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Our home phone rang.  Just the once.  The caller was gone long before I could get to the phone, before even the call-display thing was able to get the phone number.  The call doesn't even register in the call history.

Hardly the first time, though usually the phone spammers at least connect long enough to have the call register.  But what's the point of making such calls?  It's not like they're going to get a lot of people responding.  Reacting, certainly, with annoyance.  But picking up the phone and hearing the spiel?  Not so much.

But I'm reminded of a little thing that has bugged me about a number of SF shows as far back as I've watched them, Star Trek being the first one that came to my attention in this way.  It's one thing to make a phone call, wait until someone picks up the phone, and say something like "Kirk to Engineering".  If you're not already talking to someone in that department, you're talking with someone who will forward the call.  It's quite another to activate a communicator, say "Kirk to Engineering", and expect that you will immediately be talking with someone in that department.  That would require you to have an open line to everyone you might need to talk to, and have them all waiting on your word.  Otherwise... until you say that magic word "Engineering", how can the system know how to route your call?  How can the recipient know instantly who's calling?  It would be somewhat better to say something like "Engineering, this is Kirk".  At least that way, your call can be going to the right person before you get on with the rest.  But you'd still probably need a few seconds for someone to respond, because they at least have to listen to your message before they respond to it.

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Ontario's government has been asserting that increasing high-school class sizes' maximum from 22 to 28 will be good for the students, by preparing them for the hardships of working life.


This morning I ran across a relevant Non Sequitur strip from August 1993:

Preparing students for real world, Non Sequitur 1993 Aug 20


Apr. 1st, 2019 02:07 pm
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Pondering... would "autotonsillectomy" refer to tonsils spontaneously falling off, to removing one's own tonsils, or to yanking them out with a car?
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I've heard from several sources about something of a public uproar regarding J.K. Rowling's having revealed in commentary on the recently-released Fantastic Beasts DVD that Dumbledore was gay, and had had a relationship with Grindelwald. The revelation is being described as entertainment news.

Umm... 11½-year-old news?

Story idea

Feb. 28th, 2019 12:51 pm
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Plot concept: random people, perhaps one in a thousand, suddenly acquire a moderate superpower, such as running-pace flight or throw-a-car-a-few-meters super strength, which fades away after a year or so. Result: a lot of criminal gangs which have a lot of turnover as well as mutual conflict.

I spent too much time early this morning, on the edge of sleep, alternating between pondering the implications and seeing them play out in a dream. My role was a guy who had managed to piss off a few of those gangs by declining their "invitations" to join, but who had a "superpower" of extraordinary luck which managed to let him not be hit -- just barely -- by various "accidents" and explicit murder attempts. For a bit more than a year, which meant that that luck was overdue for going away. And everybody knew it. "Don't worry about it, we'll get him next time."

My subconscious is not a happy person.

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People are so accustomed to being misdirected by their GPS devices that one would hardly notice if it had been hacked to detour one into a gradually-narrowing dark lane for nefarious purposes.
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As a number of broadcasters have decided not to play "Baby, It's Cold Outside", I've been hearing a lot of "One song you're not going to hear much this Christmas is 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'" and clips from that song, on the news sources that I follow.

The other day, I heard a radio comedian wittering about "'Say, what's in this drink?' Well, they didn't have roofies back then." This is true. But they did have "putting several times more alcohol into a mixed drink than one would expect". Or whatever. Clearly, the woman is finding that her drink isn't what she's expecting, and finds it concerning.

Like "Have Some Madeira, M'Dear", this song hasn't aged well.

Though hearing it sung by Ricardo Montalban, my internal response to "what's in this drink?" involves Corinthian leather, coffee, and CREEETURES.
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2 deer decorations
This isn't a trick of perspective; that's the way they're set up.
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I firmly believe that at any institution that serves meals, all personnel should be required to eat that institution's food, for a full work day, at least once a month.

Under the same conditions that all the "regular" people get it. If you're working in the kitchen, you don't get your institutional meal fresh from the kitchen. You get it after it's been sitting in the delivery units in the hallways (or whatever), immediately after the meals have been served to all of the "regular" people. So you get the full experience.

Context: My father just left the hospital, earlier than the doctors and therapists thought was advisable. Part of that was the terrible, terrible food, that even the doctor thought was terrible and was entirely forthright about not wanting to offer excuses for.
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This trade war national-security thing has a simple solution.  We just craft a formal treaty, solemnly promising that Canada will not burn down the White House a second time.
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A guy just pulled up in my driveway and rang the doorbell, to thank me for putting up my signs.  "I totally agree with you.  Ford is."

I asked him if he'd like the links so he could make up his own copies.  He hesitated, then said, "No, I've already got signs up for Roberts."

That would be Jeremy Roberts.  Our Conservative candidate.

I really don't get it.  But if it makes the guy think about the issue, I may have done some good.

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I heard back from Elections Ontario regarding making my own lawn signs.
You can create and display your own lawn sign, however please note that all political advertising must name the entity/person authorizing the advertising. No specific language is required for the authorization but it must be apparent what person or entity has caused the advertisement to appear and any other person or entity that has sponsored or paid for it. An example of appropriate authorization wording is “Authorized by the XYZ entity”.

Every person or entity spending $500 or more on political advertising in either the six months before a fixed date general election (the non-election period) or during an election period and who is not a registered candidate, political party, or constituency association, must register with Elections Ontario. Registration is not required where the third party is spending less than $500 on political advertising in either the non-election period or the election period.

During the blackout period [includes the day before polling day and polling day for all elections], lawn signs displayed are not considered to be paid commercial third party political advertising and can appear at any time.


This is a link to a Google Docs document with the "Anyone But Ford" sign, letter-sized.  This is for 22"x17" ("C" paper) signs, and this is for 24"x18" ("Arch C") size.  The lawn signage that consists of a plastic sheath over a sturdy wire frame is usually 24"x18".  It's illegal to disturb (legal) election signage, but these signs are often used for illegal commercial advertising (AKA "street spam"), and repurposing some of those would be helping to keep your neighborhood tidy.  I'm hoping to get my signs up tomorrow once I've got them printed.

There will also be the matter of setting up a camera to watch them.  Might as well catch a few Ford Nation types vandalising them, while I'm at it.

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I'm looking into the legalities of making my own lawn signs...


There are a lot of blue (i.e., Conservative) lawn signs in my neighborhood.

A friend of mine chatted with our Conservative candidate at her door for a few minutes. The best thing that candidate was able to say about Rob Ford, his own party leader, was "He's not his brother." Well, yay for that.
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In 1993, my friend Alana started the "involuntary celibacy" / "incel" project as a website and mailing list. At the time, it was a mutual-support thing for people who were, for whatever reason, unable to find partners. (I was part of the group briefly, but found that it was much more about celibacy than about romantic partners, i.e. not really what I was looking for.) Though there was a lot of social cluelessness, there wasn't the bitterness, anger, and misogyny that are hallmarks of "incel" today.

After a couple of years, Alana handed control of the site and mailing list over to someone else, and moved on with her life.

A few years ago, when "incel" got into the news as a violently misogynist movement, she was shocked by the transformation of something good into something terrible. Every time another incident has come up, she's been smacked by it. And with the van attack on April 23rd in Toronto, where she lives, it's come home. She has been a "media darling" and is tired of it. Her Twitter feed is full of both hatred from men and hatred of all "incels". Some "incels" are merely socially awkward; even some of the misogynists could be educated.

So a couple of days ago, she set up a new site, "Love, Not Anger", to try to educate people. She's trying to get back to her original premise.
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King Baldric of Ealdormere: "How are you Evan Little?"

Me: "So my parents called me, Sir."

I don't really know where that came from. It just sort of rolled out of my mouth. My brain is weird.

I was given the Award of Orion — Ealdormere's mid-level award for the arts — this afternoon, for my contributions to the choir. It's quite a lovely scroll.

It does seem odd to me that that's the name for the arts award. It would be more appropriate for martial activities, I think.

Iron Argon

Dec. 4th, 2017 12:49 pm
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The other day, I ran across a lyric phrase that struck me as being infelicitous. I decided to look it up on line, and stumbled across a published work that I think gives the celebrated "Eye of Argon" a run for its money. Possibly leaving it in the dust (by which I mean the dust which racks the climes of the baren land which dominates large portions of the Norgolian empire, of course). The author of "Eye of Argon", Jim Theiss, had to look things up in a paper thesaurus and heck-and-punt on a manual typewriter. Dennis M. Barrer Jr., author of Templars and Pagans, had modern text-editing software, and could copy-and-haste from electronic reference sources.  Which presumably helped him to output some hundreds of pages, as compared to Theiss's mere 22-ish pages.  It's a remarkable piece of work, available for sale on Amazon and elsewhere.  Not to be missed by fans of the original EoA.

Rule 404

Nov. 28th, 2017 05:17 pm
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Rule 404: For any subject, there is a website that is supposed to contain porn about it, but which is not working.
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CBC Radio's national science show "Quirks and Quarks" usually ends with a question from a listener, answered by a specialist that the show has found. This weekend's question is from me:
Given all of the TV shows and movies about "mutants", I've been wondering: what proportion of humans are really mutants? That is, having at least one gene that's different from the genes of either parent? Or, depending on the genetic error/damage rates, how many "mutant" genes does a person have, on average?
I'm looking forward to hearing what they come up with.  I've been irritated by the repeated stuff about "we have this amazing machine that detects all of the mutants in the world".  Even if one goes with a stricter definition that the genetic change must have observable consequences.

I've sent them a couple of questions before, and no doubt will come up with others interesting enough for a national audience. Really, if one has a Ph.D. in science, if one can't come up with weird questions at the drop of a hat, something is very wrong.

The show is scheduled for broadcast on Saturday Oct. 21st from noon to 1 p.m., and will also be available as a podcast.

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