Sunday, August 20th, 2017 07:54 am
"Alone in a Crowded Room" by Jessie Blackwood
PAIRING: Sherlock Holmes/Greg Lestrade & Mary Morstan/John Watson
FANDOM: Sherlock
RATING: NC-17
SUMMARY: Greg Lestrade doesn't have a date for John's wedding, there's no 'plus one' where he's concerned. Weddings are sometimes lonely places for single people and Greg is no exception, only now he's divorced, he has to watch a happy couple tying the knot and try to be happy about it. He feels about as happy as Sherlock looks and when Greg sees Sherlock about to make a quick exit, true feelings come to the fore.

Has just been added to Sherlock Holmes Slash and is listed on the new stories page and the other pairings page.

Crossposted to Chance's Archive, Chance's Archive on Tumblr and Chance's Archive blog.
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 03:39 pm
Figs (oh nom nom nom!), yellow nectarines, red bell peppers, tiny sweet peppers, quart of kimchi, pork belly, pita, spanakopita, peach-and-ricotta pie, and 8.5 lbs of tomatoes.

I'm making ketchup! Locals and relatives might get one of the jars, depending on how many I actually wind up up with after the canning is finished.
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 03:29 pm

- just on reading the the cover of the Guardian Saturday Review, which promised its readers a letter from Karl Ove Knausgaard to his unborn baby.

And when Tonstant Weader had finished fwowing up, she wondered how much nappy-changing KOK (fnarr, fnaar: am 13 at the back of the class) signs up for, rather than providing Deep Existential Insights?

Will concede that I am somewhat cynical about the entire genre of 'Bloke becomes father and has EPIPHANY' - in particular we may note that KOK already has two children. Also KOK has admitted that 'he has achieved huge success by sacrificing his relationships with friends and members of his family'.

And in other bloke news, maybe it's just me, but why is Rosa Bonheur 'less well-known' than other French C19th horse painters whose names ring no bell with me, Vernet and Fromentin? If someone has a massive great canvas in the NY Metropolitan Museum... I think this is a deplorable case of the reviewer not having heard of her.

And also in Dept of Unexamined Assumptions, What Internet Searches Reveal: as I am sure I have heretofore remarked, what interests people in porn, what their sexual fantasies are, doesn't necessarily map to what they like to do. So not entirely sure that Big Data on the topic is quite as revelatory as claimed here.

Saturday, August 19th, 2017 09:12 am
In The Vor Game, Miles Vorkosigan has graduated from the the Imperial Military Academy and is taking - or trying to take - the first steps in his military career, steps which are seriously hampered by Miles's tendency to be the best strategic mind in the room and to know it. Instead of managing to fit in to life as a junior officer, Miles solves a mystery, joins a mutiny and ends up stopping an interstellar invasion fleet.

Having taken several tries to actually get into Bujold, I'm now very much enjoying working my way through the Vorkosigan saga; so far, they've all been enjoyable and entertaining and comforting without being fluffy. They may have many of the trappings of standard military SF, but they're really character-driven novels whose military setting is almost incidental. Bujold's characters are delightful and well-rounded, likeable but realistically flawed and sometimes exasperating; in this novel, Miles is continuing to grow and learn from his experience and his fairly frequent mistakes and misjudgements (despite an amazing talent for turning every situation to his advantage he is clearly very young, very inexperienced, and far from perfect), and I particularly loved Gregor, the young Emperor of Barrayar, resenting the weight of the crown he has worn since early childhood and trying to work out who he is and how to be his own person within the limitations of his role. The exploration of what makes a leader, and what it means to be Vor - a member of Barrayar's hereditary military/aristocratic class - is a big part of what makes these books not-fluff for me; they may be fun, but they're also interesting and thought-provoking.

I note that The Vor Game won the Best Novel Hugo*, which surprised me a little, as although I enjoyed it a lot the plotting isn't terribly tight and it doesn't have the "doing something new and interesting" feel I tend to expect from Hugo winners (even if "new and interesting" in 1990 was rather different from "new and interesting" now, it isn't doing anything very different from The Warrior's Apprentice). It's still great fun, though, and probably more enjoyable than many "new and interesting" but more serious books.

*"at the time when good writing and plot were more important than political leaning", says one Goodreaders reviewer, who has clearly failed to spot that the novel has a disabled protagonist, at least two prominent LGBT characters (to be fair, Aral's bisexuality is pretty much blink-and-you'll-miss-it, but Bel Thorne isn't) and more than one woman in typically male command roles.
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 12:32 am

Darkness Is Good is gone, though no one seems able to figure how that came to be: 1,040,000 Google results pronounce HE'S FIRED while 1,360,000 Google results suggest he resigned - twice (the first time effective Aug. 14th, but in the uproar over Charlottesville I guess he forgot to take himself out the door, though it sounds like once things calmed down Kelly reminded him to pack his bags).

Though my title invites him to switch sides and come swing from the branches with us, we're more likely to collectively win Powerball tomorrow night - without buying tickets - than for him to switch sides, so yeah, surely I jest. Anyhow, he claims he's not racist and Orangado likes to echo him on that for whatever reason (they'd poll better as avowed and even belligerent "racists" with their be-all, end-all base, don'tcha think?) but with the mouth on him he's got, he can go pound sand.

He who indirectly brought an entire right-wing, white nationalist so-called "news" agency into the Oval Office - along with the first program to ever essentially automate a president's tweets, speeches, news conferences and rally notes - surely won't be too sorely missed, and while I'll let bygones be bygones, I won't forget his every-weekend mayhem-wrecking of earlier this year, and neither will the liquor store where I get the vodka I started drinking because of it.

On "the first program to ever automate a president's tweets, speeches, news conferences and rally notes", thank Bannon for working with - and for Trump being funded by - billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. Cambridge Analytica does more damage to the Republican electorate - as low-information, conspiracy-embracing, false-danger-sensing and Faux Noize-prone as it is - than they could do to themselves.

And Bannon used it - this is my personal belief - to shape and script Trump's every public engagement, no matter how big or small. The general gist of his words was given to him daily by Bannon, after he distilled CA's results down into bullet points which he fed to Trump along with his well-done steaks and McDonald's.

That's my theory. But I have a strong hunch - beyond a hunch, I'd say I'm almost certain - that it's so, after Bannon's last words on that (and trust me, they were on that): "The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over". Does he say why? No. Does he drop hints? Sure. Try this (emphasis mine): "[...] that presidency is over. It'll be something else. And there'll be all kinds of fights, and there'll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over" and: ""There's about to be a jailbreak of these moderate guys on the Hill" — a stream of Republican dissent, which could become a flood."

When "asked what the turning point was" he blamed moderate Republicans, but the truth is without the messaging Cambridge Analytica gave him to advise Trump with, to keep the dude "on point" with his base, Trump will be like a little boy who can't find his way back home for the lost puppy he keeps chasing after in the woods.

To see why, you need only know how Cambridge Analytica works*: it uses deep data mining and polls social media for "likes" (the ubiquitous "thumbs-up"), then matches those data points against a "predictive personality model" to find its preferred targets. Right now it prefers right-leaning targets, but it could just as easily be programmed to prefer leftists or florists or Jehovah's Witnesses. As it finds new targets, it learns what each of them wants to see, watch, read and think about, then carefully spoons them more of the same, after tailoring it to their specific interests down to the most granular level. Think a bespoke Facebook or bespoke Twitter.

Which is how just one right-winger browsing Facebook might see video of a man arrested for flying a kite over, say, his state's (Democratic) governor's mansion last week that none of his Facebook friends will ever see because he in particular has shown a strong passion for kites, a strong dislike of Democrats, and happens to live in the same state where the criminal kite-flying occurred.

What CA does is reinforce each target's existing beliefs with more of the same until their thought processes are impossible to budge...almost like learning by rote. The end result is you take the base you want, shape it into the one you find the easiest to handle with the least amount of massaging, then use what you receive from the echo chamber you've created to target it even more repeatedly from within the Oval Office, on Twitter and Facebook, at rallies and pressers, or wherever. It's a brilliant, though insidiously awful, product.

And I'm making it sort of easy to grasp (I've read between 5-10 hours worth of articles over the last year in order to distill it down this much) but the sausage-making that goes into Cambridge Analytica is actually crazy-complicated, though suffice it to say, it works. It works almost too well. It's a form of AI which Mercer money - basically endless - has built into one of the best content and message-tailoring platforms on Earth.

Without it - assuming Bannon used it to influence Trump as much as I suspect he did, and that he pulled it for use in the Oval Office shortly before he was canned or resigned - Orangado will indeed soon be up the proverbial creek without his most precise, content-targeting paddle. But just as he said of Bannon: "We'll see what happens!"

*: Updated this paragraph shortly after posting to describe a bit better how Cambridge Analytica works.

Friday, August 18th, 2017 10:44 pm
It should be pretentious and snobbish to say: “Sure I eat hot dogs, I have homemade mustard and homemade lingonberry ketchup on it”. Then to take the DIY philosophy serious you have to make the hot dog yourself.

Context sounds delicious!
Friday, August 18th, 2017 07:57 pm
Afternoon all, or whatever time it is in your neck of the woods when you read this. We’re enjoying a typical August day, with blazing sun hard on the heels of a thunderstorm that produced hailstones the size of broad beans. As Flanders and Swann sang 50+ years ago, “August, cold and dank and wet, Brings more rain than any yet.”

News

Lots going on at the moment, the first of which is the release – just this Monday gone – of Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour, which is in both kindle and print form.
Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

I’m doing a blog tour, all stops of which are linked here as they appear. Comment at any stop (or all) to get your name into the hat to win an audio copy of Lessons in Love.

I’ve done an interview about the book for Mystery People, where Carol Westron asked me lots of excellent questions, like When a new character appears in their investigations, do you know from the beginning exactly what they are like and the role they are going to play, or do you discover it as you write? I had to get my thinking cap on.

There’s a great review of Broke Deep over at The good the bad and the unread.
All in all, a most delightful read, and a highly worthy addition to the world of Porthkennack.

And finally, my favourite picture from the Selsey Meet the Authors event last week. Me, with one of my writing heroes - Simon Brett - on the same table! Be still my racing heart…




Tags:
Friday, August 18th, 2017 11:31 am
Dear writer or artist! Thank you for offering to create a fanwork for one of my requests. As long as you generally stick with things I like and avoid things I dislike, I will love your story or artwork even if it doesn't take on any of my prompts, which are only suggestions. I am [archiveofourown.org profile] Isis on AO3.

Some general stuff about my tastes: )

Wiedźmin | The Witcher - All Media Types )

Alpennia Series - Heather Rose Jones )

Dragon Age - All Media Types )

Crossovers: Arya Stark (ASOIAF)/Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon (The Witcher), Éowyn (LoTR)/Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon (The Witcher), Irene (Invisible Library)/Tina Goldstein (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) )

Thank you so much, dear writer or artist! And if you have any questions, please do go through the mods - I promise to answer.
Friday, August 18th, 2017 09:23 am
04 - if you could make a spin-off of any anime, what would it be?

Not a clue. At the moment, I can more easily think of anime that I am intensely glad stopped where they did, because their manga originals wandered off to Places I Do Not Want.

(The anime in question: first, INU X BOKU SS - anime is remarkably fluffy romance, manga original is fluffy romance until it kills off most of the characters and has them reborn and then angst about how they will never regain the fluffy romance. :wince: Second, USAGI DROP, where the entire anime is soft gentle adoptive-family adorable, and the manga is the same until it time-skips and has the daughter-figure realize she is in love with her father-figure, but it's okay because they aren't biologically related! OH JOHN RINGO NO.)

In any case: will put a pin in this one as well, and see if I can come up with anything later.
Friday, August 18th, 2017 09:57 am

Was lately reading something about (male) travellers and those Amazingly Beautiful Women they saw somewhere a long way away after arduous journeying, which might be partly about Exoticising the Other, but also, I think, about there being some place (or time) which is not boring old Here, where things are amazing.

On the, Not Like The Women I Have To Deal With Here And Now In The Present, a friend of mine has a piece somewhere or other (actually I think it's in a volume in which I too am represented) about certain late C19th French (male) intellectuals complaining that women of their day were by no means comparable to the HOTT witty libertine ladies of the Ancien Regime in their salons.

And this led me to the thought that maybe if you are living in it no time is Perfect and Ideal: some may be better than others, for more people, maybe. Just as there were people who found, for them, good lives in times/places that are not usually thought of as utopian eras and most time-travellers would not put on their bucket lists.

Anything close-up and quotidien is, I depose, something the flaws in which you are going to apprehend fairly acutely. Though possibly the upside of that is, that they are the flaws and hindrances that one has developed work-arounds for (see Katharine Whitehorn on the little niggles about one's house that one hardly notices any more but has to warn visitors about).

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 11:15 pm
Eric Deggans on NPR (All Things Considered):

Netflix, ABC Portrayals Of Autism Still Fall Short, Critics Say

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/11/542668400/netflix-abc-portrayals-of-autism-still-fall-short-critics-say

You can read or listen to this piece, which is about "The Good Doctor" and "Atypical".
Thursday, August 17th, 2017 09:36 pm
1. It is possible to grow sunflowers in pots, provided the pots are big enough. A 16" diameter pot works.
2. You will have to brace the pot so that it doesn't fall over in a strong wind.
3. If the sunflower starts leaning to one side, add a counterweight to the other side of the pot to balance the weight. A large rock works nicely.
4. Bees love sunflowers.
5. It takes forEVER for sunflower flower buds to reach full bloom.


I'm pretty sure that at least two different species of bees have been hanging around the sunflowers: big fuzzy ones, and smaller non-fuzzy ones. Bumblebees and carpenter bees, perhaps. They're all welcome.