Oct. 22nd, 2016 09:30 pm
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[personal profile] rpowell


Alexandre Dumas' classic 1844 novel, "The Three Musketeers" must have been one of the most adapted stories in film and television history. I do not know exactly how many adaptations have been filmed. But I have seen at least four of them - including Disney Studios' version, released in 1993.Read more... )
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Thinking about yesterday's Demography Matters post about the possibility of hard limits to the human lifespan, I was thinking about the idea of an expanded lifespan. What would you do in a world where the average human could expect to live past the century mark? Is this a world you would want to live in?

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[personal profile] grey_bard

Tomorrow, Sunday 10/23, 9:30 pm EST, I welcome you to the Takarazuka Flashback Project’s next stream of converted VHS vintage takarazuka, Tango Argentina (Hanagumi 2000) and the revue Prestige (Tsukigumi, 1996). I'll try to open the stream a half hour early with some music or clips from other revues.

Contrary to what I originally believed, it does not feature tango in Argentina. No, it features an Argentinian immigrant (I think) dancing tango in Paris. Because he’s an artist, and all artists must live in Paris, obviously! Also it features characters angstily dancing their feelings about World War I and a happy ending.

Prestige starts out as a dignified revue, and then degenerates into delicious crack. I heavily endorse it.

There will also be a morning stream on Monday 10/24 at 10:30 am EST.

Everyone welcome! (Even if you don't know me or anything about Takarazuka.)

You can find the stream here: https://cytu.be/r/Flashback_Project , and you can check what times these are in your timezone at the Takarazuka stream schedule here: https://trello.com/b/zPKbMvay/streaming-schedule

D&D One Shot

Oct. 22nd, 2016 08:38 pm
settiai: (Alionna Undertree -- settiai (madqueenmo)
[personal profile] settiai
Okay, that was kind of awesome. \o/

Our DM found out a few days ago that she had to unexpectedly be out of town this weekend, so it was looking like our weekly D&D game would have to be cancelled. Our bard decided that he wanted to try to run a oneshot instead, so that we could still play. Especially since we were supposed to have a new player joining our game this week. (His name is [personal profile] jetpack_monkey. Maybe some of you have heard of him?)

Anyway, our bard's name is Tuck. (The character, not the player.) So our temporary DM decided to run a oneshot called "Where the Fuck is Tuck?" in which our bard wandered off (which happens with alarming regularity, by the way) and we had to go try to find him. In the Feywild. Because when he wanders off, he really wanders off.

He did an amazing job, especially when you consider that less than two months ago he'd never played D&D in his life. He handled almost everything we threw at him, and the handful of things that would have made his job a lot more difficult didn't happen because his NPCs kept beating the DC of my spells. (The other characters tend to be the ones who rush in and start beating things over the head. Mine stays in the back and tries to cast things like Command or using Channel Divinity to use Turn Undead, which are great from the standpoint of ending fights quickly but not so helpful for a DM who wasn't expecting it.)

It was a lot of fun, overall. [personal profile] jetpack_monkey created a new character specifically for this game, considering we haven't met his actual character, and said character... was very obviously a creation of Nate's. In many, many ways. :-P

And now I'm ready for it to be Tuesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday. Any of those are good, since all three include D&D in some way. Because that is apparently my life at the moment. Work, D&D, fanfiction, and occasionally video games.
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[personal profile] glaurung_quena
It's a great pity that most SF geeks and space nerds are far more interested in physics, chemistry, and engineering than in biology or evolution. The Fermi Paradox keeps popping up on the blogs I follow, and every time I shake my head at the colossal ignorance of people's assumptions about how likely it is for a life-bearing exoplanet to evolve sapience.

The Fermi paradox observes that there's a high probability of life beyond the Earth in the galaxy, and then asks, "why aren't we seeing any evidence of alien civilizations?" exoplanet digression )

If we ignore the vast number of unknown factors that might keep an earthlike world from acquiring a diverse and full ecosystem like our own, and just focus on the (probably) thousands of worlds that have evolved complex life forms, we get to the real issue that I wanted to talk about -- Fermi, and many other extremely intelligent and educated people, have all jumped straight over the evolution of sapience, taking it as an inevitable given, without really thinking about it properly.

Elephants mourn their dead. Humpback whales have incredibly complex songs that we are only now learning how to hear and analyze, and they exhibit altruism, thwarting the preying of their orca relatives against seals and other species.

Clearly elephants and whales are among the most intelligent species on the planet. Yet both have been decimated by human predation. They have been unable to act in a coordinated manner in response to our wholesale murder of their kind, either to flee and avoid us or to defend themselves. If sapience is something that just evolves gradually and inevitably over time, then we'd see more evidence of beings other than us that can organize and coordinate their behaviour, especially in response to threats.

Instead, there's a quantum leap in mentation between other smart creatures and us. And when we see a quantum leap in evolution, we are seeing the result of a genetic bottleneck, a period of (relatively) rapid change in response to dire selective pressure. 99% of species die out rather than make it past the bottleneck.

A definition, cribbed and grossly simplified from The Symbolic Species by Terrence Deacon: sapience is the ability to think symbolically, to use abstract language (human language being a quantum leap towards greater complexity and versatility compared to all the animal languages we have studied). Everything else we label as human (tool making, tech, behavior, culture, society) grows out of the ability to think and communicate in an abstract, complex manner. Deacon's book makes a very persuasive case that a quantum jump in language and symbolic thinking came first.

Postponing consideration of Deacon's argument as to how and why our ancestors underwent a radical change in how they communicated, consider some alternative scenarios for evolutionary history on earth: smart whales, smart elephants, and smart pandas )

The speculative ETs in the Fermi Paradox are ETs that can either travel between the stars or send signals between the stars for us to hear. They can't just be smart, they have to be tool using, civilization-building creatures. They have to either possess a wanderlust that sends them into space and across interstellar distances, or a philosophical bent that causes them to want to speak to their fellow sapients elsewhere in the galaxy.

So from the thousands of worlds in this galaxy plausibly possessed of complex multicellular life, we have to narrow it down to however many worlds harbour life that made it through the quantum leap bottleneck to achieve sapience, and then narrow it again to however many of those sapient species happen to also benefit from being land dwellers, being possessed of dextrous paws or tentacles or whatever capable of making tools, and being possessed of a mindset that causes them to do something (say, build giant radio transmitters in orbit and start broadcasting a "we are here" signal to the cosmos) that could potentially be seen by us. Looking at the variety of creatures on earth, and how few of them are possessed of the ability to build tools even if they had the brains to do so, it seems safe to assume that less than one in a thousand sapient species in the cosmos are going to be civilized.

And how likely is it that the ones that are capable of civilization will be interested in the same philosophical questions as us, interested enough to make the effort to be noticed by the rest of the cosmos? So my answer to the Fermi Paradox is that even if sapience is a common evolutionary choice, it's entirely possible and even likely that we are either the only or one of the only civilizations in our own galaxy. No wonder we aren't finding any ETs out there.

Next time, hopefully soon, I'll talk more about The Symbolic Species and how likely it was for us to get past that evolutionary bottleneck.
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
In The Guardian, Teresa Wright describes how the perennially divided Progressive Conservatives on the Island are preparing to choose a new leader in a year's time. I have to say, their record over the past decade--at least!--has not been impressive.

The Progressive Conservative party will hold its leadership convention in the fall of 2017.

Party president Pat Banks made this announcement at the party’s annual general meeting Saturday afternoon in Charlottetown.

Banks said this time frame was chosen because it gives the party a full year to identify candidates and organize a leadership convention while also allowing the next leader plenty of time to build support ahead of the 2019 election.

“We also looked at the roadmap plan that the party has developed so that we do have a foundation for the base of the party before we go out for a leadership convention,” Banks said.

This roadmap was presented to the 80 members present at the AGM Saturday. It is a comprehensive plan with specific goals and benchmarks the party aims to achieve on the way to a leadership convention and, after that, to the next election.

One of those goals – to release the party’s election platform “well ahead” of the next election so the public knows what the party stands for, Banks said.

“We simply cannot continue to do business the way we have in the past,” he said.
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
CBC News' Laura Chapin reports on a recent donation by Cavendish Farms to towards the new Summerside library which, incidentally, sounds fantastic.

The fundraising goal for Summerside, P.E.I.'s new Inspire Learning Centre has almost been reached after a major donation from Cavendish Farms.

The Irving-owned company has donated $150,000, and will eventually have the first floor of the new library named in its honour.

[. . .]

Originally, the renovations to the former post office on Central Street were only going to involve the first two floors, but raising the fundraising goal from $1.5 million up to $2.5 million means the third floor will also be converted into usable space.

"This is not just a library. This is a community building," said [chief fundraiser Steven] Cudmore, comparing the new centre with Halifax's new library on Spring Garden Road.

"It's not a quiet building, it's conversational. There's little seating areas where people can read and work on their computers and laptops and chat. There are meeting rooms, community spaces, so not-for-profit groups can book out a room."


Oct. 22nd, 2016 07:28 pm
eldabe: Image of canal in Venice (Default)
[personal profile] eldabe
The problem with getting back into fandom is that I have three windows open with probably around 70 tabs and I can't close any of them what if I miss a fic or a meta or a link somewhere interesting???

Plus, I've somehow gone from desperatly digging around the internet archive for some recced Harry/Ginny Harry Potter fics (yes, I finally found ones on deleted and purged journals WHYYYY) through some Due South nostalgia and now I'm reading a huge Captain America modern veterans-with-PTSD AU.


I also now save fic links in:
My excel spreadsheet of doom (still labeled as Torchwood recs ha ha)
Random TextEdit Files (mostly labeled)
Diigo (ok, I only save meta in Diigo)
Evernote (because I am now terrified of deletions)

So good luck to future me who wants to find anything! My fandom saves are just as messy as everything else. *confetti*
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Former Prince Edward Island Lieutenant-Governor Marion reid writes in The Guardian of Charlottetown about the Island's serious water issues, including water quality problems and outright shortages. This is alarming.

I will never forget the day, January 8, 1956, when I turned on the tap and no water came. Just below the house was a well about 50 feet deep encased with smooth stones, and for over 100 years it supplied all the water for the family, and barns full of livestock. Then nothing! Suddenly we understood in a whole new way that old saying about not missing the water until the well runs dry.

Islanders today need to ponder that.

My husband, Lea, was a mechanic and fashioned a rig to plow the snow and smooth it for the cattle to go to the brook below our house. The ice was broken and the animals were glad to get their water. Buckets of water were carried on the tractor to water the horses and other stock.

Once the animals were fed and the bawling stopped, large cream cans were filled with water from our neighbors. Things were looking up, and within three days a well digging company from Charlottetown had a new well, 165 feet deep, in operation; however, it had been a disturbing experience, and I think of it often these days as the demand for our water increases, and its quality deteriorates.

And I know it firsthand. Years ago, I would watch the tide and go down to the river and dig a bucket of clams for chowder. Our children fished there as well. They caught trout, often with just a bent pin and worms, the fish were so plentiful. Nothing better than the first pan trout, rolled in flour and fried in butter. As well there were smelts, eels and salmon in the river. But no more. The river is anoxic. The fish cannot live there. And I grieve for that river, and others like it across the Island.
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
CBC News' Deana Sumanac-Johnson reports on the selection of Irish-Canadian actor Anne McNulty as Anne in the upcoming CBC/Netflix series version of Anne of Green Gables.

For 14-year-old Amybeth McNulty, it's the role of a lifetime. She beat more than 1,800 girls from Canada and abroad to land the starring turn as Anne in the new CBC adaptation of Anne of Green Gables.

"She's riveting on screen, she's translucent. You can see every thought and every emotion," says writer and show-runner Moira Walley-Beckett of her show's star, who initially auditioned online from her home in Donegal, Ireland (McNulty's mother is Canadian).

McNulty, a self-described "bookworm" who read the Anne of Green Gables books when she was nine, says she shares many traits with Montgomery's feisty heroine.

"She has so much love for the world, which I think I share with her. And her curiosity about everything, how she can be so fierce and so bold but so gentle and so loving."

Her new role is also giving McNulty, who lives in Ireland, an opportunity to discover her mother's homeland. Accompanied by her grandparents, she filmed a portion of the series in Prince Edward Island, the epicentre of all things Anne.
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
NOW Toronto's Miles Kenyon reports on the 30th anniversary of Northbound Leather. As I noted earlier this week, Jane Jacobs would be proud at how this local business thrives.

For a self-described pervert, George Giaouris doesn’t look the part. Wearing a sensible polo shirt and translucent, wide frame glasses, the owner of the longest-running leather shop in Canada looks more dad than deviant.

“I kind of always knew that this it; that this is my calling in a sense because I was born into the family business,” says Giaouris. But his passion for leather, kink and fetish goes beyond mere vocation.

Northbound Leather, which is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this Saturday with a fashion show and fetish party at the Phoenix, has its legs in a family affair that started in Yorkville in 1969. After the store moved to its current Yonge Street location in the ‘70s, it officially became known as Northbound in 1987.

“Ear-to-the-ground is what my father taught me,” Giaouris says of his approach to business. “So instead of trying to force something on someone, ask them what they want.”

From bustiers and boleros to collars and cockrings, Northbound caters to anyone wishing to explore their wild side. For some, a simple leather vest is enough to satiate that tactile want; for others, it might be dressing your partner up as a puppy, complete with full leather mask, paws, tail and leash.

“There are as many variations on what [leather] means as there are people practicing it,” he says. “The only question we’ve ever asked is: ‘Is it legal?’”
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The Globe and Mail's Jeff Gray reports on how Toronto's first black city councilor is finally going to be honoured with a park.

Between 1893 and 1913, Mr. Hubbard – a child of freed slaves who fled Virginia to farm in Upper Canada in 1837 – would serve the city as an alderman (what we now call city councillors), and also vice-chairman of a powerful cabinet-like body called the board of control, a position second only to the mayor. He also served as acting mayor.

Revered as council’s “Cicero” for his speeches, he became a leading civic figure, representing a white, wealthy ward. He was also a successful businessman in the city, at a time when black people were banned from many restaurants. But his skin colour was barely given a mention in The Globe’s accounts of the time.

This weekend, politicians, community groups and Hubbard descendants from across Canada and the United States will christen Hubbard Park, a green space in front of the old Don Jail that is now part of Bridgepoint hospital, at Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street East. The park’s name was voted on by local residents, and it is not far from where Mr. Hubbard lived in a grand home on Broadview Avenue.

His memory was neglected for years. When the city government abandoned Old City Hall for New City Hall in 1965, a grand portrait of Mr. Hubbard that had graced the walls of the old building for years was left in a storage room until 1976, when a new interest in black history was emerging. (Since the late 1980s, the city has also issued an award for activists in his name.)

That portrait hangs in the office of Toronto’s only sitting black councillor, Scarborough’s Michael Thompson, but even he had never heard of Mr. Hubbard until he began researching his story while working as a political aide at city hall in the late 1990s.
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
In The Globe and Mail, Kerry Gold reports on the pressures that are pushing renters away from the rapid transit networks that they use so regularly. At this rate, who will be able to afford to live in Vancouver but the rich?

Since the majority of transit users are renters and low-income earners, building low-cost housing around transit would seem obvious.

But overwhelmingly, dense, free-market condo developments have been the priority around transit stations. The result is an increase of property values that have displaced the renters that need transit the most. In the Metrotown area of Burnaby, and near the Evergreen Line in Burquitlam, old rental buildings are being torn down to make way for pricier condos.

It’s a state of affairs that has exasperated housing advocates like Kishone Roy, chief executive officer of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association. Mr. Roy, like a growing number of others who’ve studied the issue, says that no transit plan should go forward without a plan for affordable housing. The housing crisis simply can’t be fixed without the transit piece.

“It is extremely backward public policy that the only people that can afford to live along transit lines in Metro Vancouver are people who can afford a car – and the people who need transit can’t afford to live along those transit lines,” says Mr. Roy. “It’s happened for an array of reasons, including lack of government participation in the affordable housing market. There’s been an abdication of the government’s role in housing that’s created mass homelessness, a rental housing crisis, and this weird development problem we have in Vancouver, where we have transit investments, but no housing investments at the same time.”

That means building dense, affordable housing around transit lines that are already in the works.

“It’s a game of diminishing returns, because when you lose that housing along the transit line, then you have to build somewhere else, and then they will need more transit out there. You can spend less and get more, if you plan these things together.
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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Torontoist's Tannara Yelland reports on a good idea re: Toronto's housing crisis that needs more thorough implementation.

With a dearth of affordable housing options in the city, municipal administrators have long known they need to do more to ensure that Toronto residents can actually afford to be Toronto residents. In 2009, City Council adopted Housing Opportunities Toronto—An Affordable Housing Action Plan 2010-2020 [PDF]. The ambitious plan called for the creation of 10,000 new affordable rental homes and 2,800 affordable ownership homes. The City has since fallen short of yearly targets several times and looks like to fall far short of its final targets as well.

When the City falls behind on its affordable housing policies, there are serious consequences for thousands of Torontonians. Around 88,000 households are on the waitlist for affordable housing right now, and with rents and property values only going up each year, that number is likely to continue growing.

The City felt it needed to encourage developers to create more affordable housing, and so the Open Door Program was launched in April 2015 to help address the policy challenge. The three “prongs” of the program, according to Erik Hunter, manager of policy and partnerships with Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office, are:
•Making city lands available for development;
•Fast-tracking the planning and approval process for developers creating affordable housing;
•“increasing the city’s supports and mainlining access to them for affordable housing developers.”

The program includes municipal tax breaks and breaks on fees to developers, which developers can take advantage of for as long as they agree to keep some units affordable (the minimum is 20 years).

It’s a pretty sweet deal for developers, who are already enjoying the benefits of a real-estate market that’s so red-hot it’s been the subject of repeated warnings, but that hasn’t yet driven people into cheaper nearby cities en masse. Of course, the City can’t force developers to build anything they don’t want to build. An inclusionary zoning bill is before the Ontario legislature; if passed, it could allow cities to require that affordable housing units be included in new developments, but for now cities are restricted in what they can tell developers. Toronto Community Housing is dealing with a $3.6 billion repair backlog that has people already in social housing living in sometimes unsafe conditions; thousands of units could be condemned within the next few years if additional funding isn’t secured.

More D&D

Oct. 22nd, 2016 12:58 pm
jetpack_monkey: (Default)
[personal profile] jetpack_monkey
Well, that was exciting. Last night I had my first session with the online D&D group I'm joining as a player. The DM was actually out of town, so one of the other players ran a one-off. I like these folks and this is going to be a lot of fun!

Thanks to [personal profile] settiai for inviting me in!

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

Oct. 22nd, 2016 01:46 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • The Boston Globe's Big Picture shares photos of Massachusetts' Mattapan trolley.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at Planet Nine's effects and examines the weather of Titan.

  • Both The Dragon's Tales and the Planetary Society Weblog react to the loss of the Schiaparelli lander.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks for brown dwarf exoplanets.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the sheer scale of the Australian real estate boom.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the beginning of an antiwar movement among Russian Orthodox faithful.

  • Arnold Zwicky shares a photo of a flowering tree in a Kyoto garden.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
blogTO and CBC, among others, informed me that Honest Ed's was embarking on its last sign sale starting at 8 o'clock this morning. I woke up just after 9 and considered not going--I had heard of very long lines just to enter, hours long--but, encouraged by a Facebook missive, I went.

Among the signs, 1 #toronto #honesteds #signs

Among the signs, 2 #toronto #honesteds #signs

Among the signs, 3 #toronto #honesteds #signs

Signs of Honest Ed's #toronto #honesteds #signs

(no subject)

Oct. 22nd, 2016 11:18 am
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I'm at my parents' and Fox News and it's on mute but Donald Trump is making a speech and I can still see him waving his hands around out of the corner of my eye and there's helpful text to tell me what garbage he's spewing. (I mean, they probably just broke out the same text as his last speech. Same stuff.)

(no subject)

Oct. 22nd, 2016 05:43 pm
malurette: (ducky)
[personal profile] malurette
Pensée du jour : si je n'arrive pas à décider de quelle couleur je veux mon gilet fluo, peut-être qu'il faut que j'en cherche un arc-en-ciel ? et comme ça ça sera la pédale pride tous les jours !

Blague à part, j'ai fini par me décider pour un bleu ciel, mais le temps que le colis arrive ça se trouve la saison du vélo sera finie...


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Scans Daily


Founded by girl geeks and members of the slash fandom, [community profile] scans_daily strives to provide an atmosphere which is LGBTQ-friendly, anti-racist, anti-ableist, woman-friendly and otherwise discrimination and harassment free.

Bottom line: If slash, feminism or anti-oppressive practice makes you react negatively, [community profile] scans_daily is probably not for you.

Please read the community ethos and rules before posting or commenting.

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