drwex: (Default)
[personal profile] drwex
It's not going to be a surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I think Trump's stated policies against trans individuals serving in the armed forces is heinous. It's despicable, divisive, regressive, and just frankly wrong. I've seen assertions of somewhere between 4,000 and 15,000 trans persons serving in the armed forces today. Even if we take the highest number, the resulting amount of cost to the VA care system is minuscule compared to the real costs of meeting our social commitment to care for those who have put their lives and careers on the line for this country.

If Trump actually cared about the costs of medical care for military personnel he'd be paying attention to the VA healthcare system and its needs. But in fact he doesn't care. Nor does he care about trans people. They're just today's convenient targets in his ongoing abdication of the job of being president for anyone who isn't his natural supporter. I hear those folk think he's doing just fine to which I say, "fuck you."

Normally I try to be a little more tolerant but between the attempt to kill people by taking away their healthcare and this nonsense I've run out of tolerant for a while. Trump is manifestly unfit for the job of Commander in Chief; the people he's attacking are either fit or not, a fact that can be determined without ever raising questions of their sex, their gender, their assigned-at-birth gender, or their gender presentation. Disqualification of a class of persons based on a characteristic unrelated to their job performance is a sign of a weak and cowardly leader.
corylea: A woman gazing at the sky (Default)
[personal profile] corylea
I haven't had a cell phone, because I don't GO anywhere. But given my upcoming trip to Delaware, I finally broke down and bought a cell phone.

I bought a Motorola phone, and when it arrived, I was struck by the logo:

the Motorola logo

You know what that reminded me of, right? Think about what you know about me. Look closely at that logo.

Yep, it reminded me of this:
See picture )


(The best way to reach me is still via e-mail, and if you want to talk on the phone, my land line is still the best number. I have Consumer Cellular's cheapest plan, which IS very cheap but which also comes with zero minutes.  So it's truly only for traveling; I use the land line when I'm at home, which is where I am 99% of the time.)
[personal profile] polydad
So I just got back from SHIFT, and still don't know what it's an acronym for. Then again, I'd been to SOAK earlier, and haven't learned that one yet either. I don't think the names actually matter to anyone but the organizers; to the attendees, it's a specific type of party, and what matters is there be lots of very loud music, drugs, presumably sex (no one in my perception expressed any interest in sixty-year-old men, but there did seem to be a fair amount of smooching going on).

I don't know yet where the energy sustaining this community is coming from. I've witnessed the boil, so there has to be a fire under the pot. Or possibly a solar reflector or resistance element; I haven't gotten that level of detail yet.

There's a lot of need here for language I haven't witnessed yet. I don't like having to invent jargon, but it may be necessary. Festivals are a culture?/subculture?/counterculture?/something-else?, and there are similar such in politics and philanthropic works. Together this makes a great test case for metaculture. CSB (Community Supported Brewing), a group I've been involved with since its inception four years ago, now has several other people in it who are getting serious about influencing their own culture. And this past weekend I made firm contact with one of them and two people from either the festival or the main act at it (there seems to be a fuzzy boundary there).

And now I'm back, a bit sunburned, and need to pick up all the *other* pieces I'd left behind and make sure all the plates are still spinning. The Wolf-PAC/Progressive axis needs tending, and HCAO may become part of that axis also. And I need to find out what Colby's doing and how it fits in; I don't know what it is yet, but I *do* know Colby, and so I'm sure there's *some* kind of fit hiding in there somewheres.

And there's still XCRH, Civic Consul, and GEARCon. I'm not cranking hard enough on any of these, and I need to both do that and find more things to be cranking. And not die in the process; I've just spent the morning waiting on the health bureaucracy, and at least got a detailed outline of what I have to do over the next two weeks to get my healthcare *activated*. (I am now *technically* insured, except the insurance doesn't *work* unless I can get it "assigned". If I try to get health-care now, I spend the rest of my life in court fighting monstrous corporate legal departments. With any luck, I can stay healthy for two weeks and get it all fixed. For 11 months, then I have to do it again.)

In 2.5 hours I get a visit from "TomCat", who will be returning my cooler and taking me to another CSB meeting. He represents an even lower (and thus more fundamental) level of the pyramid; he builds things we need.

So I might as well fold laundry. I can talk with more people later, see if I can find the right words to get this story started.

OK it's Tuesday but it's still music

Jul. 25th, 2017 11:55 am
drwex: (VNV)
[personal profile] drwex
This will likely be the only music post this week. Next week I'll begin chipping away at the backlog. But this week I found something enjoyable enough I jump it to the head of the queue.

https://soundcloud.com/user-457571129/ummet-ozcan-presents-innerstate-ep-142
Start with another of Ummet Ozcan's "Innerstate" sets. I have a few of these sets marked that I might say a word or two about but in general these haven't excited me too much. Like a lot of the things I've been listening to they're often overrun with pointless glitch and wub and I click off about halfway through. This one I stuck with and that's a good thing.

I recommend listening - midway through there are two of Ozcan's own tracks - the "You Don't Know Switch" and "Something Just Like This" - that I think are quite good but I couldn't find separate linkable uploads for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccfEUIhxKvs
The real payoff is at the end, though because you get back-to-back goodies. The first is this edit by Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike based off of "Renegade Master" a track popularized by Fatboy Slim (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyWqeJ1vLWo) though it was originally created (but never released possibly due to copyright issues over samples) by a DJ known as Wildchild. This new edit is actually based on a recent mash done by two other producers. It's a fun bouncer of a track and a study in how music travels and mutates.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJhn-sicZgU
Then finally stuck on the end like an afterthought - or maybe saving the best for last? - is this gem. "Mariko" by Sagi Abitbul (https://www.facebook.com/sagiabitbulofficial and also https://soundcloud.com/sagiabitbul). Near as I can tell, Abitbul is an Israel-based DJ with origins in eastern Europe (Serbia?). The track is a hot crash of modern EDM sounds with traditional east-European vocals and instruments - can anyone identify the stringed instrument shown briefly at 1:19?

I love this kind of thing - mining a variety of traditional styles for modern inspirations. Damned if I can figure out the language, either; Google thinks it's Bulgarian. Anyway, that led me to find this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NejMwMeZyag
Sagi Abitbul again in collaboration with Guy Haliva (https://www.facebook.com/Guy-Haliva-670327543003366/ and also https://soundcloud.com/guyhaliva) another Israeli. This one I recognize the sounds as being more Israeli/Middle Eastern but the lyrics are likewise a mystery. I've seen claims of Bulgarian, Serbian, and Turkish but damned if I can tell those apart. Still a fantastic sound and I'll be following both these guys to see what else they do.

European river cruise: index

Jul. 24th, 2017 05:20 pm
skreeky: (Default)
[personal profile] skreeky

Hi everyone! The write up of last month's Viking River Cruise through Europe is finally complete. I have backdated all entries to the day they refer to, but you can use this handy index to jump back to them. If you would like to click through the whole travelogue, no need to return here. You can just click "Next entry" at the bottom of each page.

Day 22 - Bucharest

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:17 pm
skreeky: (Default)
[personal profile] skreeky

Directly across the river from Russe, Bulgaria is the equally unimpressive town of Giurgiu, Romania, where we disembark from the Viking Lif and travel north in our motor coaches to the capital city of Bucharest. Viking takes care of moving our luggage from the ship to the hotel where we'll spend the night before flying home tomorrow. We checked out of our cabins and reclaimed our passports, already stamped for entering Romania, ate one last breakfast in the dining room, and found our bus for the day.

Read more... ) Read more... )

Curbing hate against police

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:54 am
drwex: (Default)
[personal profile] drwex
One of the areas where I can differ from other liberal/progressives is in the area of violence against law enforcement. A nice column addressing this came out today from Professor Margulies of Cornell.

Margulies is also very left-liberal and has been deeply into the theories and research around policing and criminal justice reform. I was interested to see that he takes a stand very similar to my own, which is that although acts of murder against police are quite rare (and have been dropping steadily for the last 40 years) there is still a perception that police are targeted and that violence against police is not adequately addressed.

I understand why this is so - we focus attention on the victims of police violence, particularly because those victims are often young men of color who are ignored and denied a voice unless we keep a hard focus on their unjust treatment. But I think we are adult enough to pay attention to more than one thing and in this case that means giving appropriate attention to violence against police without taking attention away from the violence committed against their victims.

Margulies' column notes that police are increasingly being asked to solve problems that they simply cannot solve, and that a first step in reducing violence and tension is for us (society) stop making police the first and only approach to public manifestations of complex intertwined social problems such as addiction, homelessness, and mental illness. He argues we need to change the role and mission of police - if you read his earlier writing you'll see he's a big advocate of place-based policing, reducing overall police presence in favor of concentrating on the handful of individuals and locations that are responsible for the majority of crimes.

I think it makes sense to try these approaches - in particular I agree with Margulies that AG Sessions' attempts to reverse the history of policing are only going to make things worse. And I would go one step further, specifically to address the perception issue. I would make it law that any person who targets police because they are police should be subject to hate-crime investigation and possible prosecution.

At first this seems like a stretch. "Police" are not an identifiable protected class the way black people or women are. But I think that misses the point. When someone firebombs black churches, or vandalizes Jewish cemeteries, or shoots up a gay nightclub they are attacking the visible symbols of identity of a class of persons. Likewise, on those rare occasions when someone specifically targets those in uniform such as happened in Dallas last year they are attacking the class of persons who wear those uniforms. And I believe those attacks should be investigated and potentially prosecuted the same way.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the perception of police being under fire is not matched by statistical evidence; however, when women say they feel a company has created a hostile environment we don't ask them for statistics (or ought not). Instead we (ought to) work to turn the environment around. Part of turning around the environment for police is to stop asking them to solve unsolvable problems; another part can be making a clear public statement of how we feel about violence that targets them.

Day 21 -- Russe and Veliko Tarnovo

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:04 pm
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[personal profile] skreeky

The boat docked this morning in Russe, Bulgaria, which you will also see sometimes spelled "Ruse". We had a brief bus tour of Russe on our way out of town, but this was one of those days where our destination was a couple of hours away on the bus, so it was very brief indeed. Read more... )

<

Read more... )

drwex: (VNV)
[personal profile] drwex
Yes, I will be posting music entries Real Soon Now, I promise. Probably next week. But first I want to unload some of the stuff in the mental backlog.

I really appreciated all the commentary on the last post. If y'all want to chime in about this one I'd likewise appreciate it. The topic is "Music video WTF" - as in, should I link to videos if I like the song but not the video?

Here, let me give you an example that sits right on the borderline, two videos for "One On One" by Tujamo, with vocals by Sorana. Tujamo is a German producer and EDM spinner; Sorana is an eastern European singer (near as I can guess, Romanian) and this is her first big team-up with a "name" producer. So, OK, great. It's a fun tune and I like her voice, though as with a lot of these things I think it's over-tuned.

First up, the official video for the song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y19FzsqM1as

Minor warning: it's a PoV video done in the style of a lot of porn these days where you, the viewer, are invited to have the gaze of the (male) camera in intimate interactions with a small, very conventionally attractive woman through a series of scenes, including bedroom. There's nothing actually X-rated about this, but I was uncomfortable watching it. In case that gaze isn't intimate enough for you, there's even an official 3D-VR version - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx6OeuZ-mLE

Plus side: she's smiling and active throughout. She appears to be not only enjoying the interactions but initiating things. But if voyeurism isn't your kink (it's not mine, at least not for strangers) then you may (like me) find yourself unable to watch this video and see if there are other alternatives. Here's one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gVZnnxvf38

At least that's just a static conventionally-attractive-skinny-chick-half-dressed-in-provocative-pose. You see that kind of thing selling pretty much any product under the sun everywhere in the industrialized world. But, seriously, what does this have to do with the music?

I usually try to link to SoundCloud for my music choices but lots of things aren't up there and are on YouTube or other visual media.

So, dear readers, what do you make of this? Would you rather I didn't blog video music that sets me off, or blog it with information so you can judge for yourselves?
drwex: (VNV)
[personal profile] drwex
Once upon a long ago I used to merrily blog music. Yay, it was fun. Sometimes people would leave comments telling me they liked this or that or otherwise indicating that I wasn't just blogging into the void. That's always nice.

Then [personal profile] mizarchivist pointed out that LJ has these things called "tags" and I could tag my music entries. This is helpful to know what's going on, and particularly helpful for back-reference and finding things that are particularly notable. Eventually I got enthusiastic enough to go back and tag my existing couple years' worth of music entries... at which point I promptly ran out of tags. This more than anything else prompted me to move to a paid LiveJournal account because I needed more tags. All is fine until the company owning LJ decides to move the servers into Russian airspace and I decide it's time to move over here to DreamWidth. Which, I shall not bore you with details, will not allow me to have unlimited tags, even if I do pay them.

For a while this has stymied me. I really like the convenience of being able to go back and revisit things I've blogged in the past, and I blog a lot of new artist/DJs in a given month so the list of tags grows with no obvious way to condense them. I'm tired of being stymied though and it finally penetrated my thick skull that this convenience I've grown used to is just that, a convenience. I don't actually have to tag music entries in order to write them. So I'm going to start blogging music again, only with erratic-to-nonexistent tagging. You've been warned.

I realized this because I have re-remembered (I keep forgetting, somehow) that music is important in my relationships. Intimate, certainly, and otherwise. If you and I don't share some musical taste or other, it's likely we're less close of friends than we would be if we did share. For example...

This morning Pygment and I responded to a wedding invitation that included a request to list something that would cause us to get up and dance. At first I snarked that my music tastes would appall most people and DJs wouldn't play it at weddings anyway. Pygment agreed and said something like, "Yeah but imagine if they would, we could get them to play..." and in two clicks I had the track linked below, which we put on the RSVP card. I'll let you know if it plays at the wedding because I will sure as shit be dancing if it does.

We Can Make the World Stop
drwex: (Troll)
[personal profile] drwex
Took Amtrak to/from Harrisburg and met up with the g/f to do a couple days of touristing in Gettysburg. Rode down Thursday, back Sunday. Overall good, but I am glad to be in my own bed again. If I'd had more knowledge I would have planned better, but given the knowledge I had at the start I think we planned very well.

Friday we took two pre-planned tours. A "History Nerds" tour that was mostly riding around in an air conditioned bus (quite useful when the temp AND humidity topped 85) and looking at sites with a guy who could firehose details about pretty much everything. We got a fairly complete set of visits and lots of facts. I would have liked it if the bus stopped more often, but it did provide info we used later.

That evening (once it had cooled off from "utterly beastly" to "merely summer sticky") we had a walking tour of the city itself with a hobbyist guide. That was interesting because most of the National Park-level focus is on the battlefield and kind of glosses over the fact that the battle swept through the town multiple times. Our guide had lots of interesting stories and trivia to help contextualize the facts and sites and since it was just the two of us on this walk we got extra time and it was much more conversational.

It was interesting to be reminded throughout just how much of a cultural bubble I live in; for example, the evening guide was explaining how the local Lutheran congregation continues to struggle with whether to do services in (traditional) German or (modern) English, how they vary some week-by-week and how they print variations on the prayer book in one or the other or both languages. I commented, "Yeah, sounds like every synagogue I've ever been to" and the guide admitted she had no idea Jews did that. I get the sense that she likely doesn't know any actual Jewish people.

Saturday we decided to revisit the battlefield in the morning, predicted to be the coolest and least humid hours of the day. Despite some navigation snafus we made it to several of the sites we'd wanted more time at and spent a lot of time wandering around getting a sense for things that's hard to achieve while in a bus.

After a few hours of that we declared a break for lunch at a period recreation inn in town that was OK and fortuitously was across the street from the local cidery that I'd been wanting to try. Between heat, exercise, post-food coma, and a flight of very tasty ciders we decided to ditch the previous plan of going back to the battlefield in favor of nappage. By the time we got up from that it was late and GF wanted to visit the official Gettysburg visitor center and cyclorama.

The visitor center was OK - we saw a short film narrated by Morgan Freeman that talked about some of the impact of the Civil War on slavery and economics. The Gettysburg Cyclorama is one of the last few surviving cycloramas anywhere. This version was originally displayed in the Boston Cyclorama building (who knew?) and moved to the park's visitor center in 2008 after restoration work. It's quite impressive; unfortunately we were the last group of the day and the museum needed to close promptly because there was a wedding using the site right after closing. I would have liked more time to soak it in but such is the nature of things.

After dinner and ice cream we detoured into what is locally marked as the "Soldier's National Cemetery" but Wikipedia calls Gettysburg National Cemetery. The place is a little eerie, particularly the rows of "unknown" markers for soldiers interred there who could not be identified. There's a commemorative marker for Abraham Lincoln as well, which people have placed numerous Lincoln pennies onto. Being my own contrarian self I found a pebble.

It was interesting to me to have a memorial marker there since it's not where he's buried (that's his hometown of Springfield at the Oak Ridge cemetery) nor is it where he gave(*) the Gettysburg Address - that spot is marked by a separate memorial stone. Humans are weird, what can I say.

We skipped doing one of the many "ghost" tours that take place in the evenings and I felt good about that in retrospect. They all seem to be popular but kind of commercial and largely beside the point. My interest is in authentic history, at least to the degree we can understand and experience it. I would have liked another half day on the battlefield - we got to see almost all of Cemetery Ridge (the Union side) and about 3/4 of Seminary Ridge (the Confederate side) but not really view Little Round Top or see the cemetery in detail.

(*) Actually there's some debate about where Lincoln actually stood. He was not the featured speaker of the day - that was the popular orator Edward Everett of MA - and in fact had not been expected to attend. His remarks were so brief that the photographers didn't even have time to set up properly; there is only one popular photo of the address and Lincoln isn't even easy to distinguish in the shot. The location is in dispute as contemporaneous accounts differ and really nobody paid much attention to his speech at the time. The New York Times printed Everertt's address in full but declined to reproduce Lincoln's remarks.

To make matters more confusing, at least five different versions of the Address were printed in other newspapers of the time and all differ in some details from written versions that have been authenticated as being in Lincoln's handwriting. Post-hoc analysis of Lincoln's condition ("ghastly color" and "haggard" were reported) indicate that he was likely feverish at the time of the speech and so may have said things different from what he had written.

Day 20 - Vidin, Bulgaria

Jun. 20th, 2017 07:00 pm
skreeky: (Default)
[personal profile] skreeky

This morning we are still in Bulgaria. As we dock in Vidin, we see a small chapel-like building which turns out to be a memorial to those who died under Communist oppression. We board our tour buses for the long drive up into the mountains, over 90 minutes each way, to see the dramatic rock formations of Belogradchik, which were once used partly as a fortress for the town.

Read more... ) Read more... )

However, we had already signed up for the afternoon cooking lesson group, so after lunch out we went again. The cooking lesson was a group of a dozen or so of us, and hosted in a local home with a woman named Ramona. Ramona had lived in the US for many years, and noted that her house at this point probably resembled an American style home more than a typical Bulgarian home. However, she seemed to really enjoy welcoming us in and giving the cooking lesson. Her Auntie Rosa did not speak English as easily, but assisted by preparing measured ingredients and whisking extra dishes out of the way. We immediately determined that everybody ought to have an Auntie Rosa.


Above left: Ramona's house, with Auntie Rosa and her friend Pavel on the porch. Above right: Ramona and Auntie Rosa demonstrate the banitsa mixture.

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Day 19 -- Iron Gates

Jun. 19th, 2017 09:50 pm
skreeky: (Default)
[personal profile] skreeky

Today was a sailing day, with no actual stops to explore towns - just a day of relaxing and admiring the scenery. In the broadest sense of the name, the Iron Gates is the gorge lying between Serbia and Romania, which contains the Danube River. It is a national park on both sides. I will not waste too many words on the basic info you can read in Wikipedia except as it relates to various photos. (Feel free to click the various links for more info.)

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Progress.

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:42 pm
[personal profile] polydad
Was outside for 20 minutes today, now have brilliant scarlet forearms and calves. Was wearing a hat, fortunately, so face is OK. Back of neck probably also colorful, but I can't see that.

(Wouldn't stalked eyeballs be *fun*?)

Got paperwork done to get insurance reinstated; should have coverage again by next week sometime. Hopefully I don't die first, but my record at that is pretty good so far. Searched storage area for shade canopies for next week's festival; didn't find 'em, but did find six folding chairs we can bring along. Arranged ride *to* ride on Wednesday. Need to fall over now while body repairs sunburn damage.
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