tavella: (Default)
tavella: (kitty)
Flexible Squares is an LJ S2 style that looks nice and clean and preserves subject lines, alphabetical text icon list, linking to a comment starting at that comment, no problem posting comments, etc, etc. As in, I'm vaguely aware they changed something from my friendslist but you can't tell it from my own experience, as I've always had my LJ set up to use my own format everywhere (way too many people set up their LJ design to look shiny and be unreadable.)

Here, have a kitty.
tavella: (flower)
One of my favorite books ever is Last Chance to See, by Douglas Adams, and one of most memorable stories in it is the story of the last Rodriguan wild coffee plant. It had been thought extinct for years, until in 1980 a local teacher was showing pictures of the many extinct flora and fauna of Rodrigues to his class, and a student named Hedley Manan said "but there's one of those by my house."

And one it was; the only one. In the book, the story is memorable for the tale of the fences the government kept building around the plant, which convinced the locals it was special, which meant they kept cutting off bits, and so the government would build another fence around the fence.

But the afterlife is perhaps more interesting. In 1986, botanists at the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens managed to get a cutting to root. It grew and flowered and they were able to clone it repeatedly, but it and the clones never produced fruit no matter how they tried to fertilize them. They began to think it might be male, and in fact they were right. And if that was true, their wild coffee plants would never be able to produce seeds, and cafe marron would remain a living dead plant, only reproducible in captivity.

But these were no mere mortal gardeners; they persisted, and after 17 years of experiments, their clone produced one fruit, with seven seeds.

None of which germinated. And the same procedure repeated produced no more fruit.

But as I said, these were no mere mortal gardeners, and finally they found the right combination of stresses and environment that would force the plant to occasionally produce a fruit. And four of the five seeds from that second fruit sprouted, and more than 50 from the others they were able to produce from the clones. And when the plants grew to maturity, some of them were female, and fertilized produced a proper fruit, with scores of seeds. Which, since plants are generally polyploid, had a great deal of genetic diversity despite coming from a single forefather.

And last year, many saplings and hundreds of seeds were taken back to Rodrigues, to be planted in reserves and hopefully eventually all over the island.

There's a lot to be depressed about these days, when looking at the environment. So sometimes you need a good story, and the pure determination that it took to get a hopeless case, a solitary male plant, into a whole forest of diverse and fertile seedlings, that's a good story.
tavella: (Default)
Just in case you aren't aware of what a truly loathsome person John C. Wright is, he demonstrates again by ranting about how Terry Pratchett is Hitler. Yes, really.

The part in the comments where he's fantasizing about punching Pratchett is particularly disgusting.
tavella: (Default)
[ profile] tersa mentioned that we were watching the highlight version of X-Files, so I thought I'd post my list and logic:

Season 1:

Must sees: Pilot, Deep Throat, Squeeze, Ice, Beyond the Sea, E.B.E.. Darkness Falls, Tooms, The Erlenmeyer Flask.

Pilot and Deep Throat are key setup episodes for the mytharc and Erlenmeyer Flask setup for the next season. Beyond the Sea for Scully's personal arc, EBE for the introduction of the Lone Gunmen. Squeeze, Tooms, Ice and Darkness Falls as excellent standalones.

Maybe: Conduit, Fallen Angel, Eve, Gender Bender.

Of these, we only ended up watching Conduit, for background on Mulder's sister, and also for Mulder looking angsty and pretty. Fallen Angel is for the most part duplicated by EBE more interestingly.

Don't see: The Jersey Devil, Shadows, Ghost in the Machine, Space, Fire, Lazarus, Young at Heart, Miracle Man, Shapes, Born Again, Roland.

Some are terrible (Spaaaaace!) some are just mediocre.

Planning for season 2:

Must sees: Little Green Men, Duane Barry, Ascension, One Breath, Irresistible, Colony, End Game, Humbug, Anasazi

LGM is setup for the season, Colony, End Game, Anasazi, ah back in the days when the mytharc seemed to make sense. Duane Barry, Ascension, and One Breath for Scully-arc. Irresistable and Humbug as excellent standalones.

Maybes: The Host, Red Museum, Aubrey, Die Hand Die Verletzt, Död Kalm, F. Emasculata, Our Town.

I suspect I'm going to recommend The Host, both because it's very memorable, and because you get more of a sense of the Mulder and Scully working apart but together dynamic and thus setup for her disappearance. Die Hand Die Verletzt seems beloved by many (I've been crossreferencing with the Geos ratings to bolster my memory), but I remember it as underwhelming. Död Kalm I rather liked, and and if we want some leavening of the very mytharc heavy selections above I might throw it in.

Don't see: Blood, Sleepless, 3, Firewalker, Excelsius Dei, Fresh Bones, Fearful Symmetry, The Calusari, Soft Light.

Sleepless is the first appearance of Krychek, but it's not very good and he appears in the next two that we are watching, so I don't think it's necessary.

Season Three is where it is really going to get hard, if we keep going. I count 12 must-sees just on first pass, and that's leaving out significant Mulder, Scully, and Skinner-centric episodes.
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Is it just me, or did Delicious suddenly roll back to the old style? No mention of stacks, and I can get more than 10 things on a page and tags with / in them.
tavella: (Default)
Did anyone else just have their livejournal theme turn to something else? Mine has suddenly become a very ugly blue narrow boxed theme instead of my nice mellow non-space wasting theme, and I've had my chosen theme for so long I can't even remember what the name is to fix it. Grr.
tavella: (tv)
There's apparently going to be a re-do of Rurouni Kenshin. It'd be nice to see one with the proper ending and not a vague wandering off to cancellation.

I was sorting Rurouni Kenshin discs this morning, as part of spring cleaning and purging. [ profile] katchootoo was getting rid of most of her DVDs and kindly gave her RK discs to me, as I knew I was missing some. In the process of sorting, I discovered that she had brought most of the series twice, first standalones, and then the fancy edition boxes, but not all of either. And I had a nearly overlapping set standalones, and I spent a while trying to decide which mix and match I wanted. And then I realized that I had also brought season 1 as a single (not fancy edition) box , and that duh, each of the fancy boxes also represented a season, so I had a perfectly sensible and fairly compact set. Apart from the fact that the fancy boxes' lid keeps coming off.

But I also have my original set of individual dvds for seasons 1 and 2, missing the first episode of season 2, and [ profile] katchootoo's set of individual dvds for seasons 1 and 2, missing the last episode of season 2. This is somewhat of an excess of Rurouni Kenshin.
tavella: (Default)
So I was reading Fujiwara no Michinaga's Full Moon poem, as you do, and ended up wandering onto wikipedia. After attempting to follow the daughters' imperial families, I was forced to make a chart, and I must share it with you.

This is only a highlight -- everyone at the top level is cousins as well.

That is one of the few family trees that I have seen that rivals Charles V of Spain for paucity of grandparents and great grandparents, especially the lower left where Michinaga's daughter has two sons who both marry their aunts, with whom they have children that promptly marry each other.

I was wondering how it was we don't get the same sort of stories from Japan as we do about Charles V (and Juana the Mad and all that lot), but then I noticed that neither Go-Reizei or Go-Sanjo had any children that lived, so they probably were feeling the effects. Plus at the time Japanese emperors were just disposable puppets so you didn't get the "empire resting on a drooling idiot" effect.
tavella: (Default)
Sometimes when you leave perfectly reasonable margins of error -- a few extra minutes on the trip to Sky Park, a few extra minutes for the shuttle, two hours to get through security and drag yourself to the farthest reaches of the airport -- you end up with no traffic, a shuttle that leaves the moment you set foot on it, a security line that moves like lightning, and your flight is at the _closest possible_ spot to security, as in about 100 feet to the left.

And then you find yourself sitting at the gate with two hours to kill.
tavella: (tv)
Someday I will post something interesting that is not about TV, but today is not that day.

Linda Linda Linda is a Japanese movie; a band breaks up right before they were due to play the Spring Festival at their high school. With a couple of new members, the newly configured group has only three days to get ready for the show. It's not for a record contract, it's not the highlight of the festival, it's just something they want to do: play some punk music for their schoolmates.

Having recently tried to watch What a Girl Wants and bailing out midway because everything had to be so dramatic! and over the top!, the mellow gentleness of LLL was nice indeed. It hits most of the usual beats, but played with such naturalism that they don't feel forced. And while romantic relationships are touched on, they clearly run second to the girls' evolving friendship and the band. The actresses are excellent, especially Du-na Bae as the Korean exchange student drafted in at the last moment as a singer.

It's subtitled, and you would probably benefit from having had a little exposure to how Japanese schools work, but I think it's worth the effort.
tavella: (tv) none of these people have cell phones or email? About 90 percent of the plot complications so far could have been negated by a simple application of these things. It's set in 2003, a period in which I distinctly recall just about everyone having one or both. Instead, the only way to contact someone seems to be very ancient desk phones or breaking into their property.

Otherwise, so far a fairly harmless piece of romantic fluff.
tavella: (Fear)
Voyage of the Lonely Turtle has to be one of the most depressing wildlife documentaries ever. It's based around the migration of the loggerhead across the pacific, and along the way we get to see industrial fishing (horrifying -- I gave up bluefin tuna some time ago, but I'm coming to the grim conclusion that I am going to have to give up all other tuna in sushi as well.) There's dead turtles, and film of one slightly luckier turtle who only gets half-drowned before he or she is cut free. Over which film we get the fact that the turtle population is only a quarter of what it was since started trying to conserve them... and that would be after we had noticed how desperately populations had already declined.

Then we get to see dying coral, discussion of acidification, and they even made a stop over to mention deep-ocean methane rising. We finally get to the turtle's destination and watch a turtle drag ashore, and they mention that the beach used to have thousands of turtles, and now only a handful return.

And the real topper: while the narration had shown loggerheads at various points along the way, and spoken as if it was a single turtle rather than a figurative one, it was clear to me that they weren't, since the turtles shown never had a tracker, and because footage was clearly being inserted from the early Mexico filming, identifiable by her companion fish. At the very end, you do find out one loggerhead had been tracked, and made it to the waters just off her birth beach... where she was promptly trawled up and drowned.

I've seen some nature documentaries that were more *deliberately* depressing, of the Silent Spring type, but this had the shell of an ordinary Attenborough-style production, and a fucking bleak heart.

Even the blue whale footage depressed me, because I couldn't help but think of how very few they are, and the pregnant female that was killed a couple of weeks ago by a ship.
tavella: (tv)
Netflix of the day is Love, Actually. Which is the most "hey, I know that face" movie ever. Not just the obvious ones -- they cast every 'male hearthrob despite not being conventionally handsome' actor about, not to mention a bunch of great actresses -- but the more minor roles. "Hey, I know him... oh, the son from that brit sitcom about the dentist... huh, his pal, he -- oh, Doctor Who, wait, and she was from the same episode. Hey! That's the guy from Sherlock! That little kid, he looks... Doctor Who *again*? Wait, Thomas Sangster is 12 here? 17 in Doctor Who? He looked like he was 12 *then*."

Jeez, random Rowan Atkinson, even! And the guy from the troll episode of Merlin.

Upon finishing watching: apart from the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman storyline, it's about an inch deep, filled with pretty middle and upperclass British people leading the sort of lives where their jobs involve typing in picaresque French farmhouses or swanning about art galleries. Even the porn set looks like Versailles. But they are really very charming shallow people, and it has Colin Firth trying to propose in bad Portuguese, which is simply impossible to go wrong with.

minor spoilers )
tavella: (Latte Now)
Thing that is driving me crazy: recruiters with strong accents who insist on doing business over the phone instead of by email. I prefer email anyway, but it's especially frustrating when you can't understand them clearly and they are asking you about a long list of technologies. You get these embarrassing back and forths of "You said XXX?", "No, YYY." "YYY?" "No, ZZZ." and no amount of "The connection is very bad and crackly, could you send me an email?" has been dissuading them. Even if I've promptly replied to their previous emails.
tavella: (Latte Now)
...spoiler the end of Cryoburn on a thread about older Vorkosigan books on a forum.

tavella: (Solar System)
I've just had another example of why I think 'social justice' as done on Livejournal and Dreamwidth is in such terrible shape: the chief practitioners. [ profile] ithiliana posted a comment about one of her classes... okay, I tried to rephrase this, but I'm going to quote the one line directly because I don't want to mangle her presentation: "the students all try to avoid even mentioning race/ethnicity or anything related to the internet and oppression and dominant cultural issues in the context of the internet." Yes, this will likely result into a derailing about quoting locked posts, but it was the particular phrasing that made me sag my head to the keyboard and say "oh, god, if I were them I would do the same thing."

I'll note that [ profile] ithiliana has posted several times about anon memes and how they are bad; I actually considered going over to one to make the original comment, but felt it would be a) wrong to do so in regards to a locked post b) show a lack of courage to not be willing to discuss it face to face. I thought about it seriously, left the tab open for a day because we share a common interest in Tolkien and I have found her commentary on other subjects good at times. Easiest just to let it go by. Then I felt like a raging coward twice over: I was staying silent half because there's fic I didn't want to be locked out of _and_ I was prejudging her reaction and assuming she couldn't take a critical comment at all -- and posted a comment.

"There may be entirely different causes, but given you aren't terribly friendly towards people you view as 'doing it wrong' on those subject, I think I'd be very inclined as a student to stay far away from them when you had some power over me (ie, a grade.)"

(yes, there's a typo, I suck that way)

She then replied that only one in a thousand of her students gets anything but an A or a B, and that if she failed students who made "sexist, racist, and homophobic" comments that she'd fail most of them. And that I had insulted her, she now did not trust me, and thus I was deleted.

Of course, it's rather hard to actually _discuss_ when you've been locked out of the entry, but this is what I'd have said if I was able, in reply:

"The problems here are several: first, that you instantly conflate "doing it wrong" with "sexist, racist, and homophobic". Which is where I saw the problem: you tend to conflate disagreeing with you ("doing it wrong") on the subject of sex, race, or sexuality as sexism, racism, or homophobia. There is no space for honest and just disagreement.

And the second and more important issue is, it doesn't matter what you actually do in the sanctity of your grading book,_nor did I ever criticize your grading_ ; you may in fact be able to utterly separate your opinions and grade someone entirely on the quality of their writing, even if you believe they come to wrong conclusions and use basises that you find abhorrent. The problem is, that if you speak and react as you do in your journal, with very little tolerance for people of differing views, they are likely to _think_ you will have equally little tolerance in their submitted work, and look for safe ground where they can write on subjects that upset you less or where they agree with you wholly. Certainly as a student, I sometimes found professors who genuinely enjoyed students with vastly different views, loved to engage them, and didn't react badly if they didn't change their views. But they were a rare exception, and if you care about your grades, you move to safe topics.

And third, I'm not talking about outright failing people for it, often it's just the difference between an A and a B or a B and C. An essay that is adequately written but cossets your sensibilities is, if you are human, is very easy to see as higher quality than one where you are glaring and going "no! I disagree! That's --ist!" And there are students to which a grade letter or two makes a great deal of difference.

Now, [ profile] ithiliana has every right to lock me out; it is her journal and no obligation to share, but I just felt very sad that my prejudgment, that even the slightest honest critique would be met with furious anger, was right.

ETA: I had screening of anonymous comments on due to the spammers that were going about a while back, have turned it off now.

ETA2: Anyone coming from Ithiliana's post, I have no problem with you commenting here, feel free. Anonymous personal attacks may get screened at my discretion, but honestly, I have pretty thick skin.
tavella: (fail)
Oh, dear god. Scans_Daily is now a community 'defined by our struggle toward anti-oppression'. If you just want to post about comics in a fun environment that doesn't let any posters get bashed, you aren't welcome. If you don't think that 'struggling toward anti-oppression' means that the first person to seize the flag of 'I am oppressed!' gets to bash their chosen poster as long and as vilely as they like, you aren't welcome -- anything else would be silencing! Any rules on personal attack are tone argument! If you think that bashing threads should be frozen at some point, you aren't welcome, because anyone who comes in later has the right to feel freshly oppressed and get their hits in. As long as the mods don't define them as privileged, in which case they are told to sit down, shut up, and accept being shit on.

I had noticed the disintegrating quality of scans_daily over on Dreamwidth for some time; most of the interesting posters and posts gone, and what few posts looked interesting and I bothered to click on mostly devolved to bashing of one issue or another from the Big Two. Which issue often deserved bashing, but s_d on LJ and even InsaneJournal usually mixed in a little fun, some crazy old stuff, some classics, and people made a point of posting stuff they loved. Plus the commentary was much more interesting and high quality. But I hadn't paid enough attention to realize why until the recent mod thread.

I feel like I need to apologize to the old scans_daily mods, in retrospect. Back when it was on LJ, it was a fun place that unlike just any other comic boards was a friendly place for women, gays, minorities. Not so much in terms of harassment -- there's other comics boards that will clamp down on open misogyny, etc. -- but in the sense that you aren't some freakish minority to be stared at. And I thought at the time that this was mostly in spite of the moderators, who tended to be a little tight-ass. I remember at least once being all offended and righteous because the mods cracked down equally on someone posting unpleasantly and someone replying violently, because the second person was provoked! And now, man, having seen bad moderating in effect, I was wrong. Sorry old scans_daily mod whose name I cannot remember!

However, there is some good in it. I've decided to swear off dogpiles. It's turned into a game where rage-junkies just look for a target to pump up their sense of self-righteousness. No more following anyone's 'signal-boosting'. If I run into something on my own travels, I post only if I have something worthwhile to say, not just to join the mob.
tavella: (squee)
While parking my car around back, I saw something small and grey-brown nosing round in the grass. Rat, I thought, and then it lifted its head and I saw it was a little opossum. Out looking for food in broad daylight, which isn't normal, and awfully small. Still, I didn't want to disturb it, so after watching it for a while I went around front to plant flowers and give mom a chance to show up.

Later consultation with the Silicon Valley Wildlife rescue web page suggested that opossums under seven inches were too young to be on their own, so I went to check on it. Still wandering around the yard, and limping a bit. Given that the sun was going low, and my yard has at least three cats that visit at night, I got my housemates to help winkle it out from under my car and swooped it off to the Humane Society, which does night intake for the SVWC.

Of course, I just now have found a site that suggests that possums 4 to 6 inches long are fine on their own, so it's possible I rescued a perfectly healthy non-orphan. But I'd really like to avoid Cinder coming in at night and showing me the very large mousey she caught.

No pictures, because I didn't think to do so when it was wandering around the yard, and once I got it to the shelter they didn't want me to unwrap it and stress it.
tavella: (flower)
The tomatoes are in! Or at least the first batch, I'm hoping to find a couple of good heritage tomatoes to round out the collection, but I put in Early Girl, Better Boy, and a Sweet 100 cherry tomato. PreviouslyI had used the conical kind of premade tomato frame, but they were too short and awkward so this year I returned to the tradition of my father(s) and wired cylinders together from steel netting. As a result the backs of my hands look like my cat has been attacking them, but they look quite tidy along the side of the house.
tavella: (Foodie)
Experiment: anchovy onigiri was interesting, but perhaps not entirely successful. I have a couple of tins of anchovies I need to use up, and on the grounds that salty fishy fillings go well in onigiri I set about making some. It's certainly salty and fishy, but anchovy doesn't seem to meld with rice the way smoked salmon does. Though I'm liking this second one better, so it may be a matter of absorbing the new taste. The ones I just made with the bonito topping on the outside were a little bland. Hmmm, checking the bottle, it doesn't have much salt in it -- possibly I need to add a little sea salt to make things pop.

However, I can strongly recommend this method for making onigiri. I got tidy little onigiri, already wrapped, without getting rice all over my fingers.