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User: firecat
Name: Stef
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They stuck real-time translators into fMRI machines to try to figure out how they can do such a complex task. They found out a little but not as much as they hoped. Meanwhile, translators talk about some of the more difficult aspects of the job.
Word order is a particular problem in fish meetings, which Miles said she dreads. In a long sentence about a particular variety of fish, and in a language where the noun – the name of the fish – comes towards the end, the interpreter is left guessing about the subject of the sentence until it's completed.
http://gizmodo.com/inside-the-weird-brains-of-real-time-translators-1660521550
~

I've heard of most of these words but not all, and I had no idea in some cases that they were considered native to one side of the pond or the other (e.g. "jaywalk" is American, "dodgy" is British).
http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-fourth-untranslatables-month-summary.html
~

Kelli Dunham writes brilliantly about Heather McAllister, Brittany Maynard, and assisted suicide
http://www.xojane.com/issues/assisted-suicide-heather-macallister-brittany-maynard
~

Here is a comic that seems to do a pretty good job of explaining asexual orientation.
http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/10/5-myths-and-misconceptions-about-asexuality/
~

Jonah Soolman is a nutritional counseling practitioner who works in the Health at Every Size paradigm. He attended the Cardiometabolic Health Conference, at which various procedures and products aimed at "weight loss" were much discussed. He writes: "Following this paragraph is my list of key moments from the conference. By default, I was going to group them by disease state, but given the circumstances perhaps it is more appropriate to categorize them by the emotional state they created." The headers for the article are "Interesting," "Startling," "Disappointing," "Frustrating," "Horrifying," "Infuriating," and "Made Me Want To Throw Something."
http://www.soolmannutrition.com/2014/10/cmhc/
~

Paintings of migraines by artists who experience them.
http://dangerousminds.net/comments/migraine_headaches_depicted_by_artists

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I've been vaguely trying to learn the ukulele, and I discovered this guy Alistair Wood, a musician and writer who maintains a web site called Ukulele Hunt. Here he performs his beautiful adaptation of Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" for the ukulele. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyis-5m5brM
~

DapperQ calls itself "GQ for the 'unconventionally masculine.'" This post discusses masculine fashion for people whose bodies don't conform to the tall, thin stereotype of androgyny (which just so happens to match the tall, thin stereotype of every kind of fashion).
http://www.dapperq.com/2014/11/ask-dapperq-curvy-androgyny/
~

Proof that political sensibilities and entertainment can mix with hilarious results: Unused audio commentary by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky for The Fellowship of the Ring DVD. Excerpt:
Zinn: You view the conflict as being primarily about pipe-weed, do you not?
Chomsky: Well, what we see here, in Hobbiton, farmers tilling crops. The thing to remember is that the crop they are tilling is, in fact, pipe-weed, an addictive drug transported and sold throughout Middle Earth for great profit.
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/unused-audio-commentary-by-howard-zinn-and-noam-chomsky-recorded-summer-2002-for-the-fellowship-of-the-ring-platinum-series-extended-edition-dvd-part-one
~

By the Racialicious Team: Voices: The Michael Brown protests you didn't see (because the media were too busy showing violent protests instead).
http://www.racialicious.com/2014/11/25/voices-the-michael-brown-protests-you-didnt-see/
~

By Janee Woods: 12 things white people can do now because Ferguson
http://qz.com/250701/12-things-white-people-can-do-now-because-ferguson/
~

A fat guy who is an employee of a Sam's Club in Mexico dances with great enthusiasm in front of a display of stereo equipment (the song is "El Serrucho" by Mr Black).
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=550861918348080
~

Yudkowsky does a great job of explaining a way to approach the hateful voices that people sometimes have in their heads. (I call them my brain trolls.)
"when you have a thought, you write it down
like, say
'You are different from the others. You will never know their innocence… and that is why you should hate your own existence. Die. Die. Die.'
then you figure out whether, if your life were a fantasy novel, these words would be spoken by figures wearing black robes, and speaking in a dry, whispering voice, and they are actually withered beings who touched the Stone of Evil
and if so then you don’t listen"
http://yudkowsky.tumblr.com/post/103192100330/cognitive-trope-therapy

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Is anyone else getting added as a friend by a bunch of journals that are nothing but advertising?
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Movies


The Expendables
Good-natured way over-the-top ensemble old guy action movie, directed by Stallone, with cameos by Schwartznegger and Bruce Willis, and a good performance by Mickey Rourke.

Nosferatu
I have never acquired a taste for the kind of acting that is often done in silent movies and my experience of Nosferatu suffered from this, but I'm glad I watched it. I wish I knew more about all the ways it was influential on movie-making. There's a famous scene where Nosferatu rises straight up out of his coffin. I found myself mumbling "wire-work."

Episodics


Hawaii Five-0 (reboot)
We're watching season 2, and enjoying this more since Masa Oki became a regular character

Fiction


Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (#2 in the Night Prince series)
Vampire romance. I like them except that the plots are too heavily driven by manufactured relationship angst of kinds that would make a sensible person run screaming in real life.

Fire in the Blood, Blood on the Water (Vampire Files #5-6) by P.N. Elrod
It's the early 20th century in Chicago, and a journalist who was recently made into a vampire (Jack Fleming) works with a human British P.I. who used to be an actor (Charles Escott). They associate with gangsters and femmes fatales a lot but they mostly have modern middle-class values (e.g. the vampire doesn't hunt human victims but drinks from cattle at the Chicago stockyards). Although these are technically 2 novels, they come in an omnibus (Vampire Files part 2) and Blood on the Water doesn't really stand alone. I was pretty annoyed at the ebook because it was a badly done OCR conversion and had not been adequately proofread. For example, there is a character named Escott, but his name is spelled Escort half the time. And one character has a book called The Invisible Matt on his desk. I like the protagonists a lot and there are quite a few very competent female characters in the series. And this vampire has a really good romantic relationship that has no manufactured angst at all.

Nightingale's Lament (Nightside #3) by Simon R. Green
I want to like this series more than I do. Green has a fabulous imagination at times, but it's mixed in with a lot of fairly cliched noir tropes and moralism.

The Moor, Laurie R. King (Mary Russell #4)
This is really well written in loving detail. I loved her descriptions of the moor and it was amusing to see Holmes reacting to people wanting to talk to him about The Hound of the Baskervilles. The mystery itself I didn't care that much about...the villains were not very interesting, and for the most part the solving of the mystery wasn't very interesting either; it was more of an excuse to get Russell and Holmes interacting with local folks. For calibration purposes, I don't know anything about Sabine Baring-Gould. I will read more of this series.

The Sittaford Mystery, Agatha Christie
Audiobook. I picked this up while reading The Moor and was amused to discover it is also about Dartmoor. It's a little Dartmoor fest over here.

Games


Little Inferno
This is the most adorable, bizarre game ever. You have a fireplace and you can buy stuff and burn it. Weird things happen when you burn certain stuff. And you have a penpal. If that sounds boring, I hope you go try it out anyway.

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I seem to be learning Spanish. I got sucked into it via an iThing app called DuoLingo, which I found pretty addictive.

DuoLingo is also a web site and you can also learn other languages there. They currently only have languages that use the Roman alphabet.

I'm not sure if it is the best way for me to learn a language, because it does not teach about grammar at all; it just tests you on phrases and sentences in various ways. Which does work for me to some extent, but eventually I began to seek out other sources.

Anyway, I went through the whole mini-course on the iThing app and now I want to branch out. Have you learned or practiced or brushed up on Spanish using any particular web sites or apps that you recommend?

I'm willing to spend money. I don't actually want to interact with anybody, though, so I am not up for taking in-person classes or doing chats over the Internet or anything like that.

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I got a 5 star Magpie from elisem as part of botmo year 11. The theme I picked was "focals and earring pairs." Elise included a card saying "I got a little carried away." I say OOH SO MUCH SHINY.


(click to embiggen)

Never fear, the cat got her condo back shortly after this photo was taken.

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Why I roll my eyes when individuals are exhorted to help California's drought by taking shorter showers.
http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/10/07/central-california-aquifers-contaminated-billions-gallons-fracking-wastewater
~
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Movies


Frozen

I loved the "Let It Go" song and scene, but otherwise I didn't like it that much.
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I promise not to accumulate such a huge backlog of these in the future.

Movies


Captain Horatio Hornblower
Gregory Peck 1951 movie. It seems like Star Trek: TOS swiped some of the theme music and sound effects from it, as well as the concept of "Hornblower in spaaaace.") Pretty good sea adventure. I found the romance annoying.
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The ridiculous and erroneous lengths that athletic organizations will go to, to try to ascertain whether the people participating in athletic events for women count as women.
16% of his male athletes had lower than expected testosterone, whereas 13% of his female athletes had high levels of testosterone "with complete overlap between the sexes".

In other words, the gap that exists for testosterone between men and women in the general population does not exist among elite athletes.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/athletics/29446276
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Janelle Monae is awesome, and [personal profile] beatrice_otter made some icons of her.

My favorite song of hers is "Tightrope", for many reasons, not the least of which is her dapper tuxedo.

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State of the [personal profile] firecat: Happy. I went out and stood in the first rain of the season last night!

~~~
Comments left for others:
Things you don't want your doctor to say while peering into your body cavities: "Oh, wow."
~~~Read more...Collapse )

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So Facebook is targeting certain individuals for not using their legal names, and as a result a lot of folks, especially queer folks, are signing up for other social media sites, especially ello.co. And some of them are saying they're going to go back to Livejournal. I signed up at ello too because I feel compelled to stake out my preferred name everywhere, and because a lot of my friends have joined. But I am really sad and annoyed that no one seems to be considering Dreamwidth as an alternative social media site. I trust Dreamwidth a lot more than ello.co (nothing against them, but I don't know the people running it) and more than LiveJournal (although I'm still cross-posting to LiveJournal).

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I bought an iPad Air and some accessories the other day. Although I bought them all at the same time from the same company, they arrived in five separate LARGE boxes, all of which contained a smaller box.

The first photo shows the packaging.
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The second photo shows the packaging together with the accessorized iPad Air, and a curious cat.
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If you have 33 minutes or some subset thereof, Stef-Bob sez sit back with your favorite mind altering substance, or not, and check out this animated video score of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring." Definitely right up there with the best laser light shows I've seen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IXMpUhuBMs

~~~
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I am trying to take a course on edx.org called The Science of Happiness. But I just did 1/5 of the first week's work and I'm not sure how far I'm going to make it. Here is what I tossed into the discussion forum after reading two articles with an increasing sense of outrage. I'm darned if I'm going to make myself unhappy over a course about happiness.

These are the articles I'm commenting one.

Four Ways Happiness Can Hurt You by June Gruber
Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?" by Jason Marsh & Jill Suttie

~~~

The June Gruber article and the Jill Suttie/Jason Marsh article are taking correlations and assuming causal relationships without showing their work. June Gruber's article first.

These statements are contradictory, but no mention is made of this fact.
"too much positive emotion—and too little negative emotion—makes people inflexible in the face of new challenges."

"When feeling happy, we also tend to feel less inhibited and more likely to explore new possibilities and take risks."

"positive emotions like happiness signal to us that our goals are being fulfilled, which enables us to slow down"
This statement does not provide any evidence that pride "leads to" mania instead of being associated with mania or mania causing excessive feelings of pride. Isn't mania understood to have a biological component? If so then it would seem more likely that mania could lead to excess pride than that excess pride could lead to mania.
"when we experience too much pride or pride without genuine merit, it can lead to negative social outcomes, such as aggressiveness towards others, antisocial behavior, and even an increased risk of mood disorders such as mania."
In the context of human behavior, "hardwired" means "biologically or genetically determined" rather than "culturally determined." Americans don't have different genes than people who live in other countries, so it's pretty silly to assert "We seem hardwired to pursue happiness, and this is especially true for Americans."

Why would people who are depressed or who have bipolar disorder be more likely to 'pursue' happiness? Perhaps because their conditions make it more difficult for them to feel happy? Suggesting that their striving is causing their disorders seems like blaming the victim (especially since these conditions usually have a biological component).
"the pursuit of happiness is also associated with serious mental health problems, such as depression and bipolar disorder. It may be that striving for happiness is actually driving some of us crazy."
The final paragraph is written with highly questionable assumptions that constantly creep into self-help and pop psychology articles: that a person has finely detailed control over how and when they experience certain emotions and can therefore create an emotional experience as easily as making an omelette, and that it is necessary to constantly apply this sort of control in order to be "healthy."
"First, it is important to experience happiness in the right amount. Too little happiness is just as problematic as too much. Second, happiness has a time and a place, and one must be mindful about the context or situation in which one experiences happiness. Third, it is important to strike an emotional balance. One cannot experience happiness at the cost or expense of negative emotions, such as sadness or anger or guilt. These are all part of a complex recipe for emotional health and help us attain a more grounded perspective."
Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh's article is not as problematic as Gruber's, but it isn't free of the problem of confusing correlation and causation either.
A recent study by Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that people who reported more eudaimonic happiness had stronger immune system function than those who reported more hedonic happiness, suggesting that a life of meaning may be better for our health than a life seeking pleasure.
It must be that pursuing meaning causes better health, because it couldn'tpossibly be the case that people who are healthier find it easier to pursue meaningful activities than people who are having immune system problems all the time.

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Bacteria are building major metropolitan areas in my sinuses, so this linkspam is fluffier than usual.

~~~

Epigenetics is a new way to blame mothers! But the article goes further than that to examine how people's values and sense of "how things ought to be" influence how they use the concept of causality.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/08/25/343121679/using-science-to-blame-mothers-check-your-values

~~~

Captain Awkward sums up in one post 90% of what I've learned about social interaction in 52 years.

http://captainawkward.com/2014/09/01/618-my-ex-is-pushing-me-out-of-our-friend-group/

~~~

Ganked from [personal profile] jae. What would happen if a rock musician's guitar were suddenly replaced with a giant slug?

http://slugsolos.tumblr.com/

~~~

Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian, posted about some medieval books that were bound in complicated ways.

In a way that's hard to explain, these make me think about the Burgess Shale, a bunch of fossils from a period when animal body plans were even more diverse than they are now. I guess it's something like "When [life | bookbinding] was young, we still had the resources to experiment with outlandish designs." Click the second link to get an animated gif of a binding that included six different books.

http://erikkwakkel.tumblr.com/post/58806441078/siamese-twins-the-bookbindings-above-are-as-odd

http://cdn8.openculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/dos-a-dos.gif

~~~

Animals will eat almost anything, and veterinary X-ray technicians will photograph it and send it in to a contest sponsored by Veterinary Practice News.

content warning: animal suffering discussed.

spoiler: all animals recovered.


Favorite quote: "This patient recovered fine, but the $1.29 did not go toward her bill."

http://veterinarypracticenews.com/2014-X-Ray-Contest-Winners/

~~~

A cheetah gives birth to four cubs (article and edited highlights video of the birth). One of my responses was "aww, kawaii" and another was "this whole 'live-bearing of young' idea could use some tweaking."

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/08/05/birth-of-rare-king-cheetah-cubs-captured-on-video/

~~~

It's about time that heavy metal got mashed up with J-Pop.

The article goes on about how "traditional" metal has these rigid genres. When did that happen? It was all pretty fluid back in the 70s.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2014/09/04/345778225/deal-with-it-headbangers-babymetal-is-here

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Movies


Appleseed: Ex Machina
2007 anime movie. A sequel to the 2004 Appleseed, which I saw but can't remember a single thing about. Deunan, a human, and Briareos, originally human but now in a cyborg body, are lovers and special ops partners. (Spoilers for general plot points) Briareos is injured in a battle and while he is recovering, the team leader tries to pair Deunan with another agent, who looks like Briareos used to look when he was a human, because he's a bioroid engineered from Briareos's DNA. Deunan is not happy about any of this. Some people try to take over the world with a satellite network, and the special ops team tries to stop them. I really liked this for the beauty of the fight choreography (especially in the opening scenes), for the relationships, and for the exploration of body and identity issues. It's a bit like Ghost in the Shell but more grounded, if that makes any sense.

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This one is a real page-turner.

Katherine Lampe writes something like paranormal fiction but her protagonists aren't vampires or shapeshifters. They and other characters in her books have some personal magic power, and also access power and communicate with supernatural entities use a variety of magic forms and rituals that are common in the Americas and Europe. This lets Katherine get her characters into and out of trouble using everything from Tarot readings to shamanic journeying to charms you can buy off the Internet or make with supplies from your local craft store, which I think is a lot of fun. In this story, for example, a love charm ends up implicating someone as a murder suspect.

The relationship between Caitlin and Timber (who are married) is a delightful change from the usual antagonistic romantic relationship (or its opposite, the soulmates-until-the-end-of-time-even-though-we-only-met-two-days-ago relationship) in many paranormal romances.

This novel uses elements and gods from African religions, and the antagonist is an African woman. Because people might feel this is cultural appropriation, Katherine includes an afterword explaining her choices and how she researched these subjects. Because of that and because I'm white and they aren't my religious elements or gods, my enjoyment of the story wasn't affected.

The story shifts between Caitlin's and Timber's POVs. They have really distinctive voices. For example, Timber is much more tentative about communicating with himself verbally. I really sense that his relationship to the world is mediated through his body.

(Spoiler of a general plot point) In this story Timber is subject to sexual harrassment and rape. There are other paranormal novels where a male character has a history of being sexually abused, but I haven't often read one where the abuse happens during the story.

Sexual harrassment is often used as a plot driver in the paranormal genre in ways that make me uncomfortable: there is a trope (I'm looking at you, Charlaine) where male characters use sexual harrassment against female characters as a form of flirting/power-jockeying with other male characters. I hate that, and I am glad that is NOT happening in this book.

I was glad to see Tintri Fionn again, from an earlier book. He's one of my favorite characters.

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I like this post about self-care, ableism, and activism for two reasons. One, this person has the same experience with anger that I do.
Some people can sustain rage. I'm not one of them. Anger lights me up like a burning oil slick, and the smoke fills my lungs and clouds my eyes. Anger consumes me from within, and unfortunately comes with pronounced physical deterioration as well as emotional. It could, with some stringent control, be channeled into some sort of constructive output, but most of the time I do not have that control, and it's probable that I never will. It simply isn't the relationship that anger and I have.
...
Ironically and disappointingly, this means drastically turning down the volume on what news of bigotry or theories on social justice to which I am exposed....I need to be able to function as a person before wading in to battle. We all do.
Two, this:
the industry (for lack of better word) of activism is based upon the principles of labour laid out by a patriarchal and imperial system, the same system we are trying to dismantle. The value and worth of the work you do is measured against external criteria determined by what is best for the economy; not the individual.
http://silence-without.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/self-care-in-social-justice-ableism-in.html

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I want to print this post out and stick on my computer so I can read it every day.

http://shweta-narayan.livejournal.com/204154.html

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Movies

The Bodyguard
Thai gun-fu/wire-fu action comedy. We stuck it on our Netflix queue several years ago because we like Tony Jaa. We started watching it with few expectations and ended up REALLY impressed. The director-star, Petchtai Wongkamlao, is a SUPERB actor and comedian. There are lots of very long choreographic gunfights and kung fu fights in various styles. Tony Jaa is on screen for only a few minutes in a scene set in a supermarket. The funniest scene was (no, I'm not going to tell you, it's funnier if you don't know what's going to happen). The star is a little plump but nothing is made of this. There is another fat guy in the movie who wears outrageous costumes (normally I wouldn't like this, but the people making fun of this character are portrayed as ridiculous and he is portrayed as dignified; also they make fun of his costumes and not his size, so it didn't bother me). One of the actors appeared to have Down Syndrome. On the less enjoyable side, there was some sexism and body mockery among some minor characters that did bother me, but the rest of the movie made up for it. For all that I liked it, I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction to these genres.

Guardians of the Galaxy
I made a separate post about this.

Episodics

The Wire
Seasons 1–4 were the best serious television I've ever seen. We had heard that Season 5 was good, but not as good as the other seasons. We watched three episodes and were not very happy with it, so we decided to stop watching. The episodes of Season 5 we watched had moments, but overall it was feeling meaner than the previous seasons, and we thought that some of the character development wasn't right. E.g. it really bugged me that McNulty went from all-but-teetotaling throughout season 4 to drunk-off-his-ass and cheating every night starting in episode 1 of season 5 and no reason was given for the change at all. I also looked at the plotline for the rest of the season and I didn't want to watch Omar or Prop Joe or Snoop getting killed although I'm sure the actors turned in great performances on those scenes.


Nonfiction

Robert Greenberg, Mozart: His Life and Music
Series of lectures by a professor of music. He is way over the top; listening to him is more like listening to a stand-up comedian than to a typical professor. But if you don't mind that or like it, it's fun. Of course he spends much of the time vociferously debunking various myths about Mozart's life. (One I didn't realize was a myth, although I should have, is that "Amadeus" is not Mozart's real middle name; that is, he was not christened that and didn't use it during his lifetime, except as a wordplay.) There are bits of good music, if you like Mozart music and/or his contemporaries. I thought Greenberg could have done a more thorough job of explaining what to listen for in the music, but he did do some of that.


Fiction

Kerry Greenwood, Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1)
Continuing

Tessa Harris, The Anatomist's Apprentice (Dr Thomas Silkstone Mysteries #1)
Narrated by Simon Vance, who is very skillful but I am starting to hate him. This series "uses a fictional character Thomas Silkstone to examine the beginnings of forensic science, anatomy and surgery" (sez Wikipedia) and is set in the late 1700s. There's a lot of dissection/autopsy porn. It's got a classic mystery plot (country estate, lots of suspects, dark family secrets revealed, etc.) that's done well until just before the end. There's also a romance, which I didn't find very compelling. I didn't like the ending very much.


Games

A New Beginning
Daedalus point-and-click game/story about time travel and environmentalism. I got sucked into it (there's good voice acting and the Bent Svensson character is interesting), but I didn't really like the story. There is an interesting female protagonist but she gets verbally abused a lot throughout the story (for incompetence), she has a technical job but constantly has to ask male characters about technical stuff, and then she sacrifices herself at the end to save the male protagonist. There were some things I liked about the gameplay, but I am not clever at lateral thinking (or grinding through trying every combination of possibilities) of the kind that this game often relies on for its puzzles, so a lot of the puzzles were too obscure for me, and I used a walkthrough.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

minor spoilers in the text, might be spoilers in the commentsCollapse )

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The OH is learning to be a square dance caller and he sent out an email promoting square dancing that include some YouTube videos. I'm sufficiently mobility impaired that I don't do any kind of partner dancing that involves standing up ;) but this one made me wish I could:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs8j4AezAUQ (Kilt tip at a Chicago Gay Square Dance Convention)

And this one helped me better understand some of the skills involved in calling:

http://youtu.be/qBe_fBmURcI (Teen square at convention)

Here are some videos for Bay Area square dance groups:

http://youtu.be/Je2bchbUJiw (Stanford Quads graduation dance)
http://youtu.be/w46EBHyvXAc (Ad for easy square dancing)

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I've read a lot of thoughtful, knowledgeable, compassionate stuff about depression and suicide in the past week. These are two of the best public pieces of writing I've seen about it.
http://theshadowsanctuary.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/on-suicide-shaming/
http://xiphias.livejournal.com/744129.html

It's about time some folks began to question the pressure-cooker metaphor of emotion management. Absolutely, stress can cause illness, but expressing your anger doesn't necessarily relieve that stress. The article eventually gets around to pointing this out, but first it gets all tangled up in claiming that expressing anger constructively or "clearly and firmly" helps your health and in suggesting that you might want to avoid getting angry more than occasionally. Most people I know don't have a lot of control over how much they get angry, although they have some control over how they express it.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140729-is-it-bad-to-bottle-up-anger

A woman spends a weekend being a "slouch-and-spreader" on public transit. I have uncomfortable reactions to the tumblrs about men who do this (e.g. http://savingroomforcats.tumblr.com/). On the one hand I think they're funny, and men do sometimes seem to aggressively take up space in public. On the other hand, I don't like it when people are judgemental about how much space others are taking, as if all humans are supposed to fit inside the same sorts of boxes you have to prove your airplane carry-on baggage fits into.
http://www.bustle.com/articles/34279-why-do-guys-spread-their-legs-when-sitting-on-the-subway-my-weekend-of-sitting-like

A doctor writes about becoming a patient after sustaining an injury. Part 1 of 4.
http://laurietobyedison.com/discuss/2014/06/at-the-will-of-the-body-part-i-pain/
"It is not clear to me whether it is a side effect of having gone to medical school or an inborn personality trait, but I have always had a rather distant relationship with my body. This, I believe, is not completely uncommon. David Sedaris, in an essay called “A Shiner Like A Diamond” (in Me Talk Pretty One Day) says that he and his brother thought of their bodies as “mere vehicles . . . machines designed to transport our thoughts from one place to another.” (p. 133)"

"In Praise of Idleness" by Bertrand Russell (1932): I tried really hard to find some choice quotes for this essay but everything was irretrievably attached to everything else (which is the way really good essays work).
http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html

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I have seen multiple posts about depression recently that compare it to diabetes and say something like "You wouldn't expect a diabetic to go without their insulin, right? Well you shouldn't expect a depressed person to 'just cheer up.'"

Here's the thing. There is lots of shaming of diabetics for being on meds or insulin. A lot of people think diabetes is a "lifestyle disease" and that one can choose whether to have it and how to treat it. There is probably considerable overlap between people with that view and the ones who think depression is a bad mood or a selfish play for attention.

I appreciate the attempt to educate people about depression and I'm not criticizing any particular person or post, but I'm thinking some other comparison would probably work better to get the point across that depression is a very difficult condition to manage.

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This post is about emotional policing in Buddhist communities, and it also makes reference to the tone argument, because of course emotional policing occurs in a lot of communities that aren't Buddhist communities too. It applies psychology theory to get at what's behind emotional policing (it's a tool of various kinds of defense mechanisms) and also discusses some of the socio-cultural aspects of tone-policing ("privilege and entitlement"..."overvaluation of positivity"...power dynamics).

Before I start quoting I want to say that I found a lot of useful stuff in this article that helps me define my own choices about speech, but I am by no means intending to "point it at" anyone.

http://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/emotional-policing/
Emotional policing as is meant here, is usually done by strangers in a drive-by fashion on the Internet and occasionally even in person in a social setting. They’ve generally never interacted with the person on the blog, twitter or whatever, never tried to have a conversation with them nor are they likely very familiar with the body of work the writer has put out. ...“Buddhists are supposed to be compassionate." “If you can’t control your words better then you’re a Bad Buddhist.”...“I thought Buddhists were supposed to be serene.”
...
The more people escape into “positivity” the more suffering is borne by those who cannot access that escape mechanism.
The post also goes into "How to stop emotionally policing people" and "How [to] deal with being emotionally policed (this all depends upon the circumstances)".</blockquote>

Finally the post links to a post by Terre Thaemlitz — http://www.comatonse.com/writings/2013_we_are_not_welcome_here.html — which includes this quote that made me stop and go WOW. I need to look for some more stuff this person has written.
I have spent the bulk of my adult life attempting to debunk notions of talent and creativity, particularly in relation to concepts of authenticity and innate attributes. I embrace fakery and hypocrisy as means of actively deprogramming my own relationships to essentialist and individualist identity constructs. As someone fitting into an MTF category, whereby I am instantly expected to be campy, upbeat and entertaining, I have gone to great lengths in my own performances to present an alternative transgendered stage that forgoes both glamour and trash in favor of critical minded boredom and uneventfulness.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terre_Thaemlitz

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Design yourself a 3-D printable kawaii neotenous puppy at PupWorkshop.com (clickable image)



"Dandyism was initially imposed on black men in eighteenth-century England, as the Atlantic slave trade and an emerging culture of conspicuous consumption generated a vogue in dandified black servants."
http://chronicle.com/article/Black-Dandies-Fashion-New/135954/
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00428MFUE

Arthur Chu, the hated Jeopardy champion, talks about being asked to do Chinese accents as a voice actor. I am getting something of a brain-crush on him.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/07/31/336380977/breaking-out-the-broken-english

Here's an article about the all-white-people Hollywood team behind the new James Brown movie. Via Nisi Shawl, who says "No, I am not advocating 'reverse racism.' I am advocating for inclusion and responsible representation."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gregory-allen-howard/whitewashing-of-james-brown_b_5638130.html

Charles "Lil Buck" Riley is the choreographer of Janelle Monae's "Tightrope." He also performs in the video, but on this video he dances solo to the song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY2tjBFK20c
If you like that, you can then watch him dance "The Dying Swan."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZumgHLSW10

A young girl and a US Senator commit plagiarism. "When we fail to teach children about professional and personal ethics, when we don’t teach them how to make amends or learn from their mistakes, we tacitly approve their dishonest behavior and encourage them to replicate it on an as-needed basis throughout their lives. What begins as a mistake, a misleading quote given under the pressure of a first experience in the limelight, can become a desperate attempt to hold on to a career, a spouse, or a reputation."
http://m.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/07/plagiarism/374999/

Non-gender-binary folks and our problems with finding clothing that fits and getting salespeople to sell us the clothing.
http://www.timescolonist.com/life/bad-service-bad-fits-dressing-off-gender-binary-can-be-challenge-for-non-conformers-1.1264241

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Movies

Lucy

Lucy wasn't precisely the worst movie I've ever seen, but it had one of the largest expectations <> reality gaps. (I have been a big fan of the writer/director of this movie, Luc Besson, so I had high expectations.) Joe-Stef sez save yourself $9 and look at the YouTube trailer instead. It has almost all the good parts, in more or less the correct order. Then go watch 2001.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVt32qoyhi0

However, there is one good part, where Lucy phones her mother, that isn't in the trailer.

My friend [personal profile] snippy had a different take on it:
It has a female lead who has her own plot, her own desires and plans, and her own resolution of plot instead of being just the Macguffin for a male lead to get motivated. She doesn't give up her power or die or anything banal at the end of the movie.
I agree with [personal profile] snippy—the reasons I didn't like the movie had very little to do with sexism. And I have to say, it is really nice to be able to dislike a movie for reasons other than sexism.


Pete Seeger, The Power of Song

Biopic made when Pete Seeger was 88 years old. It's supposed to be uplifting I think, but it made me sad. Something about cultures dying and changing makes me sad sometimes, and I feel like the culture he came out of is dying, although that might not be true. Also when I see stories about people who live a life totally dedicated to one thing, that makes me think about people who don't or can't for various reasons. Also there's a thread in the biopic that claims Pete Seeger is completely straightforward and uninterested in self-promotion, and he achieved success because his talents and vision deserved it. Which is probably at least mostly true. But it makes me think about how managing one's image seems super-important these days if one wants to be a public figure. Also insofar as Pete Seeger didn't manage his image but just acted like himself and achieved fame that way, I think for every Pete Seeger there are a kazillion people who are straightforward and aren't remembered.

I am too complicated for my own good sometimes.

Tl;dr: If you like Pete Seeger you will probably like this biopic. The OH grew up with Pete Seeger and liked it.


Fiction

Rhys Bowen, A Royal Pain (Her Royal Spyness series #2)

I finished this fast. The mystery was heavily foreshadowed, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment much. I'm going to wait a while before getting the next one because I'm not crazy about the narrator. (Last week's info about the book and series follows.) Audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Light historical mystery / romance series set in England and Scotland in the 1930s. Lady Georgiana is 34th in line to the throne and has a family mansion in London but no money, so she puts on a disguise and cleans people's houses for a living, while the Queen involves her in matchmaking schemes. The Lady Georgiana character is a foil for the more broadly comic characters she interacts with. Many of the characters are kind of stereotyped and Kellgren's voices are sometimes a little forced so I am not quite sure why I like this, but when it came time to pick a new audiobook I felt like downloading this one instead of starting any of the ones I already have.


Kerry Greenwood, Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1)

Historical mystery set in the 1920s. I'm about 1/4 of the way in. The Audible description makes it sound pretty fluffy (dancing! gaming! cocaine!), but so far, although it's light, it's not fluffy; it's got a fairly serious focus on social problems and one rich woman's attempts to help with them. Elizabeth Peabody meets Dickens and Dorothy Sayers for tea, or something like that.


Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)

Rowling really is an excellent stylist and that's probably what I liked best about this modern noirish mystery. It's got a pretty classic skeleton with some twists. Strike, the P.I. protagonist has an interesting family, and his female secretary ends up being his assistant and a good intellectual match. I love the way he and the secretary maintain an emotional distance from each other in the middle of being thrown together in weird circumstances. Strike has a disability, and the way Rowling describes how he deals with his disability rings true to me (I don't have the same disability, though).

I wasn't all that satisfied with that ending. (Obviously to say more would involve massive spoilers.)

There is one thing I strongly disliked about this book—there's a ton of classist, looksist, and somewhat racist judgementalism. And it feels to me like that judgementalism comes from Rowling and is inserted into her viewpoint character—some of it doesn't really fit with the rest of his personality.

I have this sort of problem with a great many mystery series, admittedly. I have a hard time going along with authors who seem to expect the reader to sympathize with all of their viewpoint characters' opinions, and that seems to be a general tendency in mystery series. Maybe I am wrong about what the authors expect. Or maybe part of the fun of mystery series for some people is getting to feel judgemental along with the protagonist about certain kinds of characters. I'm not going to pretend that I never feel judgemental or that I don't enjoy feeling self-rightous sometimes, but I don't seem to enjoy feeling judgemental about the same sorts of characters that some of the mystery protagonists do.

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One of the best AMAs I've ever read, featuring Guillermo del Toro.
http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2agklw/i_am_guillermo_del_toro_director_writer_producer/
I think that we live or die under the tyranny of perfection. Socially, we are pushed towards being perfect. Physically, beautiful to conform to standards that are cruel and uncommon, to behave and lead our lives in a certain way, to demonstrate to the world that we are happy and healthy and all full of sunshine. We are told to always smile and never sweat, by multiple commercials of shampoo or beer.

And I feel that the most achievable goal of our lives is to have the freedom that imperfection gives us.

And there is no better patron saint of imperfection than a monster.

We will try really hard to be angels, but I think that a balanced, sane life is to accept the monstrosity in ourselves and others as part of what being human is. Imperfection, the acceptance of imperfection, leads to tolerance and liberates us from social models that I find horrible and oppressive.
I don't agree with a lot of the recommendations about online shopping carts in this Oatmeal cartoon from 2011 (no, I NEVER want to check in to an etail store via Facebook!!!) Also, since it's The Oatmeal, there is gratuitous sexism including references to harming people's reproductive body parts. But it's pretty hilarious.
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/shopping_cart

This is one reason I was writing a lot of notes during my recent jury duty (I got questioned and dismissed).
http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/07/17/332075947/study-reveals-worse-outcomes-for-black-and-latino-defendants

Like it says on the tin.
http://www.openculture.com/2014/07/t-s-eliot-illustrates-his-letters-and-draws-a-cover-for-old-possums-book-of-practical-cats.html

For information addicts: The Museum of Online Museums (MoOM)
http://www.coudal.com/moom/

This "spoon shortages explained" poster is good, but I'd prefer a poster that also mentions that any of these activities could randomly develop a spoon leak.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=657536917659006&set=a.471348919611141.1073741826.345920125487355&type=1&fref=nf
In fact, I am going to generally ponder thinking about disability-related energy shortfalls in terms of liquid rather than discrete entities like spoons. Some liquids evaporate/freeze/boil/expand/contract at different rates depending on conditions. Some liquids interact with their containers. It's easy to spill liquids of the containers aren't handled properly. And so on.

One of the best descriptions of how health fads work, including the fact that for any given fad (such as gluten intolerance), a few people probably are helped by some of the treatments.
http://butsrsly.com/2014/06/05/all-known-health-frauds-are-in-fact-valid/

And speaking of fads, let's have a cross-cultural look at the current fad of "happiness"/positive psychology. I like a lot of what's said here, but I think that saying non-Western cultures "fear" happiness might be going too far, and the article also suffers from the fact that "happiness" means about a billion different things and it's conflating a bunch of them.)
http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/its-time-for-western-psychology-to.html

Weird Al tweeted that he didn't realize "spastic" was a disablist insult and he was sorry.
http://arts.nationalpost.com/2014/07/21/weird-al-apologizes-for-offending-with-spastic-lyric-in-word-crimes-parody/
So I finally watched "Word Crimes" and I absolutely love it. Not so much because it's judgemental about language—I'm an editor but not a prescriptivist. I love it because of the dancing typography and the proofreading marks.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc

Astronaut Chris Hadfield writes a hilarious article about some of the challenges of living in zero-gee.
http://www.cracked.com/article_21369_6-ways-movies-get-space-wrong-by-astronaut-chris-hadfield_p2.html
Before anyone asks, no, sex in space is not part of our downtime. We're a small group of focused professionals working in a zero-gravity enclosed environment without a lot of privacy -- even if we wanted to, it would be challenging, to say the very least. As space travel becomes more common and sophisticated, it will probably happen, but it's not happening at the moment, so please don't write any fan fiction about me.
Various authors write about the suck fairy.
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/07/mind-meld-how-to-avoid-the-suck-fairy-of-re-reads/

If you let your camera geotag the photos you take of cats, and you upload the photos publicly, this site may show a photo of your cat in its approximate location. If you think this is a good project you can back it on Kickstarter.
http://iknowwhereyourcatlives.com
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1910822604/i-know-where-your-cat-lives

Some people can't cook because they lack privilege. Others, like me, have no excuse. [Actually I can cook when I put my mind to it, but I have some anxiety around cooking.]
http://meloukhia.net/2014/07/fear_of_cooking/

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