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Aloha, LiveJournal

Everything's been copied over to my Dreamwidth account ([personal profile] edschweppe), so this is it for the LiveJournal. Commenting will be disabled on the LJ momentarily, but for now I plan to leave it up to minimize broken links.

It was fun, folks ...

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/374641.html - comment wherever you please.

Transferring from LJ

Well, our Russian LiveJournal overlords have come up with new terms of service, which as near as I can tell mean I can't post anything political. Which, as one might think, is a non-trivial amount of what I post. So, it looks like it's time to at least partially decommission this site.

Default crossposting ends immediately. I've queued up a final import of comments from LiveJournal to my Dreamwidth account. Once that's finished (which will likely take a looong time), I plan to disable comments on Livejournal and cease crossposts.

Said Dreamwidth account, for any on LJ who see this and are wondering, can be found here (or [personal profile] edschweppe).

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/230413.html - comment wherever you please.

Snowpocalypse Pie

It's Pi day (3/14) and we've got a blizzard! Or at least warnings thereof:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Taunton MA
719 AM EDT Tue Mar 14 2017

CTZ002>004-MAZ002>012-026-RIZ001-141930-
/O.CON.KBOX.BZ.W.0003.170314T1200Z-170315T0000Z/
Hartford CT-Tolland CT-Windham CT-Western Franklin MA-
Eastern Franklin MA-Northern Worcester MA-Central Middlesex MA-
Western Essex MA-Eastern Essex MA-Western Hampshire MA-
Western Hampden MA-Eastern Hampshire MA-Eastern Hampden MA-
Southern Worcester MA-Northern Middlesex MA-
Northwest Providence RI-
Including the cities of Hartford, Windsor Locks, Union, Vernon,
Putnam, Willimantic, Charlemont, Greenfield, Orange, Barre,
Fitchburg, Framingham, Lowell, Lawrence, Gloucester,
Chesterfield, Blandford, Amherst, Northampton, Springfield,
Milford, Worcester, Ayer, Foster, and Smithfield
719 AM EDT Tue Mar 14 2017

...BLIZZARD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS
EVENING...

* LOCATIONS...Western Massachusetts and Hartford County in
Connecticut.

* HAZARD TYPES...Heavy snow with Blizzard Conditions.

* ACCUMULATIONS...Snow accumulation of 12 to 18 inches, with
localized 18 to 24 inch amounts possible across extreme
western Massachusetts.

* TIMING...Snow will overspread the region through 7 am this
morning. The snow will quickly become heavy by late morning
with 2 to 4 inch per hour snowfall rates possible at times
into the afternoon. The snow may end as a bit of sleet or
freezing rain across portions of northern CT into central MA
and northeast MA. The snow will taper off early this evening...
but lingering snow showers will remain possible especially
across far western MA.

* IMPACTS...The heavy snow and strong winds will result in
blizzard conditions and near zero visibility at times. Many
roads will become impassable and strong winds may result in
some tree damage and scattered power outages...especially
across northeast MA. Travel is not recommended.

* WINDS...Northeast 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 55 mph.

* VISIBILITIES...One quarter mile or less at times.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained winds or frequent
gusts over 35 mph are expected with considerable falling and/or
blowing snow. Visibilities will become poor with whiteout
conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or
disoriented. So persons in the warning area are strongly advised
to stay indoors.


Given the forecast, I didn't bother trying to go into work this morning. The commuter rail is running on a "reduced" schedule, and walking through the teeth of a blizzard is ... not my idea of fun.

(Also, I think this is the first time I've reprinted a National Weather Service warning message since they abandoned their ALL-CAPS TELETYPE FORMAT. I kind of miss it.)

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/229931.html - comment wherever you please.

I'm published!

... Well, at least one sentence's worth of published. Uncanny Magazine did an "exquisite corpse" editorial, where a group of folks each wrote one sentence, only knowing what the previous sentence was.

The resulting ... thing ... has just been published, as part of Uncanny's March/April 2017 edition. And my one little sentence made it in!

Mind you, there's a lot of good stuff in this issue of Uncanny. The first half is free on the web as I write; the other half will be up for free next month; and there are plenty of places to buy epub versions if you like what you see.

My sentence, ROT-13'd to prevent spoilerage:
Lrg, bs gur gjb, uvf (gb vffhr gur punyyratr) jnf ol sne gur rnfvre gnfx; gnxvat hc gung punyyratr jbhyq pnyy sbe fgeratguf abar xarj fur unq.


Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/229490.html - comment wherever you please.

Well, *that* sucks

Donald Trump was not who I was expecting to win election as the next President of the United States.

...

At the moment, I have nothing else to say.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/224548.html - comment wherever you please.

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It's Election Day in the US!

I've been posting this sort of message on other social media; now it's LJ/DW's turn.

If you are a US citizen and have already voted in this year's election, thank you!

If you are a US citizen and have not already voted in this year's election, today's the day! Get out there and VOTE!

If you are not a US citizen, please accept my apologies on behalf of my fellow citizens for the mess we've been making. Things should get better shortly.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/224340.html - comment wherever you please.

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Thoughts on the third Presidential debate

Well, that wasn't nearly as much of a train wreck as I feared. That's the good news...

1) Big point: Trump refused, point blank, to say he'd accept the results of the election. Instead, he'll keep us "in suspense"

2) Trump keeps dodging hard questions (such as Roe v. Wade), and kept interrupting both Clinton and the moderator (Chris Wallace). Clinton was much more willing to actually answer the question being asked before pivoting away to whichever talking point she was working on.

3) Trump claimed that the stories about him groping women had been debunked; funny, I hadn't heard anything like that.

4) Apparently, it's all Clinton's fault that Trump moved jobs overseas and used Chinese steel to build his buildings. Also, everything that's gone badly in Iraq and Syria is her fault.

5) Neither candidate bit when Wallace asked if they'd consider an entitlement "grand bargain" of tax hikes and benefit cuts. Good for them.

Trump didn't suffer an obvious meltdown (although he still had the sniffles), so that's sort of a win for him; Clinton got her points across, so that's sort of a win for her. For me, the big question is going to be whether Trump can keep from blowing up over the various digs Clinton got in on him.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/223361.html - comment wherever you please.

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Thoughts on the second Presidential debate

The "town hall" debate is over ("only" ran 7 minutes late, better than commuter rail!). Some quick thoughts:

1) Both Trump and Clinton kept going over their allotted time and kept interrupting each other and the moderators. (I didn't have a counter running, but I'm pretty sure Trump did far more interrupting that Clinton did.)

2) Lots of Trump dodging questions and giving vague answers. Also, lots of Trump complaining that the moderators don't interrupt Clinton.

3) Anderson Cooper was at least able to get Trump to say that he hadn't paid federal income taxes; when asked if he could say for how long, Trump replied "no I can't".

4) Apparently, Trump and his running mate (Mike Pence) "don't talk" - at least, not about Syria.

5) Trump pushed Bengazhi and email scandals; I guess he thinks they haven't been addressed enough over the last several years.

It will be interesting to see what the fact-checkers come up with, since Trump flat-out denied saying things he's on record as saying.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/222658.html - comment wherever you please.

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Thoughts on the Vice Presidential debate

Well, that wasn't nearly as a mess as last week's Trump/Clinton debate, but tonight's debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence didn't really add much to my knowledge about either man. One thing I did learn is that both men have sons in the USMC.

A few things I did note:

1) Pence clearly was having trouble handling the criticism of Trump; at least six times Kaine asked Pence to defend some particular thing Trump had said and every time Pence changed the subject.

2) I think Kaine did a better job of speaking in general; Pence kept repeating ObamaCare, "War on Coal," "weak and feckless" phrases as if they were magic.

3) Pence twice tried to refer to Russian president Vladimir Putin as a "small man"; Kaine used that to bring up how Trump had praised Putin, had his cronies running his campaign, etc. Similarly, when Pence tried to bring up Clinton Foundation and "pay-to-play", Kaine used that to segue into comparison with Trump Foundation; CF is higher-rated that American Red Cross, TF made illegal campaign contributions. (Missed a chance to needle Pence on Trump's fundraising emails to European MPs, alas.)

3) Moderator Elaine Quijano kept things moving along, but both Pence and Kaine talked all over her time and time again. (That said, neither man was throwing Trump-like tantrums, and they usually apologized when called out for interrupting.)

Overall, I doubt this debate was a disaster for the Trump campaign, but it certainly wasn't a great success for them. Considering that there's only a month before the election, this debate has to count as a Clinton/Kaine win.

Now to see what the "professional" pundits think ...

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/222247.html - comment wherever you please.

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Quick thoughts before I go and see what the commentariat thinks:
1) No surprise that Clinton had facts at her command; also no surprise that Trump had stump speech lines down
2) Trump got clearly rattled every time Clinton brought up specifics about his wealth, business, etc.
3) Trump constantly interrupted both Clinton and moderator (Lester Holt)
4) Particularly towards the end, the moderator did a good job of brushing aside Trump's attempts to change the subject and re-asked the questions Trump was avoiding (e.g., "presidential look", accepting outcome of election)
5) Trump was constantly scowling; Clinton showed a range of emotions, including a couple of "oh, goody" moments when Trump had said something particularly factless.

And, not that it should matter, but Trump had a pretty obvious case of the sniffles and kept on reaching for his water glass.

I doubt this causes either side to lose their partisans, but I also doubt Trump convinced anyone not already a true believer to support him. Clinton may well pick up some undecideds.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/221443.html - comment wherever you please.

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Not Stylin'

According to the Huffington Post:
In 2007, the FBI published fake Associated Press articles and impersonated an AP reporter in emails meant to help unmask a hoaxer who was sending bomb threats to a high school in Washington state. But the agency didn’t do a particularly credible job, even failing to follow AP Style.


The full OIG report is here.

Solomon Todd would not have made such a rookie mistake.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/220932.html - comment wherever you please.

Luke, the Son of Anakin

While futzing around on YouTube, I found this neat little Star Wars/Hamilton crossover:
(embed behind cut)Collapse )
Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtkKf9o_jnc

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/220335.html - comment wherever you please.

Back from Worldcon!

I spent the last few days at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, held this year in Kansas City, Missouri (barely across the river from Kansas City, Kansas). Overall, I had a good time. I got to reconnect with old friends, see some interesting panels, attend my first WSFS Business Meeting (like a New England Open Town Meeting, but with less bitching about the school budget), and attend my first in-person Hugo Awards ceremony.

Ideally, I wouldn't have needed as much cave time as I did, but overall I had a great time. Getting into a Twitter exchange with John Scalzi on the flight into Kansas City was a blast (starts here). Meeting [personal profile] stardreamer (aka starcat_jewel) for the first time face-to-face was a definite highlight. Another, very pleasant, surprise was to learn that I'd been Tuckerized by Aliette de Bodard in her story "A Hundred and Seventy Storms" in the latest issue of Uncanny Magazine. (I'd known I was going to be Tuckerized, because that was the level at which I'd supported Uncanny's Year 2 Kickstarter, but I didn't know when or by whom.)

Of course, I got back to Logan Airport only to find my car had a dead battery, but they're used to that sort of thing and got me on my way with a jumpstart.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/219837.html - comment wherever you please.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

Yep, still important. Perhaps especially this electoral season.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/217657.html - comment wherever you please.

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Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day [1] to my friends and neighbors north of the border, who continue to demonstrate exquisite good taste by celebrating their national holiday upon my own personal natal day.

I'm particularly happy this year, as said friends and neighbors appear to have the sanest government in the English-speaking world ...

[1] Pour saluer la fête du Canada en français, appuyez sur 2.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/217493.html - comment wherever you please.

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Transylvania Pictures!

Yes, I took many pictures during my recent trip to Transylvania.
Yes, I got back a week ago.
Yes, it's taken a long time for me to get those pictures onto the Web.

But here they are, on Flikr:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskvSBjBp

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/215213.html - comment wherever you please.

Record-setting winter!

But not necessarily in a good way. Thus sayeth NOAA:
Statewide Average Temperature Ranks, December 2015-February 2016, Period 1895-2016; showing that all six New England states had their record highest average temperature

The December-February average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 36.8°F, 4.6°F above the 20th century average, surpassing the previous record of 36.5°F set in 1999/2000. The exceptionally warm December boosted the contiguous U.S. winter temperature. The February temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 39.5°F, 5.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the seventh warmest on record and warmest since 2000.
Forty-six states across the contiguous U.S. had a winter temperature that was above average. Much-above average winter temperatures were observed across the West, Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. Each of the six New England states had a winter temperature that was record warm.
Alaska had its second warmest December-February with a statewide temperature of 14.2°F, 10.6°F above average. Several locations across Alaska were record warm including Barrow and King Salmon, while Anchorage and Juneau had their second warmest December-February.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/national/201602

But, of course, certain political factions are convinced there's no such thing as climate change.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/213203.html - comment wherever you please.

I voted!

Despite the best efforts of the MBTA to delay my train home, not to mention my town having moved my precinct's polling place to an elementary school with totally inadequate parking for the purpose, I made it in time to vote in today's Presidential primary election.

Frankly, I'll be happy with either Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as President. I voted for Clinton mostly for tactical reasons, figuring that there cannot possibly be any undiscovered dirt left to be dug up on her. Sanders hasn't been in the national spotlight nearly as long; if there is any muck to be flung at him, it'll be flung for the first time during the general election campaign.

It was tempting to cross over to the Republican side to vote against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz - but there wasn't anybody to vote for on that ballot. (Or, at least, nobody I'd want as President.)

The poll workers said turnout was pretty good. The vote-counting machine was showing just over a thousand ballots, which would be not at all bad for just my precinct - OTOH, if that was supposed to be three precincts worth, I wouldn't be as impressed. (Last I checked, there are around 2200 or so voters per precinct here.)

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/212556.html - comment wherever you please.

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If you live in one of the Super Tuesday states - or anywhere else where the polls are open today, for that matter - remember:

Democracy is dangerous.

Vote anyway.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/212399.html - comment wherever you please.

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BRRR! to Not-Brrr in Two Simple Days

According to the National Weather Service, the temperature in Boston at 4AM this morning was -9F, breaking the old record by five degrees, and the coldest reading at that location since 1957.

Tonight's forecast low temperature in my town: -13F.
Tuesday's forecast high temperature in my town: 52F.

That's a sixty=five degree Fahrenheit swing in less than 48 hours. Even by New England's (in)famous wait-a-minute-weather standards, that's extraordinary.

Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/211372.html - comment wherever you please.

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