Wednesday reads, politics, woe

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:42 pm
cofax7: XKCD boom de yada (Boom de Yada)
[personal profile] cofax7
Oh, it's Reading Wednesday! Cool!

Just Finished: Jackalope Wives and Other Stories by Ursula Vernon ([personal profile] tkingfisher). A nice collection, of which I'd read most of the stories before, but not all of them. I do enjoy Vernon's attachment to women of a certain age as her protagonists; it's a pleasant change from much of the world of fantasy.

Prior to that I read the last Lady Trent novel, In the Sanctuary of Wings, which I enjoyed, and wished there were more.

I also picked up, and put down, Hugh Howey's Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue, because I found the characters intolerably irritating and his portrayal of an 18-year-old girl unpleasant. It was just ... off. Bah.

Currently Reading: Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters for book club. It's long, but I have more than a month, and it's a pleasant read so far.

Next Up: Erm. Probably Tremontaine Season One, although there are some new books coming out I'm interested in. Like City of Miracles, which I will drop everything to read once it comes in at the library.

*

Power in the Absence of Money: Why Trump hates bureaucrats so much. I love this article and the respect it shows to the civil service. [T]hat's what we're talking about when we talk about the federal workforce. We're talking about a whole bunch of people who go to work every day trying to keep us safe, whether they're carrying an M4 and wearing body armor over in Mosul, or manning a computer at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Health and Human Services. The terrible "swamp" Trump has such contempt for sits there every day in drab offices they endured heavy traffic to get to, and they regulate the excesses of the vaunted "market" Trump and his billionaires are so worshipful of.

More on the plan to destroy the civil service. This is a smart, long, well-researched article.

And on that note, here is a report on what it's like inside the EPA right now. It's not good.

Masha Gessen on The Reichstag Fire Next Time: The coming crackdown. Argh, and eeps.

*

ETA: Let's end on a better note, with this ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY AMAZING video of "Immigrants" from the Hamilton Mixtape. So. Good.
yhlee: Animated icon of sporkiness. (sporks (rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
Lindy Mechefske claims to be doing an anthology of trans people's stories [Facebook link]. Of course, it includes this charmer:
We’d love to include some before and after photos.

Noooooooope.

In addition, I left two comments:

The first comment asked if they were planning on paying contributors. The answer was an equivocal "If there's any way to do this, yes." My second comment said that Mechefske ought to include information about the fact of payment (or non-payment) in the submissions guidelines so that people would know what they were getting into; that comment has been deleted. There was at least one other comment asking about payment, which has been deleted.

In conclusion: stay the hell away from this project. It smells rotten.
watersword: Bradley James as Prince Arthur in Merlin (2008, BBC) (Merlin: once and future king)
[personal profile] watersword
An incomplete list in no particular order:
al_zorra: (Default)
[personal profile] al_zorra
      . . . . So non-inclined to deal with social media, blogs, any of it these days.  I am online a great deal, digging through newspapers published in the Red River Valley in 1880 - 1911, among other online activities. I keep up with a variety of news (current affairs / politics) sites.  I write a lot, including in my journal, in my Word program.  But I've had no energy to write online, for some reason.


There's a great deal going on in the offline life, all kinds of things, and some of it, believe it or not, is actually positive for us personally, in many ways, including paying work, despite the political billionaires' and religious whackos' derangement of objective, ideology, utterance, attitude and action having taken over seemingly the whole world, except -- maybe -- for France? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therefore, perhaps it is particularly rude of us to keep laughing at the French as we make our way through Capetian France 987 - 1328?  This is the read-aloud-before-bed book that succeeded Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century (el V's favorite century!) which was all about the plundering, corsairing, privateering and pirating of Spain's ports, ships and fleets by all of Europe's powers in mostly the 16th century, through about 1628.

 

Both of these books have been terrific reads, before bed, hough in a different ways. It was particularly pleasant to have them when I went down with a very nasty virus two weeks ago, and couldn't read for myself.  One of the symptoms was eyes that watered constantly, making vision iffy at best -- not to mention the lack of concentration. What I did mostly during that period was lie in the dark, listening to book streamed from Overlook.

 

     . . . . As far as the Capetians are concerned -- what is up with us and the French and laughter? As soon as el V and I began reading my history of the Capets with each other, as opposed to me reading the book by myself, we got the giggles.  Evidently even when they weren't French, but Goths (Merovingians) and Franks (Carolingians), which is when this laughter began earlier in the year, they were sufficiently French to be amusing and good company?

 

The Capetian monarchy is not only post-Carolingia, but post Vikings and the Dark Ages. We begin to see what political historians have called feudalism as an administrative organizational structure becoming the predominate system, along with the proliferation of castle-building -- which reached its peak in France in the 11th century. 


I'm getting a sense that with the Norse now integrated into Francia at every level of society (though probably not in the peasantry?), so much of what they severely disrupted in the kingdoms after Charlemagne was no longer around to hold things together, in many ways all systems from trade and taxes to governance and land holdings had greatly stabilized.  In other words we have now entered what historians used to regard as the Middle Ages and have emerged out of what historians used to call the Dark Ages. 


By the way, the Norman kingdoms were very well organized and administered, the best of them all. As far as we've gotten, the Normans are about poised to take over kingdoms in Sicily and southern Italy -- not to mention England. 


This is so interesting! But, I wonder, if anywhere else in this vast, densely populated city, in June, 2017, anyone else is considering these matters? I have the feeling that only here, in this apartment, in this building, is this happening. One indication is that these books from the graduate school library haven't been taken out in years and years. And their publication all date from the 1970's, at the latest.

 

 


      . . . . What have I listened to?  The most entertaining was James Buchanan: The Worst President Ever (2016) by sports journalist >!< Robert Strauss. It's a fairly light-hearted treatment of the guy who did nothing to keep the Union together (though he did a lot to allow it to fall apart, They Say).  There are lengthy digressions into the author's own childhood and the father with whom as a boy he shared an obsession for US presidential trivia.  There are further lengthy digressions into playing basketball at his gym and elsewhere in Philadelphia, where he was born and continues to live, and more yet about his wife and daughter.  His historical method, as far as it goes, is to compare and contrast Buchanan's biography and presidency with that of the other 44 (as of his writing) presidents, to make the case that Buchanan was The Worst Ever.  However, Buchanan's got a real run for his title going these days.  One wonders if the author would have been so off-handed about the mess JB helped make if he were putting the book together today.  OTOH, in the stuperous state of my whole sick system, that was about as much cogitation as I could manage.

 

 

I listened to two novels via Overlook. The first was Daphne DuMaurier's Frenchman's Creek (1941).  She was so good at what she did.  And one must get to the very end to see just how good at it she was.  Through much of the book one of the lesser character's wife is pregnant.  He's deeply concerned about his wife and the coming delivery, hoping for the best, fearing for the worst, which was the outcome far too often in the 17th century of King Charles II, which is the time the book takes place.  That this becomes a major plot  point won't even be clear until the very end!  I was so impressed.

 

 

 

The second novel was Ann Cleeves's second title in her Shetland Islands series, White Nights.  I've read all the others but it took this long for the replacements to show up at the NYPL after the others were worn out.  In my opinion this one is far superior to the others.  

 

 

 

 

 

I am also listening to three other fascinating, books, The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad (2013) by Lesley Hazleton (NPR review hereThe Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee: The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged (2015) by William Davis


A UK Guardian review of the book here.

 -- and the brilliant The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land (2010) by Thomas Asbridge.  This latter is big -- 784 pages -- because he tells the politics of the crusades from both Christian and Islam's contexts of the times.  I've been listening to it for weeks, as one can only check out an audio stream book for a maximum of 3 weeks, and I usually only listen to them while working out. It's a popular title and then I have to wait until whoever else had it on hold expires it to get it back again.  (The Overlook system that has highjacked all the public library systems is truly awful and stupid in every way.)  I've now reached the fifth crusade.


It's really been books this month, far more than television / movies, due to my eyes being so bad from being sick.


watersword: Sophie Devereaux in a museum, looking up and over her shoulder (Museum)
[personal profile] watersword
Hi Dreamwidth! If you have a DRM-free ebook or ebooks you would like to share, I would be very interested. My tastes are summed up in this post from 2016, but I am willing to explore pretty much any genre (I'm set for The Great Western Canon, I think, thank you Project Gutenberg), with a particular fondness for SFF and historical fiction.

Comments screened.

♥♥♥

Gacked from all over

Jun. 28th, 2017 04:02 pm
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
Pick any story I've written, or, in the case of my longer, chaptered works, any chapter from any story I've written, and comment to this post with that selection. I will then give you the equivalent of a DVD commentary on that snippet: what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it in the first place, what's going on in the character's heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the context of the rest of the fic, lots of awful puns, and anything else that you’d expect to find on a DVD commentary track.

My fic is here.

Surgery

Jun. 28th, 2017 10:23 am
yukinoomoni: (Eh?)
[personal profile] yukinoomoni
Hey everyone! I thought it would be wise to drop a line and let those of you interested know that I have surgery tomorrow! Yep, they're finally getting rid of my gallbladder. I'm torn on the whole thing, because I fear nothing will happen, and I'll be getting rid of a perfectly good organ that I need. But then, it could be the source of my almost seven-year pain spree, so there's enough there to warrant the risk, I suppose.

Anyway, I'll update again once it's all done and I feel better. I'm sorry I don't update too much here, but Tumblr has my soul and won't give it back.

How are you?

CMV Lands at Denver Comic Con

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:17 am
catvalente: (pic#941394)
[personal profile] catvalente

The Denver Comic Con is this weekend, and Cat will be in attendance! We hope you have your tickets – we hear all the weekend badges are sold out, but there are still some one-day badges available. Head over to their site if you still need membership.

If you hope to catch Cat at the con, here’s her schedule of appearances:

FRIDAY, JUNE 30

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Signing at Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2

2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
Mistakes Were Made in Room 402 – Authors

SATURDAY, JULY 1

12:00 PM – 12:50 PM
The Writing Process of Best Sellers in Room 407 – Authors

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Signing at Tattered Cover Signing Booth 1

3:30 PM – 4:20 PM
Millennials Rising – YA Literature Today in Room 402 – Authors

5:00 PM – 5:50 PM
Start Short, Get Good in Room 407 – Authors

SUNDAY, JULY 2

10:30 AM – 11:20 AM
Is This a Kissing Book? in Room 402 – Authors

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Signing at Author Signing Booth 1

3:00 PM – 3:50 PM
The Best Writing Advice I Was Ever Given in Room 407 – Authors

See you in Denver! Unless we don’t. In which case, have a great weekend!

Mirrored from cmv.com. Also appearing on @LJ and @DW. Read anywhere, comment anywhere.

rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
In case anyone's got some spare cash they found down the back of the sofa:

The National Immigration Law Center have donation-matching up to $100,000 to help them create a Rapid Response Fund:

Donate to NILC

Planned Parenthood Action have donation-matching up to $350,000:

Donate to PP

The Climate Science Legal Defence Fund have matching up to $50,000:

Donate to the CSLDF

The National Network of Abortion Funds have matching up to $50,000, and their solicitation e-mail ends "Let’s fund abortion, build power, and radically love each other," bless them (they're also the only organization I've encountered where a staff member has their preferred pronouns in their sig, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy):

Donate to the NNAF

If you know of others, please comment!

(X-posted to [community profile] thisfinecrew.)

YOU GUYS

Jun. 27th, 2017 07:03 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I scored the following used RPGs from Little Wars for a SONG:

- Mutants and Masterminds
- Wraith: The Oblivion
- Aeon limited edition
- Star Wars Core Rulebook ([personal profile] dhampyresa, do you want this? I'm happy to send it to you--it's Wizards of the Coast's d20 system)
- Mage: The Ascension (we may already have this BUT I DON'T CARE)
- Changeling Storyteller's Guide (now I just have to find the core book for Changeling)
- Wraith Player's Guide
- Battlefleet Gothic 2002 Annual (I looooooooove the aesthetic of the Battlefleet Gothic miniatures and am sorry I only own one, which is still unassembled in its blister pack)
- Earthdawn (I used to own this before my stepmother threw it out)
- Ars Magica (ditto)
- and a stray issue of Playboy July 1995 because it was sitting there lonely and I am easily amused

PLEASE, VAN, CONTINUE ACQUIRING AND SELLING USED RPGs. I WILL COME BUY THEM!!!

This is like Christmas.

4th Street, Context, and Terms of Art

Jun. 27th, 2017 07:00 pm
lydy: (Default)
[personal profile] lydy
Slightly edited from comments I posted on File 770:

Context:

The biggest objection to Steven's statement at Opening Ceremonies was not about content, but about context. Context controls meaning. "How are you?" can be a polite place holder, the opening to a bit of small talk, or an invitation to talk about something serious going on in your life. Opening Ceremonies is a time for the staff of the convention to welcome people, thank people, provide some administrivia, and set the tone. It is not a time for conversations. Those happen later in the convention. It is supposed to be a feel-good half hour to ease people into the space that Fourth Street wants to create. What Steven did was an abuse of power in several different ways. In the first place, possibly inadvertently, he made it sound like his particular issue was, in fact, Fourth Street policy. I'm not sure what it says about Steven that he didn't understand before it was pointed out to him. I can think of both charitable and uncharitable explanations, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is what he did.

Although Steven claimed to be trying to start a conversation, everything about his action was designed to shut down conversation, rather than open it up. He spoke from the dias, at an event which is designed as a presentation, from a written speech. It should also be noted that Fourth Street has a single track of programming, most of the convention was at Opening Ceremonies, and probably 20% of the attendees were new to the convention. The fact that several people questioned Steven and pushed back at his behavior is not to his credit. Instead, it underscores how completely outside accepted norms his behavior was. It was sufficiently upsetting that numerous people broke the semiotic frame to challenge him. Alex, also sitting on the dias, could see people being visibly upset, some in tears. Her decision to shut Steven down was probably based, in part, on watching the damage he was doing happen in front of her eyes. If she did it less than gracefully, again, think about the frame. And think about the fact that this was completely unexpected. It is rare for the Safety Coordinator to have to operate in crisis mode. Usually, we are notified of harassment well after the fact, well after the actual crisis is past. This, this was happening right in front of her eyes.

The specific language that Steven chose, most especially "safe space", appeared to be carefully designed to undermine an entire department of the convention. Fourth Street uses the safety model, they have a Safety Coordinator, and they are doing a pretty good job of addressing issues of harassment and bias in the convention. To have someone, from the dias, in a presentation, essentially say, "These are not really Fourth Street's values," was shocking and unacceptable. If, as I gather elsewhere, this was the result of Steven losing an internal political battle, my god was this not the appropriate response.

I prefer to use consent as a model for dealing with crappy behavior in conventions. Using this model, what Steven did was completely beyond the pale. He foisted on an unsuspecting and unconsenting audience and incredibly complicated and uncomfortable topic, and did it in such a way that objecting was very hard, and conversation nearly impossible. Let's say you want to, for example, have a conversation about whether old white guys should be allowed to bang on about cultural appropriation. If it is on the schedule, clearly marked, and the panelists identified, a body could make an intelligent choice about whether or not one wanted to have that conversation. Or a body could decide that they don't have enough spoons for that particular conversation, and not go. It is not ok to try to force other people to talk about the things you want to talk about.

It should also be noted that there are conversations that are not valuable. No one needs to have another conversation about whether or not the Nazis were right about the danger of Jewry destroying Western Europe. No one needs to have another conversation about whether Jim Crow was maybe a good thing for colored people. These conversations give oxygen to toxic concepts, and yield no light. Fourth Street may well decide that some conversations are not likely to yield much enlightenment, but likely to cause actual hurt to attendees. This is not avoiding difficult concepts, this is properly budgeting time. There's a limited amount of Fourth street, an infinity of really cool things to talk about, and I get down on my knees in gratitude to editors who are good at their jobs.

Terms of Art:

I would like to point out that “safe space” is neither a literal nor a metaphorical phrase. It is a term of art, coming out of various complex discussions about how to deal with racism, sexism, and kierarchy. Like the term “positive reinforcement” which, in operant conditioning, doesn’t mean what you think it means, “safe space” has a specific, technical meaning. And the attempt to treat it as either literal or metaphorical completely misses the point. Deliberately so, in most cases.

I have problems with using the term safety to discuss harassment and its attendant issues. However, I am really, really annoyed at the people who use the term “safe space” as a stick to beat people doing real work. And seriously, pretending I don’t know what metaphor is is just not on.

In its most basic sense, “safe space” just means a place where we don’t have to have 101 conversations. A safe space for women means not having to constantly explain why we are fully human, not having to do the work of explaining why harassment is bad. A safe space for people of color means much the same, a space where people of color don’t have to explain their life and experiences and reassure the anxious white people around them. Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is, in point of fact, a “safe space” for fantasists, a place where writers and readers don’t have to explain why this stuff is important, don’t have to justify their passion for fantasy. That conversation is very much off the table.


Term of art, for fuck’s sake. It really chaps my ass to watch people attempt to abuse language in this fashion, especially people who claim to be professional writers. Sententiously insisting that they are speaking metaphorically, while simultaneously insisting that other people are speaking literally.

Language does weird shit, especially when you try to create precise terms. Writers do weird shit to language; it is their stock in trade. Pay some fucking attention. The language is going at right angles again. Like it does. All the fucking time.



yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
I've been interested in game design for some time, but when I started in elementary school, either there were no resources or they were hard to find. It was already hard to find books in English when I lived in South Korea. We did have Base access for a couple years while my dad was still in the Army, and then he left the Army to teach at Yonsei University and we lost Base access and, with it, access to the library. In any case, it would never have occurred to me to look for books on "game design." I don't think I heard of it as an area of study until college or possibly after. I spent a lot of high school trying to design a cockamamie chess variant, and I did read up on real chess variants (Chinese chess, Japanese chess, Burmese chess, etc.). It wasn't *good*, and the one time a couple friendly strangers over the internet volunteered to playtest it, they confirmed the ruleset wasn't any good, no doubt because I had devised the pieces' moves to be ~symbolic~ for storytelling purposes (it was worldbuilding for a fantasy novel) and I didn't know anything about board game design.

Since then I have made a point of reading books on game design when I can find them, and the occasional article on the web. While I have released a couple of small interactive fiction games (IFs) and the narrative game Winterstrike (Failbetter Games), I don't really consider myself a game designer. It's more in the nature of something I do on the side because I find it illuminating to consider alternate ways to approaching narrative; I think primarily as a writer of static fiction. And for the purposes of the hexarchate, it's research because I decided that one of the factions (the Shuos) abuses game design techniques in their pedagogy, and one of the characters (Jedao) is a gamer.

The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, ed. Mike Selinker, is a collection of essays by various designers. I was originally going to read the book through and do a report on the book overall, but I liked the essays enough to do individual reports on some of them. cut for length )

Thank you to the person who donated this book!

The bespectacled wizard grimaced....

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:40 pm
tree_and_leaf: HMS Surprise sailing away over calm sea, caption "Sail away" (Sail away)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
In Potter related news (is it really twenty years? And how many friends would I not have made were it not for Potter?), Stephen Bush of the New Staggers has done a director's commentary of his ancient Harry Potter fic, and it's one of the funniest things I've read in ages.

(He had an LJ aged 12? Precocious or what?)

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