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megpie71

February 2017

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Monday, February 27th, 2017 08:09 am
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] inquisitorhotpants is raising money to keep a roof over her family's head while dealing with Portland's unforgiving rental housing market. You can read more and reblog at her tumblr, support the fundraiser at her YouCaring, or help out by subscribing to her Patreon.

[tumblr.com profile] casapazzo linked to a fundraiser for The Lit Bar, an indie bookstore and wine bar that hopes to fill a gap -- that there are no bookstores operating in the Bronx. Noelle Santos has been working on this for two years and is hoping to open the bookstore this year; you can read more and help out here.


Buy Stuff, Help Out:

[tumblr.com profile] alyyks is moving from Columbus, OH back to France, but because oil paints are a fire hazard to ship, she is selling her paints to fellow artists for a modest price. You have to be in Columbus or willing to drive there to pick them up, but you can read more and get in touch about them here.

[tumblr.com profile] marginaliana linked to the Angry Introverts shirt, for those who are introverted but still angry about what's going on in the US; this is the last week to buy the shirt, with proceeds going to the ACLU.


Activism:

Elaine linked to She's Running, a new podcast about women running for local, state, and federal office. The podcast interviews women about their inspirations, support systems, and challenges. You can listen to the first episode here or on iTunes -- and remember to rate and review if you do!


And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
Monday, February 27th, 2017 01:19 pm
I opened a form letter from my children's school this morning, informing me that "Frederick"'s attendance is at 90%, significantly lower than the government target of 95%. It included this particularly threatening paragraph:

"You should be aware that regular attendance is a legal requirement and the Education Welfare Officer may become involved if there is no significant improvement in Frederick's attendance."

Now, I am absolutely a stroppy middle-class parent, whose response to bureaucratic threats like this is "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough". I am not at all concerned about seeing this off myself.  But that this is the system, that letters like this will be going out to parents without my resources and confidence, that the very first contact to parents on this issue contains implied threats of legal action and bureaucratic interference - that appalls me.

On closer inspection, it is not actually possible for me to "improve" my child's attendance in the remainder of the school year: they've calculated that 90% threshold assuming he has perfect attendance between now and July.  He cannot physically have any better attendance than he does now, the way they've calculated it.  So that threatening paragraph is also setting me up to fail.

My child has a 90% attendance record, because I keep my children at home when they are ill, and he has been a bit more ill than usual this past school year.  It's stupid to pressurise parents to send ill children to school.  It doesn't benefit the sick child and it puts the rest of the school community at risk. Any children with lowered immunity will be much more at risk, and will then presumably have even worse attendance records. Lowered immunity is correlated with disability, chronic conditions, and poverty, so this is an access issue as well.

I know this is a system problem: government policy enforced under threat of poor Ofsted results.  I can't fix the system.  But I can try to make my local part better.  So I've got letters to write:
  • specific response about my child's attendance record 
  • letter to headteacher and governors about the wider issues of access, and the way parents are contacted
  • ... and then see what those result in, I suppose
Sunday, February 26th, 2017 08:56 pm
I'm in a foul mood because I'm behind on job applications and paperwork, and generally just feeling like an incompetent. Also the main mouse button on my laptop wore out, and I have to remember to use the one at the top of the touchpad, just below the spacebar and alt key. It's incredibly vexing and trying.

I keep meaning to blog about church and the church ladies and stuff, but I just feel too gross and anxious tonight.
Sunday, February 26th, 2017 08:22 pm
In which country should one host a website, for maximal privacy and free-speech rights?

Obviously, there are different pros and cons – one country may have very free speech but the government reads everything, another country may have no government censorship but a civil law that makes it trivial for randos to intimidate your hosting company into dropping your site – so it would be interesting to hear in more detail what precise social/legal advantages different countries have for website owners. (I'm ignoring for the moment, "Great sociolegal environment, but the whole country's internet connection is a T1 with a kink in it.")

Is there some handy reference for concerned prospective site owners, shopping jurisdictions to plant their servers in?
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Sunday, February 26th, 2017 12:50 pm
LiveJournal has unblocked and whitelisted our webserver IP addresses, so importing, crossposting, and feed accounts should work properly again! Thanks for the quick fix, LJ.
Sunday, February 26th, 2017 03:50 pm
Reread.

Second of the Magic ex Libris series. Pretty much like the first, but with different things, words and stuff. But if you liked the first, you'll probably like the second. If you didn't like the first, you're unlikely to like the second. And if you swap "second" and "first", I think the previous two sentences are equally true.
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Sunday, February 26th, 2017 09:16 am
Tony and I were planning to see this last weekend, but every screening we could get to had sold out by mid-afternoon on Saturday!  So I was a bit more organised this week and got us tickets several days in advance to see the Saturday evening screening at the Arts.

I am so so glad we went to see it.  It's a really great film, with the excitement of SPACE and MATHS and ENGINEERING against the clock, clever use of contemporary footage, heartwarming scenes of family and friendship, dramatically climaxing with John Glenn's flight orbiting the earth and returning safely.  (I spent half the film thinking Chris Evans' looks had gone off a bit, but it turned out John Glenn was being played by a completely different handsome blond man.)  Also, because the film is focused on three black women working as computers for NASA during this period, there is a great deal of matter-of-fact depiction of racism and sexism.  I appreciated that it was so matter-of-fact, that the film is not about Overcoming Racism, it's about Getting Astronauts Into Space, and the racism and the ways in which it made Getting Astronauts Into Space harder is just part of the story.

I also cried a lot, because it is an amazing film, and I have come out with a burning wish to learn more about Dorothy Vaughan, who is shown teaching herself FORTRAN from a textbook, and spoilers )


I'm hoping to take Charles to see it, if I can make the time to do so before it leaves cinemas.



Saturday, February 25th, 2017 09:42 pm

Cloudflare


We've had people ask us about the Cloudflare leak reported a few days ago. We are Cloudflare customers, and it is possible that login cookies or passwords may have been exposed as part of the incident. We believe the risk to you is relatively low -- it was a small percentage of Cloudflare's requests that were involved over a relatively short period of time, and we haven't found any evidence that anything from us was among them. This is not an absolute guarantee that none of your accounts were affected, but we don't think the likelihood is very high.

Because we believe the risk to be low, we aren't automatically expiring everyone's session cookies and requiring you to log back in and change your password -- whenever we do that, it does lock some people who they can't remember their passwords and no longer have access to their confirmed email addresses out of their accounts, and we believe that will affect more people in this case.

Still, it's always a good idea to change your passwords regularly, and now would be a good time to do it, especially if you want peace of mind. We have a FAQ on how to change your password. If your browser logs you in automatically and you don't remember your password, you can reset it. If you've forgotten your password and no longer have access to your most recent confirmed email address, you can have the password reset email sent to any email address you've confirmed on your account by entering both your username and your old email address at the Lost Info page.

Unfortunately, if you've forgotten your password and no longer have access to any email address you've confirmed on your account, you probably won't be able to reset your password. In some cases, if you've previously paid for your account, we can validate your payment details to confirm your identity and reset your password. If you can't reset your password, but think you may have paid for your account in the past, you can open a support request in the Account Payments category and I'll check into it for you.


LiveJournal imports/crossposts/feeds


LiveJournal has temporarily blocked about 2/3rds of our webservers from contacting their site, presumably because they feel that we're requesting data from them too often. This affects the ability to import your journal, the ability to crosspost entries from your Dreamwidth account to your LiveJournal account, and whether syndicated feeds of accounts on LiveJournal will update on Dreamwidth. Those features will fail when they're unable to contact LJ because of the block.

It isn't every one of our webservers, so things will work intermittently -- if you crosspost two entries one right after the other, one might succeed while the other fails. Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do to resolve this other than contacting them and asking them to unblock us (which I'll be doing right after I hit 'post' on this entry).

EDIT 2249 EST 25 Feb: We appear to be down to zero unblocked webservers, so imports, crossposts, and feeds will all fail until LJ unblocks us.

EDIT 26 Feb noon EST: LJ unblocked and whitelisted us this morning, so all is working again!
Saturday, February 25th, 2017 12:19 pm
Okay, how to word this delicately... I've heard of antidepressants competely removing one's desire to *ahem* play with fireworks, but my Effexor buddy and I have discovered another, possibly worse variant: you still kinda wanna *cough* play with fireworks sometimes, but all the powder is gone.

...All right, screw it, we're all adults here and I'm still pissed about it. I had some alone time yesterday. Two hours and a full pack of AA batteries later, all I got was numb junk, a sore arm, and a slow back-burner rage that comes from two hours of "oh, come on, it's RIGHT THERE!!!" Lots of firecrackers were lit, but there was no bang. I bitched to my Effexor buddy (who's recently added Welbutrin to the family) and her first response was "Oh thank God it's not just me." So I decided to ask my friend who's a sexology major / psych major. She'd never heard of any research done on this problem. So I'd like to give her some data to work with.

Anybody else? 

Sudden edit: I see that there's the existence of a side effect tag called Anorgasmia. Is that this thing, is that its name? How common is it? ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!
Saturday, February 25th, 2017 01:39 am
The Cloudbleed security bug, that was much in the news today, afflicts a behind-the-scenes service (the Cloudflare CDN) that both Dreamwidth and Patreon use, which means there may have been a privacy breech.

At this point, all you can (and should) do is change your passwords on both, and on any other sites that use Cloudflare. Oh, and using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) where available may help mitigate the damage.

The bug was this: Cloudflare's customers (such as Patreon and Dreamwidth) entrust web pages and web page requests to Cloudflare for expedited delivery to/from end users. For a period of time, small random chunks of web pages and web page requests that had been entrusted to Cloudflare were being randomly included in completely other web pages that had been entrusted to Cloudflare. So there's a tiny but non-zero possibility that anything you entrust either Patreon or Dreamwidth with – private content, passwords – might have gotten accidentally cut-n-pasted (not really, but effectively) into some random other, potentially public, webpage out there on the internet.

Worse, because private stuff was being included in completely random public web pages, out there on the internet, apparently some of it got indexed and cached by search engines. Now, Cloudflare has worked with the big search engines to find and delete the caches of leaked stuff; they found 770 such pages that have been removed. They're still working on it.

No, there's not really anything you can do about this.

The earliest date this could have started happening was 2016-09-22; the bug was fixed by 2017-02-18.

Also, there's a whole bunch of other websites, on which if you have accounts, you should change your passwords there, too, most horribly 1password.com, a password-management service, though it is claimed they weren't affected, and authy.com, a 2-factor authentication service for websites. Other big names impacted with particularly nauseating security ramifications include 23andme.com, uber.com, okcupid.com, and a variety of financial sites. List available here, though be aware the full list is a 22mb text file with, as of this moment, 4,287,625 possibly afflicted domains (i.e. all the domains that have been detected to be using Cloudflare at all).
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Friday, February 24th, 2017 07:05 pm
Reread.

First book in Hines' Magic ex Libris series. All in all, not a shabby read. There were things I recalled correctly, some that I recalled wrong and some things I had out of order. Pretty much what I was expecting, going in.
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Friday, February 24th, 2017 06:58 pm
Reread.

What happens if you get blackmailed by a Black Court vampire? How powerful is polka music, really? And why would you want to have an unerring sense of rythm, if you're a necromancer? Well, the latter might be because you're looking to graduate to necrodancer, but that is a pun outside the scope of this book.

All in all, portents are laid, foundations upended and shit happens.
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Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 06:05 pm
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.


Read more... )
Friday, February 24th, 2017 01:38 am
I have read SO MUCH prose this time around! Honestly, I forgot how long it takes, it feels like I spent forever with the same books, even if GoodReads tells me it was only a couple of days with each. People who read prose exclusively: how do you do this all the time?! Are you all wizards?!

(ALSO I am bringing back "*" on the book list as a marker for "This book contains rape/discussion of rape," so please bear that in mind and look after yourselves, okay?)


  1. The Convergence of Fairy Tales by Octavia Cade [Jump] *

  2. Hunter's Way by Gerri Hill [Jump] *

  3. In The Name of the Father by Gerri Hill [Jump] *

  4. Partners by Gerri Hill [Jump]

  5. Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens [Jump]

  6. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson [Jump]

  7. Gangsta:Cursed Volume One by Kohske and Syuhei Kamo [Jump]

  8. Dogs Disco by Joe Decie [Jump]


Read more... )

Reading Goals


Reading goal: 16/150 (8 new this post) Prose: 7/50 (6 new this post)
New-to-me female authors: 4/75 (3 new this post: Octavia Cade, Gerri Hill, Noelle Stevenson)
#getouttamydamnhouse: 9/90 (4 gone this post)
#unofficialqueerasfuckbookclub: 4/16 (4 new this post; Hunter's Way, In The Name of the Father, Partners and Nimona)
Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 01:38 pm


So as some of you know, recently I got a movie option on one of my books. And, after rather a long wrangling, they paid me.

This was not a life-changing sum of money, sad to say (although if they actually made the movie, it would be!) but it was money that I hadn't already earmarked to go somewhere. I hadn't ever counted on getting it because Hollywood is fickle. It was kind of like getting a tax return, except that as a freelancer, I haven't seen a tax return since approximately 2004, so I'm not actually sure what that's like.

So they paid me and I paid off my credit card and gave some money to charity and paid the taxes on it and then I stared at what was left for awhile, and thought "I should do something with this. If I just sit on it, I'll eventually fritter it away on car repairs and vet bills and whatnot. I should do...something."

The problem here is that I have basically everything I want. I have cheap needs. Two hundred bucks for a ton of fieldstone will keep me occupied for weeks. I have video games I haven't beat and books I haven't read. The truck is in good shape. Now that Gir has passed this mortal coil, my monthly vet bills have plummeted. (The vet claims that now that his records are out of the system, their computer runs faster, too.)

I am a nervous soul when it comes to money. My financial advisor at the bank had to forbid me from putting all my money in my sock and shoving it under the bed. Stocks are Right Out. But oh god, what if there's hyper inflation and suddenly my money is worth nothing? THE SOCK CANNOT SAVE ME THEN. What can I do that won't just go away if there's a recession? 

And very, very belatedly, it occurred to me that I could maybe buy a piece of land. Not a house! I don't want a house! Houses mean renters and other people and foolishness. But I live in the country. And I live in a county where dirt is, frankly, dirt cheap. And people sell chunks of it sometimes. And then you have dirt with an address.

I thought "Can I do this? Am I allowed? Can I just buy a piece of land and it just...sits there? And maybe someday twenty years from now when I can't handle stairs and a big house anymore, I put a doublewide on it? Is that a thing real people do?"

I asked Kevin. He confirmed this was a thing that real people did and was not a completely batshit use of a windfall. He added that I could also potentially sell that land in twenty years and make a profit. I had to go lay down for a few minutes with a cold cloth over my eyes.

I selected a realtor by virtue of driving down the street and finding one with an open sign and went in. The pleasant older woman there, who looked more like a children's author than I ever will, listened to me blurt out my thoughts.

"Is this a thing people do?" I asked her at the end. "Is this nuts?"

"No," she said. "I mean, it's not nuts. Yes, people do this."

I stared at her, probably much like Ernie the hound when he is faced with something outside his experience.

"It's fine," she added. "Let's look at some listings."

And that is how we wound up tromping through the woods this morning, looking at a multi-acre lot so cheap that I assumed it would be on fire while I was looking at it. There is a house from 1900 that will require the services of a man with a bulldozer and perhaps a priest. The lot would need a well dug, and if I wanted to actually live there, it would need various other things done, but none of them are urgent. It could just...sit there.

"Why is it so cheap?" I said, baffled. "And why has it been on the market so long?" I was assuming that the house was probably made of asbestos held together with lead paint, with a meth lab in the basement, but up close, no self-respecting meth maker would have set up shop there. There was a toilet and a privet tree on the front deck. Nevertheless, even with having to save for house demolition and lead paint disposal, I could probably make it work without breaking the bank. The bank might even help.

The realtor explained that it was not the best neighborhood. I looked at the neighborhood somewhat blankly. There was an abandoned house on one side, a couple of ramshackle farmhouses on the others, and a pasture full of goats. Was it the goats?

The realtor said it was not the goats.

It occurred to me, after some delicate hinting, followed by indelicate hinting, followed by pointing, that perhaps my notion of what a low-income rural area looks like has been colored by living, in the past, in low-income rural areas. People paying top dollar for lots in my county are usually going into a subdivision. We're a bedroom community for the Research Triangle. These people don't go out to a goat pasture with a ruined trailer on its side and say "AHHH, COUNTRY LIFE!"

"But once the trees leaf out, you can't even see the goats," I said. "Or the trailer."

The realtor gazed briefly at the sky.

"And I could--Oooohh! A dog skull!"

"You see," said the realtor, as I flicked pine needles of my new skull, "the things you want are...unusual."

"I shall name you Skull-Bob," I said to the skull.

"Annnnnway," said the realtor, "I'll talk to the selling agent and see if I can find anything more out about it. But I think this might actually be a good fit for you, since you're looking long-term and not to move right away."

"And this isn't nuts? I'm not missing huge red flags?"

"No, for the price and the neighborhood and the fact somebody probably subdivided out a family plot, this is actually all pretty normal."

"...Do I get to keep the skull?"

"You get to keep the skull," she said.

"Woo!"

And now of course I am seized with doubt and wondering if this is all utterly mad and a horrible waste of unexpected money, but our area is on course to gentrify with the new development that went in and I have no illusions about saving the house or anything and...still, I'm thinking, am I allowed to do this? Do real people buy land? Real people who aren't, like, rich people?

Is this okay?
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 07:37 pm
What I've read: poetry
[personal profile] serene mentioned the poem-a-day email from Rattle and I signed up. I don't really feel I know or understand poetry very much, but these ones have stuck with me so far:
Shoveling Snow by Vicki L. Wilson
April Rain by Abigail Rose Cargo


What I've read: short fiction
I also recently subscribed to Daily Science Fiction which gets me a short story in my email on weekdays, so even if I'm not getting to anything else, I usually manage to read that.

Shop Talk by O. Hybridity
Grandma Heloise by KT Wagner
An Invasion in Seven Courses by Rene Sears

Two more novellas from the historical romance collection Gambled Away:
Raising the Stakes by Isabel Cooper: A 1930s con-artist accidentally summons elvish help when she wins a flute in a poker game; he helps her pull off a really big con.
Redeemed by Molly O'Keefe: A former army doctor and a former spy, brought together by a really nasty character and a high-stakes poker-game in the aftermath of the US Civil War.



Acquisitions: (so far entirely eyes-bigger-than-stomach-brain)
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor - sequel to Binti which I enjoyed very much
  • Stories of Your Life and Others - anthology by Ted Chiang, including Story of Your Life, which has been made into the film Arrival
  • The Good Immigrant - anthology of essays by twenty British Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers and artists, includes this one by Riz Ahmed (played Bodhi Rook, the defecting cargo pilot in Star Wars: Rogue One; also as Riz MC was one of the artists on Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) - my favourite track from the Hamilton Mixtape)
  • Journeys - anthology of short fantasy stories
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 03:45 pm
Do Lays A Flavor:

GUYS IT’S BACK. Lays is once again soliciting for flavor suggestions at http://ift.tt/1gQCrAV . I’ve already turned in my ode to the hot dog potato chip. Go ye and suggest a flavor! (Then reblog this or comment and share your flavor so we can cheer you on.)

from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2kMeery
via IFTTT