Scott wrote another short story. As is usually the case, it's intriguing but there's also much to critique :) The aliens in the story develop great technology, and build an ansible out of negative average preference utilitarianism.
I have a lot of different thoughts inspired by this story. I don't think it's the sort of story where knowing what happens is a problem for reading it, but I will cut a detailed discussion just in case.
( Spoilers )
On further probing, it appears that starting up gnome-inform7 has a race condition. Sometimes it crashes at startup, sometimes it doesn't, and there is no externally visible rhyme or reason to why.
The existence or otherwise of its data directory is a red herring.
As a teenager I never drank tea or coffee. I must have tried them at some point, but never felt the desire.
At university I started drinking both. I can't remember exactly, I remember having them as a ritual something to do when hanging out with friends. IIRC I drank instant coffee, and real coffee tasted too bitter.
And I think I reached a point where I needed coffee and got dopey and too tired to get up without it, either at university, or after I started working. Unrelated to the caffeine (I assume?) I also had student-y programmer-y sleep patterns, always wanting to sleep a bit later. I don't know how much that was inbuilt physiology and how much it was putting things off, including going to bed and doing things in the morning.
At some point, I started drinking real coffee for preference, and instant coffee tasted bad.
When I started dating Liv, I drank a lot more tea, because we'd usually make a pot together. And I started to feel like coffee was too abrupt, and tea gave a slightly slower caffeine release, and gradually switched to drinking tea almost entirely: I'd happily drink coffee if it was served somewhere, but didn't usually drink it at home or at work.
When I started dating ghoti, I started drinking coffee again, because she drank coffee more often and I liked companionably drinking the same thing. I started with mostly instant coffee, and to date, still mostly drink instant coffee, although I also like real coffee when I have it.
Now I tend to switch, drinking instant coffee at home (because it's quicker), tea at work (because I want a break from the screen to faff around in the kitchen for 10 min), and whichever I feel like if I drink something out.
I never really learned to like espresso based coffee, espressos taste much too strong, and all the mixed drinks taste weird. I used to like mochas occasionally. I usually like plain black tea with milk, or plain coffee, with milk.
Except when I'm abroad, I generally drink whatever's common locally if I'm ok with it at all.
I don't track how much I drink. It's probably quite a lot, because I drink it whenever I feel like, not at fixed times. But I used to feel like it was doing something weird, when I'd be completely wrecked when I *didn't* have caffeine, whereas now, I definitely need some, but if I get a drink within an hour or so of getting up, I don't feel completely zombified until then.
So I used to toy with the idea it'd be healthier to give up (ie. awakeness juice was just borrowing future awakeness and immediate gains were offset in future losses). But now it feels like, the status quo is doing ok.
A couple of people have commented that they have ADHD or suspect they possibly have subclinical ADHD or something related, specifically that mild stimulants make them feel calmer, even right before sleeping.
That's very me. I've never tried to avoid late-night caffeine have haven't noticed it having any affect on my sleep. Which inclines me to think the status quo is possibly fine.
The one big inconvenience in needing caffeine used to be when I'm away, especially at a con in a conference centre, but also, just anywhere on holiday where I'm out all day and don't have decent tea or coffee facilities where I'm staying.
I found it a big faff needing a certain amount of coffee or tea, but that not always syncing up with when I want to sit down and "have a coffee". And a crapshoot whether there'd be somewhere providing bog-standard coffee or tea cheap, or if the only source was a fancy coffee place. Especially if I'm in a rush, or it's all in a foreign language, or whatever.
At some point, I experimented with bringing caffeine pills. I'd studiously avoided them before since having caffeine without the ritual of drinking it seemed like it would only exacerbate the feedback loop of taking more and more to make up for potential caffeine-crashes. I still avoid them when I'm *not* away somewhere.
But I actually found it really helpful, it basically solved the problem for me. I usually need a couple of actual hot drinks throughout the day, usually one or two in the morning with breakfast and one sometime during the day. But otherwise, having a couple of pills in the interim, either physiologically or placebo-y, made me feel fine. I also remember to drink liquid. It made the whole thing a lot simpler.
I can't help other people though, especially tea drinkers in places where there's not much tea.
Which bits of those experiences resonate with you and which don't?
Most of my friends seem to default to tea *or* coffee, even though I remember by parents drinking one or the other depending on the circumstances. Do other people drink both at different times?
What is the relative caffeine in a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, and caffeine pill?
Does that status quo sound sensible or is there something else you'd recommend?
Friday: train down to Exeter to meet up with Steph and Dad, where we organise ourselves into two cars, and Steph and Dad drove us over to Wortham Manor, where Em and Mum were already settling in. Also joined by Gail and David, and Bob and Doreen for the first few days who mostly did their own thing in the daytime but were lovely company in the evenings and cooked some great meals!
Saturday: Day out to Bude, lots of fun building sandcastles and chasing waves, but cut short by the realisation we'd not bought enough car parking and weren't allowed to extend it.
Sunday: dad accidentally went off with our car seat in his car, so Em and Steph went off to see Launceton Castle while Mike, Matthew and I had a nice walk in the lanes near the house, and found an incredible blackberry patch. Grandad joined us in the evening, and sadly James had to leave us.
Monday: a rainy day, so we headed to the Fairground Heritage Centre near Lifton. I'd have liked a better look at some of the exhibits, but had lots of fun accompanying Izzy and Matthew on the dodgems, Izzy on the ghost train and Izzy and Ollie on the Chariot Racer - which was *very* fast. Chris and Kathryn managed to join us in the later afternoon which was lovely, and very brave of them to stay for tea with the whole clan :)
Tuesday: Mum's birthday. A lovely lunch out (where I learned the skill of *not* calling one of the chairs round the table "special" in front of three children), excellent food, shame about the service. A very late afternoon tea, with cake and scones and sandwiches and fizz, and Mike and I took an evening walk, and found deer and rabbits, but no badgers this year. We got back just before the rain :)
Wednesday: Off to Hidden Valley with Em and Steph and the kids. The Maze was a big hit with all of them, and they enjoyed the Indiana Jones trail and hunting for clues. I think the grown-ups might have quite liked to do some of the harder puzzles too. We also did an immense quantity of blackberry picking which the kids loved, and left more than enough for apple and blackberry crumble. (I fear eventually the rest went in the compost).
Thursday: last full day spent mostly at the beach at Bude again, wave hopping and paddling before a fish and chips lunch, then sandcastles, dam-building and a dip in the sea pool - Oliver very disappointed that it wasn't a *heated* pool. I braved a whole actual length across and back as well as some pottering about, but it really was rather bracing. A quiet evening as Em headed off early, and mum and dad out to Dinner, so Steph and Mike and I fed the kids and then had a somewhat bonkers last meal of fish fingers, burgers, chips, salsa and sour cream and chive dip :)
Sad not to manage to meet up with Kate and Nigel - but an excuse to go visit their cottage next year!
Photos on Flickr: Wortham Manor 2017
I think with the demise of Livejournal I'm going to be aiming to use Flickr as the best option for both hosting and sharing photos, as it's more visible to folk outside Facebook. If you dislike any of the photos just ask and I can make private or take down.
A favourite song with a person's name in the title: Several options for this one, but I'm going with Hey there Delilah by Plain White T's. I generally really like songs that tell a bit of a story, and I can imagine the characters in this one so vividly. I like the balance of emotions; it's a sad song about missing a lover, but it's also optimistic and the music is at least somewhat catchy. And I like that they're apart because they're both pursuing their careers, it's not some passive muse waiting for her artist boyfriend to come home. It's not my usual musical style; indeed I discovered it simply by listening to chart radio like some young person who's in touch with the recent music scene.
Besides, I've been in long-distance relationships pretty much my entire adult life, so I can really relate. But no longer; I haven't posted about this in public yet, but in a couple of weeks I'm properly moving to Cambridge. So I'll be living full time in the same house as my husband and the same town as my Other Significant Others. And I won't be spending every Friday and Sunday evening commuting. I'm really really looking forward to this next phase in my life, but also at the moment up to my ears in arranging the move, and quite emotional about leaving the situation I've been settled in for 8 years.
This weekend I lead my last Shabbat morning service with my lovely community. They are understandably nervous about the future without me, and I will miss them absolutely terribly. I talked a bit about Re'eh, making sure that there's no comparison between Moses saying farewell to the Israelites and me saying farewell now. I discussed keeping sanctity while you're living in an imperfect situation, far away from Jewish centres. What compromises can you make (eating meat without making a Temple sacrifice) and what lines can't be crossed (worshipping in Pagan sites)?
Then it will go well for you and your children after you, for all of time, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of the Eternal your God.And we ate cakes made by my sister and the community gave me some really nice silver Shabbat candlesticks with engraved stands.
jack came up to help me sort the flat out. In lots of ways the decision making is the harder part of packing than the physical labour, so having my husband with me was an amazing help. I am really looking forward to living with him and properly sharing the work of running a household, because we're such a great team. Not just one day in the distant future when our dreams come true, but next month:
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good
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By the time I woke up properly and we’d eaten breakfast, Ramesh realised that he was also feeling quite under the weather, and decided to treat it with spending a while longer in bed, so I set off into town alone to spend some time in the red light district. Naturally, I spent that time looking at churches. Why, what else did you expect? First I went round the Oude Kerk, which was originally a Catholic cathedral, but became protestant during the reformation. There was a very good audio guide, which managed to personalise the experience without being twee. It had been left very austere by the iconoclasm, but in recent years has been used as a space for new art, sacred and secular. Afterwards I went on to Our Lord in the Attic, a house church which has been reconstructed to be very similar to how it was in the seventeenth century. Catholicism at that point was not exactly tolerated, but the authorities would turn a blind eye if people weren’t too blatant about it, and despite looking like a normal house from the outside it was impressively spacious and opulent inside.
After an ecclesiastical morning I went and had lunch with ewan (because what foreign holiday would be complete without running into someone who lives down the road and just happens to be visiting the same city). We met at the Foodhallen, which had a good range of choices, including several for the vegan. After lunch I gave Ramesh a call to see if he was feeling up to coming out, but as he wasn’t I went for another attraction he was less interested in - the Zoo! I hadn’t been to the Zoo for about 25 years or so, and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. There was a panther who was very stealthy, sea-lions who were very loud and playful, lions who were very sleepy, a gorilla and a capybara who were both completely uninterested and much smaller and much larger than I expected respectively.
By the time I got back to the hotel Ramesh had rested sufficiently and we went out looking for dinner. We had foolishly assumed that on a Monday evening we’d probably be able to just walk into somewhere, but after the first three places we tried were fully booked, didn’t have any veggie options, and fully booked we decided to go back to the sushi place we’d liked on Saturday, and make a couple of bookings in the places that were popular enough to be fully booked.
And, yes, I'm annoyed it wasn't EVEN MORE like a Ted Chiang story than it was, but please do adapt as many Ted Chiang stories as you can. The tower-of-babel one would be amazing...
( Spoilers )
So far we have managed 2 pools in Helsinki, 1 on the ferry, and 2 in Stockholm.
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Today we arrived in Copenhagen and our current airbnb in Fredericksberg is a very short walk from another local pool, plus there are a number of others I am investigating in case we have time for a second one ...
Because the Inform 7 team refuse to release source of anything that isn't completely perfect, Inform 7 is non-free software.
EDIT: It was refusing to run on Debian 9 "stretch".
When I moved its user config directory (which I hadn't touched since last running it!), suddenly it worked again. Peculiar.
The other way you can tell that actually autistic people were not involved in this is that if you ask any autistic person what is most important for them in clothing they will tell you it's the fabric it's made of. Many autistic people have comorbid eczema, and a lot of those that don't have sensory issues, which mean that fabric and texture are hugely important in clothing. Something that is in contact with your skin all day needs to be made of something non-irritating; that almost always means 100% natural fibres. Cotton, or bamboo, or silk, or modal. Sometimes wool, but sometimes not. NEVER SODDING POLYESTER. And some of the clothes in that M&S range are 65% polyester. And of course it's very wearying that the only clothing specifically designed to be worn by autistic people is school uniform, because nobody of above school age is autistic, and no autistic child ever wears non-uniform clothing. AND they've "removed pockets for comfort". I have never known an autistic person who didn't want MORE pockets, as long as they are made from 100% natural fibre too.
So what would clothing for autistic people actually look like? Well, from the conversation on twitter today:
- Clear, obvious fabric labelling on the rack/shelf. While most of us just want everything 100% cotton, some of us prefer other natural fabrics like linen, and some actively prefer viscose or modal. Some of us can cope with silk or wool, some can't. Every single one of us, though, would like to see fabrics clearly, obviously labelled on the rack, without having to go hunting through the clothes for a tiny illegible care label.
- No polyester. Not even a little bit. Not ever. No, not even in linings.
- Linings are important! Linings are the bit that is actually in contact with your skin, so they need to be all natural fibres too. Note, though, that this does not mean you can take a garment made out of something horrible and line it with cotton and it will be OK - outer fabrics need to be touchable too.
- Care labels to be made of the same fabric as the clothing, not scratchy plastic.
- Elastic to be covered with the fabric the clothes are made of, not left to be in contact with your skin.
- Flat seams! Or even NO seams!
- For Cthulhu's sake, SOMEBODY make some bras we can wear! It is really, really, incredibly difficult to get hold of cotton bras, to the extent that I have considered making my own. And even if/when you DO find them, they are covered in non-cotton frills and lace and fripperies. And have stupid care labels made of plastic right in the middle of your back.
- Comfort and fit are much much more important than being on trend. I saw an article the other day that low slung waist trousers are coming back into fashion and actually cried.
- Moar pockets, on everything, especially women's clothes - but again, made of the same fabric as the actual clothing
- Stop saying things are "cotton touch" or "cotton feel" or "cotton rich". All this does is bugger up searching for cotton things. And actually, make your website searchable by fabric. That would be amazing.
- Would be lit sensibly, not with migraine-inducing lighting.
- Would have the afore-mentioned obvious, clear clothing labels on the shelf/rack.
- Would sort by size and colour as well as style.
- Would have assistants that wait to be approached rather than badgering you the second you enter the shop.
- Would not have music at all (many many autistic people love music, but find music that they don't like intensely irritating; whatever music you play some of us will like and some won't) and would ideally have sound baffling so that other people's conversations are not intrusive.
- Would open from (say) 12 till 8, rather than 9 to 5. Autistic people are more likely than others to have odd sleep patterns and/or working hours.
I'm being cagey about the identity of the conference because of reasons. Suffice it to say I spent three days getting my radical on with people who, hmm, could be said to identify as "psychiatric survivors" – people whom the mental health system has done profound harm and violated their human rights – from around the world, many (most?) of whom might be described as activists and there in that capacity, some of whom are also clinicians or ex-clinicians or psychology researchers. Lots of very explicit intersectionalism and inclusivism. Very emotionally intense, super intellectually stimulating, enormously morally compelling.
Since the default assumption at the conference was that attendees were psychiatric survivors, I was "out" about not being a psychiatric survivor myself but a mental health professional and there as an ally. That was... a very hard experience to describe. To do such a thing, and do it ethically, is extremely demanding of energy, because it entails such a high level of self-monitoring and attention to others, at literally every second. Yet at the same time, it was so wildly validating of my ethical values as a person and a clinician, in ways I hadn't even realized I was hungry for, it felt very spiritually nourishing and emotionally supportive. I realized after the second day that just in the program book and in the presentations I'd attended, that I'd heard the word "humanistic" more times in those two days than I'd heard it used by anybody not me in the previous five years. Or maybe more. I'm a humanistic therapist, and I'm literally welling up again just reflecting on that, and how clinically-philosophically isolated this reveals me to have been. And, my god, the first, like, three times the term went zipping by I thought, Hey, do they know what that means, technically, to a therapist? Ah, they're probably just using it as a synonym for "humanely", as lay people usually do. And it became clear that, no, at least some of the people using the term really did mean it clinically. And I was like Oh. They don't need me to explain it to them. They already know. Which, is, like, the fundamental unit of being understood. Talk about your being called in from the cold.
I went to this conference thinking of myself as an ally, someone there to support another people as they do their thing – an in a really important sense, that is exactly right – but to my surprise, I discovered that these people, despite not being clinicians, were clinically my people. I wound up doing a hell of a lot more personal sharing than I would ever have expected – certainly vastly, vastly more than I have ever done in a mental health professionals context. It was like, I suddenly realized I was in an environment in which I could talk about how furious I am that I am forced to use diagnoses on patients without their consent, how frustrated I am by how the bureacratic systems in which I must work compromise the integrity of the treatment I try to provide, how disgusted I often am by the conduct of colleagues and mental health institutions (I discovered the wonderful expression, "psychiatric hate-speech"), how indignant I am at all sorts of idiocy and injustice and unfairness in the system – all the things I am so careful never to say because of how poorly my colleagues may take it. (Not my imagination: The last session I attended drew quite a number of clinicians, who were all "AND FOR ANOTHER THING!"; the presenter afterwards told me she had presented the same talk at a conference on the philosophy of psychiatry for an audience that was half psychiatrists, and, in contrast, they were furious with her for her temerity.)
I got to have conversations about capitalism and disability, culture and identity, the history of psychiatry, the history of nationalism, what you can and can't do inside the health care system, other countries' nationalized (or not, where mental health is concerned) health care, and how money affects mental health care; I heard a slew of what I would call "mental health radical coming out stories". I met someone who is as into the history of the DSM as I am, and someone who has written an academic article about the ethical and clinical problems of diagnosis. I got politely chewed out once, early on, for using oppressive language, and then immediately apologized to for it, them saying ruefully that they have "a chip on [their] shoulder" about mental health care professionals and shouldn't have talked to me like that, and I assured them I was there to be chewed out and have my vocabulary corrected and was fine with it; I'm pretty sure they were way more upset about what they said to me than I was, and I feel bad about putting them in that position by my ignorance – but we've exchanged phone numbers and I'm hoping I might yet make it up to them.
There was a point where somebody asked me something like whether I had been learning a lot at the conference so far, and I thought a moment and replied that I had, but, "I am at this conference not just to learn things. I am here because, as a person and a clinician, these are my values."
So it was an experience that was weirdly simultaneously hard and easy. If you had asked me four days ago I would have said that it's probably impossible for an experience to require a very high level of scrupulous self-monitoring and yet feel welcoming of and safe for emotional vulnerability and risktaking. Yet that was precisely my experience.
It was demanding and beautiful and powerful and huggy and astonishing and uplifting and I'm exhausted and weepy and have like twenty new best friends.
In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.
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... which I served up with The Rice Of My People, which I'd apparently somehow not made for A before; he is a Fan. It turns out. ( Read more... )
It was lovely to see osos and liv.
I always find travel a little stressful but I have got better at not worrying. It's still feels like more of a hurdle than travelling locally, even if it shouldn't, but less so.
Helsinki was nice. I didn't do a lot of exploring, but some. I love water, and enjoyed going to another city based on the sea. Helsinki itself isn't on as many islands as Stockholm, but the harbour is covered with them and several tourist attractions are on one island or another.
We went to the zoo, and I went out to the island fortress Suomelina, both nice ferry rides. Suomelina was originally fortified by Sweden when Finland was part of Sweden, and later controlled by Finland and by Russia, with modern fortifications added to the older ones. The original fortifications are incredible to see, vast stone walls dozens of feet thick with tunnels at the bottom surrounding grassy courtyards, and at the main entrance, stone steps swooping down to the sea from a giant gate that frames the sun.
When we flew back, I realised what Liv had already told me, but not previously realised the extent of, that there really are continuous islands all the way from Finland to Sweden.
Zoo pictures are slowly being uploaded on twitter :)
Food was expensive but fairly easy. Few places had good vegetarian options already on the menu, but everyone I spoke to was eager to to be flexible and make up a cheaper price for a plate full of all the side dishes, without me needing to explain or anything.
Part of the expense is being in a foreign conference centre when the pound is getting weaker, but as I understand it, Finland *is* typically more expensive. I don't know enough about it, but my impression is, partly due to needing to import more food, and partly due to higher taxes and wages. But I wish people would acknowledge that latter part when complaining.
Worldcon was fun. Registration was incredibly quick with a computerised "scan barcode and print label" system, and everything was well organised apart from being over-full on the first two days.
Most of the panels I went to were decent but none stood out to me as amazing.
I loved seeing authors I cared about, at the steven universe panel, at the wild cards panel (and winning hugos). The quantum computing panel didn't tell me a lot about the theory but was fascinating for telling us about what computers had practically been built -- and apparently IBM have one you can run programs on online!!
I had a better balance between different sorts of things, I did some panels, some meeting people. I met up with people, but didn't feel like I was constantly missing out on fun things just round the corner. I got some books I was excited by but not too many.