from aanobody

I dreamed that my sister and I was travelling down into Texas on a road trip with some of The Duggars (I know, very disturbing, the stories about that family chill me to the bone, I prefer to pretend I have never watched their television show as a kid).

I then saw a flash flood (In the middle of Texas? What in the world?), at least one hundred meters high, come crashing towards me. The water started raising the car off the ground, seeping into the car. I first put my phone into the bag (my phone is my life, after all) I quickly threw the right door open, pulling my sister (who doesn’t know how to swim atm) with me. Fortunately, by the grace of the dream god, I found a swim-shop with those floating foam tube things. We grabbed onto them, thankful since I didn’t need to help keep my sister afloat anymore.

Since it was a flash-flood, the water quickly receded. We were safe. My phone was still working (it was in my bag).

I can’t get that image of the flash flood out of my head. So much peril, so much danger, so ominous was its approach. That wall of death, hurtling to us in the desert.

But it was also over in a jiffy. And my phone was safe. And my sister was safe too. Best for last … hehe. More like I value things over people.

Here are a few of my favourite words. Undulation. Sometimes. With.

In other news, I think I masturbated too much in the last two days. Really need to practice some self-control. My private member is so … battered. Anyway, peace out.

 
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from Airlean Tales

Updates Tues & Thu

The Scarlet Rider — When unprecedented danger threatens her home, Red Riding Hood strikes an unlikely alliance with the Wolf to track down a legend that can save them all.

Read from Ch 1  Index

      

 
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from Airlean Tales

It was still dark when Azalea jolted awake, every sense blaring and alert.

At first, she didn’t know what had set her off. The workshop was quiet and calm, hearth dimmed to low embers, a light mist of rain pattering at the window. Wes was asleep—hunched over the table with his head bracketed between his arms, scattered pages of charcoal scribbles splayed under him. Nothing looked amiss.

Then a shadow passed just outside the window, and a puddle sloshed underfoot.

Eyes narrowing, Azalea swiftly drew to her feet. She took her blanket and bundled it around Wes’s shoulders, grabbed Bluebell and her short sword, and stepped outside.

Thin, cold drops of rain dotted her face and cloak, more like a greeting than any real obstacle. The alley road to Gallows Square was utterly dark; not one of the windows glowed with candlelight, and the distant mana lamps were clouded with fog and rain.

Azalea turned, starshooter pointed at the ground but braced on her shoulder, ever ready. Perhaps it had only been a passing animal.

Or perhaps it had been something truly awful, because at that moment, a playful voice rang out among the cobbled stone.

“Careful not to hurt anybody with that toy of yours, Little Red.”

Azalea whipped around and looked up. Perched on the roof of the workshop, leg dangling lazily over the edge like a swinging vine, sat the Lone Wolf. She caught a dim sheen of white from beneath his rain-slick hood. It took her a moment to realize that it wasn’t from his hair, but his smile.

She kept Bluebell pointed at the ground, but every vein flared to life, ready to fight.

“You,” she hissed.

“Me,” Echo said amicably with a nod. How infuriating.

“What are you doing here?”

He held up his hands disarmingly—a motion that belied the amusement tugging at his lips. “Easy there, Little Red. Just taking a midnight stroll.”

“In the rain?”

“Some people like it.”

“On the house of my Support?”

He tilted his head. “Is it, now?”

Azalea lightly bit her tongue. She shouldn’t have said that. If the Wolf grew curious, learned about Wes and who he was…yes, it was time to change the topic.

“You should be under investigation,” she said sharply. “You’re still charged for illegal scavenging, assaulting a Hunter—”

Echo laid a hand over his heart, looking positively devastated. “I thought I paid my dues for that by now.”

How, exactly?”

“Wasn’t it obvious? By being your benevolent informant, of course.”

Benevolent?

“Remember who tipped you off for Northelm? You slayed a Class Four, saved an entire town from being trapped and exterminated like vermin, and no doubt made yourself a household name overnight. All without paying a copper.” He shook his head with a light click of his tongue. “I’m not usually such a saint, but alas. We all have our weak moments.”

But Azalea was no longer listening, because some of his words had captured her mind, turning over endlessly in her head.

Northelm. Saved a town…from being trapped?

She’d just returned from her expedition today. She’d only reported to Nicolina and Thom. How could the Lone Wolf possibly be aware of every detail?

“You followed me,” Azalea said faintly. “Again.”

Echo tipped two fingers in a sardonic salute. “You didn’t notice. Again.”

No. No, that couldn’t be. Not because she wanted to believe in her powers of observation—no, she was starting to recognize the Lone Wolf’s presence. It was what had woken her. He was…loud, in some way, his proximity picking at her senses like a nail on a scab. Or maybe it wasn’t him, personally; maybe it was something about his manawell.

His manawell. That was it, she realized. It wasn’t that he was physically loud, with clumsy hands and stumbling feet.

No, he was a messy Stabilizer.

Azalea watched him calmly as she slung Bluebell back and engaged the safety. No one was directly threatening Wes, so the firearm would not be unnecessary.

“You weren’t there,” she said evenly. “I know you weren’t.”

“Make up your mind,” Echo replied, amused. “Did I follow you or not?”

Yes. No. Yes and no. Echo hadn’t followed her into Northelm; that, she knew for sure. She would have sensed him. But he was aware of Northelm’s situation, so when had he arrived?

Certainly not after Azalea herself. He couldn’t have, not without causing a stir. Northelm was surrounded by flat plains on three cardinals, and the fourth was the caves and mountains at which they mined. His approach would have been obvious, and marked—especially by the skittish, crossbow-bearing children who had taken up residence in the watchtower.

Azalea’s mind began to barrel faster, gaining momentum.

If Echo hadn’t arrived after her, then he could have only arrived before her.

If he had arrived before her, then it was before the miners were stranded—because afterward, the town was on high alert.

And if he had been at Northelm before the miners were stranded…

Slowly, the pieces of information began to slot into place. Azalea wet her lips, even though the rain was already dampening them.

Echo. Northelm. The early arrival.

Not just an early arrival—a setup.

The bait from the cave. The poultice that had lured the basilisk from its den. It had been composed of decaying parts of corrupted beasts.

Something that could have only been made by a master trapper…or, say, a scavenger.

The moment Azalea landed on the idea, she knew that she was right. The brand of instability that had radiated from the poultice had been, somehow, familiar. And now that she was aware of it, she knew exactly why.

Just like a person could smell a dish at dinner and pinpoint what it was—cookies, fresh bread, a bowl of soup—any manacrafter could vaguely tell the makeup of an unstable reaction. And Azalea was more sensitive than most, affording her an even greater discernment.

The poultice had held traces of decaying wolves.

The Lone Wolf had placed that bait. Doomed those miners to die. Sent the town into a panic.

Then he’d approached her during the surge and pointed her to Northelm under the pretense of playing hero.

Azalea straightened. Her mind fell into a brutal chill, sharpening her vision until every dim outline leapt at her in shapes of silver. She looked up at the Wolf, his chin propped on a hand, smile lazy and uncaring. He wasn’t even sorry.

She burned her manawell and pulled.

Echo cursed at the sudden blast of Formed wind that pummeled his back, sending him sprawling over the edge. He fired his windsoles to right himself. He just managed to land on his feet when Azalea lunged at him and slammed him into the wall, digging the flat of her short sword into his neck. Echo coughed, flecks of paint and mortar dust splashing over his cloak.

“My, someone’s excited,” he said. “Shouldn’t we take this somewhere more private?”

Azalea felt nothing but cold and empty all over. “Is that all they are? Your accomplishments, your so-called gift of finding? A lie?”

“Specifics, Red. I lie about many things.”

You made the bait. You damned that town.”

Echo did not bother denying her. His face transformed into a mirror of her own—unfeeling, deadly.

“That would depend on your point of view,” he said.

“All those families. You nearly killed them all.” Her voice sputtered, raw. “Children. They were just children—”

Echo moved.

She hadn’t even seen him reach for his hip, but suddenly, his bone knife throttled her crossguard away. He kneed her in the gut, sending her staggering back, stomach bursting with pain.

Myths help her. She shouldn’t have gone for close combat. Not against a man who’d grown up fighting in the streets.

It was too late to regret; Echo wasn’t stopping. Agile as a wildcat, he leapt on her, pincered her torso with his legs, and drove her to the ground. She slammed hard into the stone. Agony exploded all up her limbs, and she heard the clatter of her short sword as it fell out of her hand.

“I killed no one, Little Red,” Echo said as he leaned in, his voice barely above a whisper. “I sent one of the fifty greatest soldiers in the country so that they wouldn’t die.”

She fired her windsoles and tore out from under him, springing on her hands to land on her feet.

“Then your plan failed,” she hissed, wiping dirt from her mouth. “I didn’t do anything. If the Whisperer hadn’t appeared, you would have murdered an entire town.”

“And why do you think he appeared?”

That made her falter. “You…surely didn’t lead him there. On purpose.

“If I had?”

“That would be even worse! You would have known his reputation as the reaper. He could have killed me and destroyed all of Northelm.”

For a moment, there was a lull. Echo’s bone knife spun between long, pale fingers, rain sprinkling over his hood like dust.

“Oh, I see,” he said softly. “Little Red is blinded by insecurities.

Azalea thought herself a mostly patient person, but Echo always managed to get under her skin with a single word, tearing away just the right spot that would leave her raw. Insecurities? As if staring into the maw of a venomous beast, about to disintegrate into a puddle, had been some sort of emotional obstacle. The Lone Wolf was always so thoughtless, so crude, throwing together shallow excuses for endangering so many lives.

“Don’t mock me,” Azalea snapped. “You couldn’t have possibly thought that a fresh graduate could slay a Class Four and walk out alive. So either you were trying to get Northelm killed, me killed, or both.”

“Or I believed that youcould slay it without much trouble. In which case, I turn from some murderous villain to a terribly delusional lunatic.”

“There’s no distinction.”

“I disagree.” He smiled wryly. “One serves a lighter sentence than the other.”

Azalea had enough. She blazed at him with a touch of her windsoles and lashed out with her fists. But—

—Echo readily twisted around her, bolstered by his own windsoles. She barely darted away from a kick that would have cracked her spine.

How? How had he read her so easily? It was obvious that she would use her windsoles, yes, but the speed provided by the burst of wind was swift enough to make human reaction impossible.

Then there was only one explanation; Echo had not reacted, but had predicted. He had known what she would do before she herself.

Echo read her bewilderment and clicked his tongue. “Is that it? Windsoles? Nothing new, nothing fresh?”

Azalea’s eyes narrowed. “It’s better not to try anything revolutionary,” she said. “It gets people killed. Instead, one should master what is known.”

Echo snorted. “Where did you hear that, Little Red? Some stodgy old instructor at the Academy?”

Her silence was answer enough.

“And they wonder why every Hunter dies the exact same way,” he muttered.

White flowers pouring out of a cabinet flashed before Azalea’s eyes. Her face grew very still as she circled him slowly.

“Is death nothing but a joke to you?” she said quietly.

Echo tilted his head. “If you find the humor in it, you’ll die happy.”

“I fail to see that humor.”

“Then I suppose you won’t die happy.”

He snapped her thinning patience yet again, and she swiped. Echo slid away, and Azalea quickly reversed—only to sprawl over several squat crates that peeked into the alley. She barely recovered with a quick, frantic step, unbalanced.

She had forgotten, in the darkness of the night, about the little obstacles that dotted the road. And she had paid for it. But not Echo—never Echo, who was as swift as a sparrow, dancing on the rooftop eaves like a ray of moonlight.

This was his domain.

Weathered with fog, the dark, rain-slicked alleyways of Old Town were his kingdom, and he knew each one as if they were the veins carrying his blood. He knew how to fight with leverage and in confined space, how to read hands and eyes like Azalea read letters, how to maim and kill unflinchingly.

Here, she didn’t have the advantage of a leyline’s instability, and Echo was built taller and stronger than her, equipped with windsoles of his own. If she refused to use her starshooter—and she refused to fire upon a Mythaven citizen save for emergencies—then she would not win.

Azalea’s hand reached back for Bluebell, but her fingers hesitated, trembling as they brushed the lovely barrel.

The moment was enough.

Echo struck like lightning, tackling her to the wall and wrenching her arms behind her back. His fingers dug hard into her flesh, bruising her wrists.

“This is your problem, Little Red,” he said quietly. “Your emotions get in the way.”

“Yes,” she spat. “A pity I have a heart.”

“Pity indeed. You’d have so much promise without one.” She thrashed against his weight, but his hold only tightened. He pressed the edge of the bone knife to her neck, forcing her to still. “Take a moment and think, Fairwen. Let’s say you hadn’t taken care of that Class Four. What would have happened?”

“Northelm would have died, which I already said—”

“Not that. Ignore Northelm for a moment. What would have happened to the corruption?

Azalea glared silently at him. Echo’s mouth pulled into a smile.

“Ah, you already see what I’m getting at.”

“I don’t.”

“But you do. That’s right, it would have turned into a Class Five. Rather difficult to manage, don’t you think?”

Azalea staunchly looked away.

“Isn’t it better to remove the threat while it can still be handled?” Echo said coaxingly. “Class Fours may prove a mild obstacle, but Fives—why, I hear that only the top two Hunters have dispatched one without dying.”

“It takes a long time and a significant mana anomaly before a Four turns into a Five.”

“But if it did?”

He had a point, even if she didn’t agree with it. The Class system, as specified by the Royal Observatorium, did not scale linearly. Instead, higher Classes were often exponentially more dangerous than their lower counterparts. For how dangerous that serpent had been, it would’ve been much worse as a Class Five. Perhaps even unstoppable.

“But you didn’t have to set the bait so it trapped the villagers,” she accused. “You should have set it farther away.”

He raised a brow. “To where? Further into the unexplored caves, which hold unspeakable dangers? Or outside, right into the heart of the town? I thought it better to prepare a favorable arena.”

“Favorable?”

“You’re thorough. I’ve no doubt you’ve seen the other caverns. How much cover was present?”

Azalea glared silently at him. Then Echo suddenly released her and stepped away, and she was so caught off-guard that she didn’t bother lunging at him.

“Well. The sentence, Your Honor?” Echo said with a smile.

There it always was: that derision, that caustic sense of pride. She wished she could throw it back in his smug face.

But she wouldn’t. Not tonight.

“I know you’re not telling me the whole truth,” Azalea said. She looked away. “But I’m not going to arrest you.”

“How charitable. I daresay it would have been difficult.”

“Difficult?”

“Well, I bested you.” He caught the flash in her eyes and raised his hands. “Don’t feel too bad about losing, Little Red. Fighting people is a mite different from fighting mana beasts. People adapt, for one.” He winked. “And we tend to be more handsome, which makes us distracting.”

“In the eyes of somebody else, I’m sure,” Azalea said.

Echo touched his chest. “Ouch. The kitten’s developed a bite.”

Somebody in the world probably would be very taken with Echo’s rakish looks—the sharp jaw, the piercing gaze, the lean cords of muscle. But it wouldn’t be Azalea, who was accustomed to being surrounded by beautiful people. The Academy and the Hunter’s Guild had been full of them—the lovely and the wealthy and the powerful and the otherwise highly marriageable. Over time, Azalea had found herself somewhat deadened to beauty. Except maybe Karis, who was all but a fairy incarnate.

She folded her arms and glared. “You shouldn’t take this so lightly. You assaulted a Hunter and scavenged parts without permission.”

“Tack it on to my extensive list of crimes,” Echo said dryly.

She hesitated. “But…you did tip off a Hunter, which technically saved Northelm. And the bait did technically distract the creature. And…I don’t know if you led the Whisperer there, but if you did, his presence technically served as a boon. It was only because of your actions that no one died.”

Surprisingly, Echo quieted. His fingers tapped together for a moment, bone-white beneath the dim lamplight.

“Precisely,” he said softly. “No one died. An outright miracle in today’s world, wouldn’t you say?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“What a mercenary always means.” His fingers stopped. His mouth pulled up. “Little Red, what say you to a bargain?”

Azalea froze.

That was, quite possibly, the very last string of words she expected to come out of his mouth. Perhaps it just barely beat out I’m so very sorry, please arrest me.

Her response was immediate. “I decline.”

“You haven’t heard the terms.”

“I don’t wish to. Side ventures with accomplices from outside the Guild can be considered as bribery or embezzlement, and are strictly—”

“Not that sort of deal, baby bookworm,” Echo snorted. “This falls completely within the scope of your primary job.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Well. You should.”

He folded his fingers together in the semblance of an elegant gentleman, and not an underground merc slinking around private property.

“My offer is simple,” he said. “Much like how I warned you about Northelm, I’ll provide tips on the whereabouts of priority marks. And in return—”

“I’m not interested,” Azalea said.

“There are Hunters who would pay good money for this info, you know. In fact, they do.”

He was starting to rile that familiar sense of boiling anger in her—again. Somehow, it was a talent uniquely attributed to him.

“I don’t even know if you can find anything,” she snapped. “Northelm was all a hoax. You used bait.”

He tilted his head. “To lead the Four to the right place, yes. I still had to know where it originally was.”

He had a point, and that only irritated her further. “Fine, then,” Azalea said stiffly. “Let’s say you truly know where every dangerous beast in Airlea is. Then you shouldn’t keep that information to yourself.”

“Precisely why I’m offering this deal, no?”

“You should share it with the Guild.

He sighed. “Tell that to the other Hunters and their own special informants. This has been going on for ages, Little Red. It’s practically a necessity in the current system.”

That can’t be right, Azalea wanted to say. But she couldn’t. She hadn’t been in the Guild for very long, but she was already familiar with the competitive aura, that knife’s edge of danger and respect. She knew that anything posted to the public commissions board was often snapped up in the blink of an eye. The idea that Hunters resorted to external means of finding additional marks was completely unsurprising.

Still, she hated the thought. Civilian lives shouldn’t be bandied about like a footbag. All for a shiny medal or a bonus to the stipend.

“And what would you be getting out of this deal?” Azalea said.

Echo’s response was immediate. “There’s a patron of mine. One of considerable…influence, shall we say.”

“A lord.”

“Now, now, let’s not ruin the mystery.” Echo leaned back. “This patron is rather taken with studying manacraft, particularly the potential of Stabilizing. Believes it to be an unexplored field, you see. And after seeing you in action, I’m inclined to agree.”

Azalea stared at him.

“We don’t have to be enemies, Little Red,” Echo continued. “This could be a mutually beneficial arrangement. I provide the tips, you destroy the monsters. The patron gets his research, I get my wages, and you get a promotion. Everybody wins.”

“And that’s why you’ve been following me?” Azalea said. “To study a Stabilizer?”

He nodded. “Simple as that.”

“I don’t trust you.”

“But you think I’m telling the truth.”

She did. That was the worst part: his reasoning made sense. It explained why he’d picked a fight in the middle of a leyline. It explained why he’d sent her to Northelm. It even explained why he’d led the Whisperer to her—if he truly had, of course. He would want to push her to her limits; then he could deliver Stabilizing research to his curious client.

“Unfortunately,” Azalea said coolly, “I have no interest in working with you.”

“That is unfortunate,” Echo agreed.

He seemed completely unsurprised, and that made her nervous.

“That means I reject your offer,” she said hesitantly.

“I know what it means.” Echo shrugged. “Well, let it never be said that I didn’t try.”

He pulled his cloak overhead, fussed with a strap on his arm, knelt and retied a lace on his boots. He seemed to be preparing to leave. Finally.

Then he spoke again.

“There will be a sea creature by Fletcher’s Fry,” he said. “Coastal town, nice place. Good for a spot of fishing.”

Azalea blanched. “Don’t you dare,” she said.

“Good luck, be careful, all those nice platitudes.” He waved. “I’ll drink to your success.”

Azalea lunged at him. Echo fired his windsoles with a dry laugh and disappeared into the night.

 

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from Libraries and Learning Links of the Week

Teaching AI when to care about gender

This quite technical paper from code4lib Journal outlines a really interesting tool for “de-biasing” machine learning models. Interestingly, the tool is designed for subject-matter experts to define what that bias is in a given corpus, rather than trying to make generic rules about what is and is not biased. A really intriguing tool with potential for discrete collections of the sort found in archives and library special collections.

Z-Library Was a Lifeline for Students on Shoestring Budgets

An article from Slate about “Z Library”, the domain name for which appears to have been seized by the US Government. I'm always interested when news about the iniquitous and often farcical academic publishing industry breaks through to mainstream publications. This Slate piece does a nice job of pointing out how commercial academic publishing locks researcher and students from formerly colonised countries out of the prestige markets and restricts any “legal” access to knowledge.

t.co

Ed Summers on Twitter archive downloads and ways to unshorten all the links that Twitter “helpfully” changes to t.co links.

 
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from tmo

I'm slowing my intake of tags on RSS now. Recently I followed #retrocomputing and #zine from Mastodon, and the feeds for such went to 1Feed, and I want to stop looking at that ish all the time. LOL!

“zine” was updated rarely. Screenshotsunday even less so. “retrocomputing” all day, everyday, multiple times an hour, and I didn't want to just have some segment of my RSS for continual “setups” and code examples and old hardware that I felt (somewhat) obligated to view/read. It felt Tumblr-esque to me – just a continual waste of time, haha.

I am still 110% in love with retro computing, by the way. I just don't need a 100+ per day feed of stuff other people are doing. I see new videos (usually once per week) from a half dozen YouTubers on the subject – that's plenty.

 
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from Now Listening to... 🎧

For today's #ThrowbackThursday track, we go back to the end of the 90s with this beautiful love song Brian McKnight.

One, you're like a dream come true Two, just wanna be with you Three, girl, It's plain to see That you're the only one for me, and

Four, repeat steps one through three Five, make you fall in love with me If ever I believe my work is done Then I'll start back at one ♪ ♫ ♪

#BrianMcKnight

 
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from A World of Sorcery & Blood

DISCLAIMER: this is was the ending that I decided to separate from chapter 1. So, now the series is fully focused on Glaser and Soul.

***

Under the bright sun and cloudy sky. Away from the police combing the area and news crews. The blood no longer glistens; it has dried and caked onto his face and hand—the same one he used to pull out her heart. He finds a windowless brick house in an open area of the woods. The myriad-colored abode, no bigger than a tool shed, is engraved with moving faces of people who all look terrified. One brick depicts an elderly woman’s face shifting from shock to tears. He knocks. The door opens; a woman dressed in a white robe greets him.

“My beloved Michael Douglas, you have returned to me. What news do you bring?”

“She is dead,” he tells her, presenting the heart. She plucks it out of his hand. Michael Douglas is right. After centuries, she is dead. How many have died along the way, just for this moment? So many that she could fill up five graveyards.

“Will I return now?” he asks.

“Not yet. I need to know, did you kill an innocent witch?”

Michael frowns before he speaks, and she raises an eyebrow. She can already guess what he is about to say. Still, she waits.

“Yes,” he says despondently.

She shrugs—no reason to fret over collateral damage.

“How many?”

Watching him count, she realizes six months, crossing paths with so many witches, not all of them murdered. The number should be low enough for one hand, she hopes. He does.

“Five.”

She sighs in relief. Michael has intelligence almost equal to a five-year-old. However, at that age, a child is the most malleable. At a time when they want to be around their mother. Where the child loves to get praise from their mom. The raven-haired witch knew this; not a day goes without a sense of pride. Even when he fails, her faithful Michael never stops until he succeeds. Despite being a murderer, she finds morbid charm in what he does. Sometimes, there is a feeling of Michael being the child she never had. It is why the punishment he will receive will not be harsh. After all, it is a festive mood. Even a parent spares their child then.

“Penance shall come later.”

After squeezing the heart—her hand opens; it floats off into the house.

“For now, it is a celebration. Then preparation, for another hunt.”

She smiles at him. Some of the bloody flakes break off to fall toward the ground from his.

“It is time to return now, my beloved Michael.”

Michael strips off his clothes to unveil sewn-on muscular arms stitched to a large chest. Runes blacken his upper torso, which turns into carvings found on his wooden stomach. Runes are running down his muscular legs. There is no crotch. She smiles, looking upon Michael Douglas; he is a fine creation and notes a few repairs she must do to him. He will need a new face.

She steps back into the house, putting some distance between them, enough to let her stretch out her neck and slither it on the ground. Locks of her hair push leaves and twigs out of her way. She coils around Michael from the stomach up, getting him nice and snug. She kisses him one last time before dislocating her jaw, letting it open wide. All at once, she gobbles him up, leaving only his feet sticking out. Her face turns a deathly dark purple. Her veins protrude; beads of sweat roll down her cheeks; an excess of saliva pours off her bottom lip. The muscles in her mouth push him down her throat in one go. Her sweaty face returns to normal. Her neck now resembles an overgrown tumor. The boulder that is Michael Douglas goes down easy. As she gulps him down, he grows smaller. Smaller and smaller. Until it was like he was never swallowed.

She recoils her neck back into place, and her skin sags. A hand cloth floats towards her; she grabs it and wipes the sweat off the folds of her neck. Closing her eyes to enjoy the familiar taste of ginger and cocoa. She flicks her wrist—the door closes. The house vanishes.

— THE END —

 
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from tmo

I nary try to sound contrarian (not trying now, either), nor am I to stir a fuss, as I just write junk online for S&G's, but something to take note of, and have “a say” on, is the dichotomy of what is being said/done in federated spots online, and what is true/real of federated spots (as well as the greater WWW, in general).

You see, a moderator (or moderators) or admin (or admins) can and will spring up from the far corners of anywhere and formulate an “instance” of some kind (generally Mastodon, at this point), and intentions aside, or naivete aside, growing an instance (or any online space) with limitless abandon is likely the last thing one would want to do to foster a community. OR adequate communication.

The “Twitter '09” sentiment that is being tossed around, the “I say something and get responses right away” narrative, the “my follower count is growing faster than it had in years on Birdsite” – those elements (be they important to you or not), will surely dissipate as instance user/member count grows. Even without algorithms or ads, things become heavily crowded and loud in an online space with...say...10K people (or more).

Sort of a self-manifesting echo chamber.

Now, if one wants to draw a community and healthy communication online, it's obvious (like IRL) personal interactions or/and “intimate” (not in a romantic sense) exchanges are the way to go about...talking to people.

I'm either instinctively wary, or just blatantly thumbing my nose at the idea (false concept, and proven (over time/experience) lie) that en masse groupings and clusters of everyone can have a force of positivity online. A large “site” or “forum” or “instance”, it brings about status and “name recognition” for a/the service – not quality of service for the end user.

 
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from tmo

I like that people can solicit donations online if/when necessary for overhead of such and such service. Though, I did attempt to make a service that ran counter to such a concept with Thanx.cc, which was sort of a complete and total anti-Patreon service, with connotations (influenced design) of that of buymeacoffee.com, and the gist of that service was to say “be friendly online – like what a writer writes, what a video maker films, what a person hosts? Send them a “Thanx”, and tell them you appreciate them. Nothing more required besides kind words”.

A nice thing, I thought. Developing the ins/outs of a personal message board, where people could send kudos anonymously – that proved more difficult than I anticipated (though I was blindly ambitious with it, and it was burnout that ended the development of it).

But, when a YouTuber or a blogger says “keep it running”, meaning they need XYZ amount of funds to “keep the blog running” or “keep the channel running” – what is their total overhead cost of maintaining such a content platform? I mean, YouTube pays them (albeit, not as much as most content creators are worth – YT takes way too high a cut), as well as blogs (personal or otherwise) who use a third party platform or self-host – how much does it cost to actually maintain an adequate VPS hosting a medium-to-high traffic publication?

It's effectively a grandfathered in way of saying “give me money, and I'll do stuff”. Nothing wrong with that, but the phrasing of “keep it running” is just that – a phrase. Everything continues on at an uninterrupted and steady clip despite was is/isn't donated by the public.

Just some words. Later.

 
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from tmo

I swear, my sister, my other sister, my mother, and my late-Father, they all feared (fear) a possibility of Dementia. My father kinda/sorta had an early onset of it, but it was more akin to (poor) health-induced senility.

I, I am probably prone to getting it (Dementia) all out. I took gobs of LSD as a teenager, became (basically) an invalid when I was 20-21 years old, narrowly crawled my way out of that delusional hellscape, and have (in the past decade) bounced to and fro from one undermining life situation to another – while witnessing one form of desolate life(style) or another meet my blinders again and again.

I'd have no real issue with a disposition of “not knowing”. Of unawareness. 99% of my days have been spent in near total isolation where I am at now, for 6+ years. The past year the most severe of that time. I used to peep my head above water, only to interact with people (family) that melted my conscious and desire to be alive with noxious toxicity, which led to nothing more than considerate alcohol consumption on my part. And low and behold, I negate their presence from my life, and I'm stone cold sober a week later (or perhaps I became sober before telling them to fxxx off?). Either way, hail sobriety, and I will always be this way.

Hope life spins it's wheels to accommodate how I see/am in the world, and that the Farmington situation (assessment facility and then a clustered (community-style) apartment property) sees through. Or some form of “independent” group home is arranged by me and the housing manager(s) in the near future.

Hope things pan out. Fingers crossed until my knuckles break.

 
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from Telmina's notes

本題に入る前に、昨日のメイド喫茶橙幻郷14周年記念パーティに参加された皆様、お疲れさまでした。

 私はその場で、グラス1杯の赤ワインとは言え、久々にアルコール飲料を口にしてしまいました。そのため、いい具合に酔っ払ってしまい、帰宅後しばらくベッドで横になっていたら、気がついたら本日の午前1時を過ぎていました。

 閑話休題。

 10月に資産家のイーロン・マスク氏によってTwitterが買収されて以来、世界的に脱Twitterが進行しつつあります。

 日本でも、著名人を含む数多くのTwitterユーザが、分散型SNS、とりわけMastodonにアカウントを作り始めています。

 とりわけ、象徴的な出来事として、11月30日に立憲民主党の蓮舫参議院議員、12月1日に同じく立憲民主党の西村智奈美衆議院議員が相次いでMastodonを始めたということを挙げることができます。

 西村氏は現在は企業運営となっているmstdn.jpにアカウントを作成されましたが、蓮舫氏はtoot.blueという個人運営のサーバにアカウントを作成されました。

 このどこが象徴的なのかといいますと、蓮舫氏がアカウントを作成した当日以降、悪意を持つ者によって、蓮舫氏に対する虚偽の通報や、toot.blue管理者に対する蓮舫氏へのアカウント停止要求などが多数発生したとのこと。

 蓮舫氏が一民間人の個人サーバであるtoot.blueにアカウントを作成した経緯についてはここでは触れませんし、個人的には蓮舫氏が個人サーバにアカウントを作ったことに対して批判する気もさらさらないのですが、今後、大なり小なり、同様の問題は確実にMastodonのサーバ管理者の間で多発することとなります。

 これは公人がMastodonを使うようなったから、というよりも、利用者がある程度以上増えてしまうと、大なり小なり起こってしまう問題ではあります。


今後多発するであろう問題点

 今後、私を含め、Mastodonでユーザ登録を受け入れているサーバの管理者は、少なくとも次の点については覚悟しなければならなくなります。

  • 通報、とりわけ報告内容に虚偽のある通報の増加
  • サーバ内の特定利用者に対する嫌がらせ
  • サーバ管理者に対する嫌がらせ
  • サーバ運営妨害工作
  • 悪意あるユーザによるアカウント作成

 しかし、規模の差こそあれ、大半のMastodonサーバは個人運営によるものであり、個人でこれらすべてに適切に対応するには限度があります。もちろん、私が運営する「LIBERA TOKYO」という政治的にリベラル(自由主義)の思想を持つ方向けのコミュニティも、例外ではありません。

これらを踏まえて今後の「LIBERA TOKYO」の運営方針を考える

LIBERA TOKYO

 私が運営する「LIBERA TOKYO」は、先述の通り、政治的にリベラル(自由主義)の思想を持つ方向けのコミュニティです。

 とはいえ、管理者本人が最近ろくに市民活動に参加できていないことや、元々どこの市民団体にも所属していないため(一応肉球新党党員ということになっているけどほとんど幽霊会員状態…)、自分の政治的な発言の影響力は皆無に等しいです。むしろ常連さんの方がよほど影響力を持っていたりします。

 しかし、こんな管理者が運営する弱小サーバでも、イーロン・マスク氏によるTwitter買収後、数名の方からユーザ登録をいただいています。また、詳しくは書きませんけど上述の問題は弊サーバでも起こり始めています。

 元々、「LIBERA TOKYO」は初めから反リベラル勢力による運営妨害をある程度想定しているため、ユーザ登録に制限を加えているほか、利用規約にも通常のMastodonサーバであればまず盛り込まないような内容をあえて盛り込んでいます(管理者に対するブロックの禁止等)。また、制限中のサーバも多数におよんでいます。

 しかし、このような措置を講じていても、昨今の情勢を考えると不足と言わざるを得ません。

 明日、「LIBERA TOKYO」では大規模なメンテナンスを予定していますが、そちらが終わり次第、今後の「LIBERA TOKYO」の運営方針についての検討を始めなければなりません。

 現在うっすらと考えているものとして、下記を挙げることができます。

  • 完全招待制への移行
    • 新規ユーザ登録時、既存ユーザ(管理者含む)からの招待状を必須とする(現在はトップページからのユーザ登録も、管理者による承認を必要とするとはいえ認めている)。
      • ただし、これについては過去に反対意見が多数あったために一度は採用を見送っていた。
      • Mastodon v4以降、ユーザの権限を細かく指定可能となったため、登録後一定の条件を満たしたユーザ様に対してのみ招待状を発行できるようにすることも検討する。
  • サーバ間の連合に対する制限の強化
    • いわゆるドメインブロックの追加等

 とはいえ、まだ決定事項ではありません。また、上記以外の方針を検討する可能性もあります。

今後日本国内の分散型SNSの世界に望むこと

 今回は蓮舫氏のユーザ登録をきっかけに上述の問題が浮き彫りになったわけですが、先述の通り蓮舫氏を批判する気は全くなく、それどころかむしろほかの政治家、著名人もどんどん続いて欲しいとすら思っています。もちろん我々のような一般ピーポーにも。

 とはいえ、著名人が一個人の運営によるサーバに乗っかるのには限度があります。

 今回Mastodonに参加を始めたお二人の政治家はいずれも立憲民主党所属ですが、これを機に、立憲民主党には、党としてMastodonのサーバを立ち上げて、党の公式見解や所属議員からの公的なアナウンスなどをそこからおこなうようにして欲しいと思います。

 もちろん立憲民主党に限らず各政党、著名人の所属団体等にも、所属する著名人のホームグラウンドとしてのMastodonサーバを整備していって欲しいです。アカウント名に所属サーバのドメイン名がくっつく形式のMastodonでは、この方法は理にかなっていると思います。

 政党や団体に限らず、個人運営のサーバもどんどん増えていって欲しいのですが、上記のような問題点のすべてに個人レベルで対処できる管理者は限定されると思いますので、個人レベルでも何とかなる極小~小規模のサーバ多数と中堅以上のサーバ少数に分化してゆくのではと思われます。

#2022年 #2022年12月 #2022年12月2日 #お知らせ #業務連絡 #Mastodon #マストドン #SNS #分散型SNS #Fediverse #LiberaTokyo #リベラル #自由主義 #政治 #立憲民主党 #蓮舫 #西村智奈美 #Twitter

 
もっと読む…

from Ithaka's Blog

…has always been a challenge for me. By nature, I am a ruminator, a brooder.

But I have decided to stop thinking about myself this way!!!

And to accomplish that, I tried to analyze why I am (no, was) like that. There are two main possibilities:

A. I didn’t know what I needed to do. B. I knew what I needed to do but for some reason, still overthought.

“A” has never been my problem. I’ve always known what I wanted to do. The dreams changed over time, but nevertheless, I knew.

The problem has always occurred in “B,” and in a variety of ways.

  • Despite knowing what I wanted, I was in denial.
  • Despite not being in denial, I was insecure, so felt the need to check and doublecheck my plans.
  • After checking and doublechecking my plans, I was too exhausted to execute said plans. (This is the stupidest problem to have.)

Recently, my wants/needs/desires have shifted. This shift wasn’t instantaneous (I cannot pinpoint the exact moment in time when the shift happened), but it was fairly abrupt.

In hindsight, I was in denial mode for a while, because of the abruptness. Surely, something that can happen so quickly cannot be truly important?

… .. . .. …

But maybe because it showed up out of the blue, it’s worthy to have it in my life?

Now I think I am almost out of the denial phase. Now, I am sort of in the insecure-check-doublecheck phase. And thus I am exhausting myself with plans.

At some point, I will have to blindly follow my own plans. It doesn’t matter if, at first, it looks like I have the wrong plans. I must not adjust my plans right away, or I will spend a lifetime planning and never executing them. For at least a few months, I need to stick to the plans no matter what.

So, this post is just a reminder to myself… a public proclamation… that I know I should stop thinking and start doing. And that hopefully, in a month or two, I’ll be able to look back and say: this was when I began moving toward that new want/need/desire with 100% conviction.

And as the first step toward that goal, again, I say: I will stop thinking about myself in the old way. I am not a ruminator. I am not a brooder. By nature, I do things. Things get done by me. I will be where I want to be. I am where I want to be.

#life

 
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from Looking at the other side

Tags: #Software #Writing

Commit messages are important. They provide a good understanding of the past, of the project's history. I do my best to craft good commit messages*, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement.

So, when I come across commit messages like this:

Respect! I respect and look up to this muthafucka.

Damn, it's a blessing to be surrounded by smart colleagues. Working in a challenging environment is quite effective to up your game. This is better than getting a degree from an Ivy League university—and way cheaper.


* The way software engineers write commit messages says a lot about the quality of the code they write. The author of the message showed above is, indeed, a pretty capable software engineer. Each time I have an issue/question related to the device's OS or the build system, I contact him, knowing he's going to provide solutions not excuses.

By the way, I did notice the small error in the commit message. Fair enough. Even the most experienced engineers make silly mistakes here and there in code as well. That's why we have code reviews as part of the software development cycle, which consist of having a peer reviewing and maybe testing your code. This is similar to peer reviews in academia, or proofreading + copy editing in professional writing. But, yeah, we don't always have someone else reviewing the commit messages, let's not overdo.

 
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from Elias

I love money. Not that it's important for me to have much of it but I love how it enables me to do stuff. And I love how it fulfils a function in our society that nothing else can. It's just how we think about it that causes all our problems, but money itself doesn't think.

This is a lesson I learned bit by bit, but if you want to dive in head first, here's a good mentor I found this year. Don't take him too serious but think about what he says.

Connect this to the idea of the Tao Te Ching or Karma or any other spiritual wisdom tradition and it makes perfect sense.

Connect this to the idea of taking full responsibility for your own life and you'll likely end up doing something like this:

Personally, I am quite far away from this ideal, but bit by bit I'm getting there, automating more and more of my finances, reducing liabilities and diversifying my assets. It's almost as simple as that.

 
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