lb_lee: LB's vessel flexing their muscles and declaring, "Queer trans multi proud!" (pride)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hey guys, Freyas published a thing they and Irenes made for plurals in the workplace!  To quote them: 

"Are you curious about what it’s like to work with or manage someone who is plural? Or, if you’re plural, perhaps you’ve wondered how to get your coworkers to better understand and accept your neurodivergence. In 2016, FreyasSpirit and Irenes realized that they could write a guide to plurality for all three of these audiences and help other plural systems come out in the workplace and thrive.

This document is the product of that effort, and was published internally with the benefit of feedback from other plural systems. Hundreds of employees read this guide or used it when coming out to their teams. Personally, it was helpful for me to be a better ally at first, and even more useful after we awakened as a plural system ourselves."

Congratulations, y'all for posting this!  Spread it around and make it work for y'all!  So thrilled to see something like this come around for professional use; so many plurals are stuck in the closet or up the creek without a paddle, and this helps break down that isolation!  May we all have equal access to the workplace one day!

kitewithfish: Evil smile (Default)
[personal profile] kitewithfish
The husbeast's knee is still being a jerk - his doc says, given his level of mobility, that it's probably a bruise and not a tear to the meniscus, and to give it another 10 days on anti-inflammatories and stay on crutches.

It's hard to buy that it's only been four days - I feel pretty stretched thin. Normally, we do a fair job splitting the housework and food prep, and Husbeast does the driving, so to have him at home for several days and have all of that on my shoulders feels like a lot.

He bought himself crutches and, after I read a tumblr post praising shower seats, I got him a cheapy shower stool so that he can actually get a chance to bath properly instead of stewing. 

That being done, in the last couple of days, which I had off, I have not actually been super restful!  I did groceries and got the dude out of the house to a coffeshop for the first time in days while I did that, I have done laundry, made soup for the week for dinner, cleaned my bike's front wheel and brakes to try and kill the awful shrieking noise, made lunches for the two of us for the week, bought replacement bras for my favorite one that went rogue, bought replacement orthotic inserts for MY foot issues (which I have to do every 6 months and had just let it go way too long), and replacement orthotic slippers so that I don't wander around the house barefoot. 

I have learned that when I'm taking care of someone else, I can't dick around with taking care of myself - I have to do what works, and what's easiest, or I get burnt out fast. So, I sprung for buying my orthotic inserts online instead of going to the podiatrist (about $10 more expensive but doesn't mean I have to take a trip to the doc during the work day), and made a soup that I like and works well instead of thinking about new recipes, and let myself buy takeout on a night when we still had some food in the house that could have been a meal.  

In short, all of the things I am doing to take care of myself involve being willing to throw some money at a problem and I have absolutely NO PATIENCE for anyone who says that people doing caretaking work or who have disabilities themselves need to scrimp and save and should ashamed of getting help or extra money. Fuck that - this is already exhausting and I have an end date in sight. 

dinosaur facts

Feb. 18th, 2019 03:38 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
I'm currently reading The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, a 2018 book on dinosaur history by a professional paleontologist, obviously way more up to date than my childhood reading. I've learned a lot, not all about dinosaurs. Supplemented by some Wiki reading about periods:

Read more... )

sexless surprise

Feb. 18th, 2019 03:14 pm
mindstalk: (riboku)
[personal profile] mindstalk
When you look at the multicellular part of the tree of life, almost everything reproduces sexually. Not all the time -- some plants can self-fertilize, many plants can spread vegetatively, some animals are optionally parthenogenetic. But almost everything has sex as an option. Not all: there are some animal species that only reproduce by parthenogenesis. But they're all twigs on the tree of life, not lush branches, suggesting that this approach to reproduction doesn't last long. Why not? That touches on the question of why sex evolved in the first place, but a rather plausible answer is that it helps protect against parasites and germs, by mixing things up. Asexual reproduction looks like a good short-term genetic bet for the parent -- 100% of genes pass on! -- but yields a population of clones that can be scythed through by the parasite that figures out the key.

Bacteria and archaea evolve fast enough to keep up with each other and with viruses, perhaps... and, also, they have their own forms of gene transfer: conjugation (like sex), or transformation (uptake of plasmids, say.) (A side note: modern GMOs are thus less unnatural than you might think; genes jump around, even between multicellular animals, and GMOs are made via 'natural' techniques.)

There is one big exception to the "all twigs" statement: the bdelloid rotifers, a clade of 450+ species that have apparently been asexual for 25 million years. How do they pull it off? I'd thought maybe their cuticles were tough enough that they thoroughly kept out viruses and such, unlike anything else. But The Tangled Tree by David Quammen gave a better explanation. As freshwater plankton, they've evolved to survive drying out and being rehydrated. And it's not that they're really good at preserving their DNA through such stages; rather, they're decent at repairing the damage after rehydration. 'Decent' meaning that in the process they may incorporate foreign bits of DNA.

...they found at least twenty-two genes from non-bdelloid creatures, genes that must have arrived by horizontal transfer. Some of those were bacterial genes, some were fungal. One gene had come from a plant. At least a few of those genes were still functional, producing enzymes or other products useful to the animal. Later work on the same rotifer suggested that 8 percent of its genes had been acquired by horizontal transfer from bacteria or other dissimilar creatures. A team of researchers based mostly in England looked at four other species of bdelloids and also found “many hundreds” of foreign genes. Some of the imports had been ensconced in bdelloid genomes for a long time, since before the group diversified, while some were unique to each individual species, and therefore more recently acquired. This implied that horizontal gene transfer is an ancient phenomenon among bdelloid rotifers, and that it’s still occurring.

...biologists suspect that such drying-and-rehydrating stresses cause bdelloid DNA to fracture and leave cell membranes leaky. Given that they’re surrounded in their environments by living bacteria and fungi, plus naked DNA remnants from dead microbes, the porous membranes and fracturing could make it easy for alien DNA to enter even the nuclei of bdelloid cells and to get incorporated into bdelloid genomes as they repair themselves. Let me say that again: broken DNA, as a cell fixes it, using ambient materials, may include bits that weren’t part of the original. If that mended DNA happens to be in cells of the germ line, the changes will be heritable. Baby rotifers will get them and, when the babies mature, pass the changes along to their own daughters. Thus a bacterial or fungal gene can become part of the genome of a lineage of animals.

Jewel thief experience?

Feb. 18th, 2019 01:38 pm
[personal profile] mzrowan
Dear Universe,

My beloved partner V has a fantasy of being a jewel thief for a day (night?). Please help me make this happen (without anybody doing anything actually illegal). Location not so important, but French Riviera would be nice.


Song Meme - Song 10

Feb. 18th, 2019 12:59 pm
tippergreen: (Default)
[personal profile] tippergreen
Catching up slowly...

"10: A song that makes you sad"

This is tough as I don't own any music that makes me genuinely sad. I know songs that are sad, but nothing that cuts me in such a way that it actually makes me sad. To me, music is a salve, a mood setter, a place to retreat to.

So, instead of a song that makes me sad, I'm just going to choose a song that is about sadness. A bit of a cheat, but it's what I've got.

This was actually Sting's song - I bought Mercury Rising back when I was in my angsty college phase in the early 90s - but Johnny Cash covered it and I have to think that even Sting will tell you: this is how it should sound. I wrote a story based on this song once that I never posted, largely because I actually made myself too damn depressed by the ending.

It's a really lovely, sad song.

[domesticity] Slightly Hoist

Feb. 18th, 2019 01:20 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
So. On Friday old landlord's rental agent called me about showing my old apartment on Monday. Today.

There is, legally, nothing I can do about this. Landlord (or landlord's agents) can enter the property with 24 hours notice. I think (not sure) there may even be a statute that says that landlords can specifically enter an apartment in the last month of tenancy to show it.

The agent was at least nice about it. She wanted to show it at 6:30pm and asked if I would be there, or whether she should get the key from the landlord. I said that I would probably be working (I am booked to see a client at 6:30pm, but people do cancel), and she should definitely get the key from the landlord so she could let herself in, but that I'd appreciate a text 15 min before arrival in case I was home. (I also asked that she not arrange any showings before 2pm, and she said it wouldn't be a problem in the "I am so not a morning person myself" tone of voice.)

So, okay, fine. I should put away any valuables and lock the HIPAA cabinet before going to work today.

I woke to a text from the agent: the shitgibbon can't find the keys to my apartment. Do I have a spare set? Could I leave them under the mat?

I am, of course, like WTF.

And then I think about it.

And it dawns on me that the act of relinquishing a set of keys is the official act of giving an apartment back to a landlord and declaring it vacant.

Now, I don't know that this isn't what it seems. The shitgibbon may have lost the keys ot my apartment again. He has done this in the past: lose the keys, accuse me of having changed the locks, and then found them.

Or, you know, this is a legal trick.

Meanwhile, the agent is nicely pressuring me to try to come up with some spare keys, or let her come by, take my keys out to be duplicated, and when can she do this and when should she reschedule the showing for? I confronted (in text) the agent about the giving-up-keys thing. And then texted that I don't think I want to do any such thing until I have spoken to a lawyer.

So, maybe this is totes legitimate, and just an unfortunate impingement on my time. Or maybe this is, yet again, the landlord doing something evil. Because I can't tell, they're not getting any keys. Serves him right.

ETA: I have, in fact, emailed my lawyer about this, but I don't expect him to be working on a holiday. So still interested if anybody knows the answer.

Meanwhile: you are not my lawyer, however: anybody know if this could be the trick I smell? (Jurisdiction: Cambridge, Massachusetts)

ETA2: Messages also left for the relevant person in Inspectional Services, Housing Department. Not that I'm planning on telling the landlord or his agent that. I don't expect they're working on a holiday, but it will be waiting for them when they get in tomorrow.

ETA3: Oh ho ho! Maybe I can refuse them entry:
yomikoma: Yomikoma reading (reading)
[personal profile] yomikoma
I've been enjoying Mother of Learning, an online novel by "nobody103" set in a fantasy world. There was an image in chapter 96 that I felt compelled to render.

Spoiler for chapter 96 of Mother of Learning )

Dreams 02/18/2019

Feb. 18th, 2019 09:57 am
kalibex: (Default)
[personal profile] kalibex
Found myself in Russia (?) attempting to take a (mystical?) crystal and toss it into a volcano, which may have been meant to or perhaps would coincidentally trigger a disaster such as an eruption (not 100% clear).

I heard some security types discussing the matter, had the crystal in my possession, and walked calmly into a room, locking the entry door behind me. However, I was seen or otherwise noticed and people started to pursue me. Got the impression of two younger men and an older, more experienced one. One of the younger fellows asked the older one a query which was him asking how much of an emergency this was; the older replied that the situation wasn't that bad, yet. Partly due to his tense but not panicked reply, I got the impression that I probably wasn't going to fulfill my mission this time. Perhaps I'd simply been noticed too soon, while still too far from my objective.

I also was left with the impression that I was someone or something else's 'catspaw'. Not clear whether I was a dyed in the wool fanatic calmly prepared to trigger who-knows-what, or else literally bering 'used' like a puppet to attempt to carry out that mission. (Makes me wonder if the experienced guy recognized the situation and perhaps didn't want to automatically, say, shoot me down in cold blood as that would be wasteful, etc.).

Home from Boskone

Feb. 17th, 2019 09:56 pm
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] redbird
Despite being awake late last night, I woke up a little after 7 a.m. I made tea, then went down to the fitness center. This time I did a few exercises and soaked in the hot tub for a bit, which my legs appreciated.

That took me to about 8:30. There was no Sunday morning programming that interested me, and I didn't feel like hanging out for a couple of hours hoping someone I knew would walk past and be in a mood for conversation, so I got dressed, checked out, and headed home. (Judy Bemis saw me in the lobby as I was heading out; we hugged goodbye as she explained that she was on her way to a shift in the con treasury.)

I stopped off at South Station and grabbed a savory croissant at the Pret a Manget; I hadn't wanted to wait in line at the hotel lobby Starbucks, but it seemed imprudent to wait until I got home. One disadvantage of this year's Boskone is that the con suite had only packaged snacks--chips, candy, cookies, I think some little packets of cheese and crackers, rather than bagels or donuts, or the lots and lots of hard boiled eggs they've had in previous years. There wasn't even milk for the coffee and tea, just packets of sugar and creamer. (This seems to have been a change in hotel policy.) If I go to another con at that hotel, and stay overnight, I am going to make sure to bring yogurt and other food I can keep in the fridge. (I'd bought a couple of single-serving yogurts, and forgot to grab them on my way out of Adrian's apartment Friday; if I'd known how limited the con suite would be, I'd have stopped in South Station and at least gotten some more yogurt.)

Since getting home I have played three games of Scrabble with [personal profile] cattitude, combed Molly, proofread one short article for Queue, stretched and exercised, and unloaded (twice), reloaded (twice), and run the dishwasher. Tomorrow's plan is more Scrabble, proofreading, stretching, and playing with the cats.

Duplo Heart

Feb. 17th, 2019 09:33 pm
l33tminion: (Default)
[personal profile] l33tminion
Last weekend, went to Xavid's "chair-warming party". Their new(-ish) place is pretty cool. I'd visited before, but it was the first time for Erica and Julie.

Valentine's Day was this week. Julie sent Valentine's cards with Erica. Julie cooked a nice dinner on Valentine's Day, and we went out for a dinner date Saturday night.

Today, we took Erica to the theater, saw the Lego Movie. Erica got a bit impatient and sleepy by the end, but enjoyed it overall. I definitely liked the movie, it was a lot of fun! I still haven't mastered kid movie logistics, though. For one thing, I have to make sure she has the right shoes, since her new usual ones have lights on them. :-/

Work's been very busy and I've been very tired. Have not been sleeping very well. It's a long weekend, so hopefully that will help. I've been reasonably productive at work, it's just there's so much to do.

I want to play another video game at some point, or do more reading. I did finish Mr. Robot. Very good show. The cinematography is exceptional.

[domesticity] Moving Further Along

Feb. 17th, 2019 09:17 pm
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Ow. I am very stiff and sore from being very out of shape and doing a lot of shlepping.

I hit up Target for some necessaries late-ish Saturday night - the new one in Porter Square – and decided to take the stuff directly back to the new apartment, so I could find out what it's like at midnight.

I lied on the floor. I didn't detect any vibrations.

The sound isolation between apartments seems very good. The sound isolation between building and the outside seems not so good – that is the windows aren't so great at sealing out sound. My window isn't right on MassAve, but the sound of traffic on MassAve through my window was loud enough to make me think, "Oh, hey, I should shut the window", but the window wasn't open.

The heat is steam heat, and it is abundant and very clangy. I have earplugs, so I assume this, and passing traffic, won't be an issue.

The hot water is very hot, and also abundant.

Today (Sunday), [personal profile] tn3270 and I drove over a load of fragile stuff that can be put away, out of the way of movers, in the kitchen and the closets. So my booze, and my glassware, and my fancy dress clothes are all now moved in. Am now ready to party. I also brought over all the outerwear I'm not currently using (the spring and autumn weight stuff mostly and my summer sun hats, and my back-up winter coat) and populated the coat closet.

Getting my formal-wear and outerwear out of the closet under the water heater that's overdue to blow is a relief. I still have stuff in there to wisk away to safety, but... soon. Not right now. Were I not so sore, I would be tempted to call a cab and take a second load over tonight.

But I think I'm rapidly approaching the point – like maybe one car load more – where everything left is either something I will need here until the day of the move, or it is something that requires the rugs or the furniture to be there already to go on top of or in, or will be in the way of movers and so should go in the truck.

Bike log: urban February edition

Feb. 17th, 2019 05:59 pm
[personal profile] dmaze
Yesterday rode the Minuteman as far as Lexington; today explored the various Boscamberville roadway improvements.

In Boston proper, the cycle track around the North End is actually pretty awesome. But navigating through downtown Boston, especially the Scollay Square/Post Office Square area, is horrific. (I at least think I know how I'd get to work.) The bridge into Charlestown would be worth avoiding if there were any other way to go that direction.

The cycle track along Beacon Street in Somerville is somehow less impressive; maybe because the driveway crossings aren't as smooth and it's not totally clear what to do when it stops and starts and stops again.

"Sharrows" feel better than I give them credit for. They tend to communicate "sorry there's not bike lane for this block" to me, a little more than "you can take up this space in the lane which you legally could have done anyways".

Good Books Recently

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:56 pm
okrablossom: jasmine tea blossom open in mug (tea blossom)
[personal profile] okrablossom
Books I've read recently that I've really really enjoyed: Django Wexler's Ship of Smoke and Steel [kinda creepy fantasy with intriguing magic and some nice relationships], Jim Hines' Terminal Uprising [made me laugh out loud but also touched some genuine deep emotions], Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead [for the reasons I love most of her books: language, love, the hard work of doing right], Yoon Ha Lee's Dragon Pearl [for an old story through new (to me) lenses]. Oh! And Terrance Hayes' American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin for seriousness and beauty and Huda Fahmy's Yes, I'm Hot in This for the puns and the perspective.

And thank goodness I've got more library books stacked up, as there's snow on the way!
sovay: (What the hell ass balls?!)
[personal profile] sovay
With so many pre-Code movies, it can be difficult not to feel that they come to us from some alternate history than the one we were transmitted by Code-compliant Hollywood, so much more progressive and politically engaged that the trick is remembering it's our own hidden history, as real and important as the censorship that squashed all that bracing skepticism and representation into ticky-tacky halfway through 1934.

Gabriel Over the White House (1933) also comes from our own hidden history, unfortunately. It would be much more comfortable to blame it on the Mirror Universe.

In short and without exaggeration, Gabriel Over the White House is the single most fascist film I have seen from a Hollywood studio. Co-produced at MGM by Walter Wanger and especially William Randolph Hearst, it refined a near-future British political melodrama into a ripped-from-the-headlines call for an American strongman, as authoritarian as anything out of Europe and anointed in the line of Lincoln. The fantasy begins with the inauguration of President Judson "Jud" Hammond (Walter Huston), a tall stern-profiled man quickly revealed as the kind of fatuous glad-hander who gives lame ducks a bad name. Jovially reassured by one of the senators who gerrymandered his path to the White House that "by the time they"—the American people—"realize you're not going to keep them"—his campaign promises—"your term'll be over," he wastes no time installing his longtime mistress as his "confidential secretary," distributing ambassadorships and cabinet appointments among his cronies, and reeling off optimistic platitudes to the press corps while simultaneously dismissing nationwide unemployment and organized crime as "local problems." He signs whatever bills his party passes across his desk and looks set to embarrass America on the world stage with such piercing questions as "Say, where is Siam?" The respect he holds for his office can be gauged by the jokey glee with which he uses the very quill with which Lincoln penned the Emancipation Proclamation to sign off on a job of infrastructure graft in Puerto Rico. And then this booby-in-chief gets into a joy-riding road accident and is left in a coma, sinking fast while the White House frantically stalls; the doctors somberly declare the end "merely a matter of hours . . . he's beyond any human help," but as they leave the room a mysterious breeze troubles the curtain, a light from nowhere brightens on the vacant form, and President Hammond rises from his deathbed a messianic visionary, no longer as corrupt as Warren G. Harding, as ineffectual as Herbert Hoover, or as incapacitated as Woodrow Wilson but "a gaunt grey ghost with burning eyes that seem to see right down into you" who swings into nation-saving action as decisively as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Or Hitler. About two-thirds Hitler and one-third FDR if you ask me. I'm all for financial relief and reform, but nativist star chambers give me cold feet.

To a certain degree, the ideological disorder of Gabriel Over the White House offers a litmus test for the viewer's own politics: which of Hammond's extraordinary actions seem humane and justified and which start you wondering if William Dudley Pelley had a hand in the script? Allowing for a certain steely-eyed rigidity of affect, the newly inspired president's initial clash with his administration is downright sympathetic. In the summer of 1932, Hoover had disastrously mobilized the U.S. Army against the "Bonus Army," a thousands-strong shanty town of disenfranchised veterans and their families peacefully protesting in Anacostia Park. Encouraged by his cabinet of hacks to dispense similar treatment to an "Army of the Unemployed," Hammond instead declares his newfound allegiance to country over party, "Gentlemen, I refuse to call out the Army against the people of the United States," before visiting the protesters' camp in Baltimore to offer each man his personal assurance of "necessary work waiting to be done" with an "Army of Construction" that sounds remarkably like the Works Projects Administration. When Congress balks at supplying the $4 billion budget, the unstoppable Hammond proposes to dissolve Congress with a declaration of national emergency; when Congress resists being dissolved, he invokes martial law. A stunned edition of the Washington Herald reveals the fate of the legislative branch: "Adjourns by Overwhelming Vote – – – Hammond Dictator!" Now, with all that pusillanimous bureaucratic deadweight out of the way, the great man can really get things done. It is no small factor in the film's mirror-queasiness that several of them are things which an American president, scant weeks after production wrapped on Gabriel, would actually do. Though Hammond's radio presence is a little more stentorian than a fireside chat, the emergency initiatives he announces to the "overwhelming support" of the American public fall right in line with the radical common sense of the New Deal, prioritizing the stabilizing of banks and the protection of homes and farms from foreclosure; he just includes the repeal of Prohibition within his first hundred days where FDR would leave it till the end of the year. It's his next few directives that take his dictatorship from turbo-charged president-elect to something more consistent with other totalitarian regimes rising around the world in the spring of 1933. The film expects us to cheer it all alike.

Whether through careful study or parallel evolution, the fascist rhetoric of this film is spot-on. It's got the bits of truth that make the lies go down like velvet, the condemnation of broken-down society and the powerful nostalgic appeal to some lost integrity reclaimable in the right hands. "A plant cannot be made to grow by watering the top alone and letting the roots go dry," Hammond warns Congress in a timely condemnation of trickle-down economics before turning the metaphor on his audience. "The people of this country are the roots of the nation and the sturdy trunk and the branches too . . . You've closed your ears to the appeals of the people. You've been traitors to the concepts of democracy on which this government was founded. I believe in democracy as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln believed in democracy, and if what I plan to do in the name of the people makes me a dictator, then it is a dictatorship based on Jefferson's definition of democracy—a government for the greatest good of the greatest number!" That's American authoritarianism as good as anything I've heard in the last few years. By his appeals to the unassailable patriotism of the Founding Fathers, his populist reverence and his denunciation of the nation's lawmakers as traitorous parasites, we are encouraged to view Hammond's seizure of power as an exercise in real democracy, a return to the honest, direct truth of America over the self-serving shell game of big government that merely bamboozles American citizens out of their rights. It's familiar, inflammatory, and seductive. What audience exhausted by the ever-deepening Depression and fed up with the incompetent indifference of the Hoover administration wouldn't agree? The plot feels like the same kind of persuasive buy-in. Hammond handled the Bonus Army better than Hoover, so we trust him; he's handling the Depression just as well as FDR, so we trust him again; and therefore when he decides to junk the judiciary along with the legislature and turn over the powers of judge, jury, and executioner to his paramilitary secret police, shouldn't we trust him still? He's only doing what's best for America. Who gets to be part of America, of course, is especially important in times like these—all fascist ideologies must have a scapegoat and foreigners are the best you can get. Hammond finds his in the racketeers flourishing under Prohibition. Forget all-American Cagney; built up by Hammond's speeches as "the greatest enemy of law and order America has ever known . . . a malignant cancerous growth eating at the spiritual health of the American people . . . arch-enemies of these United States . . . the enemies of every honest citizen, the enemies of our nation," the gangsters of Gabriel Over the White House are an explicitly foreign body headed and personified by C. Henry Gordon's Nick Diamond, a sallow-eyed, smarmily dapper, still-accented "immigrant boy who became the most famous man in America," as if organized crime is never homegrown, as if there's no other kind of crime in America. Advised by the President to deport himself and leave the liquor trade to the U.S. government, Diamond retaliates with a drive-by shooting of the White House and Hammond immediately calls out the newly created "Federal Police." At this point I confess the film starts to assume a slightly farcical quality for me, except it's so humorlessly earnest it's scary. The criminals have Tommy guns; the Federal Police have tank-mounted rocket launchers. Diamond and his organization never see the inside of a courtroom which they know how to buy their way out of; they are dragged off to a dramatically lit bunker and court-martialed by a military tribunal presided over by the young chief of the Federal Police. "We have in the White House a man who has enabled us to cut the red tape of legal procedures and get back to first principles—an eye for an eye, Nick Diamond," he pronounces with satisfaction, "a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life." The gangsters are summarily executed by firing squad as the shadow of the Statue of Liberty looks on. By the time the President is threatening to unleash an air war of "invisible poison gases, inconceivably devastating explosives, annihilating death rays" on the other nations of the world unless they pay America's debts and sign the "Washington Covenant" of universal disarmament and peace, I can see the biplanes and the tall silk hats perfectly well, but I still have the anachronistic feeling I'm watching some kind of balls-out Reaganite fantasia of American totalitarianism, under God. Or, you know, Fox News.

You were wondering about the title? It's the insight of Pendie Molloy (Karen Morley), the President's former mistress, now chaste helpmeet; seeing him wake so suddenly full of vital and resolute purpose and yet strangely remote from sentiment or desire, she becomes convinced that he's inhabited by some presence beyond his own will, "a simple, honest . . . divine madness." Eventually she puts a name to it. "I'm not a very religious person, Beek, but does it seem too fanciful to believe that God might have sent the Angel Gabriel to do for Jud Hammond what he did for Daniel?" Her interlocutor is Hartley Beekman (Franchot Tone), the amiable, slightly crooked presidential secretary who in keeping with the salvation tone of this whole project will reform into Hammond's incorruptible right-hand enforcer, not to mention Pendie's lawfully wedded husband; at the moment he's just a staffer not up on his Bible. "Gabriel? I thought he was a messenger of wrath." Poetically grave as a magdalene, Pendie corrects him, "Not always. To some, he was the angel of revelations, sent as a messenger from God to men." Now we know the identity of the breeze, the light. Now I try not to fall down a hole of eschatology, because the allusion automatically figures America as the new Jerusalem, decreed seventy weeks to mend her transgressions and bring in everlasting righteousness. In concert with the politics described above, it means that this film asserts that God has sent America a fascist savior against whose smashing of democratic idols only the foolish and the wicked would stand—I'm astonished it has not been reclaimed and celebrated by the Evangelical right, unless the left-wing whiff of FDR is scaring them off. In fairness to the filmmakers, I feel this assertion may have dovetailed accidentally from the source mythologies of Christianity and American exceptionalism, but at this particular world-historical moment it still jumps out at me a mile. There's a lot in this story that suggests its authors, whether credited screenwriter Carey Wilson or Hearst himself, did not think maybe as much as they should have about their premises. As soon as Hammond finishes signing the Washington Covenant with Chekhov's Lincoln quill, he collapses insensible—he's dying again, the spirit of Gabriel departing now that its work is done. He regains consciousness just long enough to be assured by Pendie that he's "proved himself one of the greatest men who ever lived" before he expires as peacefully as he should have all those car-crashed weeks ago, the light fading from his face as the divine afflatus ruffles the curtain one last time. I don't know how you feel about the reveal that instead of a wastrel soul redeemed and energized by divine inspiration, we have been watching a comatose body with an angel of wrath and revelation inside it, but I normally look to horror fiction for that sort of thing. I have similar reservations about the way the camera returns meaningfully to a marble bust of Lincoln and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" rises over the soundtrack at spiritual moments; I fear they are intended not just to confer the legitimacy of our sixteenth president on his fictional thirty-second successor but to imply that Lincoln himself was a vessel of divine possession. That just seems like an insult to Lincoln. Lastly, while I understand that the U.S. was a lot more naïve about authoritarian regimes in 1933, I am amazed at the film's apparent confidence that the institutions of American government will just pick up where Hammond-Gabriel left them—I think it must have envisioned its dictatorship on the idealized Roman model of extraordinary powers of limited scope and duration, whereas I want to know if Beek will inherit the one-man rule of America and if we're going to have proscriptions by Christmas.

If, out of civic-mindedness or curiosity, you are thinking of throwing yourself on the grenade of this movie, I should warn you that in addition to being probably evil, it's kind of bad. I've been fascinated by it ever since I caught it last spring on TCM, but that's an intellectual reaction with inclusions of emotional revulsion: I don't actually recommend it as art. It suffers from the common propaganda problem of resembling a set text more than an entertainment; its characters are strawmen and its tone suggests a black comedy whose sense of irony has been laparoscopically removed. Walter Huston actually gives a committed and flexible performance as both the good-time party hack and the sacred monster who replaces him, but Franchot Tone and Karen Morley could be replaced with lobby cards of themselves at no cost to the production and I have to look at IMDb to remember that there are any other human actors in it at all. Nonetheless, it exists and we might as well acknowledge it. It's an incredible document and a shivery reminder of just how plausible and attractive fascism could look to a disillusioned, frightened America. Well, we figured it out again. Have a nice Presidents' Day! This regime brought to you by my inspirational backers at Patreon.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea

So a million years ago last December, I decided I was Done with BoA, and signed up for a fresh business bank account with a new bank. This one is with Webster.

Not much happened in the account in December, what with the various challenges of setting it up (about which I have failed to regale you, o my readers), but starting with the new (fiscal) year, I converted over to using it.

So I just got what is effectively my first statement, covering the month of January. The first month in which I actually ran money through it.

Turns out, the way Webster accounts deposits made at ATMs is that it batches all the checks put in at once as one transaction, and it batches all the cash put in at the same time as another transaction.

So, if you you go to an ATM and deposit a check for $100, a check for $91 and $7 cash, it will appear on your statement as a transaction for $191 and a separate transaction for $7.

Oh hello, this makes my checkbook unbalanceable.

I, like a normal human, record transactions in my checkbook in one of two ways. Either all the money going into the machine at once is one transaction (e.g. of $198) or I break each of the checks out separately (e.g. three transactions: $100, $91, and $7). What I do not do is lump just the checks.

At first, as I started trying to use this statement to reconcile my account, I thought it was merely highly unfortunate. I had been using the batch-everything approach (which is how the previous bank did things), so I was having to add transactions mentally on the statement to figure out which things to mark as cleared in my digital checkbook. Having to do mental arithmetic to balance a digital checkbook is asinine - it's error prone and time consuming, and exactly what I am trying to avoid by having a digital checkbook in the first place.

Then I got to the last deposit I had made, on Jan 31st. The bank only registered part of it - the cash part. The checks I deposited? Don't appear at all. So now I have an entry on 1/31 for $459.00, of which $240 has cleared. I have absolutely no way to indicate that on my register – except to edit in two transactions, one for the cash and one for the checks.

I'm very strongly inclined to close this account rather than change how I keep my books to be compatable with this. I am completely aghast.

This is the first I've ever seen of this practice. Generally "first I've ever seen of this practice" in banking makes me think it maybe is illegal. Certainly it's ridiculous.

Anybody else's banks do this? Apparently I'm back in the business bank account market, and I'd like to know what companies to avoid.


Feb. 16th, 2019 08:15 pm
hermionesviolin: Tina Modotti photograph: Mexican sombrero with hammer and sickle, 1927 (Tina Modotti)
[personal profile] hermionesviolin
One of the Too Many Things I've been involved with is the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign -- pressing Harvard to divest from the prison industrial complex.

I've been Too Busy to do a lot of work promoting it, but the organizers would like as many signatories as possible by February 28 in prep for a petition delivery action, so I'm trying to up my game.

Signatories don't have to be Harvard affiliates, so all y'all are welcome to sign -- and to share with your networks :)

Non-Harvard organizations can also sign on -- I was so delighted to see an endorsement from the Phillips Brooks House Association on Facebook the other day -- if you happen to be involved with any organizations you think would be supportive (FCS-Ian suggested our church sign on, so that's now on the agenda for Church Council next week).
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
Apropos of the previous, is the sheilding in coax good enough that you can wrap a cord of fairy lights around it, without impairing the internet-conveying functioning of coax or otherwise leading to unfortunate outcomes?
drglam: Me, in the mirror (mirror)
[personal profile] drglam
 I don't know why it took me two weeks to start them; I have nothing interesting in my life (from a tax point of view), so it takes me less than an hour. But, onerous task completed.

ridehail math

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:24 pm
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Ridehail being a more accurate name for Lyft and Uber than 'rideshare'.

Some people talk as if ridehail is the wave of the future, to become a dominant transit mode, despite neither company reporting profits yet. Let's see what that would be like.

The average American driver drives 15,000 miles a year. Ridehail cost per mile component is around $1. Total cost of urban trips (based on a sampling of the apps in Boston and LA) is $2-4/mile, going down the longer the drive is, maybe around $2/mile for 10 mile trips. If you replaced your car with ridehail, you'd be paying $30,000/year. Trés affordable! /s Now, maybe a lot of those miles are longer road trips you wouldn't use ridehail for, so your local driving might be 10,000 miles; that's only $20,000.

Different approach: the app prices are more constant in time units, about $1/minute. The average commute to work is 30 minutes; if you ridehailed to work, you'd be paying $60/workday, or $15,000 over 250 workdays (a year). That's just for your commute, never mind groceries, taking kids to school or things, going out...

That's all for the original product, single person on demand. If you do the Lyft Line/Uber Pool approach, that can halve costs. A mere $7,500 for your work commute! ...assuming no rush hour surge pricing. And car pooling has more time variability, of course. For the 10,000 miles of local driving, $10,000/year. Not that far from estimates of total cost of car ownership for 15,000 miles/year.

Urban car trips tend to be 15-30 MPH, I figure; 10,000 miles is 20,000 to 40,000 minutes, so $20-40K/yeared, or $10-20K pooled.

Competition is fierce, neither company is profitable, and there's doubt as to whether it's really profitable for drivers if they accounted for all costs, so prices are more likely to go up than down.

My T pass is $1014/year. Granted it's often slower (not at rush hour!) It's also 90-99% less likely to mangle or kill me, but most people don't worry about that.


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