# Sunday, October 24, 2021

Miles Vorkosigan is in love with the recently-widowed Ekaterin Vorsoisson. Several obstacles inhibit his hopes at courtship: She is still in mourning for her late husband; her husband was abusive toward her; and Vorkosigan enemies are spreading rumors that Miles was implicit in the husband's death.

In her science fiction / romantic comedy "A Civil Campaign", Lois McMaster Bujold takes the reader through this adventure. She intertwines the main story with several others - a noblewoman who undergoes gender reassignment surgery in order to claim an open Countship (only males are eligible for this honor); a business started by Miles's clone/brother Mark to produce and market dairy products from genetically-engineered insects; and the upcoming wedding of the Galactic Emperor. Bujold cleverly ties together all these stories in the end.

This is mostly a lighthearted romantic comedy; but it also tackles some serious issues around gender roles. Bujold provides us with numerous examples of strong, independent women trying to navigate a patriarchal society. And there is moral philosophy: "Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."

It has been a couple years since I set aside Bujold's series of books on the future universe inhabited by Miles Vorkosigan. I am glad I did. Reading this book felt like a reunion with old friends.

Sunday, October 24, 2021 9:22:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, October 23, 2021

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is the story of how a tragic murder can affect a small town. But it is also the story of a young woman's struggles to confront the past she tried to escape.

Camille Preaker was a Chicago reporter sent to cover the story of a child killer in her hometown of Wind Gap in southern Missouri. Returning after years away, Camille reopens wounds caused by her relationship with a mother who never loved her, memories of a dead sister, and regret of the person she used to be. The longer she stays in this town, the more she reverts to her teenage self - repeating the mistakes of her youth.

Camille is isolated and self-destructive - both emotionally and physically, which makes it difficult to investigate the case, challenging to live a normal life, and impossible to form meaningful relationships. Flynn takes the reader inside the head of the character, making us feel for her, even if we cannot identify with her or like her. Camille grew up with a twisted sense of morality. At one point, she rationalizes statutory rape - a gang rape, at that.

The narrative is often uncomfortable. Wind Gap is filled with narrow-minded people a stereotype often depicted for those in a small town.

This was Ms. Flynn's debut novel - written well before she gained fame with "Gone Girl". It is not for everyone. The topic is disturbing, and the characters are deeply flawed. But I liked her depiction of the damaged prodigal daughter struggling against her past.

I found it entertaining.

Saturday, October 23, 2021 9:20:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, October 18, 2021

Episode 683

Richard Campbell on the Future of Space Travel

Richard Campbell discusses the history of private space travel and where this industry is headed.

Monday, October 18, 2021 9:32:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, October 17, 2021

PatMethenySome musicians have extremely high technical proficiency; others bring a great deal of emotion to their performance. Pat Metheny is the rare one who has achieved both.

He proved it Friday evening at Pilsen's Thalia Hall. It was my first visit to Thalia Hall and my first time seeing Metheny, who I discovered decades ago during my college years.

Mr. Metheny switched between ballads and electric fusion and funk and straight-ahead jazz with the same effortlessness with which he switched guitars. His arsenal of guitars was impressive, and each brought a unique sound. He played acoustic guitar and electric guitars - both solid and hollow-bodied; but he also boasts some unusual instruments in the guitar family. His synthesizer guitar sounds more like a horn section than a stringed instrument; and he made beautiful melodies with his custom-made 42-string "Pikasso" guitar.

And for this music, the melody often takes center stage. Between the improvisations, there was always a beautiful tune to enjoy.

Accompanying Metheny on stage tonight were James Francies on keyboard and Joe Dyson on drums. Collectively, the trio calls themselves Side Eye and their synergy was great. Francies and Dyson are accomplished musicians in their own right and gave us some impressive solos; but their real strength was in backing the master guitarist.

It is hard to believe that Pat Metheny is now 67 years old and not just because he still retains a full head of his signature wild hair. His energy, enthusiasm, and dexterity are those of a much younger man.

Photos

Sunday, October 17, 2021 9:17:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, October 16, 2021

RENT-1The musical "RENT" debuted 25 years ago in New York City. At the time, it must have caused some people to be uncomfortable. It  included homosexuals and drag queens and drug addicts and interracial relationships and fighting back against capitalist greed and AIDS.

Set in Manhattan's East Village, it paints a bleak picture of life for struggling bohemians of that area.

RENT-2But it also presents a message of hope. Despite the tragedies he suffers, Tom Collins remains optimistic. Despite the pain of a dead girlfriend, Mark attempts to love again. Despite losing his girlfriend to another woman, Mark becomes friends with the lesbian couple. And the cross-dressing Angel inspires us all, despite dying of AIDS.

And, of course, there is the music. RENT is filled with rock songs and ballads and show tunes to lift you up and to pull at your heart.

It took me 25 years to see this classic. But I finally made it to the CIBC Theatre in Chicago last week. I am glad I did.

Saturday, October 16, 2021 9:18:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, October 14, 2021

GCast 116:

Azure Active Directory B2C Token Generation With No User Interaction

Learn how to configure Azure Active Directory B2C, so you can request an Authentication Token without any user interaction. This is ideal for running automated processes that require a token, such as an integration test that calls a secure API.

Azure | GCast | Screencast | Security | Video
Thursday, October 14, 2021 9:12:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, October 11, 2021

Episode 682

Sam Nasr on Cognitive Services

Cognitive Services allow you to take advantage of Machine Learning using pre-built models and REST APIs. Sam Nasr describes the different types of Cognitive Services and some of the apps he has built for his customers using these services.

Links:
https://www.customvision.ai/
https://www.luis.ai/
https://globalai.community/global-ai-back-together/north-america-cleveland-4472/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU4ffaIzhsvMr_cCt9kjQMw

Monday, October 11, 2021 9:09:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, October 10, 2021

MelissaEtheridgeMelissa Etheridge has been writing, playing, singing, and recording music for over 30 years. Sunday night, she entertained a full house at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, IL.

Although she was backed by three other musicians, the focus remained on Etheridge the entire night. She wowed the audience with her guitar playing and her singing. Etheridge's signature coarse vocals remain strong after all these years and her playing is impressive.

Etheridge has become a favourite of the LGBT community since coming out as a lesbian in 1993. Recently, she released an album of songs written before that date, which she held back because she feared they might be too personal. She shared some of them with us on this night.

She saved most of her hit songs ("Bring Me Some Water", "I'm the Only One", "Come To My Window") for later in the show.

During her encore, she climbed behind the drummer and the two shared a duet on the same drum set - an impressive feat for the woman who is proficient at a number of instruments.

Etheridge's music continues to be a powerful force for all people. She gave her all Sunday night and the audience responded.


Photos

Sunday, October 10, 2021 7:59:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, October 9, 2021

POTR-1Lukas Nelson strode onto the Vic Theatre stage, smiled at the audience, and announced "Hi, I'm Lukas Nelson; and this is Promise of the Real!" He seemed genuinely excited to be there performing in front of a sold-out audience  September 30. The band quickly launched into the kinetic song "Start to Go", quickly followed by "Perennial Bloom" - a song from his new album which was released just a few months ago.

Nelson's enthusiasm did not wane throughout the evening. He raced from song to song, sometimes switching from rock to ballad, sometimes pausing briefly to swap guitars or switch to the piano, but always with an eye toward keeping the music flowing. He managed to engage the audience while doing so, focusing his attention outward to those on the main floor and balcony, rather than inward toward himself, his instrument, and his band.

The energy was not exclusive to the lead singer. Bassist Corey McCormick had a bounce in his step that he maintained as he kept a mean rhythm on the multiple bass guitars he played and as he sometimes danced with Lukas. Logan Metz kept busy moving between steel guitar, piano, electric keyboard, and harmonica; while drummer Anthony LoGerfo could be seen singing along to every song, despite the absence of a microphone.

POTR played a few more songs from their recent release, which contains an impressive collection of music. A classical piano solo led into "More Than We Can Handle" - another impressive new song; and "Leave 'em Behind" was an emotional song about a woman encouraged to escape an abusive relationship (a true story about his friend, according to Nelson.)

They also drew from the rest of their 7-album catalog released over the past 11 years. "Start to Go", "Perennial Bloom", "Fool Me Once", and "Carolina" were all crowd-pleasers.

POTR-2Nelson was sentimental in his delivery of "Just Outside of Austin" and "Forget About Georgia" - two songs of the opposite sides of a young person falling in love, but turned cynical with "Four Letter Word", told from the point of view of a husband growing tired of his wife two years into their marriage. Other highlights included "Start to Go", "Perennial Bloom", "Fool me Once", and "Carolina".

For the encore, bassist McCormick returned to the stage first for an impressive solo before the rest of the band joined him and played for another half hour.

Nelson has a long way to go to match the songwriting legacy of his father - legendary country star Willie Nelson. But he has a solid start with six studio albums and songwriting credit in the recent "A Star is Born" remake. He is a solid composer and brings enthusiasm and charm when he performs live. He and his band have also established a place in the music industry by recording and touring as Neil Young's backing band.

Lukas retains much of his father's charm and adds a charm that makes him a joy to watch perform.

Saturday, October 9, 2021 8:42:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, October 7, 2021

GCast 115:

Registering an Azure Account Subscription

Sometimes, you may receive the following error message, when trying to do something in Azure: "The subscription is not registered to use namespace 'Microsoft.AzureActiveDirectory'. This video walks you resolving fixing this issue.

Azure | GCast | Screencast | Security | Video
Thursday, October 7, 2021 9:11:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)