Downward Dog Video

Apr. 26th, 2017 03:22 pm
jesse_the_k: Macro photo of left eye of my mostly black border collie mutt (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
As my icons show, I'm a dog lover. This 12-minute video features an adorable mutt named Martin. He's played by a ~40 pound hound mix with expressive ears named Sadie. The video comprises seven brief episodes on topics of deep concern to Martin, including: Friendship, Walking, Driving and One Good Thing. The voice you hear is Martin's; the video's creators expertly manipulate the dog's mouth so I totally buy he's saying those things. To prove that the world is upside down, this web series is being transformed into an actual TV show on ABC (US) in May.
video includes dog illness, but no death )

wednesday reads 'n things

Apr. 26th, 2017 12:45 pm
isis: winged Isis image (wings)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading: Er, I haven't actually finished anything recently. Which is a bit embarrassing because it's been two weeks since my last books post. But I've been reading fanfiction, including an original fic which I'm going to count as a book; and also, playing Ruzzle (a phone wordgame akin to Boggle) and Witcher 3 and watching some more Black Sails (four eps left in the last season), and I was on a vacation for four days mountain biking with my husband and another couple and didn't manage to read anything because we spent the evenings talking and drinking and playing bocce. /excuses

What I'm currently reading: Lots of things!

Grace of Kings by Ken Liu - my current audiobook, of which my opinion goes from two-star to four-star and back again pretty much every listening session. After my grumbling to [personal profile] ambyr that he just fridged another potentially excellent female character, the next bit I listened to...introduced a fabulous female character and gave her what looks like a starring role! After a really solid scene which sounded very much like an ending...I realized I was only 3/4 through the book.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I am at the point where I'm sort of hatereading it just because it's there. All the characters are awful, which I realize is the point, but I don't care for books like that.

The Course of Honour by [archiveofourown.org profile] Avoliot - original m/m arranged marriage in SPAAAACE fic. The arranged marriage bit is kind of dubious to me (dynastic marriages require the capability of making offspring!) but the story is entertaining and reasonably well-written, with interesting world-building and a solid non-romance plot (which is what sold me on it). I am not a romance fan, but I love relationships as b-plot to adventure/action/mystery/thriller stuff. (I found this because people were discussing it in a Books thread on ffa, and it sounded interesting enough to suspend my no-WIP rule.)

What I'm reading next: More fanfiction. (I'm reading a Witcher WIP right now, another exception to my rule, not really anything I'd give an unqualified rec to, but it's time travel, which is my bulletproof trope. Also I have promised two people I'd beta-read their fic, and I should be getting those soon.) I should get back to my collected Hugo-nominated short stories (spoiler alert: I haven't really liked the ones I've read, which is more about me not liking pro short stories in general than about the quality of the stories). I also have Catherynne Valente's Deathless on my phone, courtesy of a recent Tor books monthly giveaway, and I've been wanting to read it after a friend recommended it on my review of The Bear and the Nightingale as another Russian-mythology-inspired work.

Speaking of fanfic, I have my NoFM assignment and am pleased, though I have too many general ideas right now and not enough specific ones. I've also started writing another Witcher fic about totally minor characters nobody will be interested in, and have been poking at an abandoned WIP in another fandom that I might try to resurrect. Nothing like an assignment with a due date to make me want to write other things...

Skill challenges

Apr. 26th, 2017 06:32 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
DnD 4e and 5e introduced the idea of skill challenges. Basically a unified framework for handling various things other than combat or parallel to combat that should involve more back and forth than a single roll, like a chase scene, or defusing a bomb.

The idea is, instead of a single "defuse bomb" roll, you need multiple things, open the panel without setting something off, find the deadman's switch, choose the right wire, cut it.

And these might be things that require a variety of skills.

4e designed a version which really rubbed me up the wrong way. It optimised for designing a scenario that could be run mechanically for different groups and present a particular level of challenge, and assumed that each challenge would be defined by "achieve N successes before X failures, using skills A, B, C or D".

I've only skimmed the rules for 5e but it seems to be somewhat more freeform. Because I thought this was a *great* idea, basically codifying something that a good GM would do automatically, but I really didn't like the way it was hard-coded, and presented to the players up-front.

Ideally, it should be obvious without specifying to the players. For the bomb, maybe each failure makes the bomb arm itself, then begin flashing, then finally explode. You don't know for sure how many steps, but you can tell things are getting critical. (And if you're aiming for fun rather than challenge, the GM can escalate or descelate the requirements according to how challenging this encounter should be compared to other ones that have happened this session.) It should be obvious which skills might apply, but they might lead to different paths -- a knowledge skill might open up an easier path to success, not count as a success/failure itself; different skills might stack or not; etc.

Or it ties into combat, each failure makes combat more difficult (it makes the platform you're standing on move dangerously or lets more enemies catch up), or you need to coordinate making skill rolls with other characters doing combat.

If you're improv'ing, that's all fairly easy to do, even though it's hard to spec in advance.

I said on twitter, skill challenges are a great idea, but I find it more fun if it's "how the GM designs the scenario" not "a mechanic the players need to be familiar with". Now I think of it, I see the same contrast with "what monsters you encounter". That easily can be pre-specified, and the players know, basically, the mechanics are "here's the monsters who exist" or "they spawn every two rounds" (as in 4e)[1], and know everyone faced a similar challenge. Or it can be improvised -- if the players faff around, the reinforcements arrive early, if they players have a lucky plan to bar a door, they can't come in, etc, etc. (as I'd like it).

[1] This makes sense from a tactical combat perspective, but I found very frustrating. Every 2 rounds skeletons climb out of a sarcophagus. No, you can't look inside. No, you can't judge how many skeletons could fit inside. No, you can't judge what sort of spell or effect is responsible (well, you can, but you can't expect it to matter). No, you can't try to block the lid. It's screaming "accept the premise and desperately avoid imagining being there". Except that if you do that, you have no way to judge "having the infinite spawning skeletons finished or will they continue" and are punished for guessing wrong. I feel like you could have 90% of the effect by saying "there's a pile of bones, a skeleton assembles itself out of them, there's still 3/4 of the pile left" or "the sundered skeleton parts begin to reassemble themselves" or "the air shimmers and a skeleton warrior sprouts from the ground".

Concerning “Lord Trent”

Apr. 26th, 2017 10:11 am
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

More than six years ago, in January of 2011, I sent my agent the pitch for the Memoirs of Lady Trent. It consisted of thirty thousand words from the first book and a document approximately three thousand words long describing the setting and the plots of the various novels. Because I am crap at outlining, while those latter synopses bear some resemblance to the final story, it’s very obvious in hindsight that I was just waving my hands in an attempt to make it look like I knew where was going . . . and nowhere is that clearer than in the figure of “Lord Trent,” i.e. Isabella’s husband.

Here there be spoilers. (Up through In the Labyrinth of Drakes, though I’d say the only really bad spoiler is for A Natural History of Dragons. If you haven’t yet read Within the Sanctuary of Wings, you’re in the clear.)

Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Down the JA Jance Ali Reynolds rabbit hole: Fatal Error (2011), Left for Dead (2012), Deadly Stakes (2013). I did start the novella A Last Goodbye, but am now holding off until I get to the right place in series internal chronology.

Alexis Hall, How to Bang a Billionaire (2017). This is a book that one would think had a lot of my NQOSD things all over it - at first glance it was the m/m version of 50 Shades, but I looked at the preview just to see, and okay, it still has a lot of things that are not my usual things, like it is All About The Relationship, at least so far there are no other stakes in place (but there is a sequel forthcoming), and the billionaire thing means a lot of plain practical difficulties do not operate. The title is a bit misleading, on account of the billionaire character is what in a woman would be considered pretty much stone butch - does but will not be touched or done to - it's more 'banged by the billionaire'. The narrator is a somewhat hapless and gauche, though at least not completely naive, gay guy just on the cusp of graduating from Oxford. The billionaire is pretty much on the Violet Winspear romantic hero template:

I get my heroes so that they're lean and hard muscled and mocking and sardonic and tough and tigerish and single, of course. Oh and they've got to be rich and then I make it that they're only cynical and smooth on the surface. But underneath they're well, you know, sort of lost and lonely. In need of love but, when roused, capable of breathtaking passion and potency. Most of my heroes, well all of them really, are like that. They frighten but fascinate.
But, dr rdrz, I could hardly put it down.

On the go

The end is almost in view with the Inchbald biography!

I am on the edge of my seat in re The Course of Honour

Up next

Well, the thing for review I intend to read on the train.

And new Sara Paretsky VI Warshawski!!!

(no subject)

Apr. 26th, 2017 09:12 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] ookpik!
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Comes Sandy one morn to say that The Fearsome Strand, that is my novel of wreckers and sea-monsters, does extreme well, and the publishers are exceeding anxious for anything else I might give 'em.

I sigh and say, 'tis gratifying, but has he had a chance to look over the plays I gave him?

Indeed, says he, as Celeste comes with coffee and shortbreads, and has already been see Mr J- with 'em. Likes 'em exceedingly – in particular the comedy, for hints most alluring at certain late scandals, without it could be suppos’d to refer to specifick persons. Also, there is Miss T-, that undertook Miss R-'s parts while she was unable to be about the business, comes on very promising, and with three fine parts for actresses, there will be no brangling amongst 'em.

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I, but I doubt not that Mr J- has suggestions for telling business that might be includ’d.

Why, says Sandy, taking a shortbread, I have a few notes to the purpose. But I think he may be dissuad’d from including a volcanick eruption in The Antiquarian’s Daughter.

La, says I, I may suppose he has late took on some fellow that manufactures spectacles -

Sandy remarks that he fears 'tis so, for Mr J- put out some feelers as to whether the esteem’d dramatist thought of turning The Fearsome Strand into a play?

I shudder and say, why, had consider’d upon it, but should shrink from matters of vulgar spectacle.

Sandy laughs and says, sure you are in accord with Mr P- for once, for he deplores that practice, as too oft employ’d to distract from the poorness of the play itself. And I myself am in some doubts as to whether brings about anything of enduring value to the drama.

We look at one another very amicable.

But, says Sandy, dear sibyl, you look a little troubl’d.

O, says I, 'tis entire foolish qualmishness about this dinner-party I go give, Lord and Lady T- and their gloomy son, and Sir B- and Susannah, with their house-guests.

Sandy winces and says, including Mrs D- K-, I apprehend. Sure will not be the jollyest of gatherings, but I daresay you have some strategy upon hand?

Why, says I, I am not sure I entirely have a strategy upon hand, but there are matters I hope observe; and sigh. Sure, says I, I can think of more congenial gatherings.

Come, dear C-, consider your soirées, that have brought together in harmony a deal of assort’d society.

La, says I, I would not answer for what might happen did Mr P- ever discover that Deacon Brodie was of the company.

Sandy laughs quite immoderate and says, naming of seconds, for a dawn meeting for the exchange of critickal opinions, at ten paces.

I am brought to laughter myself. My dear, says I, I am delight’d to see you in such restor’d spirits.

Why should not my spirits be lighten’d at receiving such kindness as I do not deserve? Has he not quite the noblest of hearts?

I look at him very fondly and say, harmony entire restor’d, then?

Sandy looks thoughtfull and says, somehow seems that the painfull breach has come to bring about a better understanding.

Long may it endure, says I.

But, dearest C-, I must be about my business: you may laugh when I tell you, Lord A- is mind’d to employ a secretary that may advize him upon such politickal matters as he is call’d upon to deal with in the Lords –

What? I cry.

- 'tis the influence of Mr O- B-, that he finds himself on excellent terms with, has contriv’d to bring him about to think upon his responsibilities and the condition of the nation &C.

I laugh a little, 'tis such a very unexpect’d conjunction of the fribble and the cotton manufacturer: but indeed I am pleas’d to hear it.

- so I go about certain of my acquaintance that might suit.

Why, I would not hinder you in such a task. Kindly leave Mr J-'s notes with me and I will address myself to the matter, ‘twill distract my mind from fretting.

But, alas, when I have done that, and set certain suggestions aside so I may think 'em over further, I am return’d to the frets, so I determine go take a little ride on Jezebel.

When I come to the stableyard I find Nick, Nell, and Sal, that is her sister that tends the mews cottage, that huddle together and I daresay are in concern over the matter of the sale of the livery-stable. They jump apart and Nell and Sal scurry off about their proper business. Nick goes fetch out Jezebel, that Ajax has been saddling &C.

'Tis another matter for me to go fret over as I ride.

But comes at last the time when my guests arrive, and sure 'tis ever pleasing to see Sir B- W- and dear Susannah, and Captain C- looks as tho’ having made his decision to sell out takes a deal of weight from his mind, and Mrs D- K- is looking in good taste. And Lord T- is ever amiable, and Lady T- makes exceeding civil to me, even if Lord K- is the same sad dull fellow, his eyes ever straying towards Mrs D- K-.

Timothy comes with some excellent fine wine - has acquir’d a deal of polish in the matter, I confide he took some lessoning at R- House in such duties – that most fortunate I had already in my cellar, for have been so busy since my return have had no opportunity to convoke with Mr H- concerning his friends of the Trade.

We exchange a little civil conversation – Lady T- wishes to know is there any lace made about Naples, for 'twas once most exceeding not’d for that art. Alas, says I, has declin’d from those days, there is indeed lace hawkt about but 'tis somewhat coarse. However, I go on, the Contessa di S- has some very fine antique lace that has been in her family this long while.

Susannah says, she is ever in the greatest admiration for Lady T-'s skill with the bobbins and the fine lace she makes. Alas, she goes on with a flourish of her lorgnette, I fancy I am too near-sight’d to be able to undertake anything of the like, even did my fingers have the skill.

Lady T- smiles a little and I see this prepossesses her with dear Susannah, that she has been like to suppose a sad bluestocking that rules her husband.

In due course comes Hector to inform us that dinner is serv’d, and we go into the new part of my house and my fine dining-room, and I look about it very pleas’d, for the furniture is all well-polisht and the table laid with my good china and my very fine wine-glasses, and there are candelabra with fine candles burning, and two epergnes that hold pickles and relishes and are deckt with flowers that were especial sent over from R- House.

'Twas no difficult matter to think who should take who in to dinner: Sir B- W- takes Lady T-, Lord K- takes Susannah, Captain C- arms in Mrs D- K-, and I, of course, am took in by Lord T-.

And Hector and Timothy come around laying the dishes that have come fresh and hot by means of that very excellent device from the kitchen beneath, and go round with wine, and I observe Lady T- look most approving at my dinner service. Euphemia has done most exceeding well and all except Lord K-, that looks sorrowfull at Mrs D- K-, look upon the first course with great pleasure.

I hear Sir B- W- offer to carve Lady T- some of this excellent beef, or perchance she would prefer duck, and here are some little new peas, and I see that she becomes amiable towards him. Susannah goes endeavour make conversation with Lord K-, that picks at his food as if fears might be poison’d.

Lord T- says 'tis pleasing to see me return’d to Town in such health, and hopes that the matters of my property at Naples are entire settl’d? – indeed, says I – and hopes they may see me at C- Castle this summer. We discourse a little of mutual acquaintance, and he remarks that Mr C- answers most excellent as secretary.

There is a pleasing little buzz of conversation tho’ one must observe that Lord K- does not say much.

At the remove and the bringing of the second course – Euphemia has contriv’d to obtain a very fine fresh salmon upon which all exclaim, and there is also the excellent early sparrowgrass – Lord K- is at last at liberty to speak to Mrs D- K-, that he does in somewhat of an undertone, waving away the while the offer of the very fine rice pillow with almonds and raisins. (Sir B- W- looks at me, and says, all the more for the rest of us.)

Lady T- goes converse with Captain C-, and very soon they determine upon some family connexion by way of Mrs Robert G-, and she displays a markt increase in civility towards him, and shortly he is telling her about his adventures at the Cape with his regiment, and later in Nova Scotia, and I see her eyes go to Lord K-, that leads such a dull life going about quacking himself for imaginary ailments, and I daresay she makes odorous caparisons.

The ice-pudding is most well-receiv’d, except by Lord K-, that says somewhat about the unwholesomeness of such things. He also eschews the very good cheese, that has been sent by Martha from the dairy on the Admiral’s estate.

At the proper moment I rise to withdraw the ladies to my parlour, so that Hector may bring out the port and brandy and cigars for the gentlemen.

There is tea and ratafia ready for us, along with some little macaroons, and we talk of various matters – what a shame 'twas I misst the M- House ball, 'twas an excellent occasion, but doubtless I saw a deal of society at Naples – until the gentlemen come in, that is not a long while at all.

Lord T-, Sir B- W- and Captain C- are conversing very amiable about Nova Scotia, but Lord K- has somewhat of a sulky look and goes with somewhat uncivil expedition to Mrs D- K-'s side.

I do not think he would drag her from her bed to kick her, but sure I am in some concern about how he would show as a husband.

Just One Thing (25 April 2017)

Apr. 26th, 2017 07:12 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!

Bout of Books 19 sign-up

Apr. 26th, 2017 08:00 am
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
[personal profile] calissa

Bout of Books 19, reading challenge, Queen of Geeks, Jen Wilde, The Rebirth of Rapunzel, Kate Forsyth, Temeraire, Naomi Novik, Earl Grey Editing, tea and books, books and tea

Dewey’s 24-hour read-a-thon takes place this weekend and, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m hoping it will help me put a dint in Mt TBR and my reading for the Hugo Awards. But I know I need all the help I can get. Therefore I’m planning to follow it up by participating in round 19 of Bout of Books.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.– From the Bout of Books team

Being a low-pressure challenge, Bout of Books lets me set my own goals. As with last few times, I’m aiming to get through a minimum of three books. I’m not entirely sure yet what I’ll end up going with, but there’s plenty to pick from. At the moment, I’m leaning towards Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek and S.C. Flynn’s Children of the Different. And there’s still reading to be done for the Hugos and the Ditmars.

If you’d like to join in, there’s still time to sign up!

What’s on your TBR pile this week?

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Reading Tuesday

Apr. 25th, 2017 04:15 pm
jesse_the_k: Two bookcases stuffed full (with books on top) leaning into each other (books)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

Past imperfect : history according to the movies edited by Mark Carnes

4 of 5 stars )

Truevine by Beth Macy

4 of 5 stars )

Chenoo by Joseph Bruchac

3 of 5 Stars )

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters

3 of 5 stars )


  1. discovered in my Cumberbatch-completist mode ↩︎

Liberation

Apr. 25th, 2017 08:50 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
I made the classic mistake with Passover this year, of getting worked up and stressed about the practicalities of it instead of preparing spiritually. Actually it all went completely fine, but it wasn't until the last day of the festival, when all the organization was over, that I actually remembered to feel joy and celebration for being free.

contains religion )

Monday was just wonderful, though. That was when it really started to sink in that not only was I actually happy at being redeemed from slavery, but I am incredibly joyful and grateful to have such an excellent family. Both the ones I grew up with who are so great to celebrate Pesach with, and my family of choice who are incredibly supportive about joining in with my festivals and including me in theirs in a really respectful and non-pressurey way. We played D&D with [personal profile] jack GMing, something we've been meaning to do for ages and just not had time for, and it was really fun and relaxing.

So, farewell then...

Apr. 25th, 2017 07:05 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday

Haven't yet actually deleted my lj - there are still - probably less than a handful? - people posting there whom I read who haven't made the switch to DW - though I rescinded auto-payments back when the server move happened.

What cheered me about this was when I tried whether it would work in DW and previewed the post the misspelling of 'received' that showed up at the LJ is 18 page had been corrected. I was going to say something about it, I R pedant, but it seems I don't need to.

It's been a long time and I've made many friends, I've done things I wouldn't have done if I hadn't been on LJ and made those friends, it's a pity it had to end like this, even if my life has been predominantly at Dreamwidth since 2009, which is, in fact, for somewhat longer.

swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

medium-sized version of the cover for WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS

At long last, the series is complete.

This story has been living in my head for . . . about a decade, I think. I know I wrote the first third of A Natural History of Dragons in 2007 or thereabouts, before stalling out on the plot and setting it aside. I came back to it in late 2010, sold it in 2011, the first book came out in 2013, and now, my friends, the end of the story is in your hands. (Or will be, as soon as you run out and buy it.)

I’m going to be launching a new blog series, along the lines of John Scalzi’s THE BIG IDEA or Mary Robinette Kowal’s MY FAVORITE BIT, called SPARK OF LIFE: a place for authors to talk about those moments where the story seems to take on a life of its own, with a character doing something unexpected or the world unfolding a bit of depth you didn’t plan for. For me that mostly tends to happen in the depths of the tale, when I’ve built up enough momentum and detail for such things to spring forth. But in the case of this series, it happened less than a page in, because the spark of life?

That was Isabella.

Countless reviews have talked about how the narrator is one of the strongest features of the story. I’m here to tell you that, like Athena from the head of Zeus, she sprang out more or less fully-formed. The foreword got added a bit later, so it was in those opening paragraphs of Chapter One, where Isabella talks about finding a sparkling in the garden and it falling to dust in her hands, that she came to instant and vivid life. Part of the reason that initial crack stalled out in 2007 — or rather, the reason it got so far before stalling — was because I was having so much fun just following along in her wake, exploring her world and listening to her talk. The narrative voice has consistently been one of the greatest joys of writing this series. I have an upcoming article where I talk about how sad it is for me to be done with the story, because it feels like a good friend has moved away and I won’t get to see her regularly anymore. That’s how much she’s lived in my head, these past years.

Stay tuned on future Tuesdays for a glimpse at how other authors’ stories came to life. And stay tuned in upcoming days for some more behind-the-scenes stuff about my own characters!

***

In the meanwhile, the book is out, and so are the reviews. Here’s a spoiler-free one from BiblioSanctum, and two reviews on one page at Fantasy Literature; here is a SPOILER-TASTIC one at Tor.com. (Do NOT click unless you’ve read the book or are fine with having the big discovery of the entire series laid out in full. I’m serious.) (And while I’m at it, the same goes for that Gizmodo article that shows all the interior art for the book, because spoilers can come in visual form, too. Love ya, Gizmodo, but oof. Tor.com warned; you didn’t.)

Back in the land of no spoilers, you can read about my absolute favorite bit of Within the Sanctuary of Wings on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog. It’s . . . a wee bit topical, these days. And I’m on the Functional Nerds podcast, talking about all kinds of things that aren’t this book, because they like to give authors a chance to branch out and natter on about roleplaying games and things like that.

And finally, I’m currently running a giveaway on Twitter. Name your favorite female scientist in any field (there, or in comments here), and get a chance to win a signed book of your choice from my stash of author copies. It’s already a stiff competition; we’ve had dozens of women named. (If you were wondering why my Twitter stream has turned into a sea of retweeted names, that’s why.) You have until tomorrow!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
Last post, I decided that what's "really there" for fundamental particles is typically a quantum thing, specifically, a probability wave of possible values a particle can have which appears to collapse into one particular place only when its interacted with.

However, this "collapse" sounds very suspicious. If two different particles emitted from the same particle decay (or something?) are known to have opposite spins, but not what those are, do you get all the usual wavelike behaviour, can each self-interfere, etc? Yes, of course. And yet, when you finally measure them, lo, the spins are still conveniently opposite.

Something that looks like collapsing to a single answer seems to happen, because when we measure them, we always do get a single answer. But that's not an event. If you measure one, does a spooky force reach out across the room to force the other to collapse at the same time? Does it collapse the value you measure, but still allow other properties of the particle to continue being multiple? That looks awfully like what happens, but it should seem wrong to start with, even before you ask "if you measure one particle, does the other know to wait until you interact with it, but store the answer you're going to find until then" and "if you measure them both a long way apart, does the collapse rush faster than the speed of light (aka backwards in time) to make sure both answers agree with each other?"

Any theory involving particles "knowing" or "waiting" or "choosing" depending on how you measure them sounds very unlike physics.

And yet, the particles go on behaving like probability waves until you measure them, and if they came from a shared source, then when you measure them, they DO agree. Just as if this spooky shit was happening. What might be going on?

Hypothesis 1

Whenever one particle collapses, a spooky force travels faster than the speed of light to the other particle, and then hangs around telling it what value it will have when it's finally measured.

This *works*, but hopefully you can see why it doesn't seem correct.

Hypothesis 2

Just like hypothesis 1, but we try to avoid thinking about it. This is not really satisfying, but it works and is a pragmatic default for many physicists. (Sort of Copenhagen interpretation?)

Hypothesis 3

Even while a particle is still smeared out across a probability of many potential positions/values, it has a hidden property which tells it how it's *going* to collapse when something interacts with it. Like, not necessarily "hidden", but basically some sort of determinism.

This is roughly Hidden variables interpretation (right?)

This would be fairly satisfactory except that it turns out it's impossible.

This is not very mysterious or controversial, but involves more simple probability than I can manage to wade through. Look up the EPR paradox or the Bell inequality. The idea is, you choose something like polarisation angle that could be measured at many different angles. You randomly choose to measure at different angles for two particles known to have opposite polarisation. There are various correlations between the probabilities when you measure the two particles at an angle to each other (the detectors neither parallel nor orthogonal). You can prove that no possible hidden value would make all those correlations true at once, but QM does and that's what's actually observed.

I can't really prove this to myself, let alone anyone else, but AFAIK no reputable physicists doubt that it's correct, only maybe what it means, so I'm willing to accept it as true.

There are still edge cases, like, people argue whether the experiments have ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY proved this spooky collapse effect would have to go faster than the speed of light, rather than going at a possible speed (but depending what exact moment sets it off, etc). But I don't find any of that very persuasive. A spooky collapse effect which is triggered by measuring a particle and goes at the speed of light or below, while not ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY ruled out, doesn't sound at all likely. I don't think anyone seriously expects that if they make the distance apart in those measurements a bit bigger, they'll suddenly get difference results: that's not how you expect physics to happen.

Hypothesis 4

Those weird quantum probability waves don't only exist for tiny particles, they happen just the same for everything including macroscopic objects, humans, etc, but you can't observe the effects except for tiny things (because to see interference you need something isolated from other particles, and you need to be able to detect its wavelength, which is way too small for anything bigger than a molecule).

I'm still working on understanding *why*, if that's true, it produces the effects we see. But most physicists, even ones who don't like this line of reasoning, seem to agree that it *would*.

This makes everything above non-mysterious. How does the collapse effect move around? It doesn't. Every "collapse" is just another probability thing of a scientist (and all the other macroscopic stuff) interacting with a particle and becoming two never-interacting possible scientists, one observing A, one observing B. We know both happen. We know, when we measure things light-hours apart and then compare notes, that we will be comparing notes with the version of the other scientist who observed the opposite polarisation to what we saw, while our shadow twin will be comparing notes with the other scientist's shadow twin.

The multiple non-interacting versions of the macroscopic world are called "many worlds" or "parallel universes" which admittedly makes them sound very implausible.

It seems like, this leaves some things to ponder, but resolves a very large part of the things people find mysterious. And yet, many physicists really don't like it. I need to read the bits of Scott Aaron's book about different interpretations[1], because I trust him to know more about this than me and he doesn't seem convinced.

Footnote [1]

The hypotheses above are called interpretations. I don't know if my ones exactly map onto the real ones. The name is because they all predict the same results, and yet seem quite different.

You can argue, "they're the same", but I don't quite agree. See for instance space outside our light cone -- we have no way of observing it, so the hypotheses "it's got physics just like ours but with different stuff there" and "it's all purple unicorns" are both possible, and yet, the first one seems a lot more like actual reality.

In both cases, it sort of doesn't matter, but you can imagine (a) which answer is most plausible, most useful, easiest to work with, or least ridiculous (b) if we're wrong and there IS some difference, which one would actually be found to be the one that exists.

Rain, Rain, And Also More Rain

Apr. 25th, 2017 12:41 pm
tkingfisher: (Default)
[personal profile] tkingfisher
Five inches in forty-eight hours, by the home weather station in the garden. (I love this thing SO MUCH. I cannot even tell you how much I love it.)



The rivers are all flooding, of course, but I'm on high ground, so it's just soggy. The thing of interest to me is how my growbag + water reservoir systems are holding up. All of them are as saturated as it is possible to be now and the tubs of water are overflowing. So far, they've done fine staying consistently moist during sunny days--now we see if they drown in the rain!

So far, most of them are holding up apparently fine. One bag, which is too shallow for the tub it's in, is definitely waterlogged (but that's one out of over a dozen, so not too shabby!) The two big chiapas-inspired growbag + barrel tubs are hard to tell, because the rain also pummeled a bunch of stuff flat, so I can't tell if the tomato starts are dying from drowning or just hammered down by hard rain. The peppers in the same tubs are okay. I guess we'll know in a day or two.

We close on Dogskull Patch next week. I am trying not to think about it for fear of jinxing everything and becoming a whimpering wreck.
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
You should be able to select multiple pokemon from your reserves when choosing which pokemon to fight with.

When you're training a friendly gym, the default pokemon selection should avoid pokemon very slightly higher CP than the ones you're fighting that automatically reduce the prestige gained by 40%.

"Vaporeon used hydropump" should always come slightly before the special move takes effect, rather than slightly after.

If your pokemon is on 5% health and you switch to another pokemon and that one is knocked out, its default replacement should be the *next* one, not the one which will be knocked out instantly. (Is there a shortcut for "next pokemon" without going through the pokemon select screen?)

If your switch pokemon and while you're in the pokemon select screen, your previous pokemon faints or you forget which pokemon you started with, and you click frantically click a pokemon again and again trying to select it and nothing happens, it should select that pokemon even if it's the one already selected.

If you select "run away" there should be a quick gesture to do so in a single click, without needing to get to the "yes" button before your next pokemon is knocked out too.
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
This has so much I love.

An interesting space empire, full of detailed calendrical minutae, customs, etc, etc.

A mathematically gifted protagonist struggling to serve loyally as a minor officer in the infantry.

A legendary rogueish maybe-monster.

The empire is built on basically mathematically-based magic, following particular social codes (both on an "infantry formation scale" and a "society as a whole" scale) allows various exotic technologies to work that wouldn't otherwise, including more powerful weapons and other tech that enables the empire to function at all.

I had some reservations too, which may contain spoilers, so will be moved into a follow-up post. Please make any comments which contain spoilers on that post too.
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

Review copy provided by the author, who is a personal friend.

In the last decade or so I have met more people who are reluctant to begin a series that isn’t published in its entirety, with the objection that the author may drag it on forever or may die without finishing it. Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series has, with its fifth volume, reached its conclusion, so if you’re one of those people, please know that there is not just a stopping point but an ending here.

The series has followed–with lavish illustrations–the career of a lady naturalist specializing in dragons in a world that is not ours but has some very clear analogs. Her own country is not-Victorian-England, and in this book she travels to not-Tibet, following the trail of very rare and unusual dragon specimens. What results calls on all the skills she has spent the previous four books acquiring–in her own science but also in linguistics, archaeology, diplomacy.

If historical approaches to science are your jam–and they are mine–you will want this series. If you like adventure fantasy, there are plenty of death-defying feats and hairs-breadth escapes too. And it’s all told in the chatty tone of an elderly lady looking back on a life well-lived. Recommended.

Please consider using our link to buy Within the Sanctuary of Wings from Amazon. (Or if you’re just starting, A Natural History of Dragons.)

jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
After running a couple of roleplaying sessions with quad & family, I would like to try to run something regularly in addition to whatever I run with them. I'm probably going to aim for once a month depending on interest.

I'm going to start by running a lightly revamped version of the DnD 5e one-shot I ran for quad before.

Pitch

Passengers on a ship, driven far out to sea in a storm and beached for repairs on an abandoned island. 30 years ago it was home to a pirate lord, Erik Twicecursed and his BFF Grignir Hammerhead. While repairs succeed, the captain asks for volunteers to explore the abandoned and reputed-cursed pirate lair.

There may be treasure. There will almost certainly be combat encounters. Hilarious misunderstandings of the skill system and trigger happy party wizards are not guaranteed, but likely.

DnD 5e. For people new to roleplaying I will give you a pregenerated 1st level character sheet but suggest you invent a character who's more interesting to you, and change any specifics accordingly. If you're familiar with the system you're welcome to generate a 1st level character however you like.

Invitation

This Saturday 2pm. It may run into the evening, in which case we'll probably have pizza.

If you're interested, comment here or email me by midnight Fri, and I will send you directions. (North cambridge, but may be lifts available if transport is an issue.)

You don't need to bring anything. If you're excited to do so anyway, things that could be useful: bring 5e books if you have them; read a little about 5e online; think about a character concept, not so much detailed background, as what they like doing and how they might be connected to other characters (member of ships company? bodyguard? relatives?)

Also let me know if you'd be interested in future one-shots or campaigns.

Future

I have a campaign in mind following this session, but think it makes sense to schedule several one-shots and see which people are interested in coming back to.

People were very enthusiastic about my putative vorkosigan campaign, and I would really, really like to run that, but it will not be this weekend, it needs more prep time. But if you're interested and think you could actually make time to come, please let me know. (If it happens I plan a series of connected stand-alone sessions, so I might well be able to run one if I'm in london for the day, even if other sessions take place with people in Cambridge.)

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