theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

There’s a lot of advice swirling around out there on “How to talk to your partner” – a thousand techniques to chip past their defensiveness, speak loudly enough to be heard, be nice enough to encourage niceness.

And it all falls short if your partner sucks.

Truth is, there’s basically two types of partners: The ones that care about how you’re feeling, and the ones who don’t. And sometimes the partners who care about how you’re feeling do need to be approached in the right way to maximize their compassion, but…

There’s a lot of deluded people who have partners who legitimately do not give a shit. And those people are endlessly convinced that their partner is a bank vault, just packed with love if only they can find the right tutorial to pick the locks, and they are endlessly blaming themselves because they somehow didn’t unlatch the great wellspring of tenderness that lies within them.

There’s not an approach that’ll help there.

And these people will point to their partner’s sporadic kindnesses as though these isolated incidents are a treasure map leading to the great stockpile of sympathy. But the truth is, almost everybody’s nice occasionally, if only by coincidence. Sometimes these unreachable partners want to make love when you do, but that’s not proof that they’re good to you, it’s proof that occasionally disparate agendas can line up like an optical illusion of kindness.

So the first part of establishing any real communication is ensuring that your partner actually gives a shit about you personally. Do they react with concern or exasperation the first time you raise an issue? Do they look for ways to write you off as a nut because it’s more convenient to them? Do they have a history of dropping partners whenever they prove troublesome?

Because yeah, you can – and should – work on presenting your problems in a kind, nonconfrontational way. But chefs work on great food presentation, and even they realize it won’t make a full man hungry.

First rule: Make sure they care about you.

Everything you do after they fail the first rule is, unfortunately, doomed to fail as well.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

Hugo reading: Novellas Part 2

2017-May-22, Monday 09:10
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
OK, I read a couple more novellas...

China Miéville - This Census Taker. This one didn't work for me.  I'm not sure whether that's my fault or Miéville's, but I found it very frustrating to read.  It has quite a strong style (and I admit, I prefer my prose transparent), and is quite poetic, and the narrator has the infuriating habit of changing from 'I' to 'the boy' or even 'you'. I am sure that this is intentional, but it dragged me out of the story every time.

Which was not, on the whole, a terrible thing, because I wasn't enjoying the story very much. 
Read more... )

The Dream Quest of Vellot Boe, by KM Johnson, was much more my thing!  It starts with a women's college that feels much like the one in Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night, only it is set in a dreamland.   A student has eloped with a man from the waking world, which risks shutting them down, and so Vellot, former adventurer and now a Professor of Mathematics goes in pursuit.

Read more... )

Goodbye, Virtual Hammer.

2017-May-20, Saturday 17:38
azurelunatic: Blue-iced cupcake with sprinkles.  (cupcake)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Friday was more boxes. Putting olives and pineapple and a few other things in a sturdy box half-filled it, but it was already heavy enough. I made up the rest of the space with dry noodle soup cups: not easily crushed, but hella light.

It was beer bash day at Virtual Hammer, and my last one. My former manager's last day had been the week before (onward and upward). I was skeptical of the food choices, as the theme was "pizza party", and I was aware of what the "catering pizza" was like.

By 2pm, when the maintenance guy hadn't shown up for the pre-departure inspection, I called the office. I didn't want to miss beer bash. He came through at 2:45. No major issues, and maybe X place would be good for the moving pod, but it was a hard problem. (In this case, "major issues" is holes in walls, destroyed appliances, etc. I am sure there will be "minor issues".)

I headed for beer bash, slightly melancholy. (My partner urged me to try for not too much sadness.) I chatted with Nora, of course. I walked briskly up the path, but paused at the duck pond to take a few last pictures.

The duck pond at Virtual Hammer, glowing in the sunlight (with a certain amount of algae bloom).

Purple called just about then, as he was about a hundred meters behind me and wanted to catch up. He had a new-ish teammate with him, someone of a delightfully compatible sense of humor.

We grabbed some pizza (fortunately, there was sufficient pepperoni pizza, as the veggie pizza was laced with bell pepper), and contemplated the desserts.

1) Streusel pizza, an uninspiring-looking cinnamon-sugar crumb on something flat and pale.
2) Brownie pizza, with toasted mini marshmallows and peanut butter cups.
3) Popcorn with some red coating on it; this would prove to be mostly spicy.
4) Cookie pizza, chocolate chip with frosting, coconut shreds, and walnuts on top.

#1 looked like a waste of carbohydrate. #3 looked like not-dessert (and upon tasting, was indeed not-dessert).
I texted my partner with the descriptions of #2 and #4, and got back some incredulous punctuation. I loathe peanut butter, and have an oral hypersensitivity reaction to walnuts. (It burns and the lining of my mouth peels off. It's great.) My partner has complementary reactions: oral hypersensitivity to peanuts, and loathes walnuts.

Purple and his teammate and I had a lovely time in one of the tucked-away back tables. There was a lovely view out the windows. We talked about squirrels (Purple's noticed that modern squirrels know how to freeze and duck for cars), bees (Purple's childhood home had a prodigious amount of comb removed from a wall), the nature of "Netflix and Chill", and other such things.

Eventually, Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly called, and we figured out dinner. I spotted the cute receptionist across the upper quad, and said goodbye. We wandered back down to the lower quad, and Purple wrapped up. I dropped some spare buttons from the 2015 department conference, because I didn't really need that many as keepsakes, and someone at work might think they were cool.

We headed off for dinner. Goodbye, campus in the hills. You were beautiful, and I met so many lovely people there. Perhaps I'll visit again someday.

Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly had been delayed in leaving for dinner, because as she was heading out, there was a machine overheating, so she'd had to spray the fans with compressed air and such. I was careful to avoid "blowing" jokes at first. The restaurant had the air conditioning cranked up high, which had likely been appropriate in the heat of the day, but was less and less appropriate as the air cooled. I put on my jacket. Purple ran out to his car to grab his button-down shirt.

The on-table tablet thing behaved itself this time, by which I mean Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly was able to look at the drinks menu and pick out something, and then we were able to aim it away from us without it blinking. I got a sip of Purple's drink, which was just about the right amount. (Two would have been an okay amount too, but it was a little sour for me.)

Ms. Antisocialest Butterfly has picked up a new online game, where she is now known as "Finger." Most of the obvious jokes were less made than they were implied. She observed that it's very important to not (as someone had) leave the punctuation out of the greeting "Finger, my friend!" What happened was that she'd joined the game and picked a nickname; some dick had immediately taken offense to her basic existence. She'd argued that this was the internet, perhaps she didn't exist at all! Perhaps she was just a disembodied finger, typing. And thus her new name.

Purple walked me to my car. We chatted about this and that, and the move. I'll be fine. I tend to pre-react, rather than post-react. (Purple post-reacts.) My partner and I have good communications. I'll be sad to leave California, but not heartbroken like I was about leaving Darkside.

We set the date and time for our last dinner: Tuesday night, in the hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean place where they treat us like family. I'll want to say goodbye there, too.

The language of apology

2017-May-20, Saturday 16:10
azurelunatic: A baji-naji symbol.  (baji-naji)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I started contemplating the components that make up an effective apology to me. There are the "five apology languages", which are siblings of the "five love languages", or something. That's interesting, but it isn't quite what I'm looking for.

What am I looking for?

a) Acknowledgment of the effect, and regret. (Regret is one of the apology languages.) Something happened and I was hurt; in an intimate and trustworthy relationship, I want them to know how I was hurt, and why it was hurtful. (Late to an event, hurt feelings, stubbed toe, irritated, etc.) Since they need to care for my well-being, I feel that it's appropriate that they regret my well-being was affected.
(In an untrustworthy relationship, giving them more information on how they have hurt me just gives them ammunition to hurt me further. If you find in your life that there are people where you don't want to let them know that you are hurt or how, contemplate your options for reducing those people's access to you.)

b) Root-cause analysis. What are the factors that led to this happening? Some are the responsibility of the person. (Accepting responsibility is one of the apology languages.) Sometimes there are factors that are nobody's responsibility, or are the responsibility of entities who are in no position to have things changed as a result of the incident. (A terrible day at the DMV is not likely to be solved by anyone saying "Hey, this was terrible.")

c) Making restitution, if appropriate. (Making restitution is one of the apology languages.) A date can often be rescheduled. Doing something nice and out of the ordinary is a mood-lifter. Fixing or replacing the broken thing. Sometimes there isn't really anything that can be done to make it better, and that probably should be acknowledged.

d) Failure prevention. (In the listed apology languages, "genuinely repenting" seems to fit this the closest.) With root-cause analysis and knowledge of the effects, we can use those to plan to avoid circumstances where this comes up again, and make a plan for mitigating the effects if it does come up again.

In my present primary relationship, my partner always genuinely regrets the hurt. They don't always understand why it was hurtful, so that portion often involves a lot of discussion. (And I can contribute to things going better by being more flexible in when and how that discussion happens.) The root cause often involves things that have grown out of traumatic experiences and situations in our past, which is ... fun. Restitution hasn't been a huge factor.

Root cause analysis and failure prevention tend to slide together, even though I have them listed as separate steps. It's at the failure prevention step where, like magic, I start calming down and feeling incredibly secure and loved. Since some of the factors involve trauma, the failure prevention often involves the slow process of healing (with and without the assistance of professionals), and my understanding and forgiveness of those things.

We're learning how to fight well and safely, and I love them so much.

(no subject)

2017-May-20, Saturday 14:07
geminigirl: (Default)
[personal profile] geminigirl
Testing the crossposting feature while managing someone else's crisis and waiting for Naomi to get home so we can go out this afternoon.
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
Visited [ profile] hathhalla and [ profile] ser_pounce for our regular Cheesequest. Amazing fromage of the day was a herbed Corsican. Afterwards played a challenging scenario in Mice and Mystics. This evening did a sence write-up for my long-running HeroQuest Glorantha game. It was the conclusion of a bit of bad luck in gaming sessions this week with the regular Laundry Files game cancelled on Wednesday night, and Eclipse Phase on Friday night. Nevertheless, this has given me more opportunity to work on Papers & Paychecks with the effects of alcohol and drugs and distribution curves added to the repository.

Have finally decided to join the 21st century and bought a chunk of cloud storage for some offsite backups; specifically the Google offering, which integrates well with the rest of its services. Have also discovered and used RClone, which a rather genius piece of work - effectively rsync for various cloud storage vendors. Apropos, a made a talk proposal for OpenStack Australia Day which has been accepted.

Other major events in the past few days has been organising for the AGM of the Victorian Secular Lobby, writing up the major events of 14th and 15th weeks of Lord Dampnut, US President, and attending a great wine tasting at University House for Klein Constantia with a selection of South African and French Savoy wines. The Vin de Constance was pretty amazing; it was sweet liquid gold and with a price to match (on special for a mere $137 for 500ml) .


2017-May-20, Saturday 18:50
peoppenheimer: A photo of Paul Oppenheimer at the Australasian Association of Philosophy meeting. (Default)
[personal profile] peoppenheimer
Hard to believe I'll be 2^6 years old soon. It's the highest power of two I expect to live to see.

Hugo reading 2017 - Novellas Part 1

2017-May-20, Saturday 13:21
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
After all those short stories and comics, I wanted something a bit longer. But I'm not quite ready to commit to the novels yet, so it's novella time!

First cab off the rank was Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. I've actually read this already, but it was a pleasure to re-read it. The basic premise of this story is that sometimes, the children who go to Narnia, or Oz, or Fairyland, or Wonderland, or the Land of the Dead, don't want to come home. But they do anyway, and then what can they do? Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire )

The second novella I read was The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor Lavalle. This story is dedicated 'For H.P. Lovecraft, with all my conflicted feelings'. I haven't read any Lovecraft, so the only things I know about him are 1. Horror; 2. Cthulu; 3. Racism. All of which, needless to say, I know only at second hand.

The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle )

OK, I think that will do me for now.  I desperately need to read something which I don't have to think critically about!  I shall return to these reviews in a few days.

Oh, and speaking of reviews, I have another one up at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  I finally managed to draw a RITA nominee that I actually liked!  And in the Romantic Suspense category, of all places...

100 things: 010

2017-May-20, Saturday 05:50
tree: vic and walt as silhouettes in black and white ([longmire] for the restless)
[personal profile] tree
it's been four years since i last did one of these and i'm only up to number 10. i first heard this song three days ago and since then it hasn't long been left off repeat in itunes. the whole album, in fact. as i said on twitter, it's as if my entire musical experience of the decade of the 90s has been captured here. there's an indefinable something that turns the key in an emotional lock i didn't know i had. i feel like i'm going to break open.

if i were to make a mix and call it autobiography, this song would be on it. i recognise myself in there. or something recognises me.

lyrics )

(no subject)

2017-May-19, Friday 14:36
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Saw the radiation oncologist this morning. (Two hour drive to NoVA, whee.) More info when I get home and have a keyboard instead of phone, but: I adore him, he's given me tons to research, he's willing to schedule me now but also says it's not house on fire urgent since it's not proceeding quickly enough to be an urgent situation (but he didn't downplay it either) and did I mention I adore him?

I feel very much better now that I know I have him, and will feel even better after seeing Mom's guy on the 30th.


2017-May-19, Friday 23:57
mnemonia: (goth)
[personal profile] mnemonia
Happy birthday! *twirl*
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

You folks have probably heard a lot about “Net Neutrality” lately, but you may not be clear on what it is, how it’ll change your Internet life, or what you can do to keep it in place. And to be honest, I’m not qualified to speak about it.

But my friend Paul is.

Paul Goodman (@PaulOverbite) is Senior Legal Counsel on the Telecommunications and Technology Team at The Greenlining Institute – which is to say he’s been on the front lines battling the telecommunications industries for years, and he knows exactly what companies like AT&T would do if people like him weren’t there to stop him.  (Some of the things he’s told me about have been horrifying.)

So I’m gonna ask him to explain Net Neutrality to you through a phenomenal historical metaphor, and have him tell you why all isn’t lost yet even though yesterday’s headlines were indeed bad.


Ferrett was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to write a blog post about the importance of net neutrality—the principle that your internet service provider (ISP) can’t control what content you access or devices you use on your broadband connection. As you may have read, on Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiated the process of eliminating the current net neutrality rules. Unfortunately, there was a fair amount of misreporting on the issue, leading to headlines like “Net Neutrality Rules Eliminated” and “FCC Kills Net Neutrality” and “Masked Man Throws Net Neutrality into Vat of Acid, Creating Green-Haired, White-Skinned Madman.”

However, net neutrality isn’t dead yet—but today’s vote was a clear sign that it’s in the Trump administration’s crosshairs.

To really understand the importance of net neutrality, you first need to understand Green Books. Green Books, common in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, were travel guides for African American travelers. These books listed locations where food and lodging were available to African Americans, and, more importantly, listed places where African Americans would be refused service, falsely arrested, or murdered. The Green Books listed huge swaths of the country where there were no services available and where, accordingly, African Americans couldn’t go.

Think about that for a minute. Specifically, consider the enormous amount of power that white people had over black peoples’ lives. If you were black, white people could stop you from travelling to, or through, large parts of the country. So if you were more than a day’s drive away from friendly territory, you couldn’t visit your family. If you were a travelling salesman, there were large parts of your sales territory that you couldn’t visit. If you wanted to go to your state capitol to ask your elected representative for help, you might not be able to—not because you didn’t have the ability or resources, but because white people actively worked to keep you from doing so.

One group of people had control of a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure, and used that control to prevent African Americans from accessing economic, social, and political opportunities.*

Today, we’re facing the same scenario. A small group of broadband providers controls a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure — the national (and international) telecommunications network. That control gives ISPs an enormous amount of power. The Internet is the way that we communicate with our friends and loved ones, find jobs, contact government services, and get information. Net neutrality protections ensure that you, not your ISP, decide how to access the network, what content you view, who you communicate with, and which viewpoints you can express and support.

Under the current net neutrality rules, your broadband provider can’t discriminate against particular Internet content. For example, Comcast owns NBC-Universal. Comcast would prefer that you watch NBC shows, rather than shows from other content providers like HBO, or ABC, or Netflix. Comcast is also an ISP, and has the ability to deliver Internet traffic at different speeds and service quality, so Comcast could deliver NBC content in high-definition, while making videos from HBO look terrible. Net neutrality rules make sure that doesn’t happen.

In 2015, the FCC, which regulates what I call “communications services” and you call “telephone, cable TV, and broadband service,” imposed the most robust net neutrality protections in U.S. history. If you haven’t noticed, since then, we’ve had a few changes in our government. Under new leadership the FCC wants to roll back all of the robust net neutrality protections we’ve come to rely on. In anticipation, ISPs and conservative groups have been sending out a deluge of misinformation and dropping off huge sacks of money at policymakers’ offices.

There’s only one group that can really push back, and that group is us.

I know we’ve all got a lot on our plates lately, and we’re all battling on multiple fronts, but I would really like you to understand that the fight to save net neutrality is critical. Many marginalized groups—people of color, LGBT folks, Muslims, to name just a few—don’t have access to traditional outlets for getting their voices heard. The Internet is often the only tool that we have to communicate, give and receive support, and organize. Without a free and open Internet, we will lose our ability to make our voices heard, share our positions and strategies, and work for real change. We cannot let that happen.

The FCC is currently taking comments on its plan to eliminate net neutrality, so please go here and tell the FCC to keep the existing net neutrality protections in place. Additionally, please reach out to your elected representatives and ask them to keep the Internet open and free—a five-minute phone call might just convince your rep to vote against the repeal.

* –  Incidentally, that discrimination continues today in our telecommunications networks.  Years of business decisions by telecommunications providers about where to build or upgrade their networks have resulted in a disparate impact on communities of color—on the whole, communities of color disproportionately lack access to broadband services, and where those services are available, they are unaffordable and the service quality is terrible.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

Hugo reading: Graphic Stories Part 3

2017-May-19, Friday 13:46
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines

Another graphic novel read in my lunch break!  Can I have four categories done and dusted by tonight?  Of course I can!

So, next up was Saga, Volume 6, by Brian K Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples and lettered by Fonografiks.  I wondered how I'd go with making sense of this one, since it's volume 6, but I actually quite liked it.  The characters were strong, and I could mostly tell them apart, and there didn't seem to be too many factions going on (though again, factions and politics - is that a big trend at the moment, or have graphic novels always been about warfare and politics and tribalism?).  This particular story centred around a couple who are of different and enemy (but apparently cross-fertile) species, who are trying to find their daughter again.  She seems to be locked in some sort of prison camp / re-education kindergarten, and if anyone finds out who she is they will try to kill her.  The why of this is presumably in previous volumes.  There was a bunch of stuff I didn't quite follow which clearly related to the overarching story, but the central narrative of this story was quite nice, and I enjoyed reading it.  Possibly the more so because it fit in so nicely with my enjoyment of the Vaughn short story... I apparently like narratives where supposed enemies are friends and working together.

Again, I don't feel any particularly strong need to read more of the story (and for goodness sake, if you are reading it, don't read it at work.  There were several pages I had to turn quickly without reading because those were images I just could not have on my work computer), but I did like it.  It has just overtaken Paper Girls and is sitting in second place, after Ms Marvel.

Fingers crossed, I'll be able to read The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse than a Man, by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, between work and my hair appointment today, and I will post the review then...

OK.  I started The Vision.  I got nearly halfway, and was finding it OK (and for once, having no difficulty telling characters apart), but then there was a scene with someone doing something terrible to a cat who looked quite a bit like Mystery, and that was it for me. I'm afraid I'm not going to read any further into that one, because I don't need more pictures like that in my head (the cartoonist draws cats really well, and that doesn't help), and I really wasn't enjoying it enough to risk it.  I don't know how I can possibly judge this one, so it just won't go on my ballot.

My delving into Graphic stories for this year is officially over. 


2017-May-18, Thursday 19:43
azurelunatic: The (old) Tacoma Narrows Bridge, intact but twisted. (Tacoma)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
So as I alluded to in passing, I'm moving.

My departure from the Bay Area is May 31st.

The moving pod(s) will be with me from sometime May 26 through sometime May 31st.

I am driving to Tacoma with some of the stuff that's too delicate or otherwise unsuitable to be trusted to a pod. (Alcohol in the trunk. My computer. Stuff I'll need to survive for a week or so without things from the pod. The ancestral tea set from Dad's mom's side of the family, eventually destined for Ev. The box with the paper volumes of my journal.) The drive often takes two days; it's possible that I may accomplish it in one go, though I haven't yet driven it. (I did the Phoenix/SF drive in two days the first time, and one day on the two subsequent trips.)

The plan for Tacoma is:
* some sort of long-term pre-payable hotel for the first ~month, keeping in mind that I'll be off at Open Source Bridge for part of that, too
* two specific call centers to apply to
* look for a ~year lease
* look for a better job

Oh yes, and: see my partner and metamour on a regular basis.

This is earlier than I thought I'd be going, but it was suddenly time.

My world is boxes. Company would be welcome but is not necessary, and the number of sitting surfaces in here is drastically lower than usual.

Hugo reading: Short Stories

2017-May-19, Friday 10:34
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
Since I had choir last night, and PDFs of graphic novels are not too portable, I decided to take a break from them and have a crack at the Short Stories category.  Which is SO MUCH BETTER than last year you CANNOT IMAGINE.

NK Jamison -  The City Born Great. This is a story about the birth of New York, not in the sense of its founding, but of its birth and coming to awareness as a sentient, living being. The protagonist is, for want of a better word, the city's protector and its midwife, which is a bit tricky, since they (I'm not actually sure if gender was ever specified) are decidedly underprivileged - homeless, hungry, and black.  I loved the bits about singing to the city, and graffitiing by circles in a black so dark that it looked like a hole so that the city could breathe through these new ventilations.  NK Jamison clearly loves New York the way I love Paris. There is a nice poetry and sense of history to this story, and I love the concept.  I like  this story very much. 

John C Wright - An Unimaginable Light. I went into this one a little prejudiced, because I know that Wright is associated with the Catholic end of the Rabid Puppies. I tried very hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. 

Alas, this happened on page 2.

The kneeling girl did not look like a robot. She looked like a love goddess. Her face was piquant and elfin, her eyes danced and glittered. Her lips were full, her smile ready. She was pulchritudinous, buxom, callipygous, leggy. Her torso was slender, and her abdominal muscles as well defined as those of a belly dancer, so that her navel was like a period between two cursive brackets. Her hair was lustrous, and tied in a loose knot at the back of her swanlike neck. Hairy eye, and skin colour were optional. She was, of course, naked.

Oh, of course she was.  And Mr Wright needs to put down his thesaurus now. And also wash the hand that wasn't holding the thesaurus because I think we all know where it has been.  Ick. 

This story  seems to be a philosophical argument about who is truly human disguised as a short story about a man interrogating a robot, with rather pretentious styling. It is also a fable about how moral relativism is stupid. And how PC culture is oppressive and whiny and microaggressions are just about people bullying people who have *realy* morals. It is not as clever as it thinks it is.  However, it is heavy-handed, pompous and sexist, and it also gets sadistic and rapey in the middle, which is just lovely.  Also, Wright never misses an opportunity to remind us of the robot's shapely form or flirtatious gaze.  Bleargh.

Then we have a plot twist!  And theology!  And our constantly objectified heroine – who turns out to be called Maria, because that's just how subtle John C Wright is – isn't a robot at all!  The interrogator was the robot all along, but he didn't know this!  Oh, my shock, it is so shocking!  Of course, the way he discovers this is that Maria gets executed in a particularly gruesome and painful way because apparently this is the best way to convey that Love is the most important value and that without religion people will obviously make terrible, sadistic choices. 

(Also because Wright's Catholicism is big on suffering, but it's better if women suffer, especially if we get to describe their shapely limbs in detail while they do so.)

Also, this plot twist kind of makes a lot of the rest of the plot illogical.  Because the whole bit about the interrogator being turned on by hurting Maria is revolting enough when he is human, but makes absolutely no sense if he is a robot, especially as he is apparently following Asimov's three laws of robotics.

I think this one is a clear No Award for me. It's pretty terrible.

Alyssa Wong - A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers. This one is very good.  The protagonist keeps trying to change time so that she can save her sister, again and again. So many permutations of one event, but not enough. It reminds me a lot of  Kate Atkinson's novel, Life after Life, actually. It's sad and sweet and rather beautiful. It's going to be tough to choose between this and the Jemisin. I think the Jemisin is more original, though. And I do have a thing for sentient objects.

Carrie Vaughan – That Game We Played During the War. This story is set in the aftermath of a war between the telepathic Gaantish and the non-telepathic, but very practical, Enithi. A Enithi former nurse who looked after Gaantish prisoners of war (who had to be kept sedated to frustrate their telepathy) comes to visit a former prisoner, and former captor, and friend, who is now in hospital, recovering from wounds received in one of the last battles of the war. Oh, I love this. Not least because I want to read the romance novel that I am convinced is hidden behind and around this story.

I love that they have developed a way to play chess - which is of course tricky with telepathy involved. Calla, the Enithi nurse, thinks about all the moves Valk could make, but does not think about her moves, and in fact often moves at random, because it's the only way to hide her strategy from Valk, and also, the randomness drives him up the wall. I admit to finding this especially appealing because I am a horrible chess player who gets overwhelmed by possibilities and thus also moves at random, only I do that most of the time. I also love the implications for how soldiers and prisoners and captors think about each other in this war, and the ways in which fears don't match up with reality. But most of all I love the friendship in this book, which transcends war and enmity. This is such a kind, affectionate sort of story, the perfect antidote to John bloody Wright. It reminds me of Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honoor, in all the best ways. I want to read more of Vaughan's work. This is going to the top of my ballot.

Brooke Bolander  – Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies. A sadistic killer decides to make a harpy his victim. It doesn't end well for him. This story is pretty clearly inspired by reading one too many stories about the 'distraught father and husband' who murdered his family, or the 'promising young man' whose bright future is being put at terrible risk by the fact that he raped someone (thank goodness for judges who won't let him suffer too badly for twenty minutes of action!). It is full of rage, as is appropriate. It's a good story, but there are a lot of good stories this year, and I prefer friendship and wonder to rage, so it's probably going to be low on my ballot. But can I just say how delightful and refreshing it is to be forced to put a good story low on my ballot because there are so many good stories and they can't all be at the top?

Amal El-Mohtar – Seasons of Glass and Iron. Another one that I love! This is a subversive, feminist fairy tale, so I am all over it like a RASH. The girl with the iron shoes (and I love how she reflects that the boys get seven league boots and slippers that make them invisible, while the girls get shoes made of molten iron or slippers that make you dance yourself to death) meets the girl on the glass mountain (who really does not want any of the suitors who fall in love with her, then shout horrific abuse at her when they fail to win her). I love how each heroine can see the injustices in the other's story so easily, but cannot see the injustices in her own. And the ending is obvious and inevitable and utterly appropriate. This is totally the story I wish I'd written.

At this stage, I'm having trouble deciding on whether to put Vaughan ahead of El-Mohtar (mostly because I love Vaughan too much, and feel like I love it for the wrong reasons) (but I still love it more because that's who I am), but Jemisin is definitely third, Wong is fourth, and Bolander is in fifth place. Woe is me, I shall have to read the Vaughan and the El-Mohtar stories again, just to be sure of who should go first...
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Fourth book in McGuire's InCryptid series. We're folloing the "Tanner girl" and the "Price boy" all the way to 'Straya, where there's a wee were problem. As in lycanthropy. Not a good thing, in an ecosystem as hostile, and fragile, as the Australian.

Um. I guess I culd say more, but that's pretty much all I would need to know to go "READ NOW!".
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

This is written in a somewhat comedic style. If it wasn't for the plot, I'd not hesitate for a second to call it a "comedic fantasy". But the actual plot is, well, somewhat serious.

We follow Gerald Dunwoody, Wizard Third Grade (from inference, any less brilliant and you're not a wizard) who, as the book starts, is an inspector for the Ottosland Department of Thaumaturgy, off to inspect missing safety inspection paperwork from Stuttley's, one of the finest manufacturers of specialist wands there is.

Well, things do perhaps not go as well as they could, one thing leads to anotherh, stuffs escalate and the nexxt thing you know, you're the Ryal Court Wizard in New Ottosland, in the middle of a desert. Remember I said "comedic fantasy" up there.

All in all, eminently readable.

Hugo reading: Graphic Stories Part 2

2017-May-18, Thursday 13:18
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
My lunchbreak reading today was Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda.  I do not recommend this as lunchbreak reading, as it is quite bloody.  I have a feeling that I've read some of Liu's short stories, but I'm struggling to remember them.  This is another very political fantasy, and it's humans versus arcana.  Arcana have wings or tails or superpowers and seem on the surface of things to be more potentially powerful than humans, but this doesn't seem to be the case.  And also, it seems that killing them, or consuming parts of them, allows humans to be healed of wounds, and even become semi-immortal.  You really don't have to get very far with this premise to end up in some fairly unpleasant places, and this book certainly does that.  Beyond this, there are multiple factions within both the Arcana and the humans, which again I found hard to follow, because I had trouble distinguishing between characters.  (I just do better if I have names to tag characters to rather than faces – graphic novels rely much less heavily on names because they assume you can tell everybody apart.  Ha.)

I'm a bit torn on where to rank this one.  The artwork was really, really lovely, my favourite of all the books so far, but this didn't help me recognise characters, alas.  Which made it very confusing - when you have lots of factions and have trouble telling which is which, that's a problem.  And it was way too dark for my taste – highlights include torture, lots of maiming and killing, people being eaten, and babies being threatened with horrible fates.  This is another story which I would have enjoyed more in novel format, I think, except that it is so VERY much not my cup of tea.  But at least in novel format, I would have had fewer visuals in my head.

So yes.  My instinct is to rank it higher than Black Panther, because of the artwork, even though Black Panther was just confusing, as opposed to confusing and distressing.  But I haven't decided yet.

My tram reading was Paper Girls, Volume 1, by Brian Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, coloured by Matthew Wilson and lettered by Jared Fletcher.  I liked this quite a bit.  It had a sort of 1980s feel to it, which was appealing, and centres around four teenage girls who are delivering newspapers when there is... an alien invasion.  Or maybe a time traveller invasion.  With multiple factions.  Hooray, more politics!  I found the characters mostly easy to tell apart (though two of the girls kept looking very alike to me), but I still spent a lot of this story feeling confused.  I'm beginning to think that perhaps I am rather stupid.  Then again, time-travel plots tend to require you to get to the end of the book before everything makes sense, and this is clearly just the start of the story. 

This is definitely at second place on my ballot so far, after Ms Marvel, but ahead of the other two.  Part of me would like to read more, because I did like the characters, and I always like a good time travel plot, but I'm not sure I'm willing to make the investment of time required.  I didn't love it, and the artwork did not excite me.  And the weird near death experience stuff didn't quite work for me.  I think there is also possibly some religious subtext going on (apple computers = apples + fruit of knowledge; heaven and hell in dreams; a bearded guy who looks like a cliché cartoon of God in an apple T shirt, who is in charge of judging people), but I'm not too sure where it is going, and feel a little wary...

Next up, I'm probably going to read some short stories, because they are more public transport friendly, and return to the graphic novels tomorrow evening. 

Vehicles? What vehicles?

2017-May-18, Thursday 00:15
rbarclay: (Default)
[personal profile] rbarclay
Last week, Tuesday, the bicycle stayed in the shop, for reasons of getting its steering fixed and a new rear deraillleur. Should've been ready by Friday. Well, on Saturday it still wasn't - delivery problems with the derailleur, should arrive Tuesday. Called today, still not ready. Customer pretty much pissed off.

Brought the car to the mech this Monday, for reasons of summer tires and small repairs (one windscreen-washer-outlet b0rken, mount for the emergency triangle b0rken). Got it back yesterday. Oh, hey, party @mech today. Cool. On the way there something in the front suspension (or with the axle mounts/cuffs) started to loudly creak, so we just left it there.

And the SOs motorbike needs a new battery (actually already in my backpack, just need to fill & charge it).

But sum of actually working vehicles in this household: zero.

(For Friday, I plan on at least waking the toys from winter slumber.)

Worldcon travel

2017-May-17, Wednesday 23:07
damerell: NetHack. (Default)
[personal profile] damerell
I've finally got around to looking at travel for the Worldcon. My hotel booking means I want to get the Viking Line overnight ferry from Stockholm 1630 Sun 06 Aug to arr Helsinki 1010 Mon 07 Aug, and depart Helsinki 1730 Mon 14 Aug to arr Stockholm 1000 Tue 15 Aug.

This will cost 201 Euros for a 2-berth cabin, so... anyone else on the same dates fancy splitting the cabin?

I probably plan to do the rail bit in one vast 24 hour splurge (there are some overnight trains, albeit not sleepers) but of course a ferry cabin-mate need not do the same train journey.
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
The Hugo voter pack arrived in my inbox today, and because I take my democratic duty very seriously, I'm planning to read as much of it as I can.  I'm comforting myself with the thought that it can't possibly be as puppy-infested as last year, but I'm also wondering if I am truly morally obliged to read what is almost certain to be a rapetastic and nasty-minded Chuck Tingle parody by an author who chooses to go by the name 'Stix Hiscock'.

I've already looked through and voted on the professional and fan-art, some of which was really lovely.  I especially liked Elizabeth Leggett and Likhain in the fanart category, and was quite taken with Galen Dara, Chris McGrath and Victo Ngai in the professional artist category.  Though, now I think about it, I think I actually preferred Leggett and Likhain to any of those three. 

The latter was an interesting category to judge - I found that I tend to judge cover art on a) whether it's pretty to look at (I'm really not a very visual person, and know nothing about art, so that's the best I can do), and b) whether it suggests a book I would like to read.  So the first three on my ballot all fell into the 'very pretty' category, and the last three, which did not appeal strongly to me, I really judged by how likely I would be to read those books.  Which meant that John Picacio came last, not because he is a poor artist - none of them were, as far as I am able to judge - but because his covers said '1950s pulp SF with hardly any female characters' to me.  Julie Dillon, who is, I suspect, objectively not necessarily a better artist had books that screamed 'fun, but not very well-thought-out fantasy or light SF with plenty of female characters, and I'd probably feel embarrassed to read this book, but I'd still love it', and Sana Takeda - who I felt didn't quite belong in this category, as she was the only one doing graphic novels rather than covers - came fifth on the grounds that her work said 'graphic novels, probably quite good ones, but I don't really like graphic novels'.

Which brings me to the graphic novels.  Let me start by saying that I really do not enjoy reading graphic novels - I tend to find it hard to pay attention to the graphics, and I feel like I'm not getting enough plot-per-page to carry them around as reading material.  (Yes, I'm a philistine, but I like my stories neat. So I'm not a great judge for this category, but that's not going to stop me voting in it!

I started with Black Panther Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze.  I am the wrong audience for all graphic novels, because of the aforementioned non-visual-appreciatingness, but also because I have terrible trouble telling the characters apart.   I just can't hold their faces in my head very well, and so I find the plot hard to follow.  This was even more the case here, because the plot appeared to be complicated and political, and something that I would probably have rather enjoyed if it had been the start of a novel, but as it was, I couldn't figure out which faction was which and who was allied to whom and why.  Also, I found the narrative style a little irritating - very rhetorical and portentuous, which only works for me if I am quite invested in a story. 

Rather a pity, because I've read and enjoyed a number of Ta-Nehisi Coates' essays, and I was hoping to enjoy this more. 

My second graphic novel was Ms Marvel Volume 5: Super Famous, by Willow Wilson and illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa.  I came to this one with high hopes, having heard a bit about Kamala around the place, and I was not disappointed.  It's heaps of fun, super cute, and the ending is adorable.  Nice plot about an evil development company using drones and evil magic potions to take over the town, but it's really all about the characters (who I can actually tell apart!  Hooray!).  Kamala has a whole network of family and friends who are clearly people with their own stories, and her story is as much (if not more) about her relationships with them and her difficulty juggling all her responsibilities as it is about her superpowers.  And there are some great one-liners.  I love the whole concept of a superhero with physics homework and boy problems, and I'm always up for witty dialogue, so this one is a win for me.

I may even have to overcome my aversion to graphic novels to read more of it.  Maybe.

Not OK

2017-May-16, Tuesday 11:54
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
I realised last night that the part of my prayers where I pray for friends and colleagues who are suffering from life-threatening or terminal illnesses is getting really long.

Long enough that I am afraid of forgetting someone on the list, actually.

I don't know what's going on this year, but I think it should stop now.

MrsMadProfessor has pancreatic cancer which has spread to her liver.  TheMadProfessor is not coping well.  I am torn between wanting to be supportive (I really liked MrsMadProfessor, though I haven't seen her for a couple of years) and being afraid of being sucked back into the nightmare of TheMadProfessor if I say anything that can possibly be interpreted as an offer of administrative help. 

(TheMadProfessor has been moved around a lot since I left, through four different Divisions where he has been covered by at least six different admin people.  Every time he moves to a new one, he tries ringing me for help because he doesn't quite trust the new person, and I have to chat to the admin in question to get him sorted out.  So the tar-baby factor is strong here.)

I don't know what to do with this.

I'm going to send MrsMadProfessor an email of course, and when I find out which hospital she's at, assuming she is in hospital, I'll send something appropriate. 

But seriously, this year can just stop it.
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

So I play videogames for the story, and Persona 5 is the best story I’ve seen in… well, maybe ever.  I used to say that Planescape: Torment was, hands-down, the strongest narrative in videogames – and after playing through ninety hours of Persona, which had almost no slow spots, I may have to replay Torment just to see which is best.

Yet I’m debating recommending Persona to my friend Mishell Baker.

Now, Mishell is obsessed with Dragon Age and Mass Effect – she’s played the games through multiple times so she can hear every line of dialogue.  And we’ve nerded out about videogames on Twitter before, having long conversations about ZOMG THIS CHARACTER and WHAT ABOUT THIS PLOT TWIST – and I want her to play Persona so I can hear her reaction.

And yet Persona’s a little face-punchy.

Which is to say that Persona is, unabashedly, the story of a straight guy.  Which I have zero problem with – I think every type of character deserves a storyline, including straight cis dudes.

But that straightness permeates the game; literally every female character but one is romanceable.  There are a sum total of three LGBT characters in the game, and two of them are joke characters who show up twice to sexually harass one of the straightest guys in the game.  The third is a bartender of fluid but undefined gender, who is presented as a sympathetic, competent character…

But none of the Confidants you interact with – i.e., the people who have storylines – are gay or bisexual, or do they even appear to be aware of the concept.  (One of the main characters clearly has something going on with their sexuality, but nobody mentions this or ever follows up on it.)  Everyone is paired off into M/F boxes, and are all expected to act likewise.

And the game is literally about how society chains you into misery by forcing expectations upon you.  Thematically, you’d almost expect a discussion of someone’s sexuality.  Yet the game itself is overwhelmingly straight to the point where, if aliens learned about humanity from this ninety-hour game, they would not even know that gayness existed.

Here’s the issue:

Persona 5 was so good in everything else it did that you could go for hours before being reminded that oh, yeah, this game has weird issues with LGBT erasure and mockery.  I’d be into it, into it, into it, and oh.  There we are again.

And Mishell writes magnificent books – seriously, try Borderline – that do deal with gay and bisexual characters because that reflects her life.  Like me, she can’t write a book without LGBT characters because LGBT people are her friends and why would she write a book that casually negates their existence?

How would she react to a game that, in a hundred hours filled with deep characters, has gay characters that occupy less than ten minutes of the game?

That’s a syndrome Ann Leckie once likened to going to a great restaurant with awesome food and occasionally the waiters punch LGBT people and women in the face.  The straight guys, who don’t get punched, are like, “What, don’t you care about the quality of food?” and can’t understand why people might want to eat at a restaurant where they’re not tensed for elbow blows.

And Persona 5 is punchy as hell.  It’s a quality storyline that requires some punch-dodging, if you’re gay, because there’s a difference between “A straight guy is the lead character in this story” (which is great) and “A straight viewpoint has nearly eradicated any concept of homosexuality in an otherwise-complex storyline that has beautiful things to say about love and being true to yourself and the costs of standing up to do the right thing” (which isn’t).

Persona 5’s story is beautiful, and glorious, and meticulously thought out.  But to Mishell, who does speak out on LBGT issues a lot?

I don’t know how much it would punch her in the gay rights.  I think it’d hit her a lot harder than it did me.  It might change the game from “A beautiful story” to “A weird alt-history where people like her friends don’t exist.”

And it wouldn’t have been that difficult to alter Persona 5.  One gay friend might have done it – hell, fandom’s pretty much decided he’s gay anyway, might as well have made a statement within the game.  One conversation about someone investigating their sexuality.  One acknowledgement that all male teenagers might have other urges than to go after the hot blonde with the killer body (or maybe that one female character also wants that hot blonde).

It would not have changed the central story one whit, and yet it would have avoided throwing punches.

Which is a shame.  Because that small omission is the difference between me thrusting Persona 5 out to everyone I know, going, “HERE PLAY THIS OH MY GOD” and “I really loved this, and I think with some qualifiers, you might too.”  It’s that difference between mindless, squeeing fanboying and a work I have to ponder whether I can recommend.

As it is, I think Mishell might very well like it regardless.  If she reads this article, she’s at least braced for it.  She might be able to boot up Persona 5 and go, “Okay, yeah, I know we’re not getting that, but I can compensate for the rest.”  Or she might decide not to play the game because, sometimes, getting that disappointed when the rest is that good is somehow worse.

And I think, again, that it wouldn’t have taken much to be inclusive.  I don’t think a talking to a few gay or bi characters in-depth would have ruined it for straight guys, or at least straight guys who aren’t ragingly homophobic.   I don’t think you would have had to change much of the dialogue, even.

But there it is: Persona 5 is a great game.  So much that I can froth out a thousand words on it.  I recommend it highly.  I think it’s brilliant.

I just wish I could say “It’s brilliant” instead of “It’s brilliant, but.”


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

These Gaming Days and Home Improvements

2017-May-15, Monday 22:25
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
It was a pretty gaming intensive weekend; on Saturday I needed to get over three thousand words written for RPG Review 34, a special issue on game design, which has now been released - there was about 1,000 words on Friday and Sunday as well, as well as the layout. Later on session ran a game of Eclipse Phase which has arced up with as the Sentinels confront the neo-fascist Ultimates on an L5 Neptune trojan. It followed from an evening with [ profile] funontheupfield at a local bar where we played Forbidden Island (cooperative game, easily adaptable for an environmental rather than fantasy theme) and Quizzle. Aproporiately, a new issue of the RPG Review Cooperative Newletter, Crux Australi has just been released.

We've just change our Internet Service Provider. After many years with Optus, there were a couple of events (technical primarily) that were making the relationship shaky, but the clincher was when they wouldn't support Firefox on Linux with the given reason being that only a few people use it this "old" operating system. Well, we've shifted to iiNET, and although there was a bit of a hiccup with the setup, they've done the right thing in terms of compensation etc. In other home life news finished our tax today for the last financial year, a weird timetabling that apparently is ATO approved. Their administrative procedures are a mystery to us mere mortals. Finally, just in case anyone thought I wasn't nerdy enough, I've been using this great Android app which effectively gives one a command-line interface for operating one's phone. Accessing applications with the autocomplete shortcuts and easy of file system navigation I find are its principal advantages.

Chocolate covered strawberries

2017-May-14, Sunday 14:21
azurelunatic: Chocolate dessert, captioned No Artificial Shortages  (no artificial shortages)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Eurovision was yesterday! That was certainly an experience...

In honor of that, my traditional contribution to the party: chocolate covered strawberries.

Read more... )
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread, sort of.

I've previously read mst of the shorts in this volume, but there were a few that I hadn't previously read. Not sure if I simply read an earlier edition, or have read then in other collections.

This is a bunch of shorts and one or two novellas set in Asher's Polity ('Grim meathook Culture'), so if thats not your thing, you're likely going to dislike these.

Goodbye LiveJournal

2017-May-13, Saturday 18:34
mnemonia: (squirrelywrath)
[personal profile] mnemonia
I started blogging to LiveJournal waaaaaay back in 2001, when it was open and encouraging its users and was open for all sorts of content. Like many people online at the time, using a free platform as an online diary was handy, it made me many new online friends (both local and international), and in a pre-Facebook world having an "LJ" was a good way to keep up with everyone. I even had a paid account for a while.

However, growing popularity revealed a few quibbles and platform issues, until eventually even the original LJ coders bailed out of it. I had grown disillusioned with the way LJ was run - when the platform was sold to a Russian media company in 2007 - and things had steadily gone downhill until I decided to migrate my journal away from them over to Dreamwidth in 2012. For those who still read my LiveJournal, I enabled cross-posting so no one really missed anything. Still, I understandably focussed more on Dreamwidth

Then LiveJournal changed their Terms of Service (ToS) user agreement last month, and that was the final straw.

Details within... )

So, with my refusal to agree to Russia's LJ's new Terms of Service, this means my LJ may be in danger of suddenly disappearing, possibly deleted on a whim by someone in another country who doesn't agree my point of view. And if it does, well, I'll make no more effort to protect it, as it's now safe elsewhere. It used to be I could post to Dreamwidth here and they could cross-post to my LJ on my behalf, but I can't even do that now: LJ requires my agreement to the new ToS to allow the cross-post. This is just a heads-up - to the small number of you who I assume might still reading my LJ - to bookmark my Dreamwidth journal here instead. It's not much of an effort to be honest: as I've gotten older, I'm blogging far less, and what I do blog about is now almost entirely about international travel.

Either way, 16 years later, I guess it's farewell to LiveJournal.
rosefox: An old woman knitting. (knitting)
[personal profile] rosefox
I have entirely fallen off of doing 30 in 30, which is a bummer, but "I can write a sentence a day" is not the same as "I can write a one-sentence story a day" and honestly I haven't been even wanting to write a sentence a day. I got new arm braces that let me knit without damaging my arms, and apparently knitting and writing take up the same space in my head, because since then I have had no interest in writing at all. The sweater's coming along great, though. I realized that I wasn't going to have enough yarn, and that entire brand has been discontinued, but some Ravelry stash-sleuthing turned up someone who had two skeins of it (after several responses of "Huh, I thought I had that but I can't find it now"), so I should be able to finish the sweater at least as a vest, and might even have enough for sleeves.

A friend came over for dinner tonight, so I tidied the living room and dining room before she got here, and did the dishes after. Now everyone's asleep and the house is tidy and the dryer is humming and it's so peaceful. We had really good conversation, full of belly laughs and deep feelings, and the late-night calm is the perfect counterpart to an exuberant evening.

Everyone's mostly asleep, anyway. Kit's working up to unassisted walking, and that tends to come with sleep disruption. They've been whimpering in their sleep a lot, and sometimes fully waking up. They don't generally need anyone to come in—they're a pro at self-soothing to sleep, and very good about doing it on their own if they can—but it's clearly not super restful sleep, and they've been pretty tired during the day.

All the adults in the house have also been sleeping badly. This morning I went to bed at 5, woke up at 8, and then went back to sleep and had a really horrifying nightmare about the end of the world. TW for solar apocalypse ) And then I woke up going ????????. Eventually I went back to sleep and had another dream about going around the city with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, and that dream also tried to turn into a nightmare (about it being our last hurrah before I died of heart disease that I'd allowed to go untreated) and I refused to let it. I don't often have conscious control of my dreams but for that one I explicitly would not let the scarybad storyline happen. So that wasn't terrible, at least, but it was not what one would call a restful night.

And J's had awful insomnia, and Kit's whimpering sets off the monitor and wakes X up. J and I have suggested giving up the monitor altogether, because if Kit actually yelled X would hear it through their bedrooms' shared wall, but X doesn't think it's time for that yet, so I think we're going back to me turning their monitor on when I go to bed, rather than them having it on all night. Anything that helps any of us sleep is a good thing.

I'm going to do the last of my chores and get to bed; I have Kit-time tomorrow afternoon while X and J have a date, and it'd be nice to get up early enough for some family time before that starts. Maybe if I go to bed a little earlier, I'll sleep better. Stranger things have happened.

"Actually, you can take it with you"

2017-May-12, Friday 03:31
rosefox: Origami boxes. (helpful)
[personal profile] rosefox
[personal profile] solarbird has put together a mobile solution for Dreamwidth that's now in beta. Go try it out!

Eurovision, here we come!

2017-May-12, Friday 15:18
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)
[personal profile] 17catherines
I've essentially done nothing at work for the last ten days other than organise the work Eurovision Party, hosted by my terrifyingly enthusiastic division of scientists.  The party itself was on Wednesday, since yesterday was the AGM and the Director proved strangely resistant to my suggestion that we should have a Eurovision-themed Annual General Meeting, and today is when the first semi-final is screened in Australia, so the true European tragics were never going to want to stay late at work this evening.

It was a *raging* success. 

Party time! )

And tonight is the first of the semi-finals (Australia screens the semi-finals at 7:30pm on the Friday and Saturday nights and the final on Sunday night, as well as showing them live at 5am on the actual days, making the weekend into a festival of Eurovision), and thus the first of my four Eurovision parties at home.  I anticipate that these will be much quieter, and also more fun for me personally, than the work one. 

Which is good, because I'm pooped.

In non-Eurovision news, I am so incredibly relieved and happy about the results of the French presidential election!  So nice to have an election where people did not vote for the fascist!  Vive la France!  I did like the New York Times article about France retaining the right to claim intellectual superiority over Americans.  Not just the Americans, I must say.  I do think that we on the left of politics are very bad about voting pragmatically - if someone doesn't inspire us, we seem to find it hard to hold our noses and vote to keep the terrifying fascists out.  I wonder if this is an inevitable risk of a political leaning that tends to attract the young and idealistic?  I mean, I'm lucky – living in Australia, I can vote for the tiny, idealistic party of my choice, and preferential voting means that I still get to put the fascists last, but I would hope that if my only choices were John Howard and Pauline Hanson or not voting at all, I'd show up and vote for John Howard.  Even though I feel dirty just saying that.

I've written another story!  And I really like this one, so you should read it!  It's called The Lion, the Witch and the Railway, and it's riffing on Beauty and the Beast, and is rather sweet, I think.  And it has a lion at the Gare de Lyon, so really, what's not to like?  It was an interesting one to write, because I knew how the plot had to resolve, but had no idea for quite a while how I was going to get there, and then I realised I'd set up an interesting possibility with a little detail in the very first part of the story, and it all came together.  Also, I got to make a terrible joke about 1066 And All That, which is really entirely unnecessary to the story, but I couldn't resist it.

I've also had another of my RITA reviews published on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  It's not my best work – I was trying to review the story without creating spoilers, and it seems that all I did was confuse everyone.  I didn't like the book much, either – I felt as though it was trying to do three separate things and thus not committing very well to any of them.  One review left, and it's written and just waiting to be published, and that one is of a book I didn't expect to like but actually enjoyed enormously, so that will be fun.

And that's about it.  I need to go make cake pops now, so happy Eurovision, everyone, and may the act with the most naked backing dancers win!

(Or, alternatively, Australia, but I don't think Isaiah is a patch on Dami Im...)

vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

Hugo reading continues. This is the second book in a series (something it shares with A Close and Common Orbit). Like the first, it juggles wit the perspective of the narrative, mostly being in second person. I quite liked it, having had a few of Stross' books to get me vaguely used to that style of narrative. Not sure how well this book would work as an entry volume to the series, but, hey, enough people seem to have nominated it to get it on the list.

Still not entirely what I can say without, you know, giving too much away. But, all in all, I found it a good read and I am curious about the world.

You Can’t Talk About It. Not Really.

2017-May-11, Thursday 12:08
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

I’m at the peak of my Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I’m mired in suicidal depression. Texts from people I love are going unanswered, my work output is pathetic, and I’m damaging the relationships I have.

I wish I had the skill to express what it’s like to you, living through this time of year. But then again I don’t.

See, if I was better, I could write a flourishing emotional essay describing What It’s Like To Be Mentally Ill, with the same detail that sometimes I describe What It’s Like To Be In Love, and give people a taste of what it’s like to realize that your brain sometimes just gives out on you like a bum knee. If I was healthier, I could write it up in a way that you got it.

And it’d probably get me hospitalized.

I get bitter. I do. Because whenever someone says, “You can talk to me,” I know that’s not true. That’s what my illness takes away from me. Thirty years of talking has taught me that I can’t be honest with anyone, sometimes not even my own therapists. Because if I reveal the suicidal ideation I’ve dealt with for decades, that can land me in a stint in the hospital, which could cost me my job, which would, not surprisingly, not make me better mental healthwise.

People say “You can talk to me.” Yet the profound truth about chemical depression is that it’s boring, and talking doesn’t necessarily cure it. Sometimes talking accentuates all the worst parts of your life, revealing this sagging weakness in your foundations makes you seem more pathetic with every word, and you come out of it feeling worse.

And that’s bad, because when people say “You can talk to me,” what they often mean is “I want to be your hero.” They don’t mean to, but they’re often looking for that shot of pride at having Helped A Sad Person Overcome Their Trauma, to be the star of their own movie, and when they talk to you for two hours and you’re actually worse off then they quietly think you’re no fun to be around and they start quietly distancing themselves.

The number of people who can sit in a dark hole with you and simply hold your hand are rare. Most people want to see you improve in real time, or they’re going to step away.

You may say you’re the exception. Most people say they’re the exception. But there are terminally ill people in hospitals who are terribly lonely because people tell themselves they’re the exception but quietly find excuses not to be with a dying person who needs them but isn’t going to get better.

There’s a lot of exceptions to those exceptions.

And if you do find someone who can sit in a dark hole with you, your thoughts are corrosive and insulting. Because you question everything they do. Your self-loathing is secretly attacking their reasons for being here, every time you tell them how worthless you feel you’re also informing them that really, they either are stupid for showing up or deluded or both, and enduring that subtle abuse is its own skill, and a debatable one.

And then, as noted, uncorking someone’s depression can be fucking terrifying if they’ve seen you as a mostly functional human being. Talking is walking them backstage, saying, “I know you thought this was a beautiful show, but the truth is this furniture is fake and this wall collapses if you push hard and the makeup looks cheap close up.”

They rarely say, “Oh, wow, you did a good job with what you had.”

They just see the gaps, and decide this show has to be fixed. Because if you tell someone, “Yeah, I’ve considered killing myself two or three times a week my entire life,” and explain that there are days you don’t drive because of your concern that you’ll yank the wheel to one side and destroy yourself, their reaction is not to go “That’s how life is for this person, they’ve fought this for decades” but rather “JESUS THAT WOULD TERRIFY ME LET’S CHANGE THIS PERSON NOW” and again, if you tell the wrong person about these continual sadnesses, you wind up being flagged a danger to yourself and hauled away.

There are a few people I do talk to about things, when I get really depressed. But I don’t talk to them about it often. Because I know that sharing this unending wail of torment I’m in will corrode friendships, and I need friendships, and the issue with being as mentally ill as I am is that the survival technique is to conceal portions of myself to protect the people I love from my madness.

Because I don’t want my mental illness. And I don’t want to inflict it upon others unless I have to.

So I conserve discussing my depression until I really need to, because otherwise I won’t have anyone to discuss it with. And whenever I say that, people are like, “Oh, if you had real friends…” and my response is, “Maybe you have a nice, happy disorder that you can open up to your friends about, and that’s a lovely fucking place for you to live, but don’t you dare dismiss my friendships because your disorder is people-friendly.”

Mine isn’t. Mine is toxic. And even talking about my mental illness this much – this is the light version, people – inspires people to come out of the woodwork and tell me that I need to cheer up, that I don’t understand how friendship works, I just need to find the right people and all will be well.

And what I’m asking you to examine is your need for the Hollywood friendship – the one where you have a chat with your buddies and they get better and you get to be the hero.

Maybe that’s a disorder of its own.

Maybe that’s not helping.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

People kept asking me what classes I taught, so I made a list and put it on my website.  If you want me to come to your town and run some sort of poly workshop, that list summarizes what I got for ya.  (And if I have the class notes public, they’re listed there too.)

I should note that I have a vague recollection of someone from Fet emailing me to ask if I would teach for them, but I cannot find it in my mail.  It may have been spam-trapped.  If you haven’t heard from me lately, please ask again.

If you don’t want me to teach a workshop in your town, then keep on doing what you’re doing. Chances are good I won’t show up spontaneously to teach in your living room.  But I can’t promise anything.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

(no subject)

2017-May-10, Wednesday 09:09
[personal profile] rbradakis
May of 2009, I wrote: "I am not yet an active Dreamwidth poster. I am considering such a thing. "

Apparently, my consideration took 8 years? I'm still mulling it over. What do you think, is it worth doing?

I've just pulled all my LJ data and deleted it.. Wait, I need to do the delete step, hold on...

...yeah, there we go, deleted.
tcpip: (Default)
[personal profile] tcpip
One can tell when I've been too busy; my personal DW/LJ 'blog becomes neglected. In the past eleven days since my last entry a lot of my time has been spent in public engagements in philosophy and politics. Last night there was a well-attended meeting of the Melbourne Atheist Society where I spoke on Atheism, Islam, and Secularism, which was well-received and generated some excellent discussion. It followed from convening a meeting of The Philosophy Forum on Sunday where Graeme Lindenmayer from Agnostic Perspectives presented on The Concept of Beauty, in his particular style - accessible and detailed.

Another publication of the past few days was a contribution to the ALP Platform Committee which contains some pretty serious suggestions on taxation, employment, education, drug reform, and transport issues, and followed on from an article several days prior on land tax and proportional representation. Monday morning (Australian time) of course was the results of the French election and University House hosted a special early brunch with speakers. I raised the question of the future of the Parti socialiste which was followed the following day by a radio interview in Sydney on John August's program, Radio Skidrow on the west European electoral landscape; a follow-up post is planned.

There has been, of course, Linux and work-related events as well. Last Tuesday Dr. Paul Bone gave a presentation to Linux Users of Victoria on the Plasma programming language which combines imperative and functional programming with automatic parallelisation. It's a work in development and I've set up a project on Spartan for further development. We sponsored an HPC support lunch on Monday and a major item that has come out of that is the need for a massive biotechnology database that is somewhat closer to home than the NCBI or the DDBJ. These datasets are seriously big and file transfers alone are a serious issue for Australian researchers.

In addition to this I have expanded my Duolingo work by starting courses "upside down" - having completed Esperanto, Spanish, French, and German, I am now undertaking English as an (alleged) speaker of French, German, and Spanish (alas, there is no Esperanto section). There has been of course, a few gaming sessions over the past couple of weeks with Papers & Paychecks planned for tonight, GURPS Middle Earth last Sunday, Eclipse Phase last Friday and the Sunday prior, and a new game of Elric! last Wednesday. One item also of note was dinner at a great Spanish restaurant last week with nephew Luke and his flatmate Nick (they live above the restaurant): a great night, I got to practise my appalling Spanish with the staff, and fantastic food: the Arcadia is thoroughly recommended.

Please welcome

2017-May-10, Wednesday 09:08
leecetheartist: A lime green dragon head, with twin horns, and red trim. Very gentle looking, with a couple spirals of smoke from nose. (Default)
[personal profile] leecetheartist
[personal profile] suenicorn  has wandered into Dreamwidth ( Sue_Bursztynski on LJ ) is looking for her old contacts and new friends.  Her novel Wolfborn is a great read!
rbarclay: (stinkefinger)
[personal profile] rbarclay
Going home yesterday, both brakes started to rub against the rim. Adjusted the spacing to the rim, and went on. Including lots of swearing, as it was raining, and my tools were at the bottom of the pannier.
Couple hundred meters on, something near the pedals started to grind at every pedal turnover, but only when I was actually sitting on the bike, pedalling, so I couldn't figure out what was going on. Went on home, since that was just about 2km away. Screech, screech, screech.

Wanted to drop by the new bicycle shop near home today - screech, screech, screech - but they weren't yet open, and I needed to get to 'ork. Ah well, it's only another ~10km to the other shop, so I went there - screech, screech, screech. Turned that the culprit was the plastic chain guard, which was slightly bent, only getting in the way when enough weight (read: me) was pushing down on the frame/pedals.

Going back home after 'ork, another screech-y noise started, just above hearing level when no other traffic was near. Also the bike felt as if I was braking lightly. Spacing between rim and brake pads was ok, though, and the rims ran straight when turned by hand. No idea, so went by the bike shop near home. Conclusion: the sound came from the steerings ball bearing, and the brake-y feeling from the chain running over the overdue-for-replacement rear derailleur.
And the reason for the problem with the steerings ball bearing? There was a component simply bloody missing, not in there, so whilst the steering itself still worked, it could've locked up at any time. The bearing consists of two rings, and only one was in there. Essentially, the balls were rolling over something called a compression ring - and this is a component that has a gap, in wich a ball could've been caught. (You can see what I mean here - the inner ring that goes onto the ball bearing itself was missing. Sorry - while I like to think that my English skills are decent, they don't include that kind of bicycle-tech-related vocabulary.)

And I'll get a new rear derailleur. Should get the bike back on Friday afternoon.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

More Hugo reading, this time an actual finalist novel, rather than the prequel (sorry, didn't realise it wasa sequel until I opened it on my e-reader and at that point I was in a field in Wales).

We follow Pepper and Sidra, through "now" and "starting from 20 years ago" (the latter essentially being backstory for the "now" narrative). There are plenty of other people, but they're not really the POV characters.

I can't say much else without spoiling it, but all in all, I thought it was interesting, easy to read and (mostly) enjoyed the plot. If there's a theme, I guess it would be "what is personhood", which is an interesting subject anyway.
rosefox: A cartoon figure slipping toward a gaping hole in the paper. (slipping)
[personal profile] rosefox
Long Hidden's last day in print is TODAY. *sob* If you want to make my final royalty check a nice big one and benefit We Need Diverse Books while you're at it, buy your copy now. (The bundle with Hidden Youth is an especially sweet deal!)

A couple of months ago, I joined the [community profile] space_swap fic exchange and wrote a 7500-word story about Steven Universe and the Gems going to the Empire City Polyamorous Families Conference, because once I got bitten by the idea it would not leave me alone. The story is about figuring out how to be happy even when you feel weird and different and alone. It's also a wry love letter to all the polyamorous folks and communities I've known, with their joys and flaws, and has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it alt.poly shout-out. The tags include "fusions use they/them pronouns" and "I didn't mean to write an entire episode". (In fact, I was actively trying not to write an entire episode. But I couldn't really do the idea justice in a shorter space.) It's the first work where I've ever gotten past writer's block by outlining and I am extremely proud of how well I outlined it and stuck to my outline and pulled it together.

The only snag is that my gift recipient, for whatever private reason, declined the gift. I've been really sad all week that no one was enjoying the story and I couldn't promote it because author names hadn't been revealed yet. My only goal with fanfic is to make people happy and it stung to have that rejected. So now that the anonymity period is over, I would really appreciate any of you Steven Universe fans taking a little time to read the story, leave kudos or a comment if you're moved to do so, and share the link with anyone who might like it.

I grew a plant from a seed. It is a tiny adorable little plantling, visibly larger every day. It will, in theory, grow up to be a great big nasturtium bush. I'm just astonished that a little dry seed can turn into a little plant that can turn into a big plant. It's the same astonishment I feel when I watch my child practice standing up and remember that they used to be a little white dot on an ultrasound. Like... how?! But that is how life works, somehow, some amazing way.

Our repotted basil is also growing so well that I may need to set up some sort of trellis for it. I used to feel too protective of it to actually eat any of it, and now I'm eagerly pulling off the big leaves so that the smaller ones have more room to grow.

It has been a rough few weeks of mostly bad sleep and occasional panic attacks and arm pain and not going outside enough—not just because of the unseasonably cold wet weather, though chilly rain does not encourage me to take walks—but there are many good things. I just want fewer unpleasant things, is all.

EDIT: Apparently my gift recipient has sent some people over here (or they came over just because they felt like it) to explain how and why my gift was not the correct gift, and some of them have left useful comments and some have not. I appreciate the useful ones and am now disabling comments on this entry.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

This book in Cogman's Invisible ibrary (#4 being released in Dec 2017, incidentally). Takes place a few months (maybe as much as a year) after the previous volume (The Burning Mask), with, ahem, some administrative adjustments.

Things are not as rosy as they once were, the Fae are making trouble and there's rumbles about Alberich. All in all, it spells trouble.

It's one I quite enjoyed, although I think I enjoyed it more on a second read than I did the first, which is a bit unexpected. Probably not ideal as "first book to read in series", but one never knows.


2017-May-08, Monday 17:17
commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)
[personal profile] commodorified
So, this area is experiencing severe flooding, I mean holy crap lookit it which means that I am experiencing severe allergies and have in fact been having an asthma attack for, um, at least a week? It got bad enough to be undeniable last week.

As far as I can tell, most of this continent is having an especially severe allergy-asthma spring. I feel fairly awful about having been stuck in bed when people are losing their homes, but there it is. I can't walk up a medium hill or take a shower or do an hour's housework without being breathless and miserable for hours, so that's where it's at.

(Note: I do not want advice, please. Unless you are A) an allergist, B) who accepts OHIP and are C) taking new patients, in which case speak up, I'm in the market, my current Dr takes forever to get an appointment with — Son? Just Don't.)

So WisCon is now an "expect me when you see me" deal. I am not very happy about this, but I'm going to have to make a call based on the forecast and my health the day before the car leaves for Madison. I really do not want to repeat the time I turned blue and had to make an emergency run for home at great upheaval and expense.

The rest of the family expects to be in attendance.

ETA On the upside, I thought I was in Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Physical Condition, but it turns out that when I can supply them with a reliable flow of oxygen, my muscles are fine.


2017-May-08, Monday 13:23
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Dupuytren's specialist in NJ says yes, see him, but also schedule with the radiation oncologist ASAP and they'll coordinate. And, good news, I had overlooked the clinic in northern Virginia that has a radiation oncologist who specializes in Dupuytren's! It's even in-network for my insurance. (Not like that would stop me: for the privilege of money and not having to worry about whether I can afford the best treatment possible, dear Lord, I am daily thankful. Now make it so everyone else can say the same, amen.) Dr P in NJ said he knows Dr B in VA very well, and they're used to coordinating, so I called Dr B's office and am scheduled for a consult with him on 19 May to go with my new-patient intake with Dr P on 30 May.

Having now done everything I can do for at least the next 11 days, I shall now proceed to ignore the fuck out of it until then.

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