(On the plus side, taking the Benadryl AFTER brushing teeth did provide an earlier bedtime. We can, perhaps, work with this.)
excuse, there is a commotion in the gas fireplace. a flying squirrel or large mouse hopefully NOT setting itself on fire via the pilot light...
Okay, commotion seems to've faded. I need to clear out enough space to open that out and figure out where the creatures are coming in. *sigh*
Anyway. Food was gotten, but it was breakfast type food, and I got no ice tea or hot tea and now I have a splitting headache and am drinking cooked-at-home tea. After taking ibuprofen. Kid and spouse are off getting food.
Hat tip to Mal, re Wonder Woman:
This is an awesome Twitter thread about the design of the movie Wonder Woman's costume.
Now I'm going to try to edit through this headache.
(Oh, right, and when this headache fades, I have a CUNNING PLAN to consolidate some things and thus declutter something else. HM.)
S••••• says, “And someone on this thread about flags goes and asks where do single people go to get the tax breaks married couples do. I answer, 'A judge, justice of the peace, or minister.'”
S••••• says, “Of course, they have to go in pairs.”
--From the MUSH. (Or, I suppose, in 4s, if they're Andorians.)
( INwatch+Bookwatch )
( Dragons under fold )
Apparently I wasn't supposed to like prog rock (puts on "Karn Evil 9," ha.) Also, I was amused after a fashion that though the Mellotron was mentioned twice, the Moody Blues (Days of Future Past, To Our Childrens Childrens Children et al.?) had been disappeared from the narrative. They're still touring last time I looked.
I do wish that people who would still be listening to Patti Page and singing along with Mitch Miller if not for rhythm, blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll stop trying to claim rock 'n' roll as theirs.
My French is not too bad, apart from not having a full adult vocabulary, but I still have to stop and think when hearing or speaking French numbers.
This is especially fun in the context of telephone numbers, because the French don't say telephone numbers digit by digit like American English speakers do, they divide them into groups of two. So if somebody's telephone number includes the combination 97, they will say "quatre-vingt-dix-sept," and the unsuspecting English speaker will write down 4 (quatre) and only then realize they've got it wrong, and have to go back and correct while their French interlocutor is now several numbers ahead. You can guess how I know this.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand all this is probably interesting to no one but me, but I was happy to find a context in which German is simple and straightforward. Unlike its ten million billion pronoun forms.
This was an easy choice.
This version of the song, the best known one, is I think later than 1969 (my birth year), but I like it better so that's what you get. It's worth looking at the original 1969 video on YouTube, though, if only because both video and song version are so hilariously 1960s.
David Bowie, "Space Oddity"
( All the prompts )
Under threat from clearing and feral animals (due to both predation and competition for food), it was very unexpected to see one on the edge of the CBD, in Queen Victoria Gardens in Claisebrook. It was even more unexpected to see it in the middle of the day, right next to the main walk-path!
They are listed as Endangered in Australia.
( Cut for size )
Published: June 2017 by Subterranean Press
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Rivers of London/Peter Grant #7.5
Genres: Contemporary fantasy
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Booktopia ~Kobo
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.
Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.
Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.
And time is running out to save them.
The Furthest Station is a quick novella that retains the spirit of the series but which remains unsatisfying.
Peter’s distinctive voice is present; even though the novella is short, there’s still space for his digressions and pop culture references. There’s even a few footnotes addressed to his American counterpart, though I found these a bit disruptive. They call into question the nature of the story, particularly as there is no framework set up to indicate Peter is addressing someone particular.
The story does a reasonable job of introducing who Peter is and what he does for a living. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend it as an entry point to the series. For example, the oddness of Molly is never explained for a new reader and the references to Beverley and her family are cursory. There’s a lot of background present which is likely to make it confusing.
I enjoyed seeing Peter spend more time with Abigail, though there’s never any real change in their relationship. Preserving the status quo for the novels in such a way leaves it ultimately feeling like filler.
The main plot held up fairly well until the ending. While it was nice to see an acknowledgement that not all police work ends tidily or in a dramatic fashion, the number of loose ends made it unsatisfying to me.
All in all, The Furthest Station was a pleasant read, but not one of Aaronovitch’s better works.
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
This is the first of our rose plants to flower.
The plant's name is Sheila.
I've been growing roses all my life.
I wear a necklace of rosewood.
In many ways, I am a rose.
Roses aren't naturally climbing plants, like bindweed or grapevines. They must be cared for, and bound to a structure. And I've learned that I need to give myself a structure, or I can't naturally climb.
I am a rose.
Roses need work. They must be pruned. The pruning is painful, but without it they won't flower.
I am a rose.
Nobody cares about dog-roses, nobody notices them, but they grow wild wherever they please. The popular roses that everyone admires are sterile and can't spread: they survive because they're grafted onto a dog-rose root. The roses nobody cares about are the roses that keep the others alive.
I am a rose.
I grew up near one of the biggest rose nurseries in the country, so everywhere there was me, there were roses too. I fell into many a rosebush while I was learning to ride a bike. I carefully grew one up the side of the house, a yellow rose with a mind of its own: soon I had to leave it to its own devices because it had grown taller than my arms could reach.
I am a rose.
When I was about six I had a dream of a concentration camp. I had been imprisoned, along with many other humans, by gaseous aliens who lived on methane. The armed guards would float around our cabins and the parade ground, terrifying us as much as they intimidated us.
Of course when you're sent to the camps, they take everything away from you: all your property as well as your dreams and your name. But I'd smuggled in one memento: a small twig of rosewood. I kept it in the pocket of my grey uniform and squeezed it tight whenever I was homesick.
One day I realised that roses have thorns. And that was the day I used the rosewood to burst and kill the guards at the gate, and run free into the outside world. One small piece of reality had torn a hole in the nightmare.
I am a rose.
During the week, baked a loaf of the Shipton Mill 3 Malts and Sunflower Organic Brown Flour.
Friday supper: Gujerati khichchari - absentmindedly used ground cumin rather than cumin seed but I don't think the effect was disastrous.
Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft rolls recipe, 2:2:1 strong white/wholemeal/dark rye flours with maple sugar and sour cherries.
Today's lunch: redfish fillets rubbed with Cajun seasoning, brushed with milk and egg and coated in panko crumbs, panfried in olive oil, served with steamed samphire tossed in butter and baby leeks healthy-grilled in avocado oil and splashed with gooseberry vinegar.
As is customary I did Flaneurs bus challenge I. (c) from the same stop as before with an unchanging n of 6.
In exciting news I managed to finally cross the river and in fact ended up at Tottenham Hale. I covered about 30 miles on buses on the hottest day of the year. The routemasters were hellish.
* Google Photos or Flick Photos depending on what you prefer. Includes lots of video.
* Twitter thread
I'm currently uploading the videos to youtube and may make a longer video of them.
Talking of which I often post videos of my bus journeys on my youtube channel
Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.
Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:
Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.
Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!
Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.
Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.
Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.
Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.
Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.
It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."
I took these a while ago and kept forgetting to post them. Just some more photos of birds on our balcony, including a new set we hadn't seen before.
We'd been seeing one redwing blackbird for a while but later it was joined by a second one. Or possibly these were two entirely different birds given their more colorful markings
As I've observed several times over the years, automatic speech recognition is getting better and better, to the point where some experts can plausibly advance claims of "achieving human parity". It's not hard to create material where humans still win, but in a lot of ordinary-life recordings, the machines do an excellent job.
Just like human listeners, computer ASR algorithms combine "bottom-up" information about the audio with "top-down" information about the context — both the local word-sequence context and various layers of broader context. In general, the machines are more dependent than humans are on the top-down information, in the sense that their performance on (even carefully-pronounced) jabberwocky or word salad is generally rather poor.
But recently I've been noting some cases where an ASR system unexpectedly fails to take account of what seem like some obvious local word-sequence likelihoods. To check my impression that such events are fairly common, I picked a random youtube video from YouTube's welcome page — Bill Maher's 6/23/2017 monologue — and fetched the "auto-generated" closed captions.
Here's an example that combines impressive overall performance with one weird mistake:
5:07 Mitch McConnell says he wants a vote
5:10 before the 4th of July when Trump voters
5:13 traditionally blow their hands off
5:19 oh the fourth of July hey summers here
5:24 boy it was real Beach weather in Phoenix
5:26 the other day did you see that it was
5:28 122 122 plains could not take off hey
5:34 climate deniers
5:36 if melting IceCaps and rising oceans and
5:40 pandemics aren't enough to scare you not
5:42 being able to leave Phoenix that should
I'll give the machine a pass on "summers" instead of "summer's", and we can ignore the issue of "oh" vs. "ah", and forgive the hallucinated "work" at the end — but "plains could not take off"? In Psalm 114:4 the mountains skipped like rams, but not even then did the plains take off.
A bit later:
6:32 but speaking of solar Donald Trump broke
6:36 some news at the rally that the wall you
6:39 know the wall between us and Mexico it's
6:41 going to have solar panels on he said it
6:43 was his idea solar battles okay so the
6:47 wall which is never going to be built
6:49 which Mexico is never going to be paying
6:52 for which now has imaginary so propels
6:56 on because if it's one big Donald Trump
6:59 AIDS it's fake news
So the system got "solar panels" right the first time, but then heard "solar battles" and "so propels". In fairness, Maher kind of garbles the last one into something like "solar pels":
But still, I don't think anyone in the audience heard "so propels".
And then at the end, "if it's one thing Donald Trump hates it's fake news" get turned into "if it's one big Donald Trump AIDS it's fake news":
In that case, I don't hear any acoustic phonetic excuses. And surely "one thing Donald Trump hates" is a priori a more probable word string than "one big Donald Trump AIDS"…
I don't know which generation of ASR Google is using to generate YouTube captions. But it's possible that this sort of thing is an example of the sometimes-peculiar behavior of RNN language models.
The title novella tells of the adventures of revolutionary leader Jane Saint as she travels through an alternate dimension or astral plane, seeking to find a way to make a fundamental change to the natures of men and women which will allow humanity to move towards a more equal society. She moves through a shifting and often symbolic landscape, helped variously by an alchemist and his wife, a philosophical talking dog, a griffin-demon hybrid creature, Joan of Arc, and her own daughters; her adventures are absurdist and surreal and told with a great deal of subtle wit and humour.
The other stories are much shorter. 'Woe, Blight and, in Heaven, Laughs' is a rather grim postapocalyptic reworking of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; 'Gordon's Women' is a more cheerful variant on the total-male-domination-secret-female-
Definitely worth a read if you happen across a copy.
Tomorrow I am going up to Scotland to stay with my mother and be her chief assistant child-wrangler. I volunteered for this, I wanted to do it, but now I am really panicky about it.
It's partly child-related anxieties (small people! what do I do! aargh!) and partly just the prospect of my mother for a week unleavened by any other adult.
She will want to talk about politics. To give you a flavour, she's against wind-farms, believes that nationalisation improved the railways and thinks that Corbyn is the Anti-Christ.
I am also having packing panic, and trying to decide what I want to wear next week. It's Scotland. It will be cold. It will rain at some point. I want all the clothes and then some more.