion to be arrested for Joffrey’s murder, and frantically demands Sansa be taken into custody as well. But let’s skip ahead to those two incredible scenes in the Great Sept of Baelor, both of which take place with Joffrey’s cold, lifeless body lying in the center of the room, ever-present in nearly all shots in this location.

Tywin Lannister, as played excellently by Charles Dance, is one of the most fascinating characters in the giant patchwork of Westeros. He’s the only character I care about enough to have watch one of those extensive YouTube supercuts stringing together all of his scenes in one video. (It’s a marvel how memorable he is with only around 85 minutes of screen time. What a supercut like that reveals is how maniacally obsessed Tywin is with preserving the permanent honor and prominence of House Lannister. In a previous season he made passing mention to his father, who nearly let the house fall into some ruin. As such, he’s made it his life’s mission to further the reputation of House Lannister at the cost of any happiness for his children, who he commands to do their duty to the family at all costs.

He’s also suffered personally since his wife died in childbirth. That doesn’t excuse his cold and dismissive attitude toward Tyrion, whom he continually mocks for being a freak who killed his wife coming into the world. But, like Cersei’s monologue about how she became hardened to the institution of marriage after being repeatedly raped by Robert, it explains how his personality has frozen into a cruel and loveless man who only thinks of pragmatic and cunning political and military strategy. He’s attempting to engineer a dynasty, and having won the war for control of the Iron Throne, he’s trying to keep hold of it—like those exceedingly wealthy families who attend conferences to learn strategies to make that wealth last for countless generations in the future.

Cersei and her younger son Tommen stand in the Sept, looking upon Joffrey’s body, when Tywin walks in and begins questioning Tommen. He’s the new King, and since Tywin is still the hand, he questions the boy about the qualities of a good king. It’s part history lesson on past rulers, part vicious insult to Robert Baratheon (Cersei’s deceased husband and Tommen’s father—Tywin does not pull punches), but mostly leading and manipulating the boy to the conclusion that he should trust his advisors. Joffrey wasn’t a wise king, and wasn’t a good king, and that’s probably why he’s dead at such a young age. Tommen will be a “good king” because he’s less likely to get in the way with his own aspirations. He’ll leave well enough alone while Tywin and the big boys hog the real power to themselves.

Tywin’s tone is so uncaring toward his daughter and dead grandson throughout the entire conversation perspective, but tact has always come secondary to sound strategy with the Lannister patriarch. He ignores Joffrey’s corpse as the remains of an uncontrollable brat now lost to history for good, and instead takes the new extension of the Lannister line on the throne under his wing to begin tutelage. Cersei’s reaction to her father’s constant question is remorse, as she blindly mourns the terror she brought up and could not control in the same way Tywin dominates his three children.

Wracked by grief, suspicion, and bloodlust, Cersei starts the episode as a screeching harpy, almost entirely unsympathetic as she moronically accuses her brother and his wife Sansa of Joffrey’s murder instead of, oh, I don’t know, any of the significantly more viable suspects, from Oberyn Martell to just about anyone other that Tyrion. As Dinklage says when his squire Podric comes to visit him in his prison cell: if he’d attempted to kill the king, he never would’ve designed it so that he ended up holding the cup and gawking right at Joffrey in the final moments. (For the record, the probable culprits have been sussed out elsewhere on the Internet. I don’t want to go into full spoiler territory, but a certain piece of less-than-reputable crystal jewelry may have been involved, unbeknownst to its owner at the time. Read the full story here if you know what this is about.)

The one real moment of humor during this scene is the transition, as Tywin leads Tommen out of the Sept while tentatively delving into the Westeros version of “The Birds And The Bees” talk. Jamie enters, and like any father-pretending-to-be-uncle would do, he attempts to comfort and reassure Tommen of his safety. And then the twin Lannister children are alone in the Sept. Cersei ceaselessly demands that Jamie, the father of her royal children, the subject of pernicious (true) rumors that threaten to disgrace the family, kill their brother Tyrion because she’s so (foolishly) sure that he murdered Joffrey despite the fact that he had little to gain by doing it except more ire from the family members he’s trying to avoid because they want him dead.

It’s at this moment, when Cersei is at her most insanely incredulous, that the two siblings give into the heightened emotion of the moment alone and kiss. But when Cersei pulls away, Jamie’s anger at her rejection ignites, and the tone flips almost immediately as he lashes out verbally and then proceeds to violently rape his sister, over her repeated protestations, up against the stone slab that supports the recently murdered body of their son. Cersei pleads, “Stop,” over and over again. Jamie says, “No.” Cersei screams, “It’s not right.” Jamie grunts, “I don’t care.”

It’s unflinchingly brutal, one of the most viscerally upsetting scenes depicted in an episode of Game Of Thrones that I can think of. (There have been other rapes that are only described, which have sounded more violent, but that scale is wholly useless.) Jamie, overcome with grief for his son, still upset at losing his hand and along with it his identity as a swordsman, lashes out at the woman he loves who continues to deny him. Again, like much of the behavior of the main figures in House Lannister, it’s not an excuse, merely an explanation for his complexity. This is why, for all the things Jamie says to Brienne, and that fledgling friendship, I still can’t root for the guy. He’s black as dragonglass at his core, but then again, so is Cersei. These are two morally complex characters who inflict terrible things upon outsiders and each other.

Tywin’s insistence on reputation and family prominence over any personal happiness may be working out in the short term of this single generation. After all, the Lannisters are still on the throne and control the realm. But the damage Tywin has inflicted upon his children means that the greatest threat to a millennia of Lannister rule atop the Iron Throne isn’t some outside army staking a claim and laying seize to King’s Landing, nor is it the threat of the Targaryen girl with three dragons across the sea—it’s the discord within the family itself, so tenuously holding on while privately falling to pieces. Tywin hasn’t been proven an utter hypocrite yet, like many of the other characters, but I think it’s safe to say at some point, all of that fervent abuse and strict control will come back to bite the Lannister patriarch right in the solar plexus.

Tyrion has demonstrated his motivation to help his family, similar to his father (and seeking approval though he’d never admit it and Tywin would never grant it), but also to do what little he can for the good of the realm, like in the Battle of Blackwater Bay, or his cunning logic. But he’s trapped in yet another trial situation, left high and dry as the prime suspect in a king’s murder. Sansa flees the capital, aided by Joffrey’s fool, who brings her out of the city to a boat where Lord Petyr Baelish awaits. He engineered the opportunity for Sansa to escape, and it’s not too much of a leap to presume he had a hand in Joffrey’s demise as well. That leaves Tyrion without a strong character witness. His goodbye to Podric is quite touching. That shred of decent humanity, coupled with his concern for Shae, his comedic barbs aimed at Tywin, Cersei, and just about everyone else, Tyrion is the Lannister who has been mistreated the most but managed to sweep as much as possible under the rug to keep on living. These Lannisters are alone at the top of Westeros now, but they’re finding that it’s lonely on the peak, and once up there the only people left to fight with belong to the family.

 

Extra Thoughts

• Sam decides to move Gilly to a nearby village so she’s not in danger of any criminals forced to join the Night’s Watch attempting to assault her. To a certain extent Sam is correct to worry about danger coming to Caslte Black, though for another reason, since the Wildlings are canvassing lands south of the Wall and massacring villages. When that news reaches the Night’s Watch, it combines with the surviving members of what turned into a mutiny group at Craster’s Keep. Jon Snow correctly observes that they now need to seek out those mutineers and put them down, lest Mance Rayder learn that the force at the Wall is significantly diminished.

• Two other small check-ins this week: The Hound takes advantage of a kind man who shelters him and Arya for the night, leading to a confrontation over her not recognizing that things are bad, and weak people just plain won’t survive in a harsh world like that. And Davos comes up with a plan to potentially get Stannis the troops he desires, now tht his fortunes have improved with Joffrey’s death.

• Which brings us to Daenerys, tucked in right at the end of the episode once again so she can make a big dramatic speech and order some kind action that seems badass thanks to the swelling soundtrack. She’s a fan favorite, but really she’s a naïve liberator who hasn’t had the chance to settle down and actually attempt to rule. If she conquers Mereen, then she’ll finally have the chance to prove she can build something viable instead of just marauding and toppling slave cities and increasing her reputation by freeing all the slaves.

 








boingboing_net

Mystery tool in my backyard

http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/3Hf9VWo_Gsk/story01.htm

http://boingboing.net/?p=298519

Found this today in a seldom-visited area of our backyard. Looks handmade, with a piece of tire on one end, a tape covered shaft, and a hook on the other end. No idea what it is.









suricattus

So, this weekend...

Nice weather and occasional walks, broken up by an Unexpected Vet Visit (CatofSize now has painkillers for his knee, and we'll revisit the possibility of x-rays next week, if he's not healed by then) and Digestive Discomfort, aka "LAG spent much of the weekend on the sofa bitching about her internal organs."

Which means I'm behind on both writing and editing. Argh. This week is going to have to kick into high gear, and then some, no matter what my body wants.


Meanwhile, I managed - by dint of sleeping through a lot of it - to miss most of the noise about the Hugo nominations. But yes, congrats to the Hugo nominees who earned their reader-acclaim! I'm not going to single anyone out because I have a lot of friends on the list and I'll doubtless forget someone, but I cheered each and every one of you... and no, I'm not a voting member so yes I CAN say I'm rooting for you all!

cmpriest

Your loneliness says that you've sinned

Just the weekend word metrics tonight, folks. Not that anyone's likely to see them on a Sunday night, but I'm trying to get my momentum back up in full swing - and reporting progress is part of that momentum. So here goes.

Here's recent progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 2537
    Present total word count: 67411



    Things accomplished in fiction: Got some bad news that was entirely expected, but nonetheless shitty; learned of a plan that is likewise bad, but unsurprising; got our first POV glimpse of the Biggest Big Bad (as opposed to the junior version).

    Next up: Finish the new Big Bad's commentary; return to Storage Room Six for a consultation. There's not much good left in the city, not many good places left, either. It's not perfect, but the good guys will take what they can get. They don't have a choice.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunts with dog; went to lunch with a couple of old friends and the husband; made plans for a visit with a different old friend; answered a bunch of email; fielded a couple of phone calls; did a couple loads of laundry; did some minor yardwork; did a bit of reading for the first time in far too long.

    Other: My discipline is improving, and progress is being made. Sometimes it's hard to get into the swing of things, when hopping from project to project - but I need to make the most of this time, before I fly out for San Diego at the end of the month. Because after I get back, I need to dive back into the next round of edits on Princess X - which are due in the middle of May. And as I've learned the hard way, I just can't work on both at once.

    Bride of Other: If you'll scroll just a smidge farther, you'll see that over the weekend I cracked 100k words (of fiction) for the year. I'd throw myself a little confetti party, except that it doesn't feel like enough. I wanted to hit an average of 1k a day, and so far that hasn't happened. Have I been a miserable slouch? No. But I can do better, and I damned well should. I pretty much need to, this year.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 100,804

stina_leicht

Happy Bunny Day!

A Happy Easter to those who celebrate. (And Happy Sunday to those that don't.) Norwescon was amazingly amazing again--like it always is. The panels were fantastic. (I even sat on a couple that I wasn't scheduled for.) So many wonderful people and conversations and good times... alas some of it is kind of blurring together. Kat Richerson and I roomed together and had a blast. (I love having a roommate. It brings a slumber party air to the whole thing.) We yammered until 3-4am every night. This is why my brains are a bit fried. I didn't hang out with all the people I wanted to see, but that happens every time. A least I got to see a few folks and met many new ones. G. Willow Wilson was fantastic--so very fantastic. It was like meeting an old friend. I could easily see us getting up to no good, fast. So, I suppose it's a good thing I missed her the rest of the convention. The panels were so great. Sooooo great. I learned a lot. The only times the panels felt a bit off were when there weren't enough people on them. It makes it harder to keep the conversation rolling. And I felt my reading could've gone better... but I was jet-lagged in a big way, and I haven't practiced that piece much yet.

The plan is to hang around Seattle until May 1st. I want to see Liz Argal, maybe hang out with Alex in Portland, see Fawn+1 and Pat, and Shelly Rae Clift, and... and... I love Seattle. So many incredible people. I want to go for long walks too. The trees, ocean, and mountains are inspiring. Just... yayayayay!

Hugs out to everyone. I'm going to nap now. Brain has stopped braining, I suspect. 

jorhett

Learning MCollective now available in Early Release


Learning MCollective is now available in Early Release.

This has pretty much every chapter and subchapter we expect to have in the final book, but my editor and I are still polishing some rough edges. As O’Reilly says on their website:

You’ll receive updates when content is added, as well as the completed ebooks. You get free lifetime access, multiple file formats, and free updates.


You can read the original article at http://www.netconsonance.com/2014/03/learning-mcollective-available-in-early-release/. Comments are welcome here or there as you please.

desperance

Mine

Yesterday we were mostly out, at the farmers' market and the community garden plant sale and an SCA event down by Hollister*. Today I am mostly in and out about the house, getting things done in the garden and in the kitchen and on the computer.

Here's a thing, though: I do love growing fruits and vegetables, and I do enjoy preparing and cooking and eating them - but I really, really don't like picking, gathering, harvesting. I leave things way too long on the plant or in the ground, often till they run to seed or rot or get eaten by snails or [your catastrophic ending here]. Partly I think it's a remembered aversion to family outings; I always hated blackberrying, everything about it was a disappointment, from the physical uncomfort to the lamentable quantities we gathered to the eventual taste of what we did with 'em. And then seeds got stuck between my teeth.

Mostly, though, I think it's an aspect of my hoardy nature. If I pick them, then I don't have them any longer, y'know?

Obviously, I could do with getting over this. I am trying. I haven't quite settled on dinner tonight, but we have rice and green garlic and fava beans, and chicken and kale tops and sugar snap peas, and two elements of that are from my garden**. And today I'm putting in a lot more harvestable commodities, courtesy of the Charles St Gardens people: tomatoes and peppers and Chinese long beans and lemongrass***.

As it happens, I am also working through the final draft of Being Small, and as it happens, this text is also very much about hoarding, inter alia. There are rumours that aspects may be vaguely autobiographical****.

Here, have a snippet from early on. The boy is speaking of his mother and her Moleskine habit:

She scatters, where I glean. She sketches on one side of the paper only, leaves whole pages blank and then abandons what she’s made. I gather them up, these little black books, I hoard them all and write on the reverse, in all the blanks, I fill those bare white spaces. Profligacy, parsimony: she can’t keep hold of what’s important, and I can’t let anything go. I’m only ever generous with words. Even then, my handwriting is – well, crabbed. Tight, held back, to make the most of all that open paper. Controlled or cramped or crushed; cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d. What I’m trying not to say, since you ask, what I like never to say is that it’s small.


*I mention this only for the amusement of the young, who have Hollister spelled out on half their clothing and have no idea that it's a place of remarkable meaninglessness, worth mentioning only because there is nothing there worth mentioning.

**From the fava jungle and the kale trees, since you ask.

***Actually I'm quite good about harvesting herbs. Also, another thing I'm doing today, I"m hacking back the rosemary before it eats us entirely. The way I"m treating it, in England it would certainly die; I just hope my California friends are right in their sanguinity.

****Oh, hush.

xiphias

It is possible that there exists such a thing as good slivovitz.

Honestly, it's totally possible that someone makes a slivovitz that isn't a harsh rotgut. But if there is, I don't want it. Oh, I'd probably TASTE a slivovitz that had depth, character, and smoothness, but I wouldn't drink it regularly. Slivovitz is a drink I drink to prove that I'm strong enough to drink mean without becoming mean.

boingboing_net

Easter Bunny hates you

http://feeds.boingboing.net/~r/boingboing/iBag/~3/CJiYBiqb0XI/story01.htm

http://boingboing.net/?p=298512

I have always loved this. Happy holiday.

Video link







jorhett

ActiveMQ 5.9.1 RPM for CentOS / RHEL 6

There are some significant scaling issues with ActiveMQ 5.8 and MCollective, especially around SSL connections. I’ve been working with some clients and solved many of these problems by using ActiveMQ 5.9.1 as the middleware.

I’ve created an RPM for Active 5.9.1 on RHEL/CentOS that matches the one published on the Puppet Labs EL6 dependencies repository, with the following changes:

Read the rest of this entry »

You can read the original article at http://www.netconsonance.com/2014/04/activemq-5-9-1-for-centos-rhel-6/. Comments are welcome here or there as you please.

supergee

Cranky old fan

I am so old and out of touch that most of the names on the Hugo ballot mean nothing to me, but it's about time Steve Stiles (last of the paper fanzine people) got the Fan Artist award, and I'm rooting for Noah Ward vis-à-vis Opera Vita Aeterna and series almost Aeterna.
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supergee

Mass market paperbacks

You remember mass market paperbacks
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james_nicoll

While granting up front such things are likely to end tears

What would a modern attempt to emulate the Lensman series, this time with better prose, look like? Assume "it would have better prose" is covered.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

hawkwing_lb

Books 2014: caffeine headaches are a cruelty I inflicted on myself

Books 2014: 66-71


66. Patrick Weekes, Dragon Age: The Masked Empire. Tor, 2014. ARC from Tor.com.

Read for review at Tor.com.


67. Seanan McGuire, Sparrow Hill Road. DAW, 2014. ARC from Tor.com.

Read for review at Tor.com.


68. R.S.A. Garcia, Lex Talionis. Dragonwell Publishing, 2014. ARC via a friend who is a friend of the author.

This is an interesting debut effort that shows promise, but structurally the execution lacks coherence and suffers from a case of and also the kitchen sink in terms of what kind of story it is trying to be. (It is also in many respects setting itself up as the first novel in a series: it is not satisfactorily complete in itself in my view.) It is an enjoyable novel if you can live with its structural problems.


69. Max Gladstone, Two Serpents Rise. Tor, 2013.

Gladstone's second novel is one that I found difficult to get into at first. In fact, it took reading his third novel for me to go back and get past the bit I was sticking on. But once past the hump (past page fifty or so) it turns into something tense and great: not quite as good for me as Three Parts Dead or Full Fathom Five, but still an excellent entry by a writer who's shaping up to be one of the field's best new voices.


70. Max Gladstone, Full Fathom Five. Tor, 2014. ARC from Tor.com.

Read for review at Tor.com. A novel I really enjoyed.


Nonfiction

71. Sahar Amer, Crossing Borders: Love Between Women in Medieval French and Arabic Literatures. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2008.

This is an interesting, illuminating analysis of literary connections between medieval French and Arabic literature in the area of love between women. Amer's arguments for reading the presence of silent "lesbian" or "lesbian-like" relations in some medieval French poetry are not always convincing, but her arguments about the limited nature of only seeing intertextuality in direct textual influence are persuasive. Too, this is perhaps the first book I have read that incorporates an accessible English-language introductory summary of same-sex and particularly lesbian love in medieval Arabic literature. I've added several titles to my list of "medieval Arabic texts in translation I want to read," even if some of them are in French. (One day I will have the leisure to learn classical Arabic. And German.)

This entry was originally posted at http://hawkwing-lb.dreamwidth.org/603204.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there. Comment where you like.

tordotcom

Announcing the 2013 British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award Winners

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Torcom/Frontpage_Partial/~3/3kZOE42mpLA/announcing-the-2013-bsfa-award-winners

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/04/announcing-the-2013-bsfa-award-winners

The British Science Fiction Association announced the winners for their annual BSFA Awards at Satellite EasterCon today in Glasgow, Scotland. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

[2013 BFSA Award Winners]

Read the full article


james_nicoll

BSFA Award Winners

They are reported to be:

Novel:
Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE
Gareth L. Powell’s ACK-ACK MACAQUE

Short Story:
Nina Allen, “Spin.”

Art:
Joey HiFi, with the art for DREAM LONDON.

Nonfiction:
Jeff Vandermeer, WONDERBOOK

I will tidy this up I get home.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

rolanni

The view from my keyboard




Trooper, hard at work Photo by Sharon Lee


Trooper, hard at work,
with his toes like a catcher's mitt.
Photo by Sharon Lee



aliettedb

Some thoughts on the Hugo nominees

That’s a bit of a misleading post title, I’m afraid… I’m not going to comment at length because it’s a bit churlish to comment on a ballot one is part of, and also because my brains are fried (thanks to the snakelet, whom I think is secretly a zombie–has uncontrolled gestures, drools all the time, eats Mom’s brains, what more evidence do you need?). But, more seriously–broadly, I agree with John Scalzi on the matter: you may or may not agree with the particular people on the ballot, but insofar as I know everyone has full rights to be there.
(as John points out, it doesn’t mean everyone gets automatic first place votes, or even votes above No Award).

Also, whatever your thoughts on the ballot, please read and vote? The Hugos won’t be a huge inclusive award unless there are lots of voters reflecting all walks of fandom, and this year is already on track to have a record number of voters–which is great. FYI, if you’re not attending Worlcon it’s not too late for a supporting membership, which nets you the voter’s packet–lots of good fiction–and voting rights. Remember it’s an Australian system, i.e. ranking by preference, which, by cushioning much of the effect of a splitting of votes, allows you to express several preferences, though it’s not a panacea.

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

Leave a comment at original post, or comment here.

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james_nicoll

The logical next step

Scalzi tries to put as nice a face on the current situation, which I guess he has to because it was the normalization of blatant self-promotion that got us here and he played a significant role in making it acceptable.

Anyway, since we're stuck in a situation where organized slates enjoy an advantage (at least as far as nominations go), the next step would seem to be formal parties, each offering a different slate of candidates. How many of those do you think are viable in a system like the Hugos?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

snopes_dot_com

Tiger Beat

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/sabertoothclone.asp

Have Japanese scientists successfully cloned a saber-tooth tiger?

oursin

But you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Naughton

The guy is technology correspondent on The Observer, reviewing a book, The People's Platform, about The Internet. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/19/peoples-platform-review-astra-taylor-internet

In this he mentions the 'startling' instances of gender imbalance and asks:
Why there is not more public debate on this?

AAARRGH.

Okay, maybe it is the particular corners of the Web that I frequent, but yr hedjog notes no lack of debate, comment and protest precisely on this issue. Which suggests to me that Mr N is not looking in the right places, no?

This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2079295.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

makinglight

On the science-fiction world's topic du jour

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/015838.html

I pretty much agree with this.

On suggestions that the Hugo Awards process is hopeless, terrible, should be replaced by a panel of experts / my friends / cosmic overminds from Aldebaran: Yes, well. The Hugos are what they are--a popular award for certain kinds of SF and fantasy-related activities, open to anyone who wants to participate and who's willing to buy a Worldcon membership. And administered by volunteers who are responsible for keeping procedures in compliance with a set of rules maintained and amended over several decades in a democratic, transparent process open to all Worldcon members. Of course that means the Hugos have flaws. So do juried awards, your friends, and, probably, cosmic overminds from Aldebaran. Best advice: Enjoy awards; don't let them bend you too far out of shape.

On not being a finalist this year for Best Professional Editor (Long Form): Look! There isn't a single person who's been nominated in this category every year since it began in 2007. This is a mark of a successful category. Meanwhile, all of the five people who are finalists are entirely deserving--and whichever one wins, they'll be a first-time winner.

On stories from Tor.com making up over one-third of the short-fiction finalists: LOUD CRIES OF WOO HOO. And congratulations to Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages ("Wakulla Springs," best novella), Charles Stross ("Equoid," best novella), Mary Robinette Kowal ("The Lady Astronaut of Mars," best novelette), Thomas Olde Heuvelt ("The Ink Readers of Doi Saket," best short story), and Viable Paradise alumnus John Chu ("The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere," best short story).

Oh, and for those of you going "huh?", here's the full list of this year's Hugo Award finalists. Let the commenting begin!


shewhomust

The hypothetical hunters of Banna

Birdoswald is a fort on the Roman Wall, which we have visited before, but long ago - certainly not since the metal bridge at Willowford was built in 2001. Our first visit was while it was still being run as a farm - until 1984 - but we've been back since then, surely? Though not since it came into the keeping of English Heritage. Anyway, I keep saying I want to visit, and we keep saying we will and then not doing it; it's just that bit longer a journey.

I said some of this to S., who is organised and efficient, and she replied that it would be a good trip for the three of us to make this weekend. So that's what we did on Friday.

It's a drive of about an hour west from Newcastle. The sun was shining and the hedges were heavy with blossom on the blackthorn, and the verges golden with dandelions: I've never noticed them blooming as thickly as they are this spring, and though it could be that I've never paid attention in the right place at the right time, I don't think so, I think there is a particularly good crop. We arrived at Birdoswald in time for coffee in their tea-shop, and for a look around the exhibition - all new since my last visit. The guidebook is lavishly illustrated with items found on the site, but these are mostly in the museum in Carlisle. The exhibition maintains that the really exciting things are here, or are intangible: the archaeology that revealed a great wooden hall from the post-Roman 'Dark Ages' built on the foundations of the granaries, the altar inscribed Deo Sancto Silvano Venatores Banniess ('dedicated to Silvanus by the Venatores [are they hunters?] Bannienses') from which we infer that the fort was known to the Romans as 'Banna', though it seems a substantial inference to build on one inscription. Nor could I see any sign of lettering on the stone which identifies the third century garrison as I Aelia Dacorum, though this I will take on trust, since I am pleased to learn how early the first recorded Romanian immigrants arrived.

I had a brief failure to grasp the layout of fort itself; leaving the courtyard, you walk round the old farmhouse (now available to rent, if you need hostel accommodation for 40) and find yourself in a fenced area like a gravelled garden. Beyond the fence is lush grass and a massive stone wall leading away - but this isn't the Wall, it's the wall of the fort, and the field it encloses contains not only sheep but the humps and bumps of the remaining buildings. It has, I think, all been excavated, but then covered over for conservation. We wandered around the granaries, and I took many pictures, but the camera doesn't see what the eye does, and refuses to convey the compositions of stone below, blue sky and bare trees above, and sheep peacefully grazing in between that I thought I was photgraphing. Still, it's hard to go wrong with Roman stone:

Old stones


This is the masonry of the east gate. When we had circled the entire perimeter of the fort, and gone to the edge of the headland to peer down at the river Irthing below (not far at all, and some of the outer buildings have already vanished over the edge), we were ready for lunch. We found this close by, at Slack House Farm, where I ate a ploughman's lunch consisting of two massive wedges of their own Birdoswald cheese (I preferred the younger, creamier version, though the aged was a perfectly respectable cheddar-type cheese), good wholemeal bread and pickles. Beyond the viewing window, someone was hard at work making more cheese.

After this we felt ready to return to the Wall, and follow it away from the fort, to the point where it crosses the Irthing - or rather, to the point where it used to cross the Irthing, which has now moved a substantial distance away. It's a steep descent from the milecastle to the new footbridge, and a path of loose stones which isn't pleasant to walk on. I took it slowly, and paused to admire the blackthorn, and two tiny violets huddling together in the grass. But the bridge abutment was well worth the effort, and we had the satisfaction of confirming that the climb back up from the river was much easier (I was expecting this, and was still surprised how much easier it was).

We drove back to Newcastle along the Military Road, which follows the line of the Wall: and S. gave us tea and biscuits and sent us home.

lsanderson

My tweets

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dilbertdaily

Comic for April 20, 2014

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DilbertDailyStrip/~3/RfbNmtQqYeQ/

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2014-04-20/

Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.

scalzifeed

No, The Hugo Nominations Were Not Rigged

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/20/no-the-hugo-nominations-were-not-rigged/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/?p=24332

Just to pull this out and give it its own post for emphasis.

So, apparently Larry Correia and Vox Day offered on their Web sites a slate of suggested nominees for several Hugo categories, and several of their suggested nominees hit the final ballot. This has made a number of people feel things ranging from annoyance to outrage, with the commensurate suggestion that, if such a thing is not illegal, then it’s at least just not done. So let me offer a couple of thoughts.

1. Does what these two fellows have done contravene the actual Hugo nomination rules? If they answer is “no” (and it does in fact appear to be “no”), then fair play. Game on.

2. As to the “it’s just not done” thing: Well, now it has. And as it’s been done, and it’s by all indications entirely legal, wasting time griping that it’s happened, with regards to this year’s voting, seems like frittering to me. Again: Game on.

3. But it’s also not entirely honest to say that it’s not been done before, either. Lots of people suggest or at least remind people of their own works for consideration (I do the latter); lots of people suggest or at least remind people of the works of others for consideration. Just this year I suggested Abagail Nussbaum for Fan Writer; there she is on the ballot. Was my recommendation causative? Maybe, maybe not (I suspect not — she’s built a reputation over a number of years), but the point is I made the recommendation.

The new wrinkle here would be Correia/Day allegedly exhorting a comprehensive slate of nominees for the purpose of annoying people they would like to annoy, rather than with regard to the quality of the works offered. I’m not sure that’s the whole story (From what I can see, I think the list was composed to highlight works these fellows found worthy, and also, as a bonus, they thought they’d annoy some folks in the bargain). But again, even if the least charitable interpretation holds, see point one and point two. You may see this as a cynical, contemptuous of the awards and the people who vote for them, and just a real dick move. But even if it were, eh. Yet again: this is the hand the Hugos are dealt this year. Let’s go ahead and play it.

4. More to the point for me, even if we were to grant that a slate of nominees was engineered to get on the ballot for the purposes of annoying some voters, and to make some obtuse point about politics and the Hugos, why should anyone be obliged to play along by those assertions? To paraphrase a point I made yesterday on Twitter, how terrible it would be if someone elbowed their way onto the Hugo list to make a political point, and all that happened was that their nominated work was judged solely by its artistic merits.

If work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to its quality, and it is crap, you’re going to know it when you read that work, and you should judge it accordingly. And if a work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to the quality, and it’s pretty good, you’re going to know that too — and you should judge it accordingly. If you believe that these fellows pushed their way onto the list to make a political point, nothing will annoy them more than for their work to be considered fairly. It undermines their entire point.

It doesn’t mean you give a work an award, if you find it lacking. But you treat it fairly. And yes, it’s entirely possible that in this formulation, anything less than a win will be seen by them as evidence of politics. But again: Why would you accede to such assertions? If their works win, good for them. If they lose, that’s life. Speaking as a six-time Hugo loser, who once lost a Hugo by a single vote, let me just say that when you’re a grown-up, you learn to accept you don’t get everything you want.

5. Please also keep in mind that even if you believe that the list is a cynical exercise, there are people and work on that list who may be well worth consideration, who may or may not have even known they were part of (or would have consented to) being part of a cynical exercise. Consider that you would be doing them (and the Hugos) a disservice to dismiss them out of hand. I’ve seen rumblings of people suggesting they’ll put everyone on the Correia/Day slate below “no award” no matter what, but if you’re doing that, you’re making these fellows’ alleged point for them. Again: Why do that? It’s nearly as easy to read a work (or at least, read as far as can) and decide it’s just not for you. And if it is for you, well. Surprise!

6. On a strictly personal note, at least one of these fellows apparently wishes to assert that the reason they’re introducing politics into the mix here is because I did it before them, i.e., that this is somehow really my fault. Well, no. One, just because this dude doesn’t like me, it doesn’t make me responsible for his actions. That’s the sort of “he made me do it” logic you give up when you’re twelve. Two, I’ve certainly made people aware of my work, and given space on my site to let others do the same; I’m not aware of ever having said “here’s a slate of people you should nominate for this award, including me.” Totally legal and no reason not to, if you think it’s something you want to do. Not something I would want to do, or have done.

But if the suggestion is that I’ve been strategic about getting onto the Hugo ballot at times, well. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest I haven’t. I have, and certainly I know that’s annoyed people before. But, oh well — and no matter what at the end of the day what I was on the ballot for had to face the other nominees in the category. Sometimes that work fared well, and I took home a Hugo. But I also have my share of fifth place finishes, too.

I think maybe this is why I’m less annoyed with the Correia/Day slate than others. If they’re on the ballot due to crafty strategy, well, good for them. A nice trick if you can manage it. But now they have to compete. I look who’s on the ballot with them, and this is what I have to say about that: Good luck, guys. You’re gonna need it.

7. Ultimately, here’s what I think about this year’s slate: It’s got some stuff on it I already know I like. It’s got some stuff on it that I already know I don’t like. And it’s got some stuff on it I haven’t read, so I’ll read it and decide what I think.

In other words; it’s a Hugo slate pretty much any Hugo slate in any year. I plan to treat it exactly like I treat any Hugo slate in any year. You might consider it, too.

 


jscalziwhatever

No, The Hugo Nominations Were Not Rigged

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/20/no-the-hugo-nominations-were-not-rigged/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/?p=24332

Just to pull this out and give it its own post for emphasis.

So, apparently Larry Correia and Vox Day offered on their Web sites a slate of suggested nominees for several Hugo categories, and several of their suggested nominees hit the final ballot. This has made a number of people feel things ranging from annoyance to outrage, with the commensurate suggestion that, if such a thing is not illegal, then it’s at least just not done. So let me offer a couple of thoughts.

1. Does what these two fellows have done contravene the actual Hugo nomination rules? If they answer is “no” (and it does in fact appear to be “no”), then fair play. Game on.

2. As to the “it’s just not done” thing: Well, now it has. And as it’s been done, and it’s by all indications entirely legal, wasting time griping that it’s happened, with regards to this year’s voting, seems like frittering to me. Again: Game on.

3. But it’s also not entirely honest to say that it’s not been done before, either. Lots of people suggest or at least remind people of their own works for consideration (I do the latter); lots of people suggest or at least remind people of the works of others for consideration. Just this year I suggested Abagail Nussbaum for Fan Writer; there she is on the ballot. Was my recommendation causative? Maybe, maybe not (I suspect not — she’s built a reputation over a number of years), but the point is I made the recommendation.

The new wrinkle here would be Correia/Day allegedly exhorting a comprehensive slate of nominees for the purpose of annoying people they would like to annoy, rather than with regard to the quality of the works offered. I’m not sure that’s the whole story (From what I can see, I think the list was composed to highlight works these fellows found worthy, and also, as a bonus, they thought they’d annoy some folks in the bargain). But again, even if the least charitable interpretation holds, see point one and point two. You may see this as a cynical, contemptuous of the awards and the people who vote for them, and just a real dick move. But even if it were, eh. Yet again: this is the hand the Hugos are dealt this year. Let’s go ahead and play it.

4. More to the point for me, even if we were to grant that a slate of nominees was engineered to get on the ballot for the purposes of annoying some voters, and to make some obtuse point about politics and the Hugos, why should anyone be obliged to play along by those assertions? To paraphrase a point I made yesterday on Twitter, how terrible it would be if someone elbowed their way onto the Hugo list to make a political point, and all that happened was that their nominated work was judged solely by its artistic merits.

If work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to its quality, and it is crap, you’re going to know it when you read that work, and you should judge it accordingly. And if a work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to the quality, and it’s pretty good, you’re going to know that too — and you should judge it accordingly. If you believe that these fellows pushed their way onto the list to make a political point, nothing will annoy them more than for their work to be considered fairly. It undermines their entire point.

It doesn’t mean you give a work an award, if you find it lacking. But you treat it fairly. And yes, it’s entirely possible that in this formulation, anything less than a win will be seen by them as evidence of politics. But again: Why would you accede to such assertions? If their works win, good for them. If they lose, that’s life. Speaking as a six-time Hugo loser, who once lost a Hugo by a single vote, let me just say that when you’re a grown-up, you learn to accept you don’t get everything you want.

5. Please also keep in mind that even if you believe that the list is a cynical exercise, there are people and work on that list who may be well worth consideration, who may or may not have even known they were part of (or would have consented to) being part of a cynical exercise. Consider that you would be doing them (and the Hugos) a disservice to dismiss them out of hand. I’ve seen rumblings of people suggesting they’ll put everyone on the Correia/Day slate below “no award” no matter what, but if you’re doing that, you’re making these fellows’ alleged point for them. Again: Why do that? It’s nearly as easy to read a work (or at least, read as far as can) and decide it’s just not for you. And if it is for you, well. Surprise!

6. On a strictly personal note, at least one of these fellows apparently wishes to assert that the reason they’re introducing politics into the mix here is because I did it before them, i.e., that this is somehow really my fault. Well, no. One, just because this dude doesn’t like me, it doesn’t make me responsible for his actions. That’s the sort of “he made me do it” logic you give up when you’re twelve. Two, I’ve certainly made people aware of my work, and given space on my site to let others do the same; I’m not aware of ever having said “here’s a slate of people you should nominate for this award, including me.” Totally legal and no reason not to, if you think it’s something you want to do. Not something I would want to do, or have done.

But if the suggestion is that I’ve been strategic about getting onto the Hugo ballot at times, well. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest I haven’t. I have, and certainly I know that’s annoyed people before. But, oh well — and no matter what at the end of the day what I was on the ballot for had to face the other nominees in the category. Sometimes that work fared well, and I took home a Hugo. But I also have my share of fifth place finishes, too.

I think maybe this is why I’m less annoyed with the Correia/Day slate than others. If they’re on the ballot due to crafty strategy, well, good for them. A nice trick if you can manage it. But now they have to compete. I look who’s on the ballot with them, and this is what I have to say about that: Good luck, guys. You’re gonna need it.

7. Ultimately, here’s what I think about this year’s slate: It’s got some stuff on it I already know I like. It’s got some stuff on it that I already know I don’t like. And it’s got some stuff on it I haven’t read, so I’ll read it and decide what I think.

In other words; it’s a Hugo slate pretty much any Hugo slate in any year. I plan to treat it exactly like I treat any Hugo slate in any year. You might consider it, too.

 



james_nicoll

Two questions


What none of that clade has ever answered is the question of why nearly all separatist utopian fantasies — e.g. those of Charnas, Tepper, LeGuin etc — begin built upon mountains of corpses. Nearly all of the systems that they have extolled (many of them vastly harsher to males than anything in Glory Season) seem to have derived from apocalyptic downfalls of a previous (presumably unjust and oppressive) civilization.


A: Which LeGuin is Brin referring to here?

B: Aren't piles of polished skulls somewhere in the background a common feature in utopias of all kinds? I can think of examples where utopianification was a gradual process - I believe that's how it worked in Looking Backward: 2000 - 1887 by Edward Bellamy - but clearing off the Old Order with some kind of grand calamity is a great time saver.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

realthog

My tweets

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seraphina_snape in bau_inbox

Issue #836

If we haven't linked to your post, it's because there wasn't enough information in the header for us to spot it or make a link. Particularly for fanfiction, we need a title and pairing at least. Anything else is a bonus – spoilers and ratings especially. Please leave a comment if you think we should have linked to something, and we'll add it or pick it up for the next newsletter. However, the newsletters will not be edited to include any changes to your post that happen more than a week after we've posted the newsletter.


Fanfiction
Being chosen to by purple_nights [K]
A mother knows by purple_nights [PG]


Fanfic Searches
joshifine77 is looking for a specific fic dealing with Reid's eidetic memory
nevcolleil is looking for fics where an unsub singles Reid out as his "nemesis"



Birthdays
Happy Birthday to evenine, siggen1, ancientcitadel, pe1804, hugglesnkisses, palpableparadox, coffeebuddha, dramaa_princess, mcgarrygirl78 & Shemar Moore!

Don't forget to comment here if you would like us to add you to the birthday list.

smbc_comic

April 20, 2014

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/smbc-comics/PvLb/~3/2udLaPExJWU/index.php


Comrades! Marxist shirts are in stock!

scalzifeed

I’m Swancon 40′s International Guest of Honor

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/20/im-swancon-40s-international-guest-of-honor/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/?p=24329

Swancon being Western Australia’s premier science fiction convention, don’t you know. Yes, next year I will be in Perth, round about Easter-time. It’ll be fun! And if you’re in Australia, you should pop by. I mean, everything in Australia is close to everything else, right?

I made a video for Swancon to show when they announced my IGoHness. Here it is:

I stand by every word, especially the words about the Tim Tams.



lnhammer

"This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

"Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral."

"Grub first, then ethics," as it's commonly translated when not aiming for a singable score. It's a descriptive statement, but every once in a while, I imagine Herr Brecht saying* it prescriptively: "No, no -- you're doing it wrong. Grub first, then the ethics." Which inevitably leads to the obvious Pink Floyd parody: "If you don't eat yer grub, you can't have any ethics! How can you have any ethics if you don't eat yer grub?"

At which point I highjack my brain and forceably think about something else, such as tenser tensors or division by rabbits, as the crossover that is The Threepenny Wall does not bear thinking about. At least, not without a lot more alcohol and Marxist in-jokes than I can stomach.

* Yes, I know, in the original it's spoken, or rather sung, by two characters. Death of the author be damned, when it makes a good joke.

---L.
Tags:

jscalziwhatever

Happy Easter

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/20/happy-easter-5/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/?p=24327

Every year since Athena was an infant, this particular Easter bunny has shown up with a basket of treats for her. And look! The bunny’s back! Good to see some things don’t change.

A very happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. And for those of you who don’t, have a wonderful day anyway.


jscalziwhatever

I’m Swancon 40′s International Guest of Honor

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/20/im-swancon-40s-international-guest-of-honor/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/?p=24329

Swancon being Western Australia’s premier science fiction convention, don’t you know. Yes, next year I will be in Perth, round about Easter-time. It’ll be fun! And if you’re in Australia, you should pop by. I mean, everything in Australia is close to everything else, right?

I made a video for Swancon to show when they announced my IGoHness. Here it is:

I stand by every word, especially the words about the Tim Tams.


scalzifeed

Happy Easter

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/04/20/happy-easter-5/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/?p=24327

Every year since Athena was an infant, this particular Easter bunny has shown up with a basket of treats for her. And look! The bunny’s back! Good to see some things don’t change.

A very happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. And for those of you who don’t, have a wonderful day anyway.



lsanderson

100 Ways to Kill a Peep

100 Ways to Kill a Peep

daily_otter

Sea Otters at Monterey Bay Aquarium Celebrate Easter with Ice Eggs and Clam Frosting

http://dailyotter.org/2014/04/20/sea-otters-at-monterey-bay-aquarium-celebrate-easter-with-ice-eggs-and-clam-frosting/

http://dailyotter.org/?p=8295

Sea Otters at Monterey Bay Aquarium Celebrate Easter with Ice Eggs and Clam Frosting 1

Sea Otters at Monterey Bay Aquarium Celebrate Easter with Ice Eggs and Clam Frosting 2

Via Monterey Bay Aquarium here and here

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