Like many of us, I’ve been struggling to process what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, and what’s been happening in this country for a while now. The racism and hatred and violence didn’t magically appear out of nowhere. It’s been building up for a long time…in fact, much of it has always been there. It’s just boiling over into the open right now, making it harder (but obviously not impossible) to look away and pretend it’s not happening.
Part of the argument I’ve seen centers around free speech and the First Amendment. Free speech is a right, an important one, and rights apply to everyone. Even people you dislike and disagree with.
But freedom of speech in this country is not and has never been limitless. From the U.S. Federal Courts, here are a few examples of actions not legally protected by freedom of speech:
- Students making an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
- Making/distributing obscene materials.
- Inciting actions that would harm others (e.g., Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.)
Now, here are some of the “alt-right” protesters who gathered in Charlottesville.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
2) A bunch of shows have ended or are ending soon. Certainly Orphan Black was the most fan-oriented, though it is Broadchurch I will miss the most as I am ready to declare DI Hardy and DI Miller as one of my favorite teams ever. ( Read more... )
3) Then there was TURN. ( Read more... )
4) I noticed High Rise was on Netflix and as a friend had read the book, I thought I'd give it a try. Wow, what a messy bore. ( Read more... )
5) And people wonder why Hawkeye is on the Avengers team.
I am looking for a beta-listener for my big bang project: 3 Slings & Arrows podfics: Inclusively Players (Geoffrey/Darren, about 2 hours long), 10 (or 12) Plays in the Life of Geoffrey Tennant (Geoffrey & Oliver, Geoffrey/Ellen with some Geoffrey/Darren and Geoffrey/Oliver, about 1 hour) and The Heir of My Invention (Ellen & Oliver, Geoffrey/Ellen with some Geoffrey/Oliver, about 1 hour).
I'm mostly looking for the equivalent of a spelling-and-grammar check: a fresh ear to tell me where I've misspoken, the volume levels are weird, there's background noise, etc. But feedback at the sentence/scene level is also welcome.
Any assistance would be much appreciated! And if you're not up for 4 hours of material but would be willing to do just one of the pieces, that would still be a big help!
VividCon 2018 interest survey for vidders and panel moderators
If you are interested in moderating panel programming next year, submitting premiering vids, and/or wish to give opinions on streaming-only options on vidshows, please read over the survey. Nothing in here is binding; this is just to gauge interest and take down names/emails so we can follow up with potential moderators and vidders later on.
(Potentially quite a bit later on -- at some point yours truly is going to get in a post-con nap.)
As is mentioned in the survey, the Comet room will be used for panel programming next year. There will be plenty of time and space for panels and many opportunities later on to come up with panel topics and sign up to moderate them. This isn't the one and only chance to volunteer to moderate a panel, or to indicate interest in submitting a vid; we're still in the early stages of planning for next year.
This is likely to be the last about next year's programming for a while, but if you have comments, questions, suggestions, or anything else related to panels and vidshows, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to contact a staff person about the con on a different topic, please use our contact form.
So a while back I looked at my short stories and realized, huh — they kind of fall into these nice little groupings. Not enough in any one grouping to fill a whole print collection, but very nicely sized to make a set of tidy little ebooks.
The first of those is now available for pre-order! The title is Maps to Nowhere, in homage to Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Fire and Hemlock and the “NOWHERE” vases that are a recurring motif in it. (The same novel that inspired me to become a writer, and in a roundabout fashion sparked another story of mine.) It contains ten short stories, all set in secondary worlds. To whet your appetite, here’s the table of contents:
Maps to Nowhere
- “Once a Goddess”
- “The Mirror-City”
- “A Mask of Flesh”
- “But Who Shall Lead the Dance?”
- “A Thousand Souls”
- “Beggar’s Blessing”
- “Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood”
- “Letter Found in a Chest Belonging to the Marquis de Montseraille Following the Death of That Worthy Individual”
- “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review“
- “Love, Cayce”
- Story notes
Maps to Nowhere will be out on September 5th!
Ron Formisano, American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class: This cri de coeur about corruption has a lot of outrage, but it’s short on definitions and thus on solutions. At times, Formisano suggests that anyone with a state, local, or federal government job is part of the oligarchy, as well as doctors, people in positions of authority at nonprofits, think tanks, and businesses. There is a lot of corruption in the US; the chapter about the abuses in Kentucky, where poverty, pollution, child mortality, and other indicators of suffering are extremely high, should make anyone angry. I understand getting mad at nonprofit CEOs who are compensated like for-profit CEOs—but the problem is not the parity (I don’t like the argument that “you chose a helping profession, you should accept less pay because of how good it feels to do good”; not only is it a trope usually used to justify paying female-dominated professions less, it positions doing good as something you ought to have to pay for, when really you ought to have to pay for acting solely in your own self-interest) but the fact that anybody can get paid as much as for-profit CEOs do, with so little tax. It is appalling that CEOs of nonprofit hospitals are paid hundreds of millions while the hospitals garnish the wages of poor patients who can’t pay—but that is true of for-profit hospitals too.
Formisano also points out that our federal legislators get perks that let them live like millionaires even when (as is increasingly unlikely) they aren’t; during the 2013 government shutdown, Congresspeople stopped National Airport from closing because it served them and also deemed their own gyms and pools “essential” enough to stay open, though the workers there still didn’t make very much. These privileges, he suggests, corrupt even the people who moved up in class, so that a visionary leader at Brown University speaks eloquently about admitting more students from poor backgrounds but also doesn’t want to interfere with alumni preferences because she has a granddaughter. The elites funnel money to themselves and their families by self-dealing, whether in government (remember Kim Davis?), nonprofits, or business. Disgrace, if exposure occurs, is ameliorated by a soft landing—a pension, positions on other boards, and soft words from one’s co-elites. Even nonprofits are in on the game, and they increasingly replace grassroots activism with palatable-to-elites causes that are organized from the top.
Formisano quotes Robert Borosage’s criticism of liberal focus on “opportunity” instead of equity or punishment for elite cheaters as “passive voice populism,” to good effect. Defunding tax collection is just another mechanism of harm—creating more loopholes for cheaters, who are subsidized by ordinary wage workers whose taxes are collected automatically. Though it’s relatively easy to cherry-pick from history, this John Adams quote seemed apposite: “civil, military, political and hierarchical Despotism, have all grown out of the natural Aristocracy of ‘Virtue and Talents.’ We, to be sure, are far remote from this. Many hundred years must roll away before We shall be corrupted.”
James Q. Whitman, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law: Repeatedly, Nazis looking for inspiration looked to the US system of racial discrimination, primarily in the treatment of immigration, the rights of those in non-state territories, and anti-miscegnation laws. Whitman emphasizes that the Nazis’ crimes were their own and that they also rejected liberal and democratic parts of American law. They also appealled to racist practices among other European colonial powers. Still, Whitman argues that, because the Nazis didn’t envision the Holocaust when they started out, they found compelling analogies in American discriminatory practices, even though these practices were often not aimed at Jews. As with everything about America, it was possible to be selective, and the Nazis had no problem claiming that New York City had “very little to do with ‘America’” because of all its race-mixing and Jews.
Hitler was able to see the US as a model of Nordic supremacy, and he wasn’t alone; a Nazi historian described the Founding, in what Whitman says was the received wistom of the time, as “a historic turning point in ‘the Aryan struggle for world domination.’” One detailed scholarly work, Race Law in the United States, had as heroes Jefferson and Lincoln—Jefferson because of his insistence that blacks and whites couldn’t live under the same government if both were free, and Lincoln because of his early calls for black resettlement outside the US. Similarly, “Nazi expansion eastward was accompanied by invocations of the American conquest of the West, with its accompanying wars on Native Americans…. Indeed as early as 1928 Hitler was speechifying admiringly about the way Americans had ‘gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, and now keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage’ ….”
Jim Crow segregation, Whitman contends, wasn’t all that important to the Nazis, but citizenship and sex/reproduction were, and it was there that they took lessons from the US. In fact, “Nazis almost never mentioned the American treatment of blacks without also mentioning the American treatment of other groups, in particular Asians and Native Americans.” American immigration and naturalization law was, almost uniquely, racist and race-based, and Hitler praised it for being so in Mein Kampf. And there were various forms of de jure and de facto second-class citizenship for African-Americans, Filipinos, and Chinese, to which the Nazis could look as they created second-class citizenship for Jews—drawing on, for example, the distinction between “political rights” and “civil rights” that American whites offered to excuse segregation. Indeed, some Nazis considered openly race-based laws to be more honest about keeping “alien races” from getting the upper hand; they had no need for grandfather clauses, and they devised the Nuremberg Laws in part to “institute official state persecution in order to displace street-level lynchings,” which offended the facist need for state centralization.
The US was also unique in anti-miscegnation laws, with careful rules about blood quantum—in fact, there were no other models for such laws for the Nazis to consult. And it mattered, Whitman suggests, that America was seen as a dynamic country—confirmation for the Nazis that the future was going in their direction. Among other things, American creativity on the definition of race showed that one didn’t need a purely scientific or theoretical definition of race, despite the leanings of German law; one could proceed with a political, pragmatic definition in enforcing anti-miscegenation and other discriminatory laws. Indeed, that’s ultimately what the Germans did when they defined Jews as including people with one Jewish parent if and only if they practiced Judaism or married Jews (rejecting, along the way, the even more aggressive American one-drop rule). Whitman concludes that we have to acknowledge that the Nazis practiced a particular kind of Legal Realism, whereby the law was supposed to assist in the process of social transformation, throwing formalism aside and recognizing reality—and reality, in both countries, was racist. “[T]o have a common-law system like that of America is to have a system in which the traditions of the law do indeed have little power to ride herd on the demands of the politicians, and when the politics is bad, the law can be very bad indeed.” Whitman finds the most prominent modern manifestation of this in the US in its harsh criminal justice system.
* musesfool is running an OPI Summer Challenge, and that is pretty much the funnest premise ever. So many good potential prompts to choose from.
* If I ever attempt to give the third season of Twin Peaks a fourth chance, somebody please come punch me in the mouth.
* Found out the next episode of Game of Thrones was leaked, but alas, I'd already been spoiled. Thanks, twitter.
* I really need to finish Mass Effect Andromeda when I'm home, but I haven't even looked at my Playstation the past two weeks *sigh*
* Of course, dumb me just started another game on my laptop, plus a couple of playthroughs on youtube, because why do anything that makes sense ever. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice looks all kinds of intense, and I'm holding off watching more than the first play video since I do want to play it myself. But I'd need headphones I can use, hmmm... Meanwhile, I did make some icons.
(it really does look - and sound - amazing)
* Also, a vid rec list should be forthcoming shortly.
( Read more... )
Meanwhile, in happier news, guess which household's preordered hardcopy of Starfinder RPG arrived today?! =D =D =D I'm not convinced by most of the class/character artwork (some of the gun designs are atrocious--why the fuck would you make a scope design that undulates?!) but the environment/matte painting is gorgeous. I oohed and ahhed over the illustrations for the different homeworlds in particular.
First of all, relax! I'm far from being picky, and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll love whatever you decide to draw or write for me. These are nothing but guidelines, for you to take to heart or ignore to your heart's content. Also, hey! You're drawing and/or writing me femslash! What's not to love? ♥
That said, I thought that I'd elaborate a bit on my requests in case, like me, you're the type of person who likes to have something to work with. Feel free to use and/or ignore as much of this as you want. I've tried to include a mix of vague prompts as well as more detailed ones, to hopefully make things as helpful as possible whether you're drawing art or writing fic.
( More details under the cut. )
( Requests under the cut. )
Our home connection uploads at 5 Mbs (bits). In the fall a friend will have access to a 1 Gbs (bits) upload speed.
If I have around 1 TB(ytes) worth of data to upload, the math looks like this
1. Upload from MD's home = approximately 20 days (rounded up)
2. Upload from friend's location = 2-2 hrs
Now here's where it gets tricky. Some online backup servers cap the data flowing into their servers. Ex Sync.com caps it at
5 MB(ytes) or 40 M(bits)
In which case my math looks like this
1. Upload from MD's home = approximately 20 days (rounded up)
2. Upload from friend's location = 55-60 hrs (2+ days)
Did I get this correct?
I used this calculator
The site has lots of other tools and graphics too.
Alan Dugatkin & Lyudmila Trut, How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution: Short but fun book about the Soviet/Russian project to breed tame foxes. Wolves and foxes are related enough to make the attempt plausible, but zebras and horses are also closely related enough to breed, and zebras haven’t been successfully domesticated despite numerous attempts, nor have deer except reindeer (even though they live near humans and aren’t usually aggressive towards us, not to mention being important food animals, all of which suggests domestication would be favored if it were feasible). The Soviets picked the least reactive and aggressive foxes and bred them; calmer foxes appeared within three breeding seasons. And slightly greater tameness also shortened their breeding cycle and raised fertility a bit higher, bolstering the theory that in-bred tameness had complex effects on the whole animal. (Unfortunately, these shorter mating cycles didn’t allow multiple fox generations within the same year—although the scientists had sold the project to the Soviet government on the promise of increasing fur production, the shorter cycles meant that the mothers didn’t produce enough milk for their pups, whom they ignored. The scientists hypothesized that a longer transition might have let milk production catch up with increased fertility, as with dogs and cats and pigs and cows.)
Later generations began to exhibit tail-wagging, whining, licking hands, and rolling over for belly rubs—still later, some of the tame foxes’ tails curled, again like dogs. Tamer foxes retained juvenile behaviors longer than wild foxes—wild fox pups are “curious, playful, and relatively carefree when they are very young,” but that changes at around 45 days, when they become more cautious and anxious. After only a decade of breeding, tamer pups stayed curious and playful twice as long.
Tame foxes began gazing into humans’ eyes, which for wild animals is a challenge that can start an attack. Humans themselves, though they weren’t supposed to interact differently with the foxes, couldn’t resist talking to them, petting them, and loving them. When dogs and owners gaze at one another, both see increased oxytocin, leading to increased interactions/petting, “a chemical lovefest.” Adult foxes began to engage in object play—extended play with objects that are known—which wild animals don’t do. (Birds, chimps, and even ants play (with mock fights), but play is usually skill practice.) The tamest fox one year lived with the main researcher for a while, like a dog, and when she returned to her group, she began seeking out caretakers when other foxes were being aggressive toward her. Tame foxes began to demonstrate loyalty to particular caretakers (unlike simply being calm around humans) and jealousy of other foxes who might take their favorites’ attention. They began to bark like guard dogs when strangers appeared. They learned social intelligence: tame fox pups were as smart as dog pups in interpreting human behavior, and smarter than wild fox pups. So selection acting on tameness brought social intelligence along with it, suggesting that there was no need for humans to have bred dogs to be smarter: it could just happen.
The Soviets also tested their work by creating a line of incredibly aggressive foxes using the same selection procedures. Workers were terrified of the new line. When aggressive fox pups were swapped with tame fox pups and raised by mothers from the other line, the pups behaved like their genetic mothers. Genes clearly played vital roles, though tame foxes’ bonds with individual people also showed the role of learned behaviors. The genetic changes worked by changing production of hormones and neurochemicals, like oxytocin. These chemical pathways might help explain why the changes could happen so fast. Tame foxes had higher levels of serotonin than their wild cousins, as dogs have more than wolves.
The evidence supports a theory of destabilizing selection—genes may be similar, but the activity of those genes is very different as between wolves and dogs, chimps and humans. The dramatic changes of domestication seemed to come not primarily from new genetic mutations that were then favored by selection, though that played a role, but from changes in the expression of existing genes that led to very different results. For example, tame foxes started being born with white stars on their foreheads, which happened because the embryonic cells responsible for coloring hair had been delayed in migrating to their places by two days, causing an error in the production of hair color. The expression of the relevant gene was affected by the other changes caused by selecting for tameness. We may even have selected ourselves for tameness using similar mechanisms—we have lower levels of stress hormones in groups than our chimp cousins, we can breed all year round, and our kids stay juvenile longer, like those of other domestic species. And the bonobo may be in the process of doing the same thing, though I’m not sure they’ll have a planet to inherit when their brains get as big as ours.
Speaking of which, the collapse of the Russian economy nearly led to the fox project’s demise. Many foxes starved or nearly starved; others were selected for sale for fur to keep the project alive, a process that also deeply traumatized their caretakers. In 1999, however, a popular science article about the project came out in the US, and they received enough donations to stay afloat, because humans are sentimental. Maybe someday you’ll be able to get your own tame fox pup.
Duncan Green, How Change Happens: Green works in international anti-poverty programs, and argues for a systems approach in which one iteratively works with groups at different levels of the system, leveraging elite points of entry while taking direction from people on the ground. I thought the concept of “positive deviance” was useful—find people in the group you’re trying to help who’ve overcome the problem you’re trying to solve, and see if you can help other people do the same thing, using the positive deviants as the model.
I was testing the solar filter for the camera, in preparation for Monday’s eclipse. We won’t be seeing the total eclipse, but I’m hoping to get some good shots of the partial.
As I was processing the results, I realized I’d captured sunspots! (Those dark spots in the upper left.)
Click to embiggen.
For those who wonder about such things, this was taken on the 100-400mm lens, fully zoomed to 400mm. ISO 640, f/10, with a 1/3200 shutter speed. I had to set everything manually, because the camera overexposed the shot if left to its own devices.
I think next time I’ll try to reduce the ISO down to about 100 and see if that gets rid of the minor graininess.
Processing involved cropping the shot, noise reduction, and an orange overlay.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
The archival process took several days, in part because I kept getting sidetracked on nostalgia journeys. We were doing some really interesting things on LJ twelve years back and more, ways of organizing fannish communities and doing events that I had mostly forgotten, and I may or may not have spreadsheeted a list of ideas for future use inspired by things from over a decade ago. If there is one constant in fandom, it may be idea recycling.
(Recycling? Upcycling? Are derivative works really just fannish upcycling? Now I'm getting sidetracked again.)
In any case, any links you have to my LJ will no longer work, and I deleted my comments and community posts along with. Apologies if this means you no longer have that comment I left on your fic that time; if I was going to delete myself from LJ, I was going to delete the whole of it. I had something like 3,000 comments made various places over there, as big a footprint as my journal itself. I really debated whether or not to do that, but ... better now, while I still can, than if something happens later that makes me wish I had and I no longer have access, you know?
I owe so much that is significant about my life right now to that platform. Every place I've lived over the past decade has been because of friends I met through LJ. My major life decisions in that span have been shaped by people I met in fannish LJ space. Because of LJ, I met jarrow, who I lived with for several years on the west coast, and sisabet, who I lived with for several more after returning east, and sweetestdrain, who just spent several years living next door to me, trading con to-do lists and vid drafts and coffee and random gossip with me across our shared fence at all hours of the day and night. People I interact with on twitter every day, all the fannish organizing stuff that's sometimes its own full time job, the entirety of my Wednesday night bar trivia team, none of this would have ever happened without LiveJournal.
So thanks for the friends and the cons and the momentous life experiences, LiveJournal. I'm taking them with me ... along with a couple thousand archival files.