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Month: July 2019

Liked Fossil Fuels are Unethical by Peter RukavinaPeter Rukavina

On July 11, 2019 there was an exchange between the Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker and Hon. Darlene Compton in the Legislative Assembly surrounding a question by Bevan-Baker about government investment from fossil fuels:
Government funds divest from fossil fuels
A question to the minister: Will the minister …

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I got my first spam comments, for buying cheap [REDACTED] to which I’m allergic. I guess I’m a real live website now and should probably not put personal information out there that could be used against me.

YOLO!

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Calgary Transit

Oh, here we go, transit woes.

I’m visiting Mom in Calgary and to get to downtown (or anywhere, really) it’s a bus to a C-train, to maybe another bus.

A day pass for transit normally costs about 3x a single fare (when purchased in a 10-pack of tickets). During Stampede week, it’s the price of 2 tickets.

Bus passes are only available at c-train stations. And – here’s the rub – they’re only available the same day that you’re going to use them.

Mom and I spent about 15 minutes on the phone with the help line last night, trying to figure out why this is. For someone in the suburbs like us, you have to spend a ticket to get a day-pass?

Apparently, day passes used to be sold at convenience stores, but (as CT still uses the paper-based system the had since the early 90’s when I moved here) they would get photocopied and re-sold. Sure enough, a half-decent colour copier could make a very good clone – they don’t have the silvery holographic stuff that monthly passes do. So, I get that.

But then the employee mentioned “this way’s okay for park-n-ride users.”

Call me indignant, but a transit system that assumes you’re going to drive the first leg of the trip is not a transit system.

Luckily, I explained that Mom and I were going downtown and the bus driver let me on and then had a long conversation with Mom about Montreal, during which the entire bus got to hear my life story, as my face got redder and redder.

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Using FreshRSS to “Like” blog posts via Webmention – on WordPress

Continuing Peter’s work on hooking up FreshRSS with Drupal to “like” posts, I wanted to do the same on my WordPress site. Knowing nothing about FreshRSS nor WordPress, and unable to peer into the FreshRSS database (the .sqlite file is encrypted?), I went the route (lol) less travelled by, and coded a FreshRSS plugin. Hey, turns out I didn’t need much MVC framework, once I grokked how the CustomCSS plugin worked.

I’m too tired to include a full walkthrough, because I’ve been at this since 8am. Here’s the code on Github. I had to hack FreshRSS so that it fired a hook after a successful “favourite”. I also noticed that poetry wasn’t showing up well on FreshRSS because of a workaround from five years ago, so I submitted my first blogging-related pull request.

After reading Ton’s description of setting up a network of test sites, I did my debugging on a pair of test subdomains. The sites that have been “Liking” each other all day are Crowley and Aziraphale. 😈😇

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Liked Spotify is a Prison for Podcasts by an author

I have been a happy customer of Spotify for several years now, after flirting back and forth with Apple Music, Google Play Music and the late Rdio for several years before that. We have a family subscription, which we all three use extensively, no more so than Oliver who, for many months now has bee…

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Cool Kid Clout

After getting frustrated with Commafeed and its refusal to actually refresh, I finally got FreshRSS installed. I insisted on making a subdomain (rss dot lefaive dot ca) and it took embarrassingly long to get configured correctly. (You have to add a CNAME record with the registrar as well as make and enable a vhost, and then make sure that the root directory is readable by your webserver sheesh Rosie what were you thinking).

the kid’s own rss feed reader

Next up: publishing my own reading list/OPML file, hooking up webmentions so I can “Like” from my RSS reader, and installing RSS Bridge so I can Instagram from home. #millennialNeeds

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Rainy Weekend Comic Reviews

@thecomichunter has a permanent 2-for-1 sale on used comics, so on Friday I found two Volumes 1 of series I haven’t read, that were both priced at $9.99.

The Wicked + The Divine. Vol. 1, The Faust Act. Image Comics.

I’ve been meaning to read this comic for a while, since I heard it was captivating, “Gaimanesque,” and non-cis-white-hetero-dude-centric. But every damn time I walked into the comic book store, I forgot it’s dang name. Cue (at least 4 times): “Do you have The Sacred and The Profane. Or something like that? The Cursed and the Blessed? Angels and Demons?!” But then (when I finally found Vol 1) I got cold feet, because it looked awfully violent and it had a kind of cheesy premise:

Every ninety years twelve gods return as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are all dead. It’s happening now. It’s happening again.

Back cover, Vol. 1

But I gave it a shot, and oh gods I’m so glad I did. “Set my heart aflame” all right. If I were to “8th-grade-book-report” this [source, and what I’m actually referring to as told by Tufekci and Ellis], I’d say the theme is the difference between agency and power. As Baal says at the beginning of Issue 4,

“We don’t get to change anything. We get to change you, and then you choose what to do with it.”

page not numbered

In today’s world of “influencer gods” (and if you know me, Tufekci and Ellis are core to my own personal pantheon), attention and admiration is a form of power, but under The Algorithms it’s a power to keep doing that thing you’re doing that pleases the masses. Pleases, and maybe shapes. Can the millions of rabid fans of Natalie Wynn and Oliver Thorn actually change the world? Stop global warming, implement UBI, and abolish property? Maybe, if we get our fucking act together. But those “gods” can’t do it on their own.

Back to the book. When I say it is non-cis-white-hetero-dude centric, I mean there are maaaayyybe two named characters who fit that description, but barely get any lines. Basically everybody is female, and has a ton of power, and it’s great. And when they talk about sex (and they do, a lot) it’s because rock-star-power (often) includes being a sex god, and they own it. They are gooooorrrgeoooouuuss but their bodies are never played up for a (presumed straight male) reader to gaze at. If you like women dressed as Bowie, though, you might want to find a towel. Why am I going on about this? I’ll get there…

Our audience-insert (and Faustian) character is Laura, a teen girl who drops out of school to be a groupie. This is such a departure from how other comic books (and society in general) have treated this stereotype of rabid super-fan, and the concept of female fandom in general. That was refreshing, though (spoilers!) I get the feeling that she’s “more than” the normal teenager that she seems.

I’m terrible at reviews, but here are some stray thoughts:

  1. I did not get all the musical references, but a quick bit of Googling made Laura and Luci’s first conversation a little bit clearer. Apparently they have an accompanying #wicdiv playlist? Makes me feel a little bit better about including an audio suggestion in my last college paper.
  2. I was tickled by how Laura was portrayed at being bad at research (“oh god no don’t make me go to page 2 of google”) before being ribbed about it by a woman with a Masters’ degree (“Little Miss My-first-search-engine”). Info literacy ftw!
  3. “1-2-3-4” is super cute motif and I wish I could work it in here somehow. Oh. Heh.
  4. The art was amazing, the use of panels and space and eyeflow and “camera” angles was quite excellent.

In contrast:

Ex Machina. Book 1: The First Hundred Days. DC Comics.

I liked Brian K. Vaughan’s work in Saga, though to be honest I got a bit bored because it felt like it was going nowhere, and quit reading a while ago. This was quite different, and, sigh, I think I’ll quit reading now.

Other reviewers took issue with the scale of the narrative and the presence (or lack thereof) of New York City as a character in its own right. I can agree, though am not an expert storyteller and did not pick up on those myself. But it just seems like it’s not a story worth sticking around for.

Premise: A civil engineer gets superpowers from a mysterious probably-alien object and becomes Magneto-for-all-things-mechanical. After a short misguided career as a vigilante, “The Great Machine” hangs up the helmet and becomes mayor of New York City. Oh, this engineer is a straight white cis het dude. So, classic power fantasy meets reality makes this a “modern” comic. He has to deal with an attempted assassination, a couple of murders during a blizzard, and a publicity debacle including racially-charged artwork at a publically-funded museum. His attempts at getting involved usually just screw things up more, and supporting characters actually solve all the narrative’s problems. Yet this is somehow his story – of how hard it is to rule a city that doesn’t want to be governed, when you have to consider so much more than yourself. *eyeroll*. There’s also a bunch of casual racism, homophobia, ableism, and misogyny. We usually say “it didn’t age well” but you know what? It was hurtful then too. Oh, I promised to get back to the male gaze, but I really don’t want to. It’s there. It’s gross.

The art feels claustrophobic, which is uncomfortable but suits the theme, and interestingly? the fun-shit-in-the-back-of-the-comic-book shows how they created the storyboards using photographs of actors, then illustrated based on that. It’s lifelike, I guess, but feels creatively constrained, and ends up looking a little tableau-ish.

The Black character was cast as a white actor.

So I guess it embodies its own theme, of the challenges faced by well-intentioned white guys when trying to fix “the great machine” of society on their own, without interrogating how the machine works, who it runs for, or whether mechanical determinism is a good metaphor for society in the first place.

[Edited because I didn’t want to stand behind the phrase “it didn’t age well”.]

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