2017-04-06 12:41 am


eub.dreamwidth.org is me. I can't swear it'll be active, but I expect this one won't.
2017-04-06 12:02 am

hello world

This program posts news to thousands of machines throughout the entire civilized world. Your message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere. Please be sure you know what you are doing.

Are you absolutely sure that you want to do this? [ny]
2017-04-04 12:37 am

(no subject)

With this User non-Agreement I'm afraid I'm about done here. Too bad, Livejournal had a pretty good run for most of... has it been 20 years? Update to follow, I'll see if I want to have a go at Dreamwidth or place my eggs in the Google Plus basket.

The "here's your user agreement, except it's not legally binding actually" is some bullshit. Serious multinationals translate their ToS and have them legally reviewed in significant target languages. Granted English-speakers are a minority, but if you wanted to keep them you pay the money for legal translation services.

Also, I am not pleased to be taken as "subject to Article 10.2 of the Federal Act of the Russian Federation No. 149-ФЗ if more than three thousand Internet users access the Blog (the Blog’s page) within 24 hours" since that could happen outside of my control and I have no idea what this Russian law says. Something something intellectual property enforcement.

Also, and this is the biggest eyebrow-raiser to me, "User who posted comments in Blog and User keeping such a Blog shall be jointly and severally liable in respect of such comments" wtf. That's claiming that I as the journal owner will be fully liable for comments made by some internet random: as I understand it, "jointly and severally" means if there's any libel or other legal harm, a plaintiff can collect full damages from me, and if I say the internet random was the one at fault, it's my job to sue the internet random and enforce a judgment.

Also, combine this with that they appear to be claiming I'm liable under Russian law for that internet random's actions on my journal: "User shall be liable for breaching the terms and conditions hereof, including the requirements to Registration and Content posting, as well as for violation of applicable laws committed by User, including the laws of the Russian Federation and the laws of User’s residence"

I suspect that's a try at extraterritoriality that won't stand up -- I actually suspect the entire "you have to agree to our shrinkwrap contract you can't read" effort may be shaky -- but I think this ToS does it for me.
2011-11-08 01:22 am

RIP, Rose Robertson

An adventurous young woman, Robertson would enlist in Britain's Special Operations Executive program in 1941. According to gay rights leader Peter Tatchell, Robertson told him that she parachuted into France to spy on German troop deployments and to act as a courier for the British. It was her time in France where her interest in gay people would begin. Spending an evening with two French resistance fighters, she entered their room to find them in an embrace. She knew nothing about homosexuality and was curious; the men shared stories of prejudice and rejection. A similar experience played out when she took in two lodgers in the 1960s when she was a happily-married housewife.

Robertson would eventually start Parents Enquiry, a phone line where parents of gay children, and the children themselves, could call in for help, advice, or just someone to talk to. Running the operation from her London home, Robertson eventually received over 100 phone calls and letters a week.
2011-09-18 01:02 am

documenting the Elwha dam removal

For at least a decade, scientists have been getting ready for this moment, documenting the baseline condition of the Elwha watershed. You name it, they've done it, in a nonstop rodeo of fin clipping, wire tagging, electroshocking, measuring, sexing, anesthetizing, tissue sampling, stomach pumping, beach seining, snorkel surveying, sonar imaging, trapping and tagging. And still more tagging. Tagging everything: elk, bear, river otters, songbirds and more fish than you can imagine. Even rocks, with little microchips plugged inside, to see how long it takes them to tumble down the riverbed or move on the beach. [emphasis mine]
2011-08-28 02:16 am

another thing, or think

I ran across a Metafilter thread about the expression "if you think that, you've got another (think/thing) coming." If this is a familiar stock expression to you, which version is familiar, "thing" or "think"? Have you heard the other version?
(Warning: the thread is a mashup of this think/thing with an "is 0.999repeating = 1" debate; skim over unless that's something you enjoy.)

My dad and I agreed that it's a familiar expression, and we'd never heard anyone using the wrong word in it, that would sound bizarre, why is there even a thread about this. But it turned out we disagreed on which word is the right one. The usage in the wild is definitely mixed (it skews "thing" in Google web search, "think" in n-gram books search), and he and I apparently each inferred one correct usage, and assimilated the other one to it, without even noticing the mixedness. Yay language.
you may consider this a spoiler )
2011-08-22 01:54 am

psych experiments on social engagement in infants

The "still face" is a psychological experiment where an adult engages with the infant and makes eye contact, but then holds a poker face instead of responding normally. Babies who are of social age (~2 months and up) respond with puzzlement, increased effort to draw attention, agitation, distress, and withdrawal. (I have not tried this on my kids and really don't care to.)

That's for background for another experiment I ran across a description of. In this experiment, you have the parent and baby looking at each other through a video link, some clever setup of half-silvered mirrors. You tape this video of them doing their happy animated thing. Then you switch and start showing the baby taped footage. So here the parent's face hasn't gone neutral, it's still just as animated, but it's not animated in reaction to the baby. And the result here is that the baby can tell. They need the "contingency" -- nifty result! (Murray and Trevarthen, 1985.)

I found in looking it up for this post, though, that this result sadly may not hold up. One study (abstract, full PDF) tried carefully to replicate it, and failed. (The authors suggest a methodological cause: Murray and Trevarthen made the switch from live to tape when "an active interchange was reached", i.e. an above-normal level of engagement, from which you expect to fluctuate back down towards normal even with no intervention at that point.)

As the authors point out, their negative result doesn't show that infants don't sense interpersonal attunement, only that this experimental setup doesn't find it.
2011-08-22 12:21 am

Seattlites: collect fennel pollen now

If you have plans to collect fennel pollen, it is time to turn plans into action.

Maybe even a little past time -- my fennel has gone to fruit but the neighbors' look still in flower; I'll hit them up.
2011-08-14 10:57 pm

Haeckel to the nth power

Images created from Haeckel's illustrations by using them to orbit-trap a fractal mapping. (Follow through to subblue's Fractal Explorer and thence to its PDF documentation for what that means.)

The top one in particular fooled me at first look. It looks natural enough that I thought it was the original. The original is linked through the creature's binomial, and in comparison it looks crude, human-drawn. The new image is what Haeckel could have drawn if Haeckel's hands were half-height Haeckels.
2011-08-06 12:44 am

you all probably know this about thistles already

But don't ever let a thistle grow thinking it's a nifty-looking weed and you can get rid of it later. By the time you get around to it because it's threatening to spread seed, that's a *lot* of viciously spiny you've got there.
2011-07-23 01:02 am

weeds of the yard

I tried looking up some of the weeds and self-sowers that I find in the yard and didn't know. I think we have:
* Epilobium ciliatium. Arthur Lee Jacobson common-names it "dwarf fireweed" but Google says that's 10x as likely to be the latifolium (which I'd much prefer in the yard, actually much bigger showier flowers, and it's the national flower of Greenland).
* or is that Epilobium paniculatum|brachycarpum? I'll have to take another look. May actually be both, but the smaller one's more common.
* Linaria purpurea. Pretty enough that it was probably planted on purpose, and I'm happy to have it, I'm just saying it knows how to take care of itself. The peach-leaf bellflower also falls in that category.
2011-07-18 01:11 am

wish list for outdoor lights

They're solar-powered, and they turn on as you get near them by Bluetooth. Waterproof of course. If they're pulsed LEDs to save power, that's great, just so as the frequency is high enough that I can't see the flicker.

(I will be very sad when they stop manufacturing incandescent Christmas tree lights and all the LED ones have that horrid nails-on-chalkboard flicker.)

If they have microphones and transmit the outdoor soundfield indoors for my listening pleasure, that would be a bonus. If they do it by micropower peer-to-peer meteor-bounce radio so I can scatter them on public lands, so much the better. They can even drop the whole lighting feature from those models if it helps meet specs.
2011-07-09 11:58 pm

a painting


(The beetle in the front is an Asian longhorned. And I love that I can find this out by searching on [spotted beetle black banded antennae].)
2011-07-09 03:10 am

eye dialect is vile

In A Montessori Mother, here's Dorothy Canfield Fisher talking about her neighbor. (Figuring that her neighbor won't feel condescended to by this, or that she can't read?)
Not that she was in the least conscious of going through this elaborate mental process. Her own simple narration of what followed runs: "I snatched 'em away from him, and I was mad as a hornit for a minit or two. [...]"
The 'em is signaling a different pronunciation than them would. But hornit and minit are not saying anything different than hornet and minute.* It's pure eye dialect: a non-standard spelling that doesn't even give a non-standard pronunciation.
* At least to me: I read them with the same schwas. Is there some pronunciation difference I'm not familiar with, that hornet/hornit could be meant to signal? The Vulcan over-enunciation of unstressed vowels?

In using eye dialect, the author is signaling "this person's speech is non-standard, but I'm not going to bother to observe in what way." My first thought was that I don't like it because it's lazy writing, but you know, lazy is the least of it. What makes this laziness even possible is that one dialect is privileged as standard, and what the author is implying is that it doesn't matter which dialect the person's speech is. For each non-standard dialect, all that's worth noticing is that it's not the standard. That's all that hasn't been erased from the speech as it's written.
2011-07-08 03:04 am

booknotes side notes

I've been reading public-domain books on my phone since it's portable and can be operated one-handed or set down zero-handed. This Fisher book I found while looking up a children's book she wrote, Understood Betsy, which turned up in a Metafilter recommendations thread. I'd rate it "eh", readable but as "orphan girl goes to live at a farm" books go it's no Anne of Green Gables, tone rather too supercilious. I am curious whether there are a lot of books in that genre, or if L.M.M. had read this one.

Speaking of which, Dorothy Dunnett's Crawford is surely a descendent of Stevenson's Master of Ballantrae, is he not? If Dunnett liked the Master's character, found him just too antiheroic to write, and decided to leaven him a bit, I would not be a bit surprised.

Protip! Particularly for older texts (or older printings?), Google often describes their scan of a particular book as "page images" and not "flowing text". Often this is false modesty. For most books described that way, there actually *is* "flowing text", with some recognition errors, but perfectly readable, and much easier than the page images. Just a few books so far really are page images only, sadly including the Century Dictionary and Hardwicke's Science-Gossip.

What are your favorite pre-Mickey-Mouse books?
2011-07-08 02:41 am

booknotes: Dorothy Canfield Fisher, /A Montessori Mother/

An interesting document. The book was written when the Montessori system was five years old, and I gather no schools existed yet in the U.S. Most of the book is exposition on what Montessori is, but here's what I found remarkable:

Fisher believes passionately in Montessori education, and she fears it. She fears its superiority, not to other schools, but to mothers' raising of their children. She warns that unless mothers take Montessori into their homes, they will lose their children, down to the very youngest, to Montessori's long days (no lunch visit home) and total social and moral education. (She puts this in the context of a process of parceling out household functions to outside expertise: household crafts replaced by cash trade, children sent out to grade school.)

Fisher's hundred-year-old views on schools' uniformity and "teaching to the test" could easily be heard any day. Also a remark that "People will take pills, physicians report, but they will not take exercise."

The threat of Montessori:
And if all this sounds too troublesome and complicated, let it be remembered that the Children's Home looms close at hand, ominously ready to devote itself to making conditions exactly right for the child's growth, never impatient, with no other aim in life and no other occupation but to do what is best for the child.
At some time in the future, [...] the training of little children will be in [teachers'] hands, as is already the training of older children. [...] The last one of the so-called "natural," "domestic" occupations will be taken away from us, and very shame at our enforced idleness will drive us to follow men into doing, each the work for which we are really fitted. [...] But that time is still in the future. At present our teachers cannot more adopt the utter freedom and the reverence for individual differences, which constitute the essence of the "Montessori method," than a cog in a great machine can, of its own volition, begin to turn backwards. And here is the opportunity for us, the mothers, perhaps among the last of the race who will be allowed the inestimable delight and joy of caring for our own little children, a delight and joy of which society, sooner or later, will consider us unworthy on account of our inexpertness, our carelessnes, our absorption in other things, our lack of wise preparation, our lack of abstract good judgment.

The rigidity of schools:
[...] the ugly, hard fact remains [...] that the teacher whose children are not able to "pass" given examinations on given subject, at the end of a given time, is under suspicion, and the principal whose school is full of such teachers is very apt to give way to a successor, chosen by a board of business-men with a cult for efficiency.
2011-06-02 01:32 am

deep nematodes

The deep subsurface bacteria support nematodes that eat them: paywalled Nature paper, SciAm article.

"Palaeometeoric water" sounds like dinosaur-killing water from space but I'm afraid it's just old rain.
2011-05-21 11:16 pm


The light truck in front of us had its spare tire mounted on its backside. The spare must never have been driven on, still had its sprue bristles. But wait a minute, it had them only for a 180-degree span on the bottom. None on the top.

2011-05-20 01:06 am

by the way, my dad points out cool stuff about hydrogen

As a medical gas. At below the flammable limit in air even.
Inhaling small amounts of hydrogen in addition to concentrated oxygen may help stem the damage to lung tissue that can occur when critically ill patients are given oxygen for long periods of time, according to a rat model study conducted by researchers in Pittsburgh. The study also found hydrogen initiates activation of heme-oxygenase (HO-1), an enzyme that protects lung cells.

Heme oxygenase is a nifty and useful enzyme I'd never heard about.