Dandelion Cottage and other books

Oct. 6th, 2015 08:13 pm
grrlpup: (rose)
[personal profile] grrlpup

the real Dandelion Cottage

Just finished Dandelion Cottage, by Carroll Watson Rankin. 1904, middle-grade by today’s categories: four girls get to use a delapidated cottage, owned by the church on their block, as a summer play-house. I checked it out because Beverly Cleary mentioned in A Girl from Yamhill that it was a childhood favorite of hers. (And I see, browsing Goodreads, that I’m not the only one who read it for that reason.) There is lots of housecleaning! And entertaining a real live boarder for three weeks, and a culminating dinner party for the kindly landlord and favorite neighbor.

One thing stood out compared to contemporary books: the rotten new girl who steals, wrecks stuff, and otherwise makes things no fun doesn’t get the note of sympathy or redemption that would be required now. Laura’s parents are mean and negligent, and although the four Dandelion Cottage girls keep reminding each other not to sink to her level, no adult or narrator points out that Laura hasn’t really had friends before, has a tough family life, et cetera. I wonder when sympathy for bullies and “bad kids” became de rigueur– sometime before Mary Stolz’ A Dog on Barkam Street led to The Bully of Barkham Street in 1963?

There are two brief mentions of playing Indian, early in the book. No other content warnings that I can recall.

Dandelion Cottage would make a lovely pair with Elizabeth Enright’s 1958 Gone-Away Lake. And it has a school-story sequel called Girls of Highland Hall, which I have snagged to read on my phone.

The rest of my current reads:

  • The Swan and the Seal, by Kristi Lee. She went indie with her sequel to the m/m novella Surprised At Nothing and changed the point of view to my favorite character!
  • The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud. Audiobook. I like the relatively subtle questioning of right-and-wrong, and Simon Jones does a wonderful sardonic Bartimeus! The disappointment is that I was sure Martha Underwood would turn out to be sneaky and powerful. She got Nathan’s real name out of him in the first five minutes! She walked right in on her husband’s meeting with Lovelace! But no, apparently not. :(
  • The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds. He has such a strong, easy prose style. It makes me feel like I know the characters, like we hang out all the time.
  • Year of the Griffin, by Diana Wynne Jones. I think I’ll always have a book of hers at hand for odd moments, because something interesting happens on every single page. Moment-to-moment interestingness.

    This post also appears at read write run repeat. Comments read and welcomed in either place!

Stomach worries

Oct. 6th, 2015 03:28 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Couple of weeks ago I was sick with some sort of stomach virus, throwing up and with a mild fever. By the end of the week i eating more or less normally but my stomach still hurt and then over this last weekend that became serious reflux. Now I'm realizing I'm feeling dizzy and exhausted and am not eating normally. Sitting up after I eat or drink anything, but that doesn't stop that it hurts like hell!

Complaining about health, food, behind cut
Read more... )

Going my own way

Oct. 6th, 2015 01:38 pm
[personal profile] mjg59
Reaction to Sarah's post about leaving the kernel community was a mixture of terrible and touching, but it's still one of those things that almost certainly won't end up making any kind of significant difference. Linus has made it pretty clear that he's fine with the way he behaves, and nobody's going to depose him. That's unfortunate, because earlier today I was sitting in a presentation at Linuxcon and remembering how much I love the technical side of kernel development. "Remembering" is a deliberate choice of word - it's been increasingly difficult to remember that, because instead I remember having to deal with interminable arguments over the naming of an interface because Linus has an undying hatred of BSD securelevel, or having my name forever associated with the deepthroating of Microsoft because Linus couldn't be bothered asking questions about the reasoning behind a design before trashing it.

In the end it's a mixture of just being tired of dealing with the crap associated with Linux development and realising that by continuing to put up with it I'm tacitly encouraging its continuation, but I can't be bothered any more. And, thanks to the magic of free software, it turns out that I can avoid putting up with the bullshit in the kernel community and get to work on the things I'm interested in doing. So here's a kernel tree with patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface. Over time it'll pick up some of the power management code I'm still working on, and we'll see where it goes from there. But, until there's a significant shift in community norms on LKML, I'll only be there when I'm being paid to be there. And that's improved my mood immeasurably.

Want to support my writing?

Oct. 5th, 2015 10:36 am
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
If you've liked my public writing, and can afford it, you can now sponsor me at $1/month or up, via Patreon. If you can't afford it, no hard feelings, I totally understand! Feel free to spread the word.

In case anyone was wondering

Oct. 2nd, 2015 12:02 pm
[personal profile] yendi
If the notion that no cat would be stupid/malicious enough to pee on a surge protector ever achieves urban legend levels of popularity, let me assure anyone from Snopes that this is FALSE.

Thankfully, all cats are fine.

Our cable box/DVR, not so much. Ditto the surge protector itself.

Main suspect is Bash, due to the fact that A) he likes to pee on things, and B) he's nicknamed Murder Cat for a reason, and shorting electronics on a carpet is a great way to burn down the house. Charlotte is also a suspect, as she's not above peeing on things either. Whisper's probably not guilty.

Of all the electronics that could have fried, this was the best choice. It was also good that the house did not burn down.

Anyway, that was yesterday's excitement. Bonus for my discovering things in the dark, and dealing with figuring out what had happened while being unable to reset the circuit until after the surge protector had been unplugged.


Oct. 1st, 2015 06:24 pm
shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, sitting down (b'z sitting)
[personal profile] shadowspar

The forums over at track-chinapost.com offer some fascinating sociological observations.

(~500 words) )
[personal profile] yendi
[REC] 3 is generally, and rightly, considered a mess of a movie. It's not a bad zombie movie, per se, but it missed the point entirely of the first two movies, and feels like an entirely different zombie movie renamed to be a part of the franchise.

So imagine my surprise when Aimee and I decided to watch [REC] 4: Apocalypse the other night, and discovered that it was actually A) a legit sequel to the first two movies, and B) pretty decent.

The first two films, of course, are two of the better "found footage" films, as well as solid zombie movies*. They're set in a sealed apartment building, and deal with a zombie outbreak that seems to have potentially both religious and scientific origins.

The third films's just a mess of a parallel movie, detailing a supposedly related outbreak at a wedding that just doesn't fit in with the other movies.

This one follows the first two, picking up after [REC 2], with a group of government agents getting into the building and rescuing the one survivor -- Ángela -- who might or might not be the host for the strange parasite that spreads the zombie plague and which the Vatican thinks is the cause of demonic possession. After being rescued, she wakes up to find herself on a boat, along with various scientific and military personal studying her. The movie wisely abandons the first-person shakycam, but both security cameras and the footage from the first two movies play a role in the plot. There's one character who supposedly survived the massacre in the third film, but nothing about her story requires seeing that movie, thankfully.

Things go horribly awry whens someone on the boat manages to break into the scientific labs and release a monkey infected with the virus. You can probably guess the larger outline of what happens next, but it's the specifics of how the main characters (who, aside from Ángela, include a pair of soldiers, some scientists, and the ship's tech guru) deal with the outbreak that really makes the movie work. It takes the elements of the first two movies to a logical conclusion, has (as always) a number of interesting characters, and is thoroughly intense throughout. It's not as good as the first movie, but it does form a nice ending to the story, and is absolutely worth seeing if you're already invested in the series**.

*The entire series, for those who don't know, is from Spain, and stands with the original version of The Orphanage as its most notable horror success on this side of the pond in recent years, even as France and the Scandinavian countries have dominated the genre.

**Probably not the ideal starting point if you haven't seen the first two movies, mind you. See those first!


Sep. 25th, 2015 08:36 am
[personal profile] yendi
So we ([personal profile] shadesong, [profile] felisdemens, Aimee, Corey, and I) caught Cooties last night. The movie, that is. It was playing at the Brattle, and was totally worth it.

I cannot recommend this film enough if you're a horror fan. It's a horror comedy, and genuinely one of the better ones I've seen in ages. It's co-written by Leigh Whannell (who wrote Saw, a movie that I'm underwhelmed by, as well as a number of other movies that even fans of Saw dislike) and Ian Brennan (co-creator of Scream Queens, which I also need to write a post about, but which I enjoyed way more than I expected to), and has a great cast, including Whannell and Brennan (who both steal a bunch of scenes), Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Jorge Garcia, Nasim Pedrad, Jack McBrayer, and Allison Pill (who does not play drums at any point, alas).

The plot: Infected chickens are made into chicken nuggets (in what's easily the grossest part of the film), and when a little girl eats one, she gets infected and zombified. Soon enough, the entire elementary school is rabid, and a few teachers (and students) are the only survivors. Hilarity and bloodshed ensue.

And it really does work well. The movie is smart about its kids, not showing them as lovable, but also not really spending time on more than one or two particularly awful ones before things go awry. The characters are ridiculous and over the top in just the right way, and the cast sells the movie with everything they've got. The movie also takes two surprising gambles late in the movie (I won't spoil either one), both of which really paid off for me. Great dialogue, good action sequences, and generally smart decisions (there's only one minor stupid move committed by the survivors, and it's more in retrospect; compare that to Shawn of the Dead, which is filled with people being idiots). And just the pre-zombie classroom sequence with a kid named Patriot (who was born on 9/11 and believes he's destined to save the country) is fucking hysterical.

Definitely see this film if you like your horror comedies smart without getting too self-referential*. If you're lucky enough to be in an area that shows films like this on the big screen, even better, as I never find video-on-demand as entertaining.

*Okay, they do make one good Hobbit joke.
[personal profile] mjg59
When I wrote about TPM attestation via 2FA, I mentioned that you needed a bootloader that actually performed measurement. I've now written some patches for Shim and Grub that do so.

The Shim code does a couple of things. The obvious one is to measure the second-stage bootloader into PCR 9. The perhaps less expected one is to measure the contents of the MokList and MokSBState UEFI variables into PCR 14. This means that if you're happy simply running a system with your own set of signing keys and just want to ensure that your secure boot configuration hasn't been compromised, you can simply seal to PCR 7 (which will contain the UEFI Secure Boot state as defined by the UEFI spec) and PCR 14 (which will contain the additional state used by Shim) and ignore all the others.

The grub code is a little more complicated because there's more ways to get it to execute code. Right now I've gone for a fairly extreme implementation. On BIOS systems, the grub stage 1 and 2 will be measured into PCR 9[1]. That's the only BIOS-specific part of things. From then on, any grub modules that are loaded will also be measured into PCR 9. The full kernel image will be measured into PCR10, and the full initramfs will be measured into PCR11. The command line passed to the kernel is in PCR12. Finally, each command executed by grub (including those in the config file) is measured into PCR 13.

That's quite a lot of measurement, and there are probably fairly reasonable circumstances under which you won't want to pay attention to all of those PCRs. But you've probably also noticed that several different things may be measured into the same PCR, and that makes it more difficult to figure out what's going on. Thankfully, the spec designers have a solution to this in the form of the TPM measurement log.

Rather than merely extending a PCR with a new hash, software can extend the measurement log at the same time. This is stored outside the TPM and so isn't directly cryptographically protected. In the simplest form, it contains a hash and some form of description of the event associated with that hash. If you replay those hashes you should end up with the same value that's in the TPM, so for attestation purposes you can perform that verification and then merely check that specific log values you care about are correct. This makes it possible to have a system perform an attestation to a remote server that contains a full list of the grub commands that it ran and for that server to make its attestation decision based on a subset of those.

No promises as yet about PCR allocation being final or these patches ever going anywhere in their current form, but it seems reasonable to get them out there so people can play. Let me know if you end up using them!

[1] The code for this is derived from the old Trusted Grub patchset, by way of Sirrix AG's Trusted Grub 2 tree.
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