Off-Topic Tuesday!

Feb. 28th, 2017 10:55 am
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[personal profile] icon_uk posting in [community profile] scans_daily
In the comments to these weekly posts (and only these posts), it's your chance to go as off topic as you like. Talk about non-comics stuff, thread derail, and just generally chat amongst yourselves.

And... we're through the freaking looking glass people...

Following last weeks decision by the White House to bar certain news organisations from Press briefings (Out: The Guardian, The New York Times, Politico, CNN, BuzzFeed, the BBC and truly bizarrely, The Daily Mail (The sort of Right-wing xenophobic rag you'd have thought would have been just up their alley) In - Breitbart News, the One America News Network, The Washington Times, CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC... Yes, THAT Fox News, the ones who, last week, made up out of whole cloth a "Swedish National Defence and Security Advisor" who... wasn't), we have to turn to that universally regarded voice of sweet reason and logic, George W Bush, who has come out in defence of an independent media
"We need an independent media to hold people like me to account."

In a similar topsy-turvy move former UK PM's Tony Blair and John Major have clarified their issues with the UK's approach to Brexit. Blair wants a second vote before the leaving is final, and Major wants to see less rhetoric and just a little more charm to Theresa May's bulldozer in a china shop approach.

Oh and one final piece from Trumpland, apparently the US military problem is that "we don’t win wars any more" as he is set to boost military spending by $54 billion.  (No you wretched tangerine fartbag, your primary aim should be to avoid, wherever possible, having wars in the first place!)

On a lighter note, confusion at the Oscar's has had a humungous amount of media coverage probably because it was something very public, very embarrassing, ultimately harmless and had nothing to do with the White House.

I have to give credit where it's due that there was no sulking or pouting, and Jordan Horowitz handed off the Oscar he’d just been told was his to Barry Jenkins personally and proudly, which can’t have been an easy thing to do, but was absolutely the RIGHT thing to do.

And, of course, the fact that Moonlight won is something to celebrate in it's own right, as it's the story of a black, queer man and his life (though that's selling it rather short as a description).

And Doctor Who got a new trailer for Season 10. In true new companion style, we see an assessment of the Doctor from the POV of Bill, and hints at, amongst other things aour first female Ice Warrior (or Lady Ice Lord... or Ice Lady... or something)

Interesting Links for 28-02-2017

Feb. 28th, 2017 12:00 pm

Bill Paxton (1955 - 2017)

Feb. 28th, 2017 06:14 am
wednes: (Sad)
[personal profile] wednes
It's been a few days, so I think I'm finally ready to say something about the death of my favorite living actor, Bill Paxton. I'd always been a fan of his from stuff like Weird Science and Aliens which we saw over and over again when it came out--I was a junior in high school. Plus I remembered him from The Lords of Discipline. I thought he was so versatile and funny and amazing. He was credited as "Wild" Bill Paxton, which I thought was super awesome.
 photo severen.0_zpsis64vwdm.jpg

I didn't realize he was the guy from the Fish Heads video until much later. But I had always loved that vid. He directed it too, which seems insane until you remember that he started his Hollywood career in the art department on Roger Corman movies. I know, right?


I won't do a whole thing about his career, because most of you know all about it. You know about the amazing sci-fi horror trifecta. You know at least a dozen of his movies and at least that many of his famous lines. Maybe you didn't know that he played a Nazi in a Pat Benetar video (that also features Judge Reinhold as a good guy).

Shadows Of The Night - Pat Benatar by KamdenMason

I have to mention Frailty though, because finding out Bill could make a horror movie that blew my mind--I'm sure you can imagine how that made me feel. It was like his artistic spirit came into my TV (I couldn't afford to see it in the theatre) and hugged me. My favorite thing in any horror movie is when I honestly don't see it coming...
 photo frailty-angel_zps88jzt9di.jpg

...(and it makes sense), and with Frailty, I didn't. So bold, brave, intense for a first time feature director. Paxton said that he always wanted to direct a classic. As a horror fan, I have to say that he did.
 photo frailty-bill-paxton-felton-adam-father_zpsnyjpjxgt.jpg

When I woke up Sunday morning and checked my communique, I got seven texts and two Emails letting me know that Bill Paxton had died. Still, I spent a few seconds frantically wondering who could have organized such an unfunny prank on me. He has a new show--it JUST STARTED. He looked totally healthy in it. Bill Paxton smoked cigs for a long time, and he probably drank some. But he wasn't some kind of self-abuser. I couldn't believe it. I burst into tears so hard that I scared H, who thought a friend or a family member must have died. I couldn't even speak. I just handed him my iPod touch and he looked at it, then at me, and said "Oh no...honey, I'm sorry."
 photo landscape-1488124152-bill-paxton-comic-con_zpslmsnbisg.jpg

People called him an "everyman," which I suppose is true to a point. No matter what kind of character he played, you kind of felt like you could see a little of yourself in him. He helped us identify with his characters, even if they were totally shitty. I mean, what kind of idiot takes on a Predator with a handgun, I ask you? Paxton wasn't just a horror guy, but he obviously was a fan. He wasn't just a smartass, or a jokester, or a family movie guy--he was all of that and more. He was tons of things most of us will never know about. And everybody loved him. Everybody who knew him.

Bill Paxton took shit seriously--the art, the work in general, his family, his fans. He was a good sport and an awesome person. Generous with fellow actors and good to his crew. Nobody spoke ill of him. Even when he found out his ancestors owned slaves, he handled it with grace and without bullshit. I adored him. I really did. Like, it's probably a good thing I didn't rescue him if he crashed his plymouth in a snowstorm. Because I was his Number One Fan. I also should have been one of his wives on Big Love, because seriously.
 photo s2.reutersmedia_zpsvzfuqokl.jpg

Because I have a rich inner fantasy life, I always imagined that someday I'd meet Bill Paxton. I'd tell him how much I liked Frailty, and he would be impressed with my passion for, and knowledge of film. I imagine most of us want to think our heroes would like us, and this was especially true in this case. Plus, he was so damn handsome.

Goodbye, Sir. I'm sorry I'll never meet you.
I thank you for a lifetime of work that will stay with us forever.
[syndicated profile] charlie_stross_diary_feed

I suspect the UK might lose its nuclear deterrent (and with it, its permanent seat on the UN Security Council) before 2020, thanks to Donald Trump. Here's why.

Background: The UK was the third country to test a nuclear weapon, in October 1952; it's one of the five recognized nuclear armed states under the non-proliferation treaty, and since the 1958 UK-USA Mutual Defense Agreement it has cooperated closely with the USA.

The stated goal of the British strategic nuclear deterrent since the mid-1950s has been to deter a Soviet nuclear strike on the UK (and, rather more murkily since 1991, a Russian attack). As such, the stated mission was to be able to wipe Moscow and surroundings off the map in the event that the UK was attacked and the USA declined to get involved in a strategic nuclear pissing match on behalf of its ally. (Whether or not this scenario makes any sense whatsoever is a moot point. Less controversially, the acknowledged strategic nuclear force is pointed to as an argument for the UK's continuing permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.) During the 1950s-1980s the Royal Air Force maintained a strategic bomber capability in the shape of the V-Force, while from the mid-1960s onwards the Royal Navy operated Polaris SSBNs, but air-delivered nuclear weapons were phased out from the early 1980s onwards, along with all tactical nuclear weapons.

Since the 1990s, the British nuclear deterrent capability has relied exclusively on the Trident program. The UK built and operates four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (equivalent to but slightly smaller than the corresponding US Ohio Class SSBN), carrying UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missiles leased from a common pool with those of the US Navy, but with warheads built in the UK. As SLBMs can't easily be serviced inside the cramped launch tubes on board a submarine (unlike land-based ICBMs, which have rather more spacious accommodation), they are returned to the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic for regular maintenance and replacement; it is believed warheads are removed and reinstalled at HMNB Clyde on Faslane, 25 miles from Glasgow.

As the Vanguard-class submarines entered service in the early 1990s, they've been operating for 20 years already. The Atlantic ocean is a harsh environment, and nuclear submarines aren't immortal; the British government therefore committed in 2016 to procuring four new Dreadnought-class SSBNs, which are intended to carry updated Trident D-5 missiles and to enter service from 2028.

Here are two possible reasons why this won't happen.

Working hypothesis #1: Donald Trump is an agent of influence of Moscow. Less alarmingly: Putin's people have got blackmail material on the current President and this explains his willingness to pursue policies favourable to the Kremlin. Russian foreign policy is no longer ideologically dominated by communism, but focusses on narrow Russian interests as a regional hegemonic power and primary oil and gas exporter.

Clearly, it is not in Russia's geopolitical interest to allow a small, belligerent neighbor to point strategic nuclear missiles at Moscow. But this neighbor's nuclear capability has a single point of failure in the shape of the resupply arrangements under the 1958 UK-USA Agreement. Donald Trump has made no bones about his willingness to renegotiate existing treaties in the USA's favor, and has indicated that he wants to modernise and expand the US strategic nuclear capability. Existing nuclear weapons modernization programs make the first goal pointless (thanks, Obama!) but he might plausibly try to withdraw British access to Trident D-5 in order to justify commissioning four new US Navy SSBNs to carry the same missiles and warheads.

(Yes, this would break the "special relationship" between the USA and the UK for good—but remember, this is Donald Trump we're talking about: the original diplomatic bull in a china shop who decapitated the state department in his first month in office.)

Trump could present this as delivering on his promise to expand the US nuclear capability, while handing his buddy a gift-wrapped geopolitical easter egg.

Working hypothesis #2: Let us suppose that Donald Trump isn't a Russian agent of influence. He might still withdraw, or threaten, British access to Trident as a negotiation lever in search of a better trade deal with the UK, when Theresa May or her successor comes cap-in-hand to Washington DC in the wake of Brexit. It's a clear negative sum game for the British negotiating side—you can have a nuclear deterrent, or a slightly less unpalatable trade deal, but not both.

In this scenario, Trump wouldn't be following any geopolitical agenda; he'd just be using the British Trident renewal program as a handy stick to beat an opponent with, because Trump doesn't understand allies: he only understands supporters and enemies.

As for how fast the British Trident force might go away ...

Missiles don't have an indefinite shelf-life: they need regular servicing and maintenance. By abrogating the 1958 agreement, or banning Royal Navy warships from retrieving or delivering UGM-133s from the common stockpile at King's Bay, POTUS could rely on the currently-loaded missiles becoming unreliable or unsafe to launch within a relatively short period of time—enough for trade negotiations, perhaps, but too short to design and procure even a temporary replacement. It's unlikely that French M51 missiles) could be carried aboard Dreadnought-class SSBNs without major design changes to the submarines, even if they were a politically viable replacement (which, in the wake of Brexit, they might well not be).

Thoughts?

QotD

Feb. 28th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him." -- Pope Francis

[Yesterday was the start of Great Lent in the Orthodox churches, and tomorrow starts Lent in Western churches. To all my family and friends who are celebrating Lent either way, may you have a moving and spiritually productive Lenten season as the calendar marches toward Easter!]

Just One Thing (28 February 2017)

Feb. 28th, 2017 10:11 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!

Fandom5K author letter

Feb. 28th, 2017 10:05 am
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[personal profile] shopfront
Placeholder/under construction

Letter )

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2017 10:02 am
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
Happy birthday [personal profile] miapatrick

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2017 09:16 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] ceb, [personal profile] gominokouhai, [personal profile] miapatrick and [personal profile] shark_hat!
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Sure I know not how to advize Mrs D- K-. For 'tis entirely true that Lady T- holds her in great dislike, that indeed she did much to deserve; tho’ one may suppose that a deal of her bad behaviour was due to her dreadfull husband. I wish that I had brought myself to interrogate Mrs O’C- concerning the nature of Lord K-'s special pleasures: tho’ sure she is ever discreet and follows a line of conduct like unto that laid out for physicians in the Hippocratick oath. 'Tis indeed an entire necessity in her trade.

But I daresay I shall have no occasion to convoke with her before Society is return’d to Town, does she go frolick along the sands at Margate with her son.

Was I in Mrs D- K-'s position, sure 'twould be a very great temptation to accept Lord K-‘s offer afore any goes endeavour argue him out of it, for as matters are, will be an exceeding modest portion comes to her from her late husband’s estate, that might sustain some kind of living in simple circumstances of great oeconomy. 'Tis not merely that I would suppose such not to her liking, but that I greatly doubt she has ever acquir’d those habits that would enable her lead such a life without going into debt and further troubles. And after the ill conduct and downright brutality of her late husband, one that shows gentle and respectfull and manifests that chivalry that we are told the knights of old were wont to practice, must sure be very appealing.

I sigh as I walk up and down in the garden, and wonder that I go puzzle so greatly over her dilemma when I am greatly like to suppose that I have troubles of my own over pokings and pryings into matters in Mr G-'s parish. I daresay may be some business of entire indifference to my own concerns, for perchance he was engag’d in some nefarious activity unsuit’d to his cloth that is only now being brought to light, and 'tis some ecclesiastickal matter. But I think of what would I do, was I in Mr R- O-'s situation, and sure, I daresay I would go see whether the present Marquess of B- knew aught concerning the Dowager Marchioness – for 'tis entire possible that Mr R- O- and his fellows have some knowledge of where my own dear husband’s sympathies lay - and indeed I might well go suppose that tho’ 'tis madness, yet there’s method in’t in his babblings and ravings over the sea-captain’s wife, and go delve further.

I do not like to feel that I bear any likeness to such a fellow, and yet…

But sure, there is not much I may do without he makes some approach to me. As I shall not be entire surpriz’d I may meditate upon courses of action, but I would wish to know what cards he supposes he holds in his hand, and how he intends play 'em.

But, indeed, I fear he goes discover my precious Flora’s birth. And does he go threaten her, tho’ he supposes me soft, mild, pitiful, and flexible according to the purport'd wont of my sex, he will find that I am sure a tiger’s heart wrappt in a woman’s hide.

I have walkt the entire length of the garden to that point at which one may overlook the town, go look down upon it, and compose myself. 'Twill do no good to go fret upon this matter, and I must set it aside for the present.

I walk back down the garden and discover Josh, that has brought the badger out for a romp. I remark upon what an excellent fine badger 'tis, and how much has grown. Josh scratches it upon the poll, a thing it likes exceedingly, and says that he is in some concern that he should let it go and live as badgers are wont, digging tunnels &C, that he is not permitt’d to let it do here or at R- House. But then he worries that may be took up by those that intend badger-baiting, that would be most exceeding sad.

Indeed 'twould, says I. And sure the badger seems extreme attacht to you.

To turn the subject I say that Belinda was asking after him and convey the regard that she and Captain P- have for him, indeed they should have been delight’d might he go visit 'em.

Josh looks thoughtfull and says, sure 'twould have been entire prime but he should not have lik’d to miss Harry’s visit, for 'tis a deal of a while that he has been away.

Indeed, says I, has gone out into the world make his fortune.

Josh sighs, and then says, has been give a deal of holiday tasks by Mr McN-, so that he will not forget all his classickal learning over the summer. And he practises his drawing, and still has lessons with Miss N-.

'Tis an excellent thing, says I, for did you go be entire idle I daresay you would be getting into mischief.

At this moment comes Harry upon us, and says to Josh has just been looking for him, what does he say to going a tramp in the countryside?

O, prime! cries Josh, I will just go see the badger safe bestow’d.

After he has gone Harry says, 'tis a fine thing to see how in health he is, when I mind on how pale and weakly he was last summer. 'Twas very good of your friends to take him in; will still ever be telling me tales of Aunty Belinda and Captain P- and their fine horses.

Indeed they became exceeding fond of him.

And she cannot get free of her scoundrel mad husband? 'Tis a shocking world if so.

Indeed 'tis so, says I.

He shakes his head. Josh comes running back, says he is entire ready to depart, and they set off. 'Tis very pretty to see Harry’s elder-brotherly affection and care.

I wander back towards the house, where I can hear that Meg is about her piano-practice. I observe Miss N- sitting on a bench beneath a spreading tree, reading. I go sit down next to her, and observe that she reads The Vengefull Spirit, and other poems by A. M..

I say that I would not interrupt her reading of such a fine work –

O, she says, 'tis by no means the first time that I read these poems, but there are lines I should like commit to memory.

They are indeed excellent fine, says I, but I take a consideration that you would greatly like to hear the very fine things that Mrs T- writ of your sister in the letter I lately receiv’d from New South Wales –

Oh, she cries, clasping her hands, I should like it of all things.

So I take out the letter, and read Abby’s praise of dear Ellie that is such a fine assistant in their endeavours, and her very excellent thought of offering to indite letters for those that were unable write themselves, that is most greatly appreciat’d, for there are those that mayhap may contrive to sign their names rather than make their mark, but are daunt’d by the thought of writing a letter. And her pupils come on very well, also she begins little C- and Tommie upon the rudiments of learning.

Miss N- sighs very happyly and says, sure Ellie makes little of it in her own letters, will write a deal more about the place, and what excellent people the T-s are, but not so much about herself.

I then go mention the very good work Mrs R- goes about with her dame-school at my mine, and how very prepossesst she was to hear of the little rhymes &C Miss N- made up to begin infant minds upon matters of letters and numbers –

Miss N- blushes exceedingly and says, would they be of any utility to Mrs R- she would be entirely glad to convey 'em to her, what a very fine enterprize 'tis she is about.

She then gives a little sigh and says, must be greatly agreeable to her to think that she does not sit and eat the bread of idleness while her husband is about the dispensary. For indeed, is’t but a small household they maintain, housekeeping cannot take up all of her time. And sure has she been us’d to teach -

She swallows and looks down at her hands and says, Lady B-, indeed I long to marry Mr L-, that thinks that matters come round with the paper that we might go wed very soon, 'tis indeed gratifying, and I cannot like it that he must live in lodgings until we do –

- but, she goes on, I shall be exceeding sad to give up this place, O, I shall greatly miss 'em all –

Why, says I, I do not suppose you will go be strangers, I confide the F-s will ever stand your friends –

- indeed, says she, I cannot think otherwise. Of course the girls will soon be out of the schoolroom and gone into Society - but then I think of Josh, and Quintus, and in particular dear Flora, all such fine clever young creatures, that are a delight to instruct – and Seraphine’s dear children that are nigh on ready to begin their education – o, 'tis entire foolish of me, but I worry that there will be some other governess comes that will not love 'em as I do, and will force 'em on, or hold 'em back, or give 'em a distaste for learning –

Why, says I, I daresay one may trust the F-s to chuse one that might fitly walk in your footsteps.

Oh indeed, but – 'tis almost a jealousy I feel, is’t not strange?

Sure, says I, they are very appealing young people, and must be entire delightfull to one that instructs them that they are so forward and apt at learning –

Indeed, when I think of what Ellie had to put up with with the D-s’ brats! And such agreeable civil well-conduct’d children –

There is a sound from the house of doors banging and rais’d girlish voices as Bess and Meg go brangle -

O, says Miss N- with a smile, ‘twas entire the like with Ellie and me at their years.

naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
Prompted by discussion with [personal profile] el_staplador, I finally decided to post this ficlet.

Now I can say that I've referenced St. John Chrysostom in the notes of a fanfic. Life goals you didn't know you had.

crowned in glory (700 words) by Naraht
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov
Additional Tags: Wedding Planning, Cultural Differences, Russian Orthodoxy
Summary: Victor and Yuuri are planning a wedding. In fact, to accomodate all their cultural traditions, they're planning three. For the Russian one, Victor is thinking a cathedral and golden crowns. Never mind that he's not religious.

Beta Post 2017

Feb. 28th, 2017 08:59 pm
morbane: pohutukawa blossom and leaves (Default)
[personal profile] morbane posting in [community profile] once_upon_fic
Betas are not mandatory for this exchange. However, your OUaF mods feel that getting or offering a second opinion on a story is a) a great way to improve your work and also b) a neat way to engage with other people taking part in this gift exchange. Consider a beta today! (Well, consider being a beta today; we realise most people won't have written their story(/ies) for a while yet.)

If you can volunteer to look at someone's story, please fill out the following details in a comment to this post:



Your AO3 name is particularly important if you are signed up to this challenge! And if you aren't, thanks extra for helping out. Hope you enjoy your advance viewing of the stories!

Some other things that might be worth mentioning: what formats, like google docs or .rtf, you can read/annotate; how long you need for what lengths of story; any specific periods of time during which you are or aren't available.

See the sources spreadsheet for what the canons are, and the sign-up summary for which canons were requested.

Proxima Centauri, Our Nearest Star

Feb. 28th, 2017 03:01 am
[syndicated profile] epod_feed

Alfa-beta-cent (2)

Photographer: Alessandro Cipolat Bares

Summary Authors: Alessandro Cipolat Bares; Jim Foster

The star outlined in the box shows Proxima Centauri, in the constellation of Carina, as observed from Tivoli Farm, Namibia. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to Earth. Even though it's very close in relative terms, this red dwarf's faint light still takes over 4 years to reach us (4.22 light years away). It's far too dim to be seen with the unaided eye or even a small telescope. Proxima Centauri is thought to be part of the Alpha Centauri star system, though it's unclear whether or not these stars are gravitationally bound to each other. Alpha Centauri (also known as Rigil Kentaurus), lies 4.37 light-years from the Sun and is the third brightest star in the night sky -- seen at top. The bluish star at bottom right is Hadar Centauri. Photo taken on July 29, 2011.

ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Thanks to a donation from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, the poem "Everything That You Are Chasing" is now complete.  Calliope and Vagary talk about the pursuit-withdrawal cycle.

fawm status: 14/14!

Feb. 28th, 2017 01:06 am
wohali: photograph of Joan (Default)
[personal profile] wohali
Song #13 is a chiptune, The Big N: http://fawm.org/songs/75830/

And Song #14 is a filk blues thing that I didn't bother recording, about CouchDB, the CouchApp Blues: http://fawm.org/songs/75905/

This means I have all of tomorrow to finish remixing the 13 songs I recorded for the album down for RPM Challenge 2017 and upload to Bandcamp for my first album release in 26 years.

The most exciting thing is that my drummer friend managed to record drums for the jazz piano number (Epilogue Of A Kiss) and I'm hoping that it'll sound great with that, too.

Hours away now...

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