Recent books

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:20 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky. Pretty engaging tome on the history of salt's use and extraction, and its legal or military entanglements. Trying to fund a government off of salt tax or monopoly has been common, and commonly hated, from Legalist China to British abuses in India. The US Civil War can partially be told as a history of fights over saltworks. The Chinese were drilling for brine and using by-product natural gas by 100 AD, and doing percussion drilling around 1100 AD, down below 3000 feet by 1835.

Eye of Cat, Roger Zelazny. Time-dilated alien-hunter Navajo, teleport booths, assassins, psi, Navajo shamanism... a weird book, I don't anticipate re-reading.

The Sharing Knife: [Beguilement and Legacy], Lois Bujold. I'd read this series in 2009, and am enjoying it again. Lakewalker powers and their fight against malices gives me RPG ideas, interacting with inspiration from Martin and Hobb and what I think of as "Wraiths and Rangers". Like much of Bujold, has many laugh-out-loud moments in an otherwise serious story.

Penric's Demon & Penric and the Shaman, Lois Bujold. Novellas set in her Five Gods universe, which I finally got paper copies of from the library. (Released as DRM ebooks, which I refuse to support.) Good, and funny, and I'd happily read more.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia McKillip. My first McKillip after all these years. Enjoyable, with a fairy-tale quality to the story and and writing.
kerravonsen: "Homicidal faeries make things more interesting." (homicidal-faeries)
[personal profile] kerravonsen

My rambling spoilery thoughts on the first two books of the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire [twitter.com profile] seananmcguire. On audiobook, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal [twitter.com profile] MaryRobinette.

Rosemary and Rue )

In regard to the audiobook itself, Mary Robinette Kowal did a great job. I don't think I can imagine Toby as sounding like anyone else, now. Of the other voices she did... I love Tybalt the best.

So I went on to "A Local Habitation". Audiobook again. Chores become so much more pleasant when one is listening to an urban fantasy mystery. Massive SPOILERS for A Local Habitation )

Yes, more audiobooks of this series are on their way to me.

transit and mode share

Sep. 14th, 2017 11:29 pm
mindstalk: (Earth)
[personal profile] mindstalk
I've been reading a bunch of kchoze posts the past couple days. This one is on the economics of transit, and transit efficiency.

'if transit is economically inefficient, why are third world cities dominated by transit and not by personal cars? Why do the Japanese pay 10% of their income on transport versus 20% for Americans and Canadians?'

There are some numbers, and discussion of cost per mile vs. cost per trip. But there's one thing which I sort of gut felt that he spells out: transit friendly cities are denser, so they're more walkable as well.

Let me spell that out. In a sprawling car-centric city, up to 100% of trips may be taken by car. Actual numbers are more like 90%. [Caveat: that's share of trips to work, not all trips.] But you'll never see a city that's 90% transit mode share. (Some cities listed do get up to 70% transit, but again, that's commuting to work.) A city that has lots of transit is a city with lots of walking, too, especially if uses are decently mixed.

(I'm sort of imagining a degenerate case where there's no point to walking around one's residential neighborhood, not even for groceries or school or church, and having to catch transit elsewhere...)

So the reasonable target is not getting transit share really high, but car share low, with the slack being taken up by a mix of transit, walking, and bikes.

This has an extra economic effect: in Sprawlville, the cost of cars (roads, parking, cars, gas...) can be spread over almost all trips. Naively, the cost per trip of transit is doing to have a smaller denominator, only 40% of trips rather than 100%, even though the other non-car trips are part of a coherent dense system that must include transit.

Name five female...

Sep. 12th, 2017 06:26 pm
mindstalk: (Default)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Writers? Trivial for me.

Singers? Not hard.

Instrumental composers? Uh no, though I don't know that many composers period, especially living ones.

Visual artists? If comics and webcomics count, I can do it.

Painters? Haha no.

September 11, 2017

Sep. 11th, 2017 09:50 am
tim: Solid black square (black)
[personal profile] tim
"What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?

The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.

The worst is atomic war.

The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road. the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953

Equifax breach and credit protection

Sep. 10th, 2017 02:13 pm
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
[personal profile] mindstalk
Couple of similar articles on what to do after the breach: https://www.consumerreports.org/equifax/how-to-lock-down-your-money-after-the-equifax-breach/ and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/your-money/identity-theft/equifaxs-instructions-are-confusing-heres-what-to-do-now.html?_r=0

They skip checking if you're affected (answer: probably yes), and recommend putting security freezes and fraud alerts on your accounts. Big three, plus this other one, Innovis? Anyway, I tried.

Equifax: fairly easy for both. Claims it will pass the alert on to the other Big Two. Their idea of a freeze PIN is amateur hour bullshit.

Experian: freeze in place for $5. Option to provide your own PIN, or accept their random 10 digit one. Rejected my alert attempt.

TransUnion: failed to do anything, even by phone. Requires making an account to try things online; rejects 21 character account passwords.

Innovis: freeze and alert in place. I was not given a freeze PIN via webpage.

I also turned on my credit card's activity alerts, and got a ShopSafe number, basically a number you can use online with its own credit sublimit and expiration date. You can have many, so in theory you could have one for each vendor or subscription. My bank doesn't do activity alerts, which has me thinking about a different bank...

Ah, So That's Why

Sep. 9th, 2017 10:43 pm
kerravonsen: What is essential is invisible to the eye (essential-invisible)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
One thing that has baffled me quite a bit in these angry arguments about things like abortion and gay marriage, is the protest "religions shouldn't impose their morals on other people". To me, that has sounded completely unfair, because it's like declaring that anyone who follows a religion shouldn't have a say in a democracy, because obviously their opinions and their votes are going to be informed by their morals, their conscience, their beliefs.

I had an "aha!" moment recently, during a discussion on Twitter. (yes, very unwise to try to discuss anything on Twitter, but it was initially a cordial and respectful discussion, I think.) There are two classes of moral rules: those that apply to everybody, and those that only apply to some people. I think we can agree that things like "don't murder" and "don't steal" apply to everybody. The usual rule of thumb is "if it harms someone else, it applies to everybody". The ones that only apply to some people (I think?) are in the form of a promise made by a person to do or not to do something. Like promising to be faithful to your spouse; doesn't apply to those who don't have a spouse. My "aha" moment was the realisation that non-believers in (Judeo-Christian Abrahamic) religions think that ALL of the religious moral rules ONLY ever apply to followers of that religion; because they're in the form of a promise to obey those rules when they follow that religion, and if you didn't promise to, you don't have to. Whereas followers of Judeo-Christian Abrahamic religions believe that since God/Yahweh/Allah is the ruler/owner of the entire universe, there are some rules that He has laid down which apply to everybody, believer and non-believer alike, and that these rules are self-evident.
Read more... )
The basis of any cordial discussion of differences is the assumption of good will on the part of the participants. Without it, there is no discussion, just an acrimonious argument.

I'm leaving comments on for the moment, because I am interested in what you think, but the moment someone starts engaging in verbal fisticuffs, I will turn commenting off; I can't deal with the stress.

May 2016

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