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Posted by Jon Brodkin

(credit: Free Press)

The Federal Communications Commission is dropping its legal defense of a new system for expanding broadband subsidies for poor people, and it will not approve applications from companies that want to offer the low-income broadband service.

The decision announced today by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would halt implementation of last year's expansion of the Lifeline program. This 32-year-old program gives poor people $9.25 a month toward communications services, and it was changed last year to support broadband in addition to phone service.

Pai's decision won't prevent Lifeline subsidies from being used toward broadband, but will make it harder for ISPs to gain approval to sell the subsidized plans. Last year's decision enabled the FCC to approve new Lifeline Broadband Providers nationwide so that ISPs would not have to seek approval from each state's government. Nine providers were approved under the new system late in former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's term, but Pai rescinded those approvals in February.

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Posted by Shep McAllister on Deals, shared by Shep McAllister to Lifehacker

OxyLED’s OxySense motion-sensing closet light is one of the best-selling products in Kinja Deals history, and it’s easy to see why. You can stick it anywhere, it turns itself on and off, and it’s super cheap. Today, add two individual lights your cart (not the 2-pack available on the page), and get both for $15 with…


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It's easy to get stuck on the style trappings of your existing furniture. Say you purchased an ultra modern sectional back when you were in a hardcore minimalist/Marie Kondo phase, where way less was more, but now you've grown tired of the streamlined look, or perhaps you love the look of a Chesterfield sofa, but it doesn't play nice with your bohemian decor leanings...how do you make it work without sacrificing what you already have (or just plain want)?


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Posted by Andy Orin

If you’re the sort of person that’s ditched clunky laptops in favor of a svelte tablet lifestyle, you’ll be happy to hear that Google has finally optimized their calendar app just for the iPad.


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Posted by Keith DeCandido

“The Pirates of Orion”
Written by Howard Weinstein
Directed by Bill Reed
Animated Season 2, Episode 1
Production episode 22020
Original air date: September 7, 1974
Stardate: 6334.1

Captain’s log. There’s been an outbreak of choriocytosis on the Enterprise, but McCoy has it under control, so the ship can still fulfill its mission to attend the dedication ceremony for a new Academy of Sciences on Deneb V. However, Spock collapses on the bridge and is taken to sickbay. He’s contracted choriocytosis, and it’s fatal to beings with copper-based blood.

The nearest supply of the only drug that can cure him is four days away, but Spock will only live for three. (Why the Enterprise didn’t stock up on the drug when the outbreak first occurred is left as an exercise for the viewer.) However, Kirk is able to arrange a delivery—the Potemkin is able to obtain the drug, they’ll transfer it to the Freighter Huron, which will deliver it to the Enterprise. Spock is put on restricted duty.

While en route to rendezvous with the Enterprise, the Huron is intercepted by an unknown ship that refuses to respond to hails. The Huron engages in evasive maneuvers, but the ship keeps with them and threatens to board them and take their cargo.

The Enterprise receives the Huron’s distress signal and arrive to find the ship dead in space on emergency power. Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, and Chapel beam over to the Huron to discover the hold empty and the crew unconscious.

Using the Huron’s sensor data, Arex is able to trace the pirate ship. Meanwhile, Spock’s condition is deteriorating, to the point where he’s confined to sickbay and on a respirator.

The pirate ship takes refuge in an asteroid field that is literally explosive—the asteroids blow up when they collide with each other or with anything else. Arex recognizes the pirate ship’s markings as being Orion.

The Orion pirates hail the Enterprise, proclaiming their innocence and accusing Kirk of harassing them. Sulu confirms that the dilithium from the Huron is on their ship, so Kirk doesn’t buy their denial—but he’s also running out of time for Spock. So he offers to let them keep the Huron’s dilithium shipment, and also be given an additional supply of same, and to keep the incident out of the official log, as long as the Orions give Kirk the drug Spock needs.

After considering, the Orion captain agrees to the exchange—but only face to face on one of the asteroids, and the Orions don’t even want the extra dilithium. However, the Orions can’t risk their neutrality, and don’t trust that Kirk won’t report this anyhow. They’re willing to destroy themselves as long as the Enterprise is also destroyed.

Kirk and the Orion captain beam down to the asteroid, the latter with the drug, but also with an explosive on his back that will detonate the asteroid, and destroy both ships. Scotty orders Kirk and the pirate captain beamed up, and security keeps the captain from committing suicide. The Orion ship prepares to self-destruct, but Kirk points out that the captain will still stand trial regardless, so the Orion captain orders his crew to stand down and surrender.

Spock is given the drug and all is right with the world.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? While choriocytosis is survivable by folks with iron-based blood (like humans), folks with copper-based blood (like Vulcans and Vulcan-human hybrids) can die from it, as the disease surrounds the cell walls so they can’t respirate.

Fascinating. Spock is a generally terrible patient, who only even agrees to restricted duty because McCoy forces the issue, never mind the fact that he’s already collapsed on the bridge once.

I’m a doctor, not an escalator. McCoy tries to get Spock to admit that his green blood nearly killed him, and he should be sorry he doesn’t have red blood like a normal person. McCoy’s always been borderline racist in his comments to Spock, and his rant at the end is one of the worst offenders.

Hailing frequencies open. Uhura gets to go on a landing party, charged with retrieving the Huron’s logs, plus her usual opening of hailing frequencies.

Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu is able to keep the Enterprise safe in the dangerous asteroid field.

I cannot change the laws of physics! Scotty acts quickly to transport Kirk and the Orion captain back up from the asteroid before the latter’s bomb can detonate.

Forewarned is three-armed. Arex is the one who recognizes the ship as Orion, and he’s the one who tracks the ship down.

Go put on a red shirt. As usual, security fails to notice that the Orion captain’s about to commit suicide, but Kirk does notice and stops him.

Channel open.

“What’s the use of being a doctor, anyway? We’re only as good as our drugs and technology make us. Underneath all the tricks, I might as well be practicing in the Middle Ages.”

–McCoy feeling helpless before his inability to cure Spock.

Welcome aboard. James Doohan provides the voices of Scotty and Arex as usual, as well as that of the Orion captain. Majel Barrett does her usual Chapel and the computer voice, as well as the Huron engineer, while George Takei doubles as both Sulu and the Huron helmsman. Nichelle Nichols is Uhura, while Filmation producer Norm Prescott voices O’Shea and the Orion lieutenant.

Trivial matters: This is the first episode of the animated series’ abbreviated second season, all the episodes of which were directed by Bill Reed, after Hal Sutherland directed the sixteen episodes of the first season. Sutherland’s director credit was still seen in the closing credits due to Filmation being too cheap to create a new credits sequence, so Reed’s credit was given in the title card along with the episode’s writer.

Howard Weinstein sold this script to the animated series at the tender age of nineteen, making him the youngest person to write a Star Trek script. Weinstein would go on to write many critically acclaimed Star Trek novels, short stories, and comic books, starting with the 1981 novel The Covenant of the Crown, and including half a dozen novels, a novella, two short stories, comics for both Marvel and WildStorm, and most notably a lengthy run on DC’s monthly Star Trek comic in the early 1990s.

Orion was pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, rather than the more traditional second syllable.

The conflict with the Orions at Coridan that led to the Babel Resolution Kirk mentions occurred in “Journey to Babel.”

To boldly go. “Blasted Vulcan!” This is an excellent little story, a nice little space opera adventure with a ticking clock, suspense, danger, double crosses, plus a dab of politics in the Orions’ attempts to maintain neutrality as a cover for their piracy.

Howard Weinstein (who, full disclosure, is a friend and colleague of your humble rewatcher—in fact, I commissioned two of Howie’s Trek works, the short story “Safe Harbors” in Tales of the Dominion War and the Mere Anarchy novella The Blood-Dimmed Tide) shows an excellent understanding of Trek, from Kirk’s willingness to move heaven and earth to save Spock (“Amok Time“) to the dodginess of the Orions (“The Cage,” “Journey to Babel“) to the show’s general trademark default to compassion with Kirk convincing the Orion captain not to let his crew throw their lives away. On top of that, taking Spock out of the action early on gives the rest of the crew something to do (cf. “Spock’s Brain,” though in this case it’s not the only redeeming feature of the episode…), as the entire supporting cast gets something to do, particularly Arex and Scotty.

It’s not perfect—McCoy’s comments to Spock are nasty even by his high standards of being racist toward Spock, and someone should have told the cast how to pronounce “Orion”—but overall this is a fine adventure story.

Warp factor rating: 9

Next week: “Bem”

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at the Central Pennsylvania Comic-Con this weekend in York, Pennsylvania. He’ll have a table where he’ll be selling and signing books. Other guests include comics artists Mark Sparacio, Chris Campana, Ken Hunt, Gus Mauk and fellow writer-types Pat Shand and Alec Frazier.

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Posted by Sweepstakes

On April 4th, Tor.com Publishing releases Ruthanna Emrys’s Winter Tide into the wild—and to celebrate, we want to send you a prize pack containing five Lovecraft-related tales!

One lucky winner will receive copies of:

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on March 29th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on April 2nd. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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The Greek News Agenda published an article titled "Explore Greek Manuscripts Online at the British Library" on March 10, 2017.

"Historians, biblical scholars and students of classical Greece alike no longer have to make the trip to the British Library’s reading rooms since most of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts are now accessible online. As a result of the Library’s Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, which began in 2008 and is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, full digital coverage and new catalogue descriptions of 905 Greek manuscripts are now available to researchers with high resolution colour images of each manuscript, including flyleaves and bindings, with an up-to-date description of its content and codicological features, and an extensive bibliography."  . . . .


[syndicated profile] unplggd_feed
(Image credit: TP-Link)

Every night when it's time to go to sleep, I follow the same routine: Shut the bedroom door, turn off the lights and meander my way to my bed in the dark, because my light switch—and the only major lighting in my room—is on the complete opposite side of the room. Or at least, I did, until a few weeks ago when I bought a light bulb I could talk to instead.



Mar. 30th, 2017 02:48 am
[syndicated profile] lexi_feed
Ready to be healthy again

It's crazy how many motions of our body we take for granted when it's working properly, isn't it?
[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed

We know you had good intentions: when you come across a free curbside cast-off, or have a piece you've become seriously attached to, it's hard to let it go. But after your best efforts to work it into your home, something's still not working…and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. When you're faced with the decision to toss or transform an old piece of furniture, why not upgrade it into something useful? Not only is this approach cost efficient and fun, but you also get to customize your designs as you go!


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Posted by Lesley Goldberg

Five of the show's stars took a $100,000-per-episode pay cut to their rich contracts in a show of support for co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, who are holding out for salary parity for the two-season pickup leading through its 12th and expected final season.

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turlough: Quatre & Trowa & Heero & Duo & Wufei with space colony interior in the background ((gw) gundam boys)
[personal profile] turlough posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Wufei, Howard, Trieze, Une, Noin, Zechs, Relena
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Medium: digital art
Artist on DW/LJ: unknown
Artist Website/Gallery: unknown

Why this piece is awesome: I remember first first seeing these in 2003 when I was new to Gundam Wing. I loved them back then and found them just as charming when I recently stumbled upon them again. They're so cute and fun. I just want to cuddle them. My favourites are probably Howard, Noin, and the Quatre & Trowa pair, but all of them are just as adorable.

Link: The 'Infamous' Plushies by Dogmatix (scroll down almost to the bottom)
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Posted by Shep McAllister on Deals, shared by Shep McAllister to Lifehacker

While it doesn’t have the brand recognition of Nest’s learning Thermostat, the Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat one-ups its most popular competitor by including a wireless remote sensor that you can place elsewhere in your house, giving the thermostat a more accurate picture of your home’s overall temperature. Plus, it’ll…


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Posted by Leah Schnelbach, Stubby the Rocket


Some of us don’t need any more reasons to fear clowns, but for those sunny few who were OK with them, Stephen King released a massive book called IT in 1986 that gave us the scariest clown imaginable. And now Mama director Andrés Muschietti has directed a new adaptation of the story, and if the trailer is anything to go by it’s going to be exactly the horror movie everyone wants. Bill Skarsgård looks perfect as Pennywise, and the Loser’s Club looks promising, too.

Click through for the full trailer!

IT will come skulking out of the sewers and into a theater terrifyingly near you on September 8th!


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Posted by Robyn Bennis

They say it’s not the fall that kills you—for Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

And yet somehow author Robyn Bennis always finds a way to make that kind of situation funny.

Below is just one example from her forthcoming military fantasy adventure novel The Guns Above—out on May 2nd from Tor Books—which chronicles Dupre’s struggle to achieve victory despite her doubting crew, her untested airship, and the shameless Lord Bernat, a gambling flirt who is actively trying to undermine her command.



The crew adjusted the rigging, brought water and fire blankets forward, readied the bref guns, secured the small-arms racks to the rails, and loaded the rifles.

Bernat wondered if any of them questioned Dupre’s feeble pantomime of a brave captain, and suspected they didn’t. They hadn’t seen the real Dupre, hiding in the bow, fretting until she turned red. The crew, no doubt, thought she’d been planning this all along, that her hesitation was part of some elaborate stratagem. He would have to mention that in his letter. Perhaps he’d add something about “permitting the deceit and vanity natural to her sex to rule over her other faculties, such as they are.”

As he was contemplating this, the woman herself appeared before him and shoved a rifle into his hands. “Here. Make yourself useful and help the loader.”

Bernat looked at the crewman who was busy loading rifles, then at Josette. He was thoroughly confused.

She sighed and spoke very slowly. “Load this rifle, please.”

He took the rifle, but could only stare at it. “And how does one go about doing that?”

She narrowed her eyes. “You must be joking.”

“At the palace, we have someone to handle these sorts of trivialities.”

She snatched the rifle back. “If he can’t find any other utility, my lord will perhaps lower himself to firing a shot or two at the enemy?”

“That sounds delightful,” Bernat said. He didn’t relish the thought of going into battle, but it seemed he had no choice, so he might as well kill a few Vins while he was at it. It would, at least, give him something to brag about.

The ship drove on, gaining altitude so quickly the change caused a pain in his ears.

“Passing through five thousand,” Corporal Lupien said. Bernat was beginning to suspect the men and women of the signal corps simply enjoyed making pointless announcements.

Martel, posted along the forward rail of the hurricane deck, suddenly put his telescope to his eye and cried out, “Enemy sighted! Two points starboard at about four thousand.”

Bernat looked in the direction he was pointing and, by squinting, could barely see a speck in the sky. “Tallyho!” he cried. But when he looked about, only blank stares met his enthusiastic grin.

“Tally-what?” Martel asked.

“It’s what one says on a fox hunt, when the quarry is sighted.” His grin diminished. “You know, ‘tallyho!’ I thought everyone knew that.”

“Come to one hundred and twenty degrees on the compass,” Dupre said. The bitch was ignoring him.

Lupien made a few turns on the wheel. The ship came about, but not far enough to point directly at the enemy. Bernat asked Martel, “We aren’t going straight for them?”

“Cap’n wants to keep us between them and the sun,” he said, handing the telescope to Bernat. After a bit of fumbling, Bernat found the enemy ship in the glass.

He’d been expecting something smaller, perhaps some weathered little blimp covered in patches. But the thing Bernat saw through the telescope was an airship, comparable in size to Mistral and bristling with guns.

“She has a fierce broadside,” Bernat said.

“Three per side,” Martel said. “But they’re only swivel guns.”

“What a comfort,” Bernat said. When he looked into the telescope again, the ship was turning toward them. “They’ve seen us! They’re attacking!”

Martel snatched the telescope back and looked out. “No, no,” he said. “They’re only turning to keep near cloud cover, but the weather isn’t doing them any favors today.” Indeed, the mottled cloud cover had been shriveling up all afternoon. The cloud bank near which the enemy lingered was one of the largest in the sky, but only a few miles wide at that.

“Range?” Dupre asked. “I make it five miles.”

It seemed to Bernat that an hour or more had passed before Martel called the range at two miles. Consulting his pocket watch, however, he found that the elapsed time had only been four minutes.

Dupre nodded and ordered, “Crew to stations. Mr. Martel, please send a bird to Arle with the following message: ‘From Mistral: have engaged Vin scout over Durum.’ ”

Lieutenant Martel patted Bernat on the back, in a most uncomfortably familiar manner for a commoner. “Don’t worry, my lord. Everyone’s a little nervous, their first time.” He trotted up the companionway ladder and disappeared into the keel.

The gun crews stood in their places next to the cannons, except for Corne, who had found Bernat standing in his spot and didn’t know what to do about it. Bernat had sympathy, but not enough to move. If Corne wanted the spot so badly, he should have gotten there earlier. Martel came down carrying a pigeon. He released it over the rail, then went back up the companionway to take station aft.

They were on the outskirts of Durum now, passing over farmland and old, flooded quarries. The Vinzhalian ship hovered below and to the east, just beyond the old stone wall that surrounded the town. Just south of the town was Durum’s aerial signal base. Its airship shed was a pitiful little thing compared to Arle’s, but it was still the largest building in sight, and would have been the tallest if not for a rather excessive spire on the town’s pagoda, most likely added to keep the shed from being taller.

Bernat saw something fall from the enemy ship. He thought they must be bombing the town, until Kember said, “Scout dropping ballast! Sandbags… and now water. They’re turning away.” She put the telescope to her eye. “And they’ve released a bird. It’s heading east, toward Vinzhalia.”


“To the bird, sir?”

“To the scout ship, Ensign.”

“Over a mile, I’d say. A mile and a half. No, maybe less than that. A mile and a quarter. Maybe a little over a mile and a quarter.” Kember’s voice had a noticeable tremor in it.

“Thank you, Ensign,” Dupre said.

The girl winced. Bernat deigned to pat her on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I have it on good authority that everyone’s nervous their first time.” They were close enough now that, even without a telescope, he could see a port opening in the tail of the enemy ship. It was suddenly lit by a brilliant light, from which emerged some small object, streaking toward them and trailing smoke. “Good God,” he screamed. “They’re shooting at us!” Only then did the shriek of the rocket reach his ears.

Behind him, Dupre sighed and said, “It would be more remarkable if they weren’t, Lord Hinkal.”


Look for more thrilling excerpts from The Guns Above!


pandarus: (Default)
[personal profile] pandarus posting in [community profile] amplificathon
Title: What We Pretend We Can't See [PODFIC]
Author: Gyzym
Reader: FayJay
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: NC17 (eventually. But mostly not.)
Length: 12 hours & 45 mins
Warnings: n/a
Relationships: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Characters: Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, Assorted Others.

Harry/Draco, set seven years post-Battle Of Hogwarts. Chromatic characters. This is comforting and nostalgia-inducing as a warm blankie and a mug of hot chocolate with a slug of brandy on a cold winter's night, but it's also blessedly diverse - I have utterly embraced black!Hermione, biracial!Harry and Asian!Pansy as canon now. NC17 eventually, but mostly good old fashioned mutual pining, plotty goodness, found family and worldbuilding. Love it.

Massive thanks to the lovely Cybel for turning my jigsaw puzzle pieces into a podbook, and creating the art, and hosting.

Link to story on the AO3
[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed
(Image credit: TP-Link)

Every night when it's time to go to sleep, I follow the same routine: Shut the bedroom door, turn off the lights and meander my way to my bed in the dark, because my light switch—and the only major lighting in my room—is on the complete opposite side of the room. Or at least, I did, until a few weeks ago when I bought a light bulb I could talk to instead.


[syndicated profile] arstechnica_ip_feed

Posted by John Timmer

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

Jupiter is widely credited with providing Earth with a bit of protection. The immense gravity of the gas giant typically either sucks in asteroids and comets or flings them out into orbits where they pose our planet little danger. But astronomers have now identified an asteroid that's in a stable orbital interaction with Jupiter. That interaction sends the asteroid around our Solar System backward and causes it to shift between two radically different orbits without ever settling into either.

The planets and other bodies in the Solar System mostly orbit in a single direction, inherited from the spinning disk of material from which they formed. A few bodies orbit in the opposite direction—called retrograde—but these tend to have odd, highly elliptical orbits. They're also very rare; only 0.01 percent of the known asteroids have retrograde orbits. Orbiting in the wrong direction around the Solar System tends to bring an object into relative proximity to a planet twice an orbit, and the resulting gravitational interactions will eventually destabilize the orbit.

Or so we thought. Some mathematical work showed that it's possible to have a stable retrograde orbit that overlaps with the orbit of a planet. In this case, the gravitational interactions are the key to stability. Each of the two passes of a single orbit would provide a nudge that counteracted the results of the previous one. While the orbit would shift with each nudge, it would remain stable due to this cancellation.

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Posted by David Kravets

Enlarge (credit: Shenzen Sunshine)

The marketplace for the consumer drone is skyrocketing. Now there are more than 770,000 drones registered with the US Federal Aviation Administration. That's up from 670,000 in January alone.

The number might be even higher if an Indiegogo crowdfunded campaign delivered its Onagofly F115 drone as promised, according to a would-be class-action federal lawsuit. The suit, (PDF) filed Monday in a Los Angeles federal court, also accuses drone-makers Shenzen Sunshine Technology of China and Acumen Robot Intelligence of Brea, California, of delivering "a worthless product" when it does follow through on orders for its hand-sized, camera-equipped drones. The suit says the delivered drones are "nothing more than a spruced-up paperweight" and that the companies have "perpetrated a scam upon the fast-growing drone-buying community."

The suit also claims that their "customer service department is nonexistent, such that it is completely unresponsive to the hundreds if not thousands of customer complaints" regarding the Onagofly F115 drone, which costs up to $280. The company had raised some $3.5 million in crowdfunding on Indiegogo. Crowdfund Insider claims that the drone was one of "the most funded Indiegogo campaigns of all time" and that the drone has been riddled with complaints of it either being shoddy or not being delivered at all.

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Why Is Everyone Talking About VPNs?

Mar. 29th, 2017 05:09 pm
[syndicated profile] lifehacker_feed

Posted by Thorin Klosowski

Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a measure that killed an upcoming FCC ruling that would have required internet providers to ask your permission to sell your browsing data. Now, everyone’s trying to find a way around this, and virtual private networks (VPNs) are the most popular means of doing so. But…


pandarus: (Default)
[personal profile] pandarus
I have made a podfic of Gyzym's fabulous HP novel What We Pretend We Can't See, because it is an absolute gem and a balm to my soul in these dark times of Brexit and the Trumpocalypse.

Harry/Draco, set seven years post-Battle Of Hogwarts. Chromatic characters. This is comforting and nostalgia-inducing as a warm blankie and a mug of hot chocolate with a slug of brandy on a cold winter's night, but it's also blessedly diverse - I have utterly embraced black!Hermione, biracial!Harry and Asian!Pansy as canon now. NC17 eventually, but mostly good old fashioned mutual pining, plotty goodness, found family and worldbuilding. Love it.

Massive thanks to the delightful Cybel for generously turning my jigsaw puzzle bits into an audiobook, and for hosting the file. <3
[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by Gennie Gebhart

Getting a new job, recovering from an abusive relationship, engaging in new kinds of activism, moving to a different countrythese are all examples of reasons one might decide to start using Facebook in a more private way. While it is relatively straightforward to change your social media use moving forward, it can be more complicated to adjust all the posts, photos, and videos you may have accumulated on your profile in the past. Individually changing the privacy settings for everything you have posted in the past can be impractical, particularly for very active users or those who have been using Facebook for a long time.

The good news is that Facebook offers a one-click privacy setting to retroactively change all your past posts to be visible to your friends only. With this tool, content on your timeline that you’ve shared to be visible to Friends of Friends or Public will change to be visible by Friends only. And the change will be “sticky”it cannot be reversed in one click, and would be very difficult to accidentally undo.

Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial to change this setting and make your posts more private.

mytubethumb play
Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube.com

Keep in mind that, if you tagged someone else in a past post, that post will still be visible to them and to whatever audience they include in posts they are tagged in. And, if you shared a past post with a “custom” audience (like “Friends Except Acquaintances” or “Close Friends”), this setting won’t apply

Finally, this setting can only change the audience for posts that you have shared. When others tag you in their posts, then they control the audience. So share this blog post and video with your friends and encourage them to change their settings, because privacy works best when we work together.

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Posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown

Order a copy today of ​Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter​ by Unclutterer's Editor-in-Chief Erin Rooney Doland.

Unclutterer reader Jackie (great name by the way) wrote in to ask:

What does one do with old pictures of actors, and Broadway programs and playbills?

This is a great question and it also encompasses programs and photos from other cultural events such as posters from special museum exhibits, sporting event programs, and photos from themed conventions (e.g., Comic-Con, etc.).

The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I still want to keep these items?” If you decide that you want to part with some or all of these items, then here are a few ways to do that.

  • Friends/family: Pass items along to friends or family members who show an interest. Include a brief description of the item’s history; how you got it and why you kept it.
  • Aficionados: If you belong to a group of theatre-goers or a fan-club, other members of the group may be interested in your items. If you’re not a member of a fan group, you could contact a local club and let them know what items you have to sell or donate. Some businesses might be interested too. For example, a small café near your local theatre might wish to use Broadway programs as part of their décor.
  • Local theatre, historical group, or archives: Photos, pictures, and playbills from a local theatre may be of value to your community archives. Consider contacting these groups to make a donation.
  • Online selling: Using online auctions sites (eBay) or classified ads sites (Craigslist, kijiji, Gumtree, etc.) will allow you to find buyers from outside your local area.
  • Disposal: Paper items whose condition is too poor to sell can be recycled. Photos, posters, and other non-recyclables could be donated to a community group to be dismantled for a craft project or placed directly into the garbage.

For those items you wish to keep, here are some ways to organize and conserve them.

An archival 3-Ring Binder Box with heavy-weight, archival sheet protectors would be ideal to store and organize programs and playbills. You could slip a little acid-free index card in the pocket to record the date you saw the show, with whom you saw it, and a brief review. Labelled tabbed dividers can help further organize your playbills into subcategories. You could subdivide by year or by genre – whatever makes the most sense to you.

Dirt and oils on your fingers can degrade paper and photos, so always handle the items carefully with clean, dry hands. When you’re organizing, avoid areas with food and drinks. If the kitchen or dining table is your only organizational space, cover the table with a clean cotton cloth before you start to protect your collection while you work.

If your materials contain staples, remove them carefully and replace them with archival thread. However, closures such as sealing wax, ribbons, stitches, and unusual metal fasteners may enhance the value so when in doubt, leave these items in place.

Temperature, humidity, and light will affect items in storage. Ensure that you store your collection in a suitable climate. Archivists recommend no higher than 21°C (70°F) and a relative humidity between 30% and 50%.

You may decide to frame some posters or photos that have great meaning to you. We suggest that you use acid-free materials and UV-resistant glass when mounting your items. Hang your work out of direct sunlight to ensure it retains its beauty.

Good luck with your collection Jackie. For more information on conserving these types of documents, check out the Northeast Document Conservation Center website.

Post written by Jacki Hollywood Brown

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The upcoming movie stars Tom Holland as the webslinger. This is the latest attempt by studio Sony to start a 'Spider-Man' film series and, along with other projects like an upcoming 'Green Lantern' film and the Freeform TV series 'Shadowhunters,' shows how Hollywood tries again even if a property fails.

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'Nature has flung her worst at the people of Queensland,' said Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 'There will be ... a lot of damage done now to recover, to clean up, to restore power, to make power lines safe.'

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Posted by Henry Jenkins

Shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles, I was asked to serve on her dissertation committee at UCLA for promising graduate student named Drew Morton. Morton was putting together a committee that included that only myself but also Janet Bergstrom,  John Caldwell and Denise Mann. This committee tells you something about this range of methodologies and perspectives Morton was trying to bridge through his work. Morton’s project was trying to understand the kinds of stylistic and narrative remediation taking place as more and more comic books and graphic novels were being adopted for the cinema.

Mortin’s work was bold, original and rock solid, adding real insight to our understanding of the significant intertwining of the film and comics industries in recent years. He approached this topic with consideration of industry trends and developments but also with the formalist eye towards its impact on cinematic language, genre evolution, and authorship questions. He moved forward through a series of compelling case studies, exploring particular formal practices as they were deployed in specific films and comics. In the process, he developed a much larger framework for thinking about the remediation process more generally. In some cases he dealt with adaptations  such as Watchmen or Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World but  he also dealt with more implicit influences such as the way to the comic book version of The Dark Tower may been informed by the wide-screen practices of Sergio Leone. His closing discussion of motion comics represented perhaps the most thoughtful discussion I’ve read of this new set of digital production practices which remain highly controversial among comic book enthusiast because of the way that they overwrite core aspects of the sequential art.

Morton represents a new breed of comparative media scholars who are as comfortable describing the panel breakdown or comics page as they are discussing  camera work and editing in contemporary blockbusters.  His work is deeply grounded in contemporary film and media theory and it has also been shaped by his success at reaching out key practitioners and decision-makers within the two industries. His interests are at once historical spanning back to early cinema in contemporary dealing with films of the past few seasons. He seems equally at home on the floor of the San Diego comic con as he is at the podium at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference. As such he’s been able to build a solid network around his work and his emerges a major advocate for the video essay as an emerging form of scholarly discourse.

Late last year, Morton published Panel to the Screen: Style, American Film and Comic Books During the Blockbuster Era, a book which built on an extended his dissertation research. I was asked to write a blurb for the book which sums up my assessment of its contributions to the field:

“At a time when superhero blockbusters dominate the box office, we need to know much more than we do about the formal and institutional factors shaping these films. In Panel to the Screen, Drew Morton provides a nuanced account of why these films look the ways they do as producers adopt a range of strategies for the cinematic remediation and translation of comics, and in turn, he considers how comic artists absorb devices from Hollywood which make their books seem that much more screen-ready when read by studio executives. This groundbreaking book moves from one rich and compelling case study to the next and will be essential reading for anyone interested in comics, films, and the relationship between them.”

Today, I am proud to share the first installment of an interview with Drew Morton about comics and film, one that is far-reaching in its scope, touching on many of the case studies from the book but also updating the argument to describe more recent developments such as the Deadpool movie and the revitalization of Batman 66. Enjoy!

You begin the book with a basic distinction between adaptation and remediation, noting that many more superhero movies, say, are adaptations and extensions of comic book sources than seek to perform the kinds of stylistic remediation that is central to your book. Explain this distinction more.


First off Henry, thanks for asking me to do this. I really appreciate the mentorship you’ve provided me with while I was working on this project.


This is a great question – given its centrality to the book and its ambiguity. Whenever I teach remediation and adaptation in my courses, I find that it takes my students quite a while to work through the difference. If I remember correctly? It was a hard concept for me to grasp the first time I read through it. Needless to say, examples tend to help.


Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is a loose adaptation that lacks remediation. If we look at the narrative borrowings of his films, we can easily find correspondences between Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One in Batman Begins. The film focuses on Bruce’s training, why he wants to protect Gotham City, and his relationship with the officer who will become Commissioner Gordon. The Dark Knight borrows from The Killing Joke and The Long Halloween while Rises takes its central conflict from Knightfall. As I said, these are loose adaptations that broadly take plot points, characters, and themes from the original books. Most comic book adaptations do this – the “faithful” adaptation seems to be incredibly rare.

Yet, Nolan’s films owe more stylistically to film noir than they do to comic books. He does not remediate – re-represent – the comic in the film. Unlike say Ang Lee’s Hulk, Nolan doesn’t fracture the frame into a bunch of panels. He does not use speed ramping like Zack Snyder does to capture the subjective temporality of reading. His film, unlike Dick Tracy or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, does not highlight the representational artifice of cartooning. Nolan borrows the iconography and some narrative pieces, but his films owe relatively little to their original medium.


As we think about the emergence of the comic book movie as a major factor in film production, one could argue that comics and film needed to be ready for each other. Comics had to gain a certain stylistic self-consciousness, thematic maturity, and cultural status and films had to acquire the technical capacity to make us believe a man could fly. Would you agree with this broad strokes analysis of the factors which led to the rise of the comic book movie?


I would agree with this to a certain extent. If we look back at how Hollywood treated comic book properties in the 1970s and 1980s, on the cusp of the cultural renaissance that came with the graphic novel, we can see a certain amount of dismissal. In today’s climate, it seems insane that DC Comics and Warner Brothers would sell off the rights to Superman for an independent film and yet, in the 1970s, it seemed perfectly reasonable for a number of reasons. First, as you mention, the special effects technology wasn’t there yet. The Christopher Reeves Superman films went horribly over budget. Secondly, Hollywood wasn’t sure if there was a large enough audience to cover the budgets of such costly films. The Comics Code of the 1950s had recast the American comic as a medium almost exclusively made for children.


The irony, of course, is that comic book sales peaked in America in the 1940s and – because of competition from television, video games, and other media – have never come close to recouping. So while comic book films are incredibly financially successful, those dollars do not necessarily migrate back to the comics. Whenever I talk about comic book movies in my classes, it astounds me to find how few of my students have actually read the comics. For most consumers, the films seem to be enough for them to call themselves DC or Marvel fans.


Your chapter on Scott Pilgrim begin life as a video essay, a form you have been deeply invested in cultivating and promoting. So, what did you learn through this process of, in effect, adapting this essay between two different delivery platforms? What could you convey through the video essay that was hard to achieve in print and vice-versa?


The Scott Pilgrim chapter was a bit of an odd beast. When I planned on including Scott Pilgrim, I was in the midst of the first draft of the book and I thought it was just strictly going to be another formal analysis case study. Then I was asked to cover the film for a entertainment outlet that summer and I was given behind the scenes access. Thanks to that, it evolved from what I initially thought was going to be a forgettable chapter to one of the centerpieces.

Thanks to the interviews I was able to conduct with the creators, the chapter was really exciting to write but it was not, as I found when I initially tried to turn it into an article, terribly exciting to read. Sure, the insights from Edgar Wright and the behind the scenes anecdotes gave the chapter some life, but formal and stylistic analysis can be really hard to write well due to the confines of prose and academic publishing in general. A picture can do a lot, but we deal in moving images and texts that are – to borrow from Raymond Bellour – “unattainable.” We cannot quote a film in an academic monograph the same way a English lit scholar can quote Shakespeare or an Art Historian can duplicate a Pollock painting. So I thought I would roll the dice and take an important section of my book and turn it into a video essay, which allowed me to provide a commentary over moving images. The end result allowed me to compare and contrast the book with the comic in a way that was much more dynamic (a little music can go a long way) and I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of the large audience that was drawn to the piece (thanks to the social media savvy of Edgar Wright, Matt Zoller Seitz, and yourself!).


That being said, the process of adaptation was much more complicated now that I have the benefit of hindsight. The Scott Pilgrim video essay was the third or fourth video piece I had made and came after a long sabbatical from video editing, so I look back at it now and wish I had made certain adjustments. Primarily, the voice over is too dense and I talk way too fast for some of the more complicated ideas (like the adaptation vs. remediation distinction) to take root in non-academic viewers.


Yet, the process of making the video essay also taught me how to hone my voice in prose in ways I had not expected. I think a lot of young academics think that scholarship needs to read intelligently – there is a certain vocabulary and toolbox of jargon that comes with academia – and I found I was hiding fairly uncomplicated concepts behind complicated prose in order to sound Professorial. That type of voice doesn’t tend to fly when it comes to video essays; it’s too stilted and dominates the argument. The ideal video essay should let both the audio and the video deliver the argument (which is why I’ve experimented with text only videos in the past); it’s not a conference paper.


I tell colleagues and students that a good video essay owes more to a journalistic or broadcasting style. Sentences should be concise, clear, and should roll off the tongue easily (the video essay voice over is a form of performance, after all!). I also tell them that the best “first step” to take is to take the blueprint for your video (which might be an article or a conference paper), throw it away, and ask yourself how you might explain your subject to your mom or dad – someone uninitiated in the language and concepts of Media Studies. That does not mean the ideas articulated are simple or lacking in scholarly rigor – they’re accessible. Fittingly, I have always thought of your voice as being a prime example of this model. I believe, if I remember correctly, that you once practiced journalism and I think that tends to be a really productive background for academics to have because it helps us produce work that can be approached by folks outside the Ivory Tower. So the video essay ended up helping me re-write the prose version into something much more dynamic.

Dr. Drew Morton is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Texas A&M University-Texarkana and the co-editor of [in]Transition, the first peer-reviewed journal focused on videographic criticism.  He is also the author of the  book Panel to the Frame: Style, American Comics, and Blockbuster Film.

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Posted by Andrew Cunningham


Samsung brought a few different accessories to the launch party for the Galaxy S8 this morning. One, Samsung Dex, is the latest in a long line of products that promise to let you replace your desktop computer with your phone.

Samsung hasn't announced pricing or a release date, and most of what we know comes from Samsung's presentation. The dock is small and circular, includes two USB ports and an HDMI port, and it is powered via USB-C (same as the S8 itself). The Verge reports that there's a small cooling fan inside the dock that presumably keeps the phone from throttling too much, enabling more desktop-y performance.

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Posted by Lee Hutchinson

Enlarge / Every blue dot represents a thing that can be hacked into and broken by malicious actors or used to spy on you by unscrupulous OEMs. But hey, at least you'll be able to control them all from one app.

As part of today's Samsung event, the Korean megacorp announced its intention to launch the new "Samsung Connect" service. Centered around a small Google Wi-Fi-like home router (called the "Samsung Connect Home"), the company's fact sheet explains that Samsung Connect "delivers on the vision of an integrated, cohesive, easy-to-use IoT ecosystem."

Connect is able to automatically identify Samsung-branded smart devices on your home's LAN, along with any other devices compatible with Samsung's SmartThings platform. SmartThings came under fire last May for numerous flaws and security vulnerabilities, though the company claims that it has since fixed its problems.

According to Samsung, the Connect app and service will eventually be available for all Android smartphones, rather than being restricted to Samsung devices. This is great news for folks who desperately want to see how much milk they have in their Samsung smart fridge, but who don't own a Samsung Android phone. Thanks to Connect, all Android owners will at some point be able to remotely verify their milk levels, reorder eggs, or whatever else you're supposed to do with smart fridges.

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Posted by Kristin Wong on Two Cents, shared by Andy Orin to Lifehacker

 One million dollars sounds like a hell of a lot of money, but when it comes to retirement, it might not take you as far as you think. The Wall Street Journal refers to this perspective as “the illusion of wealth.” Here’s what it means.


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Posted by Bill McBride

The Case-Shiller house price indexes for January were released yesterday. Zillow forecasts Case-Shiller a month early, and I like to check the Zillow forecasts since they have been pretty close.

From Zillow: February Case-Shiller Forecast: Year-Over-Year Price Gains to Continue
Annual gains in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price indices are expected to maintain their smoking pace in February, while month-over-month gains are expected to slow, according to Zillow’s February Case-Shiller forecast.

The February Case-Shiller national index is forecast to grow 6 percent year-over-year and 0.5 percent from January, up from January’s 5.9 percent annual growth but down a bit from its 0.6 percent monthly growth. The smaller 10- and 20-city indices are expected to post annual growth of 5.4 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively, up from 5.1 percent for the 10-city index and even with the 20-city index’s performance in January.

The 10- and 20-city indices are projected to post seasonally adjusted, month-over-month gains of 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Both would represent slowing from the 0.9 percent growth they each saw between December and January.

Zillow’s February Case-Shiller forecast is shown below. These forecasts are based on today’s January Case-Shiller data release and the February 2017 Zillow Home Value Index. The February S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices will not be officially released until Tuesday, April 25.
The year-over-year change for the Case-Shiller national index will probably increase in February.

Zillow forecast for Case-Shiller
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Name: Lucia and Jose
Location: Valencia, Spain
Size: 1291 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

Natural light bounces off of the high ceilings, patterned tile floors and other dazzling architectural features of this Spanish apartment, which serves as both the home and workspace for a creative, world-traveling couple. Lucia and Jose run Anker Prod, where they create videos for advertising and weddings. And though they're lucky to live in beautiful Valencia, they are also fortunate to get to travel the world for their work, as well.


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Posted by Kyle Orland

This patch announcement video fails to mention a massive change to late game enemy power hidden in the latest World of Warcraft update

Keeping a massively multiplayer online game fresh and challenging for longtime players while simultaneously staying accessible and fun for lower-powered relative newcomers is always a challenge. In World of Warcraft, a hidden change to the way end-game enemies power up alongside players has unintentionally thrown that balance out of whack, and Blizzard is working on a fix.

Shortly after yesterday's release of Patch 7.2 for the long-running MMO, players quickly began noticing that high-end enemies were scaling up in power depending on the power of the gear the player characters were wearing. The specific power numbers involved seem to make it so that players could perversely make a fight easier by taking off their high-end gear and replacing it with slightly worse weapons and armor, reducing the enemy's health and power greatly in the process.

The change in how enemy scaling works took many players by surprise because it wasn't explicitly mentioned in the extensive patch notes Blizzard released yesterday. Furthermore, WoW assistant director Ion Hazzikostas spoke out specifically against this kind of gear-based enemy scaling in a Twitch interview last year.

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Posted by Ars Staff

Enlarge / The Phantom Thieves love leather.

Note: Light spoilers for Persona 5 follow.

You should know exactly how you feel about Persona 5's style and tone within the first 10 minutes. I certainly did—although it has taken me well over 100 hours to see all the incredible and consistent ways developer Atlus' high-school heist RPG bends, breaks, and leans into its look, feel, and message.

Persona 5 took basically no time at all to knock me against the wild and woolly world of "shadows"—supernatural monsters born from the human psyche—in a frenetic opening scene set atop chandeliers hanging above a casino. Seemingly human guards hot on the protagonist's trail suddenly melted and morphed into mythical monsters. Just as the first creature showed its true form, the game's open environment smoothly twisted into turn-based combat. I took a while to realize the game even changes scenery when flipping into fights; the transitions are just that seamless.

Persona 5 has a much quicker, more gripping introduction than 2008's (also excellent) Persona 4. That game demanded players spend a good hour or more drifting through rural life before seriously hinting at the series' hybrid nature as part dating simulator, part dungeon crawler.

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Posted by Anne M. Pillsworth, Ruthanna Emrys

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at Lovecraft and William Lumley’s “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” first published in the February 1938 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

“I turned to flee, but found that vision of the titan paws before me—the great talons seeming to swell and become more tangible as I gazed. Out of the cellar’s evil blackness they stretched, with shadowy hints of scaly wrists beyond them, and with a waxing, malignant will guiding their horrible gropings.”


Editor’s notes: Occult researcher Alonzo Typer disappeared in 1908. He spent much time in India, Nepal, Tibet, Indochina and Easter Island, but his last known journey was less exotic, on the surface, being merely to a long-abandoned manor house near Attica, New York. It was built around 1760 by the van der Heyls, a family who left Albany under suspicion of witchcraft.

The van der Heyl reputation didn’t improve after relocation. Around their house rose Chorazin, a village filled with just the sort of rural folk to terrify Lovecraft’s provincial heart. Above both house and village rose a hill crowned with ancient standing stones, reviled by the local Iroquois. At certain seasons gentry and villagers gathered on the hilltop to chant, never a good sign. The rituals ceased with the 1872 disappearance of the whole van der Heyl clan. Their house stood empty and crumbling, for would-be tenants had a discouraging habit of dying, vanishing or going insane.

Typer arrived in Chorazin in April 1908. The diary of his time there, left as sort of a black box, wasn’t found until 1935, when it was excavated from the collapsed house. What follows is the diary verbatim.

Typer gets to the degraded village and dust-choked house as a storm breaks. He knows the Walpurgis Sabbat approaches and that it will be a dangerous time to spend in a witch-haunted ruin. Nevertheless, “prodded by some unfathomable urge, [he has] given [his] whole life to the quest of unholy mysteries” and comes “here for nothing else.”

He establishes “camp” in an upstairs room and starts exploring. Decay is omnipresent. More disturbing are the van der Heyl portraits, featuring people with unnaturally ophidian or porcine features. He also senses a malevolent presence, nonhuman, colossal. Semi-ethereal black paws periodically push him on the stairs, and sometimes the portrait subjects leave their frames for ghostly wandering. Villagers are supposed to bring his supplies to the estate gate. Too bad Typer can’t get there – the briars surrounding the house have merged into an impenetrable fence. Typer’s a prisoner, but an unseen someone gets through to deliver his necessaries anyway. He won’t starve before foul fate overwhelms him, probably on Walpurgis Eve.

Luckily Typer has plenty to occupy him. He uncovers a stepless chute to depths unknown. He finds obscure tomes hidden in every nook. In the fungoid basement, he stumbles on a brick vault with a locked iron door. The lock is engraved with undecipherable characters. Behind the door he hears faint padding, mutters, slithering. The unnerving sounds grow louder as Walpurgis nears, as do visits by the black paws and ghosts. And who is this Trintje van der Heyl Sleght, an “evil-faced” young woman in one of the portraits, and why does the name Sleght ring a dim bell in his memory?

The briars remain a prison wall, but allow him to climb the stone-crowned hill. Alonzo ventures to the circle, to be repelled by the monoliths’ clammy, scaly texture. Not much better is the wind that whispers around them—or is it sibilant voices?

In two separate hiding places Typer finds 1500s journals penned by Claes van der Heyl, ancestor of the New York branch. Puzzling out their ciphers, he learns about an “ancient forgotten One” who can show him the gateway he’s sought. He masters the “Seven Lost Signs of Terror” and the “unutterable Words of Fear.” With a “Chant” he can “transfigure” the Forgotten One at Sabbat time. But first he must find a way into the brick vault in the basement. It has a lock, so there must be a key.

And he finds the key, as queer an object as the lock. It’s wrapped in reptilian hide, on which is scrawled a Low Latin message in Claes’s hand. It confides that Claes has walked in Yian-Ho, the forbidden city of the primal Ones. There he learned how to “bridge a gap that should not be bridged” and to “call out of the earth That Which should not be waked or called.” Something follows him home which will not sleep until Claes or his descendent has “done what is to be found and done.” Many may be the strange “joinings” of his progeny, who’ll have to travel to some unknown land and build a house for the “outer Guardians.”

Now Typer looks on the key with “mixed dread and longing.” The night glows with green radiance, and he hears the Chorazin villagers chanting on the stone-crowned hilltop. Yet with all this going on, he’s still worried about that half-recognized name Sleght.

Walpurgis Eve. Storm breaks with “pandaemonic fury” under which the “hybrid, malformed villagers” chant and howl and leap with “diabolic ecstasy.” Typer sits in his “camp,” clutching the now-pulsing key, hearing muffled reverberations in the basement vault. Then (merciful God) he remembers! A Sleght was one of his own ancestors, a Sleght who’d married Trintje van der Heyl and thus linked him, Alonzo Typer, to the family of warlocks and nameless sin!

Must Typer finish what Claes started? He swears he will not. But too late! Black paws materialize and drag him toward the cellar.

And so, with the customary scrawl, Typer’s diary ends.

What’s Cyclopean: The old van der Heyl house is not merely filthy but “leprous.” The cellar is a “mass of nitrous encrustations” and “amorphous mounds.” House-tour vocabulary bonus for the portraits of “squamose” ladies.

The Degenerate Dutch: The van der Heyls—who are in fact Dutch—employed only servants brought directly from Africa who didn’t speak English. Clearly evil is afoot. Oh, and the Chorazin villagers are “decadent.” Also swarthy, simian-faced, Indian-like, stupid, and taciturn to a degree that baffles all students of the region. If you’re baffled by why they’d be taciturn after you describe them like that…

Mythos Making: Oh, hey, is that a sketch of Cthulhu in the van der Heyl diary?

Libronomicon: The evil thing in the house matches descriptions in the Aklo writings. Actually the family library is full of Aklo, as well as the Pnakotic Manuscripts (plural!) and the Eltdown Shards. Then there’s the trunk containing “a Greek Necronomicon, a Norman-French Livre d’Eibon, and a first edition of old Ludvig Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis.” Book collectors rejoice!

Madness Takes Its Toll: Four people who tried to take over the abandoned van der Heyl estate developed “cases of sudden insanity.” One later investigator develops amnesia.


Ruthanna’s Commentary

“Diary” is fundamentally a haunted house story. It would make a good B movie: idiot parapsychologist goes into the house where people meet awful fates, gets trapped by creepy townsfolk, researches his inevitable awful fate in the musty library, opens the forbidden vault, meets awful fate. Still writing, of course, in the grand tradition of “Dagon” and “Hounds of Tindalos.” (The window! Aaahhhh! Seriously, who scribbles in their notebook while being dragged away by monstrous claws?)

Although given the contents of that forbidden vault and the possibly moving portraits, maybe it’s just the dark version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

Closer to home, this story reminds me most of “The Lurking Fear.” Objectively it’s not particularly good, and degenerate ethnic stereotypes are strewn in every possible direction, but the unselfconsciously manic flow of words still delights. When you can breathe between the degenerate Dutch lizard-men and the degenerate “simian” villagers, there’s a quick fix of cosmic horror fun to be found in the relentless onslaught of forbidden tomes, Venusian overlords, and sanity-threatening revelations.

While there’s nothing particularly original here, Lovecraft and Lumley throw in the kitchen sink. Every volume from Miskatonic’s locked stacks makes an appearance, along with the Book of Dzyan (new but seems kinda Pnakotic). Hidden cities galore: spiffy Shamballah and dread-inspiring Yian-Ho. Aliens who ruled before humanity and aliens who want to come back and rule again. Ancestral witches from Salem and Albany. The horrifying but inevitable discovery that your great-great aunt once removed was a hybrid snake-pig-human wizard.

And the bigotry. Dear lord, the bigotry. It doesn’t quite beat out either “Horror at Red Hook” or “Medusa’s Coil,” but it makes up for lack of depth with breadth. Lovecraft’s addresses his contempt to the full socioeconomic spectrum, and vaguely references all sorts of terrifying non-Anglo ethnicities. The van der Heyls are degenerate Dutch aristocrats, so degenerate that they’ve bred with inhuman civilization-destroying things a la Innsmouth. See what happens when the ruling nobles don’t take seriously their responsibility to deny reality’s true nature? The Chorazin villagers are “simian-faced,” “swarthy,” “mongoloid” hybrids, with a suspicious resemblance to American Indians. And they don’t want to talk to outsiders, the ultimate in rural horror.

The most obvious Lumley contributions are the attractive-repulsive serpent ladies in the portraits. The closest Lovecraft comes on his own to a femme fatale is Asenath Waite, or maybe Lilith, neither quite the usual thing for that category. And he never quite persuades in describing feminine beauty, let alone anyone “hellishly beautiful.” Snakes, or snakish things, creep Yig-like everywhere in this story, down to the standing stones that might, in fact, be standing serpents. Me, I used to own a boa constrictor. Snakes get a bum deal from humans most of the time, and snake/human hybrids seem likely to have it even worse. Eventually you’re going to decide that you’d rather just pour out your troubles to Cthulhu.

I still feel like mental peace and sanity are compatible with knowing about ancient alien life forms. Unless they’re just gonna eat you, which might be the case here. I also feel like you shouldn’t summon that which you’re inexplicably confident you can banish. When summoning dark and ancient beings, “just wing it” is maybe not the best plan.


Anne’s Commentary

Late in life, Lovecraft made epistolary acquaintance with William Lumley, enthusiastic fan, occult-steeped eccentric, “thwarted poet” (per HPL), and watchman at a Buffalo, New York chemical company. Howard and his inner circle found the fellow a little amusing, a little disturbing. Lumley claimed that Lovecraft and friends were “genuine agents of unseen Powers in distributing hints too dark and profound for human conception or comprehension.” Whoa, cool, because that’s kind of my fictional conceit about Lovecraft, that he knew the truth of the Mythos and sneakily leaked it in his stories. Yet core Mythosians weren’t quite sure how serious Lumley was about his belief in their invented cosmology.

Writing in 1932 to Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft confides of Lumley:

“He claims to have traveled to all the secret places of the world—India, China, Nepal, Egypt, Thibet, etc.—and to have picked up all sorts of forbidden elder lore; also to have read Paracelsus, Remigius, Cornelius Agrippa, and all the other esoteric authors whom most of us merely talk about and refer to as we do to the Necronomicon and Black Book. He believes in occult mysteries, and is always telling about ‘manifestations’ he sees in haunted houses and shunned valleys. He also speaks often of a mysterious friend of his—“The Oriental Ancient”—who is going to get him a forbidden book (as a loan, and not to be touched without certain ceremonies of mystical purification) from some hidden and unnamed monastery in India…Young Brobst (as I told you, nurse in a mental hospital) thinks a touch of real insanity is present, but I regard the case as a borderline one. I always answer his [Lumley’s] letters in as kindly a fashion as possible.”

Lovecraft did Lumley the greater kindness of revising gratis his “Diary of Alonzo Typer.” He called the man semi-illiterate, with “no command of spelling or capitalization,” yet he also found him “amazingly erudite in the lore of mediaeval magic, & possessed of a keen & genuine sense of the fantastic…with a streak of genuine weird sensitiveness not very far removed from a certain sort of blind, rhapsodic genius.” To “Typer,” Lovecraft added the editorial notes that introduce Chorazin and the history of the van der Heyl family. He also evidently urged Lumley to make Alonzo Typer an unknowing descendent of the warlock clan. Though Typer’s genealogical memory seems first too balky, then (at the climax) too forthcoming, his connection to the van der Heyls works plot-wise and brings in Lovecraft’s favorite themes of hereditary destiny and guilt.

Poor Alonzo. Because he perpetuates an alien-tainted bloodline, his whole life has been an unconscious imitation of Claes’s, down to the Asian pilgrimages and occult studies that have primed him for freeing the Forgotten One. He joins the blood-cursed ranks of characters like “Shadow Over Innsmouth’s” narrator, Charles Dexter Ward, Arthur Jermyn, and all those tunneling Martenses.

Speaking of the Martenses, “Typer” returns us to the haunted New Netherlands of “Lurking Fear.” In many aspects, it recalls its predecessor. There’s a house once belonging to a reclusive Dutch family, all of whom vanish without a trace. The fate of the van der Heyls remains a mystery, but if they weren’t killed off in a failed attempt to raise the Forgotten One, they might well have adopted subterranean life, enough changed by inbreeding (and way-out-there breeding) to thrive underground. Maybe they’ve become those slithery Guardians behind the iron door. We’ve also got sinister twisted trees, and sinister thunder-plagued hilltops, and sinister “degraded” villagers, though “Lurking Fear’s” villagers were no cultists, just hapless fodder for the Martenses. Both Typer and “Fear’s” narrator are scholars of the strange and fanatical seekers of weirdness type. “Fear’s” narrator escapes the curse of the Martenses, a sadder but wiser man. Typer can’t escape the van der Heyls, for they’re embedded in his genes. Do the black paws drag him off to his death, both priest and sacrifice? We don’t know – his diary ends with the dragging. Even though old Claes’s last lizard-skin missive didn’t sound too sanguine, I like to think Typer pulled an Innsmouth and found wonder and glory beyond the brick vault. I wouldn’t bet on it, however.

While searching for information on William Lumley, I ran across a very interesting post by Dennis P. Quinn: The (Unintended) Religious Legacy of H. P. Lovecraft. It mentions Lumley as a prime example of someone who found “religious inspiration” in the work of self-avowed atheist Lovecraft. Lumley at least seems to have found that Mythosian fiction meshed neatly with his other occult obsessions. If Lumley was obsessed, not just having Howard and friends on.

It sounds like Lovecraft didn’t think Lumley was insincere. He wrote to Robert E. Howard, re the mystery fan from Buffalo: “There is surely, as you say, a tremendous pathos in the case of those who clutch at unreality as a compensation for inadequate or uncongenial realities.”

I wonder if Lovecraft didn’t do some clutching of his own. When he jettisoned God and intellectually embraced an uncaring cosmos, he didn’t leave that cosmos empty – instead he peopled it with tremendous deities and fascinating aliens and even Dreamlands that really do come true, if you dream hard and skillfully enough.

Well, of course, though. Don’t imagination, and fiction, abhor vacuums?


Next week, there are many fine Innsmouth artifacts in Ann Schwader’s “Objects from the Gilman-Waite Collection.” You can find it in Book of Cthulhu II. (Also next week, Ruthanna’s novel Winter Tide comes out! You can find her either squeeing about it endlessly or hiding under the bed.)

Ruthanna Emrys’s neo-Lovecraftian stories “The Litany of Earth” and “Those Who Watch” are available on Tor.com, along with the distinctly non-Lovecraftian “Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land” and “The Deepest Rift.” Winter Tide, a novel continuing Aphra Marsh’s story from “Litany,” will be available from the Tor.com imprint on April 4, 2017. Ruthanna can frequently be found online on Twitter and Dreamwidth, and offline in a mysterious manor house with her large, chaotic household—mostly mammalian—outside Washington DC.

Anne M. Pillsworth’s short story.The Madonna of the Abattoir” appears on Tor.com. Her first novel, Summoned, is available from Tor Teen along with the recently released sequel Fathomless. She lives in Edgewood, a Victorian trolley car suburb of Providence, Rhode Island, uncomfortably near Joseph Curwen’s underground laboratory.

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Posted by Ron Amadeo

NEW YORK CITY—After months of speculation and leaks, Samsung has finally made the Galaxy S8 official. It's everything we were expecting based on weeks of leaks: a major redesign of Samsung's flagship smartphone and a departure from the design language of the Galaxy S6 and S7. Samsung hasn't mentioned a price, but in the US the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will go up for pre-order on March 30 and will start shipping on April 21.

Customers who pre-order the phone will get a free Gear VR headset and controller for their trouble; normally the headset would cost $129.99 and the controller would cost $39.99.

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Posted by Alex Cranz on Gizmodo, shared by Andy Orin to Lifehacker

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is very important because as you probably know, Samsung is in a bit of trouble. The Note 7 explosions from last summer continue to haunt the company, and Samsung’s leadership is currently embroiled in a scandal that is, to put it gently, totally bananas. The company needs a big win lest it be…


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Posted by Swapna Krishna

SpaceX is constantly making headlines, so to say that the next launch is important seems disingenuous; after all, between supplying our astronauts on the ISS and successfully landing the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket, it seems as though every launch is important. Which certainly is the case. There’s nothing easy or routine about spaceflight, after all.

But SpaceX’s next launch, currently scheduled for Thursday, March 30, a 6:27 PM EDT, is different. It’s historic. And if it’s successful, it’s going to shape the trajectory of things to come. Tomorrow, SpaceX plans on flying a reused first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time.

Rockets usually work in stages to optimize weight and fuel calculations; the more weight you have, the more fuel required to drag it up out of Earth’s atmosphere. And let’s not forget that fuel itself is the most significant component of a rocket’s weight. That’s why rockets work in stages; when a stage burns up all of its fuel, it detaches, relieving the rocket of its weight, and the next stage continues on. In eight separate missions since 2015, SpaceX has been guiding that first stage in a controlled descent back to Earth, landing it upright with the eventual goal of reusing them in future launches.

Reusability is key to spaceflight; everything to do with going to space is expensive, so anywhere you can safely and reliably cut costs is a huge help. If SpaceX can successfully and safely achieve this launch—carrying a communications satellite into orbit—it’s going to be the first time anyone has reused part of a rocket after a vertical landing. The first stage of the rocket has the biggest and most expensive engines; if the company can get to a place where operation of reused first stages is a proven technology, it will cut costs drastically and make spaceflight that much easier.

It’s around $62 million to send a full payload to space on one of SpaceX’s brand new Falcon 9 rockets; sending your satellite or cargo up on a refurbished SpaceX rocket? A cool $40 million. But SpaceX is giving its customer—telecom satellite operator SES—a discount on this flight, not only for using an already flown (or in SpaceX’s terms, “flight proven”) first stage, but also for being the first to take a chance on the reusable technology.

Back in 2016, SpaceX’s rival company Blue Origin successfully relaunched its own rocket, New Shepard, but the smaller craft has only achieved suborbital flights. Tomorrow’s launch of the Falcon 9 could mark the first time a reusable rocket is launched into orbital space.

It’s a first step, of course—a reusable first stage needs to be followed by a reusable second stage, and on and on, to truly bring down the cost of spaceflight. But it’s an important one. You can watch SpaceX’s launch as a live stream on their YouTube channel tomorrow.

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Posted by Stubby the Rocket

Game of Thrones in space

George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (more officially, A Song of Ice and Fire) is an irresistible blend of modern-day allegory, fantasy, lewdness, and dragons. So we were wondering…would the uniqueness of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy world translate if you switched the genre to science fiction?

The answer must be yes. After all, the elements of A Song of Ice and Fire themselves could translate easily into a spaceship story: A series of planetary systems instead of kingdoms… One of them having control over a vast “Iron Fleet”… A dark and cold threat that no one seems to be paying attention to… A Wall made of black holes or star-fire or a condensed Oort Cloud… Dragons that are basically still dragons but they can breathe, fly, and shoot fire in space…

Okay, we’d read that in a heartbeat. But perhaps that story is already out there?

  • “The Expanse” series by James S. A. Corey is the first series that comes to mind when considering an overall comparison. (And reviews for the TV show are quick to dub it “Game of Thrones in space”.)
  • In terms of political inter-family intrigue, Ian McDonald’s “Luna” series seems to be shaping up as a worthy successor. It’s only two books along, but is already being compared to Game of Thrones.
  • And for those looking for the more fantastical elements of A Song of Ice and Fire, but set in space, it would be eyebrow-raising not to point out that Anne McCaffrey’s classic Dragonriders of Pern already got there, well before A Song of Ice and Fire ever existed! (Dragonriders was even being considered for a screen adaptation back during the networks and producers were rushing to have their own GoT-style hit.)

These are great starting points for this question, but that can’t be everything. Time for some book recommendations! What other space-based science fiction might scratch that Game of Thrones itch?


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