Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I left my home to disappear is all

Two new polymers have been discovered by IBM researchers, apparently completely by accident. They haven't been officially named yet, but are going by the code names of "Titan", a super-strong, light chained polymer, and "Hydro", a polymer that dissolves back into a goo state when exposed to acidic water (making it ideal for recyclable plastic applications).

In the meantime, astronomers observing Jupiter have noted that the Great Red Spot--in reality a giant storm thousands of miles wide--seems to be shrinking. No one's sure why yet, but it's the smallest it's been in over one hundred years.

This will shred your heart, but it's so worth the listen: redhandmedia's spoken-word film of Ryan Red Corn's poem, Bad Indians:
i am armed to the teeth with words from the ivory tower
and those good indians told me its borrowed power if...
if i talk loud enough
if i talk clear enough
that i would be heard
that for some talking is singing
that for some singing is praying
but i guess that depends on who is doing the talking
and i guess that depends on who is doing the listening
Moving from reality to myth, archeologists in Suffolk believe they might have found Black Shuck, buried under Leiston Abbey in England. They're going to carbon-date the bones, which may or may not prove anything, but even if it was some abbot's hunting dog, the bones equate to an animal that would have seven feet tall on its hind legs, and weighed over two hundred pounds.

Whether it's the legendary Hell Hound or not, it's an impressive--and old--animal.

In the meantime, UKIP--or the UK Independence Party--is coming under fire on two fronts. Firstly, a Facebook comment left by politician John Lyndon Sullivan that directly attacks gay citizens for, essentially, being gay--with the pointed line of wondering how quickly they'd drop the purported act of being gay if one of them was shot (and presumed slain). Which is bizarre enough, but then Nigel Farage, leader of the party, goes on a radio interview to defend the inherent stupidity of the things being said (and done) with the traditional "I don't know this guy" defense.

This from the party who--infamously--has an intense prejudice against immigrants, and yet hired a firm with exclusively Eastern European immigrants to pass out election leaflets for them. Why? Because that firm was willing to work for far less than anyone else.

I'm fine with cost effectiveness, but it does seem intensely hypocritical to decry immigrants on one hand and hire them on the other. One endorses, one pushes aside. Can one effectively hold both positions at once?

Finally, have the Twitter joke that was five years in the making. Beautifully played, indeed.

Friday, May 9, 2014

and I'm caught in the crossfire of my own thoughts

And today, a clip post. Because reasons.
"A sizable coalition of technology companies has today taken a stand in favor of net neutrality in the form of a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The group, led by giants including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and Yahoo, challenges a proposal the FCC is considering that threatens net neutrality."
Now, this is interesting. There are some big tech giants in this--Google, Netflix, and Amazon among them--and they're all protesting this change as an essential violation of net neutrality. And the thing is, they're right, and the FCC is wrong, so why is the FCC pushing forward with this plan?

The simple answer's usually the right one, and in this case, that means pressure from the government, or the cable companies. My bet's on the cable companies. Comcast, for instance, desperately wants to start charging higher fees for data-heavy video streaming from sites like Netflix, Youtube, Hulu Plus and other streaming sites. The problem with that is, back in 2011, the report was that Netflix accounted for 22% of all internet use, and three years later, it's higher. And the problem with that is how the data's structured in the first place.

Without restructuring how the data's presented to the individual, there's no way to get away from that heavy data hit in the beginning. And without that heavy data hit, Comcast (and other companies) likely wouldn't care about charging different rates to different clients. Or maybe they would, and all of this would've happened eventually. Who knows?

In the meantime, none of these I'd count in the average DIY camp. Still, if you're interested, the pictures don't help much, so...
  • HildenDiaz did the actual "Forms in Nature" (aka, "haunted forest" or "forest shadow") chandelier, but if you want to attempt it yourself, watch Threadbanger's Man vs. Pin video first. Recommendations I'd add to that: forget the spherical branch globe, see if you can get a cylindrical or a square base frame instead to add branches to, or at least, a cylindrical or square shape made of twigs, over the round globe. The various branches aren't the worst idea, but remember this picture? Yeah, a skill saw and some thin plywood will likely serve you better. Finally, because you want a really bright light, try to find a 250 watt bulb. (just make sure your light kit is rated for a bulb that high), or go with what the original artists did: a custom-designed LED frame lamp inset that is designed to cast crisp, clean shadows. Without that, it just won't work in the same way.
  • Designsponge has the paper orb drop lamp project (along with a popsicle stick/tongue depressor chandelier that looks very stylish).
  • Kevin Champeny's Tumblr mentions the construction of his Gummi-bear chandelier; while nylon string, the ring, and mesh of sufficient size and sturdiness could be fairly easily acquired, his personalized casts aren't. How'ver, if you're willing to use Gummi-bear-sized bears, this is a fairly simple way to cast your own. Then all you'd need is a Dremel tool to drill each bear lengthwise for stringing. Use Champeny's Candelier as a tutorial for how to string it all together--but keep in mind, even a smaller-sized Candelier will be significantly heavy, and take some serious time to make.
  • Yaroslav Olenev's plastic spoon lamp doesn't have a complete tutorial, but it does have several enlargeable photographs, and sometimes, that'll work too.
  • Ludwig Metals made the drum-kit lamp, but Makely Home has a good handle on a smaller version. Plus, this site has a good breakdown on various pendant-light kits and what each lamp might require.
  • Tongue and Groove sells Gregory Bonasera's ceramic teacup lights, but in addition to this lovely list of pictorial inspirations, Man vs. Pin made the definitive teacup lamp DIY vid. Don't want a desk lamp? No problem--use the same tricks to make a pendant lamp, or a group of pendants, with teacups of your choice.
  • Calabarte makes the gourd lamps, and they are luscious things of beauty. How'ver, since they are ridiculously priced, Makezine has a really simple version (see the video on the Lifehacker site), Martha Stewart has a slightly more upscale version, and the Goods Home Design blog offers a Calabarte-style pictorial tutorial on how to make a gourd lamp.
  • made the "Ballroom Luminoso", but to make one yourself, you're going to have to remember the tips from the first lamp: because this one also uses a custom-designed LED rig. Also, you'll need to know how to weld, because these are a lot of bike gears, and they'll all need to be welded to each other. There are some better pictures from the PDF the artists released, but there's not a lot to reproduce this exact design. I did find a gear table lamp made from car parts, but that's not the same thing, is it?
  • Graham and Green makes the Jeeves and Wooster pendant lamp set, but if you want a similar look, they're not wrong, and a tutorial really isn't needed. Two hats, two pendant light electrical kits, two bulbs, done. (How'ver, if you really want a step-by-step to the style, try Scraphacker's entry, which also features a history of the bowler hat! Yay!)
  • Finding a lace lamp tutorial was not hard; finding one that was applicable to most climates? That was tricky. The trick seems to be to use wall size, not wood glue or wallpaper paste. Everything else uses the same tips we've been talking about--find a low-heat or LED light source, so there's no chance of burning the doilies; get a complimentary lamp kit; and use a smaller bulb if, for some reason, you want a table lamp version. (I wouldn't recommend a desk-size lamp, simply because even an LED light will be too close to the doilies.)
  • On the other hand, the cloud night light tutorial proved impossible to find. The sketch of it's here, but the original account on deviantArt has been deactivated. Bother. On t'other hand, the limited instructions given there aren't bad: buy a cheap nightlight, buy a low-wattage lamp kit cord, and use a hobby saw to cut out your cloud shape to cover the actual light part of the night light. Might also toss in a cube of wood or plastic, or even a square of styrofoam, between the light base, and the back of the cloud. Then paint as you will, add other clouds if you like (those can be cut from craft board), and plug in. You're done!
  • The cheese grater chandelier was a bit difficult; electrical tape seemed to be the bulk of the DIY tutorials out there, but there is one I found that employs a drill for a less 'junky' look. (Also, that site has a page on cheese grater history, which I found amusing.)
And...then I realized I had forty tabs open from all the research, so...that's what you're going to get. I might revisit this later, but yeesh, closing tabs down now! And keep in mind, all of these are intended as inspirational tutorials, not to encourage outright art theft from the artists mentioned.

In more DIY news, here's a showing of twenty-five nifty home mods. Some are more for style, others are really useful, but all are fairly cool.

Want to know a little bit about the history of crochet? How about tambour stitch, which is thought to be where crochet eventually evolved into crochet?

In new food trends, so-called "female-friendly" restaurants were the next hottest thing, but initial backlash is forcing backers to reconsider. Which is a good thing--I, for one, find the entire idea horrifying. If I go to a steakhouse, I want what I want, not a "smaller", more "feminine" cut for the same--or likely a higher!--price. I also don't want to eat dinner while watching the Pussycat Girls strut down a runway--I like dancers as much as the next person, but unless I'm in a Moroccan restaurant sitting on the floor, keep the dancing girls home. And mirrors on the dessert menu? Say it's for fixing makeup all you want, for many of us, we'd take it as a criticism.

While we're here, have a handy guide to where to pet animals, a lushly beautiful picture series of innovative treehouses, some really, really terrible childrens' toys, and a list of odd things spotted in Australia.

And that's all for now! More later when I have too many tabs open!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

somebody's knocking, it's the devil at my door

[Zone] Niko Stalkingwolf@niko9er: i hate you again

Here we go again...

[Zone] Urkan Skullbreaker@d7forever: not evolved
[Zone] Urkan Skullbreaker@d7forever: designed
[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: *sigh*


Oh, so that's what we're talking about.

[Zone] Lilyth Snow@death69inc: ...... designed by?
[Zone] Remington@darkballad: They also can't find an airplane that crashed in SE Asia


Someone might have tracked that one down, actually.

[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: #nevergofullretard Urkan
[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: %!@) me you are stupid
[Zone] Madness@mentaldepth6: aliens

...aliens? ALIENS??? Seriously?? Uh...

[Zone] Yagi@kkotikk: yeah they need satellites to read their newspapers cos they are so bloody illiterate just look at the pics
[Zone] KnightRivas@Riivasz: ANYONE FOR PK?
[Zone] Random Chance@Random_Chance: the universe makes a LOT more sense when you get rid of the idea that there are gods/demons


Actually, it makes about as much sense as anything else. With or without gods, demons, and spirits, it's still a pretty screwed-up reality we live in.

[Zone] Urkan Skullbreaker@d7forever: the same way the australian indigenous peoples are designed to be able to go a long way on a little water

*sighs* Urkan, Aborigines are not camels. Grow the hell up.

[Zone] NUALA@zephyrpillar1: we also live in a time where we know more about space than the oceans at our back door

True. And we're losing vast reaches of the ocean's ecology due to various factors. We should really get on that while we still can.

[Zone] Niko Stalkingwolf@niko9er: who says there is not a secret lair in Oprah's *%$% that all fantasy creatures are hiding out in

Um...any rational person??

[Zone] Naya Ilivarra@lillibp: omg Juggernaught, stop trying, you cant get through to him ( Urkan Skullbreaker)
[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: lol Urkan you are so full of !%*^
[Zone] BitterBlur@bitterblur: anything is possible anywhere always.
[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: That's not even the same thing

It's really not, but hey, attention spans, fruit flies, I've said it before...

[Zone] Urkan Skullbreaker@d7forever: evolution relys on the theory that one birth in 500 or so will be diverse
[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: you ^*#(^^# *^(^(!
[Zone] Justice@stellarstrider: Except it be just the way we were seeded to begin with. Being this one interation #10219201 of simulation #42..


I do not understand the point you're trying to make here, Justice.

[Zone] Lilyth Snow@death69inc: DD !
[Zone] Bomb Rush@indigophrophetz: some simple consider gods and demons to be a label to define an entity within a structure
[Zone] Urkan Skullbreaker@d7forever: and that some of the faults will be beneficial
[Zone] Juggernaught@pantheist84: There is a difference between having an ability based on will and being BORN with different genetics.
[Zone] Urkan Skullbreaker@d7forever: and its frankly daft


Why daft? It happens all the time.

[Zone] Random Chance@Random_Chance: I for one welcome our new robot overlords

Where did robots come into this?

[Zone] NUALA@zephyrpillar1: you should go on a ketamine trip, that !*^! will open your eyes

Where did drugs come into this?

[Zone] Yagi@kkotikk: No. Anything is possible in some places. Something is possible in all places. But nothing is possible in all places

If you say so.

Later that same day...

[Zone] Lil Ms. Toughy@dr4g0n5l4y3r86: ATTENTION ALL GUARDIAN FIGHTERS:: PREVENT ALL FALL DAMAGE BY HOLDING SHIFT UNTIL YOU LAND!!

You can't be serious.

[Zone] Rranoruh Fulldraw@floingis: No u didn't.
[Zone] Dirg Shadowblade@smackadoom: lol cause thats what usually kills them right ?:D
[Zone] Rranoruh Fulldraw@floingis: Only pros can write pro tips.
[Zone] Rhyewulff@northernlights31: Pro Tip # 731 Swatting mosquito that lands on ^)(@#$)$ = epic fail

There's definitely epic fail, here.

[Zone] Luthien@arc-en-gel: CWs and DCs can make shift just before landing, preventing all dmg as well

Reaaaaaaaally?

I doubt.

[Zone] Rranoruh Fulldraw@floingis: .... Why would there be a misquito on your ^)(@#$)$?
[Zone] Magic Man@BadName20357: Are you a man in the eye of Odin? VALHALLA is recruiting!!! We're an active guild with mature members(18+), Recruiting LvL +45 for PvE/PvP + End-Game Content. We use Teamspeak3. PM for info/invite.


So, no girls then?

[Zone] Rranoruh Fulldraw@floingis: That sounds like some kinky @$&%.
[Zone] Dirg Shadowblade@smackadoom: where are you falling from that you have to worry about the damage?


Y'know, this is a good point, too. If you're anticipating taking enough fall damage to kill, then do you really need to be jumping off that cliff in the first place?

[Zone] Obould@eternalsun8: ANY TAURINE HERE?
[Zone] Zenna Softtread@EmillyOrr: Obould, this is not WoW.
[Zone] Obould@eternalsun8: THE BALL'S JUICE.
[Zone] Obould@eternalsun8: HUH?!
[Zone] Rranoruh Fulldraw@floingis: Wow was the first MMO.


Oh, not that tired old chestnut again.

[Zone] Zenna Softtread@EmillyOrr: Agh, enough
[Zone] Magna Arcana@jaguarmagnus: Cows where the first MOO. Moo
[Zone] Obould@eternalsun8: MOOMOO?
[Zone] Magna Arcana@jaguarmagnus: Moo!!


Great. Now they're all farm animals.

[Zone] Treyd Lightfoot@bailey2409: EQ was played long before wow
[Zone] Eluna@eviled777: lmao
[Zone] Obould@eternalsun8: ANGELIC-DEMONIC.
[Zone] Rranoruh Fulldraw@floingis: What is?
[Zone] Obould@eternalsun8: WoW?


Who knows? Seriously, who the hell knows?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

we can try to laugh it off, I guess

So we start off with a question from a Russian gamer looking for other Russian gamers, which led to gross sexual references, and thence to political derangement:

[Zone] Andipal Barich@andipal: any russian guild for communiscitc crazy gamers?
[Zone] SagittariuS@butimonly: CCCP
[Zone] SagittariuS@butimonly: HODOR!
[Zone] End Rider@splenderfreak: :O
[Zone] berserk@pando83: who wants to szuck my hairy ballz?
[Zone] Ecko@meaty00: Me!


WHY?!? Seriously, WHYYYYY???

[Zone] Ecko@meaty00: Only if you are black though.
[Zone] berserk@pando83: but they are very hairy
[Zone] berserk@pando83: it's like sucking the fur of a huge dog
[Zone] Holly Golightly@yarknarf: drop em in the mail. ill check them out later
[Zone] Lysillia Harp@korolla: I would, but then I'd have to kick myself out :(
[Zone] Gisella Healforged@sweet5starlight: Is Zone quiet, or have I just ignored too many people? XD


Obviously I haven't ignored enough.

[Zone] D4fix@d4fix: When will they finally fix the freaking clock tower?
[Zone] Holly Golightly@yarknarf: give em a break. many little parts in CT. plus u need that tiny screwdriver


That's fair, I suppose.

There is sort of a running joke with the names: the Cloak Tower is an early-level dungeon that, while mostly functional, has some staggering bugs that have never been fixed since game launch, while the Clockwork Guild Tomb is found in the mid-level zone, Neverdeath Graveyard, is not broken, and is a freakishly brilliant bit of game design.

[Zone] SagittariuS@butimonly: one serous question! How you proof you age?

Not like that.

[Zone] Gisella Healforged@sweet5starlight: by the way you communicate, of course!
[Zone] Zenna Softtread@EmillyOrr: To the game, or...?
[Zone] SagittariuS@butimonly: serious..your..


*snerks*

I wanted to go there; I managed to restrain myself...barely.

[Zone] Holly Golightly@yarknarf: age and proof on the side of bottle
[Zone] Gisella Healforged@sweet5starlight: good one, Holly!
[Zone] Mikal Urthsson@marinehk4861: Post a valid credit card number and security code
[Zone] Zenna Softtread@EmillyOrr: Bad Mikal, no biscuit!
[Zone] Mikal Urthsson@marinehk4861: :p
[Zone] River@rachitt: indeed you forgot to ask for the passport as well
[Zone] Pam Willows@pauledwin: funny that there are so many more trolls in the evening
[Zone] SagittariuS@butimonly: one troll provoce other trolls


I think you meant "provoke", but you're likely not wrong. And then the Russia-bashing started:

[Zone] Lucifer@vescera1986: GUYS I`M RUSSIA,WANT TO GO FRIENDLY GUILD,WHO MAY TAKE ME??
[Zone] Garret Shadowsoul@kingsgrace: Go to the russian server
[Zone] Phelaia Angelbane@thegeldprince: well there's really only one server, so
[Zone] Lucifer@vescera1986: GUYS I`M RUSSIAN,WANT TO GO FRIENDLY GUILD,WHO MAY TAKE ME??
[Zone] Lucifer@vescera1986: Rus server sucks


So what you're after is a Russian-speaking guild. That...apparently screams at everyone all the time?

[Zone] Imanar Soul@avirone: nobody if you use caps liek tht
[Zone] icoco777@icoco777: get back in your own hell


Oh, I don't know, Imanar, if someone accepted you into a guild "liek tht", Lucifer'll probably be fine.

But what does 'get back in your own hell' mean, exactly?

[Zone] Järnsaxa@perfectworld475: I doubt many are feeling friendly toward russia atm :)
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: why ?
[Zone] Baridl@taranell: I will take you, I will take you under a candlelit evening
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: because of krim ?


*twitches*

Crimea, you mean? Or the Ukraine in general?

[Zone] Järnsaxa@perfectworld475: yes because of ukraine
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: u guys have no clue about krim and u hate russia/putin because of that, u should research a bit, russian just tokk THEIR part back !!!!
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: u should learn more about then just watch news and think u can relate to do
[Zone] icoco777@icoco777: ys..becose russians are so #($%( act like germany when take [poland
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: if so , pls (##! .. u guys have no clue


I find it amusing that those four lines are so difficult for me to parse that I have to read them twice through, every time I come across this section of chat...yet "Exces" and "icoco777" are the ones telling the rest of us to pause and think and do research. When they likely can't even spell the word research the same way twice...

[Zone] Holy Cleavage@ocano: no they didn't, Exces. Get your facts straight.
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: ye seems like
[Zone] Järnsaxa@perfectworld475: it's not whether crimea should be russian or not it's the way russia ia acting
[Zone] Baridl@taranell: Yeah guys, we dont like *(%$& here :( They were mean! Germany rules!!!
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: USA is beter ?
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: USA acting better then russia ?
[Zone] Exces@sugarblackrose: even worse !
[Zone] Garret Shadowsoul@kingsgrace: Because a country the size of Russia REALLY needs to take more land 'back'...


I'd tend to agree, but the problem is, as always, vastly more complicated than that.

[Zone] Spinal Cut@mentinmindmaker: Russia did infringe on another countrys sovereignity.. which is completely unacceptable
[Zone] Baridl@taranell: USA! USA! USA!


Gaaaaah.

[Zone] Virgil Ravenna@v01ces: Yeah, right, Crimia is a much Russian as it is Turkish or Greek or Ukrainian
[Zone] Phelaia Angelbane@thegeldprince: who cares about ukraine, its the damn russian cheaters thats the problem...


What they're referring to here are the employees of Russian fly-by-night companies who skate in, invent random names, and start spamming for gold. The problem with this line of reasoning is that, overall, Russian gold spammers consist of about 2% of the spammer problem in Neverwinter (and even that, I think, is an excessively high ratio). The other 98% comes predominantly from China and North Korea, and always will.

[Zone] Järnsaxa@perfectworld475: what has usa got to do with anything?

These days, I find myself asking that question a lot.

End of part two, more when I get to it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

play in someone's perfume garden and this night's the last you'll get

Okay, had a moment over the last couple of days where the slight discordance between the last banner (which took me, no lie, about two weeks to put together) and the backdrop (which I put together in maybe fifteen minutes, max, because I couldn't find anything exactly the right shade) became an !INTENSE!ANNOYANCE! that had to be dealt with OMGOMGRIGHTNAAAAOOOO...So, I changed things again. Now we have a different skulls-and-flowers background, and a banner that goes better with everything, and this should keep me happy for the next few months...with any luck.

No trains in view, though. Le sigh.

As usual, with any background change, let me know if anything's too objectionable, blah blah blah, you know the drill.

Meanwhile, back in Neverwinter...
[Zone] ForcedNameChangeAgain@raistlin00: send me all your crap ill sell it and send you the money
[Zone] Gravious@graviouz: sounds like scam
No, really? What gave it away?
[Zone] Storm@durandal112: Go change your name
I tend to agree. The problem is, when the mods in Neverwinter change someone's name, they make it something bland and (relatively) inoffensive. Usually comprised largely of numbers. How'ver, that name, that means someone either created a character from scratch with that name, or paid in Zen--which is bought with RL funds, not in-game currency--to change their name to that. Either way, that is a chosen name.

And that's disturbing.

Later on, this gem scrolled up:
[Zone] orberon@orberon2: rofl who made this trees saved alot off poligons
Yeah, I'll just...I'll just leave that there, to molder away in peace.

Also, "Orberon". Let that sink in for a bit.

Lastly, I came across one of the odder Victorian photo compilation articles I've found for the last few months--this one in particular covering the curious Victorian custom of parental camouflage. The thing I found so interesting about that set of photos, though, is that most of the hidden-mother shots I've seen they're actually hidden. I mean, they blend in nearly perfectly in many cases. In most of the photos in that link, though, you can see hands, legs; occasionally it's the father being hidden, which I found very unusual. Is this just a choice of the photographer in question? Were the kids just impossible to keep still unless they saw a part of the parent? Were these the equivalent of Sears studio shots, where X photographer has to make a quota of Y photographs every day, and must rush everyone through as quickly as humanly possible?

Sadly, we will likely never know. But they are different enough from the "norm" for this style, I thought I should mention them. And if you've never heard of hidden-parent photos, well, there's a vast array of links available by searching hiddem mother or hidden parent photography; in fact, there's even a Flickr group devoted to the topic that has a spectacular array of photographs and tintypes devoted to this particular style. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

There are a bunch of holiday-themed poses for free under the tree at Picture This! Some of the packages are left-click purchase, others are standard right-click to buy, but there's several of them. Who knows, you might find something for that last-minute photo urge!

In technology news, the first bioprosthetic heart has been implanted in a living patient. The patient is--at least as of that report--conscious and functional, but of course the medical team is watching closely to be sure. Still, it's one more step in the advance to ensure that everyone who is in need for heart replacement finds a way to keep functioning.

Genre, for December, is hosting a "Victorian Christmas" themed event. I don't know if it's lasting until the end of the month; what I do know is that there are several lovely L$10 items offered in the mix, and, for a wonder, most of the event's offerings actually are reasonably Victorian in nature. Woo!

There's a lady on Tumblr who's been, for the past year at least, compiling historical research on medieval instances of people of color being described. In fact, that's the name of her Tumblr: medievalpoc. She's been a fascinating source of historical documentation, and this week, she pulled together a post chronicling her most popular posts of 2013, featuring not just largely historical women of color, but nobility, warriors and ambassadors to other cultures.

Among the many links featured--many with historical images--there are several that were among my favorites, too, from the previous year.
Khutulun the Wrestler Princess
Khutulun, first introduced to me as Aiyurug, was born sometime around 1260, in a time when the Mongols ruled from relative positions of luxury and excess. In opposition to her more famous cousin, Aiyurug wished to return to the old ways of the Khans--feats of strength and war, nomadic travel, and physical prowess over sedentary indolence. To gain followers for her cause, she competed in all areas of Mongol sportsmanship: horse racing, archery, war games, and wrestling. She was a large woman, muscled, powerfully proportioned, and she was never beaten. In fact, a common wager was horse against horse, hers against her opponents. In time, she had a herd of trained warhorses ten thousand strong.
Etruscan Warrior "Prince" really a Princess, analysis finds
There's a certain amount of condescension in this article, but based on what little is known of this culture at the time, my theory is that the "Princess" named in the article lived life as a warrior and a man, or at least in a position of higher social status. I'm attributing this not only to the skeletal remains found with a warrior's lance, but the fact that the body next to the first is partially burned--a practice more common to Asian cultures, but also potentially possible for spouses in the Etruscan culture, as well. Add this to the fact that the spouse's body--identified as that of a male--was buried with traditional bridal jewelry, and I think it's fairly clear this is a case where the 'wife' had the privileges of the warrior, and the 'husband' lived a traditionally female existence.
Xiang Fei, the "Fragrant Concubine"
Xiang Fei's story is a fascinating one. Born into the Uighur Muslims, when Manchu general Zhahui returned from "gloriously" conquering the Uighurs in 1959, in addition to the treasures of the culture looted and removed, he brought with him Xiang Fei. Several reports make much of her natural scent, which is how she was named the Fragrant Concubine.
But she wasn't just chattel for the court--not only was Zhahui head over heels for her, but she resisted many of his advances, to the point of concealing small knives in her sleeves to protect herself when he neared. Though it's not clear what (if anything) eventually thawed her, two things are known: she apparently bore a daughter to Zhahui (willingly or not), and he built her a Muslim enclave with a tall tower that overlooked mosques built farther away from the palace. While he did not trust her beyond his walls to worship her faith, he did make it possible for her to worship in her own tower--a concession that many warlords of the time would not have undertaken.
She died in 1760.
Dido Elizabeth Belle, scholar and Scottish aristocrat
Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay, and an enslaved African woman known only as Belle. How'ver, this is where the story becomes interesting. She was raised alongside Lindsay's own children, educated with them, and remained a favorite child of both the Earl of Mansfield (her half-uncle) and her father well into adulthood.
More surprising, part of her household duties included supervising Lindsay's personal correspondence, a position generally reserved for, and given to, educated men. She received an allowance until marriage of thirty pounds per year, equivalent to Lindsay's main heir, and more than any illegitimate daughter of the time received in comparable household situations.
Going one step further, upon Lord Mansfield's death in 1788, a lump sum of five hundred pounds was granted her, and her status as a free woman was carefully, legally documented, so that none could deprive her of her wealth or status.
In other news, the makers of Echo Bazaar now have a new game called the Sunless Sea. It appears to be similar in nature to Fallen London, but in reading through back entries in the blog, I am teased and enchanted by one facet in particular:
"Fallen London's drawn attention (mostly favourable) for the way it treats gender – we allow players to be a lady, a gentleman, or neither. We've been saying we'll take the same approach in Sunless Sea, but actually, we're going to go a little bit beyond that. We're not going to specify gender at all.

That doesn't mean you won’t be able to pick an avatar that looks like a lady or a gentleman or remains teasingly androgynous. Or shaded by a deep-brimmed hat. Certainly you can. But when you're looking through portraits, you won't be limited to the ones for 'male/female/other'. Perhaps you did run away to sea dressed as a boy. Perhaps you don't fit into the usual binary. Perhaps you just want to look through avatars and decide which one you like before you pick male or female."
Fascinating.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

open atmosphere, take me anywhere

(The below photographs all come from the "Passage of Time" exhibit at SL10B in Pizzazz. Part one is here.)

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I was on the grid in September of 2006. I was working at the Enigma still--my first, and, in some ways, best job on the grid--when the hacks began. Between "grey goo" infestations, rezzed-out pose items spontaneously ceasing to work, and griefing objects in a dizzying and disorienting array, we also had the first major hacking strike to the SL servers themselves. It would not be the last.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I have heard distant (and unfounded) rumors that gambling may be making a comeback. I'm not putting any faith in them right now, but I do agree that when gambling services and virtual banks left the grid, the grid economy never really recovered. Granted, there were large (and occasionally, scarily corporatized) interests behind the gambling industry, but on the ground, all we saw was commerce easily flowing, rent being fairly effortless to pay, and a naïve sort of financial exuberance (with an accompanying naïveté as to exactly what was happening).

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

The launching of Windlight I remember most vividly by how jarringly unhappy my graphics card was with the system. At this point, three entire engines later, changing Windlight settings is as effortless as thought...but at the time, it was a terrifying, unnatural thing for me.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

It's still hard to believe that five celebrations ago, the controversial "no nipples" policy of SL5B was enacted by fiat. Of course, soon after Ursula-then-Zindra rose as the new Adult continent, and we all discovered we had bigger things to worry about.

From the transcript of Mitch Kapor's closing keynote remarks from SL5B:
So the first is, in the earliest wave of pioneers in any new disruptive platform, the marginal and the dispossessed are over represented, not the sole constituents by any means but people who feel they don't fit, who have nothing left to lose or who were impelled by some kind of dream, who may be outsiders to whatever mainstream they are coming from, all come and arrive early in disproportionate numbers.

It was the way the west in the U.S. was settled. It is the way Second Life has been settled. And in fact those early pioneers find a very arduous environment. In the early days, you really have to want to be here because life in certain ways is very very difficult, in fact too difficult for most people. It is unavoidable in some sense that there will be a very high attrition rate in the early years while a platform is being built out. It doesn't stay that way of course, it can't, but the difficulties of conditions cause those who stay to really bond together, have something in common.

And that sort of arduous frontier conditions really give these environments their charm and their character, but also their challenges [...] I think the larger prospect is bringing the value of Second Life and virtual worlds to the world at large. And to do so, it has to be opened up, it has to be made easier to use [...]

So the first thing is a much more realistic looking avatar and particularly for business meetings and meetings between people who know each other, the ability to look more like yourself when you want to, would be a positively good thing. And there are some technologies that have been developed that will create an extraordinarily realistic avatar out of a single digital photograph and a lot of algorithmic magic. These are not Second Life avatars yet, but they could be at some point.
I still find it baffling, and more than a little irritating, this insistence--from Kapor and others--that all anyone wants to do in Second Life is to log in painlessly, shop in permitted areas, and wander around looking as much like their RL selves as possible.

Don't mistake me--for those people who want to resemble their RL selves, I say more power to them. I have a friend who's done everything he can to match his RL self to his SL avatar, down to changing his in-world glasses and hair when they change. How'ver, far more of us want the creativity in SL to attach to our virtual selves as well.

Perceive it this way: I communicate one message when my RL self is in front of someone. Partially, that message is out of my control, because it rests within the viewer's internal perceptions of me or people like me. I only have my personality, my words, my body language, to communicate on my side of this interchange. Everything else rests on the perceptions of that viewer.



In SL, I can substantially increase the amount of communication on my side. Because it is my choice of presentation, my choice of avatar. Good or bad in the eyes of the viewer, these are choices I can and do make on a daily basis. As odd as many of my avatars have been (and still are), I have gone to scathingly few events where my choice of virtual appearance was wholly out of my control. In SL, what I think, what I feel, what I believe can become part of my avatar identity because of how I choose to appear on the grid--from footwear to ears and everything in between. It takes "Your World, Your Imagination" and makes it "My avatar, my identity".

While there is still perceptions on the part of any viewer that I do not control, it's far less haphazard than in RL, where I cannot as easily change hairstyle, eye color, skin color, and outfit. Which doesn't even factor in entire species shifts, or as Miss Neome is frequently seen in, avatars that are less "avatar" and far more "idealization of the perceived interior".

This is not a long-winded way of deriding people who choose to match their RL selves and their SL selves; it's a valid strategy, and for many people, it helps them adapt to virtual landscapes. But just as studies have shown that imagining a thing paves the way for that thing to happen (think studies that have proven a concrete link between disabled people visualizing walking, and subsequent physical muscle changes that would help them with the right equipment walk again), so it is with avatars. What we see ourselves as being, becomes part of our mental and emotional landscape beyond the grid; something Mitch Kapor denies at his peril.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

for every questioned hour, for every second devoured

(The below photographs all come from the "Passage of Time" exhibit at SL10B in Pizzazz.)

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I will admit to being somewhat bemused as I wandered Pizzazz; I always thought it was spelled with only three Z's. Of course, at this point, maybe there's already a sim named Pizazz; who knows?

At any rate, this was a huge box on the sim, patterned with gears, with timekeeping mechanisms on all sides. I admit, it drew me in. What could be inside such a structure?

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

The simplest answer: history. But not just history; a timeline of sorts, from the very first neophyte explorations of the grid, to so-called "modern" day.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

As many problems as I have with Second Life, and how the Lindens handle Second Life, on this blog and in in-world conversation, the actual core concept I still think is fascinating. The core concept still fills me anew with wonder, even nearly seven years later.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

While there had been virtual worlds before, from text-based BBS rooms to the early MUDs, onward to the present day, Second Life was the first ostensible "game" that created a space for residents to live and work within. As it w as explained to me at the point I got involved, "It's not really a game." Whereupon my ultimate question became "So what do you do in Second Life?"

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I've spent many years in exploration of that goal; some years better, some worse, but I think my answer still veers towards "anything"...within certain limitations. Those limitations being how far we, ourselves, are willing to expand and change to learn from our virtual environment.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

When I joined Second Life, telehubs still played a large part in residential transport around the grid. It wouldn't be fully abolished (and even now, many sims still have telehubs in spite of point-to-point transference) until...what, 2008? I think? Telehubs persisted in Caledon and Winterfell longer than the rest of the grid, too.

From events

Still culling through other pictures of this exhibit, because I thought it was important enough to capture as fully as I can. But do go check it out if you have time. It's worth it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

you're an urge that can never be cured

It's that time again: too many tabs open with things I wanted to share. So here goes, in no particular order.

Michael Zoellner spent an evening tracing--by hand--the PSR B1919+21 waveforms from the cover of a Joy Division album, then 3D-printed them. That's all kinds of cool.

Anyone besides me like to go camping? BuzzFeed posted a semi-brilliant list of camping hacks, some of which I'd never heard of before.

(Oh, and there's a real easy dodge that entry didn't think of--one can also buy two one-person sleeping bags, and zip them together for a two-person bag. If both of them are rectangular, and not the 'mummy' style, it works like a dream.)

For other hacks, wander over to LifeHacker for a brief history of mechanical keyboards, and why you want one. I know I want one, because at less than six months in on the new comp, I've already typed off the L, the >, and the ? from the keyboard I'm using.

If you make machinima, or just need background music for a project, do consider Incompetech. Everything Mr. MacLeod releases is royalty-free; he only asks that you credit him back for any project usage. He also recommends AudioMicro.com, as another excellent resource for royalty-free music. (Both sites offer low prices for commercial use, no prices for personal use, and exist solely to help folks out. I do like to encourage this, as it makes everyone happy in the end.

An avatar known as Brilliant Scientist (great name!) refitted Maestro Linden's linkset script, with some assistance from Ann O'Toole, and launched it on the wiki. If you need one of those, try that one--it creates far less lag than its predecessor.
Toska - noun /ˈtō-skə/ - Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.

No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.
Vladimir Nabokov, cited in A Field Guide to Melancholy by Jacky Bowring
Some days, everything has tentacles.

There's a bit of controversy raging around the Hawkeye Initiative currently. Blogger Natalie Reed explains it further. I get what everyone's saying, but I also think that several of these women are missing the point of both the Hawkeye Initiative, and the Escher Girls blog in the first place.

(Though I'd also single out this post, because it makes a damned good point.)

Also, at least according to one Jewish paper, women didn't exist during the Holocaust. This is a nigh-perfect case of good motivation leading to bad outcome. We know why they're trying to erase women from these photographs; but many of us are not comfortable with that conclusion. In addition, it's too closely kin to censorship, so it's disturbing on that level as well.

Moving in another direction entirely, go peruse the Rag & Bone blog. Much tasty literary eye candy--and paper-based art--there.

Finally, if you're like me, you have far more anti-skills than you have skills. But even if you're not, it's good to read through, because that article provides an excellent working understanding of the difference between life skills/coping skills and anti-skills. (Just an FYI: anti-skills are the bad ones. Anti-skills are the ones we have that are habitually responsible for holding us back, keeping us trapped, and keeping us wary and fearful. It's not easy to ditch them, either, but accepting that we have them is a great first step.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

raisin' up buildings, breakin' down bones

How cool would it be to make solar energy more accessible and easier to get? Synthetic nanoscientist Jillian Buriak is working on that very issue, making solar energy cells that are lightweight, portable, flexible, and easy to transport. Oh please please please put those on the market soon!

On the disturbing end of technology, Harvard has created the first (non-conscious) cyborg--or, at least, "cyborg flesh". Ergh. Mainly because, while that's cool, in a world where scientists have already created spidergoats and glow-in-the-dark mice, and programmers are trying to train computers to mimic the behavior of serial killers and megalomaniacs, I can easily see this getting out of hand. Technozombies, anyone?

In a similar vein, Google's about to make finding new things harder on the net. How? Well, they're making Google Maps "unique to you", which, I think, is Google vastly missing the point of what we want maps to do. I quote:
To succeed with advertisers, it needs to convince them that its view of us customers is accurate and that it can generate predictions about where we are likely to go (or, for that matter, what we are likely to click). The best way to do that is to actually turn us into highly predictable creatures by artificially limiting our choices. Another way is to nudge us to go to places frequented by other people like us—like our Google Plus friends. In short, Google prefers a world where we consistently go to three restaurants to a world where our choices are impossible to predict.
Me personally, I find this just as disturbing as in-world search for SL, where I get better results by typing in a general search term, and then scrolling to the very bottom of the list and moving up from there. I shouldn't have to do that, but to find new places, that's frequently my only option. Because the same three to five stores will pop up at the top of the list.

Now, Google tells me I'll be stymied in two directions--not only will searching for new places become harder, but, since I'm not on Google+, they won't be able to grab my unique searching algorithm to label me neatly for predictive analysis. Which will also mean they're planning to up their efforts to get me--to get everyone not on Google+ back into it again. Which is another very unfortunate thing.

Morozov makes a similar point in an article published a month previously, on the overuse of predictive algorithms in other businesses, like Netflix (who used their understanding of what people want to watch, when, paired with their user demographics, to introduce House of Cards and Hemlock Grove as original programming series) and Amazon (who has now used its demographic knowledge of what their users buy and how often to develop and market several independent publishing houses for new work). And what that says about us is disturbing as well--rather than use people to understand and adapt to new ways of interacting with the end users, they're simply using predictive software, and giving us more of what we already seem to like. Does that really give us what we want, though?

Or put another way, how do we know what those algorithms are feeding back is accurate information? Let's take the two men behind the Yogscast, for example. Both of them are well over the legal age of majority, and had, in fact, proved that when setting up the channel (because proof of age is required for international accounts much more stringently than domestic ones). Yet they received a termination email stating that, because they were under thirteen, they could not use YouTube.

Apparently the mix-up began when someone mentioned they were underage on Twitter. While that original tweet appears to be long gone, the reaction to it was quick and baffling: one of the Yogscast staffers sent out a nigh-immediate refutation (understandable, because neither of the main two behind Yogscast is underage), while in the same moments, YouTube deleted the BlueXephos account (still the main Yogscast account to date). It took a few days to completely resolve, and during that time, no one apologized, no one said it was a mistake, they'd look into it. It was all automated.

Sixteenth-century automatons, anyone? Well, no, it's more on arms and armor from that time frame, but seriously, some of those would make sixteenth-century automatons very, very easily.

Moving to space, astronomers have discovered cosmic bruises, where other universes have collided with--and injured--our own. Initial research notes four such "bruises" so far, which is fascinating. So far, the data does seem vastly inconclusive, but I'm definitely hoping more will be forthcoming.

Need more freezer space? Don't mind paying for used? Can pass a background check? Then you might be willing to bid on an extra morgue refrigerator that a coroner's office listed on eBay. Yay?

And have some SF and fantasy animated pixel art, from Waneela. While the animation is cool, I'm not so much thinking "ooh, what an innovative use of technology"; it's rather more closely aligned to "I could so cross-stitch one of those panels".

And Mozilla's Firefox is undergoing a major redesign to make it more 'user-accessible'. What does this mean? Simple: it will look and function more like Google Chrome.

I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Finally, disquieting news in the wake of Matt Smith's announcement he was leaving Doctor Who: Chris Eccleston finally comes clean--albeit extraordinarily vaguely--about why he left the show. Somehow, it manages to provide a disturbing grace note to the entire affair.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

lord, lord, that greed, it'll kill you

[21:39] Exxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: I got spooked from falling asleep at my keyboard to be told the obvious -yawn-
[21:40] mxxxxxx Axxxxx: Eggplant
[21:43] kxxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: cheese


For some reason, this is relevant today.

Curious about where Lovecraftian monsters fall within their pantheon of horror? This might help.

Have a small (aheh) collection of tiny adorable tattoos. You're welcome?

Oh, and sure, there are more wiring diagrams needed, and at least a limited materials-needed list would be helpful, but this gives you at least a general idea of what you'd need...to keep you up at night.

Also, did you know you can get a free month of Reddit Gold (sort of their equivalent of pro membership) just by sending them a postcard? That's interesting. (It might just be a free trial of the gold service; but it's still interesting.)

And just to mention this, for fellow horror fans, there are a few movie posters popping up that seem to be advertisements for films coming to theatres soon, but in fact are advertisements for You're Next, a horror film coming this August. It's a freakishly brilliant ad campaign. Kudos to Lionsgate.

Some more information on the Labrador pup mentioned yesterday from that friend:
Maggie is a 10 week old black lab puppy. She is part of my sister-in-law's family. She started acting lethargic and confused shortly after they all came to our area for a vacation/visit. They took Maggie to a local vet hospital for tests, and it turns out she has a liver shunt (http://www.dog-health-guide.org/caninelivershunt.html) It can be managed short term with diet and medicine, but for one as large and external like Maggie's, surgery is the only long term solution. My sis-in-law's family is already stretched beyond thin. The surgery itself costs upwards of $3,000 - and they already had over $1,000 in bills from the vet this week. I hope that helps a bit.
And, thanks to a ton of passionate, invested, creative folks, the NeoLucida device will receive full funding--and at some point, will be able to buy for the general public. Yay!

There's a new theory being tossed around as to why the Egyptians stopped building pyramids. It's fairly interesting, too, and consistent with the fact that Egypt as a whole, while more temperate earlier on, was always warmer than other locales.

That the perfection of construction was what caused the destruction of later pyramids, though...that's rather stunning as a concept. Apparently, you can be too good at something. Who knew?

Friday, April 26, 2013

every angel begins at the end

So...innovations and inventions, both baffling and unique. Clip post? Why, yes, we are there again.

First, a bit on nail polish. No, not Ciaté's chalkboard manicure (though I, along with many, many others, am dying to find out how that works). But no, I'm talking about the Blow Monkey.

Seriously. They couldn't have come up with a better name than Blow Monkey? Don't misunderstand me, nail dryers of various kinds have been out for decades, and it's not a bad concept--nail polish takes a long time to dry, and if you're doing a full set--with or without fake nails adding to the drying time--it's not the worst idea to find the concept one approves of most, picking up the reasonable device within that concept, and adding it to one's manicure routine.

But...Blow Monkey. Blow Monkey. Really?

There's still a few left on Amazon, if you're really curious.

Moving to science, this is made of awesome and win. And SCIENCE. Seriously, if the ITER project works out, we could crack the secret of fusion power in my lifetime. From "it can't be done, what are you thinking?" to creation, that's impressive beyond reason.

"These fashionable totes are constructed with two main items: a roll of duct tape and a stapler."

No. No, they're not. Seriously, pick up a damn needle. Because I guarantee you, that won't hold up to a trip to the library, let alone groceries. And if all you want is some big oversized trendy thing to toss sunglasses and a paperback into, then go on Etsy like everyone else and pay too much for one. It'll last longer anyway.

Moving to childcare, how about a redesign of the baby spoon? And really cleverly done, too--not only did Spuni launch this campaign on Indiegogo, but they then decided to take their concept into the real world via fabrication printing. So, crowdfunded--which they made--for a product which will revolutionize infant feeding, no lie, and they're taking over part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard complex for manufacture--which has, for literal decades, been a decaying, unsafe series of structures slowly falling into disrepair.

Technology meets reclamation meets child-rearing improvement. I am so on board for this.

I just want to toss this out there while we're on quirky redesigns. It's more "aww, cute idea" than revolutionary and must-have, but still.

Moving to crafts, there's apparently a small-time resurgence in making ninja peg people. Now, while that can be cool and quirky and fun all on its own, I personally have this sudden temptation to make up a dozen little peg ninja at a time, then leave them on my travels out and about. It's like guerrilla crafting...only with ninja toys!

And have some Lego Iron Man 3 posters, while I'm thinking about it. What else do I have lying around...

Oh, right, I've been thinking of doing a series on various aspects of Fantasy Faire, but this year got away from me in spades. Which is kind of sad, because I promised a friend I'd do a review of at least her sim's Faire booth.

How'ver, I'm thinking this may be a good starting point for an entry on its own anyway--what RP sims in SL are getting it right, for the most part? So expect an upcoming entry (hopefully sometime next week) on that topic, so feel free to keep an eyestalk out.

And I'll leave you with the fiftieth episode of Your Grammar Sucks, which is a madcap twenty-odd minutes of skit comedy, bad grammar, baffling YouTube comments, live performance, and fan contributions. Well worth the watch. (And while you're there, have a listen to the Epic Rap Battles' second-season finale, which featured Rasputin vs. Stalin--with amusing cameos along the way. It truly deserves the term "epic".

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

my confusion left me as fast as the vertigo came

This link will require you to agree to enter a blog with "adult" concepts and themes, but I promise you--this particular entry is completely safe for work. (You're on your own if you backspace to look through the blog itself.)

What you'll be seeing, however, is a collection of gravestones from Romani families in Donetsk, Ukraine. Unless we are Rom ourselves, or allied to the Rom in some way, all we likely understand about them in the Ukraine is how many were shot in mass graves during the Nazi occupation. And while that is important knowledge in itself, those mass graves, if they are marked at all at this point, will have at most a memorial tablet over the entire site.

Heads of families are very honored in Romani culture, however. They are frequently gifted, feted, and when they are dying--or dead, if death occurs suddenly--the call will go out for every relative to come to the bedside, and in general, this is exactly what happens. Money will be pooled to honor the fallen one, so--even if their lives were lived invisibly, for most of us--these etched stone portraits will remain.

While it is far, far beyond the reach of most of us, I remain comforted that there's at least one prosthetic limb studio who strives to move beyond standard replacement limbs that simply replace what's missing, and into actual prosthetics that not only suit the client's support needs, but their artistic, psychological and emotional needs, as well.

In other news, did you know that bumblebees see electrical fields? I know I didn't, and I'm utterly fascinated by the precision their reading of these electrical fields is. They can tell the difference between a high-pollen flower and a low-pollen one, or even whether another bee has already gathered the nectar and pollen from a flower. That's incredible.

In other science news, Duke University researchers have made an unprecedented discovery: by implanting a sensor chip near the tactile center of their brains, the brains of their test subjects gained the ability to 'touch' infrared light, and even to see it to a certain extent. If this technology proves out, it potentially could be implanted in the brains of the blind, so they will have an additional sense they can draw on to inform them of where they are.

And given another year, the FBI in the US will begin monitoring all all online chats. Well, I shouldn't say all, I doubt there are enough people in the world to monitor all chatrooms out there, but they will be targeting "suspicious" feeds. The problem is, for most of us (again), we won't know what's considered a "suspicious" feed, so we'll never know when we're being monitored.

Of course, this all goes back to online privacy in the first place--nothing posted online is private. If it is, then it hasn't been posted online.

And, if anyone needs a hovering mesh pig with inexplicable flatulence issues...there's one free on the Marketplace.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

less a giant mushroom cloud than an unexploded shell

Do you have thirty bucks? Do you want an all-in-one tailored men's suit pack? Damien Fate has you covered. It'll cost a pretty penny--or at the least, a pretty mesh collection of Lindens--but that's pretty much menswear in a box, and nary a stretched-over-muscles tank or razor-torn, stained pair of jeans in sight.

From another, wholly different direction--did you ever wonder what a pair of bleeding human hearts would look like worn as ear muffs? Me neither, but if you did answer in the affirmative, here you go.

"Burn flaming logs, screaming robots, credit cards, batteries, exploding fish, unstable nuclear devices, and tiny galaxies." Does that sound interesting in a game? Pay just five dollars through tomorrow, and get it downloadable on Steam. Or wait until the sale stops, and pay ten later. I'm fairly sure it's worth it at either price.

New friends occasionally stand in, when God is not around to overflow my blessings of bizarre. To wit, the following conversation:

[9:32:57 PM] bxxxxxxxxxxx: hello Emi ...hope your doing well.
[9:34:52 PM] Emilly Orr: It comes and goes. How's you?
[9:35:46 PM] bxxxxxxxxxxx: Feeling better...I just got in my iron nails to go with my jar and broken glass. things are looking up.
[9:36:06 PM] Emilly Orr: ...Cool
[9:36:48 PM] bxxxxxxxxxxx: It's amazing what you can purchase on the internets.
[9:37:01 PM] Emilly Orr: Indeed so.

I have no idea what he means. And I admit, I'm kind of afraid to ask.

According to the Smithsonian, medicine in the so-called "Dark Ages" was more advanced than previously thought. While most autopsies of the time were done under the auspices of the Holy Roman See, to establish proof of sainthood, some were done to advance early medical and scientific practice.

Most surprisingly, according to Dr. Philippe Charlier, a physician and forensic scientist at Raymond Poincaré University Hospital, states the mummified head was filled with a mixture of lime, cinnabar mercury, and beeswax to preserve it for study. This mixture is thought to have preserved the remains, as well as stain the circulatory system (because of cinnabar mercury's reddish tint).

The hospital also has the preserved heart of Richard the Lionhearted, which their team states was preserved with myrtle, mint, daisies, frankincense and mercury, in addition to other compounds, before being wrapped with linen and placed within a lead box.

Turning to art news, in 2005, the Chinese government destroyed the thriving artists' village of Suo Jia Cun, and the one hundred individual artists' studios, and homes, along with it. Artist Liu Bolin's studio was among them. With one strike, more than one hundred artists were displaced, with their art, their homes, and all supplies destroyed--and all because of improper permissions being granted up the chain of government.

Artist Liu Bolin was one of them, and was moved to create the "Hiding in the City series of photographs, that features the artist blending in nearly seamlessly with his surroundings. Utilizing a boxy canvas suit (reminiscent of government fashion under Chairman Mao) to layer paint on, and a series of reference photographs for exact comparison, he and his team spend several hours painting him to match the background, then snapping several shots from different angles until the best one is achieved. It is a lengthy, likely draining process, but Bolin knows it speaks, and speaks powerfully, both as art and as protest.

There's also video of several photographs in process. It's an incredible undertaking.

Finally, while there are several iterations on the same theme, XDModo's solar charger for mobile devices is both functional and beautiful. While it has a higher price tag (about $66 US), it's a simple, modern design that could blend in with any setting.

Plus, the concept of solar-charging gadgets means no more power loss camping! (Or even out over the course of a standard day.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

go tell the world I'm still around

So, normally I'd be covering this over on Topping Out, since it's implant-related, but...yeah, I kind of have to talk about it here, because...well.

Bewbapalooza has started for another go-round, and while I'm all for implant-related events (both because it makes it easier to find new stores, and because said stores usually offer limited-edition items or sale-event pricing), I'm having a problem coping with one particular offering.

(from the fashion album; Nazi-influenced outfits from Awear at the current Bewbapalooza.)

This particular offering.

Awear calls this their "PVC Police Officer" look, but...that is pretty close to an exact reproduction of an SS officer's hat. And while I realize Nazi memorabilia and Nazi fashion still influence modern culture, both domestically and globally, for me this goes too far.

There are two outfits called "Kinky Latex", one in black:

(from the fashion album; Nazi-influenced outfits from Awear at the current Bewbapalooza.)

and one in pink:

(from the fashion album; Nazi-influenced outfits from Awear at the current Bewbapalooza.)

but they still have the same hat.

I know I'm sensitive on this issue. Having friends, having people I consider family who had family in the camps, some who made out out, most who didn't...it leaves an indelible mark. As indelible as the string of numbers tattooed on their arms, a daily reminder of the chilling horror humanity is truly capable of. Because make no mistake about it--until the tide turned, the people who captured them, forcibly transported them, guarded them, tortured them, dehumanized them, killed them--had been friends, neighbors, even countrymen. That, also, leaves a mark, and in this case, that mark is on several cultures, not just one.

(from the fashion album; Nazi-influenced outfits from Awear at the current Bewbapalooza.)

A closer look at the main outfit.

Yeah, I...I'm pretty sure I can't attend this round of Bewbapalooza until that's gone. And I'm sure Awear's off the list of implant fashions to buy, ever. Some things are just not cool.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

without regret for all the things that we have done

Can you endure 23,000 spoonfuls of terror? Or, y'know, at least spare ten minutes for a short film about an inexplicably slow murder?

I will say, past the first four minutes or so--the first three of which are really, really funny--the concept seems to drag on. And on. And on. And maybe that's the point, really.

I've been pondering how to bring up dio, but part of what trapped me in place was trying to figure out what it was, exactly. Nothing I read really answered the questions I had. But, now I don't have to! That last post contains all you really need to know!

Interested in making books by hand? There's a lot of resources, from simple online tutorials to paid classes, but this actually covers all the basics in a short series of photographs. Impressive.

In the world of gaming, there's a lot of parody videos. There are even entire parody games. So when I first saw the trailer for Blocksworld, I thought it was exactly that--something filmed just for the fun of it.

Apparently I was wrong. Blocksworld exists. It's not a parody, it's a really good game designed (mostly for kids) for the iPad. Who knew?

Ever find yourself curious about D&D? Or if you play D&D, and you don't know how to explain what you're doing to people that don't? There's an online tutorial just for you. (Personally, I find their description of sorcerers scarily apt. For several years, the battle cry of my human mage was "Sorry about that!")

The Prim Perfect blog brings us a story about the not-so-secret "secret" of Second Life--that many participants are older than they say they are. I'll go one better and say that the other "secret" population was just grazed over in this article--the deaf.

Well, I'd say handicapped in general, but for folks in SL who cannot hear RL, it's especially relevant. Though this particular population was severely unhappy when voice launched--because, before voice, everyone typed. Not every deaf person speaks, and for some of those that do, they don't speak in ways we're accustomed to. Sometimes, this is because of the inability to hear their own voice; sometimes simply because they don't think to speak before they think to sign. But there's more than a few deaf people in SL, just as there's more than a few who have retired from their First Lives.

Speaking of the disabled, we're in the land of medical breakthroughs--again. Brendan Marroco, a U.S. soldier who'd been on the ground in Iraq, lost all four limbs to a roadside bomb. The loss of his legs, he managed to accept fairly equably. He already has prosthetic limbs, and he says they work.

But what he really missed were his arms. In January, he got them back. It was a thirteen-hour surgery, and he will have months, if not years, of rehabilition in order to regain the function he can with them. But already he can push his own wheelchair, brush hair out of his eyes, and pick up light objects. It's nothing short of amazing.

The next chronicle of Riddick has released stills! It's coming. And it looks very dark and gritty, but really, did we expect anything else?

Finally, back in 2011, on on SLUniverse, Miss Wunderlich started posting images--and explaining the whys behind--her recreation of the Crystal Palace in Second Life. It's still up--you can visit it--because she's made it her store.

I realize I'm late to the party on this (and really, that should be my cue that I need to visit her store more often!), but this strikes me as especially significant not because it's the first recreation of this structure (hers would, in fact, be the third, though the thinking goes that one of the three is no longer up0. Rather, this is significant because for historical purposes, there's very little more accepted as a structure that represents the Victorian era. The thread she largely worked from is also one of the most amazingly detailed, a room by room examinations of the structure I've ever read.

Go see it if you can, and walk through recreated history.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

does it matter that much when you're ten miles down?

[Help] Dr Pulsar: meh, I tried CO. might play it for a bit, or try out secret world. Might take a break from MMO's for a while and see what happens after the dust settles.

It's not like there aren't enough games to play out there, after all. MMORPG has a list containing thousands of titles.

But I could count the super-hero genre ones on one hand and have fingers left over.

[Help] Fury Prince: all your major players are already leaving
[Help] Undergrowth Hunter: Your point? Even if there are many players leaving there will still be those who want to enjoy the game for what time is still left
[Help] Undergrowth Hunter: Still it's better than jumping ship when we still have two months and bit remaining


People are saying that, but then, I log into world and...well, it's remarkably like walking around in Second Life, these days. Entire zones where I never see even one other player.

[Looking For Group] Ultranationalist: I honestly don't think they even left people behind to take care of weekly maintainance

So far, at least, there's someone somewhere turning off the lights and rebooting things. We know this, at least, because City went down very late Wednesday morning, and it came back up Thursday. Is it anyone that formerly worked at Paragon? Who knows? I can tell you one thing for sure--we don't. We don't know who's running the game, but we do know one more thing--support questions aren't being answered, because there's no one there to offer in-game support.

[Looking For Group] Operative Emeral: We were told months ahead of time that SWG would be closing and the same goes for MxO, the anger is at feeling betrayed.
[Looking For Group] Weaver Ant: You got that right, one day bam, the devs are fired


I have to admit, that's part of the hurt over this. And yeah, at least to me, it feels remarkably like the Linden layoffs--one week, no notice, a third of the Linden staffers are out on the street. Just like here, only it was one day, no notice, the entirety of Paragon Studios was fired. Why? Comes down to the bottom line again.

[Looking For Group] Harbinger Vox: Interesting, DJ Zero in Pocket D isn't hovering like he usually is. Just standing there.
[Looking For Group] Weaver Ant: Same here, Valdis.
[Looking For Group] Valdis Verdandi: there have been many strange occurances Harbinger, GM spawns in Atlas and Pocket D for instance
[Looking For Group] Levi Nox: So, would that be messed up coding or someone screwing with the code?
[Looking For Group] Valdis Verdandi: someone is spawning them, its not accidental or coincidence
[Looking For Group] Galaxy Mystic: haha means someone still has access :)


Someone does. Several someones, actually. The problem is they only have the access they had before the mass firing. So, for instance, one GM will be able to "pop in" to all the servers, another will only be able to hit one. Some have early prototypes of designs they still had in inventory, others just have enemy spawns. Still, they're doing what they can to keep involved. That tells me something, too: you don't care this much for the game, or its players, and continue to interact with both after you've been fired, unless that game really means a lot to you. To these GMs and developers, it did.

[Help] Celerin: They did promise a post sometime this week to explain the lore and what would have happened and stuff.

And that post is now live.