Kelley Eskridge, Solitaire
One thread of this story is about what it's like to be in (virtual) solitary confinement and what it's like to try to make a place for yourself in the world afterward. Another thread is explorations of the intersection of reputation, setting, and personality in a world where you have limited scope of action. This was hard for me to read because I liked only two of the characters, and they weren't the protagonist. But there was one section I absolutely loved that made the difficulty of reading the rest of it worthwhile.
Laurie R. King, O Jerusalem (Mary Russell #5)
Historical novel in which Russell and Holmes travel to the Middle East around the time of Allenby's entrance into Jerusalem. Russell has to pass as a boy. I don't know enough about the history or cultures of the region to comment on the accuracy of the novel but I thought it was a good yarn with a lot of interesting, plausible, and possibly true detail. One thing that bothered me slightly is that Russell is supposed to be a teenager but seems to have the mind of a middle-aged woman. I also wondered about the fact that the spies are all British who are pretending to be Arabs and none of the real Arabs seems to be the wiser.
Melissa Scott, The Kindly Ones
Space opera with complex world- and culture-building, reminds me of C.J. Cherryh but I liked this better than most of the Cherryh I've read. Most of the characters have complex motives and intelligence. Almost no one is pure evil, and not everything that might be a gun on the wall ends up being fired in Act IV, so could relax and get to know the characters as people without being worried that they'd get blown up at any moment. Some same-sex relationships that aren't made a big deal of. As far as I can tell Scott didn't write any other books in this universe, which I find surprising.
Lian Hearn, Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori #2)
Tales of the Otori is a 5-book fantasy-historical/romance series set in a thinly disguised feudal Japan. The audiobook is narrated by Kevin Gray and Aiko Nakasone. The writing style is enjoyable with lots of detail. The characters and culture feel pretty stereotyped, so I don't know if people with more knowledge of Japan or less tolerance of stereotyping than I have would enjoy it.
Tina Connolly, Ironskin (Ironskin #1)
Narrated by Rosalyn Landor. I was expecting a light paranormal romance but this turned out a lot better and more nuanced than I expected. The setting is early 20th century England in which the Great War is replaced by a war between fae and humans. Humans wounded by fae have curses and must wear iron covering their wounds to protect other humans from the curse. This book was described as a Jane Eyre knockoff, but the Jane Eyre influences are more in the structure than in the content. Themes include taking back your power, gaining power from abuse that's happened to you, appearing normal vs not, trusting your instincts, the meaning of family, secrets. I have to say I was disappointed in the romance. In Jane Eyre it is so clear to me why Rochester and Jane fall in love, but in this book the romance between the equivalent characters doesn't make much sense at all. Fortunately the romance is secondary to the rest of the story.
The household is currently watching: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (2d season), Hawaii Five-0 (3d season), Elementary (3d season), How to Get Away with Murder (1st season), Lost Girl (1st season, but I've seen through season 4), Heroes Reborn, Agents of SHIELD (3d season), and Trigun. Opinions on request.
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I liked it. Feel free to share any thoughts or cool links. (Therefore there might be spoilers in the comments.)
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Rosemary Kirstein, The Steerswoman, The Outskirter's Secret, The Lost Steersman, The Language of Power
It took me a while to get into the first book but then I began really loving the main characters for their similarities and differences, the way they were described, the way the steerswoman's thought processes are described, the ways interactions between characters who don't know each other are described, the idea of the Archives, the way the map of the area got drawn in my head as I read, and the fact that there are very few sexual relationships or romances centered. I liked the first one a lot because of the worldbuilding, and after that I liked The Lost Steersman best because it had these pretty fascinating non-humans, and a character I liked a lot. The writing is beautiful. Oh, also: a lot of books have action scenes that make me want to skim them to figure out what happened, without wanting to carefully read the scenes themselves. But I really enjoy reading Kirstein's action scenes.
Professor Anne Curzan / The Great Courses, The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins
36 half-hour lectures about various aspects of the English language (not just origins, and not just individual words) and of the ways that people study and document the English language. I especially liked that she went into some detail about the studying and documenting; a lot of popular works about linguistics don't seem to do that. Her lectures are all very organized and clear, like this: "Here's something about X. OK, what do I mean by that? Well, X is like Y. Here are several examples." I also especially liked how she treated sexist language (in a lecture entitled "Spinster, Bachelor, Guy, Dude" and the movement in the 1970s that resulted in some sexist language actually changing (in a lecture entitled "Firefighters and Freshpersons"). I was amused that she managed to talk about taboo words without ever saying any of them (except "cock"). And she did a good job of covering some Internet language, although she didn't discuss LOLspeak or my current favorite phrase ("I can't even"). Recommended.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
I watched this a while back, but it is awesome and I want everyone to know about it. It's an Iranian-American vampire spaghetti western (that's the label the filmmaker uses) and it has a vampire who dresses in chador and rides a skateboard. Very atmospheric, beautiful noirish cinematography, good soundtrack.
Directed by Paul Feig, starring Melissa McCarthy (same team that did The Heat last year. Passes the Bechdel test. I did a lot of research on this one to find out if it had fat jokes, because fat jokes really ruin movies for me. All the scuttlebutt said there weren't any. That was almost entirely true. However, the beginning of the movie relies a lot on the trope that middle-aged women are in essence frumpy and unattractive. It's important to the plot to set that up, but it was uncomfortable to watch for a while. I really liked the middle of the movie, where Melissa gets to go out into the field and kick ass. Then it got uncomfortable again at the end because it seems that she still has a crush on Bradley, the jerky agent she works with, who doesn't appreciate her enough. And the final scene, where she wakes up in bed with Rick, not remembering anything, and he says 'You loved it.'" is hugely problematic. So, Stef-Bob says walk out five minutes before the end.
I'm mostly playing BigFishGames hidden object adventures, which are all alike, and you probably already know whether you like them or not. But I did also pick up Catlateral Damage on Steam. You play a cat and the object of the game is to knock everything onto the floor. There are timed modes and free play modes. I find this much more satisfying to work off frustration than games where you have to shoot poor helpless monsters.
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"It took nine months for Kathy to be diagnosed with potentially life-threatening uterine fibroids that required surgical intervention. And that was only after she took it upon herself to demand an ultrasound."
“I think it’s the same deeply rooted sexism that we see in other realms, like when it comes to not believing rape survivors. We don’t trust women to be the experts on their own bodies, or to be reliable narrators of their own lives.”
“There really are these two levels of gender bias happening. There’s the level of actual interactions with doctors and providers, where there’s this unconscious bias that makes them quicker to dismiss problems as psychological in women. But more broadly, there’s the bias in the medical and clinical research that means women’s health is underresearched.”
I found a couple more interesting ones while surfing from the original:
What it's like to work for Invisible Girlfriend/Boyfriend (an app that lets you design an SO who will then chat with you. The part of the SO is played by a lot of different people via a crowdsourced piecework site).
"a woman who works for the service previously told me she prefers playing the role of boyfriend because she knows what a woman wants to hear."
This one is a couple of months old. The game Rust originally had one avatar, which looked like a white man. Then they made a couple of more avatars, and assigned them to players at random. Some avatars looked like African Americans. Some of the gamers had a problem with this.
I would play this game to support what the company is doing, except a game that "plays like a cross between Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto" does not sound like my cup of tea at all.
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"In a paper published in April, a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University claim Google displays far fewer ads for high-paying executive jobs…
… if you’re a woman."
A couple via onyxlynx
"It would seem that for companies such as Apple, it is far easier to “ban” the Confederate Flag than it is to diversify one’s senior management and corporate leadership."http://www.chaunceydevega.com/2015/07/t
"These moves are an example of what Professor Nancy Leong describes as “racial capitalism”, a practice that is based on the management of racial stagecraft and optics, neoliberal multiculturalism, and maximizing the superficial in the interest of profits. Racial capitalism has little to no substantive social justice component, and in many ways can work against meaningful social, economic, and political progress for people of color."
"For example, just as with racial capitalism in its worst moments, the retreat from the Confederate flag by Republicans obscures more than it reveals.
"Republican presidential candidates and other Right-wing elites are willing to sacrifice the Confederate flag because they do not want to talk about guns and Right-wing domestic terrorism in the aftermath of The Charleston Massacre.
"Removing the Confederate Flag does not restore the voting and civil rights protections—won in blood by the Civil Rights Movement—that were recently destroyed by the Republican Party, the Right-wing media, and the Supreme Court."
Although I am happy that all US couples who want to legally bind their relationships will now be able to do so, I don't trust legal marriage because it involves signing a contract with the government, and also because I don't think it provides the economic benefits that are supposed to accrue. And I think it would be better if all the rights that go with it were available generally to individuals and/or within whatever relationship configurations people want to choose. Here's one article that addresses some of that.
"The Marriage Opportunity Council, a spin-off of the Institute for American Values, hopes that by adding same-sex unions to the definition of marriage, they can unite progressives and conservatives in a cause to promote marriage generally. The basic premise of the essay and the broader campaign is that marriage provides economic as well as emotional security; that it’s good for children to grow up in two-parent families; and that a class gap has opened up in the incidence of marriage, which widens inequality and harms the poor, especially the children of the poor. A 'growing class-based marriage divide threatens all of us,' the several authors, led by longtime marriage advocate David Blankenhorn, write. 'It endangers the very foundations of a broadly middle-class society.http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politi
...by emphasizing marriage per se, the writers ignore marriage-neutral measures that could really help children and parents, such as more supportive work-family policies, more comprehensive child care options, and higher earnings for working people. Progressives would do better to fight for policies that aid the broad spectrum of kids and families.
Forgot where I got this, sorry: In which is discussed Kirk & Spock and their effect on the modern understanding of queerness and fandom. It includes the claim that Roddenberry deliberately encouraged the notion that Kirk & Spock were lovers. It sounds like retconning to me, but I could be wrong. Either way, the argument in favor is interesting and includes several links to video clips that I hadn't thought about that way.
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At one polycon I attended, we called this "old relationship energy".
"Your heart no longer speeds up when you see them, but instead, everything calms down. When youre in the room with them, you feel calm, and secure. When you cuddle them you feel your heart beat slow, and the sound of their breathing carry you towards comfort. It doesnt feel like a roller coaster anymore, it feels like home."
Behind the scenes at the Puppy Bowl.
Father–Daughter Beatboxing (via yifu)
How not to be a bullying mob, with handy-dandy flow chart. (Via supergee)
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I think it would be nice if they focused their attentions on getting rid of the bazillions of fake paid-for reviews of the other products instead of picking on authors, most of whom do get at least some of their sales through their personal networks and there's nothing wrong with that.
There is a change.org petition about this, FWIW.
This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/867797.ht
I liked Rebecca Solnit's article that spawned the term "mansplain." Here she has written an op-ed titled "A letter to my dismal allies on the US left." In this post she unfortunately uses the same sort of language and phraseology ("Leftists explain things to me") to punch in the other direction and complain about people she calls "radical leftists" whom she claims are full of "bitterness and negativity."
I don't like it at all, largely because of the "us and them" dichotomy she sets up. "Please, radical leftists, spare us the bitterness and negativity; we need hope and incremental victories and you provide neither." So who is "us"? I can only assume she means people who are more mainstream than "radical leftists." So, it's a person who is closer to the majority viewpoint dressing down people who are farther away from it. That reminds me of Christians who complain that they are oppressed because people greet them with something other than Merry Christmas during the holidays.
If she were talking about people who approach the world using a negative mindset and admitted they exist in every pocket of the political spectrum, I wouldn't mind it so much. She doesn't like complainers, fine.
If she were talking about a conversational pattern where person 1 says "Such and such is good" and person 2 says "yabbut such and such is bad," and she didn't irrevocably tie it to a particular corner of the political spectrum, I wouldn't mind, because when that pattern dominates a conversation it can shut things down.
If she were talking only about people's behavior when they are playing a role as activist, she has a point: negativity can be a bad strategy and inviting positive dialogue with people who don't completely share your views is one way of practicing activism.
But she isn't complaining about people in their roles as activists. She's complaining about any situation where she mentions something positive that a politician did and someone replies by saying they did bad stuff. She complains about how people converse at dinner parties, and presumably she doesn't mean political planning meetings. So she comes across as insisting that if you're left of Democrats and interacting with people more moderate than you in any way, you don't ever get to mention anything politically negative to them. That sounds like bright-siding to me. (A word made popular by Barbara Ehrenreich in Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.)
She then proceeds to give seriously embarassing straw man examples: "Can you imagine how far the civil rights movement would have gotten, had it been run entirely by complainers for whom nothing was ever good enough?" Does she have any idea how old that cliche that is? Does she have any idea of the huge variety of viewpoints and actions that made up the civil rights movement in the 60s and 70s? She's white, but she is a writer and the same age as me, she should at least have read one book about it or watched Malcolm X or something.
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How India influenced the English language:
“Shawl enters English in the 18th and 19th Century because it becomes a desirable luxury garment for women in high society – if you had a brother working for the East India Company, you would want him to send you a beautifully embroidered shawl. Patchouli is linked to shawls because the perfume was used to deter moths while shawls were being transported and as a result this heady, heavy perfume became popular in Britain”....But patchouli soon lost its aspirational edge. “As the 19th Century moves on, patchouli becomes associated with racy, decadent French women and prostitutes. So patchouli goes from something royalty might wear into being beyond the pale, and then in the 1960s it becomes associated with the hippie movement.”
Robot sewing machines could take over the jobs of garment workers.
People who sew garments tend to be mistreated and paid poorly.
When are we going to set up guaranteed incomes so this sort of thing stops being a problem?
Also will the robots be able to customize fit better? Or will they be worse at it?
(Erm, as is probably obvious, the last two items in that list are mine, not The Economist's.)
Woman of color creates app that makes it easier for organizations to donate surplus food to homeless people. So far it is active in San Francisco only.
The graduating class of the Rhode Island School of Design was fortunate enough to have John Waters speak at its commencement. (I read the highlights but didn't watch the video.)
Society's ills illustrated by statistics about why cats are surrendered to shelters. ("the majority of these cats arrived for reasons related to poverty")
This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/866878.ht
Cartoon sums up how emotions are viewed through gender. "Part of the effort of feminism to make the world safer for all genders, including men, is de-gendering normal human experiences, and destigmatizing things associated with femininity."
@Niall_JayDub drew this image of Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate flag at the South Caroline state Capitol. You can order a print.
You can sign this petition asking that her charges be dropped.
A trans* former employee of Facebook (who helped developed the custom gender feature) is not allowed to use on her Facebook account the name that was on her work badge when she worked there.
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You are a person addicted to reading. You are stranded on a desert island.
On this desert island is also a book, or a series, or the entire ouvre of one author.
What book/series/author, if any, would you REFUSE to read, even if it were the only reading material on the island?
1. You have to have some familiarity with the work, set of works, or author you nominate. So, for example, no fair saying "Rush Limbaugh" if you've never at least started to read any of his books.
2. It's OK to diss works, but not other commenters.
This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/865917.ht
Letter of comment:
Form to use for signing:
This is super important for people who are subject to workplace wellness programs.
The programs need to be voluntary, and not to coerce cooperation by requiring people who don't join the program or who don't meet program-determined health metrics to pay more for health insurance.
The way the programs are currently run, they amount to forcing poor people, older people, people of color, and people whose weight is over arbitrary BMI numbers to subsidize the cost of insurance for younger, healthier people. They represent a serious financial hardship.
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I almost didn't go to this panel, because I was worried that there would be a lot of talk about (from the quote in the panel description) "considering weight loss surgery" and/or "when you think there is such a thing as clothes that fat people shouldn’t wear". Although I can see why people considering weight loss surgery might want to be part of a size acceptance movement, talk about weight loss surgery upsets me; and talk about "clothes that fat people shouldn't wear" does not seem to have anything remotely to do with a size acceptance discussion. (Talking about clothing that you don't personally want to wear is fine.) Fortunately for me, there were no discussions of either of those things at the panel.
[My notes aren't a complete transcription and may represent my own language rather than the actual words of the panelists. I welcome corrections. I did not identify all audience commenters by name. If you said something I paraphrased here and want your name to be used, please comment or send me a private message.]
Description: What would Size Acceptance 201 even look like? Cary Webb writes that the endless focus on SA 101 begins to seem oppressive "when you can’t afford to eat healthy, when you gain/lose weight for any reason, when you have had or are considering weight loss surgery, when you have chronic health conditions or are not able-bodied, when you think there is such a thing as clothes that fat people shouldn’t wear, or when all those people/artistic endeavors who are lauded look nothing like you or represent ideas you think are flawed. It seems like there is in fact a wrong way to have a body." We need a conversation that prioritizes fatties who are POC, LGBTQ, disabled, men, and masculine of center. Bring your demands, desires, and ideas for a better, bigger Size Acceptance movement.
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