In other news, local sportsball team successfully sportsballed for the sixth time. Local amphibious vehicles will be deployed to parade said sportsball team around Boston tomorrow.
In other news, local sportsball team successfully sportsballed for the sixth time. Local amphibious vehicles will be deployed to parade said sportsball team around Boston tomorrow.
Senator Chuck Schumer got 11 Republicans to break ranks from Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to vote against easing some Russia sanctions.— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 16, 2019
Do not lose faith. Anything is possible. pic.twitter.com/dRfTsCHJDj
For those who don't do video tweets: Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was able to get eleven Republican senators to vote in favor of blocking the relaxing of (some) sanctions against a Russian oligarch - despite the best efforts of the Senate Majority Leader and the Trump Administration.
Considering how much else of today's news has been a nonstop dumpster fire, the fact that just maaaaybe some folks in the GOP might do the right thing for the nation is ... well, still pretty goddamn unlikely. (It'll take at least two more GOP senators to keep McConnell from filibustering.) But I'll take grounds for hope wherever I can find them.
I've got a new state rep, Tami Gouvela. (Cory Atkins retired.)
Question 3 passed, meaning that discriminating on the basis of gender identification remains illegal.
Oh, and the 116th Congress will have a House of Representatives with a Democratic majority. Which will at least provide some oversight on the antics of the Executive Branch.
(Edit to add: The preliminary town-wide results are up, and turnout was 72%!)
I can remember, not too long ago, when the idea of the Sox winning it all was painfully laughable.
 For the value of "World" that means "USA professional men's". But still.
Their website, of course, is somewhat more verbose: ( cut for soggy details )
I'm already on high ground, so it's not any sort of imminent threat. But there are a few poorly-drained roads nearby that I'll need to dodge if I go out.
(Even if there's nobody you want to vote for, I'm sure there's somebody on the ballot you want to vote against, and you can always write someone in.)
I discovered that I was on the "inactive" list - presumably I forgot to return this year's town census form? - so I had to spend an extra few minutes verifying that yes, I still live in town. Hopefully that won't be an issue in November.
Of course, today is also the first day of school in my town, and the polling places are (naturally) in school buildings. Whose bright idea was that, I wonder?
Once before, I pledged my own life, fortune and sacred honor to defend these truths, and this my nation. While my enlistment contract has long since expired, that pledge of mine never will.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
(Transcript from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/
The Tuesday before last, the hand doc gave me a corticosteriod shot. It took a couple of days for the pain of the shot itself to wear off; once it did, though, my wrist felt fine. Until yesterday, when I started noticing the same sort of pain, in the same place, on an off-and-on basis.
Looks like I may have to investigate that surgery option after all. Exactly what I wanted to be thinking about the day before my birthday, during what is predicted to be a week-long heat wave.
Apparently I give good interview, because WBZ used footage of me for their story:
I must admit, this is a much better way to end up on the evening news than some!
(OTOH, whoever wrote the web copy screwed up my last name. The TV reporter, Lisa Gresci, made sure she got it right.)
Edited to add: the clip is also now on YouTube, courtesy of CBS:
I saw the specialist this afternoon, and he did some poking and some prodding and hmmm-hmmming, as specialists are wont to do. They did a couple of x-rays (with the modern, fancy digital machines that don't require film), and the diagnosis became clear the moment he saw them: yes, it's arthritis, but no, it's not the type my PCP thought it was.
Specifically, it's a type of osteoarthritis called "scaphotrapeziotrapezoid" or STT. Basically, I don't have any cartilage at all between the scaphoid and trapezium bones of my left hand. He gave me a corticosteriod shot, which will hopefully provide extended relief. If that doesn't work, there is apparently a very successful surgical repair available; unfortunately, recovery requires a month in a cast and two months of PT.
I suppose this is one of the "joys" of getting older. The next joy likely being arguments with the insurance company. Meanwhile, I'll remember the final verse of Silly Wizard's "Ramblin Rover":
If you're bent wi' arthiritis,
Your bowels have got colitis,
You've gallopin' bollockitis
And you're thinkin' it's time you died,
If you've been a man o' action,
Though you're lying there in traction,
You will get some satisfaction
Thinkin', "Jesus, at least I tried."
My last day in the United States Navy.
A few months later, in November, the Berlin Wall fell. (Officially, November 9 was the day the East German government started letting East Berlin residents freely travel to West Berlin. The big party started that night.) The Wall was almost as old as I was; seeing West and East dancing atop it made me realize that the Cold War was over, the West had won, and I'd been a small part of that victory.
Today, the Secretary-General of the United Nations said:
"The Cold War is back with a vengeance, but with a difference," he said. "The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present."
Gee, thanks, Mr. Trump. You're doing a heck of a job. </sarcasm>
The MBTA has gone into hunker-down mode as well; for the first time ever, the commuter rail is running what they call the Extremely Reduced Schedule. (Which looks suspiciously like a Saturday schedule.) Fortunately, this Current Paying Gig supports working from home in situations like this.
Perhaps I should say that he went out of his way to come by and meet me. (I'd never met him in person, as he's running a different group and I'm unlikely to work with him directly any time soon.) The egoboo came from why he said he wanted to meet me: apparently I was one of (if not the) best phone screens he'd ever done. In his words, once we'd gotten off the phone, he wanted to turn to the audience and say "now that's how it's done!"
I'm really beginning to like this place ...
Today is not the anniversary of the East Germans closing the border between East Germany (that chunk of Germany that the USSR occupied following WWII) and West Germany (that chunk occupied by the USA, UK and France). That was August 13, 1961.
It's not the anniversary of the East Germans reopening that border, either. That was November 9, 1989, a few months after I'd gotten out of the US Navy. I remember watching people dancing atop the Berlin Wall on TV and thinking to myself that my time in the Navy was truly worth while; we'd managed to bring down the Wall (and soon thereafter, the Soviet Union) without a shooting war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
But today is the day when the Berlin Wall has been down as long as it was up. A good reminder that hope sometimes does pay off.
Then we get the deep freeze. Tonight's low temperature is predicted to be 7F. Saturday's high is predicted to be 6F.
Temperatures are not predicted to get above the freezing point until Tuesday at the earliest.
The good news is that I don't have to worry about a commute; the bad news is this will probably mean we cancel the first choir practice of the new year.
They've updated their blog post (although not the related FAQ entry) with some more information about why they did this. Apparently, they're trying to move away from charging supporters once per month to charging them once per pledge per month:
How on earth does this relate to the new service fee? We’ll get there. But first, let me talk about our plan to address all of these concerns and all of the confusion around payments. Our vision for our payments system is that creators have confidence that their content will always be paid for, and patrons have absolute clarity about how much they will be charged, and when.Wrong.
To do that, we need all creators to get the benefits of charge up front.
To do that, we need to eliminate the "double charge" scenario that harms patrons today.
To do that, we need to move our payments system to treat your pledges like any other subscription service. In other words, we need a system that charges patrons at the time of their initial pledge, and on the anniversary of their pledge each month thereafter.
First off, the value that Patreon adds to me as a supporter is specifically the aggregation of charges into one monthly payment. I'm quite aware that, for tiny payments, payment processor fees are extremely high on a percentage basis. I thought that the whole point of Patreon was micropayment aggregation. Apparently, Patreon's management (or possibly their venture capital investors) think otherwise.
Secondly, you don't need charge up front to achieve "creators have confidence that their content will always be paid for, and patrons have absolute clarity about how much they will be charged, and when". All you'd need to do is to charge a pro-rated pledge at the time of signup - a supporter who starts a new $1 pledge on November 10 (a 30-day month) is charged $0.67 at signup, one who starts on November 15 is charged $0.50, etc. On December 1, the patron gets charged the extra buck as part of the monthly cycle.
Thirdly, there is no good technical reason for not allowing creators to eat these charges if they so choose. After all, that's exactly how Patreon's current system works. Folks who get paid for their creative work become small businesspeople out of necessity, and understand the value of controlling their prices.
Fourth, as I mentioned in my previous post, folks supporting good causes (like their favorite creators) are often willing to add a "tip" to offset payment-processing charges if they're asked to do so. Patreon could have easily made that an option had they chosen to do so.
Sigh. I'm not quitting Patreon just yet. However, I know many of the folks I'm supporting are looking for alternatives; if they find good ones, I'm going to support them through those channels and not Patreon in the future.
Unfortunately, Patreon has arbitrarily decided to change their fee structure - supposedly to improve the creator's revenue stream - but in a remarkably patron-hostile manner.
They just sent me the following email (cut to save one's reading page):
( Patreon's fee-hike email )
Instead of passing any payment-processing charges on to the creators (who, in the US at least, can deduct said charges as part of the cost of doing business), Patreon is apparently going to charge patrons 2.9% plus $0.35 per pledge. For large pledges, that's not a big deal; for small pledges, though, that's a killer on a percentage basis.
- A $100.00 monthly pledge would cost $103.25 (a 3.25% charge). Not too bad; when local non-profits run fund-raising auctions, they'll often ask folks who pay by credit card to add a 3% "tip" to cover the card processing fees, and most folks are willing to do so once asked.
- A $10.00 monthly pledge would cost $10.64 (a 6.4% charge). That's kind of steep; as I understand it, even Paypal only charges 5%. Most credit-card processors take 3% or less, and debit-card charges are even less.
- But a $1.00 pledge? That's going to run me $1.38 - a 38% markup. Thirty-eight percent. I don't think even the worst of the international money transfer outfits charge that much.
It wouldn't have been that bad if Patreon had decided to charge 2.9% + $0.35 per monthly payment, mind you. That would at least look comparable to their incoming payment processing costs, which I presume are based on a percentage-plus-minimum-fee per payment. As I noted above, most people giving money to support good stuff are cool with a small surcharge to cover unavoidable payment-processor charges. However, charging that flat part per pledge rips off the patrons making $1 and $2 pledges; pure profit for Patreon, not so much for the creators. (Patreon is still taking 5% off the top of what they send to the creators, so that $1 pledge ends up being $0.95 to the creator and $0.43 to Patreon.)
Patreon really botched the rollout on this; all the creators I know are up in arms and many of them are losing patrons right and left. I'm hoping the uproar will result in Patreon reverting to the old fee schedule - or at least switching to a per-payment fee rather than per-pledge - but I'm not going to hold my breath.
Turns out that the water heater sprung a leak. And the heater shutoff valve was stuck. And there wasn’t any sort of leak containment under the heater. And the downstairs wall-to-wall carpet was well and truly waterlogged.
Oh, and the landlord couldn’t find anybody who would come out on Thanksgiving to make repairs.
OTOH, the landlord did come by, with sufficient tools and know-how to get the shutoff valve closed, the heater tank drained, and most of the water sucked out of the carpeting. (Shop-vac good.) Hopefully tomorrow will see a new water heater, and the next few days will see replacement carpeting.
And I did get to see my folks for Thanksgiving. So that was good as well.
According to his page on catholic.org, St. Edmund the Martyr is the patron saint of pandemics and wolves (amongst others). He also was the original Patron Saint of England (according to Historic UK). St. Edmund Rich was an Archbishop of Canterbury, and is the patron saint of St Edmund's College at the University of Cambridge.
I have an author photo coming up and I should do my nails, but what colour?— C.L. Polk (@clpolk) July 26, 2017
Which reminded me that, somewhere back in the glory days of Shadow Unit fandom, I'd joked about color-coding one's nails using the old resistor color coding scheme. So I recalculated Pi to ten significant digits and provided this reply:
Left hand: orange, brown, yellow, brown, green— Edmund Schweppe (@edschweppe) July 26, 2017
Right hand: white, red, blue, green, orange
Then see who decodes it.
Which then led me to try and remember exactly when I'd made that joke.
Which (once my Google-fu failed to locate the joke in question) led me to starting a re-read of the LiveJournals of Chaz Villette, Hafidha Gates and Daphne Worth.
The good news was that I was able to find the reference relatively quickly:
Well, if you want them to think you're getting your sense of humor back, try painting the toenails as follows (left to right): orange, brown, yellow, brown, green, white, red, blue, green, orange. Then see who figures it out first, 0metotchtli or trollcatz
Alas, I discovered that the Shadow Unit forums were down hard. The Wiki has been down for years. Even the CafePress store appears to have gone poof.
Further alas, all too many of the usernames I ran across while searching had the tell-tale strikethroughs of deleted accounts, reminding me of how it was only a few months ago that LiveJournal's Russian ownership changed their Terms of Service in ways that drove many of my friends off their site altogether. (Me, I just stopped crossposting.)
 For values of "recalculate" equal to "looked it up online"