The Big Idea: Dan Moren

May. 23rd, 2017 01:49 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Travel expands the mind — or so they say. What would Dan Moren, author of The Caledonian Gambit, have to say about that particular truism? As it happens, he has a story on the topic, one that has bearing on the story he tells in his novel.

DAN MOREN:

In January 2001, during my junior year of college, I got on a plane for Scotland. This was significant for a few reasons. For one thing, I’d never left the country before. For another, it was only the second plane flight I’d ever taken, and the previous one had been nearly a decade earlier. And even more to the point, I wasn’t just going for a week’s vacation—I was moving there for an entire semester.

I was terrified, and had a minor anxiety attack in the car on the way to the airport. But I got on that damn plane anyway.

Hours later, jet-lagged and haggard, I hopped into a cab in Edinburgh that would take me to my home for the next six months. I tried not to feel like too much of an idiot when my addled brain at first couldn’t parse the thick brogue of the driver, but I eventually realized he was asking where I was from. “America,” I replied, in a daze, only to have him fix with me a bit of a look and say, “Yes, I know that. Which part?”

Looking back on those months now, I tend to view them fondly. The years have dimmed the intense feelings of isolation and loneliness incurred by the several-hours time difference, not to mention the ocean, that separated me from my friends and family back home. My floormates were welcoming enough, but I was so overwhelmed with everything that was new and different that I retreated into myself, spending most of the time that I wasn’t in class exploring the city on my own.

From the vantage point of a decade and a half later, I still wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. For one thing, it gave me a real taste of leaving home. It made me more self-reliant and resilient, and taught me that I am capable of handling whatever life throws my way. I made friends with my floormates eventually, and I got to travel not only around Scotland and England, but also around a host of countries in Europe, an opportunity I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

But for all of that, I have never been quite so glad to come home at the end of the semester. If I’d felt a little more assured about the cleanliness of the airport floor, I would have dropped to my knees and planted a big fat kiss on it.

It was only a year after my time in Scotland that I first started sketching out the idea for a big sprawling space opera—a series of books inspired by the likes of Timothy’s Thrawn trilogy and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga. I wanted to create a universe that felt real, felt lived in, because that was what I loved about those stories.

But as I started writing the first draft of what would eventually, many years later, become The Caledonian Gambit, I realized that the story of a washed-up pilot and the squad of covert operatives with whom he teams up didn’t really feel like those stories. Instead it felt hollow—like it had no sense of place. Even set as it was against the backdrop of a galactic cold war between two human factions—the bellicose Illyrican Empire and the ad hoc Commonwealth assembled to oppose it—it needed a more concrete anchor, a sense of what these sides, and the characters that served them, were fighting for.

It wasn’t until several years afterward that I finally found the heart of the story, and it came from looking back at my time in Scotland. I realized that this wasn’t just a story about big galactic conflicts, but about the smaller challenges that we all face.

It was a story about going home.

Eli Brody, the protagonist of The Caledonian Gambit has been away from home a lot more than six months—try nearly ten years. He couldn’t leave his homeworld of Caledonia fast enough, even if escaping that dirtball meant joining up with the very forces that had invaded and occupied it. And he would have been plenty happy—or, at least, so he told himself—never to set foot on that planet again. Until covert operative Simon Kovalic shows up and asks him to do just that.

Kovalic’s a man without a home, too. He’s from Earth, which, like Caledonia, has been under the thumb of the Illyrican Empire for two decades. Unlike Eli, Kovalic’s dedicated his life to fighting back, trying to reclaim the home that he had to flee when the Imperium came.

In fact, everybody in The Caledonian Gambit is fighting for their home in one way or another. Both Eli and Kovalic’s homes exert a gravitational pull on them, as if keeping them in a long, irregular orbit. Ultimately, they’ll swing back around and have to come to terms with the homes that they left behind. And neither of their homecomings is likely to be as much of a relief as mine was.

As much anxiety as I had about moving to Scotland, the years have shown me that leaving home is an integral part of figuring out who we are. Even if we ultimately end up returning, well, you have to leave in order to come back. In stories, the hero’s journey is predicated on this idea, but it’s no less true for our own lives. Whether our home is as small as a patch of dirt, or as big as an entire planet, there is—as they say—no place like it.

—-

The Caledonian Gambit: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|iBooks

Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.


Jew-ish

May. 23rd, 2017 01:45 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
This weekend I went to another Jewish-Muslim interfaith event. I was not exactly the main target audience, which was mainly people whose actual job is religious education. I did get to meet some Somali Bravanese Muslims, an ethnic minority from Somalia via Kenya whom I hadn't encountered before.

Anyway we had some very interesting discussions, including around the use of language. Some of the Muslim participants said they didn't like what I had thought of as an otherwise neutral older spelling, Moslem. They said they associate that spelling and pronunciation with people like Donald Trump, and I can see that people who haven't bothered to update their language might well be assumed to be hostile. I don't particularly need to change my own language choices since I have been using the modern spelling anyway, but it's useful to note.

Then of course the conversation turned to the Jewish side, and the somewhat fraught issue of what we should be called. is 'Jew' a slur? )

Homonyms

May. 23rd, 2017 11:13 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Yesterday’s Dumbing of Age:


In fact Walky is right about homonym. The OED’s overall gloss is “The same name or word used to denote different things”, with the more specific sense “Philol. Applied to words having the same sound, but differing in meaning”.

Billie is right about the etymology — for the verb funk “To blow smoke upon (a person); to annoy with smoke” the OED says

Etymology: perhaps < French dialect funkier = Old French funkier , fungier < Latin *fūmicare (Italian fumicare ), fūmigāre , < fūmus smoke.

and adds that the noun, though apparently from this verb, is recorded earlier.

The Wikipedia article for funk music explains that

The word funk initially referred (and still refers) to a strong odor. It is originally derived from Latin “fumigare” (which means “to smoke”) via Old French “fungiere” and, in this sense, it was first documented in English in 1620. In 1784 “funky” meaning “musty” was first documented, which, in turn, led to a sense of “earthy” that was taken up around 1900 in early jazz slang for something “deeply or strongly felt”.

In early jam sessions, musicians would encourage one another to “get down” by telling one another, “Now, put some stank on it!”. At least as early as 1907, jazz songs carried titles such as Funky. The first example is an unrecorded number by Buddy Bolden, remembered as either “Funky Butt” or “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” with improvised lyrics that were, according to Donald M. Marquis either “comical and light” or “crude and downright obscene” but, in one way or another, referring to the sweaty atmosphere at dances where Bolden’s band played. As late as the 1950s and early 1960s, when “funk” and “funky” were used increasingly in the context of jazz music, the terms still were considered indelicate and inappropriate for use in polite company. According to one source, New Orleans-born drummer Earl Palmer “was the first to use the word ‘funky’ to explain to other musicians that their music should be made more syncopated and danceable.” The style later evolved into a rather hard-driving, insistent rhythm, implying a more carnal quality. This early form of the music set the pattern for later musicians. The music was identified as slow, “sexy”, loose, riff-oriented and danceable.

Of course the exchange is not really about word senses and etymologies.

 

QotD

May. 23rd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"The paid pundit suffers under no greater fear or anxiety than the threat of irrelevance. When factual data emerges with the capacity to destroy the pundit's acumen, it quickly finds itself in the incinerator, discarded and forever ignored.

[...]

"More than political bias or even crass fixation on ratings, the most deleterious condition of the pundits is that they have only learned to ride the surfboard. They are surface dwellers. Comprehension of the real stories requires diving equipment."

-- David Masciotra, 2017-04-23

Here is a delightful thing

May. 23rd, 2017 09:38 am
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Via [tumblr.com profile] violent-darts:

AV Club: Meme becomes reality as Netflix orders Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna’s con artist movie

Because we need it this morning.

Fuck terrorism, fuck Katie Hopkins and her vile cohorts, pre-emptively fuck Trump because presumably he's going to make some sort of statement about Manchester at some point and it's going to be awful (or at best the kind of vacuous blandness that means they've managed to make him stick to a script for a few moments), go awesome black women and making movies happen through the power of Twitter and delight.

May all the surviving kids at the concert be safe and reunited with their families soon and participating in the proud British tradition of recounting acts of terrorism in terms of the epic journeys that had to be taken because public transport was shut down (a la 7/7 -- Americans: "We weep for you!" British people: "I had to walk for FIVE HOURS").

ETA: Oh fuck they let him write at least part of it. Yes, of course Buttercup thinks the worst thing you can call someone is a "loser". Because winning is all that counts, and Buttercup is the winningest winner ever. Losing means you're wrong because winning is right.

Daily Happiness

May. 23rd, 2017 01:31 am
torachan: (Default)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I got my hair cut today! Haven't got it cut since early February, so it was getting really shaggy and annoying, but as usual I was dragging my feet about actually doing it. I'm so glad to finally get it done, though!

2. I had a pretty relaxing day off. Did some housework and translation and just chilled out.

3. I also played a little bit of Zelda, though not much. I decided I want to concentrate on farming stuff to upgrade my armor, so I wasn't doing anything super exciting. I haven't really been using the camera function much, but I figured it would be helpful to set a tracker for whatever I'm trying to farm at the moment, so I did get it out and take pictures of a few things. I needed like forty electric Lizalfos tails, lol. Thankfully those guys are all over the place in the desert so I'm down to just needing like ten more. I also got one more shrine quest done in the desert while I was there, and accidentally stumbled across another shrine, too. Just twelve shrines left to go!

4. Carla took a picture of me with Jasper. :)

(no subject)

May. 23rd, 2017 07:08 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday. [personal profile] szandara!

Box o books cont'd

May. 22nd, 2017 10:50 pm
jmtorres: From Lady Gaga's Bad Romance music video; the peach-haired, wide-eyed iteration (Default)
[personal profile] jmtorres
Last call for cheap books, kind of an eclectic lot, Shakespeare and Beatles and random SFF anthologies. Most of these are pretty well used, cover wear, etc. Let me know your zip code and I'll calculate media rate shipping from that and book weight.

Let me know before Friday night if you want any of these, because on Saturday they're going to Good Will.

For the Shakespeare, I am including publisher/edition for those who care; most of them are perfectly readable modern editions but I feel I should note that the "new hudson" editions were printed circa 1910 and while they have the same kinds of notes I tend to expect, they are visibly old. Merrills is 1910 as well, and Arden is good gracious, 1898.

Hardcover - $2
Skywalking: the life and films of George Lucas by Dale Pollock (1983, so no current or prequels)
Aliens from Analog (anthology, contents)
Reel Future (anthology, contents)
Pendragon Chronicles (anthology, contents)
Hal Leonard Guitar Method, books 1-3 (this is actually comb bound not hardcover, but it also includes CDs, so I'm tossing it in this list for pricing.)
America, the book, from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
I Me Mine by George Harrison
Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles
Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney by Geoffrey Giuliano
McCartney: The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz
The Baby Train and Other Lusty Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand

Trade Paperback (or larger) - $1.50
Save the cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting you'll ever need by Blake Snyder
How to Write for Television by Madeline DiMaggio
Writing Scripts Hollywood Will Love by Katherine Atwell Herbert
Science Fiction: a historical anthology (contents)
Henry the Fourth, Part I, Shakespeare, Norton
King Lear, Shakespeare, Kittredge
Hamlet, Shakespeare, St Martin's Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism
Classical Mythology by Mark Morford and Robert Lenardon
Completely MAD: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine
MAD about the Eighties: the best of the decade
MAD about the Seventies: the best of the decade
MAD about the Sixties: the best of the decade
MAD about the Movies
The Birth of the Beatles by Sam Leach
Brothel: Mustang Ranch and its Women by Alexa Albert
Dante, the Divine Comedy, Inferno, Italian, English translation by John Sinclair
Star Trek: Q's Guide to the Continuum
Cowboy Slang by Edgar R. "Frosty" Potter
All I really need to know I learned from watching Star Trek by Dave marinaccio
Quotable Star Trek by Jill Sherwin

Paperbacks - $1
Teach Yourself Film Studies by Warren Buckland
Twelfth Night, Shakespeare, signet
Othello, Shakespeare, folger
Tempest, Shakespeare, new hudson
Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare, folger
Anthony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Kittredge
As You Like It, Shakespeare, new hudson
Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare, Arden
Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, Merrill's
Macbeth, Shakespeare, folger
Midsummer night's dream, Shakespeare, folger
Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare, folger
Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare, bantam
Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare, signet
Second Shepherd's play
The Fantastic Adventures of Robin Hood (anthology, contents)
Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy: Curses (anthology, contents)
Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy: Ghosts (anthology, contents)
50 Short Science Fiction Tales (anthology, and with nothing so tidy as a table of contents, here's the list of reprint permissions)
UFOs: A Manual for the Millennium by Phil Cousineau
Anne Frank's Tales From the Secret Annex
Dutchman and the Slave: Two Plays by LeRoi Jones
House of Desires in a new translation by Catherine Boyle
The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder
Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays
Life is a Dream, Calderon
Beowulf, trans Burton Raffel
I Owe Russian $1200 by Bob Hope (resisting urge to make political joke here)
Strange and Amazing Facts About Star Trek by Daniel Cohen
Separated at Birth? (Meme of a bygone era, this is a collection of photographs of celebrities that look like other celebrities)

“Little Man” the eating machine

May. 23rd, 2017 04:45 am
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

There’s a curious article by Kathy Chu and Menglin Huang in the Wall Street Journal (5/21/17):

How a Toddler Who Loves Eating Transfixed China:  2½-year-old Xiaoman is an online sensation, bringing fame, a Pampers ad and questions about her weight”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-a-toddler-who-loves-eating-transfixed-china-1495387268

If you have difficulty reading the whole article via the embedded link, try this TinyURL, which should lead you to a complete preview.

The article begins with a video of the little girl wolfing down seemingly limitless quantities of food, including the (in)famously smelly durian fruit in an Indonesian restaurant.  See the third paragraph here:

Malaysian Multilingualism” (9/11/09)

If you’d like to watch other videos testifying to Xiaoman’s enormous capacity for gluttony, see here and here.

From the Chinese internet, it’s easy to find that the characters for “Xiaoman” are Xiǎomán 小蛮.  The authors translate her name as “little man”, without further explanation.  That’s terribly misleading, because readers will take that to mean “little male person”, but that she is not.

Xiǎo 小 does mean “little”, and that she certainly is, though she will fast become very big.  Xiǎo 小 (“little”) is indeed often used affectionately for informal personal names, even for grownups.  Mán 蛮, however, is much, much harder to pin down.

I will state frankly that my first reaction was to interpret her name as meaning “Little Barbarian”, since the original meaning of mán 蛮 is “(southern) barbarian”, and it still has that connotation, but it also has many other related meanings:  “rough; reckless; fierce; rude; unreasoning; bullying”.  The most common disyllabic word into which mán 蛮 enters is yěmán 野蛮 (“barbarous; brutal; cruel; uncivilized; rude”), where the first syllable yě 野 conveys the sense of “wild; rough; undomesticated; uncultivated; rude”.

So my interpretation of Xiǎomán 小蛮 is that it means “Little Barbarian” for her impetuous, impulsive eating habits, but affectionately, something like “Little Rascal” or “Little Monster”.

I asked several colleagues for their take on Xiǎomán 小蛮 and received these sensitive responses.

From Maiheng Dietrich:

Mán 蛮 usually refers to actions that are physical, forceful, instinctive. It is the opposite of thoughtful, skillful, or diplomatic. Its meaning also extends to uncivilized, uneducated, and unrefined (thus barbarian). However, it could be a term of endearment if used for people in an intimate relationship.

From Jing Wen:

I don’t think it means little barbarian here. In some southern dialects, mán 蛮 means hěn 很 (“very”), mán hǎo 蛮好 = hěn hǎo 很好 (“very good”). Maybe her parents call her Xiǎomán 小蛮 simply because it sounds like a pretty name.

In partial support of Jing’s interpretation, I can attest that when I was living in Taiwan back at the beginning of the 70s, I often heard expressions like mán hǎokàn 蠻好看 (“quite good looking”) and mán piàoliang 蠻漂亮 (“quite beautiful”).  Yet note that, so far as I can recall, mán 蠻 in this sense (“quite; rather”) also came before an adjective, so it’s hard for me to interpret the mán 蛮 of Xiǎomán 小蛮 in this sense (“Little Quite / Rather / Very”).

Mark Metcalf looked up xiǎomán 小蛮 in the Hànyǔ dà cídiǎn 汉语大词典 (Unabridged Dictionary of Sinitic) and found that it was originally the name of the famous Tang poet Bo Juyi’s 白居易 (772-846) concubine (maybe she came from the south) and eventually became a general word for concubines.

In any event, our present day baby gourmand, Xiǎomán 小蛮, is also often referred to as a “chīhuò 吃貨” (“chowhound; foodie”), a term we have encountered before, e.g.:

Biscriptal juxtaposition in Chinese, part 2” (10/15/14)

Coarse grains hotel” (6/1/14)

As for the nuances of chīhuò 吃貨” (“chowhound; foodie”), Jing Wen remarks:

I think chīhuò 吃货 is what a gastronome or a food aficionado calls him/herself.  Basically it means people who love eating and know how to eat well. It is not polite to say someone else is a chīhuò 吃货, if they are not close friends or family members. (It is still inappropriate to say “my dad is a chīhuò 吃货”, but it is OK to say “my brother is a chīhuò 吃货”).

Notice that Xiaoman eats with a spoon and fork, not chopsticks.  I’ve seen many college students, monks, and others who prefer to eat with fork and spoon rather than with chopsticks.  I met one Buddhist monk who told me that he never learned how to eat with chopsticks.  But Xiaoman is also good with her hands (she’d do well in India) and even directly with her mouth, down to the last noodle in the bowl.

[Thanks to Mark Metcalf, Maiheng Dietrich, and Jing Wen]

Sits Up

May. 22nd, 2017 09:27 pm
onyxlynx: Hockey player in recolored jersey, with stick. (Hockey)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Penguins or Senators vs. Predators for Stanley Cup final.

Capitalism Will Eat Your Children

May. 22nd, 2017 10:32 pm
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
Most of my playlists get their names from a song lyric or phrase in a book. This one is an exception.

This is my revolution playlist's older, slightly more jaded sister. But despite the name and the sentiment I don't think it's terribly depressing. Just crabby. And couldn't we all use some crabby every now and then? This is also longer than most of my playlists: 26 songs or an hour and forty four minutes of music.

Capitalism Will Eat Your Children
Zip file on dropbox (146MB) or Individual tracks on dropbox

There's A War Going On For Your Mind - Flobots
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) - My Chemical Romance
Walking Down Madison - Kirsty MacColl Feat. Aniff Cousins
Bankrobber - The Clash
Dance or Die - Janelle Monáe Feat. Saul Williams
How Long? - Wild Strawberries
The Trouble With Normal - Bruce Cockburn
Death To My Hometown - Bruce Springsteen
Jacob's Ladder (Not In My Name) - Chumbawamba
16 Tons - Tom Morello
Save This House - Spirit Of The West
The Economy Is Suffering...Let It Die - Anti-Flag
(Antichrist Television Blues) - Arcade Fire
Burundi - Saul Williams Feat. Emily Kokal
Weight of the World - Martyn Joseph
Wings - Josh Ritter
Oh My God - Michael Franti & Spearhead
Reject All American - Bikini Kill
Pink White House - PRIESTS
Jam Tomorrow - Oysterband
Little Boxes - Walk Off The Earth
The Kids Are Ready To Die - The Airborne Toxic Event
The Sound of Silence - Disturbed
Come On Forest Fire (CPI Mix) - Rae Spoon
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg
This Is Why We Fight - The Decemberists

I'd appreciate a comment if you download, just so I can know how much interest there is :)

Thick As Thieves

May. 22nd, 2017 09:35 pm
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
I have at least four posts I want to make before we leave for Wisconsin Wednesday morning, so let's start with the shortest and easiest one!

MEGAN WHALEN TURNER FANS COME TALK TO ME ABOUT THICK AS THIEVES OMG!!!

I just want ALL the fic RIGHT NOW. It doesn't matter that it's a tiny book fandom and the Thick As Thieves hasn't been out long enough for much fic to be written yet. Rationality has no place in my desires, and my desire is for ALL the fic, ESPECIALLY if it's slashy.

Presume spoilers in comments. At least, I hope there will be spoilers in comments ;)

74 | the 100 4.12.

May. 22nd, 2017 05:43 pm
efficio: (Default)
[personal profile] efficio posting in [community profile] fandom_icons

74 icons here.
sexycazzy: (Default)
[personal profile] sexycazzy posting in [community profile] fandom_icons
54 icons for Miss Fisher's Mysteries Murders

TEASER:


ICONS HERE @ [community profile] cazzy_funkyart
turlough: Gerard Way being his usual adorkable self, autumn 2006 ((mcr) gerard way is adorkable)
[personal profile] turlough
"Wentz came for him early." Frank's grin is a little malicious. "He's taking him to a water park all day."

Gerard thinks about Mikey under the sun all day. "Was he happy with that?"

He should have been up, should have been there to chase Wentz away if Mikey was being pushed into it.

Frank laughs. "Relax, he was fine with it."

Gerard makes a skeptical noise around the cigarette smoke he's just inhaled, and passes his pack to Frank without being asked.

"Mikey isn't going to do anything he doesn't want to," Frank says as he lights up and Gerard tries not to think about how he makes it look effortless and beautiful.

"I guess."


- [archiveofourown.org profile] Delphinapterus' The Grey Havens are Calling Us (The stitches and talkers remix)

Taking a News Break

May. 22nd, 2017 08:40 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

The last couple of weeks have been genuinely and literally amazing as far as news goes — so much happened every day, of such importance to the nation, that it’s been hard to keep up or to process it all, or (and this is important) to get into a frame of mind to do a whole lot of work. The very last of these is not great for me, as I have a book due soon.

So this week I’ve decided to go on a news diet; basically, to not go out of my way to read news or to follow it on Twitter or other social media (I’ve also muted the word “Trump” on Twitter, to aid in this project). I’m sure some of it will leak in regardless; I’m just not going to go out of my way to find it. What I’m saying is, I’m going to go ahead and let everyone else be on top of things for a bit while I recalibrate and try to get my work/outrage balance back into whack.

This is, incidentally, something I suggest everyone does from time to time (I mean, if your job doesn’t actually involve writing about the news), especially these days when just the daily dose of news can be overwhelming. Pace yourself, folks. It’s going to be a long haul.


james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll




In this fast-playing, low-prep March 2015 Kickstarter triumph, desperate heroes battle strange magic, unhinged cultists, and roaming mobs of undead while humanity's last great empire slides toward oblivion. If you love Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, the Ravenloft and Midnight settings, Joe Abercrombie's The First Law novels, or heavy metal music, get this bargain-priced collection of DRM-free .PDF ebooks and confront the Void That Hungers.

big gay ebooks

May. 22nd, 2017 01:10 pm
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
[personal profile] runpunkrun posting in [community profile] ebooks
The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is back! May 22-29, around 80 authors are giving away free books, short stories, chapters, and box sets.

It's run by Instafreebie, which means you give them an email address, they sign you up for a newsletter, and you get a DRM-free epub, mobi, or (sometimes) pdf sent to you. It's pretty painless except for all the newsletters you'll then belong to.

Random observations

May. 22nd, 2017 08:56 pm
naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
• I've ordered, from Japan, a tenugui towel with an udon noodle design. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and to be fair the shipping was only £1.50. All the designs are amazing, but I was particularly struck by this. (Tell me that Yuuri Katsuki doesn't take one to the rink with him.)

• I also seem to be buying excessive quantities of culottes. (Well, two pairs, but you know.) For once I'm on trend. I know I have to buy now, before they disappear for another twenty years. I hate the fashion cycle.

Victor isn't the only one who has a phone case of himself

• This weekend I'm going to Belgium, and it's now clear that it's going to be boiling hot, like 28C/83F on Sunday. Currently reconsidering my packing list, plans, life choices, etc. (Don't laugh, people from elsewhere.) I still plan on climbing the Wall of Geraardsbergen but I'll have to do it early in the morning. And, you know, on foot. Needless to say.
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
No, a literal one, not (just) metaphorical. I had to Google to be sure. Reality is getting way too on-the-nose lately.

Also: TPM: Trump Denies He Said ‘Israel’ When He Shared Israeli Intelligence With Russia

That's right: while in Israel, Buttercup spontaneously confirmed for the press that Israel was the source of the uber-classified intel he shared with the Russians without the Israelis' permission, but he thinks it's all fine because he didn't say the word "Israel" while in the room with the Russians (just, you know, now, on TV, in front of the entire world, in case the Russians had any remaining doubt about where the intel came from), so that's okay.

The adventure begins!

May. 22nd, 2017 02:56 pm
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[personal profile] alexandraerin

Well, as so often happens in life and in game design, our attempts to make things simpler created a few complications. The inn in Harper’s Ferry has a great view of the train station, but the direct route from point A to point B would involve many steep stairs, so we’re going to have to take our luggage the long way around a dog leg. Speaking of steps, the inn (housed in buildings that predate the Civil War) has staircases that were not built with modern luggage in mind.

We’ve decided we definitely would like to stay here in the future for an overnight or weekend getaway, but whatever difficulty lining up a ride to the train station would be will still be easier than our solution here. And of course as I type this up it occurs to me that for the money we’re spending on a night here plus the added meals, I could have hired a car.

Still, it’s not like the money is wasted, because the night in Harper’s Ferry and the meals are experiences that wouldn’t have come with the car ride. Also, even if this was more of a ~*learning experience*~ than I was looking for, “live and learn” is preferable to either of the alternatives.

There are things that are going our way. The weather is perfect for a day of unnecessary exertions: cool and cloudy, but not humid or rainy. Our inn room is very nice. The inn itself is very nice.  And of course the town is nice.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

(no subject)

May. 22nd, 2017 01:05 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
I owe ten guest blog posts in connection to Raven Stratagem.

So far I have the following ideas:

- Kel military rank structure and culture (why I decided to go with army ranks). (Highly relevant to the plot of RS.)
- Statting out characters for my continuity bible.
- The Shuos, bureaucracy, and that summer job I used to have working for the Cornell Engineering Registrar.
- Ridiculous fuck-ups (uh, except worded more nicely) and how I like using them in fiction, or, why Seth Dickinson and I are antiparticles--cf. Seth's Tweet:
one of my rules for baruworld is that nobody (even extras) can be conveniently bad at their skill. prisons hold, archers shoot straight, etc

By the way, he's not wrong, it's just a different philosophical/aesthetic approach to world/plot. :p
- ?????

Any other ideas?! I have to...come up with...more of these...maybe something on game design and the Shuos?!

Cory and I Talk at Goodreads

May. 22nd, 2017 05:55 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Because when we were on tour together, we went to Goodreads and talked! Here’s the interview.

(Interestingly but not entirely surprisingly, what they didn’t put in this interview transcript was the question where we were asked to offer our opinions on Amazon, which is the parent company of Goodreads. My answer to that was, basically, that Amazon had done some great things for my career and also had done some not so great things for my career, and that I don’t operate under the impression that Amazon cares about me more than it cares about itself. I suggested that other authors operate likewise.)


too awesome not to share

May. 22nd, 2017 12:49 pm
yhlee: recreational (peaceful) tank (recreational tank)
[personal profile] yhlee
War Aircraft through the Lens of a US Army Training Manual [Ars Technica]. There's a link to the PDF of the training manual, which I have duly downloaded. Don't forget to read the comments--some comedy gold in the anecdotes/quips there. One of my favorites:
bthylafh Ars Tribunus Angusticlavius
MAY 21, 2017 12:15 PM
Voyna i Mor wrote:
JPan wrote:
In the German Heer ( army ) we said that reconnaissance is overrated: If you see an aircraft shoot it down. Nobody likes the Luftwaffe anyway.


Doesn't the US have a similar policy, except that the operating principle of the US Army is broader, i.e., if you're not sure what it is, shoot it?


You can identify an unknown force by firing one shot and judging the response. If the unknowns respond with precise, regimented rifle fire, they are British. If they respond with heavy machine gun fire, they are German. If they hunker down and in fifteen minutes you are killed by artillery or an airstrike, they are American.


(I may have a grimdark sense of humor.)

Man, I wish I'd kept around my M.A.X. Chosen icon...
morgandawn: (Art Noveau Blue)
[personal profile] morgandawn
Posted in full at: http://ift.tt/2qNkzVt on May 22, 2017 at 09:42AM

Tags:not a reblog, money, finance, retirement, DWCrosspost

Tumblr post (this is likely a reblog, and may have more pictures over there)

(no subject)

May. 22nd, 2017 12:14 pm
phidari: (Default)
[personal profile] phidari
I'm getting a little tired of this username so I think I may buy a rename token. When I do, I think I'll purge my circle to get rid of all the inactive and deleted accounts -- so if you want to stay subscribed to me afterward (even if I have absolutely no idea who you are -- don't be shy!), comment here and I'll let you know after I rename so you can do so.

Siri can you hear me?

May. 22nd, 2017 04:37 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Seidenberg

Wired.com has some perfect linguaphile clickbait: “Watch People With Accents Confuse the Hell Out of AI Assistants.”  By “accents” they mean, non-American ones (e.g., Irish English). The AI Assistants were Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. I’m curious about how well the voice recognition systems in these devices work with varieties of spoken English, so I clicked. Sucker! Can’t tell anything from the video except that it’s fun to say “Add Worcestershire sauce to my shopping list” to a machine.  This definitely beats asking Siri “What is the meaning of life?”

Mainly I was impressed by how poorly I understood the speakers.  I have a bad time understanding other people’s accents  but that’s only one data point.  How well do people understand speech that is in the same language as their own but spoken with a different accent?

Here Siri responds correctly: “I’m sorry, I can’t answer that.”

The research literature on listeners’ processing of accent is huge, but surprisingly little of it focuses on the comprehension of naturalistic speech.  Most studies have examined listeners’ responses to individual elements of accented speech: alternative pronunciations of vowels, consonants, or words; phonemic substitutions (what a non-native speaker says in place of a phoneme that doesn’t occur in their language); cross-linguistic differences in phoneme boundaries (e.g., when we were on sabbatical in France our then-8 year old son heard the name of the playground game tag as douche instead of touche); atypical syllabic stress; the other stuff that “sounds different.”  The accented speech might be produced by someone from a different region of the US or another country, or by a non-native speaker, under noisy or clear conditions. (Studies are also conducted in other countries and languages, of course.) How well listeners can adapt to such features and learn to produce them are major topics.

But my question is more like the one in the Wired video: how well do people comprehend meaningful sentences, or better, extended discourse spoken with an accent that differs from one’s own?

There’s fun to be had on this site, which has recordings of a single passage spoken in many English accents. This is not a research-quality archive, and whether the speaker is representative of the designated area is unclear. The speaker’s age, race/ethnicity, gender, and education seem to affect intelligibility, as does quality of the recording. Plus, all bets are off once you’ve listened to the passage a few times and can top-down the hard parts.   This accent’s hard for me, though maybe I’d adapt to it with sufficient exposure.

There’s an informal comprehension exercise here, which suggests that accent might be an issue, sometimes. But consider just the narrower range of North American variants (other good examples here). Are any of them sufficiently different from each other to affect comprehension?

We (Lynn Perry, Emily Mech, Maryellen MacDonald and I) did one modest study that doesn’t settle anything but raises some interesting questions.  The subjects (college students from the Wisconsin area) listened to passages that had been recorded by two speakers.  One spoke with a Midwestern accent similar to the subjects’ own speech. The other, a native of southeast Georgia, spoke with a markedly different regional accent. For half the passages subjects performed a shadowing task: they repeated the passages as quickly and accurately as they could. In some famous research from long ago, William Marslen-Wilson showed that even close shadowers (who lag only a syllable or so behind) comprehend as they go along, allowing them to override anomalies embedded in the stimuli (e.g., the word “company” pronounced “compsiny”). For the other half of the passages, our subjects performed a standard comprehension task: listen to the entire passage, then answer questions about it. (See the article for detailed methods and results.)

The shadowing task reflects subjects’ performance as they are listening; the comprehension task reflects how well they understood a passage having heard the whole thing. The question was whether performance would be affected by the similarity of the recordings to the subjects’ own speech.

The main findings were simple:  shadowing performance was affected by the familiarity of the accent, whereas performance on the comprehension test was not.  Subjects shadowed more slowly and made more errors on the Southern-accented passages, but answered comprehension questions as well as on the Midwestern-accented ones.

This study is clearly limited (we had only one Northern and one Southern speaker; we ran Northern subjects but not Southern ones; comprehension might have been affected if the texts were more difficult, etc. etc.), but it’s a decent opening gambit.  Looking at the comprehension results one would conclude that listeners easily coped with speech that was heavily accented (to them), but the shadowing data show that they were having more difficulty keeping up with it.

We think both results are likely to be meaningful.  In the limit—mostly middle class, mostly well-educated college students listening to quality recordings of complete passages in a quiet laboratory setting—people can comprehend speech with a markedly unfamiliar accent pretty well. One might then conclude that differences among American accents don’t pose much of a problem. Speech rarely conforms to those laboratory conditions, however. The signal is not as clear as in our experiment and other events compete for attention. The shadowing results suggest that mishearings occur and are more likely with unfamiliar-sounding speech. Asking comprehension questions at the end gives the listener time to recover.  The fact that we manage to understand each other pretty well suggests that something similar may occur in many real-world situations—but not always.  I am thinking of cases in which the participants are a police officer and a suspect. Or a judge and jury listening to a witness.  Or a teacher listening to one of the 30-some children in their noisy classroom. Differences in accent probably do affect comprehension under some conditions, including consequential ones.

Like most research in this area, our study was about accent: the two speakers read aloud identical texts written in standard English.   Now take this accented speech and mix in some alternative lexical items, collocations, morphosyntactic features, syntactic structures, and pragmatic conventions, as spoken by an identifiable community of speakers, and you might call the result a dialect. How well do people understand different dialects of English?  I’ll take that up in a future post.

 

Blogiversary

May. 22nd, 2017 04:08 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (_support)
[personal profile] liv
I note in passing that it's 14 years to the day since I started this blog, 6 years on LJ and 8 years on DW. That's a lot of writing and a lot of conversations. I've made just over 2000 posts in 14 years, and I think the average length is only a little under a thousand words, so somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million words and that's not even counting comments. I was really not expecting either the site or my interest in blogging to last as long as 14 years, but I'm really glad you're all still here.

I still don't have a good way of making an offline archive of DW; the program LJArchive is timing out because, I think, my DW is just too huge, and it doesn't have a way of downloading one bit at a time. Does anyone have any recs?

It's also coming up to the end of my 7th year of working at Keele – I've finished teaching and only have exams to go through before this academic year is over. It's a pretty awesome job in lots of ways. Our senior people like to point out that there have been over a million consultations when patients have been treated by Keele-trained doctors in the ten year history of the medical school, and I've contributed to the education of quite a high proportion of those doctors.

And it's the 20th anniversary, give or take, of my leaving school. I have signed up to attend the reunion next month; I'm not entirely sure that was a good idea, but I am at least somewhat curious to see if I can pick up some gossip from anyone who isn't on Facebook. I don't think anyone is going to be surprised that I'm an academic, that's what everybody was predicting when I was going around convinced I was going into school teaching. But they might well be surprised that I'm married and poly.

Anyway, now I'm going to catch a train from the new exciting local to my house station.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
I keep trying to write up my response to Castle in the Air but basically I really liked it a lot and it was great, also there was a very angry kitten, and the things I want to talk about it end up being complicated structural/worldbuilding questions that go beyond just this book. So I think I will just do a short three things capsule and save the drafts for more pondering:

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones )

Contrast this to the other YA series I finished in the last couple weeks, Laurence Yep's Dragon of the Lost Sea series, which has been my nemesis since I was about nine because the library had ONLY THE THIRD BOOK, which BEGAN AND ENDED AT CLIFFHANGERS, and twenty-five years later I had still only managed to find one of the others, plus Yep kept publishing books with "Dragon" in the title that were super-realistic stories about the Asian-American experience and I am sure they were great and all but they did not have actual DRAGONS in them so that was a terrible bait-and-switch, Mr. Yep. Anyway I finally went wait, I am a grown-up and a librarian now so I can just ILL them if I want.

Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep )

I also read Captain Blood for FMK yesterday! It is another one that I really liked, and tbh I liked it too much to want to think about it in a critical way as opposed to a squee way. So here are three things for it too:

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini )

Also despite 1922 Captain Blood was way better on both race and gender than the community theater production of Peter Pan I went to see a friend in yesterday, so, you know, that was a thing where they had elementary school kids wear feather headbands and say "ugh" lot, it definitely was.

Last weekend I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Dr. Strange, because I have the best friends.

Guardians of the Galaxy )

Dr. Strange )

Also I now really really need the story where Thor is fucking his way though all the Infinity Stone bearers. I may possibly even need to write it myself. ;_;


Let's see, what else have I been meaning to post about here? Oh! I did read Makt Myrkranna and Pale Guardian, did I post about them?

Makt Myrkranna, the early Icelandic Dracula translation, managed to be a better Dracula story than Dracula, I think. Vilma was great. Also possibly helped by the fact that Iceland has much more of a living tradition of revenants, maybe, so it felt more like it was part of a vampire tradition? IDK. Also I apparently now know enough Icelandic that I could immediately tell when the translation footnotes were screwed up and referenced to the wrong part of the text.

Pale Guardian was the new Ashers novel. 1) That continues to have the best vampire worldbuilding I have ever encountered, and she always follows it to the logical conclusion and makes it work, and she made it work on the front in WWI too; 2) The way James just accepts the fact that the London vampires basically treat him as one of their own at this point was really good character development? 3) He REALLY needs to catch up with the other two and realize he is in a poly triad not a poly V already.

...and that is probably enough.

Before I leave for Iceland on Sunday I still have both Becky Chambers books and two FMK to read and also to decide whether to actually read that Falco book I checked out right before I read the last one and she made it weird, or return it unread.
oursin: Photograph of a spiny sea urchin (Spiny sea urchin)
[personal profile] oursin

But, in lighter news, I have been spammed by another dodgy journal, which seems to think I am a woman physician and wants me to be on its editorial board. I do wonder what kind of a journal it is when it wants not only a CV but a photo from applicants...:

[L]ooking for prominent physicians in the field of Women's Health, to be a part of the editorial board to convey finest clinical resource and increase scope for best clinical understanding.

The journal is looking forward to peers with top academic aptitude whose judgment is highly regarded within the journals main discipline.

I think judgement will be highly regarded in ignoring such solicitations.

Ironing: done.

Online check-in: done (also I managed to improve my seat somewhat without actually paying and arm and a leg for the upgrade).

So, anyway, general status: wibbling.

[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum

At the instant of posting this, there are only 18 places remaining out of the 40 maximum in Linguistics 183 001, David Peterson’s summer session course at UC Berkeley on “The Linguistics of Game of Thrones and the Art of Language Invention.” 3 to 5 p.m., Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu, May 22 to June 30.

It’s not a ‘Structure of Dothraki’ course; it’s about how you go about inventing languages (Peterson has done this for film and TV several times, and has been paid money for it).

Hurry to sign up. And don’t ever let me hear you saying that linguistics doesn’t provide fun things to do.

-ist vs. -ic in Riyadh

May. 22nd, 2017 12:57 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

During last year’s presidential campaign, Donald Trump was repeatedly insistent that everyone should use the term “radical Islamic terrorism”. For example, his reaction to the Orlando massacre, from Inside Edition 7/13/2016:

Announcer: Trump spoke out about the massacre today, saying the president is afraid to call it an act of Islamic terrorism.
Donald Trump: He won’t even use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” which I think is insulting to our country and it’s insulting to everybody. And if you don’t use the term, if you don’t describe what’s happening, you’re never going to solve the problem.

So like many others, I was curious how he would handle the issue in his speech to the “Arab Islamic American Summit” yesterday in Riyadh.

According the White House’s version of his “remarks as prepared for delivery”, he was going to go with the somewhat more PC approximation “Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires”.

Of course, there is still much work to do.  

That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.

The idea behind this difference is that “Islamic” ties the underlying ideas and motivations directly to the religion as  a whole, while “Islamist”, echoing “fundamentalist”, could mean a political ideology claiming a (perhaps false) relationship to an allegedly original version of the religion. President Obama argued against all such terms, while Hilary Clinton preferred “radical Islamism” or “radical jihadist terrorism”.

But what Donald Trump actually said was a bit different. He changed “Islamist” to “Islamic”, added a reference to “Islamicists”, and interpolated a sentence about “what they’re doing to inspire”:

Of course, there is still much work to be done.
That means honestly confronting the crisis
of Islamic extremism
and the Islamicists and Islamic terror of all kinds.
We must stop what they’re doing to inspire
because they do nothing to inspire but kill

and we are having a very profound effect
if you look at what’s happened recently.
And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims,
the oppression of women,
the persecution of Druz- Jews,
and the slaughter of Christians.

The omission in the prepared text of the signature phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”, and these interpolations in the speech as delivered, were noted in the media coverage. Thus Olivia Beavers, “Official: Trump’s ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ wording changed because he’s ‘exhausted’“, The Hill 5/21/2017:

A senior White House official said Sunday President Trump mixed up the wording of his prepared remarks in Saudi Arabia because he was “exhausted.”  

“He’s just an exhausted guy,” the official told reporters on background, after many pointed out that Trump avoided the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” during the speech to leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority nations.  

Trump diverted slightly from his prepared remarks in using “Islamic” rather than “Islamist.”  

After remaining largely on script, that diversion caught the attention of many listeners who were curious to see whether Trump would use his key phrase.

Or Jamin Lee “WH: Trump was ‘exhausted’ when he said ‘Islamic extremism’“, CNN 5/22/2917:

The difference between “Islamic extremism” and “Islamist extremism”? One exhausted President. 

President Donald Trump’s substitution of the slightly different terms during his highly anticipated speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday might go unnoticed by the average US listener.

But the subtle change — or slip, as the White House called it — could mean the difference  between offending Middle Eastern allies and not, a concern for any president looking to create a good first impression with a key ally on a first trip abroad.

Using the word “Islamic,” a reference to the religion, in the same breath as “terrorism” could be seen by Muslims as an affront to their faith and actually play into the terrorists’ “clash of civilizations” narrative — reasons why President Barack Obama assiduously avoided the combination during his presidency.

“Islamist,” meanwhile, refers to political movements that seek to implement Islamic law and theology, making it less objectionable to Muslims when paired with “terrorism,” the idea goes.

Most of the president’s other deviations from the written text were interpolated intensifications of one kind or another — for example:

Text: and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.
Speech: and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman
for his strong demonstration
and his absolutely incredible and powerful leadership.

Text: This fertile region has all the ingredients for extraordinary success
Speech: The fertile region
and it is so fertile
has all of the ingredients
for extraordinary success

Text: I ask you to join me, to join together, to work together, and to FIGHT together— BECAUSE UNITED, WE WILL NOT FAIL.
Speech: I ask you to join me, to join together,
to work together, and to FIGHT together

because united we will not fail,
we can not fail
nobody
absolutely nobody
can beat us

These seem like glimpses of the president’s true style.

There were certainly a few speech errors that might be indications of exhaustion. Thus “true toll” in the prepared text came out as something more like “too troll”:

The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. 

The [tu trol] of ISIS,
if you look at what’s happening,
Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others,
must be counted not only in the number of dead.

“Leaving” in the text became “living” in the speech, and with some improvised material to rescue the slip:

The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies.

The surge of migrants and refugees living
and just living so poorly
that they’re forced to leave
the Middle East
depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies
and economies.

And an extra syllable slipped into “ethnicity”:

We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.

We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again
and make this region a place
where every man and woman, no matter their faith
or ethnicitity,
can enjoy a life of dignity
and hope.

The outcome of “ethnicity” alone:

I’m prone to similar speech errors on certain words or phrases, though I don’t have the impression that fatigue makes this type of error more likely.

Daily Happiness

May. 22nd, 2017 02:24 am
torachan: palmon smiling (palmon)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Super hectic weekend at work, following a super hectic week, so I'm reeeeeeeally glad for my day off tomorrow!

2. I was worn out after work but still managed to get a chapter of manga translated tonight.

3. I love the way Chloe likes to chill with her arms stretched out like this.

QotD

May. 22nd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Canada is the linchpin of the English-speaking world. Canada, with those relations of friendly, affectionate intimacy with the United States on the one hand and with her unswerving fidelity to the British Commonwealth and the Motherland on the other, is the link which joins together these great branches of the human family, a link which, spanning the oceans, brings the continents into their true relation and will prevent in future generations any growth of division between the proud and the happy nations of Europe and the great countries which have come into existence in the New World." -- Winston Churchill (b. 1874-11-30, d. 1965-01-24; UK Prime Minister 1940-1945 & 1951-1955)), at a luncheon 1941-09-04 to honour Mackenzie King (b. 1874-12-17, d. 1950-07-22; Prime Minister of Canada 1921-1926, 1926-1930, 1930 & 1945-1948)

[Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian friends!]

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