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Random excuses

So I've been busy lately.

After lying on my back panting for a few days (the usual follow-up to finishing a new novel in first draft) I'm now making plans for the rewrite, because no novel is ever publishable in its initial form, and there are things I need to sort out before it goes anywhere near an editor. (Notably: I started out with over-ambitious plans for a funky structure that proved unworkable, so now I need to go back and un-kink everything so that the story flows smoothly on its own terms—which it will, because I think I got the rest of it right.) So I'm about to dive back down the rabbit hole of Ghost Engine to try and produce a final draft by the end of the month.

And while this was going on, other stuff happened that's going to distract me from blogging for a while.

You may or may not know that this isn't my only blog. For about the past 15 years I've maintained a presence on Livejournal, a rather fascinating parallel-universe alternative social network that I vastly prefer to Facebook (because unlike FB, you can pay for an ad-free experience). Don't go looking for me by name; my LJ is locked down so that only selected invitees can read it, because for the past decade I've used it mainly for beta-testing work in progress—it's really useful to have a couple of dozen trusted readers kick the tires. Unlike Facebook, LJ offers a bunch of features that make it extremely useful for that purpose: the focus is on a user's journal, which is optimized for textual content and supports threaded discussions, user-run communities, and (importantly) tools for keeping such discussions private.

I started out on Livejournal because, back in the day, it inherited a bunch of folks from SFFNet when SFFNet curled up and sort-of died; SFFNet in turn inherited the users of the Delphi SF forum from bulletin board days. It's all about the people, as usual, and Livejournal for many years was a social network hub for SF/F fans and authors. But Livejournal gradually lost out to Facebook in the anglophone world, just like MySpace. Unlike MySpace, LJ survived by becoming the social network of choice in Russia: a few years ago LJ was sold to a Russian company, and has gradually become a 90% Russophone social site with a weird bag of western SF fans still lurking in the moldering wreckage of what was once a thriving social networking system. There were periodic upsets because any major Russian political event would seemingly draw distributed denial of service attacks; a lot of people left, either decamping to Facebook, or to smaller specialized social hubs—the founders of Livejournal released their software under an open source license, and some folks are successfully running small-scale LJ servers with their own distinct communities.

I probably stuck with LJ for too long, because back in the day I paid for a perpetual premium account—unlimited access and no ads: the urge to get one's money's worth out of something you've paid for is hard to resist. But the rot has finally gone too far. This Tuesday Livejournal pushed out a revision to their terms of service that emphasize the service runs under Russian law, and specifically requires compliance with Russian law on minors—which makes any discussion of "sexual deviancy" (aka LGBT issues) illegal or at least a violation of the ToS.

So I'm currently migrating my entire Livejournal presence to Dreamwidth, a service set up by some of LJ's original founders that focuses on providing a Livejournal-like set of services for creative types (and, significantly, is not subject to Russian law because it's not based in Russia).

Meanwhile, while all this was happening, this blog crawled past its 190,000th comment. There are upwards of 3000 blog entries/essays here; a backup of the blog content runs to over 240Mb, most of it text fles. As you'll have noticed if you've been here for a while, I haven't done a major update to the blogging software for a few years. This is now overdue, and some time in the next few weeks I'll be updating the server here—extremely carefully, though!



Well I, for one, don't view "writing activities" (include business trips, proofing, SF cons (at least in part because meeting you in an Eastercon book room was what sold me the first of your books I'd bought OK)... there) as needing excuses because that's what gets me stuff that entertains me, and pays the bills for this blog etc.


This is now overdue, and some time in the next few weeks I'll be updating the server here—extremely carefully, though!

Here's hoping a bare minimum of things break. And watch the design of that summoning grid. Don't be like Andy!
(Can you tell that I am re-consuming the Laundry Files in audio? :) )


Frankly, I am not sure that anyone would notice anything unusual if R'lyeh was reported as having reappeared and the usual culprits were reported as being in discussions with someone called Cthulhu. I agree about the care - doing a 'simple' upgrade that goes wrong in a way that it can't be either rolled back or fixed without major work is precisely what you DON'T need when up to the eyeballs in alligators. And we all know the universality of Sodd's Law ....


Funny, that.
One of my other favourite blogs ( "London Reconnections" ) is now groaning under the weight of the number of comments / extra readers & the blog owner/controllers are trying to paper over the cracks, whilst at the same time, also trying to very carefully alter the underlying software, so that the thing continues to run smoothly.
The price of success.
As for "livejournal" that looks like the price of crookedness ... "Russian Law" indeed.
I thought that there were guidelines in Russia, but the actual "law" is what the Tsar Mr Putin says


My "favourite" part of the recent LJ debacle is the part at the end of the ToS that basically says the English translation is in no way binding, and if you *really* want to find out what you've signed up to, better brush up on your Cyrillic, buddy!


... as the future reality you've been busy creating reaches over for some payback.

(Designed any nasty AIs or aliens lately?)


As for "livejournal" that looks like the price of crookedness ...

Not really. In the beginning, LJ was written as an open source project by Americans. They weren't really business-folks, but they were acquired by a successful dot com along with Movable Type (the blogging engine this site runs on) to form Six Apart. But Six Apart had problems making money out of LJ, outside of the Russian market where for some reason Facebook never gained traction and LJ had a loyal user base. So in the end Six Apart sold LJ to a Russian company to focus on corporate sales of MT.

The Russians have done a creditable job of maintaining the software, fixing bugs, and keeping the service running ... but as the main social network in Russia they've come under increasing political pressure over the years. You don't do business in Russia unless Putin's people are happy with you; so this incident isn't entirely unexpected, it's just the culmination of about five years of steady drips.


These days, I fully understand about the rewrite. Around Nov or so of 2015, I finally went back and put together the first what I thought was ready to go novel - we'd actually sent out a solicitation about six months before she died.

Um, no. Back then, maybe salable... but it was somewhere, depending on which versions of chapters I used, between 44k and 48k words. And there were a handful of places where she'd written "etc, here", and "expand there". So I did. Then I realized there was a whole chapter that needed to be written. Then a flashback, then more interaction... and then there was the chapter I fought myself, that I did NOT want to write. I lost, and wrote it, with tears dripping down my face as I typed.

What's with the agent is a *lot* better... and 76k words.



Just want to comment about LJ popularity in Russia. It was big 15 years ago. But since around 2005 it is no longer the main social network in Russia. VK (a.k.a. VKontakte), a clone of Facebook, is the largest social network in Russia now. Then go Odnoklassniki (I guess it is a clone of, then Facebook (it is quite popular in large cities among well-educated people) and MoiMir (something similar to LinkedIn).
LJ is losing audience, and is probably #5 or lower now. Many authors moved from LJ to DreamWidth or Facebook when LJ physically moved its servers to Russia.


GRRM is still on LJ.

Any update on the convention in Germany you mentioned?


Any update on the convention in Germany you mentioned?"

Yes: I'll be in Dortmund for U.con, the 2017 Eurocon, in mid-June.

(I'm also going to be a guest at Italcon in Chianciano from 25-28th of May.)


Great! See you in Dortmund - and you won't have to pay your beer. :-)


I was one of those who walked away from LJ years ago (I think the last time I seriously updated my LJ was back in 2007 or thereabouts), due to the way that SixApart were, at the time, attempting to work their way through the handbook on "how to lose customers and fail to influence people". This latest fsckup? Well, I have one friend who has a journal still on LJ, and they were handing me the TOS just to read it. So I'll probably give her a call, and say "have you thought about switching completely to Dreamwidth? Now is probably a Good Time to do this, because LJ has just become very hostile to English speakers." Mind you, most of her stuff is on the Boke of the Face, and I've had to re-start an account on that (its one of the perils of re-starting university these days - all the kiddies are on Facebook, so I need an account or I just don't get the information I need) so it's not like I'm missing out or anything.

Incidentally, my journey onto LJ was as it was gradually taking over from Usenet as the main medium of textual exchange for fandom-based conversations.


Was going to set some things straight re: LJ in Russia, but Pavel did it before me in #9. Oh, and if my sources were correct, VK has started it's life as a (probably not-entirely-legitimate) fork of the original FB codebase and grew from there.


I thought that there were guidelines in Russia, but the actual "law" is what the Tsar Mr Putin says

Oh come on... you're sounding not unlike some Russian MPs when they talk about the West. We do have a ton of really good laws in Russia... it's just that they're not used much (and every time they are used makes the news, it seems). And then there are a few really crappy ones – like that "protect-the-children-from-harmful-information" load of bollocks... which are not used much also (serving mainly to scare people into submission). My point is, they can always find the law that will let them do whatever they need.


Not all that different from the UK, really.


I didn't mean to imply that it was instantaneous.
Didn't you say that there was a system/semi-language/computer company (memory obviously hazy here) that you were associated with, back in the dim & distant, who were taken over by corporate US thieves, effectively?
And then rapidly went down the tubes....


Talking of changes, sudden or gradual:
Is Trumpolini going for a "Short Victorious War" or is today a one-off, as everybody seems keen to imply?


Your last question assumes that he has a plan, which I can see no evidence for - to be fair, Obama didn't seem to have one, either.


Who are the "least bad" or even "least evil" parties in that conflict?
[ This week, that is, as opposed to say 1, 2, ... 6 years ago? ]


Charlie used to work for Santa Cruz Operation, an Intel Unix supplier that was later taken over by Caldera, who then ended up trying to use software patent licensing seemingly as a way to smother Linux in its crib.

What with the British libel laws, I'm fairly sure Charlie wouldn't have referred to them (Caldera/SCO Group) as thieves, particularly since they were known to resort to the courts.


I have had a Dreamwidth account for absolutely ages, but it's been pretty dormant. And I've not posted on LJ for a long time either.

Today I seem to be getting lots of DW notifications, due to people replicating their previous LJ web of contacts. Odd, that.


Caldera/SCO were absolutely not thieves; they were an entirely proper business that just happened to pursue a deplorable, immoral, but legal business model. If anything I could make a case that they were less bad than your generic patent troll/non-practicing entity; at least they had skin in the game and sold software (until quite late in the day).

What they did wrong was, well ... two mistakes:

a) Don't go all scorched-earth and sue IBM over patents: it's the corporate equivalent of starting a land war in Asia — even the fricken' US Department of Justice thought IBM's lawyers were a bundle of starving rabid ferrets.

b) Don't fuck with the open source/software libre community unless you want to be pecked to death by ducks—they're anarchists by disposition, they don't have any money to give you anyway, the optics are marginally worse than drowning a sack of kittens, and if you annoy them enough they will swarm you with pro bono lawyers in the public interest. Call this the "war on two fronts" error.

Oh, and I forgot the third mistake, which is the one that finally killed them:

c) When you're buying a piece of intellectual property with intent to sublicense it, always read the small print. Turns out that Caldera/SCO didn't actually own what they thought they owned by right of purchase, when it came to court. They lost. World's smallest violin plays: fade to black.


DW today is like watching the mushrooms sprout from a rotten log after a nice rainy night. Looks like a lot of LJers created DW accounts over the years during one outage or another, then left them dormant: suddenly they're all sprouting activity and linking up with each other.

LJ/DW users are generally rather different than your generic Facebook user, but it's giving me cause to sit back and go "hmm" ... I have rarely seen a business lose customer goodwill to a rival so fast.


I'm redoing the LJ -> DW import, since it's apparently 313 days since I last tried it.

There seems to be a bit of a queue.


"I have rarely seen a business lose customer goodwill to a rival so fast."

Not so unusual with online communities, I've seen it happen a couple of times. With most online communities there's an accepted alternative that everyone's aware of. Moonlight flits just need a catalyst or spark to trigger a critical core of users to initiate the move.


I suffered from AT&T in the 1970s, followed that SCO watching site - what was its name? - for ages, and fully agree. They made a really big compounding mistake, of course, which was to tackle defeats by doing exactly what they had been defeated when doing before, only more aggressively and stridently.

In the case of both AT&T and SCO, of course, there were grounds for accusing them of, er, misappropriation of rights, in that they were attempting to charge the authors of software for the use of that software. However, that is SOP under many contracts and, if so contracted, perfectly legal under UK and (most? all?) USA law. There was some doubt over whether it was properly contracted, of course ....


Charlie & Bellinghman
Thanks for that info.
However: "Starving Rabid Ferrets" will stick in the mind ... to be rated, presumably with:
"Mother Hittons littul Kittons"
( - which were ? Mutated telepathic Mink ? )


(Ah, LJ not allowing export unless new TOS agreed to at its end, but DW just keeps retrying.)


That was exactly what sprang to my mind re: starving rabid mustelids. Now I have to get rid of the mental picture of rows and rows of ferrets, all dressed in their business suits, briefcases by their sides... all being kept in suspended animation... until the moment their corporate overlords wake them up to unleash their rage on the unfortunate adversaries. Who would go mad and off themselves in creative ways after being read the fine print one too many times...


The old Groklaw nickname for IBM legal was the Nazgul, traditionally followed by the phrase "with whom IBM can blacken the sky."


So I'm currently migrating my entire Livejournal presence to Dreamwidth

For a minute I thought you were gonna say that you were going back to Ello. What happened with them?


Comments about BigBlue's legal team led me to look up another big player of that era, Xerox. Although mostly an equipment manufacturer, this outfit also made scads of dough selling its sales recruitment and 'effectiveness' training programs.

Decided to look at what X has been up to (apart from a major corporate spin-off) and found this interesting bit. Hmmm ... didn't know that photocopiers could change the numbers on what's being 'copied'/thought that copying was pretty passive as far as info processing goes. Anyways, very weird and wonder how many others never heard about this and got a nasty surprise because of this 'bug'.

'Character substitution bug

In 2013, German computer scientist David Kriesel discovered an error in a Xerox WorkCentre 7535 copier. The device would substitute number digits in scanned documents, even when OCR was turned off. For instance, a cost table in a scanned document had an entry of 85.40, instead of the original sum of 65.40.[50] After unsuccessfully trying to resolve this issue with Xerox's customer support, he publicised his findings on his blog. Providing examples pages that lead to the bug occurrence, it was confirmed that this bug was reproducible on a wide variety of Xerox WorkCentre and other high-end Xerox copiers.

The source of the error was a bug in the JBIG2 implementation, which is an image compression standard that makes use of pattern matching to encode identical characters only once. While this provides a high level of compression, it is susceptible to errors in identifying similar characters.'



Read "starving rabid ferrets", and *did* laugh out loud. I may steal that.... I need to get around to closing a yahoo group I created about 13 years ago, the Rogue Bag of Pretzels (we were, of course, rather unhappy (to understate the case by orders of magnitude) with W, who nearly choked on one...).



I was one of the earlier participants in Groklaw under my real name, and the other joke was that when IBM's lawyers went to court "The Black Gate of Armonk" was opened so the Nazgul could go to war.

Weirdly, I know of one company which based their entire operations on SCO Unix. They still use it and they have the weirdest stack to keep it running. You will certainly have heard of them... ONK!


Copying hasn't been 'passive' for a very long time, long before OCR became feasible even on desktops. There are several ways in which such bugs can arise, even if the image is treated as purely a bitmap of an unknown alphabet.


You're right, of course, that suing IBM has been a great way to go bankrupt for well over half a century. I remember talking to a high-level IBMer at the time, and he told me that the thing that really caused IBM to war against SCO wasn't that they sued IBM, it was that they sued IBM's customers. That was the point at which the gloves came off.

IBMers refer to IBM Legal as The Nazgûl for a reason.


The copying can't be passive, really. The copy machines need to be able to tell when somebody is trying to copy for example a banknote and prevent it. It'd be quite hard to do that passively, really. At least color copiers look for things they should not copy.


Also, "need" here is not a physical need, but a regulatory one, obviously. It'd be much easier to make a copier which would just copy everything without looking at the contents, but it'd get the maker into all kinds of trouble.


It is a pity, as the LJ staffers in Russia have been fighting the good fight for years. But I've told them enough about my private life, and it is time to move my activities stateside too. (Plus the friends feed doesn't go very far back now..)


This is now overdue, and some time in the next few weeks I'll be updating the server here—extremely carefully, though!

Ooh, does that mean it's feature request time?


The strong protection for free speech in the constitution of the USSR is my go-to example of why custom, tradition and unwritten rules are the key part of any legal system.

The way the US constitution now protects blacks in the US South, compared to in 1917 or 1957, is another example of how the laws have changed, even the laws that still say the same things that they used to.

It's like Wittgensteins's philosophical point about rule-following: no system of rules is really complete, as you cannot forever be writing another rule to enforce correct following of each other rule.

But then, the phd thesis I dropped out from was on philosophy of computing and what it means to 'implement' an ´algorithm'. So I might be a touch obsessive on how and whether rules have meaning separate from their implementation.


I have rarely seen a business lose customer goodwill to a rival so fast.

The stronger the network effect, the more exponential the growth and decay. Coordinating is expensive, especially when the move one is coordinating is away from the infrastructure one's coordinating over. That coordination cost, combined with the sunk cost fallacy and people's inability to react to slow changes, can mask a rather large loss of goodwill. Up until something catastrophic causes a lot of your customers to reevaluate their choices, that is.


The new LJ ToS rather worryingly bans scripting. I don't know if that means that they'll be blocking Dreamwidth's importer, but if anyone is waffling I'd advise doing the import *now*, just in case.

I also hacked together a burn-your-journal script out of spare parts for anyone who would find value in that: The code is bad, but what's the worst it can do?


The strong protection for free speech in the constitution of the USSR is my go-to example of why custom, tradition and unwritten rules are the key part of any legal system.

The way the US constitution now protects blacks in the US South, compared to in 1917 or 1957, is another example of how the laws have changed, even the laws that still say the same things that they used to.

Yes, that was my point exactly. We still have got us a nice constitution with the freedom of speech and peaceful protest and whatever guaranteed... well, when someone posted an excerpt from those articles on a billboard he was prosecuted for "dispensation of extremist materials"... Nice people, our judges...

Right now our political system is something of a patchwork undead monster. There are bits and pieces left over from the corpse of USSR, some democratic concepts and institution hastily grafted on, some ideas from US Republicans (tax breaks for the rich, mostly), some ideas lifted from the playbook of Chinese (not the worst ones, but none of the good ones either) – and then they went and planted a neo-feudal system modeled after 17th century Moscow directly on top of that zombie. And then they went to prove Wittgenstein's assertion about rules as those snowballed like a... like a... a really big and nasty snowball, I guess?.. It would be entertaining to watch all that was it not for all the human suffering.

Oh, and the official name for that zombie of a political system? Stability. And a lot of people believe in it. Makes one think of all those theories aboout language influencing (perceptions of) reality...


... snowballed like a Katamari?


Well, there's a shade of that, but it's more akin to a landfill: A bit of everything, useful things buried in tons of garbage (and bulldozed over occasionally) and it attracts a lot of crows...


@43: the old ToS also disallowed scripting. Both old and new had exceptions for cases where LJ had given permission. Dreamwidth currently have permission.

Of course, one cannot know the future, and so your advice about extracting content from LJ ASAP is still good!
(I wasn't privy to discussions, but I imagine that the DW importer was justified from a business perspective on the basis that the DW->LJ crossposter was also permitted. A mass exodus might change that calculus.)


"Right now our political system is something of a patchwork undead monster." It sounds more and more like the UK the more I hear of it!


Do they? I have been told that, but have never bothered to check up. Anyway, copiers became 'active' well before their print quality was up to copying banknotes, and the early ones assuredly did not have them


Yes, they do, the modern ones. I tried it with a couple of notes and various other items which shouldn't be copied, and they were almost black (something did show).


Thanks. Really great, when you need to keep a record.


No, it is not feature request time.

First thing on the agenda is finding a new sysadmin, then ensuring backup integrity is up-to-snuff, before upgrading the Debian base installation. Then ensure DNS service is up to date with cryptographic authentication. Then ensure the exim (email) and spamassassin servers keep running before upgrading them to cope with the latest SSL/TLS, and maybe kick the tires on the old Mailman setup and see what needs doing to bring it back into service to host a couple of private mailing lists. Oh, and make sure MySQL is running cleanly and upgrading hasn't hurt anything

Then it'll probably be time to look at Apache/SSL. I've held off SSL on the web side for years because Internet Explorer on XP couldn't cope with the commonest mechanism for supporting multiple domains off of one IP address, but XP is now past sunset so we can move forward.

Then, and only then, it'll be time to do a big-ass version number update on the Movable Type system.

New feature requests come last!


Right. There is nothing so likely to backfire as responding "yes" to "while you are upgrading, can't you make these few, minor changes?" Sometimes you have to, because the upgrade breaks old mechanisms hopelessly, and redesigning is quicker and more reliable than replicating their function - but I have been bitten by that one more times than I care to remember, even when it was the right decision, even in hindsight.


Going to the pub after tonight's gig?


Both complicated, technical AND important.
Good luck with it, then!


That's definitely the correct order to do things. I probably shouldn't have been that glib.



(I have a throat infection and I'm one of three people on a 90 minute slot, so my throat is probably going to be painful by the time I'm off-stage ... and I'm more fatigued than usual. Nevertheless I'm probably good for a pint at Dagda because if nothing else it's on my way home.)


Major reason I distrust social or 'value' systems based solely on 'rules' (what: achieve happiness) and which exclude 'principles' (how: do no harm) and objectives (why: each human has a right to autonomy/self-determination). Systems need something that can act as a self-check because the limits and consequences of an action are never fully known in advance. A useful system is not a simple go vs. no-go set-up, but allows for incrementalism and adjustment on a case-by-case basis as well as over time.


The old gargling with salt water every hour plus immediately before going on stage is pretty reliable even when the cause of the sore throat is not known.

Beer is iffy. On the negative side, the sugars could feed the problem bug and alcohol dampens the immune system. But it's also possible that the beer's alcohol and salt content might kill some of the bugs in your mouth/throat esp. if you swish it around before swallowing. Maybe someone could do a swab test on this: level of type of bacteria before and after various drinks.

This is going to sound strange but it works (I've tried it). Shine a blue light all around your mouth and up your nostrils. Do several passes. The blue light frequency kills some types of germs. While there will still be some germs in inaccessible spots (sinuses), this procedure reduces overall symptoms and leaves fewer bugs for your immune system to deal with.

Blue light for infectious diseases: Propionibacterium acnes, Helicobacter pylori, and beyond?


Usually called: "Common Law"
[ As opposed to "Roman" or Code Napoleon law .... ]
Um, err ....

SF reader @ 59
Alcohol, otoh, may get to the "bugs" - if bacterial, simply because their surface-area/volume ratio means that they get poisoned long before you do. ( Maybe )
If you are going down that route though, something like gargling with Laphroig ( which is remarkably "TCP-like" is probably the way to go?


Just a factcheck pretty sure VK is far and away the most popular social media site in Russia


I've had something come up and I'm stuck at home anyway...:(


Not sure what you mean re: 'common law'. Common Law from what I've read does not depend on carved-in-stone-principles so much as on precedent.

Alcohol ... 70% (140 proof) if you swish and spit it out, would work. Drinking something this strong though has consequences for your gut bacteria plus your liver, etc.


How about Lagavulin? It sounds like it ought to be in the medicine cabinet anyway...


My beloved is a fan of single malts.

For a "significant" birthday (oh all right, it was her 50th) I decided to get her a bottle that was older than she was, and went searching. After deciding that £2k+ for a 51-year-old single malt was a touch out of my price range, I managed to find a 51-year-old single grain (still expensive, but an order of magnitude cheaper)

I was allowed a small glass, and it's smoother than any single malt I have ever tasted; mmmmmmmmmm.... she's still only half-way through it :)


Because the local Scots pub is very well connected, I've had a half-dram of Glen Grant 52 at a tasting. (Bottled when it was 60.) This was something of a revelation, because I think there's a need for a noun that isn't "whisky" for whatever that was. I can see why the sufficiently prosperous are willing to pay for the stuff.

Though, significant birthdays aside, about half that age gets into the same effect; not so completely or astonishingly, but Lagavulin 25 or the Glenmorangie Signet are headed off into "I would be reluctant to say this was exactly whiskey" territory. (The which you may well know, but I figured it was a thing worth mentioning.)


Next time you're in Edinburgh ping me and I'll sign you into the Scottish Malt Whisky Society tasting rooms.


That would very nearly be a reason to travel of its own self! Thank you!


The hydrogen peroxide that you get in the grocery store or drug store is useful for sore throats. Gargle with it, being careful to not swallow, and then rinse your mouth out with water. I have not had a sore throat last more than a few hours since I found out about this.


[ WHisky ]
I used to be a member of the SMWS, but ...
I don't actually drink enough of it, though I love the stuff
The regular suppliers caught up & there are now almost as many really nice varieties available in shops if you know where to look.
Though the amazing "Jaffa Cake" from Glenrothes still lingers in the memory (!)


Q: Do you recall what I did for a living in the 1980s?

a noun that isn't "whisky" for whatever that was

Miruvor? (With apologies to the Tolkien-averse)

Which, by extension, would mean the USAian abomination with added charcoal flavouring is the alcoholic "Orcish drink" forced on Merry and Pippin.


Does hydrogen peroxide work on sore throats - safely? Asking because good to have a back-up.


I suffer badly from uncontrollable coughing under such circumstances (lecturing), and really regret the unavailability of the old glycerine of thymol cough sweets, because I find the ones with more aggressive disinfectants irritate my throat (and aren't suitable for continual use). I find the modern non-disinfectant ones sickly sweet and not half as effective :-( I don't know if codeine would work, because I have never used it except when the coughing prevented me sleeping.


My apologies, gargling with salt water had been mentioned so I mistakenly assumed it would be alright to make an additional suggestion. Again, my apologies, no disrespect was intended.


Depends on whether your cough is from too much dryness/dust vs. excess phlegm production vs. infection vs. throat polyps. For dryness: a voice teacher recommended avoiding milk (even in coffee/tea); instead, take a teaspoon of honey or olive oil 10-15 minutes before. (Some singers add raw garlic to their honey or olive oil.) From an allergist: if you don't want to constantly use meds, use an OTC salt-sterile water solution to rinse out nose and throat.


There's an over-the-counter mouthwash from Colgate and other sources which is 1.5% hydrogen peroxide. I use it occasionally to treat mouth ulcers and such. It would probably work as a gargle for throat infections. Don't swallow.


None of the above :-( The honey / olive oil trick works about as well, but doesn't last, and I had all-day courses, involving alternating hours of lecturing and practicals. Hence the near-continual use of something like a cough sweet. OGH has a 30 minute slot (if I understand it correctly), so a one-off treatment might work. But it depends on the person.


"other stuff happened that's going to distract me from blogging for a while"

Why not prewrite a bunch of blog entries for times like this? Because it would be silly and against the whole point of what a blog is, is that it?


Dunno about that ..but it does produce the most amazing effect if mixed with another couple of simple ingredients and so I dare say that it would indeed clear your poor sore throat.


Speaking as a no-longer-practicing pharmacist (that's your clue for what I did in the 80s) ...

I generally go for one variety or another of throat lozenges to suck on. Main criteria for selecting which variety are (a) sugar-free (I have type-II diabetes), (b) includes benzocaine or (rarely) lignocaine for symptomatic pain relief, (c) contains a phenolic- or cresol-derived antiseptic, and (d) doesn't taste utterly disgusting.

(I have facial hair: gargling/mouth-wash/rinses require spitting the mouthful out afterwards, which ends up with a messy, wet beard. Hence the preference for something I can suck on and swallow.)

Honey: nope, alas. I like the stuff but it's about 70% sugar by weight, so not terribly good for me.


Why not prewrite a bunch of blog entries for times like this?

I used to do that ... donkey's years ago. I've been writing this blog since some time in 2000 or 2001, and it's extremely hard to come up with new shit that I haven't already written about. Maybe I ought to revisit some decade-old subjects and see what's changed? (Common Misconceptions about Publishing are obviously due for an update on the whole ebooks shtick, for example, and the way publishing is all about supply chain management contracts.)


I once came across a 'Scotch' (in the UK, amazingly) that fitted Tolkein's description of the orcish drink very well. It was supposedly aged for 3 years, but I suspect marketing licence - anyway, you would NOT have wanted to drink it with a sore throat. I felt that the perpetrators had missed a marketing trick - it was called Claymore, and I felt that they should have said "Anyone can drink whisky - be a Real Man and stick a Claymore in your guts!"


They're pretty savage about "Age Statements"; if it says 3 years, the youngest component had been aged for three years. (Or someone got buried in lawyers.)

Of course, this doesn't say anything about "aged in what?"; I'm sure there are regrettable optimisms about barrel wood from time to time, or, well, yes, the locals call that sherry, and that was thus technically a sherry cask, but, well, the grapes were red and the tannins fought to the death so now your whisky tastes of tannin-corpses and weeping for lost sunny hillsides.

(Barrels are an expensive trade these days.)

I've had a whisky where the age statement was 1 year; it was basically the whisky equivalent of a puppy who has learned "sit!" but is still mostly made of wriggling.


You should avoid looking into the Rum world. We have youngest age minimum (Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados), oldest age maximum (Central America), solera - a blend of many years (Central and South America) and vague age statements of at least that many years but could be more (French islands).

And that's not even getting started on caribbean vs european ageing or pot vs column or French and American oaks...

And then you have Brazil, where they have around 25 different woods that they make barrels out of for ageing cachaca.

Seriously, comparing any two products can be extraordinarily difficult.

But yes, barrels have just gotten *very* expensive due to the change in bourbon regulations allowing for reuse. The resale market volumes plummeted.


Well, I've a solution, but I'm fairly sure your chair-claiming friend might protest:

"Take a fat cat and flay it well, clean and draw out the guts. Take the grease of a hedgehog and the fat of a bear and resins and fenugreek and sage and gum of honeysuckle and virgin wax. All this crumble small and stuff the cat within as you would a goose. Roast it all and gather the grease and anoint him with it."

I mean, you don't even eat the cat, just slather the grease everywhere. And the chances of having a hedgehog *and* a bear to hand? It's just badly proportioned: "So, I need one cat, three hedgehogs and 1/32th of a bear..."


Questions so far:

#1 Beards: given little experience of them, now filed under "propensity for doglike behaviours". Have moved beards back up to Defcon 3 suspicion levels: could have hedgehog fat in them. But, ok, I'll swap you a "Just Why do men have beards" for a Cosmopolitan apotheosis:

Why Guys Get Turned on When You Orgasm — and Why That's a Bad Thing Cosmopolitan, 22nd Mar, 2017. In a rare moment, Cosmo has aligned the Alt-Right, Feminists, radical trans-anarchists and even your local builder (who imagined he was doing pretty well for learning about the clitoris and orgasms and not being selfish) into an unholy union of derision. The burning pyres of Cosmo-land can be seen from space (Twitter nonsense; but providing vast swathes of humor).

#2 New stuff: SFReader linked (prior post, #518) a new study on Cephalopods, but rather buried the leade:

Therefore, as the repeat editing index in octopus is calculated over all repeats (∼1.3 Gbp), and editing in repeats accounts for only 21%–38% of all editing events in octopus mRNAs (compared to >95% in primates), overall the number of editing events reflected in mRNA sequencing data is roughly an order of magnitude higher in Octopus bimaculoides compared to primates. Furthermore, in neural tissues ∼11%–13% of these events result in amino-acid modification, compared with (Bazak et al., 2014a). RNA editing is known to be important in neural function (Rosenthal and Seeburg, 2012), and abnormal editing patterns or ADAR function have been shown to underlie several neural conditions (Slotkin and Nishikura, 2013). Indeed, we find that editing in non-neural tissues of Octopous bimaculoides is roughly 2-fold lower, and recoding events are even more strongly suppressed (Figure 3B). Consistently, GO analysis of edited transcripts shows enrichment of neuronal and cytoskeleton functions in all four species (Table S6).

An intriguing result from the recently reported Octopus bimaculoides genome was that the protocadherin gene family was greatly expanded (Albertin et al., 2015). In the mammalian brain these proteins are important for mediating combinatorial complexity in neuronal connections and play a role in diversifying neural circuitry (Chen and Maniatis, 2013). We found a large number of protocadherins in the assembled transcriptomes for the four coleoid species (127–251 open reading frames [ORFs]), but not in nautilus (28 ORFs) (Figure 3E). Interestingly, protocadherins are significantly enriched in editing sites and are edited at higher levels in all four coleoid species, but not in nautilus (Figures 3F and 3G).

Trade-off between Transcriptome Plasticity and Genome Evolution in Cephalopods Cell, 6th April, 2017 - full text

There's two things here: now you know (partly) why the nautilus are a much more rudimentary ancient branch, it's also extremely kinky if you add 2+3+1 = 33. Not going to spoil it, but there's some Future Tech right there. [Nods to Author about Under the Ice Sheets of Communist-Space-Octopuses]

#3 Probably belonds in the prior thread, but: Tradition and Superstition: The Jinn in the Family Closet Tor, 7th April 2017 - interesting piece, *nose wiggle*

#4 To tie into the Jinn, beards, orgasms, mRNA's with some social justice stuff, this might be interesting:

“Maybe that’s what I’m also trying to generate or facilitate: the potential for a body to be possessed. What have we transferred through skin? Through genetics? What of pain? What of confusion? The body has these tunnels, these secrets, these pathways that can be opened up.”

Facilitating Possession: Okwui Okpokwasili on Poor People’s TV Room Walker Art Centre, 19th Jan 2017 - which was inspired by Foreign Gods, Inc. Okey Ndibe, 2014, Goodreads link. Think of that as a Mirror to Norse Mythology Gaiman, Feb 2017, AMZN.


Anyhow, just setting up a hedgehog, cat and bear joke.

Get well soon, host!



Personally, I think that it had been sitting in a tanker that had previously been used to transport paint-stripper, while HM Customs tried to identify the owner to get the import duty, and had been then sold off in lieu.


A beard teaches you to deal with lots of little persistent annoyances in a patient manner. If you grow a nice looking natural beard, and learn your partner enjoys them, then the idea of going through the itchy valley and shaggy hills again has zero appeal.

I did see someone talk about shaving as "hygiene" though, keeping a beard clean is hygiene, I never cared as much about making sure my chin and cheeks are squeaky clean when I was shaving, but I grew out of being a gross boy at the same time I grew out of shaving. :D


Re 58,60 & 63

The classic distinction between Common Law (systems) and Civil Law (systems) is that Civilian systems start with general principles (based mostly on Roman Law), then work downward to more specific rules within that principle and further to individual cases, while Common Law goes the opposite way, collected individual court decisions into precedent, from which more general rules are derived, which in turn allow general principles to be formulated.

The Civilian codifications (Code Napolean, BGB etc) did not change the "top down" concept, but did amend some of the principles from previous ius commune ones, which is why modern European jursidictions are derived from Roman Law rather than being "based" on it.

Scotland incidentally is a "mixed" jurisdiction, originally a Civilian system, but with significant Common Law elements introduced from 1707 onwards, and (sadly IMHO) now swinging much more towards the Common Law side due to (a) many lawyers failing to learn the Civilian core elements as such, instead treating them as if an unusual form of precedent, (a result of too many treating the law degree as production line training for employment) and (b) new legislation from the Scottish Parliament often modelling itself on the English Common Law form (goodbye ius quaesitium tertio, hello "rights of third parties").

But, to the original point, despite the mechanism of Civilian Legal Systems being "general principles down to specific instances", there's no technical constraint on the top level "principle" not being merely the widest, most general, rule on the subject, arbitrary without any specific reason for why that is the rule. Nor would it be impossible for a Common Law system to embed rules (presumably in the legislative process) requiring all rules to be backed by defined principles and objectives.


That may be so but, over the past half century and more, the UK as a whole (including Scotland) has been largely changed to a bureaucratic legal system - i.e. based on statute, but bottom up, and the main purpose of precedent is to try (and usually fail) to make some sense of the resulting ambiguities and inconsistencies. A.P. Herbert wrote quite a lot pointing out the merits of English common law over statute law.


I'll swap you a "Just Why do men have beards"

Oh, that's easy: hidden beneath my beard is a double chin and a not terribly prominent or strong jaw. In other words, I'm covering up the fact that I don't have a terribly handsome lower face.


Re: 'Nor would it be impossible for a Common Law system to embed rules (presumably in the legislative process) requiring all rules to be backed by defined principles and objectives.'

Thanks for the explanation ...

Having harm avoidance built in as a principle of a legal action/document could be useful in prejudging the merits of an action or case. For example, if you collate enough cases that have gone to trial to type and assess degrees of harm done that were found guilty/not guilty, this could be the basis of justice-by-AI.* Of course right of appeal would stick around preferably with human panel of judges, but justice-by-AI would help clear the backlog of court cases.

* A separate comparison would be done on cases that did not go to court. Run a comparison and maybe even find out whether there are issues with arresting officers, lawyers, judges, types of people being charged and/or circumstances of the crime.


Most bearded guys I know have 'chipmunk cheeks', cheeks that elderly female relatives just love to pinch.


Well I'd still rub beards with ya. ;)


Mumble. Sigh. Yeah. Me too. Particularly after I got a little older and didn't exercise as much.


90. While Sir A.P. Herbert wrote some wonderful "legal" works, I would be somewhat hesitant in generally quoting them in support of any legal position.

Though I completely concur about the plague of "something must be done, and this is something" legislation in the UK over the past decades. I would possibly argue though that this is less likely to deform the Common Law (system) even if it does damage Common Law (corpus of precedent) by over-ruling existing swathes of caselaw so requiring re-formulation of the derived principles. No doubt this would make a fascinating thesis for someone.

92. Actually a lot of the current "rule based" laws would lend themselves to being operated by a weak AI (expert system) arrangment. The wider principles (formulated or derived), not so easily yet. But one could easily set up a system which would assist a judge by "pre-processing" the relevant laws (to use an IT analogy) rather than relying on personal knowledge or research.

OTOH, the legal profession (including Judiciary) are somewhat small-c conservative: e.g. in the Court of Session Rules, the use of email is still considered "experimental". The current projects are to allow electronic lodging of documents, computer scheduling of case hearings, and lodging guilty pleas for minor offences online. Even those are looking, shall we say shaky, in terms of implementation. So the chances of any expert/AI system even assisting judges in the near term look somewhat unlikely, at least in the UK.

Incidentally in Scotland we do not have a large backlog of criminal cases, thanks to the 110 day rule and summary limitations. The criminal prosecution & defence are both woefully under-resourced, possibly some cases are not prosecuted which should be and definitely some are prosecuted for quasi-political reasons which should not be, but the actual case turnover is pretty good. (Civil cases, a different story perhaps but less tractable to any IT solution.)


Not my point. He pointed out, quite correctly, that most English common law was still applicable and, where it was not, was adaptable - and that precisely the opposite was true of English statute law. I think that you are wrong, because it HAS damaged the common law system very badly, at least in certain areas - e.g. traffic law :-( It makes headline news when common law is used to apply any sanity to that completely insane area.

You have an over-optimistic view of either the law or AI if you think that an expert system would be up to the job. Taking my example, the situation of (one foot) scooters, unicycles, recumbents, tricycles, wheelbarrows, hand carts, invalid chairs, prams and pushchairs beggars description, even outside London, and half the Acts use terms without specifying which of several incompatible, obsolete and inappropriate definitions found elsewhere in Statute should be used. Plus, of course, the older common law definitions are different yet again, and have never been updated for such vehicles (if vehicles they be). The same applies, to a lesser but compounding extent, to the classification of traffic routes and their components.

Please note that, in the above, it's NOT a simple matter of picking out Acts and precedent that may apply to the case, but of doing what is the equivalent of a semantic analysis of English prose, over centuries and often with mistakes in. That's an unsolved problem in AI, and likely to remain so for a long time.


You do know that mysql was forked, years ago, after it got bought by another Evil Empire, Oracle? The free fork that everyone has is meriadb.



Back in, I think, '79, I had a friend who was a nurse, and she told me that what doctors and nurses used was a hot toddy: all proportions in 1 or 2 tbsp terms:
x tbsp honey
x tbsp lemon juice

Put the two into a container, and heat on stove until the honey melts, and yuo can stir in the lemon juice.

Then add
x tbsp brandy.

That should be sipped for, oh, an hour - no chugging.

And, otherwise, zinc gluconate tabs that dissolve in your mouth. There are clinical studies, some over `16 years old, *proving* that it will shorten a cold, or, if you get it when it's first coming on, will stop it in its tracks. Take one and suck on it 3-4 times a day (MORE IS *N*O*T* better), and don't have anything to eat or drink for at least 20 min.



Why do I have a beard?
1. I like the way it looks on my, and most folks seem to as well.
2. I can quote Shaw, who allegedly asked his father, when GB was about 10, why he shaved every day, and the father stopped, thought about it, and replied that he didn't know, and stopped. GB never did....
3. Since I shower every morning, I think it's clean enough.

And my beard, well, there's up the sides of my cheeks, along the jaw... and the mustache and beard... my late wife preferred them with the sides. Before that. comrade, when my twins were about three, a friend came back from a visit to Odessa, and gave me a gift, a gold and red enamelled pin... with a head on it. I showed it to the kids, and they said, "Daddy!



Yes. The server this blog runs on relies on Debian so, although it originally shipped with MySQL, it's almost certainly been replaced (at the dpkg level) with one or another Debian open-source MySQL fork. Although it's possible it's still running on legacy, in which case it'll be quietly ported over at the next big upgrade.

This is why dicking with my server is something I approach very cautiously. (That, and I haven't done sysadmin stuff as part of my job for fifteen years so I'm more than a bit rusty.)


(a) I do not have a cold (so zinc tablets are inappropriate), and (b) the amount of honey in that toddy is about equal to my entire daily permitted intake of sugars, in one shot: contraindicated!


a gold and red enamelled pin... with a head on it. I showed it to the kids, and they said, "Daddy!

Is your first name Vladimir?


"I haven't done sysadmin stuff as part of my job for fifteen years so I'm more than a bit rusty." I resemble that remark!

Re the throat nostrums: very few people seem to realise how much diabetes (like coelic disease) forces dietary changes and discipline, even though it's not rare. My daughter and her husband are type I, so I was educated into aspects of that which I had not previously realised.


Yes, but more importantly: do you have a beard?

It's like discovering a magic realm behind a cupboard where there's secret Bear colonies[1] and everyone is a badge holder but you. An analogy: women who don't aggressively pursue topiary.

[1] Greg, don't search this, it's a joke for host. Yes, your beard is magnificent.[2]

[2] No, just don't: you're going to hit both Bear Culture *and* what a "Beard" meant in popular culture and get all confused[3].

[3] Even Mr C. Tingle wouldn't cross those patterns and expect it to work[4].

[4] Which is a hidden joke for host, because reasons (denial of identity in main-stream stuff, even LGTQA).


My wife has threatened to cut off marital relations if I grow a beard; even at 69, that's a bit harsh. On the other hand, my potential beard is not a thing of beauty, even by my (low) sartorial standards. When I was younger, it looked as if the moths had got at it; nowadays, I look like someone who lives on red biddy under a bridge.


I have a beard because I hate shaving. It's not particularly attractive, but that wouldn't change if I shaved.


(((Look, Host does not have a (meta)Beard, thatsthejoke.jpg, and the only way this works, otherwise it would be mean and cruel: he's pulling a Scalzi where partner = got all the +Charisma. But then again, having an entire LEGION of fuzzy bears with beards willing to rub them together...)))

Literally Bear Zone. And Beard Zone.


Soooo not going to explain this one, but it was meant as a compliment. Cough. But... Ok. An entire forum of Bearded Bears expressing love / admiration? Damn boy, youse on fire.

*Nose Wiggle*

(This is only meant to cheer everyone up: don't misread it)


A brand of whisky called Claymore? I think I saw that once. Maybe it was in the Whyte and Mackay bottling plant in Leith, which bottled a lot of vodka and cheap fake label whisky that would indeed have been in casks for only 3 years. Not necessarily the right kind of cask of course.
Such was the quality that nobody batted an eyelid when the packing machine malfunctioned and knocked half a pallet of boxes onto the concrete floor, and we had to squeegee the contents of 50 bottles down the drain.
As you might expect a lot of the bottom end whiskies are made by the same manufacturer and differ only in the label on the bottle and perhaps the specific amount of colouring added. The name on the label and the illustrations used would surely make a good sociological case study in terms of what they are supposed to evoke in the consumer and whether they really make much difference in whether it is purchased or not. A lot go to the export market and anything vaguely scottish with tartan or scottish sounding will do.


((((And, note: like the Trump thing, we're attempting to gird your loins when the Real Deal[tm] emerges and get you to accept that you will FIGHT)))

That's 1-2 years out though.

But trust me, the Legion of the Beard protecting vulnerable people? It's a thing (or, it's a thing that possibility and probability need a stop-end mental shield wall against)

Chechen police 'have rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men' Guardian, 2nd April, 2017

Chechnya has opened concentration camps for gay men Pink News, 10th April, 2017


These chuckle-fucks like burning the wings off Angels[1], a bit of genocide for the non-heterosexual is just fucking foreplay[2].

[1] Yes, we get it. You're fucking Apes and Stupid and Run that nodule. You're all dead, and your children too, and all your genetic influence in the world. That's kinda the deal when you attempt to kill that Angel and G_D's will (Eygpt: we're fucking with you. But not really, crass little pokes on the EM scale? Yeah, you don't get to breed / your children die. Nasty, but I don't make the RULES)

[2] In a geopolitical stance, it's more to do with stability and Chechnya being a total fucking disaster zone. Putin has wery wery limited controls when it comes to the militias. This is probably a power-play +/- Putin having to send in the hard-core to cleanse.


Optics: not looking good, and you probably should look into who has been plying Ramzan Kadyrov with non-Ruble bribes (hint: $$$$... 元元元 -- post Mar-A-fucking-Largo, China is not going to play nice).

But anyhow: Here's a Bear. A Cat (meow).

Where's the fucking Hedgehog?


After a particularly annoying landlord, I found myself with a theory that men have beards to keep their throats from being bitten out. Is this at all plausible?

It probably isn't plausible-- it might be too easy to protect one's throat by lowering one's head. On the other hand, I might as well check.


Some do. I have a beard so that mosquitos won't perform under chin attacks in summer and suck/bite my throat. It also replaces a scarf in winter.


There's a lot of American Christian money attacking homosexuals in other countries. So-called "missionaries" at work.


Actually, its even simpler & worse than that, as in:
There's a lot of American Christian money attacking ......


My wife has threatened to cut off marital relations if I grow a beard; even at 69, that's a bit harsh.

Here's a hint: shampoo and hair conditioner work on hair below as well as hair up on top. This is particularly important if your beard hair tends to be scratchy or autonomously saves bits of your food for later.

So, showering regularly and massaging conditioner into your beard (rinsing it out afterwards, of course) helps a lot.


Thanks, but I don't get that far before even I start to object to my own face fungus :-) Inter alia, the hair on each side grows in different directions, with different vigour (not even consistently), and my moustache hairs curl back and tickle my upper lip (which doesn't improve my temper).


Some beards don't help with that at all. Last year in January I grew a beard like Lemmy Kilmister had, in his honour (kind of like Movember but Lemmyary). That didn't protect the chin at all.

Also, my wife and children didn't like the look so it had to go. I also cut my hair later in the year so it wouldn't be so trad. Lemmy nowadays.


Beard dyeing is becoming a thing allowing for more canvas upon which guys can express their artistry and self-identity.

More seriously though ... considering that the points compared include the lips/mouth and chin, it's surprising that beards are allowed in the more paranoid (surveilled) states that use facial recognition.


For what it's worth, mine took about two days to do the import, finishing yesterday. Using the DW import page did bring the comments on mine across.


In the same way as CCTV operators can simply record someone until they take their sunglasses off, they can just follow someone around until they shave. For the secret policebeing in a hurry there are recordings. :)

Slightly more sensibly, I believe you can get pretty good matches just using the top half of the face so it might not be a big deal.


Beards? I think I have a beard because of the effect of some ancient evolutionary pressure which I am unable to identify on human sexual dimorphism. It is a pain in the arse, but it is much less of a pain in the arse than continually removing it would be, especially given the propensity of shaved hairs to disappear beneath the skin entirely, refuse to re-emerge, and give rise to sore lumps and zits from which, in due course of time, several inches of tightly-coiled hair can be extracted.

Were it possible to take a one-shot pill that permanently prevented beard growth I would certainly do so. I am given to understand that such a thing would be possible, but that it has never been developed because a majority of blokes would not take it; apparently they actually prefer being forced to undertake the hassle of scraping the thing off every day because of some idiotic "masculinity" thing. (I believe that something similar is responsible for the non-existence of a male contraceptive pill: the Chinese, I think, found something that works, but rejected its use because the effect is irreversible, which sounds like a huge point in its favour to me.)

I do not, however, count "needing to wash after eating" among the disadvantages of a beard, because I consider that to apply regardless of beard presence. Food, even "dry" items like digestive biscuits, is such dirty and mucky stuff that it always leaves detectable residue despite the most strenuous efforts to avoid this.


Para 2:-

Let's assign the present World population a value of 7E9 persons. Half of these persons, give or take, are male, which gives us 3.5E9 males. A "minority" of males therefore still contains some 1.7E9 potential customers for this product. Even at 1 major unit of local currency per person that's still a lot of money, and that's before the effects on fashion and "time for doing other stuff" bite.


A quick search found these herbal remedies to stop hair/beard growth: spearmint tea, plus a honey & lemon facial and a besan flour & turmeric facial.

For more hair, add yams and unfermented soya to your diet. Adding phytoestrogens to one's diet may work for both men and women as per below. The article below also discusses how hair grows in rather more detail than I've seen before ... interesting.


Actually, more like this but the head is gold. 'Course, if I didn't keep the bottom square cut, like Lenin, I could do Pete Seeger....

118: about dying berards... I started dying my beard and some of my hair (using a brush, and dye meant for mustache & beard) in '04, when I was long-term out of work, and Everyone Knows Computers Are For Young People.... Btw, a friend, now in her later forties, was around 44, and between jobs, and had a small bit if grey in her hair. She died it, and got a job. Agism? Naaahhhhh....



I wore a full beard for a number of years (5 < n < 20-ish; sorry, age-related cognitive decline, maybe,) and one afternoon I decideded I was over it, went into the bathroom and shaved it off.

Opened the door to reveal the new me and my wife's dog bit me. Took days to convince him that I was really me.

[[ html fix - mod ]]


Hard time believing it was just the beard. How much aftershave did you pour on?


> claymore whisky

'This side toward enemy', eh ?


I never saw my (deceased) dad without one, it allegedly hid moles.

Some pals over the years had/didnt/had beards, and with some it was 'who's that?' But with others I had to have the change pointed out .. odd ..



First time I ate nacho chips after my beard got over an inch long I discovered the missus had just kinda chuckled to herself and ignored the uh... accumulation.

I got in to the bathroom to rinse and discovered damn near an entire chip worth of crumbs stashed on my chin. I've since figured out various tricks regarding eating without getting anything dropped down there, and later (with assistance from Bandholz, beardbro to all) got the hang of eating without getting my moustache caught in everything. Took a while to get the hang of kissing down again, not that the missus minded me practicing (aided by more beardbro tips) or anything.

Though this did lead me to formulate a mechanism for how (dwarf fortress) dwarves reproduce, the male dwarf and female dwarf rub beards, the male leaves a section of beard behind, this begins using the accumulated booze and dust and crumbs in the motherbeard to build a vessel, then when the vessel is complete the beardlet has to transfer over, losing hold of the mother beard, hence the following message about "cancels job: seeking infant" that lets you know a new beard has joined the fort!

It takes a while for the new beard to fully connect and complete construction of the new vessel so until they turn 12 the intent of the overseer (you) doesn't get through to them, preventing any sort of useful activities short of using dwarven childcare (which is like normal childcare with less care, and more dogs) to turn them into scarred and hardened warriors.


Were it possible to take a one-shot pill that permanently prevented beard growth I would certainly do so.

Me too. I have even contacted a few of the "we know the secret of male hair loss" people asking whether then can help, but sadly none of them actually know the secret.

When I let my thin, straggly "beard" grow out I apparently look like the most useless sort of undercover policeman. The sort of fake that's so unconvincing that people wonder whether maybe it's not fake at all, but that doesn't actually help with the whole "I am a manly man and here is my manly beard" nonsense. The advantage is that it's easier to shave off, and I don't have to shave as often as some. But really, shaving? Don't we have a pill for that yet?


Ok, Much Wow.

So: since the average age here is pushing 50, how did you check your "Average Beard % Hedgehog fat" before selfies / the mobile phone. Wild guess? Moistening via hand and chance? Aggressive plucking in the morning (Ok, soo gonna love it if men have been secretly doing this).

I'm guessing partners, but that's so wild.

1972-85, America discovers hairspray that is basically lacquer. The Ozone layer is eradicated under the aegis of DALLAS and Jane Fonda's Spandex Work-outs. (Sweat? Don't worry, your hair is now plastic). The beard is never treated this way[1].

Sorry, total virgin to this entire topic. Like, what's the largest thing caught in your beard by accident you didn't notice? Prawn? Crisp?


More on topic, Pavel Petel (we've l/kinked to him before) addressed the entire LJ / Clause 28 thing, oh, four years ago: Pavel Petel On Living In Russia: “I Am Worried About My Life And Health” QUEERTY, Aug, 2013.

Oh, and since no-one here seems to get how Russians do the entire Beard / hidden thing: Instagram video by Pavel Petel Pavel Patel, 8th Feb, 2017. Sorry, no English translation, ask a friend for it.

You'll notice a couple of things: basically, he's better at sounding like a CEO than most CEOs (BRAND), and when he's not HARD-TROTTING, he's basically dressed to the nines in high-end GUCCI / fashion stuff. Oh, bonus stuff: his hand movements are 100% conventional Russian (Putin uses the same), not flamboyant. Although.. he does stoke his pug on the QT.

On more Russia: Chechnya looks like it's a political / journalist purge covered up with the entire "gay panic" angle. Saint Petersburg bombing has had internal demands to "Remove this fucking root-vegetable fungus permanently" so. (That was a polite literal and not very accurate translation).

Yeah, Chechnya doesn't have many gay people in it, because, you know: most of them were purged waaay back in the war [want a video? Just ask - ISIS before ISIS was cool, only not in a desert, but in snow]. (Thanks, America, for noticing). This whole thing is actually about St. P. blow-back and purges of anti-establishment voices.

Oh, it's fucking evil. But it's not exactly the evil being shown in the West. It's an old form of вялотеку́щая шизофрени́я being used by barely literal apes: as stated - Putin really doesn't have a firm hand on the militas that his "fans" use, so this is a hard politque solution.


Chechnya "gay internment camps" is a move. They're actually further removing dissenting voices (i.e. the journos who they don't want to carbomb), and ramping up for what Moscow has actually demanded (post St.P bombing) which is basically killing the more radical factions. Of course, the left / progressive / non-Muslim / non-heteronormative sections of society will be used as a fucking beard for this, and you won't hear a word about the actual deaths in Western Media.


Welcome to LJ, Moscow edition.


Re "Tradition and Superstition: The Jinn in the Family Closet" and "Facilitating Possession: Okwui Okpokwasili on Poor People’s TV Room", interesting, and read twice. Am quite interested in this topic, as you have ((obligatory)probably) noticed. No links because I don't know of any interesting writings.

Tangentially related, am reminded of a female housemate (a commune situation lived in for several months) who went through some sort of psychotic break[1]. One detail that has stayed in mind is that she cleaned some of the bathroom at night with the lights out, with Mercurochrome (orange) and Q-tips (cotton swabs), and left no residue. I regularly do tkd exercises and stretches in the dark with eyes closed, and (try to) navigate in the dark, in attempts to capture the essence of that possible existence proof. (And a few explanatory conjectures worked out. Bayesian mindset, so ...)

[1]It came to mind because previously she had said that people with blue eyes (like her) were more easily possessed. That seemed unlikely (e.g. cultures with possession lore often have mostly/near entirely dark-eyed members) but it was memorable. Have no clue, this was (i think) prior to the current blue eyes trope; perhaps it was related to nazars?

Trying to get a handle (preferably easily operationalizable somehow) on gamma oscillations; see stuff like this Selective entrainment of gamma subbands by different slow network oscillations (abstract only atm) and don't know how to map to self mind states/activities.


Still a bit low on the age range there, think I'll be 37 this year, but I had a weird patch that didn't want to grow in on my upper throat for the last fifteen years which finally filled out so I've been enjoying it.

Largest thing caught in it though, hmmm, oh wait...

...I had a piece of bark fall out of my beard once.

I don't know where it came from.


Your so called "beard" is an advanced but poorly programmed nanotech fabricator. Given the correct instructions anything could fall out.


“Random Excuses”
How about Random events & … “The evil that men do lives on after them, the good is oft interred with their bones” – obligatory quote from WS, I suppose.
This started with two news items & a quote from Cho En-Lai being repeated.

The last was his response to a question on the effects of the French Revolution ( “Too early to say” ) The other two were a commemoration of the battle of Arras, 1917 & a British Library flyer on “The Russian Revolution”, but meaning the second one, in October, of course, whilst pretending that the first, in February, that ousted the Tsar & put Kerensky in power had never happened. It all came together with more agonising about Syria ( & the Levant, cough ) at which a moment of synergic memory happened - whilst remembering two books:
“A Line in the Sand” – which is all about Sykes-Picot & a chapter in Barbara Tuchman’s masterly “August 1914” headed: “Goeben, being an enemy then flying…”

Just how much of today’s total fuck-up of international politics & pain & death & suffering and more of the same, dating back to 1934 & from then on is down to the evil that a very small group of men did in the years 1912-17.
The Imperial German General Staff. Aided by a “Leader” who was vain & sensitive & followed no consistent policy, of course ( Kaiser Wilhelm )

The bloody, bitter & unnecessary partition of Ireland ( Gun-running to the opposite “side” that they had supported in 1912!)….
- the bloody torture of the Bolshevik revolution & all that followed ( The sealed train containing Lenin, to overthrow Kerensky)…
- the failure of a weak Admiral (Troubridge) to stop SMS Goeben reaching Constantinople & the subsequent disintegration of the Turkish empire, the partitions the perpetual infighting, still with us ….
- the internal disintegration of Germany, with that state not becoming an constitutional monarchy under “little Willie”, thus allowing the rise of Adolf & the wrecking of Europe…..
- the wrecking of Austria-Hungary, because the one man who could have, perhaps, steered it towards a federation was murdered in Sarajevo …..
On & on & on.

Last thought – does Donaldo Trumpolini remind one, perhaps, not of Bennie, but Wilhelm II?
Now there’s an unpleasant idea.


My dad just about to start chemo for prostate cancer. Last time I saw his chin was 1973, when I was 9. Will be weird if his hair falls out and his chin reappears.


Also, I did not inherit his furry face characteristics -my granddad on t'other side was ginger, so I am a piebald brown / ginger / grey patchwork, which looks bloody ridiculous. Also $wife hates face fur, and will not tolerate fuzz long enough for it to become soft. As I am rather keen on cuddles, it gets scraped about every 1.5 days.


Ah, wives. I happened to have a beard when I met mine, and have had it ever since as she's threatened to divorce me if I ever lose it.


"does Donaldo Trumpolini remind one, perhaps, not of Bennie, but Wilhelm II?"

After his air attack against Assad? More than ever. Here is the man that will see red and sign a blank check for Austria-Hungary as soon as he receives shocking news from Sarajevo.


Something that most people in the West conveniently forget is that the reason that the USA has been actively (and illegally) trying to overthrow Assad since 2003 has nothing to do with him being an utter shit, and is entirely to eliminate Russia's last overseas bases, to further tighten the near-blockade of Russia. If Trump has started to be manipulated with the warmongers, we are indeed in trouble - mere unpredictable lunacy could go either way.


- the internal disintegration of Germany, with that state not becoming an constitutional monarchy under “little Willie”, thus allowing the rise of Adolf & the wrecking of Europe

While I agree with the general thrust of your points, I think that in this particular case you've got it wrong. Neither the Kaiser himself nor "Little Willie" (assuming you mean the Crown Prince) would have been fit to head a constitutional monarchy. For one, neither of them could really accept a democratic system (and the role played by the Crown Prince in paving the way for Hitler proves his personal shortcomings all too well). And second, but equally important: their credibility as figureheads for a monarchy of any kind was severely damaged by their flight to the Netherlands at the end of WWI. Even the German monarchists during the Weimar Republic largely abandoned House Hohenzollern, because in their majority they considered the Kaiser and the Crown Prince to be cowards. In their perspective the honourable thing to do for Wilhelm II would have been to die at the western front. This was carefully suggested among his advisers in the fateful days in November 1918, but Wilhelm decided otherwise.

Last thought – does Donaldo Trumpolini remind one, perhaps, not of Bennie, but Wilhelm II?

Oh, he does. Ever since the campaign last year he reminded me much more of Wilhelm II than of the later dictators.

There is one epithet about Wilhelm II (unfortunately I'm not sure by whom and I can't seem to find it; I think it could be by Fritz Fischer; I learned it from my history teacher in school and have remembered it ever since) which sums up his character like this: "Wilhelm II konnte reden - das war seine Gabe; und er wollte reden - das war sein Verhängnis." (roughly: "Wilhelm II was a speaker - that was his gift; and he liked to speak - that was his undoing.") I was reminded of this every time I heard about one of DT's speeches/blunders (still, they haven't undone him yet).


Agree I was probably wrong about little Willie, but.
Two things ... who will present him with the blank cheque - my guess is Kim Jong-Un, but ...
Two ... we DO NOT WANT to be dragged in as Austria-Hungary to Trumphelm's Zweite Reich

And yo have answered the potential question - "Who is big enough to drag him & his wrecked country down?" Answer, the PRC.

Meanwhile, my original question about the damage from that brief period & how we are still struggling to escape its coils, remains.


Oh hell, not again.


Thank you for lying on your back, not laying on your back. I'm not a grammar Nazi, but seeing people confuse lay and lie is exhausting. It was like driving past that damned Christain[sic] center at the edge of town for years. At least God finally struck them down for misspelling Christian. They're history.


Trying to get a handle (preferably easily operationalizable somehow) on gamma oscillations; see stuff like this Selective entrainment of gamma subbands by different slow network oscillations (abstract only atm) and don't know how to map to self mind states/activities.

Since you're looking for a way to measure via electronic medium, here's a PHD thesis for you - note well, this is merely modelling the issue rather than actually empirically viewing it:

Oscillatory Dynamics as a Mechanism of Integration in Complex Networks of Neurons Mark Wildie, Imperial College London, 2013. PDF: warning, long, 173 pages. Chapter 4+5 are useful.


Even the models haven't really been built yet. PHD is useful mainly for Bibliography, but also understanding that coherent / accurate modelling hasn't even been done on this yet (by you).


Point the first - Ok yes I'm in my 50s, but have never had a beard (look, after 3 days not shaving it itches, ok) so have no answer to the percentage of hedgehog fat, tortilla chips, young trees... question. My reason for wanting the "permanent facial depilatory" is the 10 to 30 minutes a day of "shaving time" that taking it would release.


You spend HOW LONG shaving?!?

For me it's twice a day, 30-60 seconds with a cheap Philips twin-head rotary travel shaver, both times while I'm on the loo (so occupying otherwise-dead time).

Yes, I have a beard and moustache, but I still need to shave my neck and sides. The once a fortnight head-trimmer/head shave takes a bit longer—but still no more than ten minutes.


That reminds me of noticing that the hair on my shoulder isn't a wild stray, it's a herd now, and actually part of a trail running up the back of my neck.

Ten minutes though... is that like, gods, I can't even think of a way to spend ten minutes shaving. Cutting a hair at a time with a microblade?


If you do the pre-wash specifically for shaving and lather-and-shave twice (once with the grain, once against), and then post-shave moisturizer and whatever "let's not have any ingrown hairs" treatment you apply, ten minutes isn't that hard. There are beards out there where that's the minimum useful approach and the alternative is growing it down to your waist and hanging weights on it to it will look like it grows in a uniform direction. Just using a straight razor, where you essentially must not hurry, makes ten minutes not that hard. A full-up barbershop shave with a stroke-strop-stroke-strop straight razor approach, hot towels, and so forth can easily take half an hour.

Plus if you've got scars or moles it can get notably trickier and thus slower.

Me, I gave up on electric razors; I find a nice simple safety razor works better, costs less, and razor blades recycle.


I'd rather rinse and comb my beard/stache several times a day after eating plus showering than deal with all that crap ever again. Kudos for doing all the washing steps, but bleh.


Oh, I don't -- I find one pass with a safety razor works much better than anything else I've tried -- but I wanted to note that ten minutes really isn't unreasonable.

There comes a time where looking a decade older goes from being an advantage to being a disadvantage in the workplace, and if I grow a beard I need to change all my ID which is a pain.


No. Especially for those of us with unhelpful bones, skin or hair (e.g. hair that lies flat). I normally get away with 5 minutes, but only just.


This seems to be the best place to ask, as it is vaguely on topic:

With the shift in US publishers from Ace to Tor, the mass-market paperback for The Nightmare Stacks seems to have fallen through the cracks. DO you know when/if it will be scheduled?



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on April 6, 2017 1:24 PM.

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