([syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed Apr. 25th, 2017 12:26 am)

Posted by John Scalzi

O hai, Whatever readers! Here’s me and Cory Doctorow just hanging out, as we do.

For those of you in the LA area, remember that he and I are going to be a Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena tomorrow at 7pm, talking about our new books and life, the universe, and everything. And then on Wednesday, we’ll do it again at Bookshop Santa Cruz! And then on Thursday, we’ll do it YET AGAIN at Borderlands books in San Francisco! We got a thing going, is what I’m saying, and you can be part of it, if you want.

Otherwise: Hey, how’s it going?

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Apr. 24th, 2017 07:36 pm)
Today was sunny and warm again.  In various rounds of yardwork, I sprayed weed killer on the back yard around the old raspberry patch and under the mulberry tree, and pulled weeds around the forest garden.  I also put out my flat of wildflowers to get some sun, and brought them back in again. 

The certificate and sign for my Wildlife Habitat have arrived, so I'll need to find fixtures for displaying those.
the_shoshanna: Uther Pendragon grinning (Uther approves)
([personal profile] the_shoshanna Apr. 24th, 2017 08:38 pm)
Geoff and a friend and I went to see The Book of Mormon yesterday. It was fantastic!

I'm not generally a person who drops $110 on theater tickets (although I do know that's a reasonable price for this level of live theater!), but when I saw that it was coming to town a few months ago, I absolutely yelped, and immediately told Geoff and other friends that I was DEFINITELY going, whether they were or not. Then, after I had actually bought the ticket, I had a few moments of "yikes, what did I just do?" But really I had no doubt that it would be totally worth it, and oh, it totally was. The staging was amazing, the actors were phenomenal, I kind of want to walk around singing "Hasa Diga Eebowai," and also at some points it genuinely made me choke up.

(Okay, that's not hard. I've been known to cry at commercials for long-distance telephone service. But -- poor abandoned Arnold!)

I laughed harder than I've laughed in ages, especially watching skim-milk-pale missionaries singing "Africans are African, but we are Africa!" (Which, also, OUCH... My church, along with five hundred other UU congregations, is about to do a service and a teach-in on white supremacy.) And now I'm looking up the lyrics to that and other songs and discovering all kinds of layers I had no idea about. I mean, I never saw The Lion King, so apparently a ton of stuff went sailing over my head...

It wasn't perfect; the second act was weaker than the first, and in particular "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" went on a bit too long. (As the perennial advice to vidders goes: "Get in, make your joke, get out.") But nonetheless -- oh, man, that was fantastic.
([syndicated profile] bbc_tech_news_feed Apr. 25th, 2017 12:00 am)
Rushed off your feet? Not enough hours in the day? Here are some apps to help you take control.
Many people are unsure about what machine learning is, but the chances are they are using it every day.
sartorias: (JRRT)
([personal profile] sartorias Apr. 24th, 2017 05:15 pm)
When Galadriel first offers to show her mirror to Sam, she mentions elf-magic. I think she is kidding him in a mild way because a little later when the subject of magic comes up again, she says she is not certain what they understand by “magic.”

I found this a big whoa as a kid, then I thought, well, of course, the elves are magic, so it’s probably invisible to them.

But on later readings, I’m not so sure that that isn’t too simple.

The other day, as I was waiting for my lunch to cook, I was out in the patio blowing bubbles. As the breeze took them up and away, and I watched the shimmer of colors, I was thinking about how innocent such art can be — if you want to call bubbles art. In this instance I’m defining art as something that strikes you as beautiful, that gives you that inward lift of the heart. You see them, or you ignore them; they don't fool you, they don't influence you, except perhaps to make you smile.

Writers who create secondary universes do not have to write about magic. There are many successful other-world and/or epic fantasies that have no magic in them. But most consider magic one of the perks of secondary universe creation: it's fun to imagine dragons, or being able to fly, or shape changing, or whisking the dust out of your rooms with a snap of a magic cloth. And of course the bad guys mark themselves as bad guys by using their magic as weaponry, to destroy, or to create ugly things for whatever (or no) purpose.

It is not my intent here to slamdunk any author's magic system. Most of them are pretty clever. Others are more generic, but if they help make a rousing story, what is the harm? In retrospect, the only kind of magic that irritates the fluff out of me is the one in which women (and somehow it is always women) have to remain virgin, i.e. "pure." Nobody seems to bother about the state of male sexual experience.

Now, if any flavor of gender has to remain celibate for reasons of self-discipline or sacrifice, that is a different matter. It’s akin to magic having a cost, whether you have to use your own blood—or someone else’s—or magic-making gives you a headache, or even makes you fall down unconscious. The self-discipline of magic is comparable to going to school, high school, college, and grad school: years of study and practice. Or, magic can be gained, earned, found, or won.

There is also the gamer magic, which has precise mathematical formulae and the spells work the same every time, just as geometric rules do.

Magic in short can be the equivalent of energy, or power. I, at least, perceive these as two very different things: energy being, for most purposes, neutral, but power implies influence at the least, and at the most dominion.

Years ago, when I first read and reread LOTR, I thought that magic was part of the Elvish nature and therefore sort of invisible to them, in the way we don’t think about our autonomic systems. This prompted those repeated reactions about not understanding what is meant by magic.

I assumed that Elvish magic in action was the equivalent of sympathetic magic, only it works. At least, the way I understand sympathetic magic is this: as you make something, the energy and effort of your work is meaningful, and your thought — whatever it might be — adds virtue to the thing you make. The elves think of nature when weaving their cloaks, so that the wearer takes on the appearance of nature, and is overlooked by inimical or indifferent eyes. Lembas is simple, unleavened bread, but made by hands whose heads are thinking strength and healing into it, so it carries virtue beyond its ingredients.

But on this reading I began to wonder if I was missing something. After all, if these elves are in effect made of magic, and we know that Galadriel is powerful, then why aren't they living in gorgeous palaces, dripping with jewels, wearing fantastic clothes, and pretty much existing in states of artistically conspicuous consumption? Well, we can point to Rivendell as an example of a lovely place, maybe even a palace, although the description makes it out to be more comfortable and appealing to the eye than luxurious. Feng shui, maybe.

Can it be that the elves learned their lesson in the past? Rivendell is there as an outpost and a safehouse. It’s in the nature of elves to make that outpost as pleasing to the senses as can be.

When Frodo offers Galadriel the ring, she describes a fairly specific what-if. As I was reading at this time I thought, this temptation is not a new thing. She’s been tempted before, perhaps under different circumstances. Or maybe it’s just that she has gained such wisdom (and power) that she has become the ring’s equal, which is why she knows how many times Frodo has worn it. And she can read Sauron’s mind.

At any rate, the glass she gives Frodo, Sam's soil and the mallorn nut, the lembas and the cloaks, will indeed influence and affect, but in specific ways. One might say limited ways. These gifts, excellent as they are, from someone with great power, will not take take over the minds of the two hobbits in order to better assure their success, though their task is desperately important. Galadriel—who can read Sauron’s mind—lets Boromir go, troubled as he is, and she also lets those frail hobbits go, though their task is almost hopeless. Almost.

In contrast, the ring, with its almost-sentient piece of Sauron in it, seeks any road to dominion, including through fair intentions. Galadriel knows it, Frodo is beginning to grasp it, but Boromir is sure he knows best. He is not a villain—JRRT made sure to show him in a good light, both on Caradhras and in Moria, but he is very convinced he knows best, and of course he means well—he only wants to defend his beloved homeland.

The ring can work with that.

Which touches on Sauron, power, and the orcs. I want to leave talking about the orcs for when we meet some, but as I recollect, at the end of the battle outside the gates, when the Ring goes with Gollum into the lava and Sauron’s power is zapped to nothing, his entire force reacts as if struck by the afterwash of an atomic blast. And yet they very clearly had cognizance, and the ability to make choices before. But it’s as if Sauron’s will hummed underneath their consciousness— invited in because it made them feel powerful, too—and when it was gone, so went their sense of Yeah, this is gonna be a piece of cake, har har. and left them with the fear they hadn't known for a long time.

So, to the elves, “magic” is the power to force change, to dominate. What they do is not that—but if it isn’t magic, what is it?

Then I thought, wasn’t there something about magic in “On Fairy Stories”? The passages that I've reread the most were those on internal consistency and eucatastrophe, and on what “escape” means. (And, BTW, it is fascinating that several passages here are very close to what Vladimir Nabokov writes about on the purpose of fiction, and two writers more different in all possible ways would be difficult to find.)

But I digress. Opening my sadly yellowed, fragile book, yep, here’s some relevant stuff:

This is for them [elves] a form of Art, and distinct from wizardry or magic, properly so called. They do not live in it, though they can, perhaps, afford to spend more time at it than human artists can. The Primary World, Reality, of elves and men is the same, if differently valued and perceived.

We need a word for this Elvish craft, but all the words that have been applied to it have been blurred and confused with other things. Magic is ready to hand, and I have used it above, but I should not have done so: magic should be reserved for the operations of the Magician. Art is the human process that produces by the way (it is not it's only or ultimate object) Secondary Belief.

Part of the same sort, if more skilled and effortless, the elves can also use, or so the reports seem to show; but the more potent and especially Elvish craft I will, for lack of a less debatable word, call Enchantment. Enchantment produces a Secondary World into which both designer and spectator can enter, to the satisfaction of their senses while they are inside; but in its purity it is artistic in desire and purpose. Magic produces, or pretends to produce, an alteration in the Primary World. It does not matter by whom it is said to be practiced, fay or mortal, it remains distinct from the other two; it is not an art but a technique; its desire is power in this world, domination of things and wills.

The essay goes on about sub-creation, but I thought that worth quoting and thinking about as we begin to get closer to Ent magic, Saruman’s magic, and of course that of Mordor, after the splendid introduction to Galadriel’s benevolent authority.
I'm not the event mod, just signal boosting because I love this amazing drama witch so very much and he should have a lot more attention.

Georgi's dramatic face, In Drama We Trust

May 1 - 7: the Popoweek! Create and post fanworks about Georgi Popovich.

Prompts | FAQ

💜 💜 💜

All other fanworks are on hold (sorry, JJ) while I frantically write some fic for this event.

Posted by Not Always Right

Restaurant | Phoenix, AZ, USA

(I work at a large sandwich chain. In our particular store, the back of the line is really loud, and I’m slightly hard of hearing. Usually customers are gracious about me asking them to repeat themselves and speak a little louder and enunciate so that I can understand them, but sometimes they don’t.)

Me: “What can I get you for veggies on your sandwich?”

Customer: *something I can’t quite understand*

Me: “Pardon?”

Customer: *something I still can’t understand*

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: *something I still can’t understand, not speaking up or enunciating at all*

Me: “Pardon?”

Customer: *looking at the person behind him with a ‘can you believe this dips***?’ expression* “For the fourth time, how was your day?”

The post My Day Would Be Better If You’d Speak Up! appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
([personal profile] jimhines Apr. 24th, 2017 07:20 pm)

Invisible 3 is running a little behind the schedule I’d hoped to meet. It turns out that coordinating between two editors takes more time than one editor doing it all himself. Who’d have guessed?

Mary Anne and I have 13 essays and 3 poems contracted thus far. We’ve got one revision to look over, and two rewrites we’re waiting to receive. We’re also missing a few author bios I need to follow up about.

Cover art is mostly done, but I need to confirm those last few names before we can finalize that.

We’ve sent the contents off to the person who will be writing the introduction for this volume.

My hope is that when I get back from Buenos Aires and have had a day or two to recover, we’ll be able to announce a tentative release date (I’m guessing May or June, but I reserve the right to be wrong in that guess) and move forward with the cover reveal.

I’m very happy with what we have so far, and I can’t wait until we’re able to share it with you.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

lannamichaels: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds up For Sale sign after EVA. (Default)
([personal profile] lannamichaels Apr. 24th, 2017 07:13 pm)

Top 10 by hit count:
  1. The Pornography Is For Science. (Les Miserables) - 14,492

  2. You Get Me Closer To God. (Les Miserables) - 13,414

  3. Scenes From An Inconvenient Espionage Love Story. (Les Miserables/Bond) - 11,909

  4. Handjobs and Hand Grenades. (Les Miserables) - 12,490

  5. Polish Your Boots. (Les Miserables) - 11,972

  6. Make You Come Undone. (Les Miserables) - 11,590

  7. Let Them Eat Pancakes. (Les Miserables) - 10,341

  8. Dance Me Through The Panic. (Les Miserables) - 7,937

  9. I'm In The Details With The Devil. (Les Miserables) - 7,886

  10. You Put The Spike In My Heart. (Les Miserables) - 7,379

Omg so boring. Overall top 10 the same as last year, but there's some movement! Les Mis spy shenanigans moved up to 3. (This year was also the year where I read a fic by someone who had kudosed on the fic that was *blatantly* inspired by my fic, to the point where there were some dialoug in common, and I did say to myself, if they did the crayon thing, I was going to bring it up to the author, but they didn't do the crayon thing. But that fic was like 50K and my fic is teeny-tiny, so I figured it wasn't worth bringing up with the author, because it was clearly not intentional that they did that).

Also, in the "off the top 10" list, Barrayar Expects has dropped to 14. The unexpected 12th place is Earthlings Gonna Earth. OMG SOMETHING MORE "RECENT" BROKE THROUGH (fic is dated Aug 2015, so it's 1 year and 8 months old; everything else is over 3 years). I don't know if I'd've picked that one, of all the Martian fics, to be the highest, but I checked and it was the second one I posted, so maybe that has something to do with it? idek, the ways of hit count are mysterious to me.)

okay and to go with a list that is DIFFERENT from the last three years...

Top 5 by kudos:
  1. Scenes From An Inconvenient Espionage Love Story. (Les Mis/Bond) - 1423

  2. Earthlings Gonna Earth. (The Martian) - 1018

  3. Things To Do In New York City When You're No Longer Brainwashed. (Avengers) - 998

  4. We Walk The Plank With Our Eyes Wide Open. (Star Wars) - 728

  5. Interstitial. (The Martian) - 618

I'm not spreadsheething this one, but #1 is absolutely no surprise. It is a little surprising how the other ones work out. And zomg, something posted in 2016 made a list! o.O That is excellent. :D

Bad things can cause the brain to start looping, endlessly repeating the same thought or memory. This is fundamentally a failure of the sorting-filing function of the memory processes. When it gets stuck long term, that's post-traumatic stress. So the way to fix that problem is to get the memory filed properly. Some things that people have found useful include...

Read more... )
([syndicated profile] dailykitten_feed Apr. 24th, 2017 10:10 pm)

Posted by Tom "The Kittenmaster" Cooper

I would like you all to meet and welcome our latest Star Kit (and her litter), Ginger. She is a 9 month old Orange Tabby from Towson, Maryland.


Ginger was a stray in our neighborhood and after posting pictures and messages on our community facebook page, no one claimed her. I took her in and she was very pregnant! After having her for only 5 days she had her kittens (6 total) 2 were stillborn and 4 lived. We are having a wonderful time with Ginger and her 4 babies. We love them all. Ginger is just a love and I can not imagine anyone putting her out and not looking for her. I am glad we could give me a good loving home!


Posted by Arturo Garcia

The Environmental Protection Agency accused the contractor alleging that it would shut down its open data site of being 'unauthorized and misinformed.'
herself_nyc: (Default)
([personal profile] herself_nyc posting in [community profile] style_system Apr. 24th, 2017 06:26 pm)
Could one of you kind souls link me to the page where I can set the style for my reading page and posting page? I set it to Lynx, which I hate, and can't recall now how I did that.

lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
([personal profile] lb_lee Apr. 24th, 2017 06:05 pm)
Whenever ANY issue of access comes into play, INVARIABLY you will have at least one person who points out, “Look, accessibility is hard. It takes a lot of effort. Give the creators a break.”

Sure, it’s hard, but it’s also vital. Accessibility is an imperative part of good design. That this would be even considered a question shows a very flawed idea of what good design IS. The whole point of good design, in my opinion, is wedding aesthetic appeal with functionality. Your product should work as well as possible for as many of your customers as possible, and it should be appealing while it does it. (And when in doubt, function wins out.)

I have passionate feelings about accessibility in design, okay? )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
([personal profile] beccaelizabeth Apr. 24th, 2017 10:40 pm)
Finished watching season three.
That was weirdly bland.
... also I'm still not happy with the color settings on my new TV and it keeps bothering me.

A properly absorbing story shouldn't leave me room to get distracted by the colors.

Read more... )

I don't think any character was well served by this season.

Angst with no way out and no good choices is just... boring.

I'm bored now.

To watch season four I have to plug the old recorder box back in, and I am not currently motivated to do so.

Also, I feel like they duck their own question about how to treat Inhumans by introducing all this mind control stuff.

The more Marvel I watch the more I feel mind control is a story killing choice for a universe. I mean, I had feels when it was Hawkeye or the Winter Soldier, but it creeps me out when it keeps being central. There's always a choice.

I'm not really feeling it as parts either. There was just too much of the season that didn't give me anything I'm interested in, just people not trusting each other and getting mind controlled.

I want something else. Very else. Not with these parts.
callibr8: icon courtesy of Wyld_Dandelyon (Default)
([personal profile] callibr8 Apr. 24th, 2017 02:34 pm)
One of the things I appreciate most about the "blogosphere" is the ability to point to someone else's writing and say, "OOOOOH, SHINY!" Fortunately, others seem to have a similar predilection, so by reading their posts, I glean links to ones which educate and/or inspire.

I followed one such link today, to Jim Wright's blog, "Stonekettle Station". This post, from last April, I found both inspiring and a call to action. It was a just-right thing at a just-right time. It begins with a quote from the movie "Tomorrowland", and ends with a story about two wolves. One of the things I like about this writer is that he pulls no punches. In this case, his target is passivity, and that's a place where blunt truth *needs* to be said, and heard.

I can do more. Most of us can. And every little bit matters.
kittydesade: (PRO-CRAS-TI-NATE)
([personal profile] kittydesade Apr. 24th, 2017 05:40 pm)
I'm exhausted and the part of my brain that has any direction at all wants to keep revamping my wardrobe and I'm too goddamn tired and in pain to figure out how the fuck to even begin doing that and ugh.

Having looked at the list I had put in my Courtesan School document of basics (or what people consider as basics) I think the only thing I need anymore is a somber dress for somber occasions like funerals or something, just to keep in my wardrobe that can double as a LBD, I already have a couple of formal dresses that I'm comfortable in and are simple enough to probably always be in fashion but I might get a pastel one, and then a string of pearls and a trenchcoat and that's it for staples. So it's mostly whatever I feel like my look is missing. Which to be fair isn't much? I have a nice range of colors in jeans, I kind of want more colors of jeans in bootcut rather than skinny but since I'm eyeballing some tall laceup boots which only really work with skinny jeans I'll take what I've got. I've got a nice range of supercute tops, I could use some more with cap sleeves but also, I'll take what I've got and keep an eye out for sales.

Basically it amounts to keep an eye out for sales, double check that camis and button downs will look as good on me as I think they will and then get a bigger range of cami tops, and that's about it for fashion updating in my wardrobe. Ooh, although I could also go with the double gold cuff bracelets for the fashionable Iron Man look. I've also come to the conclusion that I am at the moment just slightly too wide to get away with blazer-and-tshirt although I'm still contemplating. How does a curvy person make that work? Or is it more bolero jacket and t-shirt? Ooh, that could have promise as a Tony Stark chic thing.

Also while I was contemplating this I ended up hitting up the Frye website and the boots that I want are on sale. $100 off. I hate them all and now I have to figure out whether or not the sale will last until I get my birthday money. Because if it will I'll just hold off, but if it won't there goes my tax refund that I'd meant to put on my CC. Which also cuts down the things I meant to buy with my birthday money by about over half, but still. I was not prepared for this! But $100 Frye boots. Which generally start at 250 and only get more absurd from there. (On the other hand they're also supposed to last for 40+ years, which is why I bothered in the first place. I can live with getting my boots resoled every 18 months for $10 rather than paying $50+ every couple years for entirely new shoes.)

Yeah, these are all the things I think about when I don't want to think about everything else that's going on in the world. Or how hungry and in pain I am and how much I want to just go out with the boy for dinner only he can't because he has to leave for work in an hour and a half. (Dude, there's twenty restaurants between my work and home that can get us dinner in that time, wake up.)

Going to try to get everything in my day to day list done today but suddenly all I want to do is curl up under the covers and read and eat ice cream. I'm in a very "so there nyah" mood right now. I blame a day and a half of stabbing back pain. (Yes it's better, I'm going to do my exercises tonight, hopefully I won't have to take 1000mg of naproxen sodium tomorrow too.)
yhlee: Gunn pointing his finger (AtS Gunn)
([personal profile] yhlee Apr. 24th, 2017 04:29 pm)
Con or Bust, which helps fans of color attend sf/f conventions, is running its annual auction to raise funds. Please consider taking a look and perhaps bidding on something or signal-boosting! Offerings include signed books and ARCs, critiques, jewelry, food, and other items. (Be sure to check whether shipping is offered to your country--for food particularly this can be an issue due to customs.)

I am offering a critique of a full novel up to 120,000 words, which I will honor through the end of 2017, and return within 60 days of receipt of the manuscript. I hope some of y'all will consider bidding or spreading the word. =)

Posted by Not Always Right

Grocery Store | Kansas City, MO, USA

(I work in customer service at a popular grocery chain in the Midwest. Our money is dispensed by a machine directly into our tills, so we do not have rolls of change.)

Me: “Hello, how are you today?”

Customer: “Fine, thanks. I just need two rolls of quarters for this twenty.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but unfortunately we do not have rolls of quarters.”

Customer: “What? Yes, you do. I am in here all the time getting rolls of quarters.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we’ve never done this to my knowledge.”

Customer: “Yes, you do. Fine, whatever. Can I just get some quarters then?”

Me: “I can do about five dollars in quarters. If I do much more, my drawer will be unbalanced, and I will run out of quarters.”

Customer: “You’re being ridiculous. This is poor customer service.”

(She glances at my name tag which says I’ve been working there for seven years. She knows I know what I’m talking about and her argument won’t hold.)

Customer: “Is there a manager I can speak to?”

Me: “Of course.” *I call the manager over and explain the situation*

(I begin doing something else at this point.)

Customer: *to Manager* “He was being very rude, too.”

(I have to turn away because I begin silently laughing at her saying I was rude. He gets into the safe, which has rolls for accounting, to get her some quarters. He isn’t supposed to do this and later gets yelled at by accounting.)

Customer: *to me as she walks away* “See! That’s customer service.”

(Lady, I have never been rude to a customer. I am sorry you feel that me being polite in telling you that we can’t do something is rude.)

The post Attacking You At Close Quarters appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

Friends, I am so tired, jet-lag is the worst. (I do not always like William Gibson, but he is spot-on about jet-lag: ".... her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.”)

(On this basis, my soul left Singapore four days ago and is currently slouching towards Bethlehem. Onwards, onwards.)

Australia was wonderful, I really enjoyed it. I (mostly) enjoyed New Zealand; I was in Christchurch, Wellington (briefly), Lake Tekapo and Hanmer Springs. I do tend to feel uneasy in NZ though. The first time I went to Hanmer, a pack of white teenagers stared at me with hostile fascination until I cracked and left. It wasn't particularly pleasant and was replicated elsewhere in the rural South Island. So partly it was that, and partly it was the place in itself, but I really enjoyed Singapore. It's not my favourite place for various reasons - not least, I was travelling without my drugs because they're controlled substances there - but, well. I went on about this elsewhere but in Singapore people look like me. People on the street, popstars on TV. Adverts for make-up, adverts for wedding venues, adverts for law school - they all had girls like me in them. I wonder how much less utterly neurotic I'd be if I lived in an environment like that all the time, because there is a psychological pressure you don't notice until it's gone - until you spend a day thinking, oh, hey, I look pretty today, oh, hey, I said something funny and people laughed, and all those casual quotidian thoughts aren't followed with "Despite..." and a giant asterisk.

I read a fair bit while I was away, which is what I originally opened this tab to talk about I've been meaning to read the Moore graphic novels for years, and finally got around to it on the long flights. Watchmen - I wanted to like it more than I did. It's a critical darling, yep, I get it, and even on a visceral level, I get it, it's rich and complex and fascinating, I was swept up in it. But in the end I just found it distasteful and unsatisfying, which is a bit tragic. The women in the story exist to be raped or denied agency. And I loathe Rorschach - I loathe being placed in the mind of misogynist, homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic, tragic-childhood-waaaah men, and I particularly loathe ~narrative ambivalence~ in respect of them. Rorschach is not an anti-hero. I do not admire his integrity. It's a virtue in itself, but I don't admire it in bricks. And ultimately I don't know what the text is trying to tell me. Is it that being a superhero is possible, that being a hero is possible? Or is it 300 pages of nihilism? Either way, by the end I didn't care.

I liked V for Vendetta much better. I thought it was interesting and clever and hit a lot of the narrative tropes I adore. And then I had this thought, which I share with you because it's a sad, pathetic little thought and I'm sort of ashamed of it. Here it is. V for Vendetta is set in a near-future dystopian Britain, where the fascists are in charge and totalitarianism has seeped into the public's skin. It's richly and devastatingly imagined. It's a world in which there are explicitly no brown people and no queers - they've been destroyed by the regime. And I - the brown queer reader - am being placed in the position, as reader, of feeling empathy and concern for those who are left. For a now wholly white and non-queer society. For the story to work, I must be invested in what becomes of it. And I'm capable of it - this is the task of the brown queer reader, to find empathy and commonality of self, in that distant human for whom existence and interiority is permitted - and capable of it to the deeply ingrained, deeply socialised extent that it took me 200 pages to have this thought at all.

But I had it. And then I didn't enjoy the rest so much - but I did enjoy it a bit. Because, as I said, I've had the practice. In some ways, I'm wondering why I participate less and less in media fandom, and in other ways I know the answer: it's that I no longer want to encourage this tendency in myself. To queer the text, or run the fic challenge focusing on the browns, or whatever, is work. Unpaid female labour, in fact, which in my non-fannish life I yell about all the time. And I know I'm missing the point deliberately - fandom was never about the labour-for-capital economy, quite the reverse - but it's also emotional labour, isn't it. It's emotional labour to centre the brown or queer experience in stories that were not written about those things. It's emotional labour to just write or consume the white dude pairing du jour while carefully Not Thinking about the other thing - and as I get older I get crankier and less willing to do this. For me, the way through the Gordian knot is to write my own stories. It'd be different for someone else, perhaps, but that's it for me.

I also read Marbles, by Ellen Forney, which is a graphic memoir about living as a writer and artist with badly medicated bipolar disorder. I was both interested and nervous about this book, because it focuses on something I'm worrying about a lot lately: the relationship between creativity, medication and mental illness. It's a lovely book, actually. It's all grounded in a single experience, melodramatic and abrasive, without purporting to generalise. Forney decides that to be medicated is better for her, even if she does worry about its effect on her creativity, and makes significant effort to emphasise it wouldn't be the same for every mentally ill creator. It wasn't reassuring, but it wasn't meant to be. I liked it.

I read other things, but they'll have to wait for the next post. The drive-by rec though is for Tansy Rayner Roberts' Castle Charming novellas, which are sweet and colourful and queer fairy tale parodies. And the first one is free!

(Urgh. My soul is still plodding across the Middle East. It's taking in the sights. It's ordering olives and shakshuka. HURRY THE FUCK UP oh my god.)
jekesta: Shawn and Gus screaming (psych)
([personal profile] jekesta Apr. 24th, 2017 10:06 pm)
(My previous post is now a total lie, I've become really invested in Marco Fu and I feel sick.)

[personal profile] colls is hosting a battle of kickass women in space which you should go and vote in. I'm heartily supporting Servalan, which you should too because she's the best. If you scroll down you'll see I've taken the whole thing Too Seriously and left a nice gif filled comment for her. It doesn't seem to be working.

[personal profile] swordznsorcery has linked me to this this vid of Cheyenne being shirtless. Just if you're into that sort of thing.

(Awful Robertson just stole a frame he didn't deserve and yelled COME ON and hit the table and then went away to shout at himself in a mirror for ages. It's my least favourite thing about Robertson and I thought he'd stopped with it, but ugh. Fu is not the sort of player to give in to it, but ugh. Ugh is my overwhelming feeling about people who shout at themselves in mirrors and can't play snooker with their emotions hidden on the inside.)

(OH GOD, Fu was in nicely and he's just lost position and then fouled the pink and he's just giving it away and he was meant to just pot 90 points and then calmly walk back to his seat and it was going to be amazing and I hate... oh it's okay Robertson missed again. I'll go and be quieter.)

seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
([personal profile] seekingferret Apr. 24th, 2017 04:50 pm)
I've been thinking, as I wrote in my last D&D post, about how to do the more natural settings in my new campaign in a way that both explores the economic questions and maintains the sense of whimsy and adventure you want in a fantasy adventure and it struck me that the obvious approach is to use Fey. The very nature of Fey adventures is tied up in questions of contracts and obligations, it's inherently economic in nature. Players want to exploit a mine, but in order to gain access they need to make deals with the local fey, whose goals may be orthogonal to predictable economic aims, but whose practices are definitely economic in nature.

This creates a really interesting potential scenario: Beneficial contracts that players make with fey accrue immediate guild merits (XP) toward levelling, but if a deal with a fey is ever breached, players lose those guild merits and potentially can de-level. I really like this effect, it makes breaking fey contracts have real, meaningful teeth to the players on a metaphysical level.

Larger contracts between Auction Houses and fey kingdoms are also a wonderful source of adventure hooks, as such deals no doubt require periodic acts of maintenance. I'm imagining a scenario like where the Deal is that in order to ensure safe passage across a river in fey territory, all the Carter's Guild needs to present the local fey lord with a small, somewhat obscure but not valuable gem every year- the kind of payment where the players might wonder what the hell the faeries want with it. The players try to cross the river and the fey lord, wearing an outfit beautifully adorned with hundreds of identical gems showing that this Deal has been in force for centuries and revealing the intricate way that this ageless lord executes plans over long time scales, denies them passage until they present him this year's gem. And he doesn't deny them passage by force, but with a simple but immensely powerful teleport spell. Any time they try to cross the river, they end up back where they started. I can do so much with this kind of story element.

So I'm going to need to think up the details of the organization, such as it is, of the fey in the Mannheim Vale. I definitely want multiple kingdoms/courts of fey, but I probably also want individual loner fey creatures.
fox: cartoon drawing of oven with single bun in it (bun in the oven)
([personal profile] fox Apr. 24th, 2017 04:40 pm)
Yesterday the prince was five months old.

He likes or does not mind me, his father, snuggling, milk, bath time, standing up on our legs and looking around, gurgling and cooing and practicing his vowel sounds, grabbing his feet, rolling from one side to the other in "happy baby" pose, and eating cream of rice from a spoon. He dislikes wet diapers, dirty diapers, being cold, being tired, being hungry, and being lonely when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and he's not wild about naptime, which is an ongoing project over here.

He naps okay in his rock-n-play but not at all well in his crib. At night he sleeps about three and a half hours before he wakes up and his dad goes in and settles him back to sleep; then another couple of hours later he wakes up hungry and I feed him; and usually he sleeps another three and a half or four hours after that before he's up for the day. In short, although the doctor says we're not to let him sleep longer than six hours without waking him up for a feeding, in practice he doesn't sleep much more than three and a half hours without needing attention even if he's not hungry. This weekend we concluded maybe this is because he's overtired, never quite getting enough rest in his daytime naps? We've been advised to aim for 90-minute naps with two hours of awake time in between, but he often naps for an hour or less. We sometimes let a later nap go as long as two hours, but maybe that's not getting it done. So today I tried a bit of Ferber training on the first nap of the day, in the crib, but after 45 minutes I called time on that and put him in the rocker where he slept for about half an hour; so for the second nap his dad and I agreed to let him sleep as long as he wanted. Which turned out to be (surprise, surprise) about three and a half hours. (I'm out at rehearsal this evening, so if a 3.5-hour nap effs up bedtime Himself is the one who will get burned - which he acknowledged and asked me not to wake the kid up mid-nap anyway.)

So that happened. When he woke up he ate almost two tablespoons of rice cereal mixed with about four tablespoons of milk; we started with a sort of 4:1 combination (one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of milk and one teaspoon of cereal) last Wednesday and have been adjusting the ratio and volume since then. Each evening by the time we're having dinner it's only about an hour since he's nursed, which is too soon for another meal, but he's really interested in watching us eat with spoons and forks so we've been giving him snack-sized portions. (And then he nurses again at bedtime an hour or so later. He's definitely loading up on calories late in the day, which is fine because I want him to gain weight, but continues to make it frustrating that he wakes up so often. But obvs the waking up isn't entirely connected to his appetite.) The canister says a serving is a quarter-cup, which is way too much for my little dude at this time, but anyway after a couple days of smaller servings today I made him the biggest bowl of cereal yet and he ate all but about three bites of it. Operation Fatten Up The Baby proceeds!

He has now rolled over from front to back in both directions, that is, over both arms, but hasn't made it from back to front yet. And he's trying really hard to crawl but can't do much more than inchworm a bit. Definitely growing before our eyes; there are days I pick him up at his grandmother's in the afternoon and I'm pretty sure he's bigger than he was when I said goodbye that morning.

Oh - and this is my last week of half-time work (which this week means three days); starting next week I'm back at work Tuesday through Friday each week, and the kid will go to Grandma's Wednesday and Friday and day care Tuesday and Thursday. It will - because of a time none of our friends could babysit and we fell back on shifting my mom's planned visit so she'd be here when we needed a sitter - be the first time since leaving the NICU that he will have been looked after by someone other than family. I ... suspect I may be a bit of a mess.

Posted by Not Always Right

Retail | Baltimore, MD, USA

(I am a customer in line behind a lady who is checking out. The cashier is a young man, around 17 or 18. Most of the employees have some kind of personal item in addition to their uniform. This cashier was wearing a funny alien hat.)

Lady: *digging through her purse* “I think I have a coupon for…” *she looks up* “WHAT… happened to your HEAD?!”

(At this point, she got my immediate attention and I take notice of the silly hat that in no way looks like skin or hair. It looks like a gray cloth hat with alien eyes on it.)

Cashier: *confused* “My… head…? *puts his hand on his hat*

Lady: “You need to get to a hospital! Your whole head! It’s gray!”

Cashier: *takes his hat off and touches his hair* “I did hit my head earlier. I hope I’m not bleeding…”

Lady: *throws her hands over her mouth* “YOU JUST… TORE IT…” *she then grabs her bag and runs out of the store*

(The cashier and I are both stunned and just watch her leave.)

Cashier: “I think I’m going to go on break now.”

The post Something Not Right With Their Head appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)
([personal profile] zulu Apr. 24th, 2017 01:46 pm)
I’m at home today awaiting the furnace repair guy. Hopefully, he is only a thermostat repair guy. Naturally, the day our heat stopped working, the weather decided that rain, snow, and/or slush should probably start falling from the sky indefinitely. L was pretty impressed by thunder last night and kept asking me to show it to him. I told him, “Thunder is a sound,” but that didn’t seem to make a difference. Lightning was too quick for him to realize it was a thing.

Anyway, being at home, the real task is willpower: to work on thesis and not to a) nap or b) spend all day cleaning (because I certainly could and the place certainly needs it). Therefore I’m writing this to-do list to force myself to sit down at the computer and start typing.

ETA: Wow, how much of an incredible idiot am I. The furnace guy put new batteries into the thermostat--mind you, a THIRD SET, because I tried TWICE, because I am not, to the contrary of how this appears, STUPID--and the damn furnace just kicked on. So that was worth the cost obviously.

to do )
splix: (Default)
([personal profile] splix posting in [community profile] smellsgood Apr. 24th, 2017 01:30 pm)
I swapped out my cold-weather perfumes for my warm-weather fragrances and snapped a picture, because I like how they look on my dresser. I didn't include the glass bowl of tiny bottles and sample sizes and so on - these are just the full size bottles.

pretty )
Choices and Changes T.M. Smith
Gay - Contemporary Romance
File Size: 4519 KB
Publisher: TTC Publishing; 1 edition (April 21, 2017)
Publication Date: April 21, 2017
Amazon: Choices and Changes T.M. Smith

Choices and Changes
An All Cocks story, book 7

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to make a choice between what is right and what is easy.

Born and raised in Fort Worth Texas by open-minded parents, Dean Anderson realized early in life he was attracted to both sexes. Equal opportunity, he picked his lovers based on personality and common interests. He met Maggie in college, fell in love, got married and started a family. And they were happy…until they weren’t.

Adam Chase’s mother is South African, his father American military working at the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa. His parents’ positions in the South African and American governments awarded Adam dual citizenship, and he attended University in America, at Berkley. In America, Adam is lives openly as a gay man, something that could get him killed in his mother’s home country. He met his husband, Patrick Carter, at college and they too were happy…until Patrick died.

Two lives converge, and it would seem fate is giving them each a second chance at happiness, together. Dean stays in New York and moves into the apartment his son, Dusty, shares with his boyfriend David. He and Adam are quickly welcomed into All Cocks’ vastly growing family. And then one phone call changes everything.

The men of All Cocks learn that death is just another part of life, a road everyone travels eventually. Choices are made, decisions that change their lives irrevocably. They rally together, drawing strength from each other as their close-knit family experiences the best and worst life has to offer. But that’s what families do, right?

** Series reading order
Gay for Pay book 1
Fame and Fortune book 2
How to Deal book 3
Dare to Hope book 4
Live for Love book 5
Hide and Seek book 6
Choices and Changes book 7

Posted by Mike Glyer

The five Philip K. Dick Award judges for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original format in the United States during the 2017 award year are: Robert Onopa Deborah J. Ross James Stoddard Amy Thomson Rick Wilber The Philip K. … Continue reading
([syndicated profile] file770_feed Apr. 24th, 2017 07:35 pm)

Posted by Mike Glyer

ASFA, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists, has announced the nominees for the 2017 Chesley Awards. ASFA members have until May 14 to cast their votes for the winners. The Chesley Awards were established in 1985 as ASFA’s … Continue reading
([syndicated profile] file770_feed Apr. 24th, 2017 07:07 pm)

Posted by Mike Glyer

Online voting for the 2017 Hugo Awards is now available and will continue until July 15 at 11:59 p.m. PDT. Members of Worldcon 75 have been emailed personalized links to the final ballot. Voting by postal mail is also an … Continue reading
extrapenguin: Picture of the Horsehead Nebula, with the horse wearing a hat and the text "MOD". (ssmod)
([personal profile] extrapenguin posting in [community profile] space_swap Apr. 24th, 2017 10:19 pm)
Due on Wed 26. April 17:00 GMT, like the other two open ones. Comment on this post with your AO3 username to claim.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Rogue One, Torchwood, Star Trek: Alternative Original Series, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy )
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)
([personal profile] schneefink Apr. 24th, 2017 09:05 pm)
Taken from [personal profile] nenya_kanadka:
Comment with one of my fandoms, and I'll tell you:

the character I least understand
interactions I enjoyed the most
the character who scares me the most
the character who is most like me
hottest looks character
one thing I dislike about my fave character
one thing I like about my hated character
a quote or scene that haunts me
a death that left me indifferent
a character I wish died but didn't
my ship that never sailed


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