Ways to Improve Accounting

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:23 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 ... that will never fly in America, but would fix so many problems.

Refugees Then and Now

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:09 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Yes, some refugees today are in exactly the position of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.  They leave or they die, because some countries are killing Muslims or Christians or whatever else they've decided to hate; others are killing gays and transfolk and women who wear pants; quite a few are targeting doctors, scientists, journalists, and other intellectuals; and several just seem to be shooting anything that moves.  It's the same.  It's people fleeing genocide because they don't want to die.  

And countries are responding now just as they did to Jews: turning them away.  Oh sure, after  WWII everyone was "shocked" and "sorry" that Jews sent back to Germany were executed en masse.  After most of the Jews were safely dead and not in need of food, shelter, or any other assistance anymore.  People will turn back desperate masses and then be "shocked" and "saddened" when a toddler winds up drowned on their beach.  Well, when people are in dire situations, they will escape as best they can, and if nobody helps them do that safely then quite a lot of them will die along the way.  So everyone who supports  refugee-hostile polices becomes guilty of refoulement and shares part of the moral burden for those deaths, because their choices lead to actions that lead to dead refugees.  Those who fight for human rights are not at fault for the errors of others.

Stretching

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:02 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here's a post that says stretching has no benefits.  I have no idea how people keep generating these results.

When I was in school, everybody knew that stretching was a good idea.  That is, either we had personally ripped something or gotten awful cramps because we didn't bother to stretch out before doing something vigorous, or we'd seen other people make that mistake and decided to be more careful ourselves.  The connection was really sort of obvious.

Currently, I use stretching in small bits scattered throughout the day, because if I don't, my butt welds itself to the chair and my muscles lock up.  Stretch, or ache.  This also is really fucking obvious.  Some people's bodies don't knot up as much as others, but if you sit long enough -- and people nowadays tend to sit a LOT -- then eventually it will happen.  It can be fixed by stretching.

Anyone who's done a bendy sport -- cheerleading, gymnastics, bellydancing, yoga, etc. -- can tell the difference between people who do some kind of stretching regularly and people who do not.  Granted, there is a strong genetic factor in how stretchy your body is, but it will certainly bend better if you stretch it regularly than if you do not.  And if you haven't done it recently, you can sure feel the difference when you try to do it.

WTF even, science. >_<

Poem: "Experience Stinks"

Feb. 16th, 2019 07:10 pm
ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is the freebie for the February 2019 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam.  It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] zianuray.


"Experience Stinks"


Growing up
is learning that

not everything which
is black-and-white
and fuzzy is a kitten.

Sometimes,
experience stinks,

but it's still better
than ignorance.

* * * 

Notes:

This image was the other inspiration for the poem.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
In today's fragmented world, people can improve it by reaching out to each other. Here are some ideas for building community in your neighborhood.

Build a community garden. This is a time-tested way to promote community interaction in your neighborhood as well as share in a bounty of fresh veggies. Check out the American Community Gardening Association’s steps for getting started.

If you already have a community garden, then examine it to see if you could make any improvements.  Is it accessible to everyone?  If not, think about how you could add or change features to fix that.  You don't have to make the entire  space accessible as long as people can get into it easily and do all the things somewhere.  Alternatively, you could create a new community garden in another space that is fully accessible, which lets you do creative things -- such as putting roll-under beds above an abandoned parking lot -- that wouldn't be compatible with extant hardscaping. 

The same goes for other alternative or specialized approaches.  Organic gardens, vertical gardens, perennial gardens, and permaculture gardens, are all things that people sometimes squabble over in conventional community gardens.  Give them their own spot and you not only solve that problem, you also reduce crowding and create multiple locations to spread out the benefits of green space.  As with accessibility, some places unsuitable for ordinary gardens are preset for alternatives -- any sturdy old building becomes a frame for vertical garden, and so on.

[syndicated profile] sfwa_feed

Posted by Editor

In 2019, the President, Secretary, and three (3) Director-At-Large positions on SFWA’s Board of Directors are up for re-election.

The following SFWA members have stated their intent to run for the SFWA Board of Directors in 2019. They have been verified as eligible and have posted their platforms on the SFWA Forum.

Candidate for President
• Mary Robinette Kowal

Candidate for Secretary
• Curtis Chen

Candidates for Director at Large

• James Beamon
• Tobias Buckell
• John Chu
• Andy Duncan
• Walter L. Fisher
• Jeffe Kennedy
• Kevin McLaughlin
• Sarah Pinsker
• Eric James Stone
• Peng Shepherd
• William Alan Webb

Election Calendar:

2/16 Questions for the Candidates Thread opens.
3/14 The voting link will be posted & optional paper ballots mailed.
Ballots counted after 4/11

The post Candidates for the SFWA Board of Directors appeared first on SFWA.

Creative Jam

Feb. 16th, 2019 02:28 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam is now active with a theme of "growing up."  Come give us prompts or claim some for your own inspiration.


What I Have Written
"Experience Stinks" is today's freebie.


From My Prompts

 

The Things Geeks Do

Feb. 15th, 2019 03:06 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The things geeks do: a telescope wearing a boxing glove, and an example of "screw lab safety, I want superpowers."

Gorgeousness in death

Feb. 15th, 2019 09:00 am
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

If you’re a star, how you die depends on how big a star you are.

Huge, massive stars explode, creating so much light and heat they can outshine an entire galaxy for weeks. Dinky, lightweight stars just kinda keep on keepin’ on, going through their fuel at a miserly pace, finally fading after hundreds of billions or even trillions of years.

In-between stars, ones more like the Sun, split the difference. They don’t explode, neither do they just fade away. But their deaths aren’t easy: Toward the ends of their lives they go through a series of huge paroxysms, coughing up great winds of gas in an episodic series. After a few of these they’ve blown off so much of their outer layers that a large fraction of their mass is ejected, revealing the far hotter core.

This core is roughly the size of the Earth, but can contain half the mass of the original star. Mind-crushingly dense and infernally hot, we call these beasts white dwarfs. They blast out ultraviolet light, which energizes the gas expanding away, lighting it up quite literally like a neon sign… and creating some of the Universe’s most beautiful objects: planetary nebulae.

The planetary nebula Abell 36, the glowing gas thrown off by a nearby dying star. Credit: ESO

The planetary nebula Abell 36, the glowing gas thrown off by a nearby dying star. Credit: ESO

That is the planetary nebula Abell 36, the last gasps of a star that was once much like the Sun. Now it’s a white dwarf, seen at the nebula’s center. Its temperature is many tens of thousands of degrees, but it’s so small it’s intrinsically not terribly luminous; at the nebula’s distance of about 1,400 light years you need a large telescope to see that star at all.

Still, this distance makes Abell 36 one of the closest planetary nebulae in the sky. The image above shows a lot of detail because of that. You can see faint wisps as well as large bridges of gas stretching across the nebula. In this image, taken using the Very Large Telescope in Chile, the colors tell you what kind of gas is in the nebula: Red is hydrogen, and blue oxygen, both glowing due to the light from the white dwarf. They don’t reflect that light as, say, clouds or trees do. Instead, that light makes the electrons in those atoms jump up in energy. After some time, the electrons drop back down and re-emit that energy at specific colors, the tell-tale signature of the specific elements. Astronomers can measure these colors and intensities to determine quite a bit about the nebula, such as the ratio of elements, the temperature and density of the gas, and more.

Speaking of density, you have already guessed it’s not very. Dense, that is: You can see extremely distant galaxies far in the background. We’re seeing right through this nebula. A typical planetary may have a density of gas of just a few thousand up to a few hundred thousand atoms per cubic centimeter. That may sound like a lot, but air at sea level on Earth has more like 1019 atoms per cc! Compared to that, a nebula is the equivalent of a hard vacuum.

We only see them at all because they’re big, a light year or three across, so as we look through them we see enough gas to add up. If you were inside one that light would be so spread out you might not even know it.

It makes me wonder: Did this star have planets? Were there gas giants, super-Earths, even terrestrial planets like our own? What were they like, billions of years ago? Did life once make its way across one or more of those worlds?

We’ll never know. But this nebula does tell us more about how stars die, and that’s more than just idle curiosity: The Sun will go through all this someday too. Not for, oh, seven or so billion years, but it will. Over hundreds of million of years it’ll expel more and more gas, exposing deeper layers, until its white-dwarf core is exposed to space even as its outer layers blow away at speeds of more than 100,000 kilometers per hour.

For a long time it wasn’t clear if the white dwarf the Sun leaves behind would be energetic enough to cause that gas to glow, but recent observations indicate it will. Barely.

And I wonder further… in a few billion years, maybe alien astronomers — or our very distant descendants — will train their own telescopes on our late, great Sun, and delight in the beauty of its death. Perhaps they too will take a moment to ponder what amazements and marvels existed in what used to be a healthy, normal star system, and what life might have once gazed up into the cosmos and wondered, too.

ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Miguel Civil has passed away. He was a renowned scholar of ancient Sumerian. He will be deeply missed.

Read more... )

The end of the day

Feb. 14th, 2019 11:57 pm
lizbennefeld: photo, color manipulated, of blue wild flax flower (flower)
[personal profile] lizbennefeld
 The day was satisfactory! I got my hair cut (postponed because of last week's storms), and we stopped for more groceries on the way home from the mall. I should have cooked the chicken and the fish, but...I will take care of it tomorrow.

I also determined to replenish my hypoallergenic lounge pants, which get washed frequently and are, some after more than two years of wear, beginning to wear at the hems. A few are now thin enough that they're see-through. I went to the web site and discovered that they are in the first day (the 14th) of a two-week 20 percent off sale, and so I got four pair of lounge pants and two pair of thermal longjohns—sold as women's thermal sleepwear bottoms. They should do quite nicely under the lounge pants.

I have decided what to do next with my no-longer-a-domain blog at WordPress. I plan to devote it to my more colorful photoart. I like to play with colors and textures. I am not certain what I will do with what doesn't fit in with that. Perhaps move it to my Patchwork Prose site, just to tuck it away. I have plenty of room, there. I am going through the blog posts marked Private to see what I have that fits with the new theme.

Must have a small snack before I go to sleep.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 Thanks to an audience poll, there are 25 new verses in "Only If It Is Embraced."  Clement takes care of Gray's minor injuries, but they argue about Keane again.

Losing Inland Water

Feb. 14th, 2019 11:42 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 In case you needed another thing to panic about, losing inland water contributes to rising oceans.

Heating Patches for Clothes

Feb. 14th, 2019 09:48 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Now this product has potential: heating patches for clothes. They're supposed to be lightweight, flexible, and efficient.  

For me, the usability comes down to comfort: if it feels like soft fabric I can use it, but not if it's scratchy or stiff.  If soft, it would represent a big improvement over adding yet! another! layer! or stuffing a hot sock down my sweater.  There are all kinds of products to trap heat or put heat in, but most of them are clunky.  A truly lightweight one would be awesome, and I would pay extra for it if it was in my budget.

Hunger Pangs

Feb. 14th, 2019 09:26 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This article describes an implant that can shut off hunger signals.  It has some positive potential, but also a lot of serious risks that I don't think people are considering.

* It's ideal for treating nonsense hunger.  That is, hunger which does not impose a concrete penalty for ignoring it.  Emotional eating and social eating both fall into this category.  \o/

* It's very bad for situations where the appetite signals hunger, and without eating, penalties such as headache, stomachache, and irritability ensue.  Those need a different solution.

* It doesn't have a user-controllable off switch.  That means you can't, for example, allow yourself to eat a full healthy meal and then use the device to quell urges for snacking.  It seems to get stuck in nibble mode.

* Drastically reducing food intake without improving the quality  of food would greatly increase dietary illnesses.  Most American food is high in calories but pretty low in actual nutrients. Cut the food and people who already aren't getting quite enough vitamins will suddenly be getting up to 40% less.  No, you can't simply replace those will pills, because bioavailability is much lower with pills than with actual food.

Do you think doctors will care about these factors?  I don't.  I think they'll use the same bullying tactics they already do with other things, and once this device becomes available, it'll be "Get this implant and stop being such a pig, or you don't get any health care."  Which will predictably make people's health worse, because many people already avoid health care because they don't wish to be abused about their weight, and that undermines health. But not as much as letting people hurt you, so for many folks it's a valid trade, even if it's less good than what they should  have with good care.  This is regrettable because the device sounds ideal for treating a subset of overeating which is pretty common.

Declining Life Expectancy

Feb. 14th, 2019 05:13 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Although the exact causes vary, life expectancy is declining for multiple groups of Americans.

For Hispanics, overdoses and suicides are the leading causes of death.
For non-Hispanic whites, both men and women, overdoses and alcohol-related diseases appear to drive increased mortality.
For non-Hispanic black women, diabetes-related mortality is increasing.
For non-Hispanic black men, leading causes are cancer, alcohol-related diseases and external causes, such as traffic accidents
.

All of those, with the probable exception of "external causes," can be caused or exacerbated by poverty, social insecurity, and other problems indicative of a dysfunctional society.  All of the substance-abuse problems, and cancer to the extent it is caused by substances such as tobacco, relate to self-medicating to endure a miserable life.  Diabetes and cancer are much deadlier when preventive and maintenance care are difficult or impossible to obtain, and they occur disproportionately in populations with poor environmental health (e.g. next to a toxic waste dump) and diet (e.g. commodity foods, which are harmful to the point of genocide).  Suicide is the most unmistakable and irrevocable "I SAID NO" that a former citizen can give to society, and it is rising not only in oppressed groups but also seemingly "good" lives that are so stressful as to be unendurable.

A couple of groups not mentioned: Native Americans have a ruinously high death rate due to things like suicide, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and substance abuse.  Maternal and infant perinatal deaths are skyrocketing, thank you Texas and the rest of the South.  None of which is an accident.

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