Simon Bisson: Friends' Entries

You are viewing the most recent 50 entries.

13th February 2016

natalief @ 5:02pm: Sean Follmer: Shape-shifting tech will change work as we know it | TED Talk |

Sean Follmer: Shape-shifting tech will change work as we know it | TED Talk |

I really love living in the science fiction future of the seventies!
Current Mood: awake
inverarity, posting in bookish @ 11:58am: Dark Intelligence, by Neal Asher
A space opera full of genocide, mayhem, and vengeance.

Dark Intelligence

Night Shade Books, 2015, 416 pages

One man will transcend death to seek vengeance. One woman will transform herself to gain power. And no one will emerge unscathed....

Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to find he's been brought back from the dead. What's more, he died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago. Spear had been trapped on a world surrounded by hostile Prador forces, but Penny Royal, the AI inside the rescue ship sent to provide backup, turned rogue, annihilating friendly forces in a frenzy of destruction and killing Spear. One hundred years later the AI is still on the loose, and Spear vows for revenge at any cost.

Isobel Satomi ran a successful crime syndicate, but after competitors attacked she needed power and protection. Negotiating with Penny Royal, she got more than she bargained for: Turning part-AI herself gave Isobel frightening power, but the upgrades hid a horrifying secret, and the dark AI triggered a transformation that has been turning her into something far from human….

Spear hires Isobel to track Penny Royal across worlds to its last known whereabouts. But he cheats her in the process and quickly finds himself in her crosshairs. As Isobel continues to evolve into a monstrous predator, it's clear her rage will eventually win out over reason. Will Spear finish his hunt before he himself becomes the hunted?

Dark Intelligence is the explosive first novel in a brand new trilogy from military SF master Neal Asher and a new chapter in his epic Polity universe.

Genocidal alien crabs, cryptically sinister AIs, and a protagonist named Thorvald Spear.

My complete list of book reviews.
greygirlbeast @ 12:33pm: "What else could I write? I don't have the right."
The frigid air still has hold of Providence. Currently, it's 22˚F, windchill at 5˚F, and we're still under a windchill warning. The forecast for tonight has the temperature dropping to -6˚F, with a windchill of -25˚F. This is scary cold.

Yesterday, I finished the corrections to Agents of Dreamland and put together the publication history for all the stories. Today, I have to dig into the corrections for the remainder of Mythos Tales, which I desperately need to finish by tomorrow evening. I have two short stories I need to get written before the end of the month.

And here is the table of contents for the collection, which should be out from Centipede Press very late in 2016 or early in 2017:

Introduction by S.T. Joshi
Author's Introduction: "Lovecraft & I"
1. “Paedomorphosis”
2. “Valentia”
3. “So Runs the World Away”
4. “From Cabinet 34, Drawer 6”
5. “The Drowned Geologist" (1898)
6. “The Dead and the Moonstruck”
7. “Houses Under the Sea”
8. “Pickman’s Other Model (1929)”
9. “The Thousand-and-Third Tale of Scheherazade”
10. “The Bone’s Prayer”
11. "The Peril of Liberated Objects, or the Voyeur's Seduction"
12. "At the Gate of Deeper Slumber"
13. “Fish Bride (1970)”
14. "The Alchemist's Daughter (A Fragment)"
15. “Houndwife”
16. “Tidal Forces”
17. “John Four”
18. “On the Reef”
19. “The Transition of Elizabeth Haskings”
20. "A Mountain Walked"
21. “Love is Forbidden, We Croak and Howl”
22. “Pushing the Sky Away (Death of a Blasphemer)”
23. "Black Ships Seen South of Heaven"
24. “Pickman’s Madonna”
25. “The Peddler’s Tale, or Isobel’s Revenge”
26. “The Cats of River Street (1925)”
27. “A Redress for Andromeda”
28. “Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea”
29. "Study for The Witch House"
30. “Andromeda Among the Stones”
31. Agents of Dreamland
Afterword by Michael Cisco
Publication History

I need to check with Jared before listing the four artists involved, but it's a marvelous lineup.


From Facebook, regarding the ravages of identity politics:

As a lifelong liberal, I never imagined I'd see the emergence of something that can very accurately be called "liberal intolerance" doing so much damage on college campuses. When I was in college (1983-1991), we fought conservatives and religious fundamentalists for unrestricted free speech and access to all art and literature, not just that which we agreed with and didn't find offensive or disturbing.


Okay, I've gotta finish this Red Bull and get to it.

Later Taters,
Aunt Beast
Current Mood: not too awful
nwhyte @ 5:00pm: Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee
Long, long ago, in 1991, I was researching the medieval textbook Liber de arte astronomice iudicandi by the late twelfth-century English astrologer Roger of Hereford, which survives only in a dozen or so manuscripts. Various indications led me to try and compare his text with the earlier twelfth-century translation by Hermann of Carinthia of the ninth-century Introduction to Astrology by the ninth-century scholar Abu Ma'shar, written when Baghdad was the centre of learning of the medieval world. Fortunately, the University Library in Cambridge had two copies of the Hermann translation. It has been out of print for some time; the earlier one dated from 1488 and the later one from 1506.

As I did my research - in the course of which I found that Roger of Hereford had cribbed pretty substantially from Hermann's text (and also cast a horoscope for Eleanor of Aquitaine, using a birthdate of 14 December 1123) - I chose to work from the 1506 edition rather than the 1488 edition of Hermann's book. This wasn't a choice based on which was more legible or accessible; it was purely because the 1506 book had the name of a previous owner firmly inscribed on the flyleaf, and a number of his scribbles and notes in the margins. It was, quite simply, a thrill to work with a book that had been owned and loved by the great Elizabethan wizard John Dee, the man who probably inspired Prospero in The Tempest and a key figure in the murky relationship between early modern science and magic.

That was more than half my lifetime ago. But when I saw that the Royal College of Physicians was hosting an exhibition of books stolen from Dee's library during his lifetime, I knew that I had to go and relive the summer of 1991. And I was right. The books are wonderful artefacts in themselves, but Dee's marginal doodlings make them even more fascinating. I was fortunate to have the company of owlfish and bohemiancoast as I explored the exhibition on Tuesday morning. Before going to my own photographs, which unfortunately are not particularly good, I commend you to those in this Culture24 article and these by Jason Atomic.

This is a nineteenth-century picture of Dee at Queen Elizabeth's court. A ring of skulls around him was painted out by the artist.

The picture hangs beside a display cabinet including several objects on loan from the British Museum and the Science Museum. These include:

Yes, that is the magical mirror through which Dee and his assistant Kelly held conversations with angelic beings. It is in fact polished obsidian glass from Mexico. The case has a note by its subsequent owner Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, quoting these lines from Samuel Butler's epic poem Hudibras:

KELLY did all his feats upon
The Devil's looking-glass, a stone

And yes, that's Dee's own crystal ball in the right of the picture. A golden magical disc is out of shot.

On the shelf below is a smaller mirror, and also this item:

This crystal, according to Dee, was given to him by the angel Uriel in 1582.

I hope that the Royal College of Physicians has installed adequate thaumic safeguards on that display case. Those are some pretty impressive magical items.

Here's the exhibition curator Katie Birkwood (@girlinthe) explaining how the exhibition was put together:

And here is none other than Jeanette Winterson, at the opening ceremony, explaining why Dee mattered:

A couple of warnings. The first two display cases, giving the historical context for the whole story, are right at the well-lit entrance to the first floor display and are covered with protective cloth, whereas the rest are uncovered because they are in the relative dimness of the walls - we missed the first cases and had to go back and look at them. There are two last display cases isolated on the second floor, along with dissected human veins and arteries. It also must be said that the RCP building is a truly horrible example of 1960s architecture.

On the flip side, we found that in the morning at least the buttery in the lower ground floor was open in the mornings, contrary to advertisement, and that that lower ground floor also has a couple of other historical medical exhibits which were worth a few minutes strolling around.

Do go and see it.
shewhomust @ 3:28pm: Seeking Nirvana?
Des. res. for sale: Nirvana, Chester-le-Street (best postal address ever).
sartorias @ 6:38am: SF is growing up?
So I've been doing a great deal of (escapist) reading of late for various reasons that no one can fix, and had a thought about how sf has evolved during some recent reading.

I don't think Bujold's latest could have been published thirty, forty years ago. Granted, I doubt that any publisher would have given it a go now without her big name, but since the story rides on the reason why she earned the name, there it is. Anyway, it's not just the content but the variety out there that I appreciate. I've mentioned a few of my latest reads, and with the thought of a really remarkable one coming up in May (to be discussed closer to its pub date, when others can also weigh in), thought it might be interesting to see if anyone agrees.

Always up for discussion of any type, and getting more recommendations.
james_nicoll @ 9:01am: one more party down
Two or three to go.

The budget has six mandated events. My Vice term had twenty. Woo. But I burned through all my social energy in January and the pop cooler feels like Jacob Marley's chains...

(the Vice kit is still seven plus cases)

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
jennycrusie @ 11:46am: Cherry Saturday 2-13-2016

Today is Get a Different Name Day.

Which always reminds me of the time when Mollie was five and decided she wanted to be called Cindy. I still have no idea why, and she’s not explaining.

(Also, the urge to fill in the above blank with “Inigo Montoya, prepare to die” was damn near irresistible.)

The post Cherry Saturday 2-13-2016 appeared first on Argh Ink.

feorag @ 12:04pm: My tweets
Read more...Collapse )
sbisson @ 12:03pm: My tweets
andrewducker @ 12:00pm: Interesting Links for 13-02-2016

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
nwhyte @ 12:30pm: Summer Camp: Episode 6 of Here Come The Double Deckers

Double Deckers - To the countryside

Episode 6: Summer Camp
First shown: 17 October 1970 (US), 4 February 1971 (UK)
Director: Harry Booth
Writers: Harry Booth and Glyn Jones
Appearing apart from the Double Deckers:
Melvyn Hayes as Albert the Street Cleaner
Betty Marsden as Millie
Hugh Paddick as Gerald
George Woodbridge as Farmer Giles


Albert and the gang go camping, much to the annoyance of a couple camping in the next field, but entirely witht he approval of the local farmer. Japes ensue when their donkey misbehaves, and the it rains overnight.


I've put the French version of the opening song up top; "Into the Countryside" is by regular series song-writers Ivor Slaney and Michael Begg, and features some cinematography reminiscent of Procul Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" (which is from 1967 so it cannot be a coincidence). Do have a watch.

"Granny's Rocking Chair" is a beautiful sweet little song, where for the first time we see the Double Deckers as Billie and her backing singers (minus the sleeping Tiger):

Double Deckers - Grannie's Rocking Chair par love15

"Granny's Rocking Chair" credited to a Mair Somerton-Davies, of whom little else is known except that she is also credited for a 1966 single by a band called Situation. At least, little was known of her until I contacted her daughter, who told me:

Mum was an amazing lady - she had a group called the Tip Toppers we were based in Watford and used to raise money for mentally handicapped... also we regularly used to put on performances for the elderly and had concerts at Watford Town Hall. Mum had two bands one called Tiles Big Band the other called Manego - these were in addition to the Tip Toppers and also she was a Drama Teacher Song Writer, Teacher and also helped people with speech impediments.

"Granny's rocking chair" actually started off as "Granny's Rocking horse" but then as she put it to music it became "Granny's Rocking Chair". The original theme song for the double Deckers was actually written by Mum but in those days they changed a small part of it and she was never paid royalties on it. The song was called "Get On Board" and the original line was "get on board all you people" and they changed it to "get on board with the double deckers" therefore rewriting some of the melody... originally an album was to have been released called The Kids Next Door... it was a shame she was never fully recognised for her amazing talents.

Let that recognition start here.

(And while we're on music, note the nod to Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice for an early scene with the donkey.)

Glorious moments

This is a real delight of an episode, with two excellent songs and some excellent comedy moments. The potential villain, Farmer Giles, turns out to be a good guy; and the actual villains, the snooty camping couple, are redeemed by ἀγάπη after ὕβρις and νέμεσις.

Less glorious moments

There's a slightly nasty element of class sneering at Millie and Gerald, who are clearly not as respectable as they think they are. (And they sleep in separate beds; and she's unaware of his military record. Interesting.)

What's all this then?

This is so totally derivative of the 1969 film Carry On Camping that it actually has one of the film's main performers, Betty Marsden, in a very similar role. (Though there is no equivalent here of the memorable Barbara Windsor shower scene; this is a kids' show, after all.)

Where's that?

The bridge is the one at Tyke's Water Lake in the grounds of Haberdasher's Aske's School for Boys, three miles from the studios where most of Here Come the Double Deckers was made. The bridge also featured the previous year in the opening titles of several of the Tara King episodes of The Avengers, and was soon used again for the opening credits of Dracula A.D. 1972 starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The pupils at the school at this time would have included Britain's current minister for Europe, David Lidington, and also my mate Andrew who works for the European Commission.

The other locations are nearby.

Who's that?

This episode has an particularly high-powered guest cast for its time.

Betty Marsden (Millie) was born in 1919, and was particularly well-known for her regular roles in the 1960s radio comedy shows of Kenneth Horne, Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne. She also appeared in two Carry On films, Carry On Camping, as noted above, and a small part in the 1961 Carry On Regardless. She also plays the tipsy slave auctioneer Verlis in Assassin, a particularly camp episode of Blake's 7. She died in 1998.

Hugh Paddick (Gerald), born in 1915, was also a veteran of Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne, where he played Kenneth Williams' sidekick and together they made an unsuspecting public aware of
Polari. Other than that, he tended to be a straight man to the likes of Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Tarbuck and Morecambe and Wise, though he got two now-forgotten sitcoms of his own, Rentaghost fore-runner Pardon My Genie (he was the Genie) and Can We Get On Now, Please? in which he played the quietly brilliant clerk of the court. He died in 2000.

George Woodbridge (Farmer Giles), born in 1907, was typecast as playing yokels, inn-keepers and farmers in horror films. But at this stage he was moving into more friendly territory, and he really hit the big time as Inigo Pipkin, the kindly old puppeteer in the ITV children's show of the same name, first broadcast in 1973. Unfortunately he died that year, only a few weeks into the filming of the second series. Pipkins, as the show was renamed, actually worked his death into the plot, brave territory for a children's programme. The show ran until 1981.

Glyn Jones (co-writer and script editor) has been mentioned here a few times. I posted about his life here and the extracts from his autobiography relating to Double Deckers here.

See you next week...

...for The Pop Singer.
supergee @ 6:13am: The opposite of rape culture
Nurturance culture

Thanx to Metafilter
irregular_comic @ 10:11am: Irregular Webcomic! #1302 Rerun

Comic #1302

The entire Monty flashback sequence was shot on film. Since I only had 24 exposures, this meant squashing the entire opening sequence of Last Crusade into six strips.

2016-02-13 Rerun commentary: I don't blame the horse. That must be some strain having a person jump on your back.

The Cross of Coronado is a reference to the real life Spanish Conquistador Francisco V´zquez de Coronado, although in reality there is no such gold cross.

At least... not that we know of...

supergee @ 10:35am: Happy birthday, franzeska
nwhyte @ 8:00am: Interesting Links for 13-02-2016
The World Isn’t Less Free Than It Used To Be
@fivethirtyeight summarises @FreedomHouseDC.
(tags: politics democracy )
We Are Hopelessly Hooked
Why we can't stop being online.
(tags: internet psychology )
The Onion on Jeb Bush
Cruel but hilarious.
(tags: uspolitics )
Independent and Independent on Sunday print closures confirmed
Not very surprising.
(tags: ukpolitics media )
Why I Just Dropped The Harassment Charges [against] The Man Who Started GamerGate
A tough read.
(tags: sexandgenderandsexuality games )
james_nicoll @ 1:29am: From the person behind the Dragon's Gaze and the Dragon's Tales

Quantums of the Mind

A collection of short fiction.

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

12th February 2016

kevin_standlee @ 9:01pm: Fernley House Has Everything, Including...
...the kitchen sink, finally. Over four years after we bought the house, we finally have working plumbing in the kitchen.

Behold the Kitchen SinkCollapse )

This evening I started moving the drain racks and cleaning supplies from the forward bathroom into the kitchen. I don't think I've ever been so happy to be doing the dishes.
Current Mood: happy

13th February 2016

nwhyte @ 5:31am: My tweets

12th February 2016

rfmcdpei @ 7:32pm: [OBSCURA] On the Milky Way Galaxy in the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual
I shared a screenshot of a PDF on my phone, a map of the Milky Way Galaxy from a PDF copy of the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual. (I leave my physical copy, from the 1986 printing, at home.)

Milky Way Galaxy, Star Fleet Technical Manual #maps #startrek #milkywaygalaxy #starfleettechnicalmanual

Much in this book has since been superseded. In particular, the map of the Federation's exploration zone is far too large even by the book's own terms, given that the warp speeds described are too slow to reach the sphere's edges.
desperance @ 3:43pm: Oh Friday, didn't you use to be more fun than this?
So yesterday the usual gang descended locust-like on the Debauched Sloth, and I fed them onion soup and then this -


- which is a Tuscan salad featuring a whole hot roast chicken torn apart* with my bare hands, cubed bread toasted beneath the chicken, and leaves of many varieties: dressed largely with the chicken's juices, and accessorised with toasted pine nuts and raisins plumped in champagne vinegar.

Cathyn brought a mincemeat pie for pudding, with actual meat in the mincemeat. Nom.

And this morning I was all gung-ho about all sorts of things, and I finished Chapter Eleven of the Crater School project, and all was well -

- except, apparently, me. This afternoon I have a koff and a sore chest, and I feel dizzy and a little strange. I am ... quite tired of this. Either I am subject to a constant succession of not-quite-negligible ailments, or this is just the Bug That Wouldn't Leave. Either way, I've had enough of not feeling quite the thing. Hell, I've even had enough of the sofa.

Having said which, I think I'm taking the rest of today off. I was going to do all manner of stuff in the kitchen, in the garden, at my desk. Right now none of them seem likely, so pffft.

pgdf, posting in theinferior4 @ 6:22pm: New Review at LOCUS ONLINE
SF from a mystery writer:
supergee @ 5:45pm: You know what you can do with your data.
Data storage butt plug
rfmcdpei @ 4:40pm: [LINK] "Gravitational waves detected for 1st time, 'opens a brand new window on the universe'"
CBC continues to react to yesterday's announcement of the detection of gravitational waves. What will the gravitational observatories of the near future discover, I wonder?

Gravitational waves, ripples in space-time predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity 100 years ago, have finally been detected.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves. We did it," announced Dave Reitze, executive director of the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) at a news conference Thursday morning.

Scientists said gravitational waves open a door for a new way to observe the universe and gain knowledge about enigmatic objects like black holes and neutron stars. By studying gravitational waves they also hope to gain insight into the nature of the very early universe, which has remained mysterious.

"I think we're opening a window on the universe," Reitze said.

"Until this moment we had our eyes on the sky and we couldn't hear the music," said Columbia University astrophysicist Szabolcs Marka, a member of the discovery team. "The skies will never be the same."

[. . .]

The scientific milestone, announced at a news conference in Washington, was achieved using a pair of giant laser detectors in the United States, located in Louisiana and Washington state, capping a long quest to confirm the existence of these waves.
rfmcdpei @ 4:37pm: [LINK] "Facebook and the New Colonialism"
The Atlantic's Adrienne Lafrance examines how Facebook stumbled into a needless confrontation over colonialism in India.

Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had the best week.

First, Facebook’s Free Basics platform was effectively banned in India. Then, a high-profile member of Facebook’s board of directors, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, sounded off about the decision to his nearly half-a-million Twitter followers with a stunning comment.

“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades,” Andreessen wrote. “Why stop now?”

After that, the Internet went nuts.

Andreessen deleted his tweet, apologized, and underscored that he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism” and “100 percent in favor of independence and freedom.” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, followed up with his own Facebook post to say Andreessen’s comment was “deeply upsetting” to him, and not representative of the way he thinks “at all.”

The kerfuffle elicited a torrent of criticism for Andreessen, but the connection he made—between Facebook’s global expansion and colonialism—is nothing new. Which probably helps explain why Zuckerberg felt the need to step in, and which brings us back to Free Basics. The platform, billed by Facebook as a way to help people connect to the Internet for the first time, offers a stripped-down version of the mobile web that people can use without it counting toward their data-usage limit.
theweaselking @ 4:39pm: Computers, as a whole, were a mistake. Macs doubly so.
You can brick an iPhone by setting its date to the Epoch and rebooting it.
rfmcdpei @ 4:36pm: [LINK] "The Hindu right is quietly funding—and lobbying—American universities"
Quartz' report about Hindu nationalist propaganda at American universities is alarming.

In October 2015, the University of California, Irvine, announced the creation of an endowed chair—the Thakkar Family-Dharma Civilization Foundation Presidential Chair in Vedic and Indic Civilization Studies—supported by a $1.5 million grant.

As reported in this article in a local newspaper, following pushback from faculty and students because of the suspected Hindu nationalist or Hindu-right sympathies of the foundation, and concerns about excessive interference in the hiring process, the plans for the chair seem somewhat uncertain at present.

Compared to the shenanigans of Hindu-nationalist organisations and their supporters, the controversy, thus far, appears relatively tame, more of the order of a dull tussle between faculty and administration about procedural autonomy than about anything else.

The interventions of the Hindu right in the academic field, in India and more broadly, have generally fallen into the category of the absurd or the violent. The former is exemplified by the routine claims of the achievements of the ancient Hindu civilisation—Vedic aeroplanes, plastic surgery, intergalactic travel, and so on. The recently concluded 103rd edition of the Indian Science Congress, for instance, featured a bizarre conch-blowing performance by an officer of the elite IAS (Indian Administrative Service), ostensibly as an act of impeccable scientific merit.

Much more at the site.
rfmcdpei @ 4:30pm: [LINK] "Crispr Gene-Editing Upstart Editas Goes Public as Patent Battle Rages"
Wired's Julia Greenberg looks at the legal fight over Crispr, the first modern genetic engineering technology for beings like us (potentially).

The future of medicine may rest in altering our genes. That’s a constant refrain in the recent history of medical science. Over the past few decades, researchers and investors have pinned their hopes on experimental gene therapies with the potential to change the landscape of disease, from transplanting engineered stem cells into humans to injecting them with viruses. The most recent addition to the list: Crispr-Cas9, a powerful gene-editing technique that allows researchers to rapidly—and cheaply—cut-and-paste genes.

Crispr is still a long way from snipping disease-causing mutations from the cells of humans. Right now, it’s most successful as a experimental tool, editing the genomes of yeast cells and a worm here and there. But that’s not stopping a number of biotech companies from capitalizing on the technology: Crispr Therapeutics, Caribou Biosciences (and spinoff Intellia Therapeutics), and Editas Medicine all hope to use the technique to develop human therapeutics. And yesterday, Editas became the first to go public.

Backed by Bill Gates and GV (venture capital arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company), Editas filed for an initial public offering in January, and began trading on the NASDAQ exchange at $16 per share. It sold 5.9 million shares, raising $94.4—and the stock rose nearly 14 percent yesterday, its first day of trading.

Despite that successful opening, the company has a long way to go. Editas promises to do a lot with science that’s still in its infancy. Founded in 2013, Editas probably won’t begin clinical trials for at least a few years, even as scientists and ethicists negotiate the rules for fundamentally changing someone’s genes. More crucially, though, its ability to develop drugs rests on the results of a weedy ongoing patent dispute over the Crispr technology. “There’s a graveyard full of gene-editing biotech companies that have gone public that are no longer with us,” says Jacob Sherkow, an associate professor at New York Law School who has written about the Crispr-Cas9 patent dispute.
rfmcdpei @ 4:28pm: [LINK] "Higher Education Widens Global Inequality"
The Everyday Sociology Blog featured a guest post from American university student Audrey P. Scott talking about international students.

American colleges and universities are becoming increasingly more like multi-national corporations. Their products? Students trained to further market growth through wide ranges of advanced skills— a prospect that may seem positive to the economically savvy. Universities teach students to improve the world, making a dime while at it. High school microeconomics, however, teaches us that sometimes efficiency and production do not equate with another important factor: equity.

As American colleges focus more on profit, they invest less on shrinking the international equality gap. Consequently, they diminish economically diverse international participation in their universities. Colleges either need to expand their need-blind financial aid to international students or improve multinational schools to better cater to poorer populations. Many are doing neither.

Early last year, my college search process brought me dozens of emails promising global incorporation at different schools. Nearly all of them highlighted the diversity and of their student bodies. Not one, unsurprisingly, spoke of the economic disparities of their international students. While many see education as an equalizer, the truth is that higher education exacerbates global inequality.

It starts with the admission process. According to US News and World Report, 62 American institutions offered need-blind admission to domestic students in 2014. This may seem low, but comparatively only five schools—Harvard, Amherst College, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Princeton University—offered the same benefit to international students, who also lack American governmental aid. In fact, although the number of international students "enrolled in US institutions has increased by 23%", their college admission rates are still lower than those for domestic students. The 2012 international student acceptance rate at MIT, for example, is only 3 percent, which makes even the domestic student's low 10.8% acceptance rate seem large.

These discrepancies between foreign and domestic aid allow universities to select wealthy students rather than more qualified applicants who may not be able to afford full tuition. And U.S. institutions make a fortune off of other countries' wealthy students. In 2014-2015 alone, international student tuition generated approximately twenty-seven billion dollars. To put this in perspective, only four percent of total university students in the United States are international, and the money collected greatly exceeds the GDP of countries like Afghanistan and is over four times the company General Mills's annual income. This wealth may not be initially apparent, but it can be felt by the students on these campuses.
rfmcdpei @ 4:25pm: [LINK] On crowdsourcing a dialect map of Swiss German
The Map Room Blog linked to a paper, "Crowdsourcing Language Change with Smartphone Applications".

Crowdsourcing linguistic phenomena with smartphone applications is relatively new. In linguistics, apps have predominantly been developed to create pronunciation dictionaries, to train acoustic models, and to archive endangered languages. This paper presents the first account of how apps can be used to collect data suitable for documenting language change: we created an app, Dialäkt Äpp (DÄ), which predicts users’ dialects. For 16 linguistic variables, users select a dialectal variant from a drop-down menu. DÄ then geographically locates the user’s dialect by suggesting a list of communes where dialect variants most similar to their choices are used. Underlying this prediction are 16 maps from the historical Linguistic Atlas of German-speaking Switzerland, which documents the linguistic situation around 1950. Where users disagree with the prediction, they can indicate what they consider to be their dialect’s location. With this information, the 16 variables can be assessed for language change. Thanks to the playfulness of its functionality, DÄ has reached many users; our linguistic analyses are based on data from nearly 60,000 speakers. Results reveal a relative stability for phonetic variables, while lexical and morphological variables seem more prone to change. Crowdsourcing large amounts of dialect data with smartphone apps has the potential to complement existing data collection techniques and to provide evidence that traditional methods cannot, with normal resources, hope to gather. Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize a range of methodological caveats, including sparse knowledge of users’ linguistic backgrounds (users only indicate age, sex) and users’ self-declaration of their dialect. These are discussed and evaluated in detail here. Findings remain intriguing nevertheless: as a means of quality control, we report that traditional dialectological methods have revealed trends similar to those found by the app. This underlines the validity of the crowdsourcing method. We are presently extending DÄ architecture to other languages.

The paper is fun!
rfmcdpei @ 4:21pm: [URBAN NOTE] "Nuns who feed San Francisco’s homeless face eviction"
Al Jazeera America notes that rising rents are driving a Catholic sisterhood out of San Francisco.

Sister Mary Benedicte wants to focus on feeding the hungry lined up outside a soup kitchen in a gritty part of San Francisco.

But the city's booming economy means even seedy neighborhoods are demanding higher rents, threatening to force out an order of nuns who serve the homeless.

The sisters of Fraternite Notre Dame's Mary of Nazareth House said they can't afford a monthly rent increase of more than 50 percent, from $3,465 to $5,500, and they have asked their landlord for more time to find a cheaper place to serve the poor.

"Everywhere the rent is very high, and many places don't want a soup kitchen in their place," Sister Mary Benedicte said Tuesday, in French-accented English. "It's very, very hard to find a place for a soup kitchen where people can feel welcome and where we can set up a kitchen for a reasonable price."

Since 2008, the modest kitchen has sat on a derelict street in the Tenderloin neighborhood, long associated with homelessness and drug use. But it's within walking distance of a revitalizing middle Market Street area, led by the relocation of Twitter in 2012.

There's been a "dramatic increase" in residential and retail rents in the middle Market area since 2010, spilling over into the Tenderloin, said Brad Lagomarsino, an executive vice president with commercial real estate company Colliers International.

The still-seedy neighborhood, in other words, is trending up.
rfmcdpei @ 4:19pm: [LINK] "Blame an Ivory Ban for China’s Vanishing Giant Clams"
Wired's Nic Cavell notes poaching of the South China Sea's giant clams.

Last fall, the United States and China came together to crack down on the ivory trade. Both countries—the two biggest markets for illegal ivory—banned the import and export of the stuff, hoping to save some of the elephants being poached for their tusks. No more alabaster piano keys, no more intricately carved jewelry. At least not made of ivory. In the absence of elephant tusks, trinket makers in China are shifting to a new medium. And they’re threatening a new species in the process.

Giant clamshells—made of lustrous calcium carbonate, sometimes streaked with green or gold, and weighing up to 450 pounds—are the new quarry of fishermen in port towns like Tanmen, on the southern island province of Hainan. Harvesting used to be an art: A man dove, held his breath, teased the clam, and wrestled it to the surface. But with the help of new technology and bolstered by the ivory ban, giant Tridacna clams have become a full-blown industry in parts of China.

In the afternoon, trawlers haul hundreds of clams back to port, harvested with the help of scuba tanks, new breathing techniques, and outboard motors that the fishers rev to kick up sand around reefs. Craftsmen carve the shells in their workshops, selling the scrimshaw in hundreds of local shops. The “jade of the sea” can fetch prices upward of $12,000 per clamshell, supporting around 100,000 people on Hainan. “Even a few years ago, there were three, maybe four ships devoted to clam fishing,” says Zhang Hongzhou, an expert on the giant clam trade at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “Now, there are dozens.”

But the trade is taking a toll on the reefs. The fishermen aren’t just killing the giant clams—which are already extinct in some places. It turns out when you use rev your motor on a coral reef, you bust up its whole ecosystem. Clam flesh is a vital source of food for predators and scavengers. Their huge shells—up to four feet wide—serve as reservoirs for small invertebrates like tubeworms and a special phytoplankton called zooxanthellae. Without the clams’ protection, grazing animals quickly overfish the phytoplankton, eliminating a crucial food source for coral and other creatures in the reef’s ecosystem.

That’s not all. Even after they die, the clams function like an underwater giving tree. Scavengers pare the clam flesh away, leaving the calcium carbonate skeletons standing in an upright position. “I’ve seen new animals come in and colonize them on my dives,” says Neo Mei Lin, a marine biologist at the National University of Singapore. Later, the reef incorporates the shell material into its framework.

As fishermen whittle away the reefs closer to Hainan, these underwater poachers are spreading into areas contested by Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea. On a visit to Tanmen in 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping encouraged the fishermen to go farther and build bigger ships. “But I don’t think even Xi Jinping knows how much they’re harvesting,” says Zhang.
rfmcdpei @ 4:15pm: [LINK] "Massive Tree Farms May Be a Really Bad Climate Idea"
National Geographic's Marianne Lavelle notes the complexities of dealing with atmospheric carbon dioxide.

To meet the Paris climate deal's goal of deep greenhouse gas cuts, nations appear to be relying on costly, possibly harmful large-scale projects to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, says a new paper with sobering calculations of the risks.

"The Paris agreement shows where we want to go — the brave new world of a balanced carbon budget — but not how to get there," says Phil Williamson, environmental scientist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and science coordinator for the U.K. government's Natural Environment Research Council.

Williamson warned in a commentary Wednesday in Nature that even seemingly beneficial approaches like tree planting could wreak havoc if they are implemented on the massive scale required to limit the increase in average global temperature to below 2° Celsius.

"There's a lot of optimism based on the assumption it will all be all right, because sometime in the future, we're going to be able to remove the carbon," Williamson said in a phone interview. "Well, that's actually going to be more trouble and more expensive than if you face up to the problem now." He said research is urgently needed on the consequences of these massive carbon removal projects, which he says are essentially geoengineering projects by another name.

Paris negotiators did not specifically discuss carbon removal, but Williamson argues their deal implicitly relies upon large-scale mitigation projects, because nations are not on track to cut fossil fuel burning enough to meet the pact's targets.
nwhyte @ 10:13pm: Friday reading
Watership Down, by Richard Adams (a chapter a week)
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

Last books finished
The Sword of Forever, by Jim Mortimore
The Sinn Féin Rebellion As I Saw It, by Mrs Hamilton Norway

Next books
Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
The Magic Cup, by Andrew M. Greeley

Books acquired in last week
Gentleman Jolie and the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold - special signed limited edition, gloat gloat
Mother of Eden, by Chris Beckett
The Legends of Ashildr, by James Goss, David Llewellyn, Jenny T. Colgan and Justin Richards
james_nicoll @ 4:03pm: Rye and Ginger: the 1916 Project: 21-27 JAN 1916: SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING?
"Take him, captain. He is my last and is all I have left to give.”

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
papersky @ 2:06pm: Crooked Timber seminar
There has been a Crooked Timber seminar on my Thessaly books. The main post, with links to all the essays everyone wrote on it (some of them brilliant), can be found here, and there's also a link to my response post, a dialogue in which Socrates and Apollo disagree about spoilers, while Maia and Crocus also make their opinions known.

There are no spoilers for Necessity, but there are spoilers for The Just City and The Philosopher Kings.
e_moon60 @ 12:23pm: Progress minus...
So...I got sick.   Now when I can't work on the computer, I can often knit (and sleep, then knit again...) so I continued to keep the socks in progress on the bed with me.

This led to...really stupid and first-time-ever errors.  But here's some images of where the socks are now...

Brown-green-sunset-socks1   Brown-green-sunset-socks2

Read more...Collapse )
lamentables @ 6:01pm: drilling adventure hour
Yesterday was not frustrating at all. It was sunny, I owed no-one my time, and I enjoyed ticking lots of domestic admin off my To Do List, including 'make delicious soup with what remains of last week's veg box'. When I got to the part of the To Do List that involved doing stuff that was all obligationy and boring, I read fanfic instead. Good decision-making there, I feel.

And today is the weekend. We had a lie-in, followed by me frantically getting up and rushing to the surgery just in time for my appointment to have my ears syringed, only to be told that both their scary ear-washing machines are broken. I'm booked in again on Monday, when I'll be very glad to get rid of all this wax. Eeeuw.

Next on the agenda, picture hanging - the finishing touch for our newly decorated and newly be-curtained lounge. I cleaned the existing pictures that we decided to rehang, and abrinsky did lots of drilling, et voila.


That won't be all the art that goes in the lounge, but it's enough for now, and we'll enjoy collecting more stuff on our future travels. Some of the pictures that were on the lounge walls prior to decorating are going to be archived, and we plan to have more of our own photographs printed and framed.

Oh, and those new curtains?


Comment here or comment there (where there are comment count unavailablecomments).
rfmcdpei @ 12:42pm: [PHOTO] Front window lions, Honest Ed's
Front window lions, Honest Ed"s #toronto #honesteds #bloorstreetwest #lions #sculpture

Passing by Honest Ed's on Bloor Street, I saw that much of the store's chinoiserie-style kitsch had been moved out to a display in the front Windows.
bart_calendar @ 5:50pm: March Nerd Madness - The Brackets
Brackets are big because of the many long names.

Read more...Collapse )
bart_calendar @ 5:42pm: March Nerd Madness First Round - Anchor Post
Video Games


Dead Trees

bart_calendar @ 5:36pm: March Nerd Madness - First Round - Video Games Division
Poll #2036589 March Geek Madness Round One - Video Games Division


L-Shaped Tetris Block


Laura Croft


Guybush Threepwood


Ms. Pac Man
Gordon Freeman

Link Cubed

Link (Zelda)
The Companion Cube


Jet Set (Miner) Willy


Sonya Blade


Pac Man
jimhines @ 11:34am: Cool Stuff Friday

This is the 100th Cool Stuff Friday blog post. I figured I’d look back at some of the links from the past two and a half years I’ve been doing this.

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

bart_calendar @ 5:29pm: March Nerd Madness - First Round - TV Division
Poll #2036587 March Geek Madness Round One - TV Divsion

Jean Jon

Jean Luc Picard
John Crichton

Spock Patsy

Patsy (AbFab)


Dr. Who
Capt. Jack Harkness

Lister Kermit

Dave Lister

Giles 6

Rupert Giles
Number 6

Vamp Abby

Vampire Willow
Abby Sciuto

Gus Henry

Gus Fring
Henry Bemis


Det. John Munch
Hoban “Wash” Washburne
theweaselking @ 11:22am: Dinosaur Comics is awesome. That is all.
 photo comic2-2948_zps52ravkwh.png
bart_calendar @ 5:22pm: March Nerd Madness - Round One - Dead Trees Divison
Poll #2036584 March Geek Madness Round One - Dead Trees Division

Valentine Next

Valentine (Flex)
Thursday Next

Locke Bartleby

Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards seies)

White Taltos

Carrie White
Vlad Taltos

Snape Rorschach


Wetherwax Cooper

Granny (Weatherwax)
Betty Cooper

Dumbledore Tyrion

Albus Dumbledore
Tyrion Lannister

Gandalf Gunslinger

Roland Deschain

Everdeen Granger

Katniss Everdeen
Hermione Granger
james_nicoll @ 11:14am: The Gorgon and Other Beastly Tales by Tanith Lee

The Gorgon and Other Beastly Tales by Tanith Lee

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
bart_calendar @ 5:15pm: March Nerd Madness - First Round - Movie Divison
Poll #2036583 March Geek Madness Round One - Movie Divison


Ellen Ripley
Fox Mulder

Furious Starling

Clarice Starling

Inspctor Organa

Inspector Clouseau
Leia Organa

Zombie Pinhead

Columbus (Zombieland)

Connor Smith

Sarah Connor
Agent Smith

Jareth Bond

James Bond

Ash Widow

Black Widow

Det. Rey

Det. John McClane
greygirlbeast @ 12:09pm: "And now we ride the circus wheel..."
Bitter cold last night and today. Currently, we have a windchill warning. At the moment, it's 16˚F and feels like 14˚F. Our low last night was 9˚F, with a windchill of -6˚F. The world is scabbed with ice and snow, and there's more snow forecast for tomorrow.

Yesterday went well, actually. I made it to the Hay, and I made it all the way through Agents of Dreamland. And, much to my surprise, I think it's actually pretty good. You cannot imagine my relief.

“Cult writer. It's a weird term because it's complimentary but condescending at the same time.” ~ Dennis Cooper

Last night, we watched Belinda Sallin's 2014 documentary, Dark Star: H. R. Gigers Welt and then a documentary on Nikola Tesla. Personal heroes, back to back. I had a patty melt from the Classic Diner on Westminster. Spooky finished the Gorey Dracula jigsaw puzzle we've been working on, the most maddening jigsaw I've ever tried to do. I created my eleventh GW2 character, who also happens to be the first male GW2 character I've ever played (though he is, admittedly, a very, very girly boy). It was, all in all, a pretty decent day and night, despite a bad headache and a bad stomach.

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin.

Aunt Beast
Current Mood: betterish
bart_calendar @ 5:03pm: March Nerd Madness - The Seeding Ceremony

  1. Ellen Ripley

  2. Imperator Furiosa

  3. Inspector Clouseau

  4. Columbus, Zombieland

  5. Sarah Connor

  6. Jareth

  7. Ash

  8. Det. John McClane

  9. Rey

  10. Black Widow

  11. James Bond

  12. Agent Smith

  13. Pinhead

  14. Leia Organa

  15. Clarice Starling
    16 Fox Mulder

    Dead Trees

    1. Valentine (Flex)

    2. Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards seies)

    3. Carrie White

    4. Snape

    5. Granny (Weatherwax)

    6. Dumbledore

    7. Gandalf

    8. Katniss Everdeen

    9. Hermione Granger

    10. Roland Deschain

    11. Tyrion Lannister

    12. Betty Cooper

    13. Rorschach

    14. Vlad Taltos

    15. Bartleby

    16. Thursday Next


    1. Jean-Luc Picard

    2. Spock

    3. Dr. Who

    4. Dave Lister

    5. Rupter Giles

    6. Vampire Willow

    7. Gus Fring

    8. Det. John Munch

    9. Hoban “Wash” Washburne

    10. Henry Bemis

    11. Abby Sciuto

    12. Number 6

    13. Kermit

    14. Capt. Jack Harkness

    15. Patsy (AbFab)

    16. John Crichton

      Video Games

      1. L-Shaped Tetris Block

      2. Laura Croft

      3. Chell

      4. Ms. Pack Man

      5. Link (Zelda)

      6. Jet Set (Miner) Willy

      7. Sonya Blade

      8. Mario

      9. Pac Man

      10. Sonic

      11. Yoshi

      12. The Companion Cube

      13. Gordon Freeman

      14. Guybush Threepwood

      15. Max

      16. Chloe

Back 50
Back 100
Back 150