Jan. 18th, 2016

solarbird: (korra-no-fucking-around)

If you’re going to be at Conflikt on Friday evening, and are coming to my Toastmuppet concert, and want to be involved in something fun – something that does not require getting up on stage – talk to me.

We want to try to make something happen and need a few people. I’m not saying more in public in advance.

ps: Legend of Korra fandom helps, but is not required.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (Lecturing)

Anna has been rebuilding the website of a science-fiction club we were in when we met, back when I was out east for school. The club is still around, meeting monthly, doing things, but their website – which we’ve been hosting – was still pretty firmly stuck in 2001 – at best – so Anna has been throwing everything into a more modern WordPress environment.

They’ve had this old logo – their club name (LexFA) in a state-of-Kentucky graphic – but countries and territories, being irregularly-shaped blobs, are not exactly a design element, and there wasn’t really a place for it in the new site. So I decided to play with it to see what could be done, grabbed some NASA starfield and nebula imagery, and came up with something kind of interesting. (The star with the points is both in the original NASA photo and locates the club.) But it’s still pretty useless as a standalone element, even with added text.

So I started poking around with it as a background element, and, with translucency, realised I could take advantage of LCD screen technology to do something kind of cool.

I can’t screencap the result, since the effect relies on the way LCDs physically work. But I can photograph it, even if the photography introduces moiré patterns which aren’t visible to the eye.

Here’s what a typical page looks like, looked at straight on, or from higher than the screen – the usual screen arrangement:

Normal view

And here’s what it looks like if you tilt the screen (or laptop) back, or just look at the screen from below. Again, that’s minus the moiré pattern seen here, which is purely a camera artefact and not visible to the eye.

The Kentucky has you, Neo

Once you know the graphic is there, you can see it at the normal angle too, but it doesn’t get in the way. And it fades to black as you go down from the header – the version I actually have online has more stars below the state outline, and fades to black, so I don’t have to tile anything.

I’m pretty sure the only time anyone will notice – if then – is if they put their laptop down on a table in front of them and then lean back in their chair or on a couch.

Anyway, it’s kind of a silly trick, and will be less and less effective as LCD technology continues to improve. But it’s fun for now. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (Lecturing)
Over on Facebook, people are getting weird and panicky, and posting various bits of data out of context. They're freaking out more than I think they should about the Baltic Dry Index, in particular, and are starting to do things like quote Superstation 95 as a source. (Pro tip: SUPERSTATION 95 IS NOT A SOURCE. DO NOT QUOTE IT. EVER.*)

Anyway, here's a cross-comparison chart you should consider before panicking about the Baltic Dry Index; it's oil price against BDI. Fuel is a meaningful part of the cost of shipping. Note that the BDI follows (in part) the chart of oil, and oil hasn't been this cheap in a while:

Note further that crude oil imports in North America are at lows not seen in a long time due to domestic production; consider the implications of that on an overbuilt shipping fleet. Note further further that China went off its binge of years-in-advance commodity buying a few years ago and a couple of years ago dropped out of that entirely. Note the effects of that on copper and other important industrial commodities, and the effects of that on the value of shipping any of those things around, and the effects of that on demand for shipping and - therefore - price demand ability of an overbuilt shipping fleet.

Get the picture?

I'm not saying shipping isn't slowing. It is, for all the reasons related above. Earnings are also disappointing this season, and the economy is showing stress. Automobile demand isn't great, for example. But these are secular realities in a commodities slump. This happens. Don't panic.

Really, I have to wonder how much recessions (and impressions thereof) are going to change once we get a generation of people who haven't been looking at an alternate mode of civilisation under a completely different economic system (the Communist bloc), and for whom each recession is not some sort of existential crisis leading to straight to international communism. I'm not even sure the millennials will be able to get past it - this might very well take another generation past that. We'll just have to see.

*: Superstation 95 is, in fact, a front for a white-supremacist revolutionary organisation (Hal Turner's, specifically), heavy on the conspiracy theory. A few days ago, they posted a "story" that got passed around through various blogs and ended up on Zero Hedge unquestioned, claiming that all ocean shipping had stopped. All of it. This was horseshit - even the graphic they posted showed cargo ships en route - but that didn't stop people from taking it at face value. Their goal is destabilisation through fear in order to launch a race war. They also claim to be a New York City radio station; they are not. There is no such license. If they exist at all on the air, it is as a pirate station.

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