Orphan Black 5.07.

Jul. 24th, 2017 02:22 pm
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
[personal profile] selenak
In which there's pay off for severa storylines, hooray! And flashbacks.

Who are you? )

Brainstorming For Yuletide

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:12 pm
calliopes_pen: (lost_spook will serve for lives)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
I am compiling a list of things I would want to see nominated (or might nominate on my own) when Yuletide nominations do open in September. These are what I am currently taking into consideration:

-Makt Myrkranna | Powers of Darkness - Valdimar Ásmundsson
-The Haunting (1963)
-The Innocents (1961)
-The Uninvited (1944)
-Dark Shadows (1991)
-Dracula - Bram Stoker
-Dracula (TV 1968)
-Count Dracula (1977)
-Nosferatu (the 1979 remake) -Hammer Horror Films
-Universal Monster Movies
-Crimson Peak (2015)
-Fright Night (1985)
-Ghostbusters (Movies 1984-1989)
-The Last Unicorn (1982)

At the moment, I suspect that I’ll be nominating Makt Myrkranna (the Icelandic version of Stoker's Dracula that I discussed a while back) in that first slot. Either Dracula (TV 1968) or Dracula - Bram Stoker would go in the second slot unless someone else eventually nominated either one of those.

If it were going to be being released sooner than December, I would be able to add Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water to my list of potential things to throw in there.

Oh, and on a note that doesn’t involve Yuletide: I finally watched Jack The Ripper (1988), and I loved it.

Negative? What Negative?

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:35 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
A plaque I found in a car boot sale (US="Swap meet") today.



Ignoring the slightly dodgy use of photographic terms, it occurs to me that we're already living in a world where a large percentage of photographers have no idea what a negative is...

The State of the Nea

Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:06 pm
neadods: (Default)
[personal profile] neadods
This feels... strange. For so long Livejournal was a huge part of my life and fannish experience, then it all... faded away, really. I'm terrible about reading DW and even more terrible about posting (obviously).

But. I'm here. Hello. It may be time to start talking, because twitter and tumblr suck for actually having any kind of actual dialogue and I, as usual Have Things To Say.

Right now, though, it's just going to be: I aintent dead. I am: still into Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and yes, BBC Sherlock. I've recently become a huge devotee of Yuri on Ice. Recently by "since I talked on LJ" I've also become a fan of Welcome to Night Vale. Non-fannish topics will include sewing, knitting, quilting, American politics, cooking, and the eternal quest to unfuck my life.

What brought me out now, specifically? I actually see myself reaching the Zone of Permission. You know - "I can do [fun thing] when I've finished [not fun thing]." Usually that's an uphill run on a swift escalator, but... my god. I can actually see a light at the end of that tunnel. The Not Fun Thing was to unfuck my habitat and for the first time in possibly ever, my bedroom is clean and organized, my paperwork is organized and filed, the usual dumping grounds have been un-dumped.

All I have to do is finish decluttering the library. This is a particular challenge in that the library is where I threw things I didn't know what else to do with, but still, I've made incredible inroads. My goal was to get it all done by the first weekend in August and... I think I'm actually going to do it.

And for those of you who've read year after year of "Sunday 7" and other things, well. It's been multiple years and multiple posting platforms but dang. I think I'm going to make it.

DNA testing and grade school genetics

Jul. 23rd, 2017 07:55 am
cactuswatcher: (Default)
[personal profile] cactuswatcher
One of my most vivid memories is of a rest break in the middle of the Russian proficiency test which a dozen of us graduate students in the Slavic Department were taking to fulfill the language requirement for a masters degree. We all stood up to stretch our legs. I saw one of the women, who I admit I was very fond of, glance oddly around the room and then exclaim in a loud surprised voice to no one in particular, "I'm the only one in the room, who doesn't have blue eyes!" It seemed to be an odd thing to be interested in at that moment. I looked around quickly and saw a lot of worried looking young men and women, who even after the outburst were not paying much attention to eye color or anything but their own thoughts. The speaker obviously wasn't very worried about the section of the test we'd just taken, concentrating on everyone's eye color, and I guess I wasn't either, concentrating on her and her deep brown eyes.

One of the first things we learned about genetics in primary school was that blue eyes are inherited. We were told that you had to have two genes for blue eyes and thus both of a blue-eyed person's parents had to carry one gene for that trait. It made perfect sense in terms of my family. My father, my sister and brother, and I all had blue eyes. But my mother had hazel eyes, speckled and streaked with lots of different colors, blue, yellow, green, rusty brown. My father had two of the genes for blue eyes, and by chance all of us children inherited my mother's gene for blue eyes. No need for 'further study' as they say. Several years later I was in high school and trying to get the attention of a different young lady. I gave her something I'd written that included something I thought was a nice compliment about her brown eyes. Her first reaction? "I don't have brown eyes! I have hazel eyes!' Oops! In my defense, her eyes were indeed brown in color, a nice milk-chocolaty brown, not the deep brown most people think of with brown eyes. And hazel? Well, if she and my mother stood side by side, no one would ever say their eyes were at all the same color! So my estimation of what hazel eyes should look like and the girl's hazel eyes were wildly different. I was too embarrassed to be thinking about genetics at that moment, but clearly I should have noticed before then there is a lot more to eye color than blue eyes on, or blue eyes off.

Since my grade school days, science has learned that individual genes aren't the end all and be all of inherited traits. But that is so complicated that comparatively little of that has been discovered yet.

Which brings us to the subject of the popular DNA tests offered by a number of companies for a non-trivial fee. There is plenty of useful information one of these tests could give you: finding unknown relatives, telling you about risks for genetically transmitted diseases and so on. But one of the biggest selling points the companies give is mapping out your genetic origins: where 'your people' came from. This kind of analysis is a considerably less accurate than they would lead you to believe.

First of all we would *like* to believe that the populations from various places on earth are so distinct and separate that it is an easy task to tell ancestry from here from ancestry from there. (Especially if you happen to be a big time racist!) The simple fact is that statistically speaking compared to a lot of other mammal species there isn't a heck of a lot of difference between any humans genetically, African, native Australian, East Asian, European, or thorough mixture. So what the companies are working with is a very limited number of genes and gene sequences that seem to be characteristic of particular geographic locations. Now mitochondrial DNA can tell you very precisely which woman your mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's ad infinitum mother came from. Very interesting. But that is only an extremely tiny portion of your family history. If you are male, your Y chromosome can tell you similar things about you father's father's forefathers, but again only one direct line and if you are female (and don't have a close male blood relative handy who can be tested) you are out of luck on that score. Assuming an average of 25 years between generations, five hundred years ago each of us potentially had over a million individual ancestors. Compared to that, one or two easy-to-define direct hereditary lines are almost trivial.

So let's talk percentages. When you take a DNA test the company will tell you what percentage of your ancestors came from areas of the world x, y and z. This a not exactly a lie, but it is misleading. The one fact that is drummed into our heads when learning the absolute basics of genetics is that we inherit (y chromosomes with their direct X pairs excluded) exactly half our genes from our mothers and half from our fathers. No question, this is basically true. But in our minds we tend to think that by extension we must get exactly 1/4 of our genes from each grandparent, 1/8 from each great grand parent and so on. This is a very big mistake. From each parent we get half their genes from the pool of genes they got from their parents. Mathematically speaking, whether you are male or female, it is possible for you to inherit 100% of your mother's genes from her mother and none uniquely from her father. Statistically speaking that's very close to impossible, but technically it's not impossible. What you get from each parent is a random selection from their internal pool of genes, not a definable amount from each of your more distant ancestors. Since the vast majority of our genes as humans are so similar it generally isn't a big deal. But when you are looking at a much smaller selection of genes for this or that, it becomes much more important. Imagine that we are going to look at 100 genes from our personal DNA. We look back at our mother's parents' genes and can say that statistics show that most of us, around 68% of us, will get somewhere between 32 and 68 of these 100 genes from each. Around 26% of us will get between 5 and 32 from one parent and 68 to 95 from the other. Finally over 5%, one in 20 people, will get 5 or less from one of mother's parents and 95 or more from the other. So it is very possible that one of your parents' parent's gene sets (particularly in our small sample of genes) will show up in you much more prominently than each of those from the other three individuals!

What does this mean for those DNA test results? It means that they can only give you data on what you actually inherited, not on what your ancestors' DNA looked like. So suppose grandma told you a story that one of grandpa's grandmothers was a full blooded Choctaw Native American. Claiming Native American ancestry is more common than actually having Native American ancestry and having it is very difficult to prove through documentation. If your DNA test could be perfect and grandma was right, the test would hopefully tell you that you were at least 5% Native American by descent. But the number of genes they are testing for is small, and presumably in this case, the number of great-great grand parents who were Native American is one. So there is a fair chance that the test results will show 0% Native American ancestry even if grandma knew exactly what she was talking about!

If you want to take the test please do. It may tell you things you never knew. But don't take the ancestry results too literally. The tests can tell you a lot about who you are, but not as much about where you came from as you might hope.

Steaming ahead

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:14 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Don't usually get up early on Sundays, but today I was making breakfast at nine, looked out of the kitchen window and saw this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNER_Class_A4_4488_Union_of_South_Africa

Needless to say I did not have a camera handy... It was hauling several carriages and for some reason there was a diesel engine at the tail end of the train, I suspect to provide a backup if it broke down or ran out of coal or something. I'm guessing that the summer steam excursions in and out of Paddington have started again - and it turns out to be The Cathedrals Express, on the route Paddington-Westbury-Yeovil Pen Mill, Weymouth-Southampton-Paddington

http://www.uksteam.info/tours/t17/t0723d.htm

Unfortunately it's £100+ per seat, I suppose worth it if you're a steam enthusiast but I made enough long steam journeys in my childhood to satisfy me, I think.

Another effort from art class

Jul. 22nd, 2017 07:40 pm
marinarusalka: color pencils arranged in a circle (marinarusalka: drawing)
[personal profile] marinarusalka
Trying to learn how to do a landscape...

Drawing of a Paris street scene

Rest In Peace, John Heard

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:14 pm
calliopes_pen: (taibhrigh hear the Ood song)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
John Heard has passed away at the age of 72. May he rest in peace. He was found dead in his hotel room yesterday, two days after having minor back surgery. He might be most well known for the role of Peter McAllister (Kevin’s father) in the first two Home Alone films. I also vaguely remember him from Cat People (1982).

Rest In Peace, Deborah Watling

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:09 pm
calliopes_pen: (sallymn Brigadier raining)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
Deborah Watling has passed away, at the age of 69, following a battle with lung cancer. May she rest in peace. She played the role of Victoria Waterfield, companion to the Second Doctor, on Doctor Who. Unfortunately, most of her episodes were destroyed.

The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Enemy of the World managed to survive from her tenure on the series, along with the second episode of the serial The Evil of the Daleks.

Rest In Peace, Trevor Baxter

Jul. 20th, 2017 10:20 am
calliopes_pen: (lost_spook Lucy's throat Dracula's ring)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
Trevor Baxter has passed away at the age of 84. May he rest in peace. For Doctor Who fans, he played Professor George Litefoot in the episode The Talons of Weng-Chiang. He reprised the role for Big Finish Productions, in Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles: The Mahogany Murderers, and a series called Jago & Litefoot.

Having looked through his filmography, I see that he was in two episodes of Mystery And Imagination*--The Body Snatcher and Feet Foremost; I believe those are in the portion that are sadly lost. He was also in Jack The Ripper (1988) in the role of Lanyon--that one also starred Michael Caine, Lysette Anthony (Angelique from Dark Shadows 1991), and Susan George (Lucy in Dracula 1968). I have always meant to watch that one, so I’ll track it down. I think I spotted it at DailyMotion earlier, divided into parts.

*Come to think of it, that's two from Mystery And Imagination that have died in the last two months. Peter Sallis was the other one.

The Great Repeal Bill...

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:24 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
 ...seems to be an attempt to weaken most of Britain's human rights protection. There's a petition against it here:

https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/save-our-rights

spread the word.

gacked from [personal profile] history_monk 


Import In Progress

Jul. 19th, 2017 11:02 am
calliopes_pen: (jkpolk mine evil laugh Master)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
I am in the process of importing my older fanfic to Ao3. A large portion of it is probably Doctor Who, from the Tenth Doctor days. So if you suddenly notice a new story* from me, it's not new. It's so very, very old and fluff more than anything in most cases. Looking back now, quite a few are not that great, but they're going up for the sake of completion.

*There were two occasions as I started the import where it accidentally made it post to today's date, but it was eventually fixed. I learned that trying to import from Teaspoon does that for whatever reason, while importing from Dreamwidth does not, and gives the original date without me needing to change it.
selenak: (Default)
[personal profile] selenak
For once, I manage to write my book reviews on a Wednesday.

Sam Bourne: To Kill the President

It was to be expected: the first Donald Trump era thriller (that I've read). Which takes full advantage of the fact that when previously any critic worth their salt would have complained about the one dimensional characterisation of the villains and the lack of realism in the US voting someone like that into power and then the Republican Party falling in line, followed by no checks and balances from any institution after even the Supreme Court caves due to the stolen seat being filled by the new President's choice, now all this looks like, well, realism.

Spoilers from an age where reality beggars caricature )


Philip Kerr: March Violets.

This is the first novel of a mystery series which I heard/read about via The New Yorker. The article in question was enthusiastic enought to overcome my instinctive squick at the premise, to wit: hard-boiled/noir detective novel set in the Third Reich. Basically, what if Philip Marlowe was German? Wandering those mean streets as a cynic with an ethical core takes a whole new meaning if the authories aren't just corrupt but a dictatorship preparing for war and genocide. Our hero is Bernie Gunther, former policeman who quit the force in 1933 for the obvious reason given that the novel positions he has ethics, and became a private investigator instead. Kerr serves up all the usual hard boiled/ noir tropes - untrustworthy millionaire clients, corrupt cops, shady dames -, complete with Chandleresque language, and he did his research - the novel's setting is Berlin in 1936, around the Olympic Games, and in addition to the well drawn Berlin geography, there are some great nods to Fritz Lang's movie M via some of the supporting cast, gangsters (given that Bernie Gunther originally gets hired to recover some diamonds, though of course it turns out it's far more complicated and what everyone is after is something else altogether. The brief appearances by historic figures (Göring and Heydrich, to be precise) are drawn credibly, which is to say their vileness comes across without Kerr employing sledge-hammery moustache twirling; in fact, he uses Göring's bonhommie manners to make him chilling.

As opposed to To Kill a President, this actually is a good novel. But. I still struggle somewhat with the basic premise. This is the first novel of what according ot the New Yorker article I'd read are twelve so far, and already I'm having to suspend disbelief about Bernie's continued survival. There's no reason why Heydrich at the end of this first novel shouldn't have gotten him killed, for example. And since we're in 1936, Bernie would still have the possibility to leave the country, and given what happens to him in this novel, it's hard to wonder why he doesn't, given he has no dependants who'd suffer for it. Yes, the decision to emigrate wasn't as easy as hindsight would have it if you weren't rich and didn't have friends abroad, but again, some truly harrowing things happen to Bernie in this novel which would serve as an incentive to get the hell out of Germany if ever there was one beyond the general situation of the country.

With this caveat, I'll keep reading.

Yongnuo 50mm f1.8

Jul. 19th, 2017 12:23 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Picked up one of these lenses for my Canon a few days ago, took it out to the park and took some test photos on Tuesday. I think it's actually pretty good, and considering I got it for £30 I'm very pleased. One picture of berries is a bit out of focus, I think I simply got closer than the minimum for the lens without noticing, the rest are OK. Gallery here:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskZyx37y

I'm beginning to think more seriously about switching to Canon as my main system, but I'd want a better camera body, say 12 megapixels or better. The other thing I'd want to add is a longer zoom with some macro capability, the only other lens I've currently got is an 18-55. Whereas my most used Nikon lens is a 28-300 Tamron with macro capability. Any recommendations?

Another RPG bundle offer - Rifts

Jul. 18th, 2017 06:34 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
This is one I'm fairly sure I'm not interested in, but it's supporting Doctors Without Borders and tastes do differ:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Rifts

Kevin Siembieda's Rifts® is set on a future Earth shattered by countless otherworldly invasions. This all-new collection, the debut of Palladium Books in the Bundle of Holding, is a well-rounded set of complete .PDF ebooks that give players and Game Masters everything they need for a campaign of mind-blowing, dimension-spanning adventure across a transformed North America.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, Doctors Without Borders.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$82.50. Customers who pay just US$17.95 get all four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $38.50) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete 384-page Rifts® Ultimate Edition™ (retail price $20), plus the Rifts® Primer (retail $3), Rifts® Sourcebook One™ Revised Edition (retail $10.50), and the Game Master Kit with useful play aids and pregenerated characters (retail $5).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more supplements worth an additional $44, including three World Books -- Juicer Uprising™ (retail $10.50), Psyscape™ (retail $10.50), and New West™ (retail $12.50) -- and the location supplement MercTown™ (retail $10.50).

At least one more title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early.


I'll be honest - I own some of this system in dead tree format but I was never really that interested in the setting, and found it a bit rules-heavy. Having said that, it's one of the first true multi-genre RPG systems, and its take on putting the genres together is unusual, although not one I'd really want to run. As usual your mileage may vary.
 


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