Archives

Dispatches from our mid-pandemic stupid coup

More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, according to three people familiar with agency staffing.”

“A lot of times before they’re intubated — which means put on a ventilator because they can’t breathe on their own — when they’re still struggling to breathe, and they’re saying, ‘Well, I didn’t know COVID was real, and I wish I’d worn a mask.’ And then it’s already too late,” she tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “You can see the regret, as they’re struggling to breathe and it’s finally hitting them that this is real.”

“…about five people have attempted to get inside [Utah Valley Hospital] because they question whether the ICU is as full as some say. […] So far, it seems no one has been successful getting in. However, Hansen said what the conspiracy theorists did has forced the hospital to take extra precautions when it comes to visitors and people being admitted.”

“Roughly 80 percent of Texas county jail inmates who have died after contracting COVID-19 were in pre-trial detention and had not been convicted of any crimes.”

…his administration has refused to launch the formal transition, depriving President-elect Joe Biden’s team of access to national security information. […]The staffers recognize that Biden will be the next president, but they are ‘not allowed to act like that will happen,’ said the former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his current job did not permit him to speak publicly. Meantime, national security actions and requests for briefings from the president are drying up.” (So, basically…US national security briefings are going to nobody right now.)

“Since 2000, I have participated in three presidential transitions from the vantage points of both the departing and the incoming administration. […] In the week since Joe Biden’s victory became clear, President Trump and his administration have taken no steps toward starting the process of transition. The risks to our national security are mounting.” Susan Rice gives a summary of the broader problem going on here.

Senate Republicans are racing ahead with post-election judicial confirmations, breaking a 123-year tradition against voting on judicial nominees of an outgoing president of the defeated party during a lame duck session.” This is my shocked face.

One bit of good news: “Postal workers doing final sweeps of their systems have found just a few ballots — in most cases, they number in the double digits — that were lost or left behind. […] What made the difference, experts say, was enormous public pressure, multiple lawsuits, scrutiny from the courts, urgent efforts to urge voters to mail their ballots as early as possible, and extraordinary measures taken by the agency itself and its legions of dedicated postal workers.”

Back to the bad, a warning to us from Sri Lanka: “The coup was a farce at the time but how soon it turned to tragedy. They called it a constitutional crisis, but how soon it became a real one. Right now, the same thing is happening to you. I’m trying to warn you America. It seems stupid now, but the consequences are not.”

Music recs: 10,000 Maniacs, Enya, Loreena McKennitt

…so it turns out I hit the end of my alphabetical “underappreciated music artists I should rec” list. Which means I get to close the tab I’ve had open for (*checks*) more than a year now. Yowza.

Just in time to avoid migrating it to the new computer, too!

But there’s this separate folder of Soft Songs by Soft Female Vocalists that I skipped over, so I’m circling back and doing one last post.


10,000 Maniacs: The softest of alt-rock, with Natalie Merchant as the lead singer. Their peak years happened back when I was a toddler, but their songs give me college feelings anyway. (10,000 Maniacs playlist.)


Enya: Irish singer-songwriter; occasionally gets close enough to “mainstream pop” to have a mainstream hit, but most of her stuff is dreamier, stranger, slow and wistful. Inspiration from mythology, astronomy, and natural scenes around the globe; lyrics in English and Gaelic, and, at least once, in Quenya. (Enya playlist.)


Loreena McKennitt: Canadian composer-harpist-accordionist-pianist-soprano. Lots of influence from Celtic and Middle Eastern myth/legend. First choice if you need a soundtrack for being kidnapped by faeries. (Loreena McKennitt playlist.)

First post from the new laptop

Last month I had a computer scare, and figured it was time to finally suck it up and get a Windows 10 machine. So I’ve been setting that up for…the past week.

(To be fair, most of that is the inchingly-slow process of “uploading mountains of data to my new cloud backup.” Which…I probably should’ve gotten years ago.)

New machine on the left, old machine on the right. I’ve had the old one for almost 9 years — it’s a tank, it’s been hauled around on interstate journeys in planes, trains, and automobiles. New one is breezily light. Screen is only about an inch narrower, but the chassis is so thin I feel like I’m going to snap it in half:

Process being supervised by my Executive Assistant. His only opinion so far is that he really wants to chew on the new power cord.

Perks:

  • Program migration has gotten buttery-smooth. I auto-synced a heap of settings with individual cloud accounts for Clip Studio, Firefox, and Torch. Manually copied and imported the same for Photoshop. Followed my own 9-year-old notes for “if program X doesn’t install right, use hack Y,” and they still hold up.
  • Better speakers! The old ones were fine, but I actively looked for better ones when comparison-shopping, and yeah, the sound is noticeably richer.
  • More horsepower, more RAM, better graphics card. I haven’t switched to making art over here, and that’ll be the real test, but some little things are noticeably smoother already.
  • Yeah, OneDrive is gonna be really convenient. Lovely boost to the ol’ peace of mind. Had to wrestle with Windows over the default settings it desperately wanted to shove me into (especially when it tried to upload 7 GB on a wireless connection), but I think I’ve got it sorted.

Drawbacks:

  • It has 4 USB-C ports…and that’s it. The product description promised USB Classic ports, but apparently that’s not part of the machine, it’s a separate USB-to-USB-C dongle that hangs off the side. Gonna need to buy more gear just to have my mouse and my scanner connected at the same time.
  • No ethernet connection port, either. The wireless isn’t bad, but sometimes — say, when you have a heap of files to sync — you want the alternative.
  • Not sure I’ll feel comfortable traveling with this thing unless I buy it a whole solid protective casing to carry it in. (You know, whenever travel becomes an option again…)
  • Still trying to get a few things to sync right. Clip Studio materials haven’t shown up. Firefox tabs appeared briefly, then all went poof.

The old computer still does everything just fine, which is…unusual. All my previous laptops have needed replacing for urgent, non-fixable reasons. This one — well, maybe the next time it shuts down will be the last, where I can’t convince it to reboot no matter what I do? Or maybe it’ll keep working smoothly for years. I have no idea.

Trying to be proactive, though, and switch as much work as possible to the new machine. Which is looking like it’ll be almost everything. Even my ancient copy of Paint Shop Pro has installed just fine.

Then the old computer can stay around as, basically, “an unnecessarily powerful DVD player.”

(The new one doesn’t even have an optical drive…which, okay, that’s more forgivable than the lack of classic USB ports, but I did watch one DVD earlier this year.)

Vintage gay wedding photos, more-vintage cheap souvenirs, super-extra-vintage fossils, and other neat things

…the photos depict him in a commitment ceremony with another man, and unbeknownst to him, the store manager had a policy of withholding developed photos if he deemed them “inappropriate”—as he did these.The photos, though, lived on because the manager of the shop had another policy: Staff were allowed to do whatever they pleased with confiscated pictures. An employee held on to the photos.”

“About a month after they met, Hay and Gernreich combed the gay beaches of Malibu and the Pacific Palisades looking for new Mattachine members. They brought along copies of the Stockholm Peace Petition, which called for a withdrawal of troops from Korea. They mistakenly believed that the peace petition was so radical it would make the new gay organization seem mild by comparison. Nearly 500 people signed the petition. No one signed up for Mattachine.

“IDK” was attested as military slang in 1918.

“It sounds just like the kind of joke that is ubiquitous in today’s cheap-and-cheerful souvenir industry: ‘I went to Rome and all I got you was this lousy pen.’ But the tongue-in-cheek inscription recently deciphered on a cheap writing implement during excavations in the City of London is in fact about 2,000 years old.”

“As the water slowed and became slack, it deposited everything that had been caught up in its travels—the heaviest material first, up to whatever was floating on the surface. All of it was quickly entombed and preserved in the muck: dying and dead creatures, both marine and freshwater; plants, seeds, tree trunks, roots, cones, pine needles, flowers, and pollen; shells, bones, teeth, and eggs; tektites, shocked minerals, tiny diamonds, iridium-laden dust, ash, charcoal, and amber-smeared wood. As the sediments settled, blobs of glass rained into the mud, the largest first, then finer and finer bits, until grains sifted down like snow.” A geological dig preserving the day of The Asteroid.

“It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.

He stopped taking ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) three months ago and there continues to be no evidence of infectious HIV in his system. Each of the three patients were being given the procedure with that aim of treating cancer, so while a bone marrow transplant is not a viable option as a common cure for HIV infection, it does give us hope that we’re getting closer to a permanent cure.”

Multifandom Recs (Jeeves & Wooster, Murderbot, Temeraire, Harry Potter, Better Off Ted)

  • Jeeves | Jeeves, Wooster, ensemble | T | Jeeves and Wooster 1/2
    As if problems arising from a recent vacation touring cursed ponds weren’t enough for Bertie, Aunt Agatha has invited him for a visit, and you can be sure her motivations are nothing good.
    pairing:jeeves_wooster,series:ranma 1_2,crossover,crackfic

  • Jeeves & Wooster | Jeeves, Bertie | G | Who’s A Good Boy Then, Jeeves?
    Jeeves was still Jeeves, but he was also not Jeeves, albeit in a Jeevesian fashion. To put it plainly, the man had an unnerving way of acting like a dog at times. Even with his enormous perspicacity, the blighter saw nothing amiss.
    fic:one-shot,series:jeeves & wooster,pairing:jeeves_wooster,kink:puppyplay

  • Jeeves & Wooster | Jeeves/Bertie | M | So Small A Thing
    In which Bertie, through no fault of his own, is shrunk to the size of a mouse. Jeeves is more than a little soupy about the whole thing, but it all works out for the best.
    series:jeeves & wooster,fic:one-shot,pairing:jeeves_wooster,kink:tinies

  • Temeraire | Laurence/Tharkay, Granby/Little, Iskierka, Temeraire | G | And Then These Idiots
    John is just trying to live a quiet life with his not-so-quiet daughter Iskierka when Tenzing bulldozes into his world with an injured sailor. Now he has two new roommates and an unwilling front-seat to an epic romance – or he would, if Tenzing and Laurence could get their act together.
    series:temeraire,fic:one-shot,pairing:granby_little,pairing:laurence_tharkay,trope:kidfic

  • Harry Potter | Harry/Draco, Snape, Dudley, McGonagall, Ginny/Luna, ensemble | M | Shibboleths
    Muggle Immersion co-Professor Harry Potter spends his days hanging with his son, reading to his “dog,” teaching magical kids about the internet with his cousin Dudley, and irritating Snape’s portrait. He’s understandably annoyed when his cosy life is interrupted by the Headmistress hiring on Draco Malfoy to be Hogwarts’ new Ancient Magical Cultures and Spellcasting professor. But then the explosion happens, and it turns out they’ll all need Malfoy’s knowledge if they want the magical world to survive.
    series:harry potter,fic:chaptered,pairing:ginny_luna,pairing:harry_draco

  • Better Off Ted | Ted/Veronica, Rose, Lem, Phil | G | Albania Seein’ You
    “It’s just a little fugitive situation, that’s all. A few run-ins with the Education Minister of Albania, a couple martinis, a gun or three, and then boom, you’re on the run for two years until you can escape to America and run a company—you know how it is.”
    series:better off ted,fic:one-shot,trope:marriage,pairing:veronica_ted