Aug. 1st, 2014 11:24 am
owlboy: (Kink - b&w collar)
[personal profile] owlboy
I love reading about what straight people think is ''kinky'' and ''adventurous''

''Now we’re getting into more adventurous territory so make sure you have a sink, chair or kitchen surface ready for this.''

''This is pretty much the missionary position but with [the woman] on top which makes it that little bit hotter.''

''Even though there is no eye contact, your guy can gently kiss your neck and whisper romantic words in your ear, which gives a feeling of him being gently dominant, whilst you can play a submissive role.''

[syndicated profile] nerdist_feed

Posted by Malik Forté

For all of you stargazing misfits who happen to be not only “hooked on a feeling,” but hooked on Minecraft at the same damn time, Mojang and Marvel have teamed up to combine a couple of things that may be relevant to your interest. There’s a special Guardians of the Galaxy skin pack on the way for the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft, and today we get a first look at how our favorite band of space outlaws look when they’re all “blockafied” up.




Total creeper status. From these screens we can easily spot the regulars like Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Racoon, Groot, Drax and even the villain of Marvel villains himself, Thanos (who’s way better than Darkseid in my opinion). The skin pack will feature 24 characters in total, though no details have been released on when players will get their hands on them. Let’s hope that if they get here in time to ride the Guardians of The Galaxy wave as the movie is set to launch tomorrow.

[HT: Play XBLA]

[syndicated profile] nerdist_feed

Posted by Eric Diaz

Hosted in Ballroom 20 on Friday afternoon, Archer’s Aisha Tyler, herself a super fan of the show, moderated the panel for Showtime’s new series Penny Dreadful at Comic-Con, and gave the panel an incredible introduction: “Penny Dreadful is on its face a bold and ambitious Victorian horror mash-up… but it’s so much more than that. Through these classic themes — re-imagined-melancholy, depravity, humanity and transcendence — we get a meditation on the primal nature of good and evil, sex and love, and the monstrousness that resides in all of us. The word ‘Demimonde’ means ‘Half World’, but in this show it refers to a world transcendent, at once hidden and rolling in shadows, and also floating above us all, transcendent and radiating divine light. Elegant, literate, sexy and haunting, Penny Dreadful is truly wonderful.”

After that introduction, the first to arrive on stage for the panel was the show’s creator John Logan, followed by Reeve Carney (Dorian Gray), Harry Treadaway (Victor Frankenstein), and finally Josh Hartnett (Ethan Chandler). Before getting any other questions out of the way, Aisha Tyler wanted to address the elephant in the room — or in this case, the wolf, and the season finale’s reveal that Hartnett’s character Ethan Chandler is, in fact, a werewolf. John Logan addressed this and the origins of the show itself, saying, ”I spent ten years of my life thinking about this show, and developing in this show, and I was taking it very seriously, because every time I’ve ever been to Comic-Con, it’s been from the other side, the audience, and it’s very emotional to be sitting on this side. And I have such respect for the genre, because for me, horror isn’t about death, it’s about exultation, and transference, and transformation.”

“So I’ve been thinking about these characters for a really long time,” he continued, “especially the fictional ones like Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Gray and the Creature. [They] inspired me to take these characters and evolve them. New characters like Ethan, Vanessa, Sir Malcolm, and Brona had to fit into what I thought this show was about, and what I think this show is about is the monster in all of us — the thing we must embrace, the thing that frightens us, and the thing that makes us who we are. So when I conceived of this one character [Ethan Chandler] who is American, I went hiking, and being out in the west, as I’m a native Californian… and I would see coyotes. And I thought, well there you have it… Ethan is a werewolf. And I remember my first meeting with Josh I sort of lead with that, the fact that he was a werewolf. And he didn’t run away, he was intrigued.”


Tyler then asked John Logan if there was a moment where the whole world came together for him, when he crystalized all of these myths into one. Logan said, “I started to read a lot of romantic poetry about ten years ago, during a period of time when I was frankly depressed, and those poets also led me back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the first time in many years. And I read it, and I wept, because I was so moved by that story of those two monstrous creations who were both partly devil and partly angel so equally, and I thought that it was such a fascinating world… and it has to do with how I grew up as a gay man, in a time when it wasn’t as socially acceptable as it is now, and I knew what it was like to feel like alienated from my family and my community, and I realized that the very thing that made me different made me who I am.”

“I decided to write about that, and that’s where Penny Dreadful really came from. And I wanted a female protagonist,” he went on, “so I created Vanessa Ives, a woman from a time when they were literally and figuratively corseted, and I thought that was interesting for characters with demons that wanted to get out but couldn’t. The other inspiration were the second generation Universal Horror films, when all of a sudden all these characters started mixing and forming a new cosmology, and that’s what I wanted to do.” Josh Hartnett then made a wisecrack, “So Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the inspiration?”

When Aisha Tyler asked if John was bitten or comes from a long family line of wolves, John Logan simply teased that that was “to be decided.” This led to John Logan talking about developing the backstories for all the characters, and how one of the great joys was developing all the character’s origins, and we’d see more next season, including Ethan’s. “One of our best episodes the first season was episode five, which was the back story of Vanessa Ives.” (This got a loud response from the audience.) After which point Logan said, “All hail Eva Green, one of the most fearless actors I’ve ever worked with.” This too got a huge round of applause. Although absent, it’s clear that Eva Green is the heart and soul of Penny Dreadful.


Of course, one of the most controversial scenes from the series came up next: the same sex encounter between Dorian Gray and Ethan Chandler in episode four. Did both actors know that was going to happen going in? Reeve Carney said he got the script for that episode shortly after he got the part, and all he told John Logan was, “You better cast a hot guy as Ethan.” Logan then added, “As a gay man I thought it would be corrupt and inorganic to not deal with all forms of sexuality in the show. Because I believe the show should deal with all aspects of what it means to be human, from the romantic to the sexual to the psychosexual to the horrific, and I wanted to explore it in every conceivable way I could. So when people ask ‘is he gay or bi’ or whatever, the question is almost irrelevant, because I believe human beings act in the moment in the way that is true for them.”

According to Logan, we will continue to see more combinations of characters on the show, not just sexual ones but familial ones. “To me, all television is about family. To me, that is the bridge crew of the Enterprise from Star Trek. And so I structured the eight hours to build a family and bring them together. So for me, season one is like an overture, where we bring all the pieces on the board and bring them together. And the joy of the second season is now playing with the characters and mixing the relationships in different patterns.”

When asked next why he killed off the character of Van Helsing, played by David Warner, Logan said “I did that as a provocation, fan to fan, to say yes, I cherish the sacred texts (the classic novels) but we are not recreating that text. There are places where we ally comfortably with the mythology, and then there are places, like by killing off such a pivotal character as Van Helsing, where we break completely. To me it was a joyous act to do, because it tells the audience, we are liberated. Anything can happen.”

Inevitably the question of the nature of Vanessa’s possession came up, and whether it was something she was taken by, or something that she welcomed. On the subject of Vanessa, Logan said, “To me, the great uber question of Penny Dreadful really is, ‘Who is Vanessa Ives?’ and that’s something we will explore more in season two.” More than a couple of fans addressed the subtext of Vanessa’s demon only appearing after sexual encounters, displaying a Victorian and antiquated vision of female sexuality. “I hope there will be lots of combinations of sexuality that will be both joyous and terrifying in equal measure… just like sex. I would never hide behind Victorian morays because I’m writing a modern show for a modern audience. In no way is sexuality in my world a bad thing, nor is unlocking a demon a bad thing necessarily. There is no good or bad, it is simply a way for the characters to evolve to the truest version of themselves. And Vanessa cannot evolve until she faces things, and if sex with Dorian unlocks something in her that allows that to happen, then that’s what I need to do for her as a writer.”


Where there any classic monsters that got left off for the first season? Logan replied that there were still characters from Bram Stoker’s Dracula he hasn’t introduced, and also that he hopes to introduce characters from The Island of Dr. Moreau into future seasons. “Next season is very different. The cosmology and the theology of the show is much larger, and the next season they are thrown into a much more threatening supernatural show. And next year Madame Calli, who appeared in episode two and briefly in the last episode, and her supernatural world will become the big threat in the second season.” They then showed a deleted scene from season one that John Logan said is a taste of where they are going in season two, featuring Madame Calli threatening Vanessa Ives.

The use of language is a large draw for many of the fans, and in speaking about Frankenstein’s creature, much more eloquent than he is usually portrayed Logan said that both Frankenstein and his creature grew up reading too much poetry, and it allowed both of those characters to explode in language not really appropriate for other characters like Ethan Chandler or Vanessa Ives, because that wasn’t their education. Turning to Oscar Wilde’s creation from The Picture of Dorian Gray, the inevitable question arose as to whether or not  we will ever see Dorian Gray’s infamous portrait. “Eventually… we will see the portrait,” said John Logan. But they decided to hold off on the portrait for future seasons and tease it out even more.

Tyler asked Josh Hartnett to address the themes of power and shame the show brings up, especially for his character, now officially revealed to be a werewolf. “I think Ethan’s middle name is ‘Shame,’” he said. I think he lives in a shame spiral, even if he doesn’t really know what it is he does. He doesn’t really understand the extent of what he becomes.”

One of the last questions for the panelists is whether or not the characters believe in God. Harry Treadway answered first “Victor doesn’t believe in God.” Reeve Carney’s answer was, “I’d say Dorian is an agnostic,” which seemed very appropriate for that character. Finally, Ethan said plainly “Ethan believes in God.” According to Logan, next season will “deeply grapple with theology, because the question of whether or not there is an world beyond in central to season two.”

Penny Dreadful returns to Showtime in 2015 for a second season order of then episodes, and season one is available on DVD and Blu-ray in October.

Sign-ups: August 2014

Jul. 31st, 2014 09:03 pm
everlasting_dream: (Default)
[personal profile] everlasting_dream posting in [community profile] thedailywriter
Welcome to the month of August!

Per usual, you can either comment here or on the previous post for your goal for this month.
And current participants, don't forget to comment with your final word count :)

You can always commit to a constant goal the whole year, if you find it easier than to comment every month. Just let me know and I'll add you to the list automatically.

Welcome! to those of you who are new... )
We understand that people have lives, and that writing is not always easy when life gets in the way. But, if you want to challenge yourself and make writing a part of your daily life, this is a good way to start:)

Please comment if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you:)

August prompts: Gdansk!

Aug. 1st, 2014 02:51 am
crookedspoon: totoro (Default)
[personal profile] crookedspoon posting in [community profile] 31_days
And we're back with Cabin Pressure prompts. If you're bored with them or just want to suggest new ones, you can do so >here<.

August prompts )

You can archive your fills (past and present) in the 31_days Collection on AO3. Happy writing!
[syndicated profile] startreknews_feed

So, which of Don Stark’s Star Trek roles did you prefer, his turn as the Yridian Ashrock in the “Melora” episode of Deep Space Nine or as Nicky the Nose in First Contact? It’s a tough call; he was terrific in both. Of course, Stark is a veteran character actor whose credits span 40 years and include not just his Trek performances, but also CHiPs, Peggy Sue Got Married, Freaked, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, Timecop (the series), Curb Your Enthusiasm, Castle, American Horror Story, Hit the Floor and, his most famous credit, That 70s Show, on which he co-starred as Bob Pinciotti. Stark will be among the guests at Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, which will run from today until Sunday, with Stark on hand all weekend, appearing on stage Friday and serving as a judge during the costume contest. StarTrek.com caught up with the easygoing Stark for an informative conversation, and here’s what he had to say.

How well did you know Star Trek when you got your gig on DS9?

STARK: I’d been watching Star Trek from the very beginning and it was a show that I really wanted to do. DS9 was my first opportunity to be a part of it, after having been in to read several times. I ended up landing Ashrock and I went through all the makeup. Wow, it’s quite a commitment. I’d already always appreciated the actors who did the makeup roles, and I was really excited to see how they did the show, how it was all put together. For me, the experience was a full day with not so much time spent on the set. I had to get the mask made, and then, when I did the show, I was there at three in the morning to get the makeup applied. It was quite claustrophobic. My body is always running hot anyway, so I became a human microwave oven. The thing that surprised me most was that the hair wasn’t already attached. They actually, strand by strand, applied the hair once the mask was on and in place. And they did it as if I was going to an alien Hair Club for Men.

How did you enjoy working with Armin Shimerman?

STARK: He was terrific. I wasn’t there for very long, but he couldn’t have been nicer or more inviting. I was somebody who was a guest in their playground, but he was just easy and warm and friendly. It was just a great experience, the whole episode, from the beginning to the end. I will say it was strange to drink my lunch. I know a lot of actors who drink their lunch anyway, but that’s not what I’m talking about. That’s not been a problem for me. My addictions are more with food than anything else. But the drinking my lunch thing was one of the parts of the Trek experience that was interesting and challenging.

A few years later, you played Nicky the Nose in First Contact. How did that come about and what kind of experience was that for you?

STARK: It was an audition. I went in and read for it, and I got it. Junie Lowry, who did Deep Space Nine, cast the movie. I’d auditioned for her for several DS9 roles and she’d cast me in other shows. I think I worked for just one day on First Contact. We shot the scene down at the train station on Alameda Street. They’d redressed it for this gigantic party scene. When the guns come out, it was a pretty spectacular shot, with all the colors and everything. And it wasn’t bad being surrounded by two beautiful girls. I took one for the team. It was hard, but somebody had to do it.

Star Trek Nicky the Nose

Tell us about the nose…

STARK: The prosthetic for Nicky wasn’t a full-face piece, it was just the nose. The nose was made to look as if it were metal, but it wasn’t. I spoke to Jonathan Frakes because, here it is, I’m playing this gangster with the metallic nose, and I wanted to be smoking a cigar. I thought, “Wouldn’t this be great, if I can light it with an old-time wood match that I lit on the tip of my nose?” So they worked it out and reinforced the bottom of the nose appliance, that way it wouldn’t move when I struck the match, and they put some piece of flint at the bottom of it. And it worked. I lit the match on my metal nose and then lit my cigar.

Star Trek Ashrock

You’ll be in Vegas this weekend for Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention. Have you ever done a Trek convention before?

STARK: I’ve never done a Star Trek convention, no. I was supposed to do one last year and had a terrible situation come up right before I was getting on the plane, and I couldn’t make it. So, I’m looking forward to it. I have done a few autograph shows, but I think this experience will be a little bit different. I was hoping to see Jonathan Frakes in Vegas, but I just heard he won’t be there because he’s directing something. He directed me in First Contact and also did a couple of episodes of Hit the Floor. He was actually in an episode, too, as an actor, and it was an episode he didn’t direct. Great guy, great director.

You worked a day or two on DS9 and a day on First Contact. How surreal is that people still want to hear about those two experiences, have you sign autographs of photos of you as Ashrock and Nicky the Nose, etc.?

STARK: It’s a great private club and it’s nice to have membership even though both appearances were just for the blink of an eye. But the experiences… I can still remember every bit of them, as if I was doing them the other day. And because of the fans and because of the quality of the show and the movie, it gets to live on all over the world.

Star Trek Don StarkWhat are you working on at the moment?

STARK: Actually, I’m heading off now to do a wardrobe fitting for an independent film I’m doing with Sally Field. It’s titled My Name Is Doris and it’s a really well-written little film, kind of a senior falling in love movie. My younger nephew and I both have eyes for Sally. I’m looking forward to that. I also have the second season of Hit the Floor, which is on now on VH-1. I finished that for the season, and we’re waiting to see if we get picked up for more. I also have a call for availability about a role I played on Castle. That’s not definite, but it’d be fun. I also have two indie films that I’ve done. One is called Safelight, and I play a truck driver from the south who falls in love with Christine Lahti’s character, who runs a convenience truck store. I’m hearing good things about that film, and it’s got a great cast. Roswell FM is the other indie that’s done. It was fun, but I don’t know yet what’s happening with that in terms of festivals or distribution.


Creation Entertainment's Official Star Trek Convention is Las Vegas is running now through Sunday. Visit www.CreationEnt.com for details and tickets.

[syndicated profile] nerdist_feed

Posted by Kyle Hill

Artist Eleanor Lutz is taking a year off of college to see if she can combine her two passions: biology and design. Her result? A rendition of the tree of life featuring notable bioluminescent organisms.

Bioluminescence is a big word meaning light produced via chemical reactions inside an organism. Everything from mushrooms to fireflies produce light from within. Some organisms use it to attract mates, others to attract prey, and other still have no discernible purpose (that we can think of at least). To make the awesome chart below (which you can get in a poster version), Lutz used 200 sources and a 500-page textbook:

Bio Light LifeClick to enlarge!

You’ll find a lot of infographics around the web that have a lot of pizazz but no substance. Lutz’s work obviously doesn’t fall into this category. She has used her knowledge of biology to craft a visually appealing and deeply informative piece of art that will teach you much more than another “10 things you didn’t know about whatever” infographic.

Follow Lutz’s continued quest to distill complicated science into digestible imagery at Tabletop Whale.

IMAGES: The Bioluminescent Tree of Life by Eleanor Lutz

Happy birthday, Harry Potter!

Jul. 31st, 2014 07:41 pm
mayhap: sketchy Harry in red with text Gryffindor (gryffindor)
[personal profile] mayhap
I was just thinking that it would be fun to reread the HP books. The last time I reread books 1-5 was just before Half-Blood Prince came out, and I listened to the Deathly Hallows audiobook within maybe a couple of months of when it came out (and I read the whole leaked carpet book to avoid being spoiled, that was fun. Especially the pages that were poorly focused) and that's ages ago now.

First snow!

Aug. 1st, 2014 10:10 am
puzzlement: (jelly)
[personal profile] puzzlement posting in [community profile] incrementum
Originally posted to incrementum.puzzling.org. Comments welcome in either place.

Andrew was away in the middle two weeks of July, so I took the kids to visit my parents from July 17 to 20. Lucky thing, because on the 18th, they had their only snowfall that stuck so far this year (and there’s often only one if that). It was V’s first time in the snow:

Snow fight!

I got to do the magical thing of waking him up and surprising him by having him look outside to see that SNOW had come in the night. Luckily I’d brought his rain jacket and boots, but unfortunately not mittens (he doesn’t even have mittens), so his ability to play in it was limited. He was surprised and disappointed by how cold it is. My mother had to make a very token snowman for him:

The smallest snowman

I didn’t take A outside at all, but V had a lot of fun in a snow fight with my parents, and on a tarpaulin which had to substitute for a tobaggan. He retreated inside to watch TV a few times, and pointed all of the fictional snow in various shows out to us.

It didn’t stick for long, here they both are in town the next day (it’s colder than it looks, about 5°C or so, their body temperatures seem to run hot like mine):

Swinging sibs

We’re headed for the ski fields in a few days, at least now V knows roughly what he is in for!

More photos from our stay at my parents’ farm, including lots of snow pics.

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Carolyn Cox

He was born for this.

  • Glee‘s Harry Shum has joined the cast of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2. (via Empire Online)
  • Female directors are making us proud on Filmmaker‘s new list of “25 New Faces Of Independent Film.” (via Jezebel)


The Star Trek Mirror Mirror Beach Towel, $19.99 from ThinkGeek. (via Boing Boing)

  • Rebecca Pahle explains how to tell if someone is a “fake geek.” She’s joking, of course. (Via Pajiba)
  • The Steam version of Hatoful Boyfriend will be available on August 21st. (via Joystiq)
  • CBS’ Gamestop has “undergone a significant round of layoffs.” (via GamesIndustry)

all of theilliad

Greek Myth Comix‘s Laura Jenkinson has compiled every murder/murderer from The Illiad, and categorized them by variety and quality of death. Check out the full infographic here. It is, literally, epic. (via io9)

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, & Google +?

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Carolyn Cox


We here at The Mary Seuss Sue are huge fans of the good Doctor (in fact, he may be our second-favorite doctor ever). In his honor, Dorkly has combed the recesses of the Internet for the 30 best Dr.Seuss mashups–you can check out the full list right here.

(image via Shoze)

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, & Google +?

[syndicated profile] nerdist_feed

Posted by Merrill Barr

In Hollywood’s continued attempts to evolve as an industry and remain relevant in the modern age of motion pictures and television, one of the biggest debates regarding direction continues to concern the medium by which directors, producers and studios are forced to shoot their projects. As digital camera and projection systems continue to grow in ubiquity and quality while simultaneously reducing in price, the format has slowly supplanted over the halcyon days of shooting on physical celluloid stock. Because of this, there currently remains only one U.S. production plant still making the material, a Rochester plant owned by Kodak.

Recently, it came to light that the company was going to shut down its remaining film plant and switch to a 100% digital-based business model. However, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, those plans have changed after filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams and Quentin Tarantino pleaded with the company, in addition to various studios, including Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Disney, and The Weinstein Company, all agreeing to order a set amount of stock over the next few years.

It’s hard to say where the future of big budget filmmaking is headed. From a business perspective, the use of digital technology is what’s made it possible for many lower budget affairs to stay viable in the age of giant blockbuster box office, not to mention that digital systems are a big reason why television’s taken hold so tightly in the last decade. Digital, by its nature, fits the television shooting model of one episode in eight days perfectly, thus making it possible to get more done is less time (hopefully leading to higher quality programs).

However, many purists believe from an aesthetic point-of-view that physical film stock still serves a place and that without it, the industry will lose something that made it the powerhouse that it is today. For now, they can take solace in the fact that the medium isn’t going away just yet, but if things don’t change soon, the victory might be short lived.

Do you think Hollywood shoot commit to saving film stock? Let us know in the comments below.

[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by corynne mcsherry

Brian Carver co-authored this post.

Between the net neutrality debate and the Comcast/TWC merger, high-speed Internet access is getting more attention than ever. A lot of that attention is negative, and rightly so: Internet access providers, especially certain very large ones, have done a pretty good job of divvying up the nation to leave most Americans with only one or two choices for decent high-speed Internet access. Many of us don't like those options.

That’s one reason folks have been looking to the FCC to enact neutrality rules. If there’s no competition, customers can’t vote with their wallets when ISPs behave badly. Beyond the neutrality issue, oligopolies also have little incentive to invest, not only in decent customer service, but also in building out world-class Internet infrastructure so that U.S. innovators can continue to compete internationally.

But guess what: we don’t have to rely entirely on the FCC to fix the problems with high-speed internet access. Around the country, local communities are taking charge of their own destiny, and supporting community fiber.  

Unfortunately, those communities face a number of barriers, from simple bureaucracy to state laws that impede a community's ability to make its own decisions about how to improve its Internet access.  

We need to break those barriers. Community fiber, done right, should be a crucial part of the future of the Internet. To see why, let’s take a deeper dive.

What Is Community Fiber?

  • Fast, Cheap, and Community Controlled

People love to complain about the speed of their Internet access and with good reason.  International surveys regularly show that we pay more, for less, than many other countries. 

Fiber is fast. Really fast. Chattanooga's local power utility operates a fiber optic Internet service that currently offers a 1 Gigabit speed package (1,000 Mbps) for just $69.99/month. For most of us that would be a 50x speed increase or better.  Many fiber services are also symmetrical, offering the same upload speed as download speed.

Fiber isn’t usually cheap, in part because the companies building it out have focused on business customers. But communities that have deployed residential fiber can typically offer rates that are equal to or cheaper than traditional residential competitors.

  • A Universe of Alternatives

As we noted above, in many communities there are only one or two choices for Internet access, most often the local monopoly cable company or the local monopoly telephone company. A recent report illustrated how much people hate these companies, but with no alternative, many continue to pay the Internet bill month after month. And the recent trends suggest that mergers between these giants will further consolidate one's choices for Internet access.

Community fiber, properly deployed and managed, can give at least some of us a way out. One particularly attractive model is called "open access." Under an open access model, the local municipality might be the owner of the fiber infrastructure, but agrees to lease access to the system to anyone on non-discriminatory terms. This opens up the possibility of having many local ISPs competing for your business over the same fiber infrastructure.

  • High Speed Access For All

The FCC's 2011 Broadband Progress Report found that rural communities are particularly underserved when it comes to high-speed Internet access. Internet companies just don’t have the financial incentive to invest in building the networks.

Back in the cities, we continue to see "Digital Redlining." Communities of color have been deemed “unprofitable” and “risky” for early private sector telecommunications investments, and often continue to be excluded from that essential private investment.

In contrast, many community fiber projects include a baseline level of service that is provided for free or include plans to build free open wireless networks on top of the fiber infrastructure. Community fiber projects can aim for and achieve truly universal access by taking the matter into their own hands.

  • Community Self-Reliance

Another motivator for some community fiber projects is the desire some communities have to be in charge of their own essential communications infrastructure. Rather than wait on an opportunity to win the Google Fiber lottery, they seek to proactively build the high-speed infrastructure their communities need. Many cities believe this is key for economic development, citing the business demand for fiber service.

The city of Santa Monica, California is a great example. Thanks, in part, to a city plan to build out their fiber network any time the streets were being dug up for any other purpose, Santa Monica, aka "Silicon Beach," has become a hub for many technology companies and startups. 

  • "Smart" Cities of the Future, Here Today

Beyond the schools, libraries, hospitals, and emergency operation centers that municipalities want connected to a fiber network, municipalities also often have assets like traffic lights, parking meters, street lights, surveillance cameras, sprinklers, buses and so on that, if connected to the fiber network or open wireless enabled by that fiber network, can become part of a "smart city" where software controls enable new efficiencies.

Imagine the Director of Public Works using her smart phone to reschedule all the sprinklers in the city with just a few clicks. Proponents argue that in 20 years a city without such a fiber network will seem to us today like a city without paved roads. In this future, that a firefighter might not be able to instantly download a building's blueprints right from the scene of the blaze will seem unthinkable.

Challenges Facing Community Fiber

Given the benefits of community fiber, the increasing need for high-speed Internet access, and the simultaneously decreasing number of alternatives, why don’t we all have it?  Therein lie some lessons and opportunities.   

  • Some Cities Have Tied Their Own Hands.

The Berkman Center at Harvard recently released a report that detailed the sad situation in the District of Columbia, which has a robust fiber network that it cannot provide to its own businesses or residents. In 1999, as part of Comcast's franchise renewal negotiations, Comcast offered to provide the District with exclusive use of a portion of its private fiber loop. In exchange, the District agreed not to sell or lease the fiber and not to "engage in any activities or outcomes that would result in business competition between the District and Comcast or that may result in loss of business opportunity for Comcast."

Comcast effectively reneged on its part of the deal, but for complicated reasons the District was still stuck with the “non-compete” obligation. A recent article suggested that hundreds of municipalities have made similar non-compete agreements that may impede a community fiber rollout.

  • Twenty States Have Laws That Ban or Hinder Community Fiber

Some states have, typically under intense lobbying efforts by incumbent interests, enacted laws that ban or hinder municipalities from pursuing their own fiber projects.

Fortunately FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, has recently made numerous comments indicating that he believes the FCC has the authority to preempt such state laws to enable greater local competition. Two communities affected by them have petitioned the FCC to take action. You can tell the FCC your thoughts about this.

  • There Are Good Reasons Not to Want the Government to be Your ISP

Just because a local municipality might own the fiber infrastructure does not necessarily mean it is also best-suited to act as an ISP to residents. Residents might rightly wonder what sort of information sharing practices would become policy, particularly information sharing with law enforcement.

This challenge can be addressed as well. Cities can help resolve privacy concerns by adopting the open access model described above. On this model the local municipality merely leases the fiber and never has to have access to the data on the fiber. Local ISPs that lease the fiber can be held accountable by users that encourage the ISPs to adopt privacy-protecting policies and terms of service.

  • Expect Opposition from the Incumbents

Any locality that pursues a community fiber project should be prepared to hear how the sky is falling from the incumbent monopolies. Past experience shows that they will fight hard against anything that might bring about more competition and hence a reduction to their bottom lines. Incumbents may raise various specious arguments and advocates and decision-makers will need to understand and be prepared with counter-arguments. We are preparing a community fiber toolkit for local activists that will help. 


Community Fiber can play a role in addressing several important problems facing widespread high-speed Internet access, but it faces many challenges as well. Each community will need to tailor its approach to their local circumstances and will want to learn from the experiences of those that have tread this path already. We hope we can raise this issue's profile and shine a light on a path forward.

Related Issues: 
[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by Jeremy Malcolm

When the Australian government first began requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block websites in 2012, Australians were assured that it would only be used to block the "worst of the worst" child pornography. This week, a discussion paper was issued that proposes to extend this Web blocking regime, so that it would also block sites that facilitate copyright infringement. Funny how that always seems to happen.

You may remember a similar website blocking scenario in the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which prompted an unprecedented online uprising from Internet users in the U.S. and around the world, that sent the bill down in flames. While the Australian proposal is not the same as SOPA (the blocks would have to be approved by a court, for example), it would share many of the same dangers, such as the rubbery definition of sites "the dominant purpose of which is to infringe copyright."

Copyright Infringement Is Not Theft

Also familiar is the old canard being used to justify these new measures, that "piracy is theft"—or in case we were too dense to grasp that metaphor, that it "is exactly the same theft as walking into a DVD store and putting a DVD in your bag and walking out without paying", according to Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull.

Of course, copyright infringement is not theft, because copyright is not a kind of property capable of being stolen. Copyright is a limited set of rights that gives the owner the ability to prevent the public from making some uses of creative material for some length of time.

If a user steps over the line, sometimes a fuzzy one, that separates the legal use of copyright works from those that require a license—for example, if they record a favorite TV show using a PVR (which is legal in both Australia and the United States, for time-shifting purposes) but then save it to watch multiple times (which may not be, at least in Australia), then it is ludicrous to suggest that the user has thereby become a thief. Rather, they may have committed copyright infringement.

If they are honest with themselves, our lawmakers know this—because in Australia (and the U.S.), copyright infringement isn't defined in law using the word "theft" or the same legal standards as theft or larceny. Yet content industry lobbyists have found it to be a convenient metaphor to use to justify heavy-handed penalties for infringement.

ISP Liability for Copyright Infringement

Another of those heavy-handed penalties being considered under the Australian proposal is making ISPs liable for users' infringements, unless the ISPs have taken "reasonable steps" to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement. This proposal would effectively undo the effects of the landmark Roadshow Films v iiNet decision of Australia's High Court, which decided in 2012 that ISPs were not liable for failing to suspend or terminate accounts of its users whom rightsholders claimed were engaged in infringement.

Exactly what form these reasonable steps might take remains open for discussion, but a system of warning notices, possibly followed by the throttling of access speeds, has been proposed, and the discussion paper specifically mentions the Copyright Alert System in the U.S. as a model for this. Such a system would entail the surveillance of Internet users by private actors, who would compile a secret database of those suspected of downloading material without authorization.

A justification that the discussion paper gives for this proposal is that Australia's obligations under its Free Trade Agreements with the United States, Singapore and South Korea require it to provide a legal incentive to ISPs to cooperate with rights holders to prevent infringement on their systems and networks. But Australian copyright scholar Matthew Rimmer, who has been sounding the alert about the government's plans, describes as controversial the claim that Australia's trade obligations would require it to take this step.

EFF has long contended that these sorts of free trade negotiations, which take place behind closed doors, and in which copyright users' rights are traded off against the promise of concessions on trade for agricultural and manufactured products, are an entirely inappropriate way for countries to craft copyright laws that meet the needs of their citizens.

One of the dangers of tying copyright laws to trade agreements it that they can reduce a country's flexibility to change its laws when unforeseen circumstances arise—for example, some commentators claim that the U.S. is constrained from permanently legalizing cell phone unlocking.

What You Can Do

Public comments on the Australian proposal to introduce website blocking for sites that infringe copyright, and to require ISPs to take steps to deter copyright infringements by users, will be received until September 1. Here is the website with details of how to submit your comments.

At the same time, given the lack of oversight and transparency of the practice of website blocking by Australian government departments generally, there is a separate enquiry into the use of Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act for this purpose—for which the deadline is August 22.

SDCC: IDW Publishing Rocks San Diego

Jul. 31st, 2014 04:58 pm
[syndicated profile] cbr_feed
IDW Publishing set out to "rock this town" with announcements about "Star Trek/Planet of the Apes," "Garbage Pail Kids," "Rot & Ruin" and more.

(no subject)

Aug. 1st, 2014 03:05 am
roga: (Default)
[personal profile] roga
So things are still - fraught. News just broke that there's going to be a 72-hour (meaning a weekend-long) ceasefire, during which representatives are supposed to meet in Egypt to negotiate further. Honestly though, I don't see this ending in the next week; can't imagine the IDF pulling out without destroying as many tunnels as they can find. Maybe, maybe it'll mean the airfire will stop. If this break even lasts the weekend.

more about life and the news )

And meanwhile, the rest of life is the rest of life. Work is work. Masters of Sex this week was terrible. Hockey fandom continues to provide awesome fics and pretty fun canon. Dira's PTSD-baby-GK fic has epilogues! (You'd think I'd have had enough of soldiers, and indeed I could not stomach looking at a hockey military AU this week, but apparently this fic is absolutely an exception.) Middle sister and I are trying to coordinate our schedules to be able to go to Edinburgh if her vacation days are approved, and baby sister is home on leave until Sunday, and we are planning on Guardians of the Galaxy tomorrow morning. If I manage to make myself wake up early, this will also be post getting a haircut. Chances of that are... let's face it, slim.


And oh, hey. It's August 1st, which wow - makes it a year already, dear god time, a year since I flew to the US for work. It does feel momentous; overall, I spent five and a half of the past 12 months in New York, and I do miss it. Since I never posted photos - and I do still think I will, at some point, but don't take my word for it - here is an image still burned into my mind, from a November day that started with a super-light snow in the morning, and ended with this:

Vid rec - How Will I Know

Jul. 31st, 2014 11:14 pm
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Posted by archea2

Title: How Will I Know
Music Title & Artist: "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston
Vidder: Duchesscloverly
Pairing: Mystrade
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Link: to the vidder's announcement on Tumblr or to their page on YouTube
Reccer's Comments: I have always liked and admired Duchesscloverly's Mystrade vids, especially the (by now famous) "A Fish Named Greg", in which Sherlock decides to take the goldfish matter in his own hands. There's skill, subtlety and seduction in this vidder's work which is always to the point and never ostentatious. Take this vid, which actually manages to turn mpreg (with pregnant Mycroft, no less!) into a visual romance.  Blink five seconds into the introductory scene, and you'll miss a very clever bit of editing, one which had me giggle helplessly when I noticed it. As always, the author's capacity to nip and tuck from various canons and then sew the bits into a seamless narrative is top-notch. And the story told here is hilarious and heartwarming in turn. (Though if you like your Mystrade a shade angstier, their Tumblr Masterlist contains darker stuff too!)
[syndicated profile] booksontheknob_feed

Posted by Books

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Beyond the Doors of Death ($7.99 Kindle), by Robert Silverberg & Damien Broderick, is this month’s free book from Phoenix Pick. Check your libraries on Kindle — you may have this from the sale last summer, when it was 99 cents. Even if you already have it, you might want the free edition, as it is DRM-Free.

Book Description
“Born With the Dead” (the novella) was nominated for every major science fiction award when it was originally published in 1974, winning the Nebula and Locus awards.

The author now revisits the classic story with Australian author Damien Broderick. Broderick uses Robert Silverberg’s original novella as a starting point for a brilliant leap into the far future, widening the scope and tenor of the original story by revisiting some of the subtler implications of the original story.

Get the free ebook from Phoenix Pick. Put either the free book or the book bundle, which includes Starborne &
Thebes of the Hundred Gates
, into your cart and check out (no payment required for the free book, $3.99 minimum for the bundle, with $6.99 suggested), then wait for an email with your download link. You’ll get access to both an EPUB and MOBI for download; they are DRM-free, so you can convert to other formats, if desired.

Don’t forget to go read the July issue of Galaxy’s Edge while it is free online, too. Both offers probably expire sometime tonight or tomorrow when they get around to updating the sites.

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Victoria McNally


You know how that old coffee jingle goes: “the best part of waking up is when your alarm clock puts Folgers in your cup.” Wait, that’s not how it goes? Someone should probably tell the guy who invented an alarm clock that actually does just that, then. He’s probably gonna feel pretty silly.

Called “The Barisieur,” this nifty contraption was created by industrial designer Josh Renouf and first unveiled to the world at New Designers 2014. The base is a standard digital alarm clock, but the top of the piece has a chemistry lab-style setup that blows hot water out of the beaker through induction heating and over ground coffee in a stainless steel filter, until it finally drops out into a glass mug on the other side. There’s also a little container in the middle of the tray that holds cream and a drawer for sugar, and the designer hopes that setting up the machine for each morning would become a nightly ritual of sorts. Sure, I guess calling an extra chore a “ritual” is a good way to keep someone from getting annoyed about it.

But how does it wake you up, you ask? The ball bearings in the beaker gently clink together, which is supposed to be less traumatic than your average loud beeping alarm and, combined with the smell of coffee, awaken several of your senses at once in a non-obtrusive way. That sounds lovely. I’d probably still need to supplement it with my usual carhorn, but hey, I would never say no to coffee!

(via psfk, images via Josh Renouf)

Previously in Alarm Clock Madness

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Posted by Jill Pantozzi

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Yup, pretty sure that’s three folks dressed as Daenerys’ dragons – Rhaegal, Drogon, and Viserion. My Targaryen heart!! Take a look at some more fantastic cosplay to come out of San Diego Comic-Con 2014!

As with yesterday’s DC Bombshells group gallery, today’s photos supplied graciously by John Austin.

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Posted by Charles Webb

Consider me at “giddy nerd” levels of excitement after the international trailer for writer-director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. Michael Keaton’s down-on-his-luck actor is slowly losing his mind and it looks super intriguing.

Keaton plays former Birdman actor Riggan Thomson who gave up the role after three movies and apparently has struggled to regain legitimacy since. Imagine Adam West in full-on meltdown mode, and you get the picture. The film sees Thomson attempting to resurrect his career with a Broadway play, but anxiety, disaster, and a little bit of psychosis seems to put the whole project in peril.

A quick note: some fans might see some parallels between Keaton’s post-Batman career and Thomson, but the actor was working steadily before and after that film. What’s cool is that he was such an odd choice for the character, that when he didn’t sign up for another film after Batman Returns, he was able to go back to being a funny and intense weirdo like God made him.

It’s the latest for Babel and Amores Perros filmmaker Iñárritu, who’s teamed up this time with his Biutiful writer Nicolás Giacobone for the screenplay.

Even with the little bit on display, it looks like Iñárritu wasn’t shy about tackling CG in the film (his previous work has been largely practical, intimate dramas where giant hallucinatory birds and raining fireballs might have been a little out of place). Frankly, it looks like the director is messing around in Charlie Kaufman territory with something that looks as odd as the back half of Being John Malkovich.

Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone star in Birdman, which will be in theaters October 17 from Fox Searchlight.

[via Entertainment Weekly]


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