The Stars My Destination
Last update
2023-02-06 01:42:06

    A recentstudy found that the XBB sublineage had higher levels of immune evasion, making it exponentially less likely to be neutralized by antibodies in previously infected or vaccinated people. Scientists behind the study called the level of immune evasion  "alarming," suggesting that it could be detrimental to the efficacy of COVID vaccines. 

    XBB.1.5 also has a genetic mutation that allows it to bind more tightly to ACE2, the entryway for viruses into human cells, meaning it is more infectious. 

    "The mutation is clearly letting XBB.1.5 spread better," Jesse Bloom, a computational virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who flagged the mutation, wrote in an email to CNN. 


    I made it through nearly three years of pandemic without catching Covid, but two weeks ago - after a full course of vaccination and boosters, avoiding large groups, social distancing from those I don't know, and regular mask wearing - I finally caught it

    after a 103°F fever for a day and a week of feeling like garbage, I'm finally mostly recovered, but it could have been far worse if I weren't overall very healthy. this clearly shows the virus is getting past our best defenses


    On Karel Čapek’s Prophetic Science Fiction Novel ‘War With the Newts’


    Karel Čapeks War with the Newts (1936), one of the greatest science fiction works of the 20th century, has the gift of seeing the present for what it is

    War with the Newts said to its contemporaries that their civilization was living on borrowed time; it exposed the shortsightedness and injustice of their way of living as ultimately suicidal. 85 years later, after the Trump administration erased “climate change” from its official websites and the world digs furiously deeper into the pit of fossil fuel dependency, Čapek’s apocalyptic vision has if anything become even more eerily, powerfully unsettling than it was in the context of Europe teetering on the brink of the Second World War

    I read this book as an early teen, and it really shaped me, my writing, and my career in science fiction


    Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is the 2023-24 Common Book at the University of Kansas. We celebrate this selection and anticipate programming around this great work of speculative fiction.


    if you're a KU student, staff, or faculty, request your copy now to be ready for upcoming events! (plus it's just great literature)


    On the night of January 4, a section of tracks along the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region was blown up. The rail line was used by the Russian army to transport supplies to Ukraine.

    A photo and video clip of an explosion ripping through a railway bridge were posted on Telegram by an organisation calling itself BOAK, the Combat Organisation of Anarcho-Communists.


    “The government’s defeat in this imperialist war opens up opportunities for the revolutionary movement, giving people the chance to realise how oppressed they were, and what needs to change. We understand that these goals can only be achieved through revolutionary change, and in order to be implemented effectively, it is necessary to have an underground organisation operating using partisan and guerrilla methods.”


    Great resource compiled by Megan Kiekel Anderson. 


    where to submit your spec-fic stories! includes pay rates and lots of other info (spreadsheet)


    For those who are paying attention, it's been obvious for some time that Florida's mega-MAGA governor, Ron DeSantis, is aggressive with book bans because he would just prefer it if kids didn't read books at all. So while it was infuriating, it was not surprising to read that the investigative journalism team at Popular Info had discovered that teachers in Manatee County, Florida were told that every book on their shelves was banned until otherwise notified. Failure to lock up all their books until they could be "vetted" by censors, teachers were warned, put them at risk of being prosecuted as felons.


    an uneducated citizenry is easy to manipulate


    As one of their first moves in the House majority—after their little struggle to even elect a speaker, that is—Republicans have a bill to roll back more than $70 billion in IRS funding included in the Inflation Reduction Act. In fact, fresh off his contentious election as speaker, Kevin McCarthy bragged about this plan, saying, “I know the night is late, but when we come back our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents.” (That 87,000 number is a lie, by the way.)

    Funny story, though: The Congressional Budget Office is out with its estimate of the fiscal impact of this bill cutting more than $70 billion … and it would decrease federal revenue by $186 billion between 2023 and 2032. In other words, the bill would cost more than $114

    The claim here is that it’s going to help the little people—they’re even calling the bill the “Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act”—because that sounds a lot better than admitting that the Inflation Reduction Act’s IRS funding is about making sure the very wealthiest pay the taxes they owe. Yes, it means hiring new auditors, but ones specifically tasked with pursuing wealthy tax evaders, not small businesses or families making less than hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

    In fact, households with earnings of less than $400,000 a year “will likely see the chance of an audit decline,” according to the Treasury Department. That’s because right now, the lowest-income households are audited at far higher rates than the highest-income ones. The money that Republicans want to repeal is intended to change that.


    The people in Congress, especially Republicans, rely on their constituents not having a goddamn clue what Congress actually does.

    Taxes? Why, that’s the domain of the IRS, of course... isn’t it? (Hint: No.)

    As long as they can push the narrative that taxes are entirely the fault of the IRS and that removing funding for them will somehow make taxes and tax-related things go down and/or away, they will do so. Because people get letters from the big, scary IRS when things go wrong, and that’s where they send money to, so that’s where they focus their anger, fear, and pain.

    Which, of course, is the exact same as yelling at the cashier for the prices of the groceries in your supermarket, and has the exact same level of effect. The cashier can’t do a damn thing about it, and the IRS is just the cashier for the government.

    Congress, not the IRS, writes the Tax Code, sets the rates everyone is taxed at, all that jazz. Every time they change the rules, the poor buggers at the IRS have to learn the new rules the exact same as the rest of us out here-- so they can help us with all of our insane questions while simultaneously making sure that everything is applied properly to all of the forms being sent in and checking all of the forms and oh good lord they just don’t have enough people for all of this.

    Yeah, that’s right. You think you have it bad come tax season? Try being the help-desk person for an entire nation full of Karens who want to blame you for all of the stupid changes that their representatives made-- the same representatives that they then threaten to call on you for various reasons.

    And Congress just eats it up with a spoon. Because the more people that complain to them about the IRS, the more they can use it as leverage to mess with the institution that tries to make their rich allies (and often, themselves) pay their taxes.

    Because if no taxes get collected, the country stops. So if you have a reduced workforce, you have to go after the stuff that you can get done with the least amount of people-- not the big, complicated audits that will take time away from processing the regular forms, but the smaller audits.

    And then the IRS gets hated on again. For doing the job that they are required to do... by Congress.


    hey if you're a UK resident can you sign this petition and if not please rb to spread the word

    this is an official UK government petition that they have to respond to if it reaches 10,000 signatures


    So, this one is actually a lot more important than reporting and blocking spam bots. That post has 20,000 notes rn, so it would mean a lot to me if you could give the same treatment to this as you gave to that (@neil-gaiman if you're listening).

    If the petition gets 100,000 signatures they have to consider it for debate in parliament.

    It's a crime that Gender Recognition Reform was blocked in England, but Scottish MPs voted it into law and that the UK Parliament overturned that is in direct contravention of democracy as a whole.

    It's a pretty serious big deal. Please sign, or, if you're not a UK citizen, please boost.


    There’s been a forest defender killed by the cops in Atlanta.

    Folks are calling for otg support in Atlanta right now. If you can go, go asap.


    New press release:


    Update on identity of the protestor killed. RIP Little Turtle fuck 12


    hey, @bunjywunjy - this might be your jam (and any other dinosaur enthusiasts, it’s a heck of a read)


    man that’s not just a heck of a read it’s fuckin GROUNDBREAKING is what it is!

    this dude actually found a large fossil deposit that was created not just close to, but actually DURING THE K-PG EXTINCTION EVENT.


    it’s a geologic snapshot of the apocalypse.


    reading the full article is certainly a trip, and to summarize for those who are intimidated by longer reads:

    - chicxulub is the given name for the meteor that struck/initiated the event

    - the paleontologist within is described as making groundbreaking discoveries of multiple species every day, but many of his peers discount him because they’re grouchy old dudes he accidentally had a fragment of a turtle bone involved in a larger reconstruction of a fossil this one time and they won’t let him live it down.

    - the extinction event was so fast and so destructive, this guy describes this particular dig-site as being so densely layered with dead and dying creatures, there is a lot of organic tissues that have been preserved, and he is able to even discern that many of the marine and freshwater fish may have still been alive as they were buried due to molten glass being found in their gills, implying they were still attempting to breathe.

    - they looked into exactly when and how this could have happened, having freshwater and marine animals stacked on top of mammals and larger dinosaurs (including an amazing deinonychus forearm discovery he was able to match to feather fossils he was finding atop the pile), and rather it being the initial tsunami, they are fairly sure that it was caused by a seiche of catastrophic proportions, which would have been set off within the first hour of the event. denser and larger creatures sunk to the bottom, leaving lighter debris like leaves, small fish, feathers, and molten glass on the surface.

    summary: terrifying!


    This is fucking incredible


    Holy SHIT!


    Here’s a famous book snippet describing how feasible that we could find dinosaur fossils on the moon.


    Adding this, since I didn’t know the word and pronunciation


    so, yeah, the Caribbean Sea seiched up outta its bed and walloped the land with a deluge of sea creatures right after the impact apocalypse


    nasa employee: oh hey u guys are back early

    astronaut: moon’s got dinosaurs

    nasa employee: what?

    astronaut: *loading a pistol and getting back on the rocket-ship* moon’s got dinosaurs.


    Been following this discovery since it was first announced and it is SO NEAT. Also, the people who won’t let him live down the turtle are dicks. Turtles are fucking everywhere, okay? Everywhere. Living turtles? Great! Fossil turtles? Pain in the ass.


    So I’ve been seeing some folks claiming this theory, the Tanis site, or the scientist, Robert DePalma, is bunk, but we 100% went over the seiche theory in my graduate level sedimentary geology course just this past semester. There’s a David Attenborough documentary about the Tanis site. I can’t actually find any articles or papers “deubnking” Tanis or the theories set forth by Robert DePalma. I’ve also seen people claim they’ve seen “other theories” put forth to explain the glass spherules found in the fish gills but those people didn’t cite their sources.

    So as far as actual geologists are concerned… at least at MY university, we’re Team DePalma.


    Wikipedia is not a citeable source etc., but every once in awhile I pop onto the article for Tanis to see if anything new has happened and look at the new articles if any, and….yeah, there’s just. No counterargument.


    Hi, everyone!

    There is a new wave of people who are interested in Due South, and I'm very happy about it! 🥰 You don't need Netflix to watch this gem, every episodes - including the very, very good long Pilot, which as I heard is not on Netflix (WTF? :O) - are on YouTube, in remastered HD version, enjoy! 😊


    I will take this opportunity to re-up the annotated transcripts I’m doing over at Dreamwidth—halfway through season 3 (of 4, or about a quarter of the way through season 3, if that’s the way you count), usually posting on Tuesdays.


    due south was my fandom in 2014/15, and I doubt I've ever had as much fun or read as much consistently brilliant fic as I did then. due south is basically the fandom equivalent of the old car you originally think is a bit boring, but everyone who knows cars goes 'oh MAN you have SUCH A GREAT CAR!!!' and spends an hour talking to you about all the good times they had when they owned that car. It just keeps going, gets great fuel economy, looks stylish, is comfortable, and every time you need parts they're just there, cheap and plentiful, and it makes you nostalgic for when they used to make cars like that all time, but instead of cars its procedural cop shows starring a manic pixie dream mountie, his boyfriend, the love of his life who is pretending to be his boyfriend, his dead dad's ghost, a deaf wolf with a higher IQ than most of the cast, the concept of canada as narnia, chicago in the 90s, and atomic grade cringe (affectionate).


    resharing this oldie because i just got a new laptop and the number of times i am being required to login to things, login to a DIFFERENT app/program/password manager/authenticator, provide a number, and then login again is making me fucking INSANE


    I'm dealing with this right now - my mother is incapacitated in the hosital, and I've been trying to log into her accounts to pay her bills. I had to pay off her old $250 phone bill to reactivate her old phone number so I could use that number for two-factor authentication on basically everything. They're threatening to cut off her service again and I'm racing to get her accounts switched to my phone number (if they'll let me), but I don't know what all she had or whether I'll be able to track them down before it cuts off.

    She also struggled with 2FA herself, finding the process frustrating and confusing, and complained that she couldn't just use a password like she's done for 20-some years. In the past year or two she's had some memory and cognition problems and was struggling with texting, let alone authentication apps and backup codes and all that.


    God, I am so fucking sorry. I wish I had thought to mention how people dealing with the hospitalization, incapacitation, or death of a loved one are completely screwed over by MFA. As if navigating billing and insurance issues couldn't get even harder. Sigh.


    Yeppp. See also: "is my attention really bad these days or is life just wildly more distracting"


    "I don’t know what the solution is to this problem, but I do recognize the root of it: 2FA and MFA outsources the responsibility for keeping a platform safe away from the company that developed and runs it and places that burden onto users instead. Asking individual users to authenticate with a phone, a special app, or a code sent to their email is time consuming, frustrating, and for users with disabilities or economic barriers, sometimes completely impossible."


    Also it reminds me: when my university first got 2FA, I knew it was going to be a huge problem for me. But the announcement email said that there were alternatives for people who didn't want to or couldn't link their phone! The alternative turned out to be a hardware usb that I used in combo with a password, which was fine, except 1) it only worked with devices that have a usb port (because an increasing number of devices don't, thanks apple), and 2) there was no way to attach it to anything (e.g. no key chain) - it was basically a tiny loose thumb drive that I now had to keep track of. (And if I lost it, there would have been a huge fee to get a new one, on top of the security issue.)

    And more importantly, while the university offered it, they clearly didn't expect and prepare for anyone to actually take them up on the alternative. It took me two weeks and multiple visits to the IT department to get it set up and everyone who helped me was confused (and often annoyed with *me*) through the entire process.

    Like the article says, I understand the security needs behind 2FA - but the current system sucks.


    My employer “offers” it for logging into HR related shit due to an apparently common weed called “Workday”.

    I am LITERALLY going to go down with the “No, you cannot have *your* stuff on *my* phone” ship, if I have to take them AND Workday down with me.


    All of the points being made here and the undeniable fact that 2FA is less accessible than not having 2FA are valid reasons to critique the widespread implementation of 2FA - particularly when it's made a new requirement with little warning or education for people using those systems.

    At the same time, systems aren't implementing 2FA for no reason, and the article doesn't mention the security reasons at all, just that 2FA is a kind of security. That first example in this chain - someone who is not the owner of the account trying and failing to log into a system containing valuable health and billing info because they do not have access to the second factor of authentication - is 2FA working as intended. It's inconvenient, financially burdensome, and outright aggravating in that instance, yes. But it's doing its job.

    Credential stuffing attacks simply do not work when 2FA is involved. Those massive data breaches dumping millions of usernames and passwords onto the net go from catastrophic for the affected accounts to merely inconvenient as people who can log in - because they have the second factor - change their password.

    Again, I don't mean to downplay how 2FA can prevent well-meaning individuals from aiding friends and family members or how it can be yet another barrier for disabled individuals trying to access certain services. However, websites guarding your information - PHI, financial info, etc. - need to be confident that the person accessing the account is A) who they say they are and B) authorized to access the account. 2FA is one way a site can check off point A. Username and password pairs just aren't enough anymore. Wondering why? Just ask haveibeenpwned and every major data breach in the last few years.

    (As an aside, you may have noticed that security questions have also generally gone the way of the dinosaur. This is because the answers tend to be from a limited pool and otherwise easy to guess with information that's available with just a bit of digging.)

    No matter what we do, at the current technological moment, security and accessibility are largely a zero-sum game. New developments with webauthn and public-key cryptography show promise for reducing some of the tradeoff, but the tradeoff will still be there. Not everyone can have a cell phone. Not everyone can have an email. Not everyone can keep track of a little usb stick that generates codes every now and then.

    2FA isn't going away anytime soon and, unless a 2FA implementation is so horrible it impacts everyone's ability to access the service, it's unlikely to be rolled back. Don't let that stop you from continuing to talk about your frustrations with 2FA. Highlight specific pain points in the process that present difficulties for you. Write them down, make them public, so developers involved in implementing those systems can make them as painless and accessible as possible.


    I appreciate the IT-tech pov on this, but when I tried to put a like on the article, got asked to log in, and then got this after trying to log in, I just...

    irony much?


    Before you say “Duh,” remember they are using the social contagion lie to make life saving health care from children and teens.  Studies like this can be used in court to fight for the rights of children in our community.


    How about “It’s about damn time.”?

    Book mark this article, find the source study and bookmark that too. Drown them in facts, in truth, not to change their ways but to make sure they cannot spread their lies to others.

    We just got handed a powerful tool against the transphobes. Use it.


    Haven’t gotten all the way through the article yet, but here’s a good place to start if you want to gauge the potential accuracy of the two studies: The “social contagion” one surveyed 260-something *parents,* while this new study surveyed over 90,000 actual trans youth. The new study has a better design and a MUCH larger sample size, making its results significantly more likely to be accurate.


    And to my fellow cis people, please remember not to grow complacent. Media is siding with trans kids, but that doesn’t mean the fight is won yet. The nazis know they’re losing and that means they’re gonna do everything they can to hurt and scare the trans community before their campaign falls apart. They want to put trans kids in death camps. They want to kill cis leftists. They want to create an ethnostate. Until GNC folks in the US are in a position that could be reasonably called safe, we need to keep fighting. This won’t go away on its own. This isn’t about “feeding the trolls”. It’s about preventing another Holocaust. America may not learn from its mistakes, but we can. Love, support, and fight alongside trans folks in every way you can. It’s time to step up or shut up.


    For those who would like to read the paper, I found it here


    okay so i actually read the paper and i really recommend doing so before you reblog it but here are the main points:

  • this study was conducted using data from a much broader census of american youth
  • they were primarily looking at the ratio of AMAB to AFAB trans people, since a lot of gender critical people claim that ‘young girls’ are uniquely vulnerable to ROGD and social contagion (gross)
  • it turns out, though, that there are still more AMAB trans people than AFAB! the ratio was about 1.5:1 in 2017 and 1.2:1 in 2019, so the proportion is shifting, but the moral panic about young women abandoning womanhood due to peer pressure is… demonstrably false
  • trans adolescents reported higher rates of bullying and suicide than their cis counterparts, INCLUDING cisgender sexual minority youth, so the argument that trans people are just gay and transition to become ‘straight’ is officially disproven (this is my personal least fave transphobic talking point, it just gets my blood boiling for some reason)
  • also a ‘substantial’ percentage of trans participants described their sexual orientation as non-straight so can we finally put that argument to rest :)
  • they then conclude that, due to the rates of bullying and mental health issues, it is unlikely that trans people are simply transitioning because it’s ‘trendy’ or they feel pressured to by their friends
  • so, yeah, the vast majority of this article will have most trans people shrugging and going ‘yeah we know’, but having an academic source to point to is hugely important, and it’s nice to see the findings being reported in the news as well


    A certain director of a certain center dedicated to science fiction (and the speculative imagination) is quoted in this great piece about the influence of science fiction and the current age of space exploration.


    oooh, they did a great job with this! (the interview was such a long time ago I'd forgotten it was coming) they quote several smart folks, plus me!

    "Beyond creating a climate where innovative thinking is acceptable,” said Chris McKitterick, who directs the Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination at the University of Kansas, “science fiction has influenced countless scientists, engineers, and technologists to make real the things depicted in science fiction narratives."

    then follows an "unofficial list of the most influential science fiction works ever," by Eric Adelson

    cool beans!

    More than 5,000 planets have been confirmed to exist outside our solar system, featuring a wide array of characteristics like clouds made of glass and twin suns. Scientists estimate there could be millions more exoplanets in our home galaxy alone, which means professional astronomers could use your help tracking and studying them.

    This is where Exoplanet Watch comes in. Participants in the program can use their own telescopes to detect planets outside our solar system, or they can look for exoplanets in data from other telescopes using a computer or smartphone.

    Exoplanet Watch began in 2018 under NASA’s Universe of Learning, one of the agency’s Science Activation programs that enables anyone to experience how science is done and discover the universe for themselves.

    Continue Reading


    Great information on Comet 2022 E3 ZTF, including some pictures from skywatchers. This comet will be at perihelion, or closest to the sun, on January 12, 2023


    it'll be easiest to find February 10, right next to Mars

    photo by Steven Bellavia from the EarthSky site

    look how pretty it is already!

    Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for January and February 2023


    The relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and several health issues that have an influence on morbidity and mortality has been the focus of research by epidemiologists and scientists with roots in China and the USA. The possibility to further our understanding of the breadth and depth of illnesses connected to obesity exists in the research of the genetic relationship of BMI across a wide variety of prevalent medical problems.

    The prevalence of overweightedness and obesity is rising sharply in the United States, and they most certainly make a significant contribution to the burden of chronic health disorders. The incidence rate of osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes mellitus are the primary end outcomes.

    It is highly heritable for variations in body mass index, the parameter used to identify obesity. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and coronary heart disease, which are the leading causes of avoidable morbidity and death, are two chronic illnesses that are closely linked to obesity and severe obesity. Whether obesity is a contributing factor, a confounding factor, or has a shared etiology with these co-occurring illness problems is still up for debate. The results of all metabolic bariatric surgery trials show that the procedure consistently promotes weight reduction, and there is mounting evidence that it also improves mortality rates and has other positive effects on health.

    Continue Reading


    seeing the focus on using BMI (body mass index) in a new study raised red flags, because it's been thoroughly discredited as a useful tool - for example, athletes and bodybuilders often show up as "obese" using BMI measures, and several body types are healthier carrying more fat

    so I checked out the article, hoping its discussion of genetic variation would mention that we need to change this measurement system to something that reflects issues like weight variation for different reasons, plus all the new research that suggests different people have different physiology in regards to weight and health

    but no, this appears to be yet more regressive thinking