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Ice Foxx just released their new EP, Welcome to Korrent City, and it's seriously fun stuff. ^_^ It's sort of synthwave, but more crunchy, less strictly 80s, perhaps heading toward the likes of Pendulum. It's available on her Bandcamp storefront, and all the usual vendors and music services, including Apple Music, Spotify, and so on. For me, it's got a similar kind of energy as I find in the TRON: Legacy soundtrack - it's quite different, absolutely, but there's a similar.. shininess, if you will. ^_^ Anyway, I've been enjoying it quite a bit lately - maybe it'll grab you too. ^_^

A Thursday in December saw me brave my (possibly weakening?) shyness to meet up with a new Masto friend, currently based in the Netherlands, but in the nearby city for the company dinner and some work. We met inside Cold Steel, a reputable piercing joint another friend just visited, and at long last, I got my ears pierced. ^_^ Just simple narrow gauge, in the lobes. For now. =:)

This trailer for Garden Paws has me interested - looks like a sort of Animal Crossing/farming game where you finally get to be furry. ^_^

No idea how the film itself will be, but the trailer for Hanson and the Beast looks like a lot of fun. =:D

So, I was openly wishing there could be more stories told in the setting of Carpenter Brut and Seth Ickerman's "Turbo Killer", and a friend noted she thought there was indeed a short film in that world on the way. A quick check revealed, lo: Blood Machines is a real thing, and seemingly not far off. =:D 'Not content with creating a story that is confined to the few minutes of the music video, director Seth Ickerman and his creative team decided that they needed to flesh this concept out. Enter Blood Machines, a short film created by Ickerman and scored by Carpenter Brut that, “…tells the story of a A.I. escaping its spaceship then turning into a female ghost who will challenge two blade runners to an galactic chase.”'

I was, needless to say, shocked to learn of the death of Fred Patten, one of the formative figures in early furrydom. I first encountered him via the Rowrbrazzle APA, meeting him once or twice in person, including at one SDCC.

This'll be worth following - seems the WebKit team's looking into restricting the amount of Javascript webpages can load. "Since advertising code, analytics, and tracking scripts are some of the heaviest JavaScript files on websites these days, the idea is to give sites a JavaScript resources constraint, and then force web developers to choose which JavaScript resources are more important than others, potentially leading to fewer sites showing ads or tracking users." Hopefully that'll make its way into the Safari Technology Preview builds before long.

Rather nice - a font based on the stencil used by the US National Parks Service.

In celebration of the exquisitely crafted Brexit deal finalised many months ago, please enjoy this relaxing three minutes of Brexit Yoga. =:)

A touch more seriously, this profile of Theresa May does a good job of explaining why the negotiations have gone quite so disastrously, only fuelling the divide within Parliament and the country.

Here's a pair of quite short stories written by someone I know over on Mastodon, featuring Mel, the dorkiest succubus. The first introduces her - it's the second where the narrative gets its game on. ^_^

MIDI 2 is underway!

Some rather - in the literal sense - wonderful sci-fi artwork, by Bryan Larsen.

A good story from The Advocate on another aspect of Tumblr's crackdown on anything vaguely "adult" (ironically now apparently leading to Pornhub being interested in buying what remains of Tumblr =:), here looking at young trans men exploring their identity.

In need of a new comic? Try My Dragon Girlfriend. It's exceptionally wholesome, and equally gay. ^_^ There's not too much to catch up with, unfortunately, as each update is only four panels or so, but it does so three times a week.

Some quite fascinating projects in this year's NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts lineup. "The latest NIAC selections include Phase I and Phase II awards. The selected Phase I studies cover a wide range of innovations. Each Phase I award is valued at approximately $125,000, helping researchers define and analyze their proposed concepts over nine months. If the initial feasibility studies are successful, awardees can apply for Phase II awards." They include Bioinspired Ray for Extreme Environments and Zonal Exploration (BREEZE): Combines inflatable structures with bio-inspired kinematics to explore and study the atmosphere of Venus in phase 1, and phase 2 includes The High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope (THE MOST): A new, flexible optical telescope design that can be a deployed in a cylindrical roll and installed upon delivery, on a 3D printed structure.

We've all heard the name "Jordan Peterson". Here, though, is a little look at just how he arrived where he is. Hint: not through exhaustive, lauded academic effort.

Coo, I updated my profile a touch. ^_^ Nothing major, just a renovation, especially in the music section, which had become horribly dusty, adding a few films as well, and shifting the anime down, given I haven't actively been an anime viewer in several years now. (Not out of a lack of interest, so much as company - I just don't tend to watch much by myself. I only finished She-Ra a week or so ago! ^_^;)

Here's something rather wonderful: The Embroidered Computer, "an exploration into using historic gold embroidery materials and knowledge to craft a programmable 8 bit computer."

So, I saw a film! That makes at least one in 2019. ^_^ It wasn't a difficult sell, of course - the whole premise of Wreck-It Ralph worked so well, and the world of the Candy Racers, I will happily admit, is an aesthetic that speaks to me. =:D So it was that I finally got to meet up with jayblanc again. Sadly, the bistro I'd intended for a late lunch turned out not to be an option, with the kitchen (quite reasonably) closed from 3-5pm, and of course, we'd turned up right at three. ^_^; Not to worry! They identified a spot as likely to serve one of the new generation of good vegan burgers, and wow.. it was indeed delicious! They think it was that recent Finnish creation, whose name both of us forget at the moment. ^_^; The texture was pleasingly meaty, and the flavor was - well, what I'd want from a good burger. =:9 I'm very pleased at this trend - and judging by the way Impossible Burger's expanding, there's a good future in store for such. They may not immediately win over the die-hard meatatarians, but for people like me, open to cutting down on meat products (in my case, a preference to reduce killing for food, as well as the high environmental impact of livestock farming), these options are genuinely deliciously attractive. Of course, they'll face obstacles - just as with petrochemicals, the incumbents aren't going to cede their position without a fight.

The film? Yep, worth seeing. Perhaps the first flowed somewhat more smoothly, but this one reached higher, with the pinnacle being a truly memorable distillation of the Disney princess dogma, in classically musical form. =:D I was quite impressed that they permitted some genuine character advancement, too.

Apropos of nothing, have a rather arresting pic of Debbie Harry from a Vanity Fair shoot. ^_^

And wow.. a second too? Yes, it's true: two films in one year! This time, Into the Spider-verse, and.. wow. That's perhaps the most remarkable feature ever to come out of a western animation studio. The visual look's difficult to describe - that first trailer barely begins to show it off - leaving it an almost experimental-feeling combination of 3D rendering, 2D crosshatching, hand-drawn details, and more, for an overall look that's quite unlike almost anything you've seen before. The writing was - ah, quite passable, given it is, ultimately, a Marvel production, but whilst it wasn't exactly poetic, it was written with respect for the audience. The direction was impressive, remaining taut throughout - even in the fastest action scenes, you never lost track of just what was going on. I'm not generally much on superheroes, but I preordered that.

Some folks were hoping to open a vagina museum in Camden Market in November 2019, but, it looks like they'll have to try again. =:P

It's about as much fun as it sounds, in every sense. "Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche": "Draw me your map of utopia and I’ll tell you your tragic flaw. In 10 years of political reporting I’ve met a lot of intense, oddly dressed people with very specific ideas about what the perfect world would look like, some of them in elected office—but none quite so strange as the ideological soup of starry-eyed techno-utopians and sketchy-ass crypto-grifters on the 2018 CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise."

Regrettably, only a virtual establishment, but had you known of the existence of the World Carrot Museum?

Well, that's an interesting option I hadn't previously been aware of - apparently, since 1923, the UK and Ireland have had a Common Travel Area, permitting freedom of movement, for travel, residency, and work. I may yet need to look into that, should the Brexit Taliban prevail within Parliament; I am very much not inclined to witness said fallout from within. In previous months, I'd been more optimistic that the UK would indeed be given an opportunity to approve May's deal, or remain within the EU - but, I'm not feeling that from Corbyn, who even now is maintaining that that might be an option - per party policy - but only if a new General Election can't be secured. Given the timescales involved, that seems risibly unfeasible, not to mention what choice would people even have in such? The "Leave the EU at any cost" party, or the "Leave the EU and we can maybe glue the UK's economy back together party"? Not exactly much of a rallying cry.

Here's a decent primer to Mastodon, the good timeline's Twitter. ^_^

Coo! Shonen Jump went free to read, released simultaneously in Japanese and English, with paid memberships only required to access the archives - and even there, the price is being cut from $3 to $2/mo.

Woohoo! Shukin very kindly offered three free pinup slots, and I was lucky enough to snag one of them. Here's the result. ^_^

This could be fun to play with.. Intel's released Open Image Denoise under the Apache 2.0 license, being a library to perform noise reduction on images. Currently it's Intel CPU-based, taking advantage of vector processing - if the algorithm's suitable, I'd be surprised if someone doesn't make a GPGPU version in the coming weeks or months.

Rather a cool track: MADMADMAD - GWARN (Live on KEXP). It builds so very gradually, to quite some intensity.

Quite an interesting paper: Why 'piss' is ruder than 'pee'? The role of sound in affective meaning making. "For instance, words with short vowels, voiceless consonants, and hissing sibilants (as in ‘piss’) feel more arousing and negative. Our findings suggest that the process of meaning making is not solely determined by arbitrary mappings between formal aspects of words and concepts they refer to. Rather, even in silent reading, words’ acoustic profiles provide affective perceptual cues that language users may implicitly use to construct words’ overall meaning."

Bored of your usual online radio listening? Here you can select from all of Europe! "Now you can listen to the live broadcast of all LW, MW, FM and DAB radio stations of Europe. Just select a city on the map, review the full frequency list and click on the station name to listen online. Happy listening!"

Huh! I didn't realise you can subscribe to YouTube channels via RSS - no account required!

Some excellent suggested designs for post-Brexit Bank of England notes, should such indeed happen, based on appropriately ghoulish depictions of the three main proponents thereof, and their saint.

In which Karl Marx is invited as guest lecturer on business ethics.

Here's a short story written by someone I know, well worth a read: The Greenway. "last november, i wrote a short story for a feminist bike sci-fi zine. ultimately, it was rejected, even though, as i described it to the editors, "it's an off-the-rack near-future dystopia that's got phones, but too much, privatization gone wild, the gig economy, action, alienation, threads of hope, and maybe a wizard?""

A rather sobering reminder of just how bad sexism was in 1960s Britain: How To Kill Your Tech Industry, and what a price was paid for it, not least by those denied promotions, but the entire industry, throttled by policies that didn't merely favor men over women, but constructed a very real and very solid glass ceiling preventing women from attaining managerial roles.

Turns out there is a viable drug that can address period pain, aka dysmenorrhoea, but the funders pulled the plug on the study before it could complete. So, for the sake of a massive $60k, it remains an off-label option. You'll be familiar with the brand name.

Very pleased this Kickstarter project I backed wound up being successful in its fundraising: Yellowbird, a thriller short. "Daisy and her father William live on an isolated, destitute sheep farm in the Scottish Highlands. At twenty years old, she has never been outside the farmland, and spends her time helping William with household tasks and waiting to see the single car that passes the house everyday. Though seemingly content with this unexciting existence, she has some awareness of an outside world - but it’s clear something is holding her back from exploring it."

Here's quite an interesting site, offering 100 solutions to global warming. We hear much about the ongoing effects of climate change, but much less about what can be done.

Have an Amiga style SoundTracker in Javascript, in-browser. ^_^

If you've got Netflix, this could be worth keeping an eye out for: "Netflix has teamed up with South Africa's Triggerfish animation studios and will soon be streaming its first African animation series, written by women, that features a team of Zambian girls as the heroes." "Mama K's Team 4 shows 'four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way,' and takes place in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia's capital."

If lithe, muscular lizard guys are your thing, how about this game music video?

Rather a delightfully nerdy column on just why Japanese has words for extremely large numbers. ^_^

This sounds like a worthy undertaking: Better Worlds. "Contemporary science fiction often feels fixated on a sort of pessimism that peers into the world of tomorrow and sees the apocalypse looming more often than not. At a time when simply reading the news is an exercise in exhaustion, anxiety, and fear, it’s no surprise that so many of our tales about the future are dark amplifications of the greatest terrors of the present. But now more than ever, we also need the reverse: stories that inspire hope.

That’s why, starting on January 14th, we’ll be publishing Better Worlds: 10 original fiction stories, five animated adaptations, and five audio adaptations by a diverse roster of science fiction authors who take a more optimistic view of what lies ahead in ways both large and small, fantastical and everyday.

Growing up, I was surrounded by optimistic science fiction — not only the idealism of television shows like Star Trek, but also the pulpy, thrilling adventures of golden age science fiction comics. They imagined worlds where the lot of humanity had been improved by our innovations, both technological and social. Stories like these are more than just fantasy and fabulism; they are articulations of hope."

Ice Foxx recently discovered a cute eBay listing, wherein her fursuit photo has been used by a Chinese scammer, managing to mistake a fox for a husky. ^_^;
This'll be worth following - seems the WebKit team's looking into restricting the amount of Javascript webpages can load. "Since advertising code, analytics, and tracking scripts are some of the heaviest JavaScript files on websites these days, the idea is to give sites a JavaScript resources constraint, and then force web developers to choose which JavaScript resources are more important than others, potentially leading to fewer sites showing ads or tracking users." Hopefully that'll make its way into the Safari Technology Preview builds before long.

That sounds nice indeed. 'twould be even better if we could relegate Javascript to where it's actually useful — and have sites go down gracefully if it isn't available, as may be the case for both curmudgeon luddites and, say, the blind. (Not that I know anything about state-of-the-art blind browsers.)

Incidentally, this next item...

Rather nice - a font based on the stencil used by the US National Parks Service.

...is a perfect example of how NOT to design a motherfucking website. :)

(Nice font though.)

Quite an interesting paper: Why 'piss' is ruder than 'pee'? The role of sound in affective meaning making. "For instance, words with short vowels, voiceless consonants, and hissing sibilants (as in ‘piss’) feel more arousing and negative. Our findings suggest that the process of meaning making is not solely determined by arbitrary mappings between formal aspects of words and concepts they refer to. Rather, even in silent reading, words’ acoustic profiles provide affective perceptual cues that language users may implicitly use to construct words’ overall meaning."

This is language-dependent, of course; in Icelandic, for instance, "pissa" means "pee" (as in the verb) and is an entirely acceptable word, suitable for everyday conversation with the president's grandmother, wheras the rude word is "miga". And if anything, the "hissing sibilant" is actually more drawn-out in the pronounciation of the Icelandic word than the English "piss". :)

Mm, it's been rather distressing to see the way scripting's not merely been used in the last several years to enhance flexibility in site design and coding, but outright visual design indulgence. Though when it comes to page weight and execution time, there's no question: it's advertising that's strangling the web, with megabytes of scripting being foisted upon the unprotected, leaving some pages challenging to render even with a good system and fixed link, let alone an older phone on a wavering cellular connection. If the industry had grown up along the lines of Project Wonderful rather than Outbrain..

Oh, true - what sounds harsh or mellifluous is going to be entirely from that language's perspective. Still, I'd love more languages to sound as sonorous as Portuguese. ^_^

BTW, I just noticed a friend over on Masto mention Postcrossing - do you still engage in such? What advice might you give?
Possibly; I've never actually looked at how large advertising-/tracking-related JS is, compared to other JS. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was indeed rather large, but from all I hear so are many "mainstream" JS libraries.

FWIW I don't think the problem with advertising is really related to how large the chunks of JS served up are, anyway.[1] The biggest problem with advertising, in my book, isn't even the advertising; although it can be distracting, in its basic form it's no worse than, say, a billboard by the road or a print ad in a magazine.

The real problem with advertising on the web is the tracking, or (more generally) the fact that advertising has become an "active" medium rather than a "passive" one, like the aforementioned billboard that merely sits there and gets viewed (or not, as the case may be). Ads' ability to collect data and "phone home" to report said data, allowing it to be stored, collated, and combined with data from other sources, is the real problem.

That's not something that depends on the size of the Javascript blobs, though. You can do as much harm in 5 KB as you can in 5 MB.

And the problem's exacerbated by two things: a) browsers, by default, not offering control over how gets to run Javascript or what it gets to do -- in fact, browsers have been actively moving away from allowing the user to configure such things, including Firefox with its claimed "users first" attitude --, and b) websites relying on Javascript and failing to function without it. For example, none of the following should require Javascript:

* Loading stylesheets
* Submitting forms (including search boxes)
* Displaying images
* Displaying text (i.e., anything at all)

Yet there's a large number of sites that don't manage to do some (or all) of these in the absence of JS.

I don't think this is necessarily down to evil, either ("if we'll make our site break without JS, then users will have to turn it on, and then we can track them! Muahahahaha!"). By Hanlon's razor it might just as well be down to uninformed designers who don't really understand the World Wide Web, its standards (such as HTML), and what makes good design — and what doesn't.

("Good", FWIW, is not the same as "visually pleasing". Whether such sites as the one created for that National Park font-face are visually pleasing is another question still, but as the Bauhaus slogan goes: form follows function. I'd prefer a site that's functional and beautiful to one that's functional and ugly, I'd prefer functional and ugly to non-functional and beautiful.)

As such, I see sites such as that National Park site as part of the problem (one of many). If nothing else they serve to entrench Javascript, and the attitude (and, perhaps, mistaken belief, on part of designers) that it is essential for doing things which it is in fact in no way essential for. And in doing so it indirectly helps tracking that happens without the user's knowledge or consent.

So, as for the resource constraints for JS... yeah, I think that may well be a step in the right direction[2], but I don't think it'll solve the problems with advertising on the WWW.

1. In fact one might argue, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that large chunks of JS regularly being encountered "in the wild" drove browser makers to aggressively optimize their JS engines, to everyone's benefit. ;)

2. There'll be downsides, of course. archive.org allows you to play old DOS games in the browser, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was done with Javascript. Resource limits would have to be configurable on a per-site basis at the very least, and then you're already left wondering if they're really going to be that useful in practice after all. But that's a different story.
Replying separately to the other points. :)

"Mellifluous", that's a nice word in and on itself. Also one of those words that describes itself quite well!

Have you heard of the bouba/kiki effect, BTW? Some things do seem to be universal after all.

Re: Postcrossing, yes, I still send (and receive) the occasional card. Advice? Hmm, the first thing I'd suggest is keeping an eye open for interesting cards when going shopping. You'd be surprised by how many stores have postcards, and if you find one and like it, buy it. Who knows, maybe years down the road you'll find it's the perfect card for the person you're sending one too!

I'd also suggest not buying too many cards until you're fairly sure you'll stick with the whole thing, of course. (And do keep in mind it'll be a while before you receive your first card. Not only will your first card have to arrive before your address is handed out, the card sent to you will have to arrive as well. It may well take a couple of weeks!)

Other than that, I'd suggest making the card interesting. Put some stickers or washi tape on it, perhaps; date it, or indicate the current weather, or what music you're currently listening to, or all of the above. :) Write the card you'd like to receive yourself, in a word.

Speaking of writing... write something, even if it's just "greetings from $TOWN, my name is $NAME, I'm a $JOBTITLE" or so. :) Don't forget the postcard ID (best write it twice, on different parts of the card, in case it gets stamped over), and do write it clearly so that the digits will be distinguishable.

If you send cards to China, don't be alarmed when they expire (after 60 days). China's mail service is notoriously lousy; cards may well take longer than that to arrive, but they can still be registered just fine, provided they don't take more than 365 days.

Re: receiving cards, I'd suggest putting some ideas into your profile so people will know what you'll appreciate most. (But bear in mind that these will be just that, suggestions — people can still send you any card.)

Most of all... just have fun! :)