Planet (Former) Advogato

This is a complement to Advogato, it is an aggregation of blogs of those who used to post on Advogato, but for one reason or another moved their blog from Advogato. It is provided as a service to those who would like to read the "greater Advogato" community.

This site works only as a Planet, it aggregates the post only, to comment on a blog entry, click on the title or time to go to the blog entry on the original site, hopefully it will have a comment facility.

July 07, 2015

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

Gentle Readers: boil it to a brilliant blue

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 4, number 2
6th July 2015: boil it to a brilliant blue
What I’ve been up to

Surprisingly little, actually, though I did go to a rather interesting conference, about the meaning of love, at a housing co-op in Manchester.

A picture

https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/thou-art-a-scholar

Mar. Thou'rt a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.
Hor. Well, who knew... I mean, what are the chances you'd ask me that just after my college's "Speaking To Ghosts 101" course was oversubscribed? I mean I tried to get a place on it, but it's, like, the most popular course in the whole university, isn't it? Duh.
 

A poem of mine
 
SHATTERED
 
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said...
I couldn't comprehend his speech;
he spoke a tongue I didn't understand.
It might have meant “a statue's on a beach”...
at least, he let me see vacation snaps
and there was quite a lot of sand about
and one old statue, African perhaps,
or Indian, I'm in a bit of doubt.)
   So anyway, I saw the statue's face:
   its nose was crinkled, like a lord who sniffs.
   And then there was some writing on the base;
   I couldn't read it. It was hieroglyphs.
It all seems kind of strange, and far away,
but must have had some meaning in its day.
 
Something wonderful
https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/salford-rainbow

The end of the rainbow-- it was in Salford all along

I'm pretty sure you were taught the order of the colours of the rainbow-- maybe with "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain", or perhaps with someone named "Roy G. Biv". Either way, the standard colour sequence is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. The obvious question is: what on earth is indigo?

The sequence we all learned is taken from a book called Opticks, written by Isaac Newton in 1704. In this book he sets out his discoveries about the way light breaks up as it passes through a prism. Newton was a rather superstitious person, and he believed that the number seven is really important, so it seemed good to have seven colours. Here's the diagram he drew.
 
https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/newton-opticks

The colour Newton calls "blue" comes immediately after green. So it's a greenish blue-- what we might now call cyan, or turquoise. Indigo, then, must be blue-- and in fact it's the name of a dye with a deep and brilliant blue colour.

Blue has always been a difficult colour to produce. The Ancient Egyptians knew the art of making things blue, but with the fall of the Roman Empire their technology was lost. In the Middle Ages blue was so rare that it was worn only by the very rich. One of a very few places you could get blue dye was from the indigo plant, Indigofera tinctoria, a kind of bean. You take the plant's leaves, soak them in water, and wait for them to ferment. Then you drain off the water and mix the residue with a strong alkali, such as lye. Heaven knows how they discovered this.
https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/indigo-plant

The indigo plant comes from India, as you may have guessed from the name. By the eighteenth century it was also grown in other hot parts of the world, such as Mexico and the southern United States. Predictably those who farmed the plants and extracted the dye were soon slaves; there was a major non-violent revolt in Bengal in March 1859, which was severely suppressed.

Must indigo be grown? Can it be produced in a lab instead? Yes, it can: Adolf von Baeyer discovered how, which won him the 1905 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. These days almost all indigo dye produced is artificial, and most of it goes on dyeing denim jeans.

The indigo plant can only grow in hot climates. But there's another plant with similar properties, which grows even in Britain: a kind of cabbage called woad (Isatis tinctoria). There is a story that the Picts used to dye their bodies with woad, and strip naked to scare invaders. It's probably untrue, and based on a misreading of Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Which is a shame, because there aren't many things more likely to make you run away than naked blue people smelling of rotten leaves.

Something from someone else

WOAD SONG (to the tune of "Men of Harlech")
by William Hope-Jones

What's the good of wearing braces,
Vests, and pants, and boots with laces?
Spats, or hats you buy in places
Down the Brompton Road?
What's the use of shirts of cotton,
Studs that always get forgotten?
Such affairs are simply rotten:
Better far is woad.

Woad's the stuff to show men.
Woad to scare your foemen:
Boil it to a brilliant hue
And rub it on your back and your ab-do-men.
Ancient Briton never hit on
Anything as good as woad to fit on
Neck, or knees, or where you sit on!
Tailors, you be blowed.

Romans came across the Channel
All wrapped up in tin and flannel:
Half a pint of woad per man'll
Dress us more than these.
Saxons, you can waste your stitches
Building beds for bugs in breeches:
We have woad to clothe us, which is
Not a nest for fleas.

Romans, keep your armours!
Saxons, your pyjamas!
Hairy coats were meant for goats,
Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs, and llamas.
Tramp up Snowdon with your woad on,
Never mind if you get rained or snowed on.
Never want a button sewed on.
Go, the Ancient B's.

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.
 

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/337288.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

July 07, 2015 12:06 AM

July 06, 2015

Rachel Chalmers [rachel]

independence

Happy birthday, America! I love you for your Steve Rogers, Bree Newsome, health care, marriage equality and Oz Farm.

July 06, 2015 03:33 AM

July 04, 2015

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

puns

Sometimes I like throwing puns into a discussion without marking them as such, and seeing whether anyone notices. I'm at a conference thing, and they're doing massages for the people there. I had one, and afterwards the massage person said, "Sorry to cut it short, but I have three more people to go in the next twenty minutes. I didn't realise I'd be so busy!" I said, "Well, everyone wants to feel kneaded." They agreed, and I smiled, and went on my way.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/336931.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

July 04, 2015 01:51 PM

July 03, 2015

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

The Ghost in the Crown-- act 2, part 1

(I haven’t finished Act 2 yet, but here’s the first part. More soon.)

I'm reading a book
That I took from my school.
Polonius comes in.
(He’s a pompous old fool,
But also my girlfriend
Ophelia’s dad.)
I’ll scare him away!
I’ll pretend to be mad!

He said, “Who am I?”
And I looked all about.
I said, “You’re the fellow
Who sold me a trout.
But have you a daughter?”
He said, “Just the one.”
“Be careful,” I said,
“If she walks in the sun
Where meat becomes maggots
And milk becomes curds.”
He asked what I’m reading.
I said, “Words…
words…
words.”

“But what do they say?”
And I said, “I detect
Some satire, some slander,
Some lack of respect.
It says: when you’re old
Your eyesight gets hazy.
Your whiskers go grey.
You start to go crazy.
Your eyes fill with goop.
And yes, it’s all true
But seems a bit rude
To codgers like you.”

He hurried away.
But my uncle instead
Strode into the room
And called me and said:

“I will open the door!
I will show you a thing!
You will like what I show you!”
(Said Claudius King.)
“Your friends came to visit!
Come quickly and see!
Some friends, and I call them
Thing R and Thing G!
They came to the castle
To be a surprise!
They might cheer you up!
And they’re not at all spies!”

They said, “We’re in Denmark
To see how you are!
Would you like to shake hands
With Thing G and Thing R?”

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/336692.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

July 03, 2015 08:51 PM

Gentle Readers: proof by elephant

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 4, number 1
2nd July 2015: proof by elephant
What I’ve been up to

I'm back! I've been ill for quite a while, and I've missed writing Gentle Readers enormously. But today I'm back.

A picture

Metro gnome

Metro gnome

Something wonderful

The voyage of Columbus didn't convince anyone that the world is round. Nobody needed convincing, because nobody believed that the world was flat. Nearly two thousand years earlier, a Greek scholar named Eratosthenes had demonstrated it-- not only the shape of the earth, but even how far it was around. (He went to two different cities, and measured the angle of the sun when it was at its highest point on Midsummer Day. Then, since he knew how far apart the cities were, he could work out the circumference of the earth.)

But a century before Erastothenes, Aristotle's book On the heavens (Περὶ οὐρανοῦ) gave five reasons to believe the earth is round. And one of them is a proof by elephants.
How to find the shape of the earth using elephants
What do you find if you go as far west from Greece as you can, to Africa? Elephants!
What do you find if you go as far east as you can, to India? Elephants!
So obviously if the east and the west both have elephants, it stands to reason that they're next to one another.

"Hence one should not be too sure of the incredibility of the view of those who conceive that there is continuity between the parts about the pillars of Hercules and the parts about India, and that in this way the ocean is one. As further evidence in favour of this they quote the case of elephants, a species occurring in each of these extreme regions, suggesting that the common characteristic of these extremes is explained by their continuity."

Thomas Aquinas helpfully pointed out the flaw in this reasoning:

...they make a conjecture as to the similarity of both places from the elephants which arise in both places but are not found in the regions between them. This of course is a sign of the agreement of these places but not necessarily of their nearness to one another.

Something from someone else

This is a famous retelling of a very old story.
 
THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT
by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

At this point I should include my parody; I wondered what might happen if blind elephants had tried to find out about humans.
 
It was six jolly Elephants
(And all of them were blind),
That all agreed to search a town
To study humankind,
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The first one felt a person's head;
In puzzled tones he spake:
"This wonder of a Human Man
Is flat as griddle-cake!"
The others solemnly agreed,
"'Tis true, and no mistake."

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.
 

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/336130.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

July 03, 2015 01:23 AM

July 02, 2015

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

Random happy memory:

Once, in a needlework class at secondary school, I overheard the girls at the next table, gossiping about a Korean girl who wasn't in the room. She was in our year, but she'd only just started at our school, so they didn't know her very well. One particular thing they didn't know was that she was my cousin.

"Did you see that new [redacted] girl?" one said.

"Yeah," said the other. "Looks like a sumo wrestler."

It was a beautifully satisfying moment when I turned round and said, "Is that my cousin you're talking about?"

They spluttered for a few moments, then said, "But she can't be your cousin!"

"Look, I ought to know who my own cousins are."

"But, but...," they said. "Are you adopted?"

I hope it was a teachable moment for them in more ways than one.
This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/335972.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

July 02, 2015 07:06 PM

July 01, 2015

Michael Still [mikal]

Hunting for GC1D1NB

I went for an after work walk to try and find GC1D1NB on Tuggeranong Hill yesterday. It wasn't a great success. I was in the right area but I just couldn't find it. Eventually I ran out of time and had to turn back. I am sure I'll have another attempt at this one soon.

   

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150701-tuggeranong_hill photo canberra bushwalk
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Geocaching; Confessions of a middle aged orienteering marker; A quick walk through Curtin; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches Comment

July 01, 2015 11:52 PM

Mary Gardiner [hypatia]

Blogging for Geek Feminism, a short history

With yesterday’s release of Spam All the Links, I’ve finished my long awaited project of departing the Geek Feminism blog.

I was involved in the blog on, if not from the first day of its existence, at least from the first week of it. My involvement in the blog was huge, and comprises among other things:

  • over 200 posts to the blog
  • founding and for a long time running the Ask a Geek Feminist, Wednesday Geek Woman and Cookie of the Week series
  • doing a linkspam post by myself multiple times a week for about a year
  • recruiting the initial team of Linkspammers and setting up their manual, mailing list and of course, the script that supports them
  • recruiting several other bloggers, including Tim, Restructure! and Courtney S
  • a bunch of sysadmin of the self-hosted WordPress install (it’s now hosted on WordPress.com)

My leaving the blog is delayed news. I initially told the co-bloggers I was leaving close to a year ago now (mid-August, if I’d waited much longer on writing this I could have posted on the one year anniversary), because my output had dried up. I feel in large part that what happened was that I spent about ten years in geekdom (1999–2009) accumulating about three years of material for the blog, and then I ran out of things to write about there. I also have two more children and one more business than I had when I was first writing for it, and, very crucially, one less unfinished PhD to avoid. But I had a handover todo list to plod my way through, and Spam All the Links was the last item on it!

I remain involved in Geek Feminism as an administrator on the Geek Feminism wiki, on which I had about 25% of total edits last I looked, although the same sense of being a dry well is there too.

The blog was obviously hugely important for me, both as an outlet for that ten years of pent up opinionating and, to my surprise, because I ended up moving into the space professionally. I’m glad I did it.

Today, I would say these are my five favourite posts I made to the blog:

“Girl stuff” in Free Software, August 2009:

Terri mention[ed] that she had resisted at times working on things perceived as ‘girl stuff’. In Free Software this includes but is not limited to documentation, usability research, community management and (somewhat unusually for wider society) sometimes management in general. The audience immediately hit on it, and it swirled around me all week.

Why we document, August 2009:

I do not in fact find writing the wiki documentation of incidents in geekdom very satisfying. The comment linked at the beginning of the post compared the descriptions to a rope tying geekdom to the past. Sometimes being known as a wiki editor and pursued around IRC with endless links to yet another anonymous commenter or well-known developer advising women to shut up and take it and write some damned code anyway is like a rope tying me to the bottom of the ocean.

But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers.

(I’d be very interested in other people’s takes on this in 2015, which is a very different landscape in terms of the visibility of geek sexism than 2009 was.)

Why don’t you just hit him?, December 2010:

This is the kind of advice given by people who don’t actually want to help. Or perhaps don’t know how they can. It’s like if you’re a parent of a bullying victim, and you find yourself repeating “ignore it”, “fight back with fists” or whatever fairly useless advice you yourself were once on the receiving end of. It’s expressing at best helplessness, and at worst victim-blaming. It’s personalising a cultural problem.

You are not helpless in the face of harassment. Call for policies, implement policies, call out harassment when you overhear it, or report it. Stand with people who discuss their experiences publicly.

Anti-pseudonym bingo, July 2011:

Let’s recap really quickly: wanting to and being able to use your legal name everywhere is associated with privilege. Non-exhaustive list of reasons you might not want to use it on social networks: everyone knows you by a nickname; you want everyone to know you by a nickname; you’re experimenting with changing some aspect of your identity online before you do it elsewhere; online circles are the only place it’s safe to express some aspect of your identity, ever; your legal name marks you as a member of a group disproportionately targeted for harassment; you want to say things or make connections that you don’t want to share with colleagues, family or bosses; you hate your legal name because it is shared with an abusive family member; your legal name doesn’t match your gender identity; you want to participate in a social network as a fictional character; the mere thought of your stalker seeing even your locked down profile makes you sick; you want to create a special-purpose account; you’re an activist wanting to share information but will be in danger if identified; your legal name is imposed by a legal system that doesn’t match your culture… you know, stuff that only affects a really teeny minority numerically, and only a little bit, you know?

But I’m mostly listing it here because I always have fun with the design of my bingo cards. (This was my first time, Sexist joke bingo is better looking.)

I take it we aren’t cute enough for you?, August 2012:

… why girls? Why do we not have 170 comments on our blog reaching out to women who are frustrated with geekdom? I want to get this out in the open: people love to support geek girls, they are considerably more ambivalent about supporting geek women.

The one I’m still astonished I had time for was transcribing the entire Doubleclicks “Nothing to Prove” video. 2013? I don’t remember having that kind of time in 2013!

Thanks to my many co-bloggers over the five years I was a varyingly active blogger at Geek Feminism. I may be done, at least for a time and perhaps in that format, but here’s to a new generation of geek feminist writers joining the existing one!

Hand holding aloft a cocktail glassfrom an image by Susanne Nilsson, CC BY-SA
Image credit: Cheers! by Susanne Nilsson, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike. The version used in this post was cropped and colour adjusted by Mary.

July 01, 2015 10:25 PM

Thomas Thurman [marnanel]

The Ghost in the Crown - Act 1

What if Dr Seuss had written Hamlet?


The sun did not shine.
There were clouds overhead.
I sat in the castle
And wished I was dead.
My father had perished.
My dad lost his life.
My uncle usurped him
And married his wife!
An action more evil
Than man should commit.
And I did not like it!
Not even one bit!

My mother, the queen,
And her husband, her kin,
They knocked on the door.
They said “May we come in?”
They opened the door
Of the room where I sat.
And they said to me,
“Why do you sit there like that?
Did you know derrières
Are a bit like your dad?
For everyone’s got one.
(Or everyone had.)
You cried for a night
When he died without warning.
But you can have lots
of good fun in the morning!
There’s plenty of fathers!
They’re twenty a dime!
They don’t last forever.
They die all the time!
So stop going round
In a suit of black cloth.
You’re sure to be sad
If you dress like a goth.
Don’t run off to college.
Just chill for a while.
Now I’m your new father.
So give us a smile!”

And then I was sadder
Than ever I’ve felt.
My body’s alive
But I wished it would melt.
My mum, like a beast,
With my uncle was lying,
In less than a month
From her mourning and crying.
They jumped into bed
While her tears were undried,
And I wished that the Lord
Would allow suicide.

My friends came to tell me,
“Come quickly! Come down!
We’ve seen on the ramparts
A GHOST in a CROWN!
It gave us a fright
Like we never have had!
It shines in the dark!
And it looks like your dad!”

I went to the ramparts
High over the town.
I looked! And I saw him!
The GHOST in the CROWN!

He said, “Listen closely,
For everyone’s sake!
They said I was killed
By a venomous snake.
My bruv did the deed!
Not a serpent that hisses!
He wants to be king
And to sleep with my missus!
Tell your uncle from me
He’s a murdering swine!
Or your haircut will look
Like a mad porcupine!”


I’ll be posting these over the next few days, one for each of the five acts of Hamlet. When I’m done I’ll work on some illustrations. Feedback and sharing are very welcome. This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/335745.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

July 01, 2015 04:38 PM

Michael Still [mikal]

Percival trig

I had a pretty bad day, so I knocked off early and went for a walk before going off to the meeting at a charity I help out with. The walk was to Percival trig, which I have to say was one of the more boring trigs I've been to. Some of the forest nearly was nice enough, but the trig itself is stranded out in boring grasslands. Meh.

   

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150630-percival photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; One Tree and Painter; A walk around Mount Stranger Comment

July 01, 2015 02:41 AM

A team walk around Red Hill

My team at work is trying to get a bit more active, so a contingent from the Canberra portion of the team went for a walk around Red Hill. I managed to sneak in a side trip to Davidson trig, but it was cheating because it was from the car park at the top of the hill. A nice walk, with some cool geocaches along the way.

 

Interactive map for this route.

Tags for this post: blog pictures 20150629-davidson photo canberra bushwalk trig_point
Related posts: Goodwin trig; Big Monks; Narrabundah trig and 16 geocaches; Cooleman and Arawang Trigs; One Tree and Painter; A walk around Mount Stranger Comment

July 01, 2015 12:29 AM

June 30, 2015

Mary Gardiner [hypatia]

Code release: Spam All the Links

The Geek Feminism blog’s Linkspam tradition started back in August 2009, in the very early days of the blog and by September it had occurred to us to take submissions through bookmarking services. From shortly after that point there were a sequence of scripts that pulled links out of RSS feeds. Last year, I began cleaning up my script and turning it into the one link-hoovering script to rule them all. It sucks links out of bookmarking sites, Twitter and WordPress sites and bundles them all up into an email that is sent to the linkspamming team there for curation, pre-formatted in HTML and with title and suggestion descriptions for each link. It even attempts to filter out links already posted in previous linkspams.

The Geek Feminism linkspammers aren’t the only link compilers in town, and it’s possible we’re not the only group who would find my script useful. I’ve therefore finished generalising it, and I’ve released it as Spam All the Links on Gitlab. It’s a Python 3 script that should run on most standard Python environments.

Spam All the Links

Spam All the Links is a command line script that fetches URL suggestions from
several sources and assembles them into one email. That email can in turn be
pasted into a blog entry or otherwise used to share the list of links.

Use case

Spam All the Links was written to assist in producing the Geek Feminism linkspam posts. It was developed to check WordPress comments, bookmarking websites such as Pinboard, and Twitter, for links tagged “geekfeminism”, assemble them into one email, and email them to an editor who could use the email as the basis for a blog post.

The script has been generalised to allow searches of RSS/Atom feeds, Twitter, and WordPress blog comments as specified by a configuration file.

Email output

The email output of the script has three components:

  1. a plain text email with the list of links
  2. a HTML email with the list of links
  3. an attachment with the HTML formatted links but no surrounding text so as to be easily copy and pasted

All three parts of the email can be templated with Jinja2.

Sources of links

Spam All the Links currently can be configured to check multiple sources of links, in these forms:

  1. RSS/Atom feeds, such as those produced by the bookmarking sites Pinboard or Diigo, where the link, title and description of the link can be derived from the equivalent fields in the RSS/Atom. (bookmarkfeed in the configuration file)
  2. RSS/Atom feeds where links can be found in the ‘body’ of a post (postfeed in the configuration file)
  3. Twitter searches (twitter in the configuration file)
  4. comments on WordPress blog entries (wpcommentsfeed in the configuration file)

More info, and the code, is available at the Spam All the Links repository at Gitlab. It is available under the MIT free software licence.

June 30, 2015 11:25 PM