it may be silly but i can still be pleased with it

Anna has been rebuilding the website of a science-fiction club we were in when we met, back when I was out east for school. The club is still around, meeting monthly, doing things, but their website – which we’ve been hosting – was still pretty firmly stuck in 2001 – at best – so Anna has been throwing everything into a more modern WordPress environment.

They’ve had this old logo – their club name (LexFA) in a state-of-Kentucky graphic – but countries and territories, being irregularly-shaped blobs, are not exactly a design element, and there wasn’t really a place for it in the new site. So I decided to play with it to see what could be done, grabbed some NASA starfield and nebula imagery, and came up with something kind of interesting. (The star with the points is both in the original NASA photo and locates the club.) But it’s still pretty useless as a standalone element, even with added text.

So I started poking around with it as a background element, and, with translucency, realised I could take advantage of LCD screen technology to do something kind of cool.

I can’t screencap the result, since the effect relies on the way LCDs physically work. But I can photograph it, even if the photography introduces moiré patterns which aren’t visible to the eye.

Here’s what a typical page looks like, looked at straight on, or from higher than the screen – the usual screen arrangement:


Normal view

And here’s what it looks like if you tilt the screen (or laptop) back, or just look at the screen from below. Again, that’s minus the moiré pattern seen here, which is purely a camera artefact and not visible to the eye.


The Kentucky has you, Neo

Once you know the graphic is there, you can see it at the normal angle too, but it doesn’t get in the way. And it fades to black as you go down from the header – the version I actually have online has more stars below the state outline, and fades to black, so I don’t have to tile anything.

I’m pretty sure the only time anyone will notice – if then – is if they put their laptop down on a table in front of them and then lean back in their chair or on a couch.

Anyway, it’s kind of a silly trick, and will be less and less effective as LCD technology continues to improve. But it’s fun for now. ^_^

i have a plan

If you’re going to be at Conflikt on Friday evening, and are coming to my Toastmuppet concert, and want to be involved in something fun – something that does not require getting up on stage – talk to me.

We want to try to make something happen and need a few people. I’m not saying more in public in advance.

ps: Legend of Korra fandom helps, but is not required.

a rather cyberpunky kerfluffle

Over on Medium, Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn writes about how the Bitcoin experiment has failed.

One of the issues I’ve had with Bitcoin is that there is a 50% threshold of calculations which essentially allow any individual or allied group to take control of the currency processing if they can throw enough hardware at it. At that point, they can do pretty much whatever they want – they have functional control over the currency.

Two groups immediately came to mind when I heard about it – the American NSA and the Chinese government – but there are several groups so capable. And, well – perhaps predictably – that threshold is now hit 100% of the time, according to the article.

And that’s only one of the several extremely serious problems all hitting at the same time.

It’s a good piece, and very much a cyberpunk set of problems, really, with lots of drama, personality clash, censorship – the right author could write a really good novel around this. If you’re interested even vaguely in cryptographic currencies, give it a read.

Save KPLU Tacoma/Seattle

I’m going to take a minute to step entirely out of character and write about something local – the effort to save KPLU, a highly popular non-profit radio station.

.

KPLU has been owned by Pacific Lutheran University since its founding. It’s a jazz and news station, with very good local coverage – something sadly lacking in mass media. However, the university decided to sell it; they see radio as a declining-value asset, and the school needs the cash. But they negotiated this deal in secret; the first hint that they had any interest in selling was an announcement that they’d reached a deal with KUOW and the University of Washington.

Now, once upon a time, KUOW – UW’s NPR outlet – was a decent station. Not the best, but not the worst, and I was a regular donor. That time is long past. They have virtually no local programming or news anymore; I stopped listening to them because since they hired their new east-coast programming director and station manager, they sound like an NPR corporate station operating out of Washington, DC, not a UW station operating out of Washington State. And, all too predictably, they immediately announced their intent to fold KPLU into their broadcast network as an all-jazz second station, eliminating KPLU’s very good independent local news and information bureau.

We are already suffering – as are most of the US-controlled territories – with a near-collapse in anything that can be seriously called journalism. In-depth coverage is all but absent, and local coverage in particular loses out. Media consolidation sucks.

For all of these reasons, a large local movement arose to demand that KPLU be given the chance to buy itself out, and go independent. You see, despite what PLU likes to say, KPLU is entirely self-supporting now. It just had a record fundraising drive during the secret sellout negotiations. Its listenership is quite large. Its citizen advisory board demanded to know why they’d been kept out of the process, once it was announced, and asserted immediately that the sale was deeply inappropriate.

So, following massive protest – well, massive, given the scale of non-profit radio – we’ve been given a shot. It was begrudgingly given; KUOW really wants to own KPLU’s transmitters. But it was given, so we have a chance.

We have six months; they need seven million dollars. I’ve already pledged. If you’re interested at all in supporting Puget Sound news coverage, I hope you will too.

Click here to help save KPLU.

ninety-nine percent

Now that mobile view is working again, I think we’re about 99% back to normal here at the Lair. Some of the old comment sections are weird – items like “likes” and “reblogs” have moved from being little summaries at the top of the comment section to showing up as actual comments, but only in old posts, not post-rebuild ones. But we’re at about 99% now.

We also discovered that the blogroll is entirely depreciated at this point unless you’ve had one since 2012 or so, which means that’s gone now. (Sorry!)

But on the plus side, nested comments have been a thing for awhile, apparently? And I didn’t even know because they weren’t showing up as such because of the same kinds of legacy reasons. WHELP THAT’S FIXED NOW, so here we are. That’s nice, so it’s not all bad.

In other news, we sure do have a lot of brute-force root login attempts coming from mainland China IP addresses now. That’s neat. Also, some script kiddie toy is making amusingly wrong guesses about the structure of crimeandtheforcesofevil.com, and looking to apply exploits that simply can’t exist because welcome to l33t hax0ring 102, blogroot isn’t always system root.

Now we just have a zillion other websites to get back online…

Anyway, if you see anything too weird, let me know. Thanks.

partially back up

We had to bring the webservers down due to a rather disconcerting situation wherein we still aren’t actually sure what happened, but it very much was a burn-it-down-and-start-over situation.

Most things here on the band blog are working, but site-wide, we’re a bit of a mess. We’re doing what we can as we can do it. Performance is impacted at the moment and will continue to be.

And yes, we’re all too aware that the Thin White Duke has left us. Here’s something from his brand new album, Blackstar, released just three days ago, on his 69th birthday.

hello again, 2006

A long time ago, a group of Star Trek fans decided to do a fan version of a Star Trek show, including actual episodes. They weren’t the first with this idea, but they were the first that I know of to do it as a period spin-off. It’s all original characters, different (and in one case original) aliens, it’s a different ship (USS Exeter, NCC-1706, yes, that Exeter, the reclaimed plague ship)…

And so they learned the tropes of 1960s television and made a pilot episode (“The Savage Empire”) to get into practice, and then started rolling on the main story idea, The Tressaurian Intersection. They built a complete bridge set, they rented a studio, they shot it, and parts started coming out, separated by many months at a time, then a year or more…

…until the final act, which never appeared, until it became long enough that I imagined they’d lost interest and given up.

Which is why stumbling across the complete episode a couple of days ago during a YouTube crawl was just such HOLY HELL THEY FINISHED IT shock moment. I think it had been six or seven years since the previous update. Here y’go:

If you don’t watch anything else, watch the teaser, because it closes on what absolutely would’ve been an iconic shot in the original series – and may’ve been a defining shot had this been an actual, period spin-off. I haven’t seen any shot in any of the other fan versions I’ve watched which managed such a thing, but this one did.

And besides, the editing on this thing is tight. I admire anybody’s crazy fanac trying to do any of these monsters, but a lot of the episodes I’ve seen will drag in places and wander a bit, because hey, you can, right? There’s no need to land on exactly 52 or 48 or 46 minutes or whatever.

But this production crew doesn’t waste any time. It’s not all that it’s high action at every moment, because it’s not. They’re just strong in economy of storytelling – particularly for a fan effort.

So, yeah. Go you, crazy fans. I ♥ you.

the obligatory awards eligibility post

Never made one of these before, but there is a FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING, so:

Bone Walker was officially released on January 30, 2015, at Conflikt. We had a big release show there with most of the album performers – Alexander James Adams, Leannan Sidhe, Angela Korra’ti (filling in on flute, too), Sarah Kellington, plus bonus SJ Tucker on bass and and Jeri Lynn Cornish on cello and Paul Campbell on hammer dulcimer and Betsy Tinney on bodhran (YES BODHRAN) which means I had all of Tricky Pixie in my backup band.

Having read the rules carefully, I think it’s clear that as an official companion/soundtrack to a fantasy novel series, this album is eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Related Work. They may be thinking mostly about books, but we fit the requirements, just as much as the artbooks they describe.

Here’s our entry on a Hugo Nominees 2015 Wikia, which I’m pretty sure is not official, but is there nonetheless.

And, of course, any award that includes music and has January 30, 2015 in its date range would apply to this album – and to the individual tracks, as our Grammy Award adventures this year reminded me!

I admit to a little nervousness about bringing up Hugo Related Work eligibility, because of the traditional social rules against campaigning, and all the horribleness of last year. But there’s a problem I want to address here, to wit: the usual thought on music is that it shouldn’t be considered for any Hugo; it should instead be covered by the Pegasus filk awards given at OVFF.

Now, I think the Pegasus awards are great and I’d absolutely be honoured if considered. But the people I know in the filk community don’t see Bone Walker as filk, and I think they’re right. It’s not. “Thirteen,” which will be released on January 31st of this year – that’s absolutely me doing filk. (Metal filk is still filk!) “The Diesel-Driven Eight Dimensional Jet Car Blues” (Rock filk is still filk!) and “The S-100 Bus“? Filk is filk is filk.

Bone Walker, though… not filk. But pretty clearly an F&SF Related Work.

So there you are. If you’re the award-nominating sort, and feel like throwing something our way, this is it for 2015. And thanks.

hoarfrost

Today’s an errands day. I’ll be out an assortment of hours, so have a frost picture from last week’s shrine visit.


Detail

since gaming the hugo awards failed, let's try goodreads

The Puppies made another attempt to game a system last week, but it fell apart rather hilariously.

The first notice it got was a lot of very negative commentary all at once on a negative review of one of the oberpuppyführer Vox Day’s collections; Lis Carey left a note about it in File 770‘s comments section. And File 770 also found a post about it on Vox’s blog. (Linked via DoNotLink).

Well, it gets dumber from there. Sean O’Hara started poking around, and found that there was a Secret Puppy Goodreads Group*, formed with the explicit intention of gaming the site by bombing “SJW” reviewers and authors with negative reviews and ratings, and uprating all Puppy-affiliated works. The problem is, while it was a limited-access group – well, I’ll hand it to Sean:

Too bad for him the only thing keeping out the SJWs was a challenge question that could be answered with a simple Google search. By Saturday night I had access to the group. I didn’t know what to do — undermine him from the inside, play Serpico and leak screenshots on a piecemeal basis, or save them up for a big reveal. The last one seemed the best way not to get caught until I had a good collection of dirt, and I was strongly leaning in that direction.

But after reading File770’s news roundup yesterday, which included a story about someone being ganged up on by Day and his goons, I decided it might be better to give warning where I could.

Here are a collection of screenshots from that group.

And apparently, while Goodreads is a bit of a mess sometimes, that was simply too much for them, and they banned the whole lot of them, with Vox himself being singled out for permanent lockout.

Vox has, of course, claimed victory. (Also a DoNotLink link.)

It’s kind of sad at this point, really. The problem is that the crazy neighbour is only so funny, because sooner or later, they might just bring in a bunch of friends from out of state and take over a wildlife refuge centre, and then it’s not so much fun anymore.

And since we’re talking Puppies, I might as well point at this takedown by Scott Lynch of John C. Wright’s accusations against Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Worldcon, supported by all witnesses who aren’t John C. Wright. I don’t think anyone outside the reactionary rightist circle has a lot of fucks go give about Mr. Wright – remember, this is the guy who came to my blog threatening to sue me for libel after I quoted him accurately and in context. That’s the kind of reality-disassociated sad muppet he is. But I saw his new post, “Stormbunnies and Crybullies”, responding (quite negatively) to George R. R. Martin’s recent call for winding down this fanwar, and one paragraph stood out:

But I am a forgiving man, jovial and magnanimous. I make the following peace offer: Go your way. Cease to interfere with me and my livelihood, do your work, cease to libel me and meddle with my affairs, withhold your tongue from venom and your works from wickedness, and we shall all get along famously.

Emphasis added.

Don’t write what I don’t like, and we’ll get on fine.

I’m the kind of person he doesn’t want to exist. I’m several kinds of people he doesn’t want to see being written about. (You might recall John as the person who so passionately hated Korra from The Legend of Korra, explicitly and specifically because she’s bi. He’s one of those hate-the-sin love-the-sinners whose idea of “love” is making people like me illegal.)

So if we all just stop writing about uppity women and those horrible queers and faggots – all of whom, as you’ll recall, should be beaten to death with ax-handles and tire irons – we’ll get along just fine.

The only ‘peace’ these guys can imagine is complete and utter submission to them. No wonder they have such a fascination with ISIL and the like; it’s a mirror. So do everything by their rules, on their terms, all the time, and always, always give them exactly what they want and do nothing else, and we’ll be just fine.

Stalin would be proud.

I was thinking about pasting in one of the stop liking what I don’t like memes as an ending for this post, but that doesn’t really work, because that’s just about childish frustration and confusion. This, by contrast, is childish frustration and confusion pupated into man-child quasi-fascism, and I don’t have a properly-fitting caption.

But I might have a good animated gif.


Even Kylo Ren is a more complex character than any of these people.


And I just don’t know where to go with that.

*: eta: The original post is missing. I don’t know why. This was the original link: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/9683209-you-all-owe-me and here is a still-valid Google cache as of 2016/01/05 21:45 Cascadian Standard Time.

 


This is part of a series of posts on the Sad/Rabid Puppy candidate slate-based capture of the Hugo Awards, and resulting fallout.

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The Music

THE NEW ALBUM