[BLOG] Some Thursday links

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:46 am
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • James Bow considers the idea of Christian privilege.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the oddities of Ross 128.

  • D-Brief shares Matthew Buckley's proposal that it is possible to make planets out of dark matter.

  • Dead Things reports on the discoveries at Madjedbebe, in northern Australia, suggesting humans arrived 65 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey reports on the idea that advanced civilizations may use sunshades to protect their worlds from overheating. (For terraforming purposes, too.)

  • Language Hat notes the struggles of some Scots in coming up with a rationalized spelling for Scots. What of "hert"?

  • The LRB Blog considers the way in which the unlimited power of Henry VIII will be recapitulated post-Brexit by the UK government.

  • Drew Rowsome quite likes the High Park production of King Lear.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the idea that Pluto's moons, including Charon, might be legacies of a giant impact.

  • Unicorn Booty notes the terrible anti-trans "Civil Rights Uniformity Act." Americans, please act.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers/u> the perhaps-unique way a sitting American president might be charged with obstruction of justice.

fairestcat: naked woman reading. vintage (Reading)
[personal profile] fairestcat
As promised, some books I've read:

Point of Hopes (Astreiant, #1) - Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett -

Complicated mystery plot in a fascinating, intricately-crafted fantasy universe.

I really appreciated the casually mainstreamed queerness in the worldbuilding. read more )

The Ruin of a Rake - Cat Sebastian - ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This book has everything I loved about Sebastian's previous books. Complicated, flawed and messily human characters, a clear-eyed and intelligent class analysis and a refreshingly unapologetic queerness. read more )

Point of Knives (Astreiant #1.5) - Melissa Scott - ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A satisfying mystery with an even-more-satisfying beginning of a romance between the main characters as they transition from people who sleep with each other occasionally to people who'd like to have a romantic relationship with each other. read more )

Peter Darling - Austin Chant ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

An amazing queer, trans reimagining of the Peter Pan story. read more )

The Horse Mistress: Book 1 - R.A Steffan - ★ ★ ★

Enjoyable poly fantasy with a genderqueer protagonist. read more )

A Boy Called Cin - Cecil Wilde - ★ ★ ★ ★

I'd describe this book as an aspirational romance. It's a delightful, cozy fairytale of an idealized relationship. And that's not a bad thing. I think there's value particularly in queer aspirational romances. read more )

There Will Be Phlogiston (Prosperity, #5) - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I picked this up because it was free and I'd heard good things about the author, but honestly I was mostly expecting a smutty, poly diversion.

What I got was so much more. read more )

Chasing Cameron: the complete series - Hanna Dare - ★ ★ ★ ★

A series of m/m novellas with a lot of sex, not all of it between, or only between, the two protagonists.

I was really pleasingly surprised by how non-mononormative this series is. read more )
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
One of the benefits of the new mood-stabilizer is that I'm reading again. After reading my way through a shit-ton of fanfic, I'm now switching between fanfic and pro novels.

I'm mostly only interested in reading queer stories at the moment, which has meant a lot of queer romances and also SF/F with queer characters and relationships.

I started with everything ever written by KJ Charles and OMG was that a good choice. Her stuff is AMAZING. Highly, highly recommended. She writes m/m historical romances, some straight historicals, some fantasy. One of the things I love historical queer romances because I love reading about queer people in history being happy, and Charles' books totally fill that desire.

A lot of queer historicals, or at least a lot of the ones I've read, are really interested in class and the intersection of class and sexuality and how that impacts relationships. Class differences are at the heart of almost all of Charles' books and it makes for a great lens through which to look at the various historical periods she writes in. The other thing that makes me happy about her books is that very few of her protagonists are uncomfortable with or tortured about their sexuality, which is again really refreshing to read about.

Then I moved on to Cat Sebastian's regency romances which I also highly recommend. Again with the queers being happy and not angsting about their sexualities and again with the class and anxiety about class differences being a significant factor in all the relationships.

I also highly recommend Joanna Chambers' Enlightenment series, in which one of the characters is quite guilty about his sexuality, which is possibly more realistic, but doesn't appeal to my id in quite the same way.

It was at about this point in my dive into books again that I got myself a Goodreads account, which is here, and started actually reviewing stuff as I read it.

Several people I read here regularly post reviews of the books they've read on their journals, and I think I'm going to start being one of them, I'm not going to commit to any specific schedule, but expect semi-regular book posts (the first going up directly after I finish writing this post).

The other thing I'm loving about Goodreads is having a place a list of books I've been recced that look interesting. I'm almost entirely reading digitally these days, mostly on Kobo. So, when I want to read something new I can go to my Goodreads to-read shelf and see what strikes my fancy. There are a lot of books with poly relationships in there right now, because I specifically solicited recs for queer, poly stories on twitter.

If you're curious my to-read shelf is here, and I'm always taking recs. Nothing too serious or dense right now, I'm still easing my way back into this reading gig.
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Coffee Time, Dupont and Lansdowne #toronto #wallaceemerson #dupontstreet #lansdowneave #coffeetime

The Coffee Time restaurant located at 1005 Lansdowne Avenue, on the northeastern corner of Lansdowne and Dupont, has long had a bit of a scary reputation. The restaurant's lone reviewer at Yelp rates it only one star, noting that the crowd hanging out here, in a traditionally poor neighbourhood close to apartment towers once linked to crime including drugs and prositution, is "interesting."

The transformation of the neighbourhood into one populated by tall condos and relatively affordable rentals is ongoing. Will this Coffee Time survive, or will its legacy be reduced to passing mentions in archived discussion threads about a neigbourhood transformed beyond recognition, like here and here? And what will become of the crowd?
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Johann Hari writes for Open Democracy about what may be the beginning of the end of the drug war in Germany.

  • I am not in agreement with Joseph Couture's argument in NOW Toronto that the Internet has ended gay communities. (Convince me.)

  • Samantha Edwards reports in NOW Toronto controversy regarding the Parkdale feminist street art event. Was it really intersectional?

  • James Cooray Smith wonders--or "wonders"--why some Doctor Who fans are so upset with a woman portraying the Doctor.

  • In MacLean's, chief Perry Bellegarde argues that more Canadians should be concerned with the too-many deaths of young First Nations people in Thunder Bay.

  • The National Post tells the story of how Australian senator Larissa Walters had to unexpectedly resign her position on account of her Canadian birth.

  • Via James Nicoll, a paper claiming evidence of human presence in northern Australia, in Madjedbebe, 65k years ago.

  • National Geographic tells of the peculiar way some Gulf of Mexico dolphins prepare their catfish. Is it cultural, culinary even?

Recent Gifts

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:29 pm
desertvixen: (deadline)
[personal profile] desertvixen

So most of my posts have been exchange letters lately, and I haven't shared any of the stuff I've written OR recieved...since, um Yuletide.  Here we go!

For Multi-Fandom Drabble, I got A LOT!

1.Something to Fight For - A Wonder Woman drabble, focusing on Steve's final moments.  Feels warning.

2. Observations - Perry Mason drabble, focused on Della's feminine skills.

3. Great Love, Great Fear - Greek/Roman Myth drabble, Clytemnestra focused.

4. Women's Work - Greek/Roman Myth drabble.  Someone has noticed what Penelope does at night.

5. The Case of Light and Shadow - Perry Mason drabble.  Perry and Della prepare for another case.

6. On a Hollow Ship - Greek/Roman Myth drabble.  Clytemnestra and Penelope interact.

7. The Works of Warfare - Greek/Roman myth double drabble.  This is my actual assigned fic, and it's really lovely.  Contrast of Penelope and Clytemnestra, who aren't really in that different a position...

For Not Prime Time, I got Wanax Kai Basileus (A Lord and A King), a really really really excellent story about Agamemmnon and Odysseus before the walls of Troy.  If you've ever thought that Odysseus should have been in charge of that show, you'll enjoy this.

For Night on Fic Mountain, I got One Got In Chancery, a really good AU story involving another scenario for the events of And Then There Were None.  It's Vera Claythorne-centric.

For All in the Family, I got Sacrifices and Gifts, a Hestia-centric fic that centers on her relationships with Demeter and Persephone.  It's nicely done, and sheds some light on the character who sits in the shadows.

For Jukebox (song-related fics only), I got At the Crossroads, a story based on Red Sovine's "Phantom 309".  Very lovely, and it brings everything full circle.

For Once Upon A Fic, I got Simon Peel's Bride, based on the Lady Lovibond story.  It's lovely and haunting.

For Fandom 5K, I got a fic (despite my defaulting), A Modern Barrayaran for the Vorkosigan Saga fans.  It's very good and pulls in some people we haven't heard from in awhile.

For May The Fourth Be With You exchange, I got Inheritance and Got a lot of fight left in me - both based on my prompt for an AU where Leia meets Kenobi.  They're both really good.

For Chocolate Box - Round 2:

1. Just like Sisters - a Lion Voltron story focused on Allura and Romelle.  Very nice!

2. Second Chances - a TNG story featuring Picard/Beverly Crusher/Jack Crusher.  Obviously AU but very enjoyable, and hot.

For Fandom Stocking 2016:

1. A Quest for Merklynn - Visionaries fic featuring Cryotek/Galadria.  It made me squee.

2. Just Janine - Great BSC piece with Janine introspection.



Jul. 19th, 2017 05:58 pm
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
     . . . .  Yah, it's ten to 5 PM, and I am just having it.  Maybe . . . it's really dinner

I had a smoothie for breakfast at 8 AM and that's it so far for today. 

So hot humid polluted, don't have a lot of appetite. 

But this 'lunch' appeals. An heirloom yellow tomato, homemade pesto, artichoke hearts, olive oil, vinegar and crunchy bread. 

The NYPL electronics have been down all day again, for the second day in a row, with intermittent glitches on Monday. It's the whole system: all the branches and the research libraries. One cannot even return materials, much less access the catalogs and data bases. Are the cray crays hacking libraries now? 

In the meantime the NYU library's a/c went out, within minutes of my arrival and set-up and logging into JSTOR . . . . 

IOW, in some ways, this has been somewhat of a frustrating day. Nor have I managed to unearth the North Dakota materials I was looking for, particularly the genealogy of my maternal grandmother's family. 

So -- once I eat my delicious lunch - supper, I'll crack open a chilled Czech pilsner and watch some eps of the second season the SyFy channel's The Expanse (from the Daniel Abraham -Ty Franck series).

Sample dialog:  "You can't negotiate with a girl who thinks she's a space station."  Ay-up, guys wrote this.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Steve Munro shares photos of the ongoing reconstruction of Dundas and Victoria, on the 505 Dundas streetcar route.

  • blogTO notes that the steady increase in rental prices in Toronto came to a halt this month.

  • John Lorinc at Spacing starts a series speculating on the safety of Toronto hi-rises for seniors.

  • Torontoist reports on the achievements and the controversy of a feminist street art event in Parkdale.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • CBC reports on a Scarborough group trying to get the police to contact neighbourhood groups re: missing people.

  • In the Toronto Star, Kristyn Wong-Tam reports Toronto police do not believe disappearances of men in Church and Wellesley are connected.

  • VICE tells a shocking story of a man allegedly beaten by a policeman with a steel pipe, blinded in an eye. Coverup?

fantasy book covers

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:44 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
Heh. This amused me...


Also, the number of people in the comments who said they'd totally read it...

I swear, the ill-fated "Pillsbury Nazgul" British cover for Paladin of Souls ticks almost all of the boxes.

Ta, L. Easily amused this morning.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on July, 19
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

The European Space Agency’s current ExoMars mission has had a bumpy ride from the third to the fourth planet from the Sun, but right now things are looking good.

Launched in 2016, the mission had two parts: The Trace Gas Orbiter (or TGO), which was designed to orbit Mars and investigate the planet’s atmosphere, and the Schiaparelli lander, which was mostly a technology testbed to better understand how to land robotic explorers on Mars. NASA has done the latter many times — not always successfully —  but ESA hasn’t done so yet.

TGO is doing fine. It was initially on a long, elliptical orbit around Mars (the easiest kind to establish upon arrival) but has been executing a series of short engine burns that drop the low point in its orbit (called periareion, for “near to Mars”) into the upper parts of the atmosphere. That causes drag with the thinly distributed molecules there, taking energy away from the spacecraft’s orbit, lowering and circularizing it. Called aerobraking, this maneuver will eventually put TGO into a circular orbit at a height of about 400 km above the surface. The spacecraft will then orbit the planet once every two hours or so.

That will happen in 2018. Right now, it’s still in the elliptical orbit that stretches from about 200 km above the surface to 33,000 km out. That’s still a useful path! For example, it passed about 7700 km from the Martian moon Phobos, and dusty, battered space potato of a satellite, and took this pretty nifty image in October of 2016:


Phobos, one of the two small moons of Mars. It’s about 27 km across through its long axis. Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

It also has been observing the thin air of Mars, detecting carbon dioxide (the major component) as well as small amounts of water vapor. Eventually it will look for traces of methane, which has been positively detected in the Martian atmosphere but is poorly understood. On Earth, the major source of methane is biological activity, including livestock (by, um, outgassing) and human activity, including production and use of coal. It’s a greenhouse gas, but methane molecules are fragile and tend to react easily when oxygen is present. In Earth’s air the amount of methane is more or less stable, with the destruction of the molecules balancing their creation. That’s good, because methane is a very strong greenhouse gas, stronger than CO2.

Its presence on Mars is more difficult to explain. It’s due to some sort of geological process, but just what isn’t well known. TGO will map its concentration and location, hopefully providing needed clues to the gas’s origin.

Mellish crater

TGO mosaic of part of Mellish Crater, a 100 km wide crater near the Martian south pole. It was assembled from 40 images taken on March 5, 2017. Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

Things, however, are not so good for the Schiaparelli lander. In fact, that part of the mission, in some sense, ended before it really began: It crashed into the planet on October 19, 2016, instead of softly touching down.

The crash investigation recently ended, and they found that a confused measurement device on board Schiaparelli instigated the impact. The lander deployed from the orbiter cleanly on the way to Mars. As the lander entered the upper atmosphere, the parachute also deployed as designed. However, it caused the lander to vibrate, or oscillate, for a few moments. A device called an inertial measurement unit confused that motion for a rotation of the spacecraft and got a reading far higher than it was designed for. It saturated, basically pegging the needle.

This only lasted for about a second, but that was enough. The odd reading was interpreted by the lander as its being upside-down, and the software wasn’t designed to handle that. When it did the math, it incorrectly calculated that it had a negative altitude, and so it interpreted this as being on the surface. It ejected the parachute and fired its landing thruster, but it was far too early and for too short a time.

This happened while it was still 3.7 kilometers (over two miles) above the surface. It free-fell the rest of the way, impacting Mars at a speed of 370 km/hour — nearly four times faster than a car on the highway. It didn’t survive. The impact scar and debris have been spotted by other orbiters.

Schiaparelli crash site

The Schiaparelli crash site, imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in November 2016. The surface disturbance is obvious, and the brighter dots around it may be debris from the spacecraft. The image is about 234 meters on a side. Credit: NASA / JPL / UA / Emily Lakdawalla

The good news is that the engineers learned a lot from the event, and won’t make those same mistakes a second time. In fact, they’ve said that some of the errors leading to the crash wouldn’t have been detected if the lander had made it down safely, and that could have led to disaster on a future mission. Since Schiaparelli was designed to test the hard- and software, in one way, this was fortunate. Better Schiaparelli than a far more sophisticated and expensive science lander.

Not that this crash was a good thing, but when it comes to space travel, every mistake is a chance to learn. At least, in this case, the loss was minimized.

Mars and the Sun
In mid-July 2017 Mars and the Sun are very close together in the sky. Credit: Sky Safari

Right now, Mars is nearly on the opposite side of the Sun as seen from Earth. Our orbit is closer to the Sun, and faster. Once every 26 months or so, we pass between the Sun and Mars, and then, roughly 13 months later, the Earth is on the opposite side of its orbit from Mars (remember, Mars moves, too, so it takes a while for us to pull ahead); this means that, from Earth, Mars and the Sun are very close together in the sky (called solar conjunction). That means it’s more difficult to communicate with spacecraft there — the Sun is the brightest radio source in the sky — so TGO has been commanded to sit tight in its current orbit for now. In a few weeks, it’ll start dipping its orbit again, hopefully on its way to a nice, stable circular science orbit.

It joins a veritable fleet of other robotic craft there, including some from the U.S., one from India and another by the ESA. It may be quite some time before humans go to the Red Planet, but our uncrewed proxies are still working apace. Mars is dry and cold and probably lifeless, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a dynamic and interesting world. I’m glad humans all over our planet are still interested in exploring it.

[Top image: ESA/ATG medialab]


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SFF Binge-Reader Bundle

Jul. 19th, 2017 10:12 am
filkferengi: filk fandom--all our life's a circle (Default)
[personal profile] filkferengi

Just a couple of these things, & it pays for itself. For example, the Fiction River anthology alone [nearly 800 pages!] is 8.00 on Kindle. The Uncollected Anthology Year One [490 pages] is only available as a $24 paperback. Afaik, this is the only e-book edition. The Grayson trilogy is excellent, romance-with-woo-woo fun; the Rusch Diving series has great buzz. The Faerie Summer is a 20-book e-book set.

Throw in the others, & that's a lot at an excellent deal. Squee!

filkferengi, off to buy it now

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

Jul. 19th, 2017 08:45 am
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Charley Ross notes the belated recovery and identification of Margret Dodd, four decades after her abduction and more than two after her body was found.

  • D-Brief notes that the Pale Red Dot is extending their exoplanet search from Proxima Centauri to include Barnard's Star and Ross 154.

  • Dangerous Minds shares colour autochromes of American women from a century ago.

  • Gizmodo notes more evidence suggesting Mars' moons, Phobos and Deimos, are legacies of a massive Mars impact.

  • The LRB Blog looks back at the 1951 "Festival of Britain".

  • Roads and Kingdoms' Karen Dias looks at a girls' soccer team in Haryana, north India.

  • Peter Rukavina shares a sketch of some of the work being done at Province House.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at the timeline for Russian influence on the Trump campaign.

  • Window on Eurasia <a href="http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.ca/2017/07/three-worrisome-lessons-from-latest.html'><U>comes</u></a> to worrying conclusions about ethnic conflict in Daghestan.</li> </ul>
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Looking south at the Dominico Field baseball diamond, Christie Pit #toronto #christiepit #parks #baseball #evening

Dominico Field, in the northeast of Christie Pit, can look rather impressive when seen from the northern lip of the park on Barton.

Food and Food

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:30 pm
[personal profile] ndrosen
At the farmers' market two days ago, I found a stand that had some sweet plums, and eagerly bought a quart. They're much better than the plums you can find in the supermarket, and I eagerly packed some in my lunch bags yesterday and this morning.

In Yemen, and in South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, and other parts of Africa, millions of people face starvation, and a number of charitable groups have united to solicit donations as https://www.globalemergencyresponse.org, and some major corporations are matching donations. I offer to do the same: If you leave a reply to this post that you have donated, or pledge to do so, I will match your pledge or pledges, up to a total of $250.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • CBC Montreal notes how Andrée Archambault has been leaving books on the Montréal Metro for commuters to find.

  • CBC's Jonathan Ore notes the (perhaps surprisingly) innovative Transformers comics put out by IDW.

  • At The Conversation, Una McCormack writes about how the 13th Doctor being played by Jodie Whittaker fulfills her childhood dreams.

  • At The Globe and Mail, Russell Smith examines why the alt-right hates cultural experimentation and innovation so much.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • John Michael McGrath argues at TVO that leaving Toronto for Ontario cities with cheaper housing misses the issue of jobs. For starters.

  • Michelle McQuigge looks at how the CNIB is helping make Yonge and St. Clair accessible to the blind.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Erik Heinrich looks at how a mid-rise office tower at 1133 Yonge Street is being transformed into condos.

  • The Toronto Star reports that the condo/hotel tower at 325 Bay Street no longer bears the name of Trump. Toronto is free!

  • The end of the Palace Arms rooming house at King and Strachan, Christian Controneo notes at Torontoist, must be seen as terrible for the people who live there.
  • blogTO notes that E. Coli levels on mainland Toronto beaches make them unsafe for swimmers. No lake water this year!

  • blogTO notes that Montréal architect Claude Cormier, designer of HTO and Berczy, will next do a cat-themed park.


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