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([syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed Sep. 19th, 2017 11:26 am)

Posted by John Scalzi

In her debut novel Autonomous, former i09 editor-in-chief and current science and tech writer and editor Annalee Newitz gets under the skin of the healthcare industry and thinks about all the ways it’s less-than-entirely healthy for us… and what that means for our future, and the future she’s written in her novel.

ANNALEE NEWITZ:

There’s a scene from the Torchwood series Miracle Day that I will never be able to wash out of my brain. After humans stop being able to die for mysterious reasons, our heroes tour a hospital full of people who are hideously immortal: their bodies pancaked and spindled and melted, they lie around in agony wishing for oblivion. For all its exaggerated body horror, that moment feels creepily realistic in our age of medicine that can keep people alive without giving them anything like quality of life.

Torchwood: Miracle Day wasn’t my first taste of healthcare dystopia, but it made a huge impression because it distilled down one of the fundamental ideas I see this subgenre: some lives are worse than death. This is certainly the message in countless pandemic films, where the infected are ravening, mindless zombies. Killing them is a mercy.

This idea takes a slightly different form in books like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl. Both narratives toy with what it means when people are turned into medical experiments, like futuristic versions of the Tuskegee Study. We see some ruling class of people deciding that another class should serve as its organ donors or genetic beta testers. What if somebody were treating us like lab rats, as if our lives didn’t matter?

And then there are the false healthcare utopias, which I find the most disturbing because they remind me of listening to U.S. senators trying to sell the idea that they have a “much better plan” than Obamacare—even though I know people who will die under these “better plans.” Politicians have probably been pushing false healthcare utopias since at least the 19th century, but in science fiction its roots can clearly be traced to Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. In that novel, everyone is medicating with Soma just to deal with how regimented and limited their lives are.

False healthcare utopias can take many forms, and they overlap with more familiar dystopias too. Some deal with surveillance. In the chilling novel Harmony, Project Itoh imagines a future Japan where the government monitors everyone’s microbiomes by tracking everything that goes into and out of their bodies (yep, there’s toilet surveillance).

Sometimes the false healthcare utopia is just a precursor to a more familiar zombie dystopia like 28 Days Later. Consider, for example, our extreme overuse of antibiotics. Though it appears that we can cure pretty much any infection with antibiotics, we’re very close to living in a world where antibiotics no longer work at all. One of the most terrifying books I’ve read this year is science journalist Maryn McKenna’s book Big Chicken, which is about how the agriculture industry depends on antibiotics to keep animals “healthy” in filthy, overcrowded conditions. This is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are coming for us, pretty much any day now. That’s right–penicillin-doped chickens are the real culprits in I Am Legend.

I’m fascinated by how many false healthcare utopias depend on coercive neuroscience. Often, brain surgery is involved—we see this in John Christopher’s Tripods and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, both about so-called utopian worlds created by neurosurgical interventions that restrict freedom of thought. Maybe these stories focus on brains so much because these are fundamentally stories about lies, and brains are, after all, the organ that we use for lying.

When I started work on my novel Autonomous (out today! yes it is!), I knew I wanted to explore the lies of the pharmaceutical industry and its gleaming ads promising a better life to those who can afford a scrip. One of the protagonists, Jack, has become a pharmaceutical pirate so that she can bring expensive, patented medicine to poor people who need it. But she also sells a few of what she calls “funtime worker drugs” on the side, to fund her Robin Hood activities and keep her submarine in good repair.

Those funtime drugs are why things go sideways for Jack. She sells some pirated Zacuity, a “productivity” drug that I loosely based on Provigil or Adderall. It gets people really enthusiastic about work, but it has some unexpected side-effects that the pharma company Zaxy has suppressed. Now Jack has to stop the drug from killing more people, while also evading two deadly agents sent by Zaxy: a robot named Paladin and a human named Eliasz.

So Autonomous is chase story with some hot robot sex, but it’s also very much a book about how pharma companies sell us an idea of “health” that is actually really unhealthy.

Today pharma companies market drugs the way Disney markets Star Wars movies, and for good reason. Drugs like Adderall and Provigil are supposed to make us feel better and more competent—or at the very least distract us—for a few blissful hours. Just like a movie. I’m not trying to say there’s a problem with taking drugs (or watching movies) to feel good. Nor am I saying that people don’t need anti-depressants and other meds to treat psychological problems. The issue is when these drugs are overprescribed for enhancement, and “feeling really good” becomes a terrible kind of norm. Pharma companies want us to believe that if we aren’t incredibly attentive, productive, and happy every day, there must be something wrong. This paves the way for an ideal of mental health that almost nobody can (or should) live up to.

There’s another, deeper problem that’s caused by selling medicine as if it were a form of entertainment. Nobody would ever argue that going to see the new Star Wars movie is a right. It’s just a luxury for people with disposable income. If we see medicine like that too, it’s easy to fall for the lie that our healthcare system is great even though it only serves the richest people in the U.S.

In the world of Autonomous, the pharma companies are full of guys like Martin Shkreli, jacking up the prices on medicine because they can. They get away with it because so many people in the U.S. believe that anyone can get medicine if they really deserve it. Only a lie of that magnitude could make it seem fair when working class people can’t afford to treat AIDS-related complications. Or cancer. Or a heart infection.

Autonomous is a book about lies. But more importantly, it’s about what happens to the people who see through those lies and try to do something about it. Everyone deserves to have medicine. It is a right, not a privilege. Until we recognize that, I’ll be hanging out with the pirates.

—-

Autonomous: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


([syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed Sep. 19th, 2017 11:44 am)

Posted by Bruce Schneier

This is a good interview with Apple's SVP of Software Engineering about FaceID.

Honestly, I don't know what to think. I am confident that Apple is not collecting a photo database, but not optimistic that it can't be hacked with fake faces. I dislike the fact that the police can point the phone at someone and have it automatically unlock. So this is important:

I also quizzed Federighi about the exact way you "quick disabled" Face ID in tricky scenarios -- like being stopped by police, or being asked by a thief to hand over your device.

"On older phones the sequence was to click 5 times [on the power button], but on newer phones like iPhone 8 and iPhone X, if you grip the side buttons on either side and hold them a little while -- we'll take you to the power down [screen]. But that also has the effect of disabling Face ID," says Federighi. "So, if you were in a case where the thief was asking to hand over your phone -- you can just reach into your pocket, squeeze it, and it will disable Face ID. It will do the same thing on iPhone 8 to disable Touch ID."

That squeeze can be of either volume button plus the power button. This, in my opinion, is an even better solution than the "5 clicks" because it's less obtrusive. When you do this, it defaults back to your passcode.

More:

It's worth noting a few additional details here:

  • If you haven't used Face ID in 48 hours, or if you've just rebooted, it will ask for a passcode.

  • If there are 5 failed attempts to Face ID, it will default back to passcode. (Federighi has confirmed that this is what happened in the demo onstage when he was asked for a passcode -- it tried to read the people setting the phones up on the podium.)
  • Developers do not have access to raw sensor data from the Face ID array. Instead, they're given a depth map they can use for applications like the Snap face filters shown onstage. This can also be used in ARKit applications.
  • You'll also get a passcode request if you haven't unlocked the phone using a passcode or at all in 6.5 days and if Face ID hasn't unlocked it in 4 hours.

Also be prepared for your phone to immediately lock every time your sleep/wake button is pressed or it goes to sleep on its own. This is just like Touch ID.

Federighi also noted on our call that Apple would be releasing a security white paper on Face ID closer to the release of the iPhone X. So if you're a researcher or security wonk looking for more, he says it will have "extreme levels of detail" about the security of the system.

Here's more about fooling it with fake faces:

Facial recognition has long been notoriously easy to defeat. In 2009, for instance, security researchers showed that they could fool face-based login systems for a variety of laptops with nothing more than a printed photo of the laptop's owner held in front of its camera. In 2015, Popular Science writer Dan Moren beat an Alibaba facial recognition system just by using a video that included himself blinking.

Hacking FaceID, though, won't be nearly that simple. The new iPhone uses an infrared system Apple calls TrueDepth to project a grid of 30,000 invisible light dots onto the user's face. An infrared camera then captures the distortion of that grid as the user rotates his or her head to map the face's 3-D shape­ -- a trick similar to the kind now used to capture actors' faces to morph them into animated and digitally enhanced characters.

It'll be harder, but I have no doubt that it will be done.

More speculation.

I am not planning on enabling it just yet.

([syndicated profile] languagelog_feed Sep. 19th, 2017 11:34 am)

Posted by Mark Liberman

Tweeted yesterday by the magazine Bon Appétit (which is apparently not the same as the restaurant management company):


Extensive commentary ensued —

 

andrewducker: (Default)
([personal profile] andrewducker Sep. 19th, 2017 12:00 pm)

Posted by Fatin Marini

Lately reading the news from around the world has felt like swimming in a wave pool. Every time you get over a wave and find your footing, another one comes and knocks you off your feet. It’s hard to rejoice in anything positive.  Having fun seems like a betrayal. Attempting to create art feels like a futile exercise.  Constantly feeling like, what is the point? And yet, even with the barrage of bad news, there is so much to feel inspired about.

This summer I visited my family in America; Dearborn, Michigan and New Jersey specifically.  I have nieces and cousins who wear hijab ranging in age from 9-24. What struck me is how confident they are in their hijab. They don’t just put a scarf on their heads. They go to their elementary schools, high schools and colleges and rock their hijab. It is who they are.  I admit I find myself wondering a lot about how they do it. How did they get so confident? I started wearing hijab when I was 18 and I was anything but confident. Even now, I am still figuring out how to put my outfits together with hijabs to match. But these girls make it seem so effortless. And yes, I have asked them and they just shrug it off… “I don’t know.” It’s something they can’t seem to articulate, probably because they haven’t really thought about it. It is absolutely second nature to them.  And I envy them; but I’m also so happy for them.

I am happy that they are finding themselves represented more and more in the media in ways I never did when I was younger. Muslimah Media Watch, for instance, is a prime example. There are blogs, Youtubers and Instagram stars appealing to Muslim women. There are also books with Muslim characters and some with actual hijabis on the cover!

Have you all seen the ad for Rhianna’s Fenty Beauty? No? Click here. It’s glorious. Finally, an ad that had women of different complexions! An a makeup line offering more diverse makeup shades. The line just hit the market so we’ll have to see the reviews on whether or not the line delivers on its promise.  But until then, I will forever remember the way I felt watching hijabi Black model Halima Aden appear on screen. I wanted to cry when I saw it. For the first time, this felt like real representation as a Muslim woman. She’s just a beautiful Black woman walking down the street, laughing with friends, who happens to wear a hijab. She isn’t being saved. She isn’t “breaking barriers.” She isn’t the “first hijabi to…” She is just being who she is.  I am here for it. It’s exciting.  Seeing her reminded me of watching my niece audition for HijabFest, a modest fashion show and bazar in New Jersey.  I sat there while 30 hopefuls, aged 5-35, walked the mock runway. This diverse group of women were wearing their hijab in every way possible.  I wish I thought to take pictures because these girls were slaying their walks! They were confident fashionistas living a dream.

Halima Aden- via IMG Models

Much like Ayana Ife on Project Runway this season.  While not the show’s first hijabi, what makes me love her is that her design aesthetic is modest clothes, which Ife defines as “not showing any skin.”  Whatever the challenge, she puts a modest spin on it and shows that being modest and fashionable are not mutually exclusive concepts, something that MMW has explored in the past (here, here and here). I’m intrigued to see how it all plays out in the show. So far, at the time of this writing, the judges have been impressed with her skills and designs.  She’s a joy to watch too. She’s funny and sweet and her smile makes me want to smile.  During episode 4, she  schooled Heidi Klum about how hijabi women dress outdoors versus indoors for a sleepwear challenge, and that two-minute conversation was better dawah than any lecture I’ve seen. It was just a normal conversation between two women, one who happens to be an Über-famous supermodel mogul and the other one who wears hijab.

And speaking of modest fashion, this year Anniesa Hasibuan became the first Muslim Indonesian designer to bring her designs (including hijabs!) to New York Fashion Week.  She also focused on featuring only immigrant models during her show. When I see those pictures and videos, I think of my nieces and cousins who might not buy from the collections because, like most designer clothes, they aren’t affordable to the masses, but they can use them as inspiration to create their own masterpieces. And it seems like other fashion houses are taking notice. In The great cover up: why ​we’re all dressing modestly, designers talk about how the trends are moving to modest fashions and how Muslim women are driving that trend.  But here we have designers making clothes that fit the Islamic aesthetic instead of co-opting the actual clothes like Dolce & Gabbana did with their abaya line.

Just this week, Time magazine published a series of covers and profiles entitled Firsts: Women Who are Changing the World. One of the 46 women chosen is Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim woman to become a legislator. Imagine little Muslim girls, more importantly Black Muslim girls, looking at this cover.  Maybe some will see a career in politics as possible. Or maybe they just see being on a magazine cover as possible. Or maybe they will see a Muslim woman on a cover of a magazine and think nothing at all, because it is becoming the norm. I, for one, am excited at the possibility.

Ilhan Omar- Via Time Magazine

I don’t love the concepts of ‘firsts’ or ‘smashing stereotypes’ because the stereotypes and limitations it takes to be “the first” are often imposed on Muslim women by the same institutions that have oppressed them and are now congratulating themselves for “valuing” them.  But some Muslim women have resisted those discourses. In her interview with Time, for instance, Ilhan talks about “shifting the narrative.” I like that idea so much better. It acknowledges that there is a narrative already in place that doesn’t include everyone and needs shifting. We need to modify the narrative for those possibilities to exist. An important thing to acknowledge is that a good part of these shifts in narrative are being put forward by Black Muslim women, despite rampant anti-Blackness in Muslim communities, including in my own Palestinian community. Thus, as non-Black Muslim women we need to acknowledge and support the narratives led by Black Muslim women. We also need to also appreciate all of our Muslim sisters not only for what they accomplish and how that “contributes” to Muslim communities, but for who they are themselves.

The world may be literally on fire and underwater but there is hope on the horizon.  There are examples of good things happening every day.  It’s ok to celebrate the wins and more positive representation of Muslim women is always a win!

([syndicated profile] languagelog_feed Sep. 19th, 2017 10:01 am)

Posted by Mark Liberman

One of yesterday's Google Doodles commemorates Samuel Johnson's 308th birthday:

A partially-transcribed digital edition can be found here. The lexicographer entry is here (transcribed) and here (page scan):

dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
([personal profile] dglenn Sep. 19th, 2017 05:24 am)

[I feel, based on my own reactions each time I think about the loss described here, like I should provide some kind of content-warning to avoid ruining someone's day if this is their nightmare fuel. But I'm really not sure what form this warning should take.]

Linda Ronstadt describes what she can't do. May be upsetting to artists. Many people may just calmly think 'oh, that's sad'. )
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
([personal profile] marahmarie Sep. 19th, 2017 04:18 am)

I'm uh, still reading about it, and even just as I was reading and trying to find out which version I have - without actually opening the program because holy crappola - Windows Defender displayed behind-the-scenes scan results saying it found an infection...in CCleaner. I'm not sure what to tell anyone as far as "what to do" because I don't know the answer to that.

*curses*

It's a backdoor called Backdoor:Win32/Floxif that's been in the wild since CCleaner v.5.33 released in August of 2017.

Signalbost: CCleaner has been hacked

Time to reinstall my OS, if the fucking backdoor hasn't already destroyed our ability to do so...

Free tickets for BrickCon, 7-8 October, Seattle, WA

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It is 1 pair of tickets per household. They are not for resale as they have no dollar value. There are only 12 pairs so only take these if you are serious about attending.

Continue reading »

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Sep. 19th, 2017 03:16 am)
Here is an essay about a professor leaving academia

I went to U of I.  There were parts of it that I enjoyed, and the culture wasn't that bad.  But I can see parallels.  For me it was more a matter of looking at the way education was going, and deciding not to get involved in public education as a teacher.  It was obviously going down the tubes, and that was decades ago; it's infinitely worse now.  So too, many colleges.  :/  I couldn't stop it.  I could sure get the hell out of the way.
ysabetwordsmith: (gift)
([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Sep. 19th, 2017 02:34 am)
This poem is spillover from the February 2, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [livejournal.com profile] my_partner_doug, [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon, and [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "separation and reunion" square in my 1-23-16 card for the Valentines Bingo fest. This poem has been posted as a birthday present for [personal profile] callibr8. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Read more... )
torachan: onoda sakamichi from yowamushi pedal with a huge smile (onoda smile)
([personal profile] torachan Sep. 19th, 2017 12:47 am)
1. I actually slept in until ten, which is not something that usually happens lately even if I have the opportunity.

2. I had a nice relaxing day and didn't go anywhere or do much of anything.

3. Cooler weather means cats in the bed.

Dear Hannah! I daresay you would know best, but you do not show at all, are you entire sure you are with child?

La, Maurice, I can assure you that women – most of 'em - know the matter’s afoot. At least once they have already been about the business a time or two. One does hear tales of young girls that did not realize their state, and women at a certain time of life that supposed ‘twas the climacteric come to ‘em.

He began to drape stuff around her and take measurements. If we gather it thus - you see? – makes a pleasing effect and none would suspect what lies beneath.

Mind you do not make it too fine – I shall not be about giving speeches the while, and going to as few meetings as I may. But one may not eschew all company, and there is the matter of village gossip.

He looked at her. It was entire pleasing to see such a happy young woman in his fitting-room. So many of the ladies who came to him had some matter that troubled them, or were discontent by nature, and even a little flattery, and dressing them very well, did not entirely soothe their spirits.

You manage matters 'twixt the pair of you very well: how is Miss Ferraby?

Entire well. We are indeed fortunate. But 'tis agreeable to come to Town and see family and friends. But indeed, I should ask is all well with you – Lady Bexbury said you had been having some little trouble?

Quite resolved, he said, greatly hoping that he was not the subject of conversation over that lady’s supper-table.

She said somewhat to the effect that 'twas indeed good of you to see me now you have so much business come upon hand now 'tis all remedied.

Sure, you are family.

Why, I am daresay there are those among our connexion would not wish make that acknowledgement, was all known.

Maurice looked at their reflections in the pier-glass. Provided, he says, one does not flaunt, maintains a due discretion, so that it does not have to be openly spoke and known about –

Hannah’s eyes met his in the glass. She did not need to voice her understanding.

Some moments later, while she was putting on her accustomed garments, she said, but really I do not understand why people make such a bother about it. So unnecessary. Sure society is very cruel to unwed mothers and their offspring, but one may see that there is some reason – may not be a good or charitable reason, but if 'tis not the fear of the fathers about bringing scandal upon them, ‘tis the more general worry that they may come upon the parish and cause expense and raising of the rates. She sighed. And at least one may talk of that, and say that that harshness causes unhappy women to destroy their infants, and make arguments for more humane treatment. But when something may not even be talked of –

He patted her shoulder.

After she had left, he scribbled down a few notes and sketches for the gowns he would have made for her, and then told Miss Coggin, the head of the sewing-room, that he would be going out. Did not have any ladies coming for fittings the afternoon; did any come in hopes – vulgar creatures, murmured Miss Coggin – she might go take their measurements and requirements and ask 'em to return once they had been given appointments.

She pursed her lips in the way he knew meant that she would bring any ladies that did so to a fine appreciation of the consequence of the establishment.

He set off on a journey he did not particularly want to take, but was to undertake a prudent matter to dispatch. He took a hansom cab to some distance from his final destination: for although the tavern he sought was not precisely within the notorious rookery of Seven Dials, it was on its border. He picked his way fastidiously along the streets, keeping his walking stick in his hand in a manner that suggested it might serve as a weapon as well as a fashionable accoutrement.

From long habit he looked about before entering the place. But it was very unlikely anyone who might recognize him would see him here.

Enquiring as to whether Nat Barron was on the premises, he was directed by a jerk of the thumb into a back room.

Nat was there among various members of his gang. One of whom – presumably a new recruit – said, 'ere, oo’s the pooff: earning himself a smack or two about the head from Nat. Show some respect, Maurie may look the gent but he’s an old friend.

Nat Bannon and Maurice clasped one another’s shoulder, looked into one another’s faces, and then Nat motioned him to sit down, pouring him a glass of the gin he kept for himself.

Got somebody that needs warning off? he asked.

Maurice shook his head. I think word has got about after making a few examples.

For what had gained him the position he now enjoyed at the club was this connexion that enabled severe warning to be given to any that used knowledge gained there for the purposes of extortion. In return, Nat acquired the good feeling of fellows in high places that might well be useful to him did necessity arise. 'Twas entirely mutually beneficial.

Pity, said Nat, as you see there are one or two fellows here would be the better of some occupation to work off their feelings.

Maurice took a sip of gin, and disclosed to Nat the recent trouble he had had.

Oh, and you want us to show this spying fellow the error of his ways?

Why, it might gratify my feelings did you so – Nat smiled and shook his head and says, talks as good as a play – but I thought, a fellow that has a memory like that, might be of use to you.

Nat nodded slowly. A good thought. You always did have that long view.

Maurice shrugged. If a long view was considering that luring fellows into alleys so that Nat and his boys could rob them was an occupation with a rather short future and like to end badly for him, whereas obliging gentlemen in comfortable indoor surroundings was not only remunerative but provided him with considerable insight into gentlemanly habits and behaviour, yes, he took the long view: and the even longer view had been completing his articles of apprenticeship. But he also made sure to stay on Nat’s good side. Passed on any useful gossip he learned from ladies in the course of his day, and had constructed this very beneficial alliance 'twixt Nat and the club.

Sure he owed Nat a considerable debt for the protection that in younger days his friendship had afforded an undersized pretty boy disinclined to the usual boyish pursuits and happier to play with girls.

May not linger, he said, but thought you should know of the fellow as soon as might be, before goes completely to ground.

Maurice walked to where he might find a hansom cab and directed it to take him to his lodging. Once there, he washed himself very thoroughly with the very expensive soap, to get rid of any lingering stink of Seven Dials before he went to the club, where he was bidden to a committee meeting to consider upon new members.

Smoothing pomade into his hair, he had the unwanted memory of a larger hand stroking it in a fashion it was entirely foolish to suppose affectionate, rather than the pleasure one might take in stroking a fine purring cat.

But that was past and done.

At the club he was ushered into the committee room. It was ever gratifying to him, even if these marks of respect were founded upon those early connexions.

Sir Stockwell sat at the head of the table; Chumbell at the foot; Colonel Adams, late of Bengal and with the most fascinating stories of dancing boys; Sir Hartley Zellen, whose fine looks were becoming a little florid, and his hair thinning; Terence Offerton; Lord Saythingport, that had a wife, an established mistress, and had at one time offered Maurice an establishment.

Ah, good, Allard, said Sir Stockwell. Mysell-Monting cannot come, but we have a quorum, nonetheless. Now, the matter of fellows we may solicit to join our number –

Various names were put forward, of whom Maurice knew little but any public reputation they had. Some former comrade of Adams in the East; a scholar known to Chumbell – a Cambridge man, but nevertheless a sound fellow, very sound; a naval officer acquainted with Sir Stockwell; a couple of young fellows in Saythingport’s set –

Sir Hartley cleared his throat. Has not the time come to consider MacDonald? he said. Sure it would have been somewhat vulgar to approach him very shortly after Lord Raxdell’s dreadful demise, but ‘tis nigh two years ago that the accident happened. An excellent fellow.

Is he not, replied Saythingport, given out most exceeding radical in his views?

Why, said Sir Hartley, he is a philosopher and will throw out a deal of hypotheses, but our set have always found him sensible and practical.

Is he not, squeaked Chumbell in great excitement, considered something of a classical scholar?

I would know nothing of that, said Offerton, but has quite the cunningest hand at billiards, next after Jacob Samuels.

Why, said Sir Stockwell, as to his abilities in classical learning, I was late conversing with Admiral Knighton, that says that his lady wife, that is known for her most remarkable unwomanly capacities in that sphere, holds him in quite the highest esteem. Also considers him a very clever fellow himself, that has a particular knack for sounding out mysteries.

Maurice felt his face settle into a mask as of one considering these arguments. 'Twould be entire vulgar to blackball MacDonald, that had done him such great service in his own difficulty. But one might confide that Saythingport, and possibly Adams, would do so.

But, when the balls for each candidate were tallied, there were no black balls for MacDonald.

Maurice’s heart sank.

Posted by Amanda

This post is being sponsored by AdamandEve.com, and, while we have some amazing toy recommendations, here is the most important information:

AdamandEve.com is offering Smart Bitches readers 50% off a single item plus free standard shipping in the US and Canada with code SMART. Please note: certain exclusions apply, but the coupon covers most of the store.

Additionally, you also get a free gift with purchase: a pink vibrating egg, which is sure to give you some bang for your buck.

Previously, Sarah and I put together a list of personal recommendations and recommendations of popular products from the site. We also invited Reader Jaymzangel to send us some recs as well!

This time, I’m picking some items that I think would be great for the fall season – for yourself, or someone else, or both!

This post is extremely NSFW! You have been warned!

A&E Intimate Pleasures Kegel Set: Okay, this serious looks some awesome rose gold jewelry. I love how customizable this set is with two different silicone sleeves and four differently sized balls. Perfect for the classy, kinky goth!

A&E Intimate Pleasures Kegel SetKitty Playballs Set: If you prefer your Ben Wa balls more on the cutesy side, check out this set! Though it only comes with one sleeve, it still has four differently weighted balls. Plus, a pink carrying case with a lock!

Kitty Playballs Set

 

Fetish Fantasy Web Restraint: Looking to get freaky on Halloween? Or perhaps you want to roleplay Spider & the Fly with your partner? This restraint system fits any bed, comes with four cuffs, and has 24 different “web lines” the cuffs can attach to or slide along during play. The set also comes with a free satin mask as well. How much fun does that look?

Fetish Fantasy Web Restraint

The Rendezvous Gift Set: First off, this set of toys comes in a case that looks like a book. Hello!

Imagine putting in on your bookshelf and having company be none the wiser. The set also comes with nine items, which is a 40% savings if you had purchased everything separately. I’m a sucker for a bargain. There are toys, bondage tape, a mask, candle, and a variety of lube samples.

The Rendezvous Gift Set

Salted Caramel Intimate Earth Flavored Lubricant: One of fall’s signature flavors is salted caramel. Sorry, pumpkin spice fans – I couldn’t find any lube for you. This lube in particular is water-based and warms up. It’s also safe for vegans! This brand also comes in cherry and strawberry flavors that are more tart than the salted caramel one, according to reviews.

Salted Caramel Intimate Earth Flavored Lubricant

Wicked Aqua Salted Caramel Flavored Lube: I found not one, but two salted caramel flavored lubes! This one is also vegan-friendly and water-based, but I like the packaging of this one more. It looks like a fancy hand soap dispenser. It does not seem to be a warming lubricant, but it does have some other fall-ish flavors like Candy Apple and Mocha Java.

Wicked Aqua Salted Caramel Flavored Lube

Revitalize Pocket Vibrator Kit: This pocket vibrator comes in baby blue and pastel pink. It’s waterproof and features three different silicone attachments. So it’s pretty much like putting a costume on your vibrator. It only takes one AA battery and is waterproof, which is something I consider a “must have” when it comes to my sex toys.

Revitalize Pocket Vibrator Kit

Big thanks to Adam & Eve for sponsoring this post and for the coupon and free gift to our readers!

I so love doing these posts. Not only do I get to browse sex toys for “work,” but it gives me a chance to talk about them with all of you. As a side note, the romance genre and community have really helped me in terms of discussing my sexuality and my sexual needs with my partner. It’s reaffirming in the sense that sex isn’t something to be embarrassed about, though I’d definitely say I’m still in the learning process.

What do you think about the items recommended? Have any you’d love to suggest?

Posted by News Editor

Artful DeceptionsArtful Deceptions by Patricia Rice
Love and Laughter, Book 3
by Patricia Rice

Eldest daughter of an eccentric art collector, Arianne Richards has become the caretaker of the family’s empty coffers and her irrepressible siblings. Discovering a hidden painting, she is determined to sell it to obtain the funds to send her ill mother into the country. But why does her aristocratic cousin’s suitor, the handsome and wealthy Lord Galen Locke, show so much interest in her humble person? And why does he so badly want the mysterious painting?

One question teased Arianne’s mind. The other troubled her heart. And both offered answers as startling as ghost from the past and the secrets of love.

The Regency Love and Laughter Series:

Crossed in Love
Mad Maria’s Daughter
Artful Deceptions
All a Woman Wants

Download an Ebook Sample:

EPUB MOBI

Buy Artful Deceptions at BVC Ebookstore

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gwyn: (bucky confusedface)
([personal profile] gwyn Sep. 18th, 2017 10:40 pm)
Oh, I totally forgot to mention in my last post--you remember a while ago when someone had asked me about translating my Groundhog Day/time loop fic I can't remember how this started (but I can tell you exactly how it ends) into Russian, only they had to remove the comment in order to get help translating it through some kind of fest? And I thought it was so strange but it turned out to be some kind of fandom battle where teams compete against each other, so everything had to be anonymous? Well, the translation was posted the other day (or at least, I think it's still the same person involved, though the poster had a different user name, but I can't imagine who else would have been interested in translating it), so if you were ever inclined to read that fic in Russian, you can now! Не могу вспомнить, как это началось (но расскажу, как закончится) is here on AO3.

I also forgot to mention some of the TV I've been watching during recovery. There were some shows everyone told me required absolute attention, which is not often how I watch TV these days, so I kept saving them for when I'd have time to really watch.

The Expanse was the first one, and I can see why people like it (I've only seen the first season since it's free streaming on Amazon; I'm not gonna pay 20 bucks for the second season, though), but it suffered from the same thing that pretty much all SF and fantasy suffers from that I really, really hate: it's still largely a show about men, with one or two roles for "strong" women, who are stuck representing all of our gender. One woman on a spaceship with all guys, one woman in politics surrounded by all guys…I'm just so fucking weary. And the small supporting female roles are all defined by their relationships to men--the police captain or whatever she was, the other woman, both defined by their relationships to creepy skeevy Thomas Jane, Juliette Mao by defying her father, by the men she's dealt with in the past. Maybe the second season is better, I have to hope so. I like the worldbuilding, but this hundreds of years in the future and women are still barely in the story; I have no more patience for stories where we're writing alternate worlds that suffer from the exact same myopic shit we have now.

[personal profile] belmanoir watched GLOW with me, I think we saw the first three, maybe four, episodes? I liked it, but I have to agree with a lot of what I saw in complaints about the show--Ruth is a terribly unlikeable person to hang your show on from the beginning. Not being likeable isn't inherently bad, there are great shows with horrible characters at the center, but she doesn't have a strong enough character to make you want to follow her on the path to redemption the way a lot of those stories do--when you have an unlikeable protagonist, you really have to beef up a lot of the other things to make them compelling. The other problem we both had was that they're spending way, way too much time on the men and not enough on the secondary female characters. Especially the wrestling dynasty girl, I want to see way, way more of her, and I don't give a fuck about the men. It's a huge mistake to spend so much time on the skeevy director guy or Piz the producer, especially in a story about these women. The '80s stuff is hilarious, though, and I love the soundtrack and I'm interested to watch more, I just hate knowing that they're going to keep spending so much time on the guys.

I've seen the first few episodes of Sens8, and I'm baffled by why people love this so passionately. But I'm hoping it gets better as it goes along; as it is right now, the only character I care about is the Mexican actor and his boyfriend, but that's not a lot of screen time. I mean I get that people like it because it's one of the few shows with main storylines of gay and lesbian and trans people, and I can definitely understand that, plus there's the international stories instead of it being yet another subset of white America, but…nothing's sparking with me so far and some of the stories are so over the top ridiculously unbelievable and stupid that I'm gnashing my teeth--but I'll stick it out at least through the first season to see if it gets better.

I watched all of the first season of Bojack Horseman and…wow, was that fucking depressing. It's billed as a comedy, of course, but I never laughed once, not even at all the fun it pokes at Hollywoodd or the guest voices or anything. It's just so goddamn bleak. It took me a while to get past the bizarro concept (the style of the world, with animals being partly humanistic and partly animalistic, and vice versa, is something that creeps me out beyond words), but I really wanted to embrace the show because I know a lot of people who love it so much, but I didn't expect it to make me wish I'd never woken up after surgery. I sometimes feel like that's all that's left of the future, this sort of miserable existence where you're just wasting time till you die, and the show made me feel that x1,000. So thanks, show, for making my already suicidal tendencies even more pronounced.

I'm self soothing by watching the first three series of The Great British Bake Off, which they won't show here for inexplicable reasons (on PBS and Netflix, season 1 is actually season 5, and season 2 is season 4, which just…why). It was interesting to see how the show evolved. I was kind of disturbed by one contestant because she was so clearly an abused woman, she showed every behavior I ever saw working at the shelter years ago--either abused by a husband or possibly a parent farther back, but since there was no husband in any of the home segments or the finale and her children said some really telling things, I'm betting it was an ex-husband. Good on her for participating, though, but it made me really uncomfortable many times because I kept wondering if the producers realized how it was coming across on screen. Still, it's fun to go back and see some of the things I've heard about in the show but never saw, and the show honestly, even when you're tense for the people you want to win, is so pleasant.
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jhameia: ME! (Default)
([personal profile] jhameia Sep. 18th, 2017 10:39 pm)
Yesterday I went into Box Springs again. There's a fence between Box Springs and Islander Park on Linden, the wall of which is the pipe through which I usually scootch. But this time I wanted to see if I could find the other end of the fence which the Metrolink put up which cuts off easy access from Big Springs Road to the "C" trail. It took me a while, but eventually I found a trail that winds out near the intersection of Watkins and Mount Vernon, right into the parking lot of the Riverside STEM Academy, which I hadn't even realized was a thing.

I was pretty pooped afterwards though. I meant to go back out to do a raid after lunch, but thought I'd lay down for a twenty minute nap which turned into two and a half hours. Ooops.

What I did get started on which was semi-productive was fixing up my jeans. The smallest pair of jeans from several years ago (probably when I first moved here) fit, but it had gaping holes in the inner thigh area (as one does). It was really comfy and I didn't feel like giving it up, so I basically double-patched it: inside and outside. That's some reinforcement in the places which get the most friction, and hopefully this will hold up. I think it'll work out well.

Today I spent puzzling out how to alter my jacket sleeves. I think I undid my stitches on the left sleeve about 8 times trying to make it lay down right. Finally I gave up on the idea of it looking perfect, since it's not going to be visible anyway, and having it so the outer layer lay down okay. I think I did all right. I'm actually not entirely sure where the sleeve should end, but when my arm is relaxed at the side, the sleeve comes up to the wrist, which I think looks professional.

I got frustrated about halfway through, and went out for lunch to Pho Vinam. I think I ate too much, though. I probably didn't need to eat half the meat on the plate, and should have just tried for a third instead. I was yawning the rest of the day, and had to lay down for a while, but I otherwise persevered, and I now have proper jacket sleeves. The right sleeve took about 5 tries. SIGH. On the bright side, I think I can say that my slip stitch is improving.

I dug around my fabric stash looking for jeans material, which I could have SWORN I had somewhere, because I wanted to patch the other two pairs of old jeans (they don't fit well, but they can't be easily pulled off my hips either). I decided to use some fancy embroidered scrap to patch the inner thighs of one of my jeans instead. I feel they're fairly visible to anybody staring at my butt, but maybe this will give me manic pixie dream girl vibes.

I'm still not caught up with Night Vale (which I can only listen to when my hands are otherwise occupied by crafts) and frankly I should really vacuum my bedroom.

Tomorrow if I wake up early enough, I'll definitely try for another 5k walk. The mornings have been amazingly foggy so I don't want to lose that opportunity.

I did, however, find the book in which I had started re-writing my steampunk romance novel, so I'm gonna see what I can puzzle out of it tomorrow. Maybe I'll go downtown and do some writing? At least least get re-acquainted with this second draft of the novel.
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muccamukk: Matt, arms spread wide, wearing a red shirt that says "I'm Not Dare Devil" with a candy-strpe cane with mistletoe on end (Marvel: Not Daredevil)
([personal profile] muccamukk Sep. 18th, 2017 10:12 pm)
Character List
1. Amanda (Highlander)
2. Boromir (The Lord of the Rings)
3. Colleen Wing (Daughters of the Dragon)
4. Doc Holliday (Wynonna Earp)
5. Éowyn (The Lord of the Rings)
6. Jefferson Jackson (Legends of Tomorrow)
7. Joe Dawson (Highlander)
8. Kaulder (The Last Witch Hunter)
9. Misty Knight (Daughters of the Dragon)
10. Murderbot (All Systems Red)
11. Nala (Sinbad 2012)
12. Sara Lance (Legends of Tomorrow)
13. Sinbad (Sinbad 2012)
14. Wynonna Earp (Wynonna Earp)
15. Xavier Dolls (Wynonna Earp)

The questions: )
ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
([personal profile] ysabetwordsmith Sep. 18th, 2017 11:14 pm)
This poem is spillover from the September 5, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] sweet_sparrow, [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] readera, [personal profile] gingicat, [personal profile] ari_the_dodecahedron, and [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "vampires" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

Read more... )
pumpkinkingmod: (pic#8274963)
([personal profile] pumpkinkingmod posting in [community profile] trickortreatex Sep. 19th, 2017 12:40 am)
All pinch hits will be posted to this group.  As well as put in the comments of this post.  You can email me at halloweenmod@gmail.com, comment on this post, PM me, or contact me any other way you can to claim.  Make sure you include your AO3 account name.  You don't need to be signed up to claim.
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viridian5: (Death Guinea Pig)
([personal profile] viridian5 Sep. 18th, 2017 11:44 pm)
There's probably a way to do this on AO3 and I just don't know it, but for the most part I don't want to read your setting-change AUs, so many modern fic authors. I don't want to see the characters in a modern, Regency, coffee shop, high school/college, hipster, or pirate setting. Canon divergence is often okay with me, but if I'm in the fandom the odds are good I like the canon setting and canon version of the characters and want to read about them. There are some authors skilled enough to carry me along but not enough to make up for the deluge.

Is there a way to filter them out? Because there are way too many of them in many fandoms I'm reading lately.

+++

Add another to the list of Things that Only Happen to V: Sunday night my car was the next in line and partially inside an auto car wash when the machine broke. After I paid by credit card, so they had to refund it. They had to back my car out, and when it showed up a plastic piece of the undercarriage had been partially ripped loose and dragged along the ground, no doubt from the machine malfunction while gripping my car to move it. I couldn't see if there was more damage. The guys tucked it up and told me to come back Monday when they'd have some mechanics in. I came back and they bolted the plastic piece back on while swearing no other damage was done. I'm keeping Sunday's receipts just in case.
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "chocolate" square of my 4-1-17 card for the Month of Rainbows bingo fest. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] bairnsidhe. This poem belongs to the Mallory thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Read more... )
This poem is spillover from the August 15, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "food" square in my 7-31-17 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Calliope thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Read more... )
scribblemyname: (Default)
([personal profile] scribblemyname Sep. 19th, 2017 03:15 am)

I made sure I scheduled them before I moved so they wouldn’t be interrupted by the move, but it doesn’t seem like anyone’s getting much use out of them right now. Should I keep posting them?


smilebackwards: (john sheppard)
([personal profile] smilebackwards posting in [community profile] stargateficrec Sep. 18th, 2017 10:09 pm)
Show: SGA

Rec Category: John/Rodney
Characters: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex, Teyla Emmagan
Pairings: John/Rodney
Categories: Slash, Drama
Warnings: None
Author’s Website: Bead on AO3
Link: Freeze

Why This Must Be Read: Rodney tries to talk to John about feelings and John shoves Pegasus-equivalent steak into his mouth to escape. This is just really nicely written from the emotional repression to the emotional conclusion. Love it.

First paragraph to get you started )
thnidu: Box, labeled: "Contents: One infinite universe. Open other end (arrow)." Caption: It figures... From lj:lapislaz (it figures)
([personal profile] thnidu Sep. 18th, 2017 10:52 pm)
Apparently today is the birthday of the great lexicographer Samuel Johnson. When I clicked on the Google Doodle, one of the hits that came up was about another Samuel Johnson, apparently one well known in Australia: Grieving Samuel Johnson says he might as well ‘sell some f***ing socks’. It begins:

SAMUEL JOHNSON has continued his sister Connie’s crusade to find a cure for cancer by launching brightly hued fundraising socks.

Connie Johnson died after a long battle with breast cancer earlier this month.

Samuel sees the socks (which reference their nicknames Connie Cottonsocks and Sammy Seal) as an extension of The Project host Carrie Bickmore’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer initiative.

“Seeing as Carrie has the whole Beanie thing covered, we thought we’d bung out some ‘Connie Cottonsocks’ and try and cover this cancer conundrum from head to toe,” Samuel wrote on the Love Your Sister Facebook page.

“Connie doesn’t have any use for your sentiment now. If she wanted anyone to take anything from her life, it was to highlight the importance of medical research. And we all need socks right?

“In the name of my dear gone sister, I’m asking. Please buy some socks and then maybe we can share the absolute bejesus out of this post and turbocharge our push for a cure, so families need not continue to endure the baseless trauma that cancer so cruelly provides.

“I want my sister back but seeing as that’s not going to happen, I might as well sell some f***ing socks so that other families don’t have to go through this pain.

I remain, more than ever, very truly yours. Samuel Johnson Head of Cancer Vanquishment.”
 
Well now! That looked worth following up.

But... Here's the text I just sent them:
 
I've about given up on most of my charitable giving, since I'm retired and on a small income, but I want to buy some socks, especially in memory of my wife. HOWEVER... You say in small print "We only ship within Australia", and your page says "City and state are mandatory" (though the form accepts only Australian states). So if I give you as much of my address as you'll take, your page will refuse the rest. And even if I somehow succeed in ordering socks, how the heck are you going to get them to me?
😕
You know, if you're going to ask the whole world, you really ought to allow the whole world to answer.
 


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kittydesade: (courtesan in training)
([personal profile] kittydesade Sep. 18th, 2017 10:55 pm)
There's something particularly offensive about when you actually go to fucking bed on time or even a bit early, and then stay up thrashing for two hours and wake up again two hours after that and. Yeah. Guess what I spent all last night doing. I'm honestly amazed I'm as functional as I am right now.

Work is getting done, though. Slowly.

I managed to sit my ass through the rest of The Defenders yesterday (it was not as bad as I thought!) and then managed to be so enthusiastic about it that I got [personal profile] lireavue to watch it and now I get to have hilarious fun listening to her exhort Matt and Jessica and yell at Danny Rand. It's so distinctive, Danny Rand's role is, that she started yelling at him and I was all "Oh you're at the point where he storms into the room and is all I AM THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST YOU WILL CEASE YOUR EVILDOING AT ONCE" That's not even a spoiler really, that's his role in the entire goddamn show. To storm around saying he's the Immortal Iron Fist and people will cease to be awful. Oh honey. That's so not how it works. You're adorable. Here's a pair of safety scissors and some construction paper. Don't eat the paste.

I think Monday's language exercises will always be entering information into Duolingo's tiny cards for Hindi and Arabic. I tried using Memrise but mastering a whole other keyboard on top of a bunch of other vocab words is a step too far, and it was so difficult I just stopped doing the lessons entirely. So flash cards are better. Hopefully if I do a little of this every night before bed etc I'll get better at it. I can do the grammar, but the vocab is kicking my ass. But it's nice to be picking up these languages again.

But. Blergh. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get that and the bread done. STILL. It's been the most productive day and evening I've had in a couple weeks, partly because allowing myself to do shit but also just.... I'm not sure why else, actually, considering I got fuck all for sleep. So I guess I'll take it, and try and finish what I don't get done tonight, tomorrow. As per usual but this time with some hope that it'll happen.

Posted by John Scalzi

Well, specifically this silly person said I would never earn out [x] amount of money I got as an advance, and also that I would in fact never see [x] amount of money, because of reasons they left unspecified but which I assume were to suggest that my contracts would be cancelled long before I got the payout. As [x] amount of money seems to suggest this silly person is talking about my multi-book multi-year contracts, let me say:

1. lol, no;

2. [x] was not the sum for any of my contracts (either for individual works or in aggregate) so that’s wrong to begin with;

3. It’s pretty clear that this silly person has very little idea how advances work in general, or how they are paid out;

4. It’s also pretty clear this silly person has very little idea how advances work with long-term, multi-project contracts in particular, or how they are paid out;

5. Either this silly person has never signed a book contract, or they appear to have done a very poor job of negotiating their contracts;

6. In any event, it’s very clear this silly person has no idea about the particulars of my business.

Which makes sense as I don’t go into great detail about them in public. But it does mean that people asserting knowledge of my business are likely to be flummoxed by the actual facts. Like, for example, the fact that I’m already earning royalties on work tied into those celebrated-yet-apparently-actually-cursed contracts. Royalties, I’ll note for those of you not in the publishing industry, are paid out after you earn back an advance.

How am I getting royalties on a work tied to contracts that this silly person has assured all and sundry I will never earn out? The short answer is because I’ve earned out, obviously. The slightly longer answer is that my business deals are interesting and complex and designed to roll money to me on a steady basis over a long period of time, but when you are a silly person who apparently knows nothing about how book contracts work (either my specific ones, or by all indications book contracts in general) and you have an animus against me because, say, you’re an asshole, or because of group identification politics that require that I must actually be a raging failure, for reasons, you are prone to assert things that are stupid about my business and show your complete ignorance of it. And then I might be inclined to point and laugh about it.

In any event, this is a fine time to remind people of two things. The first thing is that I have detractors, and it’s very very important to them that I’m seen as a failure. There’s nothing I can ever do or say to dissuade them against this idea, so the least I can do is offer them advice, which is to make their assertions of my failure as non-specific as possible, because specificity is not their friend. I would also note to them that regardless, my failures, real or imagined, will not make them any more successful in their own careers. So perhaps they should focus on the things they can materially effect, i.e., their own writing and career, and worry less about what I’m doing.

Second, if someone other than me, my wife, my agent or my business partners (in the context of their own contracts with me) attempts to assert knowledge of my business, you may reliably assume they are talking out of their ass. This particularly goes for my various detractors, most of whom don’t appear to have any useful understanding of how the publishing industry works outside of their (and this is a non-judgmental statement) self-pub and micro-pub worlds, which are different beasts than the part I work in, and also just generally dislike me and want me to be a miserable failure and are annoyed when I persist in not being either. Wishing won’t make it so, guys.

Bear in mind speculating about my business is perfectly fine, and even if it wasn’t I couldn’t stop it anyway. Speculate away! People have done it for years, both positively and negatively, and most of the time it’s fun to watch people guess about it. Even this silly person’s speculation is kind of fun, in the sense it’s interesting to see all the ways it’s wrong. But to the extent that the unwary may believe this silly person (or other such silly people among my detractors, and as a spoiler they are all fairly silly on this topic) knows what they are talking about with regard to my business: Honey, no. They really don’t. They have their heads well up their asses.

Or, as I said on Twitter:

And actually the dog has been in the same room as my contracts, so in fact she might know more. Keep that in mind the next time a detractor opines on my business.


morgandawn: (Art Noveau Blue)
([personal profile] morgandawn Sep. 19th, 2017 02:12 am)
Posted in full at: http://ift.tt/2xu7Ev7 on September 18, 2017 at 07:06PM

Tags:not a reblog, activism, PDWCrosspost2

Tumblr post (this is likely a reblog, and may have more pictures over there)
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