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[personal profile] moon_custafer

 “Bill,” from the musical Showboat, is kind of a gender-swapped “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun,” describing the beloved entirely in negatives; that works if you’re Shakespeare and the cliché you’re deconstructing is the Petrachan sonnet. I’m not sure what “Bill” is the opposite of – a beautiful man in a Leyendecker illustration, probably (there may be some kind of working-class pride intended in the list of sports he does not excel at being golf, tennis, polo, and rowing.)

 

The problem with this kind of thing is that you’re always left wondering just what the beloved *does* have going for them. Sex, maybe. That’s probably what Shakespeare was implying, and the lyrics to “Bill” date from the early twentieth century and would have to be even more covert. “It’s surely not his brain that makes me thrill.”

 

Given that within the context of the musical, the character is performing the song, but is really thinking about her husband who’s just run out on her because he can no longer deal with the fact she’s mixed-race, I can’t feel too optimistic about “Bill’s” negative virtues, but the song’s been stuck in my head for days and deconstructing the lyrics doesn’t help.

 

My brain, gentlefolk.

Climate comms...

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:02 am
[personal profile] swaldman
This week, a new paper was published in Nature Geoscience that shows that the planet has not been warming quite as fast as most climate models have predicted, so far. There's a deficit of 0.3 degrees C. I'm no climate scientist, so I don't feel qualified to judge whether this methodology is good; it's passed peer review, but it'll be worth waiting a week or three to see whether any other relevant scientists disagree with the findings. This article has a dissenting view[1]. Either way, though, it changes little: If correct it gives a little more breathing room, and the point that is mostly being made is that it makes a 1.5C rise merely "challenging" rather than impossible... but we're still likely to breeze through and beyond that anyway, IMHO. It changes little in terms of the required actions.

So faced with that finding, how to communicate it without either causing the denialist community to go "THE MODELS ARE WRONG! WE TOLD YOU SO! IT'S ALL A HOAX!", or causing the more moderate politicians to go "Phew. We have time. We can ignore this and let the next government deal"? And at the same time not being perceived as hiding less alarmist news? The first author made an excellent effort in this article, which IMHO is a really good example of giving an honest and straightforward lay explanation of a scientific study.

Did it help? Not really. It's escaped the front pages for now, perhaps due to the ongoing series of natural disasters in the Carribean and central America, but the usual suspects have still written what you'd expect. Scientific American has a reserved and balanced take. The Guardian is more optimistic, but warns us that "politics is still not easy". The BBC presents so many views that it's not clear what, if anything, they are concluding. Both of these note the possibility that the original article's conclusions about 1.5C being easier to hit may be wrong. Meanwhile Dellingpole, in The Sun, is spinning this story as "I WAS RIGHT!", saying "a tiny bunch of ­scientists got their sums wrong and scared the world silly with a story about catastrophic man-made global warming." Meanwhile an MP who is a member of the Commons Science and Technology Committee - and also a trustee of the denialist GWPF - complains in the Mail that "There has been no word of apology, no sign of humility. Remarkably, they carry on preaching their diehard gospel. With their habitual arrogance, they argue that the lower levels of global warming mean that we now have even more time to implement their radical policies."

Hmm. Yeah. Whether or not this study proves to be correct in its conclusions, we'll be hearing about it from denialist groups for the next 5 years or more. But I don't think there's anything that one can do about that; keeping quiet about such results would be far worse.


[1] AIUI nobody disputes the paper's direct findings so far, but some are doubtful about its import - some say that there is a natural cycle which has had a cooling influence in recent years, but will have a warming influence in future ones. Superimposed on the overall warming trend, this could apparently explain the discrepancy without changing the urgency of the problem.

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day Again

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:11 am
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[personal profile] moon_custafer
copperbadge, as usual, has interpreted this as "choose a historical pirate and write a piece from their point of view:  http://ift.tt/2fxZFDn"

(no subject)

Sep. 17th, 2017 03:38 pm
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[personal profile] moon_custafer
 Haven't posted in a while, in part because whatever writing steam I have has been diverted into finally starting another fanfic. I've enjoyed the Doctor/Companion dynamic in the most recent season of Doctor Who, enough to try writing around it. The Doctor and Bill aren't really the central characters in this story, just part of the ensemble/PoV, but then that's often how it works on the show. While I'm not really knowledgeable enough to write a convincing archeological expedition, let alone one taking place on another planet in the far future, I take some pride in their troubles not involving a curse.

As always, there are scenes I actually want to write, and then there are far more scenes that have to be written in order to get the characters to the place where the fun scenes can happen, but I've completed and posted four chapters so far -- serializing these things sometimes (not always) forces me to keep going until they reach a conclusion. And it's fun to write something for a popular fandom, because then people actually read it.

Smart meter sagas

Sep. 13th, 2017 02:32 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
Scottish Power - through their subcontractors Actavo - wanted me to have a smart meter. They sent me a letter offering this, and asked me to call Actavo to arrange an appointment.

I did that. Actavo said that they couldn't do it because the meter was too high up (it's above a door).

Scottish Power kept on texting me, roughly once a week, asking why I hadn't contacted them (I had).

Eventually I contacted Actavo again to make the texts stop. This time they said they could do it. They arranged an appointment, saying an engineer would be there between 12pm and 4pm.

On the day, emptied the cupboard with the gas meter, waited in, and nobody showed. At 4:30pm I called them and they apologised profusely, offered me £30, and made a new appointment for the same times another day, saying that they had noted on the system that I had been let down and that it would definitely happen the next time. I put everything back in the cupboard.

The next appointment came, but no engineer did. At 4:10pm I called, and they said he was on his way and would be there in ~15 minutes.
He turned up at 5:15pm. He apologised and said that as he was meant to finish at 5 there was no way he could do the job, but he would have a look at the system and make sure it was possible. It was. He went away. I made another appointment. Realising that the problem is that the engineers are booked to be busy all through the day with no contingency[1] - so the last appointment is often missed - I booked a morning. I put everything back in the cupboard again.

On the third attempt the engineer did show up! He speedily removed my old meters and installed new ones, and then discovered that Scottish Power's comms system was down, and so was unable to commission them. He assured me that somebody would phone me to arrange a short appointment for commissioning.

So now, instead of my old dumbmeters, I have two new dumbmeters, which do exactly the same job as the old ones but with more blinkenlights. It's been two weeks since the last visit, and I have received no call about commissioning.

At this point I've given up being proactive. If they want my meter to be smart, they'll need to do something about it.


[1] Actavo have presumably decided that paying £30 compensation for missed appointments and allowing no contingency works out better for them than allowing time for things to go wrong. Sure, it pisses off Scottish Power's customers, but they're not Actavo's customers, so why should Actavo care?

Autumn Waters

Sep. 11th, 2017 08:40 pm
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[personal profile] picosgemeos
 


We took a 2-day long helmsman course last week and we are now certified sailors, we can even sail commercial boats. We move into our narrowboat mid-October and plan on living in it for at least a year.

I’ve also given myself that nautical year to finish the first draft of my novel (not coincidentally, set in a boat.) And I plan on submitting one piece of writing for publication each month (can be flash fiction, short story, book review, and so on.)

In October, will you join me in Save Livejournal Month? Autumn is here – let’s all turn inwards.

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