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Nov. 26th, 2015 04:27 pm
healingmirth: Coca-Cola bear with Yuletide text (yuletide)
[personal profile] healingmirth

Christmas Eve (2015)

Hilarity, romance, and transcendence prevail after a power outage traps six different groups of New Yorkers inside elevators on Christmas Eve.

Will probably have less porn in it than if written by fandom, but still excited to have learned this exists. Please don't be terrible.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Gastón Gordillo's Savage Minds essay about the historic transience of the written word makes for compelling, if sad, reading.

When the Roman Empire collapsed, numerous libraries and an unknown quantity of books disintegrated with it. Amid a rising Christianity hostile to traces of paganism, the texts of many authors admired in Roman antiquity were turned to dust and the memory of their existence dissolved. Pieces of writing by noted figures such as Cicero or Virgil certainly survived, but the majority of what these men wrote has been lost. This was an epochal moment in the history of writing: an imperial collapse so profound that it physically disintegrated vast amounts of texts, erasing them from human memory.

Some books from ancient Rome were saved from this massive vanishing of written words only because a few copies survived for over a thousand years in the libraries of European monasteries. This survival was often the outcome of pure chance: that is, a set of conjunctural factors somehow allowed those books, and not others, to overcome the wear and tear and ruination of paper and ink by the physical pressures and cuts inflicted on them by the weather and by the living forms attracted to them, primarily insects, mice, and humans. In these monasteries, many ancient books and their words disintegrated after a few centuries, gone forever. But others lingered and were eventually copied by hand again on new and more robust paper, which could withstand atmospheric and bodily pressures for the next two to three centuries. Three hundred years or so later, another monk would grab a manuscript about to disintegrate and copy those words again. Who knows how many amazing books were eaten away by bugs simply because no monk chose to save them from their ruination? One of the books that miraculously survived in a monastery over a millennia of chance encounters with the void was Lucretius’ extraordinary philosophical treatise De rerum natura, The Nature of Things.

What got me thinking about the ruination of written words is Stephen Greenblatt’s fascinating (if uneven) book The Swerve, which narrates how in 1417 a book-hunter discovered Lucretius’ The Nature of Things in a remote monastery. In my book Rubble, I examined how different forms of ruination, from the Spanish conquest to the soy boom, have created constellations of nodes of rubble in northern Argentina, many of which are perceived by locals to be haunted (Gordillo 2014). I therefore read The Swerve with an eye sensitive to the destruction of places and matter and the affective materiality of their debris. The richness conveyed by Greenblatt’s story of the vanishing of Roman books reveals that the physical disintegration and afterlives of rubble also involve the written word, which in the modern world is often presented as an emblem of human endurance.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
At NPR, Jasmine Garsd notes how, in an increasingly closed South America in the 1930s, Bolivia stood out for its continued welcome of refugees.

Consulates were under orders to stop giving visas. Ships carrying refugees were turned away. The most famous case is the St. Louis in May 1939. It was carrying 937 refugees. In Cuba, where the ship first attempted to dock, political infighting, economic crisis and right-wing xenophobia kept the passengers on board. The U.S denied the ship too, as did Canada. The St. Louis turned back to Europe.

All in all, Latin American governments officially permitted only about 84,000 Jewish refugees between 1933 and 1945. That's less than half the number admitted during the previous 15 years.

There were exceptions — again, often in countries that were far from well-off. The Dominican Republic issued several thousand visas. In the '40s El Salvador gave 20,000 passports to Jews under Nazi occupation. Former Mexican Consul to France Gilberto Bosques Saldivar is known as the "Mexican Schindler." Working in France from 1939 to 1943, he issued visas to around 40,000 people, mostly Jews and Spaniards.

In South America, Bolivia was the anomaly. The government admitted more than 20,000 Jewish refugees between 1938 and 1941. The brains behind the operation was Mauricio Hochschild, a German Jew. He was a mining baron who had Bolivian President Germán Busch's ear (and who wanted to help his fellow Jews for humanitarian reasons).

This was a time of economic crisis and uncertainty for the whole world, but Bolivia was in particularly bad shape. The Chaco War, fought against Paraguay until 1935, had just ended. Ironically, Bolivia's weakness was why the government agreed to open those doors wide open. Even though Busch flirted with Nazi ideology, he hoped that that immigrants would help revitalize the economy.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Vancouver Metro's Thandi Fletcher points out with the only flaw in the plan of the Canadian government to allow, of single male Syrian refugees, only the non-straight ones in.

A gay Syrian refugee living in Vancouver says is he concerned Canada’s plan to prioritize refugee status for single men only if they identify as gay, bisexual or transgender could cause more problems for an already vulnerable group.

“If I was a refugee in a camp at the moment and I went out and went to the Canadian embassy and applied for refugee status, that’s basically outing myself to the whole refugee camp,” Danny Ramadan told Metro. “[That would] be putting myself in extreme danger.”

The Liberal government revealed Tuesday its promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February, giving priority to complete families, women at risk, members of sexual minorities and single men only if they are identified as gay, bisexual or transgender or are travelling as part of a family.

While he is glad to see the Canada welcome gay Syrians as refugees, Danny Ramadan said he worries that the requirement could put many in the LGBTQ community at risk of discrimination or even violence.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Wired's Chelsea Leu reports on something that, frankly, should not surprise people who know the only way you can open a mussel is to boil it.

Some sea creatures float lazily in the ocean, letting the currents waft them where they may. Mussels are not those creatures. They live in tidal areas, and their lives are a churning series of unpredictable events: submerged in the wash one tidal cycle, baking in the sun the next. Not to mention all those waves, constantly threatening to dash them to bits. So they’ve evolved to cling very, very tightly to rocks, ships, piers—anything, really—like their lives depend on it, because they sort of do.

The secret’s in their secretions. “Mussels take a bunch of protein, lay it down on a surface, and crosslink it all together,” says Jonathan Wilker, a chemist at Purdue University. Specifically, mussels use a rare amino acid called dihydroxyphenylalanine, or the more-pronounceable DOPA. (It’s related to dopamine, the neurotransmitter.) DOPA is unusual, because it enables materials to be both cohesive and adhesive—that is, the materials can stick to themselves and other surfaces. The balance of the two forces determines whether something makes good glue, and DOPA manages both. “It’s very efficient,” Wilker says.

And DOPA is extremely easy to tinker with, which is great for scientists looking to design a new adhesive, says Bruce P. Lee, a biomedical engineer at Michigan Tech. Its structure allows it to play nice with a whole range of different chemistries, which means it can stick to practically anything—metal, body tissue, even Teflon. So scientists make chemicals that mimic DOPA’s structure (harming no mussels in the process), and tweak it to suit their own ends, whether that’s a biodegradeable glue, or something that can set while underwater, or something stronger than superglue.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The Dragon's Tales linked to a press release about a new study that, among other things, implies that Mars had a thinner early atmosphere than was often thought.

Mars is blanketed by a thin, mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere--one that is far too thin to prevent large amounts of water on the surface of the planet from subliming or evaporating. But many researchers have suggested that the planet was once shrouded in an atmosphere many times thicker than Earth's. For decades that left the question, "Where did all the carbon go?"

Now a team of scientists from Caltech and JPL thinks they have a possible answer. The researchers suggest that 3.8 billion years ago, Mars might have had only a moderately dense atmosphere. They have identified a photochemical process that could have helped such an early atmosphere evolve into the current thin one without creating the problem of "missing" carbon and in a way that is consistent with existing carbon isotopic measurements.

The scientists describe their findings in a paper that appears in the November 24 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

"With this new mechanism, everything that we know about the martian atmosphere can now be pieced together into a consistent picture of its evolution," says Renyu Hu, a postdoctoral scholar at JPL, a visitor in planetary science at Caltech, and lead author on the paper.

When considering how the early martian atmosphere might have transitioned to its current state, there are two possible mechanisms for the removal of excess carbon dioxide (CO2). Either the CO2 was incorporated into minerals in rocks called carbonates or it was lost to space.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Bloomberg's Jasmina Kuzmanovic and Gordana Filipovic report on the renewed push in the western Balkans for European Union membership. Certainly it's not as if the western Balkans have any other future.

Former Yugoslav republics and neighboring Albania vowed to resuscitate their drive for European Union integration after the migrant crisis rocked the region and created the worst political rifts between Balkan states since the civil wars of the 1990s.

The heads of state for EU members Croatia and Slovenia and EU outsiders Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania signed a joint commitment to strengthening the stability and prosperity of the region. They also aim to strengthen ties to the U.S. and seek an expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization deeper into the Balkans.

[. . .]

The western Balkans has been stretched by the flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants escaping the violence in Syria as well as refugees from as far away as Afghanistan and Northern Africa. Slovenia and Croatia strained their EU ties after Slovenia declared its intention to build fencing along the two countries’ shared border. The dispute is being echoed across the EU as governments grapple with a crisis on a scale not seen since the 1940s.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Kristin Rushowy at the Toronto Star writes about the tensions in Toronto education, with shortages.

Even though its enrolment remains strong, Toronto’s one-of-a-kind high school for new immigrants could be forced to move into Danforth Collegiate and the building sold, under an option now being considered by a review committee.

The potential plans for 10 high schools in the Toronto-Danforth/East York area were unveiled Monday night at a public meeting — on the eve of the federal government’s announcement of plans to settle a wave of Syrian refugees in Canada, which had some questioning such a move for the city’s unique “newcomer high.”

“We are like family, and I think if we move to Danforth, I’m wondering if we will have the programs at Danforth?” said Greenwood student Zahra Afshar, who is 17 and a member of the accommodation review committee.

She came to Canada almost a year ago from Afghanistan, knowing only a few sentences in English. Now, in her second semester at Greenwood, she can carry on a conversation and is taking academic math and other subjects. She said many extracurricular activities — including the “conversation club” which she attended Tuesday after school — are a highlight, and extra help is always available.

“What I like at Greenwood? I like everything,” she said, from the way the teachers talk to students to “how they respect us… if I have a problem with my lessons or homework, the teachers are saying ‘you can do that,’ and they help me with my homework and everything.”
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski reports about the latest stage in the TTC-Bombardier confrontation.

Bombardier’s absence went unremarked at Monday’s TTC board meeting. But transit officials were already aware that the Montreal manufacturer had declined its request to appear there and publicly explain why it has failed to deliver on Toronto’s $1.25 billion streetcar order.

The company’s refusal wasn’t about whether to address the issue in public or private, said spokesman Marc Laforge in an email to the Star. Company officials have had many discussions with TTC officials and there are legal considerations, he said.

“We told the TTC that we are more than willing to engage into discussions with the chair of the board and other board members if they want to, with (CEO Andy) Byford and the project team,” he wrote.

Those discussions could extend to all the delays, including those beyond Bombardier’s control and those caused by the TTC, he said.

“At the same time . . . the board has authorized the TTC’s general counsel to commence a claim or legal action against Bombardier. The contract signed with the TTC sets forth an exclusive dispute resolution process providing for confidential and without prejudice discussions between TTC and Bombardier in an effort to settle the dispute,” he wrote.

(no subject)

Nov. 26th, 2015 02:08 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Today is the day that Americans celebrate by having uncomfortable political conversations! \o/

Two different kinds of uncomfortable political conversations: the first exemplified by the fact that I have sworn to walk out of family dinner the minute someone endorses Donald Trump. (I don't *think* they will - we have enough different views that we're pretty skilled at being apolitical - but I'm not sitting through it or fighting them if it starts, so. If they just put on the football instead I'm going to be sitting in the corner reading Check Please! slash on my phone.)

The second exemplified by the fact that I put up a Books by Native American Authors display at the library for the end of this month. (It's getting way less checkouts than the "How To Bake Pies" one the other librarian put up, but thus is the way of things. It also contains literally every book by a Native American author who isn't Michael Dorris that I could find in the library, which says volumes on its own.)

Anyway, in the spirit of the second, have some podcast recs:

I got onto otipêyimisiw-iskwêwak kihci-kîsikohk (Métis In Space) via a rec from [personal profile] sara, and it is now one of my favorite podcasts. Every week two Métis women, Molly and Chelsea, plus the occasional special guest, tipsily dismember a SFnal movie, TV show, or video that features Indigenous people in it. Also they occasionally get confusing dispatches from their future selves who live in a spaceship above a decolonized North America. It's the kind of podcast I like best - the kind that feels like a couple of fans have just invited you into their living room to chat - and is really smart and really compassionate and really fun. Also if you like Canadian things it is possibly the most beautifully Canadian thing I have ever encountered.

I have made very few decisions regarding my Hugo nominations yet, but otipêyimisiw-iskwêwak kihci-kîsikohk is definitely going on there for fancast, and you all should try it so you can decide whether to nominate it too. To start I suggest the recent episode The Manitou, where they watch a terrible 70s horror movie that they end up being unexpectedly fond of. Or the slightly older episode Knights of Cydonia, which is a music video that easy to watch in advance if you want to know what they're talking about, and was also taped while one of them was literally in labor - they have to stop for contractions a few times - which makes it possibly the most hardcore podcast ever.

Another podcast I have recently started listening to is Archeological Fantasies, which I don't know that I wholeheartedly recommend: I listen to it because I will listen to well-informed people make fun of the Bimini Road and the Newark Holy Stones and their ilk for as long as you can let me, but the hosts do sometimes get on my nerves, often with that sort of unconsciously arrogant PhD-knows-best kind of elitism that makes you understand why people cling to their antiscience beliefs. But that said it's mostly good and they are trying to be fair spokespeople for science (I just have high standards for public skepticism) and if you, too, will happily listen to hours of intelligent people calling out Ancient Aliens as idiotic, it's fun.

But there was a recent episode that stepped away from their usual format, and that one I do recommend heartily. It's Dr. Fader telling the story of The Legend of the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse isn't an actual lighthouse; it's an oddly-named historical site where he's been working for decades. I won't go into detail about it because he tells the story really well and it was better unspoiled, but it was a lost town that had attached a beautiful legend about a mixed-race community in the early 19th century that turns out to almost entirely verifiably true, and the true story comes out better than the legend, and made me cry, and that kind of history needs to be better known. So you should listen to that episode.

[meme] 30 jours de positif (26)

Nov. 26th, 2015 08:00 pm
malurette: (adorkable)
[personal profile] malurette
Cet après-midi j'ai été voir Le voyage d'Arlo et y'avait que moi dans une salle de 276 places bwahaha j'ai pu me mettre au milieu, poser mon blouson sur le siège voisin et enlever mes godasses et poser mes pieds sur le dossier devant et me tenir comme je voulais et si ça m'avait tiré des émotions plus fortes j'aurais pu les exprimer bruyamment. (Le film en soi était correct mais pas tip-top ; fiche à suivre bientôt.)

43537 / 50000 words. 87% done!

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Nov. 26th, 2015 11:52 am
settiai: (Matt/Karen/Foggy -- settiai)
[personal profile] settiai
I currently have no interest in the newer/upcoming Marvel movies, and pretty much the only ones I'm rewatching at all right now are those from Phase One and Guardians of the Galaxy. I've also given up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So, you know, the hype about the recent trailer? Isn't doing much of anything for me. Which is kind of sad, considering how much I was in love with the MCU just a few years ago.

I think that part of it is that the comic event said movie was (loosely) inspired by? Actually made me stop reading Marvel comics for years, so the fact that they're bringing it into the MCU is bothering me more than it probably should. Bitter? Me? Where would you get that idea? :-/

That said, I did actually enjoy Agent Carter (and hope that enjoyment continues with the second season) and am pretty positive about the various Netflix series. I think the fact that they're more self-contained, with the broader events of the MCU being more background noise is helping with that. Although gods only know what I'll do if they start tying into the movies more in the future.

Anyway, I've (finally!) watched all of Daredevil. And I absolutely loved it, which surprised me a bit. The various comic titles starring Daredevil have never been my favorites, but I really enjoyed this adaptation. I love the characters and their relationships with each other.

I'm also currently watching Jessica Jones, which so far is as awesome as I was hoping it would be. Because, you know, it's Jessica fucking Jones. ♥ It's also very heavy, so I can't binge watch it like I did Daredevil. Gore and physical violence I can handle in large doses, but the psychological aspect that's so prevalent in Jessica Jones? Not so much.

It is suck a long time until May!

Nov. 26th, 2015 06:47 am
justhuman: (Cap)
[personal profile] justhuman
I was driving all day yesterday, so missed that Chris E and RDJ were on Kimmel with a trailer for Captain America:Civil War.

Like everyone else, I have *FEELS* - so many FEELS!

that I'll put under the cut with the trailer )
flo_nelja: (Default)
[personal profile] flo_nelja
Titre : Et mon sang en offrande
Auteur : [personal profile] flo_nelja
Fandom : Gravity Falls
Personnages : Bill/Ford
Genre : Angst, UST
Résumé : Cela fait six jours que Bill ne visite plus Ford, sans qu'il sache pourquoi. Il lui manque tant qu'il pourrait faire quelque chose de terrible.
Rating : R
Disclaimer : Tout appartient à Alex Hirsch
Nombre de mots : ~1200
Avertissements : Spoilers jusqu'à l'épisode 2x15 ! BDSM, bloodplay, religious kink, manipulation émotionnelle, le tout sans relations sexuelles d'aucune forme. Aussi, possession démoniaque consensuelle.

Read more... )

[lecture] Erreur fatale ~Robin Cook

Nov. 26th, 2015 11:05 am
malurette: (mad scientist)
[personal profile] malurette
Titre : Crisis
Auteur : Robin Cook
Langue : VF traduite de l'anglais américain
Traduction : adapté en "Erreur fatale"
Type : roman (série)
Genre : polar médical

(1ère parution : 2006)
Édition : Le Livre de Poche
Format : poche, 615 pages

Read more... )

Conclusion : Un tome intéressant question enquête médicale, effrayant sur le système étasunien, et haletant sur la relation entre Jack et Laurie. Que demande le peuple  ?
…une meilleure traduction peut-être parce que wow, les urgentistes en «  veste  » blanche par-dessus leurs pyjamas d’hôpital au lieu de blouse, ça remporter la palme des brain-farts recensés jusqu’ici.
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
I've been sick for a few days with a bad back and mostly away from the internet, and tonight I'm going to see a house concert by a Russian bard singing Mahabharata slash songs, and in all this excitement I feel like I need to mention the last Hunger Games movie, which I saw last weekend and had thoughts and feelings about.

spoilers )

Heart of Gold

Nov. 26th, 2015 09:44 am
lea_hazel: Arthritis: It does the body bad (Health: Arthritis)
[personal profile] lea_hazel
I am increasing my vitamin D dose to approximately "metric fuckton" (I think it's actually 1000mg or thereabouts) in hopes of doing something about the "always tired, always depressed" thing. The bottle has ninety pills! It should last me until the ritualistic murder of the solar deity has expired and the world is born anew in a flutter of chirping swallows and almond blossoms. Or something.

I downloaded and played the demo to the new Dark Parables game, "Goldilocks and the Fallen Star". It's... okay? Like, I want it and I want to play it. I just don't feel any huge urgency or attachment. The puzzles are good. The art is pretty. The story is about as overblown as you'd expect. There are secrets and fables to collect, but there don't seem to be morphing objects, which is a shame.

I will probably play and replay it eventually. Right now, I'm in 7KPP hell. When I'm ready to buy a new game, I might favor Botanica over this one.


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