oh, this week is so fired

We’ve lost another giant. Christopher Lee is dead.

He played so very many characters. I’m not sure where I encountered him first, just chronologically, and recognised him as who he was – Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man? Zantor, on Space: 1999? Professor Stone on The Avengers? I’ve no idea. He’s just been such a fixture for so long – sometimes goofy, sometimes brilliant, but always a force.

Dammit.

What’s your favourite Christopher Lee role? I’m going to skip the easy answer and say Lord Haggard, The Last Unicorn. It’s a fantastic voice performance, and his use of voice was one of his best talents. What about you?

co-signed, strong letter to follow

More insane puppy-related, but not just puppy-related, bullshit is going on this week.

First, let’s co-sign this commentary from Kameron Hurley about Tor Books’s decision to publicly reprimand one of their editors, Irene Gallo, for saying actual true things on her personal Facebook page about the Sad/Rabid puppies debacle. I repeat: true things, on her personal Facebook page.

But I particularly want to call out this quote:

I read once that the real cost of racism was in keeping folks affected by same from doing their work. This works for stuff like feminism and homophobia, too. Instead of doing the work we were meant to do, bigots want to keep people spinning in circles, spending all their time writing endless think pieces that refute their insistence that we can’t and have never done anything. Yes, ::yawn:: we exist, yes we can do these jobs, yes we are human, and yes we matter. It keeps us defending simple bullshit truths that – if some dude said them – would go unchallenged. And those unchallenged dudes get to go off wanking about life, saying whatever fucking thing they want, doing whatever work they want, because they don’t have to sit around defending their right to exist and speak the truth.

But everybody else is constantly challenged and bullied with the threat of erasure, and most of our work is just fucking digging out from under that bullshit.

I have raged about this so many times. When I was a software developer, I literally sidetracked my career so that I could spend quite literally another full-time job’s worth of time fighting against groups trying to make me illegal. And by illegal, I mean fucking illegal, as in direct threat to my life and freedom, by design. That was the intent and goal, so it’s not like I had any sort of goddamn options.

When I talk about spending “blood and treasure” on this, the blood comes from the street assaults, the treasure comes, in part, from this. All that lost time and money, fighting off people who not only enjoyed but actively made a living from trying to make my existence illegal.

And just as much, the people trying to make me and people like me at best into sub-citizens and at worst into dead people? They enjoyed their work, and made money at it.

Just like the Puppies enjoy their bullshit. They’re having a great time.

(See also Angela Highland in this post about “the endless cycle of having to defend oneself over and over and over and over again, to seemingly no avail.”)

Let’s also co-sign this post by Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds:

If you’re an employer faced with a mob of bigots because a female employee said a true thing in public, maybe take a step back and ask how you’d have responded (if at all) if they came after one of your top dudes for saying the exact same thing. You may not even have to think very long because they probably already have.

Then ask yourself how awesome you really are now that you’ve publicly named and shamed her and basically threw her out to the Gamergate/Puppy wolves to be harassed online and in the comment sections of your own post. Ask yourself how awesome and fair-handed you are to do that.

And back to Kameron:

This shit is going to change, but it’s going to hurt.

If you’re an ally, I’d like to remind you it’s not you it’s going to hurt. You’ll come out of it just fine with your fucking career intact.

It’s us. Every time. Always us. It’s us they will come after. We pay the price.

One of the driving points in Jupiter Ascending – a post that I still, yes, intend to make – is that the most fundamental limit on resource is time – how much time you have, or do not have, in your life. The Entitled of that universe steal lives from others to gain more time for themselves. These cretins can’t achieve that, so they steal the time of others to gain enjoyment. For sport.

Sendhil Mullainathan said recently that poverty is a tax on cognition. He’s right, of course, and his assertion comes down, in no small part, to a tax on time. Computational time of the brain, existence time of life, they’re both the same thing. This, too is a tax on time, one assessed by ressentiment-driven self-proclaimed “alpha”-master wannabes, one that’s assessed intentionally, driven mostly by the pleasure of seeing others in oppression, by the love for Orwell’s aphrodisiac of power. And it is contemptible. It is anti-thought, it is anti-achievement, it is anti-creation, it is a vile sadism, and it is no accident that the most fervent supporters of torture drink from this same well.

You want to talk about where the “rage” part comes from in my music? There are a few sources. This is a big one.

eta: See also Jessica Price’s post on Tumblr. It’s worth reading.

eta2: See also Vox Day (the oberpuppyführer that Tom just threw Irene Gallo to, linked via We Hunted the Mammoth), see also Tim Hunt (as a published research scientist, may I just say to blow it out your ass, you fucking douchebag). It’s just a continuous hail of this kind of rampant horseshittery.

eta3: flake_sake’s commentary on Livejournal is of relevant interest, including the first direct appearance of Jim Butcher in this mess.

eta4: Can Tor let Ms. Gallo take back her apology yet? No? How about now?
 
 


This is one of a continuing series of posts on sexism and racism in geek culture.

emergency compartment

Raptor emergency supplies compartment is all sorted:


A Well-Stocked Raptor is a Secure Raptor

Tho’ honestly, it’s good to have an emergency kit if you’re going out on long trips – for me, road trips for shows – and this vehicle has a place for a rather substantial one in back, as long as you don’t mind many shallow boxes. It’s hard to see in this photo but all this is in recessed divided sections, underneath the cargo floor, which is really nice. Nothing slides around or gets in the way.

The red box is a basic first aid kit, to which I’ve added a few extra supplies; the other boxes are as labelled. Under this layer there’s another separate compartment, with a toolkit, basic repair supplies (fuses, tubing, etc), spare tire and tire repair kit, as well as flashlight, things like that.

If you like putting things away in neat little boxes (even if the supplier changed their labels mid-stock and you ended up with two different labels, aheh), this is a pretty good vehicle to have. XD

wow, paypal is slimy

Paypal has a new trick that makes me want to punch faces with extreme force. I was logging in today to pay for an Orycon membership (because that’s the only payment they take online), and I got this stop dialogue:


Dung.

Now, this is a load of donkey dung, because I have a laptop I’ve been using for exactly this stuff for four years. Same laptop. Never even reformatted. But I’m all, ‘okay, fine, whatever.’

They give you two options. One is to receive a phone call at a predetermined number. Another is to verify data. Or let me put that more specifically, like they did: verify public data. That’s an important difference, and they think they’re being oh-so-very-clever, and I almost fell for it.

See, I didn’t want to deal with a telephone, so I chose verify data, thinking this would be some sort of account information validation. WRONG. They’re trolling public records and (presumably) credit report information to tie together a more complete – meaning more saleable – identity profile, and asking me to “verify” data I’ve never given them, ever. That’s when I realised what was up.

In short, you’re not “verifying” anything. You’re drawing them a comprehensive historical map of your life, connecting all the little dots they think they might have for you, on their behalf, all under the guise of some sort of security check.

You get: inconvenience and data mining! They get: A far more saleable and more complete historical profile of you, under false pretences.

Just to see what happens, I tried my other Paypal account, after verifying my computer on this one. OH LOOK, said Paypal, WE DON’T RECOGNISE THIS COMPUTER!


Dung twice.

And the same set of options. So, yeah. If – or more likely, when – you get this dialogue, pick a disposable number and have them call you and enter a pin. Because this? This is horseshit.

Paypal is just awful.

eta: IT GETS WORSE: In comments, check this:

Michael Hanscom: Did you see the recent story about their new TOS’s authorizing robocalls from them or their associates for basically whatever reason they want? It was enough for me to just flat out close my account.

Really. No, I missed that. So either way, you’re screwed. You give them a legit number they can phonespam or you let them datamine you. Awesome. Fuck, I wish I could close my accounts. But I have business need. Goddammit.

eta2: And here we go – the first spam call has already arrived.

I haven’t posted about the Puppies lately…

I haven’t posted about the Sad/Rabid Puppies lately, mostly because I just haven’t had anything to say that I haven’t already said. I’m just not good at re-chewing old material – it’s not like all the previous posts I wrote aren’t still around. (Do remember to vote NO AWARD above any slate candidates, tho’.)

But if you miss that whole mess and want something new, here’s a post from Jim Hines called Puppies in their Own Words. It’s mostly extensive quotes from Sad leadership, and leaves white supremacist Rabid leader Vox Day out. I’m not sure that’s fair, given how much of the the Sad success depended upon Vox’s pack of Rabids – while simultaneously trying to distance themselves from him after he became to embarrassing – but there y’go.

The best thing Jim’s post is for is again detailing how this was in fact a purely political exercise, despite Puppy denials. It’s hard to deny when you’re extensively talking about how you need to show it to those liberals.

eta: Oh, Agrumer has a very good post on Livejournal about notorious homophobic Korrasami-hater and Rabid Puppy John C. Wright and his tired claim that He’s Not Homophobic, He Loves the Queers, He Just Hates “Perversion” – something he attributes to his Catholic faith. But as Agrumer shows, his anti-queer hate predates his Catholicism by some time. Also with original references and links! Apparently, John’s faith-sourced moral beliefs don’t include objections to straight-up lies.

eta2: George R. R. Martin pointed at Eric Flint’s takedown, point by point, of the Puppy arguments, such as they are. It’s quite thorough.

eta3: There’s a follow-up post, here, which is actually quite a bit longer and about Tor Books and Irene Gallo.

anybody got experience with little electric coolers?

Anybody got experience with those little 12V electrical in-vehicle 12V coolers? I can get this one with credit union rewards points. The maker has a smaller model (really tiny) which has a small number of reviews that are highly mixed, and a larger model (substantially larger)which has a large number of reviews and is thought well of overall.

This model, though, lacks reviews. It’s 14L (a little over 3.5 gallons?) and… um… well, it looks like this:


Cooler than … what, exactly?

I don’t expect miracles, but it’d be nice to keep things cool in the Raptor without hauling around ice and/or burning uselessly through cold-packs. Mostly because let’s face it, after day one, all of those things are dead, while this thing would in theory keep going.

songwriting

Working on a couple of new songs – one that I’ve been sitting on unfinished for a long time, another that’s brand new, a third that’s an adaptation of another song but which I have to take apart and re-engineer because the original is guitar and I don’t play that. Also, it’s written in DADGAD and then partially-capoed two stops (so.. EBEABE?) and yeah, no.

So I’m playing with a drop-E powerchord open tuning that looks something like this:

E2 E3 / E3 E4 / B3 B3 / E5 E5

I don’t want to take it all the way down to D-like and then capo up because it gets kind of flabby down at that D.

This isn’t a tuning I would use for lots of things, but I’ve played with it (well, a variant of it – E2 E3 / D3 D4/ B3 B3 / E5 E5, Edrop3sus2) some before and it’s got a nice heavy sound. Which is not really where the original song I’m modifying goes, but kind of is where my version goes, so I think that’s okay.

I’m hoping I can get it playable for this weekend at Anglicon. That’d be cool.

A second one that’s completely new has a chorus that’s pretty much together and which is made pretty much completely of pop hook and I regret nothing. SO MANY POWER CHORDS. So many.

But the the verses are not happy yet. I seem to have written the ending of the song and getting back to the beginning is problematic.

The third one is complicated as hell and was supposed to be on Dick Tracy Must Die but there ware big swaths of it I never could actually make work. Turns out the solution was hidden in a rhythm change, so that’s kind of a huge surprise.

I wanted to write today about how Jupiter Ascending is basically the Cronenberg Dune with the “Chosen One” arc swapped out in favour of “Hidden Princess” – an arc that fell out of favour in Hollywood live-action several decades ago – but I don’t quite have my head wrapped around it yet. It’s still percolating, I guess.

But that gets back to the songwriting, funnily enough. I don’t seem to swap back and forth between “songwriting” and “blog writing” writing very well. So if blog posts lately seem a little hinky? That’s what’s up.

but I know that
when I see you
that it’s true even so
that the future has a place for me
that the future has a place for all of us now

it’s the little things

Subtle, as intended. I was worried it would be too subtle, but I think this works well. I don’t want it to jump in your face, but I want it to be there.

There’s a duplicate on the other side, in the opposite window. Now if the callsign frame (RAPTOR 312 LIGHT) would just get here…

what with thrilling adventure hour going away…

What with The Thrilling Adventure Hour going away to my great sadness – the Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars theme makes me happy every time I hear it – I want suggestions for anything like it as a replacement podcast. No, not Welcome to Night Vale, I’ve been on that since about six months after it started. Something else.

I mean, I’ve got Big Finish Audio Doctor Who, and I suppose I really could fill in with that, but… it’s just not the same.

Wow, I will miss Thrilling Adventure Hour. Goddamn I am so sad they’re wrapping things up. Ah, well, I can’t blame them, it has been ten years. But still.

Recommendations, anyone?

Oh yeah, and as a reminder, as part of the big NIWA sales event, Bone Walker’s digital download is on 40% Bandcamp discount – enter “NIWA” as your discount code at checkout. It won’t be this cheap again unless somebody pays me, so now’s the time. :D

woah hold on a second there: pluto would have tides?

From an article in Scientific American on Pluto’s moons:

Pluto’s biggest moon, Charon, weighs in at a hefty 11% of the mass of Pluto itself. It may have formed during a cosmic collision early in the Solar System’s history, billions of years ago. Debris from that smash may have coalesced into the much smaller moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.

Pluto’s no longer officially a planet. Fine. Don’t care.

One of the questions about extra-terran biospheres (and regenerating atmospheres) is the importance of meaningful tidal stresses. Those pretty much require moons which are an appreciable percentage of the primary in mass. And as far as I know, we don’t know how likely that is.

But let’s look at the small planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars), and the previously-a-planet Pluto, and the would’ve-been-a-planet Eris, which is roughly the same size as Pluto. There are more probable dwarf planets, but they’re all substantially smaller than either – Makemake and Haumea have less than two-thirds the diameters of Eris and Pluto, which is a lot less mass, both all things equal and as measured so far. (About 70% less.)

Two of these six planet- and near-planets have moons big enough for meaningful tides: Earth and Pluto. And both of them have moons thought to have been formed by early collision in solar system formation.

A third is a pretty healthy percentage. Now, I don’t know how critical this is thought to be at this point, because I’m not real current in my solar-system-formation and xenobiology theory. But it used to be thought that tides helped prevent carbon dioxide buildup (see: Venus) and a quick check online seems to imply that’s still the case.

If all these ideas about atmospheric regeneration and the like haven’t been discredited, this is a pretty interesting result. From the data we have, large moons around small planets (and, yes, dwarf planets) are not unlikely things.

And that’s pretty neat.

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The Music

THE NEW ALBUM