Brian Aldiss (1925 - 2017)

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:14 am
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
David Langford reports that Aldiss died in his sleep.

Bactrian Camel

Aug. 21st, 2017 02:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Bactrian Camel_5


Did you know that you can replace any Ziggy comic with a photo of a bactrian* camel and the caption still works?



  • “I wished for patience over a month ago … when do I get it?”

  • “Nope … this isn’t your day either.”

  • “Whoever said ‘talk is cheap’ probably had unlimited texting”

  • “Talk about irony … I ordered a GPS and it got lost in the mail”

  • “I just ate six happy meals and I’m still depressed”


* This may work for dromedaries as well, but I have not tested it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
seawasp: (Default)
[personal profile] seawasp

... and in Chapter 1 we see how an ordinary day can go downhill fast! 
ritaxis: (Default)
[personal profile] ritaxis
I think someone else would like this better than me. I skimmed a lot of it because the voice of "Ralph Trilipush" didn't engage me. The core question's pretty easy to the reader, but that's not a problem, because the secondary questions are the point anyway. I think the right person would like it: even though it is not actually a thriller, I think thriller readers would be about right. I looked at his other book, called Prague though it is set in Budapest, and I was not taken with it, but again it looked like someone else might like it better.

Antelope

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Antelope_5


According to the Internet, the best way to tell if an antelope is ripe is to locate a small depression at the bottom that yields somewhat when pressed. Sniff there to see if it smells sweet.


In unrelated news, I am not certain the voice search on my phone is working properly.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

40 Years Ago Today

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:56 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
The United States of America, then an independent nation, launched Voyager 2

I wonder if any of the people involved realized it would still be going two generations later?

Read more... )

Find of the Week: Goth Girl

Aug. 20th, 2017 09:57 pm
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[personal profile] green_knight
I picked up the first of these in a supermarket the other day because I could not resist the eight-poster bed, read it yesterday, and today picked up the next two volumes. They are

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death
Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright

by Chris Ridell.

Young readers (the alleged intended audience) will probably enjoy them - they're not quite graphic novels, but they have a lot of graphic elements[*], and very silly plots - but well-read, pun-loving adults with a good grounding in literature and contemporary British culture will probably enjoy them even more.

Since I started reading them the air has been punctuated by laughter every now and again when a penny drops. I am halfway through book two, and there seems to be a puddle of pennies at my feet...


And now I shall return to the statue of a sulking-looking seamonster known as 'Mopey Dick'.

[*] extra points for innovative use of footnotes

Polar Bears

Aug. 20th, 2017 06:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Polar Bear_6


Katajjaq, iirngaaq, piqqusiraarniq, qiarvaaqtuq, and nipaquhiit are different names for a form of rhythmic throat singing practiced in the far northern reaches of North America, in which the two singers face each other, using each other’s mouths as resonators.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
batwrangler: Just for me. (Default)
[personal profile] batwrangler
I was looking up the details on making antivenin, like you do, when I found the above quote in a Popular Mechanics slide-show about the process: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/g561/how-to-make-antivenom-why-the-world-is-running-out/?slide=1&thumbnails=

Chimpanzee

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:06 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Chimpanzee_8


Someone is posting fake news on the Internet, but don’t worry, chimp’s on it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
yhlee: Alto clef and whole note (middle C). (alto clef)
[personal profile] yhlee
A couple friends let me know that talking about composing for orchestra is, in fact, something that might be of some minor interest and also I am taking a break from working on Dragon Pearl while the Dragon borrows my laptop (which is my writing machine), so.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional composer! I did not go to conservatory. I am an interested amateur. My background is seven years of more or less classical piano, including a few years at the Houston Music Institute (relevant because they taught some theory and basic composition), a few years of viola, and years of screwing around on basically every instrument I could get my hands on, including three summers of classical guitar, mandolin, soprano recorder, pennywhistle, ocarina, and diatonic and chromatic harmonica. (Harmonicas actually get pretty complicated, more complicated than I personally can deal with--different tunings, cross-harp, slant-harp, etc. I only know the basics. [1]) This kind of jack-of-all-trades-ism is not great if you want to be a performer, where you really ought to become expert in your chosen instrument(s), but it's not awful if you want to compose.

[1] To anyone who doubts that the harmonica is a "real" classical instrument, I present to you Villa-Lobos' Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra with soloist Robert Bonfiglio [Youtube], which is the recording I used to have before the stupid fucking flood. That's a chromatic harmonica, BTW; you can tell because of the use of the chromatic slide in some of the ornaments. More information. I will FIGHT anyone who tells me the harmonica is not a REAL INSTRUMENT.

Further caveat, I am only discussing Western music. I don't know enough about non-Western traditions to tell you anything useful about them. I compose more or less neoclassically because that's what pleases my ear and I feel no need to be innovative in a technical/theoretical sense. (Schoenberg's twelve-tone system is brilliant from a technical/theoretical sense but I cannot usually stand listening to it except in the limited context of certain kinds of film/TV scoring. I wouldn't listen to it for fun.)

And for yucks, I have perfect pitch, which in almost all contexts is either useless or an active hindrance (I am a suck liar and let's just say that I avoid a cappella performances and first-year string players like the plague--there's such a thing as good a cappella, but unless you are Carnegie Hall good I don't want to risk it), but has limited applications in the realm of music, ahahaha. For most applications relative pitch is hell and away more useful. (I actually get interference between relative and perfect pitch, which sucks.)

Anyway, let's talk a little about the fundamentals of music from the standpoint of composing.

I keep telling people that composing for orchestra is not hard. Composing for orchestra well is hard. Because it's true! It's a lot of things, true, but you can break it down into components. I'll talk a little more about this below.

Music is about patterns--creating tension with different dimensions of pattern, then resolving it. In terms of pitch, you only have twelve of them repeating across various octaves to work with! But because you can combine the pitches in different ways, you can come up with different melodies. Speaking in terms of standard music notation, that's the "horizontal" dimension. And pitch is combined with patterns of rhythm--units of time. cut for length and tl;dr )

Okay, I am out of brain and I'm not sure any of this even makes sense to anyone who is not me. :] I am happy to answer questions (or, if you compose music yourself, talk shop!).

My Fibromyalgia Tips

Aug. 19th, 2017 06:47 pm
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[personal profile] eeyore_grrl
An acquaintance was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was looking for “tips and tricks” for dealing with it. This is the list that I’ve come up with.


1. Remember that the pain is real. THE PAIN IS REAL! Even if there isn't a known cause.

2. I searched far and wide to find a way to track my pain. The best I came up with for me was this app. Now I mostly use it to track when I take my PRN meds, but it is still super helpful. http://fibromapp.com/

3. I have to take it easy. I have to schedule downtime into my life. I can't just run and be interesting all the time anymore.

4. HOT baths help me. Heating pads. Occasionally, ice packs to my back (when the pain is super tight muscles).

5. I have a Massage Envy membership and, usually, get weekly 90 minute massages. I "like" deep tissue, myself. DEEEEP tissue because my upper back tightens into a wall of pain.

6. Be gentle with yourself. You aren't where you want to be with your body, but it is what it is and you have to work with it the best you can.

7. There are a lot of *things* that I get that help. I have several types of back roller that can help me. I have yoga toes thingies (like this https://www.amazon.com/Original-YogaToes-Sapphire-Stretcher-Separator/dp/B002SPV068/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503193802&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=yoga+toes&psc=1) that help relax my feet. I am well aware that much of chronic pain relief involves spending money. I am aware that that sucks and is massively unfair and unjust.

8. I try to make my life easier, when I can, with things like a housecleaner for the bathrooms and floors. Or using instacart for grocery delivery most of the time. I’ve had to work towards being ok with eating out/ordering in more often than I cook.

9. I am now using a fanny pack (I found a not ugly one) so that carrying a purse doesn't put my body off-kilter and off balance.

10. I got a permanent handicap placard (takes a form from your doctor to go to the DMV).

11. Let yourself get mad, angry, etc when you do. But also, let it pass. Forgive yourself.

12. Accept help when offered. Ask for help when needed. Be okay within yourself needing help.

13. Yoga *really* helped for awhile. But then I had some mechanical issues (meniscus tear). Now I'm not in a place where I can do it, but hope to get to it again. That's okay, too. Yoga is not the panacea that others seem to think it is.

14. Listen to your body. There was a time my lower back hurt. A lot. Maybe it was perimenopausal cramps or maybe just my bad luck. But I sat on the couch with it for days. Ended up being a UTI that turned into a kidney infection. Oops.

15. Find a friend that you can vent at on days that suck. Another good friend of mine has ended up with a fibro diagnosis and we often just bitch at each other on messenger about the suck that is fibro. Neither of us are trying to cure the other one here; we just want to vent.

16. It’s okay to fire your doctor(s) if they don’t believe you or your pain.

17. Paraffin dip. Nice, warm paraffin dip.

18. Read other’s reports about what works and doesn’t work for them. I have gotten many ideas and things to try from reading about other’s fibro or other chronic pain.

19. Don’t forget about pharmaceuticals. There are a few FDA approved meds (none of which seem to work for me). There are some meds that can help various bits of fibromyalgia. There are pain meds that have varying efficacy and varying dangers. Be aware of all sides and don’t suffer needlessly.
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