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Mark Atwood
I have the "follow your politicians" feature turned on on Facebook. The main thing I've learned from reading "my" politician's social media writings is that it always has the same style of smarmy barflgab of marketing spam copy of 10 years ago (current-year marketing bullshit copy tends to be much clearer and punchy, and is less mindbreakingly stupid) that I long ago trained my internal mental adblocker to skip over and blur out. To the point that it's actually painful to force myself to read them. This style of teethclenchingly painful writing seems to be independent of party, independent of wing, and independent of level of government.

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Everyone *knew*. For decades. But anyone who could have stopped him, none of them actually cared.

Most of the celebrities, performers, industry executives, and politicians who are today saying "finally", they are merely grandstanding. They didn't care then, and they don't actually care now.

The people who did his accounting, his paperwork, his marketing, his bookings, his promotion, his publicity, his lawyering, the people who were executives, managers, and creatives at his labels, they all knew. And they didn't actually care, as long as the money was flowing and the good times were rolling.

There were people who bought his music. Lots and lots of people. The people who who bought his music, who went to his shows, they knew, and they didn't care.

R Kelly is not the sickness of one sick man. He is the sickness of the tens of thousands of people who took his money, and the sickness of the tens of millions of people who gave him money.  This entry was originally posted at https://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/863062.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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 Groundhog's Day.

It's been a long strange and unexpected 10 years.

The crocuses are coming up, and the daffodils bloom soon.
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 There is a story in my family, about one of my aunts, now passed away. She grew up in in a big east coast city, and then during the Depression era she met this nice Mormon boy, and moved with him into the far beyond of deep rural southern Colorado. And then wrote back to her family in the big city, who were concerned for her welfare. Her letter basically said "I've been eating very well! Did you know? Food just comes up out of the ground! And all you have to do is be willing to work!" This entry was originally posted at https://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/862640.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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 At a tech job I had many years ago, the mailroom and to-desk mail delivery was done by a teenage girl who suffered from some intellectual disabilities of types I never felt the need to ask about. She had the mind and the attitude of a young child, she was always happy to say hello while dropping off and picking up packages and envelopes from everyone's desks, and she loved her job.

Each year in November, when the holiday decorations went up, a note went out to all staff labeled with high priority, that stated that she still believed in Santa Claus, and that anyone who told her otherwise, was fired for cause.

I completely supported that then, and I still do.
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One of my holiday memories from childhood is going to my mom's sister's home to decorate stacks and stacks of sugar cookies with sugar icing dyed with food coloring. While fun and festive, I found it frustrating. I was never able to make them come out as neat and nice as my aunt and my mom were able to do, using butter knives to apply the icing.

(I'm told that I also had a habit of licking the knife, which then had to be taken away from me and replaced with a clean one before I put it back into the bowls of icing. I have no memory of this, but.. yeah.. I probably did that.)

Yesterday I discovered something obvious in retrospect: piping bags. Not just for cake decorating. I was able to crank out dozens and dozens of iced cookies that looked good, and I had fun doing it.

Too bad that I can only *eat* one or two a day of them now.
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I recently wrote an offhand post about doing software archaeology at my job into the FFmpeg project, and one of my nephews, who is very smart but his passions go doing a different path than mine responded with: "I have no idea what you're talking about but I'm sure it's great", and thus so, I wrote up a slightly longer lecture/essay as a comment reply. Then my friend Tim Lord responded with: "that description of codecs deserves to be someplace besides only in a comment on a Facebook post -- cogent, unpatronizing, good refresher". And thus so, here it is:



A codec is a software that turns sound or video into a computer file or back again. Every phone call you have ever heard, and every movie you have ever seen, and all the recorded music you have ever heard (except for actual film movies or phonographs or old cassette tapes) has been processed by an enCODer to record it, and another DECoder to play it back to you.



There are many many many different codecs. Early ones were designed around the limits that computers were not very fast or very powerful, so they did not do a very good job of using the fewest number of computer bits for the best possible audio or video. We have codecs today that are very very good at it, because our computers are fast and powerful enough.

There are many old codecs we can't easily stop using because they are built into systems that can't be easily all replaced at once, such as satellite receivers, telephone switches, and handset cellphones.

Some codecs were created to play movies and sound for computer games, and so the codec software was built into that particular game, and used only for one or a few games, and then never used again.

Codecs are very difficult to design well, because they depend on how human brains, human eyes, and human ears work. To save space, a codec does not want to spend computer power saving or playing back the parts of music or video that your brain cannot hear or see. So codec designers have to study human perception, and have to test things out on human volunteers, which is slow and expensive.

Widely used codecs are often "standards". Corporations, governments, and universities will work together to carefully design a codec that then can be used in many places at once, so that lots of systems can all talk to each other.

One of those groups is called the "Motion Picture Experts Group", which is supervised by an organization called the "International Standards Organization", and one of the standard codecs they designed was called "Audio Layer", and they made several versions of Audio Layer until the 3rd version was good enough. Thus "ISO MPEG version 2 AL version 3", or for short "MP3".

FFmpeg is an open source software project that was originally an implementation of one of the MPEG video codecs, but since then has become a project that tries to have an implementation of every possible codec. FFmpeg contains old codecs that are no longer used, old codecs that are still widely used, codecs that were used in old video games and never used again, new codecs that are now used a lot, and also lots of experimental codecs that people wrote to figure out what does and does not work in a codec.

Because FFmpeg has so many codecs in it, people now use it to "translate anything to anything", and they also use it to analyze and process audio and video information. My own employer uses FFmpeg in many places inside our company, to do lots of the things that our customers pay us for.



My nephew then had the question "So JPEG artifacts are because of an outdated codec?", to which I responded:

Every codec has artifacts if driven too hard, if its told "no, compress it even harder, fewer bits". There are newer codecs that are better than JPEG that don't start having visible artifacts so soon, and have artifacts that are less distracting. But we can't change all the image viewing software everywhere, so we will have to live with JPEG for a long time.

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When I was living in Alaska in 1989, I bought a used Minolta Maxxum 35mm film camera. It had integrated autofocus, which was cutting edge at the time. And it came with a couple of 3rd party lenses, so I go from adjustable focal length 28mm to 108mm, as well as the stock 50mm lens. Also included was a small tripod, and a remote trigger cable, useful for long exposures.

I shot a lot of pictures with that camera while there, including a lot of long exposure shots of the aurora.

Later, I took a practical photography class in college, which open up the university's darkroom to me. I shot and developed a lot of b&w 35mm film using that camera and that darkroom, including a bunch of "push developed" shots theater rehearsals.

Over the next many years, that was my working camera.


When I finally went digital in the early 0's, that camera went into a box, where it sat in the dark. Occasionally ove the years, it would get unpacked, and then packed into another box, for another long dark wait.


Finally this weekend, it was unpacked, and then listed on a neighborhood "free stuff" group, and was picked up by the mother of a teenage girl, who is going to use it for a practical film photography class in the local high school.

I'm glad the class is making them use film, as a way to focus attention. And I'm glad that camera, that brought me so much joy and recorded so many memories and places, is now being used again.

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I have no idea why I'm considering doing such a crazy thing, but I'm considering starting and running an APA.

How an APA works:
* You write or draw on up to two sheets of paper, double sided.
* You send it to me, either via postal mail or email PDF.
* I collate them all together into a stack.
* I photocopy and bind the stack, making N copies. Enough to send one in the postal mail out to each member.
* I mail a copy to everyone.
* You get it the post. You read and enjoy it.
* You write or draw on up to two sheets of paper...

Some notes:
* I'll be willing to cover the copy costs and postage, at least until it gets too expensive.
* I'm willing to have members with non-US international addresses, again until it gets too expensive.
* Other members will not see your postal address, unless you yourself decide to put it on one of your pages.
* You can send your contribution in as a PDF, or as an actual sheet.
* Paper size has to be 8.5x11. Print will be B&W photocopy.
* I reserve the right to change number of sheets members get to send in
* I reserve the right to cap the number of members
* I reserve the right to drop any contribution, and I reserve the right to evict any member.
* The COC is: don't piss me off, don't virtue signal, content needs to be kid-friendly and safe-for-work.
* Topic is general, anything you want to write or draw. Fiction, non-fiction, gonzo journalism, bad poetry, good drawing, ...


So, if I decide to do this, do you want in?
Reply here, or msg me, or email me.

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I've noticed that I pronounce "K" and "Q" differently.

K is shorter, Q is longer.
K is harder, Q is softer.
K is started with a full stop, Q is not.
K starts and stops. Q is practically a sibilant, and I can drag it out.
Between the two, my tongue makes a different shape and touches the roof of my mouth in a different spot.

Now I need to find an expert in Phonetics, to tell me the IPA symbol and name for my K and Q sounds, and to tell me if this is idiosyncratic or not.

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