silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
I welcome all of the following types of comments on ANY of my entries:
  • Single or two word comments, e.g. , woo!, yay, yes, no, please, thanks, absolutely, agreed, seconded, so much, no way, etc.
  • "+1" or Facebook style "like".
  • Otherwise brief comments, e.g. single sentences.
  • A comment that is a punctuation mark(s) to let me know you read, e.g. a period, an asterisk.
  • A comment that is a punctuation mark(s) to express your response, e.g. an exclamation mark or question mark.
  • A comment that is an emoticon(s) to express your response, e.g. \o/, <3, :), :(, :-D, :-P, etc.
  • Long, wordy comments. Rambling is totally okay.
  • Comments and links on related topics.
  • Comments on single links, entities, paragraphs, topics, or words in the entry. I throw out a lot of things each entry, and I don't expect anyone to have to come up with a coherent comment on each and every one of them to comment.
  • Sequential commentary. It's totally okay to comment about one thing as you read it, then another thing in a separate comment, then a third thing after you've chewed on it for a while and feel ready to talk about it.
  • Incoherent comments. It’s all good. I would rather have you here and showing interest,, even if it's just a *flail*, than for you to stay silent because you are afraid or unable to get the perfect comment out.
  • Talking amongst yourselves in the comments is fine. I like creating a place where people get to interact!

I also welcome:

  • Comments on older entries, access-locked or public.
  • Comments on VERY OLD entries, access-locked or public. I have many years of archives.
  • Comments from people who are not subscribed to me.
  • Comments from people who I’ve never met.
  • Comments from people who haven’t talked to me in awhile.
  • Comments from people who’ve never talked to me.
  • I like knowing the provenance of new commenters. If you're new, I'd love to know where you came from and what brought you here.


My great anxiety is that there's nobody out there and I'm shouting into the wind. If you’re feeling like you want to comment with something, feel free to comment with what feels good and comfortable to you, whether that’s leaving a !!! or an essay. If you don't have the spoons for any comment, that's okay, too. No pressure, no obligations.

How I reply to comments:
  • I mostly try to reply to comments.
  • I normally try to reply to comments as soon after they arrive as I can.
  • My comments will probably try to elicit more discussion and longer-form commentary. Part of it is my professional training, part of it is because I like discussions.
  • You are never obligated to reply to a reply, nor to write longer-form than you wish.
  • If you would like a response to a comment, I encourage you to let me know. “I would appreciate a response to this if possible,” etc. is totally fine with me.
  • Absentminded. If I have forgotten to reply to something you want a reply to, a poke is totally okay.


Linking to my entries:
  • If it’s public, it’s fair game.
  • It’s access-locked, ask me.
  • Please do not archive my work without asking me first.
  • If you do link to me elsewhere, it warms my heart if you tell me where you linked, but it's not a requirement.
  • If something I linked or wrote inspired you, it warms my heart if you link me to it. Also not a requirement.


Transformative works:

As of the time of writing this (02013-09-09), the content of my blog is licensed CC-BY-SA (3.0 Unported), which says that if you use my work for something, your work should attribute me (the user name and a link back to my blog is usually sufficient) and your work should also be licensed under a license similar to the Attribution-Sharealike license. The stuff I link to is not governed under this license and may have additional requirements for you to use.

Adding and access:

If you want to add me, go ahead! Please feel encouraged to do so.

I like new subscribers. I also respect access-locks - if something you created is That Awesome, I'll ask for permission before excerpting or posting elsewhere.

I may not add you back - I tend to evaluate based on what's available on your entries page. If you're mostly access only, it may take some comments or a conversation in a third space before I have an idea of whether I want to subscribe. If your journal is a repository for your fiction efforts, I may not add you back, because I do not have near enough time to properly read anyone's fiction as a part of my daily list crawl. I would probably enjoy it, if I had the time.

I don't give access, generally. For one, nearly everything posted is public, so you're not missing out on anything by not having that access. If I do post something under access-lock, it is probably something intensely personal, and so I'd be hand-selecting who I want to see it.

(This idea stolen and modified from [personal profile] trascendenza, who first broached it in their own journal when talking about commenting culture and their own anxieties.)
silveradept: Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown lays on Snoopy's doghouse, sighing. (Charlie Brown Sighs)
So. This is a bit awkward to write, not just because there's a whole cultural Thing involved here, but because, y'know, we try so hard to put up a front of invincibility, or at least competence, that it's difficult to say that you've basically Failed.

I've bought into the myth of the American Dream, where it should be possible for any person to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle with a family (or at least a significant other and yourself) on a single income, especially one of a government functionary with a reasonably good college degree. Perhaps in another economy, this might be possible.

I knew that this was basically impossible for someone at a minimum wage job, even providing for themselves. For a while, living by myself, it seemed like I could pull it off - at least for living by myself. Then, well, relationships, and pets, and unexpected expenses, and let's just say that the budget is not looking healthy. And continues to not look healthy.

This is not, unfortunately, the kind of thing where I can say "I just need a little money to take care of those unexpected expenses and all will be well." I would rather not be a charitable burden on someone for an indefinite amount of time, until my salary catches up or the budget gap gets filled with work from my significant other. So, to try and fill the budgetary gap, at least until my S.O. can find steady work, I present the following offer:

I Want Work.

I have various and sundry skills - I can write, read, edit, create ePUBs, make simple static web pages, research, simply edit audio, images, and video, and and other things. I have various oracles that may be helpful to you. Programming, unfortunately, is beyond my ken. I'm pretty good at looking at something and being able to adaptit with some examples and a lot of thinking, but creating stuff out of whole cloth? Not my thing right now.

There are a few caveats:
  1. Obviously, whatever Work you have to offer will have to be something done electronically (or that you're willing to pay for the postage cost to and back for). I cannot travel, nor do I expect you to be willing to travel for the Work
  2. This must be Work that you are willing to pay for. I can't take much in trade (unless it's a Really Cool Trade) because the bills still have to be paid.


Prices are to be negotiated based on the Work you would like me to do. Payment method will have to be negotiated, as I do not have PayPal or other electronic methods. You can leave a comment or use the private messaging system to contact me. Any comment threads will be screened upon request.

So, yeah, I need work. And lots of it.

Please pass the message along to your contacts and others who might have some money to spare and Work they are willing to pay someone to do. I know, in this economy, that this is unlikely, but it never hurts to ask.

Please link to this post so that I can be sure that everything is in one place.
silveradept: A plush doll version of C'thulhu, the Sleeper, in H.P. Lovecraft stories. (C'thulhu)
"Nobody can ride your back if your back's not bent" - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent" - Eleanor Roosevelt

Bullpucky. Horseshit. Elephant dung. Buffalo chips. Coprolite.

No detriment to the quoted, but those kinds of phrases get used with the not-very-helpful idea that attitude is the sole determinant as to whether anything that happens to you is good or bad. If you are perpetually perky and optimistic, then nothing affects you and you do well. Don't lose hope, and everything will be okay.

History offers us many an example of sequences where people are made to feel inferior or to have someone riding their back. They usually involve physical violence, or any situation where there's a micromanager who insists that the work must be done their way and no other. The power of positive thinking isn't going to do a whole lot to fix either situation, or at least won't do as much as taking action to try and remedy the situation will, regardless of the attitude once takes to the situation.

Not to mention, that kind of insistence that attitude is important is wielded by the privileged to explain that the underprivileged aren't deserving enough for them to help them. There are probably enough resources sitting idle in the possession of Willard "Mitt" Romney or Barack Obama that if one of them really decided they were going to exercise Christian charity as described in the Foundational Writings, they would be able to affect millions of lives for the better without sending their personal fortunes all that much.

Christianity has anticipated this, though - if we just waited for the rich to improve our lives, or subscribed to the idea that rich people getting richer makes all of our lives better, well, we'd be waiting a very long time. (And The Being Represented By The Tetragrammaton would be justifiably pissed off at us for not following the commandments. Which he may yet be.) So Christianity tells stories of regular people doing charitable things, like a member of the untouchable caste helping a traveler when the higher castes do nothing. A member of the poor donating when doing so hurts them is ascribed more virtue than the rich donating from their excesses. The earthly avatar of The Being Represented By The Tetragrammaton is regularly seen eating, drinking, sermonizing, healing, and blessing the people of the lower and untouchable castes. It's a motivation for those who barely have enough to take care of each other, because they're likely the only ones that will. Republican Jesus absolves the rich of their responsibilities to advance the welfare of their fellows (those responsibilities laid out by numerous prophets and The Being Represented By The Tetragrammaton Himself), by telling its adherents that speaking the magic formula at the appropriate time and having belief is sufficient to be rewarded in the afterlife.

However, heavenly rewards do not mitigate nor lessen earthly burdens. And our earthly institutions are also doing a damn fine job of making people feel inferior or riding their back, regardless of attitude, in the way they conduct their practices. Republicans and conservatives often talk about "dependency", the idea that if the government offers services or assistance to citizens, those citizens will come to depend on the government for those services and will actively work against improving their situation if it means the loss of benefits. That situation, which does exist, by the way - it's the gap between the Federal Poverty Level and the amount of money needed to be self-sufficient (last I checked, it was about 3x to 4x FPL) - could be remedied fairly easily by offering the service to everyone. Health care, income assistance, all of it, and then charge appropriately to fund so that those who have excess can contribute from that and those who need receive the help they require. (For those worried about such programs acting political benefit to their opponents: it only does so if they do it first. For those with more ideological objections, read on...)

Some of the objections to "dependence", though, stem from the idea that someone should be able to make it on their own with their minimum wage job(s), even though said life will not be any sort of glamorous or easy. There's also a sometimes-unstated assumption that everyone has a robust social network (more often than not, this assumed social network is a Christian church congregation of one's particular denomination) that will step in and help someone on hard times. Again, those who barely have enough are expected to take care of those who do not. Heaven forefend that government require people to take care of each other through taxation and redistribution. To those people, a small quote will hopefully suffice:
You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove. (Exodus 23:10-11)
Or perhaps this:
At the end of every seven years, you shall celebrate the remission year. The idea of the remission year is that every creditor shall remit any debt owed by his neighbor and brother when God's remission year comes around. You may collect from the alien, but if you have any claim against your brother for a debt, you must relinquish it...." (Deuteronomy 15:1-6)


Of course, that last quote does give an out, assuming that the person who collects on debts considers the person with the debt to be foreign to their nation/tribe. Which...happens a lot, actually, and leads into the other main reason conservatives object to government assistance programs - they believe that people using those programs are scammers, frauds, and persons gaming a system rather than honest people with difficulty because of their life situation. Welfare queens with Cadillac cars, in the Reagan era, promiscuous women having irresponsible sex in the Limbaugh era, and so forth. (We suspect that if someone were looking for frauds, they'd do better examining how corporations legally use the tax code to ensure they pay zero or less net taxes.) If poor people, minorities, and women using government assistance are always suspect, then the proper response is to "encourage" them to leave the government programs, using methods like forcing welfare recipients to take invasive drug tests (because, despite studies that show welfare recipients aren't spending their limited resources on drugs they can't afford and are the least likely of any population group to be using drugs, "everyone knows" drug users love welfare because it's free money for drugs), requiring family planning and health clinics to have admitting privileges to a local hospital (because despite a rock-solid record of very few fatalities when done under medical supervision, and more likely trauma coming from protests and harassment outside a clinic than inside, "everyone knows" that abortion is a highly dangerous procedure that could cause permanent damage to a woman physically and mentally scar her forever), or by refusing to participate in expansions of health coverage and the setting up of competitive markets for persons to buy suitable health care plans on (because despite their professed and unwavering fealty to The Market (All Praise To Its Name) and desire for everyone to participate in the insurance market, a solution that potentially works would give political capital to the opposition, which cannot happen, even if it might prevent the closing of facilities going bankrupt from providing uncompensated emergency care). All in the name of...Republican Jesus, perhaps. Or to ensure that only the "worthy" are granted respite from their toils.

Sure, you could argue that all of this can and should be borne cheerfully, giving one's suffering as a sacrifice to the deity of choice, but see above about privileged people being monsters to the underprivileged. And there's really only so much weight that you can pile on someone's shoulders, so much abuse and harassment they can take before someone cries out for relief, whether it's the person being attacked or the onlooker whose conscience has finally been moved by the display in front of them that they shout "No more!"

Or they collapse under its weight and it crushes them, sometimes slowly, sometimes not.

After all, at some point, something's gotta give.
silveradept: An 8-bit explosion, using the word BOMB in a red-orange gradient on a white background. (Bomb!)
We begin with the arrival of the Century of the Fruitbat to England and Wales, with midnight weddings of gay and lesbian couples. Scotland will join later in the year, and Northern Ireland refuses to come along.

The migratory patterns of Homo sapiens over a five-year period.

Russia is in violation of an agreement made with Ukraine. And possibly also committing war crimes, if the un-insigniaed uniformed personnel that attacked and evicted Ukraine military personnel from their bases are in any way connected to the Russian government. Russia also claims Crimea is legitimately annexed to Russia, which resulted in new sanctions against Russian individuals and organizations. The sanctions are causing problems to the Russian economy, but United States conservatives want a shooting solution to the problem.

At taxpayer expense, an internal investigation commissioned by New Jersey governor Chris Christie produced a hagiographic account of the bridge-closing scandal, absolving the governor of any responsibility or knowledge of the event. The "report" also contains a significant amount of "bitches be crazy, amirite?" with regard to the why of the bridge scandal and tapdances around evidence that strongly suggests the governor knew, even if he wasn't directly involved, about the Lianne closures. All while not actually talking to several of the people directly involved in said lane closures. Gotta love politics.

The United States National Security Agency conducted intense surveillance and hacking operations against Chinese networking company Huawei, including the theft of source code, according to Snowden documents. The U.S. is naturally doing the things they claim China is doing to U.S. corporations. And they're probably both right. If software starts to be the main method that defines and controls networking, the NSA could find itself with additional headaches in their hacking attempts.

Zero-intelligence school policies disproportionately affect minority students even as young as preschool, setting up minority kids for bad results in school and prison out of school. More thought and nuance is necessary for things to work.

For example, women in Afghanistan are not all clad in burquas and completely controlled by men. And it is worth thinking about whether to move away from titles that indicate marital status to a more universal system of address. Even better, think about whether gender signifiers are required in titling at all.

Then again, sometimes thought is exercised... with malice, and you get school administrators who bully a student into deleting evidence of bullying from other students by threatening him with a wiretapping charge, and then the officers that arrest the student and the judge that convicted the student on disorderly conduct. The bullies have yet to be punished for their actions. At all.

Or you end up with the worst interview question, ever.

A federal judge temporarily overturned Michigan's constitutional ban on marriage equality, after which the state sought and obtained a stay of the decision. There is a great temptation to title this idea, "Suck it, Michigan!", but there are many obvious reasons not to. While the cases are appealed, Michigan refuses to recognize the married couples as entitled to the benefits of marriage. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Federal government of the United States will recognize and accord all Federal benefits of marriage to the couples in Michigan.

Republicans in the Senate believe that federal agencies should not be allowed to ask whether research presented to them regarding regulation has financial conflicts of interest. Because we know that industry-sponsored research is just as good as independent research, or so we are supposed to believe. It's not like everyone trusts Consumer Reports more than advertisements on TV or anything.

Consider this: Conservatism, as it has become these days, is composed almost solely of persons who have no intention of adapting to the current reality, and then have the stones to claim that the current reality is persecuting them, under whatever house of liberalism they find convenient. Conservatives often pride themselves on not having moved on from The Time That Never Was, but they do so only to their detriment, as they often appear not only clueless, but to be defending things that have long since been proven harmful to the country and possibly to themselves, once their armor of disbelief has been chipped away sufficiently.

The Eighth Circle of Dantean Hell welcomes Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, at 84 years of age. Phelps was a galvanizing force for many, and probably helped advance marriage equality and gay rights exponentially by being a focal point for opposition.

The FBI will be batting 151/151 in shootings, with the likelihood that the agents involved in the shooting of a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing and possible suspect in a triple homicide will be cleared of wrongdoing. This comes on the heels of the knowledge that the person accused of the Boston Marathon bombings should have been detained at the airport, but that the name on the notice and on the ID were one letter different.

The payment processor for the online renewal component of the California Department of Motor Vehicles was breached and numbers and confirmation codes stolen. This is the fear or our digital age - only one weak link in the chain could cause the compromise of all the important data in the stream. Additionally, the breach of data on the Sallys Beauty Supply website was much greater than previously thought - all locations may have been affected. Which makes you want to throw your hands up in exasperation and declare that the thieves can have your credit and you'll just continually be on the phone with your card issuers to get new numbers so they can be taken, too. Furthermore, the auditing firms supposedly checking for compliance have not been doing all that great at finding vulnerabilities. So, all suspicious charges, including small ones, should be reported immediately, since some scams basically prey on people not caring about small amounts to make big amounts of money. And accept no bullshit spin from any company that sold data to someone who was using it to help others commit identity theft and fraud.

The ACLU offers a completely indexed and searchable archive of the documents they have obtained through Edward Snowden. Hopefully, this means lots of new stories about the NSA's overreach.

A five year-old child discovered a security vulnerability in Microsoft&apos:s XBox Live service which allowed him to access his father&apos:s account without the correct password. The flaw has been patched and it's discoverer officially credited and rewarded. And yes, now we can joke that XBox Live failed the five year-old test.

a vulnerability in OpenSSL allowed for the reading of memory from a server's dynamic memory, which could contain credential information or encryption keys. The more laconic explanation comes from xkcd, which shows how a server trusts an improper request and provides information.

An earthquake off the coast of Chile triggered a tsunami, forcing evacuations off the entire coastal area of the country. Then comes rebuilding and the discovery of who didn't make it.

To get around a council prohibition on street music before 10 am and after 9 pm, a group of street musicians formed the Church of the Holy Kazoo, claiming street music is their form of preaching. We think they'll get along with the Pastafarians, the Church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and the Discordians just fine.

After receiving the ability to create their own heraldry, Canada has gone on to incorporate significant amount of new animals, designs, and crests, creating visually appealing heraldry that is definitively Canadian.

Emotions, especially those without rhyme or reason to their forming, can be very scary to outside observers, whether they have empathy or not. Perhaps they are even scarier to those without a large amount of empathy because they appear to be random changes of behavior for no discernable reason.

Managers will hire men more often than women, even if the women have better skills, often because what kind of employee a manager is looking for has been shaped by the idea of the man who exudes overconfidence as the ideal. Those who are socially told to downplay themselves don't end up getting hired, and if they do play up their skills, they're often perceived as being uppity and don't get hired. Our conservative overlords will tell us that it's not gender bias at all, but [REDACTED] and [FALSEHOOD], so there's no reason to think that there's a problem.

A Mr. Smith would have you believe that students asking professors to include trigger warnings on their course materials is the result of helicopter parents raising children who are afraid of everything and need to be coddled, despite having given the correct reasoning (so that those who have suffered traumatic events will be forewarned about things that may invoke memories of those traumas) earlier in the episode. It's apparently a threat to academic freedom, because people demanding trigger warnings are the same as censors who want those materials expunged entirely.

Chronic pain screws with everything and reaches much farther than anticipated. Many of those things also affect the caregivers of those in chronic pain the same way.

Last for tonight, An essay about essays, which warns us against believing and accepting that the five-paragraph essay peddled to us by standardized tests is the correct and sole form of essay writing.

And a good way of making DRM-free chores of your books for your own use and archiving.
silveradept: A representation of the green 1up mushroom iconic to the Super Mario Brothers video game series. (One-up Mushroom!)
Super Mario Brothers, in addition to being a trope namer for many things, including the subject of this particular entry (In Another Castle), can, like many old-school arcade games, provide us with insight into our lives. It (and all of the various reimaginings of its core gameplay mechanic, including Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Great Gianna Sisters, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and so many more) presents us with a simple challenge - get to point B from point A, collecting treasures, avoiding or defeating enemies, and exploring the world for secrets. For a beginning player, mastery of being able to run and jump at the same time (or similar move-and-action controls) is the building block of the experience. Many players don't get into entire genres of games because they don't have the time to invest in learning the coordination. (Myself, I'm a horrible twin-stick shooter, so console FPS is outside my strengths.)

These days, it seems that the genre of casual games has appeared to appeal to the people who aren't able to get into the "hardcore" disciplines of platformers, real-time strategy games, first-person shooters, and multi-hundreds-of-hours RPGs and MMOs. I say seems because interactive fiction, visual novels, quiz games, and plenty of other "casual" games have existed for just as long as platformers and the rest. I played several incarnations of Jeopardy! alongside Hunt The Wumpus in addition to Atari games like Secret Quest and Breakout, for example. (And the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy celebrated the 30th year of its interactive fiction this year...while Nintendo released the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Brothers a few years ago. So yes, there's lots of overlap.)

For platformers and beat-em-ups and shooters, the gameplay mechanics are usually the same - start simple, with only a few opponents that can be defeated by basic means, then ramp up the difficulty by introducing new ways of defeating things to deal with bigger grouping and new types of enemies, as well as puzzle-type segments where areas can be cleared through specific sequences of actions. All in pursuit of a goal, which can be as simple as "rescue the princess" or as complex as "stop inter-world conflict through gunplay and intrigue". Where games get interesting is that they like to dangle the goal right in front of you, right before pulling it away from you. Having beaten the level boss, you head into the capture room...

"Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!"

And thus, the adventure continues, because the Big Bad was just here, or you've been chasing the wrong lead, or while you were out, the forces of darkness came in and stole your love interest. Or because the President has been kidnapped by ninjas, and you didn't really think that you were Bad Enough to just go rescue him straightaway, did you?

Here's the other thing - I actually haven't received that specific message about princesses being elsewhere, because as soon as I knew how to get them, I hit the warp zones, since they allowed me to make the most progress in the shortest amount of time. (And on old Nintendo consoles, as I found out trying to play my way through Ninja Gaiden III, if you wait too long, the console starts to act up and make your game unplayable) I also had the power of the Game Genie, a cheat device that would allow me to alter values in the game memory so that I could have infinite lives, energy, or power-ups. (Having come to the consoles very late, I could take advantage of cheap things.) Being able to use both of those things was no guarantee of victory, but it certainly helped take any pressure off in terms of having all progress reset at the next game over.

As one might guess, the enjoyment of the game and the way it is played change based on whether you have access to cheat devices or guides to help you through the game. One life lost is more important when you have two than when you have ninety-nine. Or when you have infinite lives and health. Regrettably, we have yet to figure out the invincibility cheat, but I think some people have the infinite resources cheat.

All this is to say that every person has a preferred playstyle for games, and a preferred genre or five to play that speaks to them and their skills. I think many people have that same idea for the life they would like to live, but unfortunately, we don't get nearly enough practice at the skills and scenarios that life throws at us to be able to play our preferred game, and many of us start without the benefit of resources or the cheat codes that let us get more. And without access to our stat sheets - apparently, all our values are hidden.

So, I can only offer the following benediction: may the things you seek actually be in the other castle.
silveradept: A star of David (black lightning bolt over red, blue, and purple), surrounded by a circle of Elvish (M-Div Logo)
Ever walk down (or up) a set of stairs in the dark, or with a full armload of things, and step off the last stair, onto the ground, expecting one more stair? It's very disconcerting. You're certain there was one more stair there, you planned for the being one more stair there, and yet, no stair. Most people can relate to this idea in their lives - planning for a disaster and having it all go quite well, instead. It can make someone feel a bit foolish that they were worried about certain variables and they didn't come into play.

Other people looking at it from the outside might comment about the ridiculousness of the situation, because they could see the want of a stair there, and yet it seemed like someone assumed the was. He's the thing, though. Most people who expect the extra stair usually do so because they've tripped over it more than a few times. The person who is a great worker, but never seems to speak up,and wise ideas always are more popular when someone in Management parrots them? They've hit at least once missing stair, and probably the one called Patriarchy. The missing stair is pretty insidious when it's going to affect someone with regard to their job - it's not possible to watch it for it all the time, especially if you've been dealt a manager that deals in caprice and hearsay. Those people who are forever worried about getting in trouble have probably had the missing stair put in front of them for them to trip, and/or yanked or from under them for them to trip. Creativity suffers in that kind of environment.

If only there were ways of protecting people from those kinds of shenanigans that were easy to deploy and that could swiftly gather the evidence needed to prove the malfeasance. Like a collective group of workers that kept an eye out for each other. And laws that didn't permit employers to fire someone for any reason at all, including the paper-thin disguises that often appeared as proxies for more substantive issues.

If only.
silveradept: A star of David (black lightning bolt over red, blue, and purple), surrounded by a circle of Elvish (M-Div Logo)
We start with Libba Bray, published author, talking about the depths of depression. And, for juxtaposition, The story of the Dalai Lama going to a ski resort, and the experiences gained there, and how an author about sexuality ended up not doing a whole lot with it after they'd achieved a state that threatened to overwhelm them.

If you were looking for where the Workers of the World Wide Web are going to come from, Amazon's Mechanical Turk would be a really good place to look - most of its work pays far too little, offers no employee anything, and allows people posting tasks to keep the result regardless of whether they pay up or not.

Even in a contest that nominally professes a free press, censorship is easy - whatever the advertisers say, goes. Because they're the only ones with the money the newspaper needs to survive. Because media had been conglomerated to the degree that it requires that kind of money to survive. And yet, those same conglomerates will find new ways to make money off fannish expressions.

danah boyd talks about how to be a well-read author, you often have to be a well-sold author, and that means going against your instincts to give things away on day zero. This is in relation to her new book, It's Complimented, about the social lives of today's teenagers, which is available for download as will as purchase. On the other side of that, writing appears to be the only discipline of the arts where people complain that someone is building their skill by emulating successful artists. Even Kurt Vonnegut points out that you have to start somewhere.

There are also old problems that require dealing with - like how science occupations have a culture that is completely toxic to keeping diversity, starting with the educational institutions that are supposed to be training them.

And an attempted compliment that chooses to do a whole lot of fat-shaming instead. If you haven't figured out all the reasons why that would not be as complimentary as someone apparently thought, then there's a lot of reading to do. Also, it is unlikely your corporate wellness program is going to be any help for whatever outcomes you want, despite how they tout the program.

The manufacturers of the Samuel Adams brand of beer are withdrawing their participation in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston because the parade excludes openly LGBT individuals from participation.

Shifting from maximizing happiness to satisficing changes some things, but it draws snark from the columnist as well because they can't necessarily satisfice without trying to maximize the satisficing.

If you're in San Fransisco and need a ride, especially if you're someome the cabbies aren't going to take, going somewhere they don't want to go, consider Homobiles, a donation-run car service that exists because people can't always afford a car, or because some cabbies don't want customers.

Unsurprisingly, if you want to end poverty and homelessness, you have to be able to address issues like mental health care, to find people jobs, and to get them into housing that works with their needs and opportunities.

Conceptions of sexuality that place people in a binary that only moves in one direction (e.g. virginity) leave out the language and importance of consent and are instrumental in perpetuating ideas that reduce women to property or things to be used. As a perfect example of this, check out this "game" that shows the failings of the virginity concept, as well as being highly sexist.

The inability of a school to recognize a disability led to the accusation of a first-grader of sexual behaviors, their eventual suspension, and the investigation of the family by a social services organization. All while the family of the child was providing proof of what the behavior was stemming from (anxiety) and trying to work with the school.

The FDA approved a hydrocodone pill whose dose is sufficiently strong that two pills is an overdose. Because we need more pills like that on the market.

If you are a politician, the words you choose had better mean what they actually mean. Otherwise, expect to be made fun of and not taken seriously.

Computer and technology terminology are not always universally known, even in high-tech societies, which speaks to the need for all people to have instruction available to them, should they need it. Most people, if they don't have relatives who will walk them through it, will get their instruction from the public library. Think about that for a moment.

Then contemplate the ease in which someone was able to access personally identifying information for the purposes of fraud by posing as a private investigator and purchasing access to the data brokers who keep that information warehoused.

Additionally, both Sally Beauty and Target corporation did not act on alerts that would have allowed them to stop credit card number theft.

And then go play the updated version of the Hitchhiker's Guide Interactive Fiction, still as difficult as ever.

Last for tonight, Louis Armstrong cultivated a personality that made it seem like he didn't care about politics or racial equality. The opposite is the truth.

And if you want a more diverse crowd of fans for your sport, sell the sport, not stereotypes you think will attract the minority.
silveradept: The emblem of the Heartless, a heart with an X of thorns and a fleur-de-lis at the bottom instead of the normal point. (Heartless)
Welcome back to Shadow Idol - same prompts as the LJ Idol, but not necessarily on the same schedule, and there are no eliminations to have to worry about.

Here's the topic: Jayus - a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.

There are several I can think of off the top of my head. Here's one: Did you hear the joke about the conservative party that believes the poor should die if they can't afford the cost of health care?

Or the one about that same party that thinks it's great to make women drive hundreds of miles to get family planning services, because they believe that all doctors performing family planning need admitting privileges at a nearby hospital?

Or the ones that say women need special insurance in case they get pregnant and need to terminate their fetus, and that the only people who can get that special insurance are those already in employer-provided health care?

I could go on all night about just that one conservative party. Not that what passes for the liberal party is that much better - they're not the kind that torture women for kicks, sure, nor are they the kind of people that would pass laws making being QUILTBAG a crime (at least, they aren't now), but they're definitely all on board with the idea that other countries should defer to them in how to run the world. And they're certainly not agitating for upending the social order that puts amoral corporations in charge of democratic functions. They happily seek solutions that leave the corporations in charge and bring them new customers by fiat, because they don't always appear to believe in what their values supposedly are. And they're far too willing to go to war than they should be.

Jayus is politics, as anyone who has to deal with it quickly realizes.

Jayus is also my own provincial upbringing, the kind of place that had quite the buzz going about when an actual black person moved to the community and started attending school. (Oh, the stereotypes we had.) Where nobody was openly gay or lesbian (although there were plenty of people who were very close to out), but there was plenty of joking about people who were, and crude remarks about masturbation using soda bottles, because no man could satisfy that particular ice queen. The one that didn't laugh at the misogyny.

The place that took the fictional organization NO MAAM - the National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood - and proudly displayed their logo in one of the classrooms.

It instills a desire to be unique and different than the generic default, because they get noticed and you get forgotten, without serious thought to what the consequences of being disprivileged are and how exoticizing others is just another way of Othering them.

Jayus is the joke that we can gather hundreds of thousands every week to watch collegiate football, but the people protesting the illegal war were less than ten at any given time. Jayus is the Pentagon budget compared to the SNAP budget.

Jayus is the joke where not doing anything and blaming the opposition for it is thought to be a serious tactic that will win votes.

Since they're not supposed to be funny, maybe we can stop telling them?
silveradept: A squidlet (a miniature attempt to clone an Old One), from the comic User Friendly (Squidlet)
What excuse does the gaming industry have for excluding fully half of their possible player base right off the bat?

Before getting too far into the weeds, take a short rest and look at how quickly and adorably pets grow into adulthood.

Librarians are not immune from being blinkered on social justice issues. Kyle Cassidy photographed a bunch of librarians as a project of showing that the profession looks nothing like what people think it does. The response to that, though, was a lot of complaining. The photographer was confused about this response.

Elsewhere, The American Library Association adopted a code of convention conduct for attendees to their professional conventions. Which is frankly, freaking awesome. The responses split among the privileged claiming it wasn't necessary and those with experience knowing it was. A sampling of responses, including analogies to book banning. Mr. Scalzi links to an incident where a policy was in place, and the complaint under the policy was handled swiftly and efficiently. Also effectively.

The Librarian in Black points out all the reasons why the responses to both of those elements complaining about them were very, very wrong.

The Ada Initiative offers a HOWTO on designing your own convention code of conduct.

So, there's a gigantic history of racism and race relations that goes unacknowledged in societies that think removing de jure discrimination removed the de facto as well.

Research indicates that the practice of solitary confinement does not rehabilitate those who are subjected to it, but instead exacerbates a host of mental issues (or potential mental issues) in those subjected to it.

Trying to document the Troubles in Ireland is difficult - not just because the IRA doesn't want people talking, but because gathering history potentially runs into still-open investigations.

Mindfulness and a push to disconnect from always-on technology has become a marketing ploy, as The Corporate State continues to co-opt anything that might be resistant to its touch. Best to let it pass and then return to it when it stops being a fad.

After his ouster as the President of Ukraine, Russia offers protection for Victor Yanukovich from the protestors. And then sent soldiers into the Crimea region of Ukraine, ostensibly to protect Russian citizens and interests in the region, a move that has drawn significant criticism and threats of "consequences" for Russia This could be quickly reminiscent of the Georgia war almost a decade ago.

South Carolina legislator proposes retaliation against universities for including books involving LGBT issues in their required freshmen courses, flatly denies he's a [REDACTED]. Apparently, "teach the controversy" is selectively applied. Arizona came within a governor's veto of passing a bill that would have allowed citizens and government to discriminate about what services they provide to anyone, based on their religious convictions, a decision that conservatives are aggravated about, even complaining that such bills are totally okay because they don't specifically say to discriminate against specific groups. And then Texas had a federal judge declare their same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, which the state has appealed.

This pales entirely to Uganda, which passed a bill that will imprison gay people for life if reported, to the absolute consternation of the State Department. I'm hoping the United States follows through with others in cutting off aid to the government of Uganda.

El Paso, Texas, seems to have found a good solution to immigration issues - it tries not to have anything to do with Customs and Border Patrol, and the CBP there actually appear to have a commitment to being open. The rest of the area, and the border crossing stations, however, still have much work to be done.

In previous years, Texas had money to spend on family planning, but chose to let clinics close anyway. Because Texas's legislature and government hates women. Georgia hates the poor, though - faced with the problem of rural hospitals closing because uncompensated emergency care was bankrupting them, rather than allow for Medicaid expansion and other parts of the Affordable Care Act that would give hundreds of thousands of people health insurance, Georgia's governor would prefer to repeal the law that says emergency rooms have to treat everyone, regardless of whether they can pay for it. So, in Georgia, the governor believes you must be at least this rich to get health care. That will certainly help fix the problem, if nobody poor needs care...or if all the poor people are dead because they couldn't get care. Way to deal with the problem, Deal.

Have a ground-level view of what happens outside of clinics that provide reproductive services. In New York. Elsewhere, a nationally syndicated columnist gives kudos to police in Washington that arrested a rape victim to ensure her cooperation in the prosecution. Which induces an Oh Hell No reaction from feminist corners because it doesn't make sense to restrict someone's autonomy after they've suffered a trauma regarding their autonomy.

New Jersey continues to be a hotbed of scandalous scandal. A mayor had to be forcibly removed from office after his conviction on federal corruption charges, because he did not feel like his corruption warranted resignation. The current scandal now has the chair of the Port Authority voting for a lease reduction for a client of his law firm without recusing himself, although he did later manage to retroactively recuse himself. And more information released on the bridge scandal has more callous jokes and abuse of powers.

In what was likely an attempt to cover up its own violation of laws in obtaining evidence against Megaupload, New Zealand's spy agency deleted critical evidence that would help with their case. In trying to cover up their wrongs, NZ may have allowed the right result for their case to happen.

The first of a series of seven reasons why a paleontologist might commit murder, none of which are the stated reasons in the Elementary episode Dead Clade Walking.

Giant, beautiful horse head art in Scotland. And morally ambiguous honey badgers, with valentines.

Copyrights are funny things - and when copyrights get transferred, publishers jealously guard them, even from the original authors.

All things are more complex than they appear. An important task of our existence is realizing all things can be both and.

A simple game appeared, became viral, rose to immense heights, attracted a strong share of haters, death-threat makers, and critics, and then was yanked by its creator because the pressure and the negativity was too much for a single person. Such is the Internet in its excesses. Anonymous is only one expression of that dynamo.

Setting a drama in a particular period of time requires paying attention to all the details, including slang and the way people sound, which is not always achieved. Sometimes there's an explicit handwave, sometimes not.

A call for interest for disabled writers to write fantasy stories with disabled characters. Stop by if interested and examine the submission guidelines.

The difference between Ask Culture and Guess Culture are not insignificant, and having a clash of methods often results in hurt all around.

Finally, Take a tour inside DuckDuckGo, a search engine built on the principles of privacy, giving instant answers, reducing spam, and letting people hack it to their own ends. I use DuckDuckGo myself for searching, and it is excellent at producing good results without lots of useless things.

Useful advice on securing your system, whether as part of a library or as your own individual system.

And mountain lions in Los Angeles, photographs of houses that do more to warn away buyers than entice them, and the selfie as a revolutionary statement about presenting your own authentic self.
silveradept: Domo-kun, wearing glass and a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie, sitting at a table. (Domokun Anchor)
Let's start with some truth - food is an intensely intersectional issue, and poverty, disability, and racial makeup of neighborhoods all contribute to the available food for choosing. Decrying someone's diet generally suggests ignorance of their complete situation. Even when doctors do it.

CVS Caremark has decided that all CVS pharmacy sites will stop selling cigarettes. Other tobacco products, and other products with potential health risks, such as candy, beer, or snacks will remain at the stores.

Iran, in the span of a few generations, had managed to both push their population growth up to levels near a theoretical maxim and to reduce that rate to right around the replacement rate, without coercing anyone. Things are on the rise again, with an accompanying disregard for the environment, both thanks to the government in power. How they got the population down should be a lesson for everyone - education and jobs for women, free birth control and sterilization surgery, and health centers spaced out even in the far ranges of the country to ensure healthy people. Give women the ability to take control of their lives, and desired results happen. How novel. [/sarcasm]

The guide to the strategy game known as real life, which regrettably is always set to hardcore mode.

Scotland joins the Century of the Fruitbat! And the Justice Department in the United States has indicated that all spousal protections extended to opposite-sex couples will also be extended to same-sex couples, consistent with the government's position on recognizing all marriages. In British Columbia, the first child with three named parents on their birth certificate, thanks to B.C. and their Family Law Act.

The Dead Pool Actors and Ambassadors Guild recognizes Shirley Temple Black for 85 years of excellent service and Sid Caesar for 91 years of making people laugh a lot and being honest about his life away from the stage.

In the United States, After having been dismissed many years ago from journalism for fabrications, a California court denied a petition for Stephen Glass to become a lawyer. Mr. Glass presented many character witnesses, but his past ultimately was too much.

A Congresscritter threatened a reporter, claiming he would throw him of a balcony for asking a particular question. Said Congresscritter has since apologized and said he overreacted to the question.

After eight years of fighting the government, a Stanford scholar and United States citizen was able to get her name off the No-Fly list, with the judge calling her placement a mistake, rather than addressing any constitutional or legal issues surrounding the secret list. The judge's actual ruling is sealed and secret, but we're allowed a small abstract of what happened. How frustrating it must be to find oneself unable to travel, with no apparent means of challenging the designation. And then how much more frustrating to know that the only reason you got off the list was because the government decided to admit to the mistake, rather than try to cover it up or justify it somehow.

The Snowpocalypse called Polar Vortex has produced an interesting effect - it shows where some intersections could use pedestrian islands to help people cross the street and make the cars slow down.

Joss Whedon makes transphobic joke, is surprised when Poe's Law kicks in. Better idea? Don't make transphobic jokes. And have the decency to apologize when called out on it. Even if it has to come after getting all the defensiveness out first. Additionally, if someone is writing a column about the need for literature, especially science fiction, to move beyond binary gender models, don't post an ill-thought response that shows your ignorance, unless you like having other authors mock you for your strawmen, your ignorance, and your inability to believe that readers want good stories with characters that are like them.

Senator Ted Cruz impeded the debt ceiling vote by using his Senatorial filibuster privilege, then lambasted other Republicans for cooperating with Democrats on the debt ceiling issue. The choice quote is that Republican heads apparently explode when they are forced to tell the truth. This may be true, but it's for reasons different than Senator Cruz thinks.

A papyrus fragment has given us (parts of) two new poems of Sappho, one nearly complete. Hooray for finding more of the ancient world, and especially for a poet whose corpus has not survived well over time.

The United States mind is significantly WEIRD, which means science involving the mind and social aspects in the States is susceptible to thinking local conditions are universal ones. When Reality Ensues, the depths of the errors can be frightening.

It is not always desirable to try and frame depression as external to oneself, as it can become a method by which agency is lost. That agency could be useful in fighting off the depression, instead.

Likability in characters sometimes prevents them from being interesting. Thus, unlikable characters are often necessary to the story, yet we often criticize characters based on their likability, instead.

In technology,
companies, in their desire to provide good customer service, often introduce inappropriate security risks for people and their private data, which can lead to identity theft or extortion for valuable digital property. That's when there isn't technology compromising their networks, brought in by thieves and hackers who probably knew what sort of software and hardware was in use. And it's not just retail stores. Stores, restaurants, and bars attached to certain hotels have had their card readers hacked.

Less horribly, The market for engineering toys is now including kits that are just connectors, allowing for basically an infinite number of potential pieces. Which is much different than the way that the Goldiblox project had been not living up to its hype.

Comcast wants to buy Time Warner cable. The resulting juggernaut could screw everyone who wants fair internet access or not to have to pay a cable company for their internet television.

Social media like Twitter, rather than making us appear to be dumber, may be an expression of oral culture in a written form, useful and now capturable, if inadvertently.

Observe some excellent visualizations of complex science concepts, in a variety of media.

Last for the post, analyzing the typography in the movie 2001. It's always interesting to see what the past thinks the future is going to use as their typefaces.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
Here are some random thoughts, possibly without context:
  • Why Rose? Considering the possible selection of companions are all going to come from the War Doctor's future, why not choose the one who best represents a weapon with a conscience? Martha is the only one who was able to get out essentially the same person, physically, as the one that went in. She's a doctor, she's brilliant, she had been drilled in ethics, and so she would have very happily been an excellent choice for the weapon. I'm sure there are plenty of Doylist reasons why Rose was selected, but the Watsonian reasons elude me.

  • Stop stealing our stuff. If you want to go pirate, go pirate digitally, or rip the disc at your own computers, or whatever. Just return it to us so that other people can check it out and enjoy it. Besides, you're not going to get a whole lot for the things you steal, anyway. So stop, please.

  • It must just be a thing for libraries to be designed and built a few years before another thing arrives that makes what was a brilliant idea into something entirely ill-suited. There has to be a way to design things that they can be modular and reconfigurable, including the shelves, so that reinvention is possible.

  • Politics is going to suck this year, with campaigns, intransigence, and everyone clamoring for attention and showmanship. Someone should just shoot for "This is what I believe, and I'm going to use my power to bring it about." Having people outright state their desires and working toward them would make politics much better. If for no other reason than to weed or the people who really are unsuited for office.

  • Bruno Mars had a very Jackson 5 vibe for his show on Sunday. And apparently has a pretty decent bass groove going for him as well.

  • I wonder about some picture books sometimes. There's an entire series of them where cute and fuzzy animal babies stop using various things that babies have - pacifiers, diapers, blankets, and the tendency to bite as a way of getting their way. It's couched in cute titles, too - "No more $foo for $alliterative_animal_name_based_on_$foo!" I think they might be more traumatic than helpful, though - for example, the one about the pacifier had the piggy running about and playing when their pacifier falls out. They go to pick it up and the duckie says it's dirty, so the piggy can't use it. Piggy has a backup in a pocket, though, so all is good. Until the second one falls out. Same routine with the duckie telling the piggy they can't have their pacifier. With no pacifier left... apparently, no more pacifier for piggy! Hooray, habit cured permanently, cold turkey. Because Duckie is secretly Haruhi Suzumiya? Most kids I've ever met that still have pacifiers would have had a meltdown at someone telling them they can't have their pacifier. If it was a parent, it might be a tempest instead of a meltdown, but it would definitely not have been "Oh. Guess I can't have that any more. I'm going to go play with my friend, the one who verbally and physically prevented me from using my pacifier, now. And hey, I don't need my pacifier anymore! Thanks, double trauma, for curing me!" These books are mostly in the same vein - animal baby with a comfort item, traumatic event, possibly repeatedly, prevents the use of comfort item, animal baby magically no longer needs comfort item. At least when Kevin Henkes did this in Owen, he extensively points out that the trauma to Owen is because of an overbearing neighbor who believes she's an expert in raising other children imposing herself on Owen's parents by insinuating that Owen is somehow deficient or inappropriate by having his comfort item well into his preschool years.
silveradept: The logo for the Dragon Illuminati from Ozy and Millie, modified to add a second horn on the dragon. (Dragon Bomb)
Article Two, Section 3 of the United States Constituion states:

"He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States."

Thus, the President chose to fulfill his obligation by speaking to a joint session of Congress on 28 January 02014. We're pulling information from having watched the address and from the official White House transcript for the 28 January 02014 address. The address chose to focus on the following areas:
  1. The Dream - A significant part of the President's address was devoted to the concept of the American Dream, the basic idea that success is possible in United States society (where success is defined as a comfortable middle-class lifestyle) through the application of hard work, and that privilege based on race, class, gender identity, education, neighborhood, and the like are not to be determining factors on whether any individual can achieve The Dream. To that end, the President highlighted the following goals and achievements of his administration:
    • The economy is recovering, which should be used to hire veterans, provide training for community college students, fund basic research, assist exporters, high tech, and those who don't want to deal with the morass of patent law or tax disincentives to hire United States workers. The unemployed should stop being jerked around and having their unemployment insurance expire because of Congressional inability.
    • Raise the minimum wage of federal contractors to $10.10/hr USD, as an incentive for states and businesses to do the same or surpass the federal guideline. Women should be paid equally if they are doing equal work. Make tax credits for working people expand, and develop instruments and laws that encourage all working people to be able to save for retirement and to take those savings with them wherever they go.
    • The United States is reducing their carbon footprint and moving more toward energy independence through the use of natural gas as a bridge fuel toward more solar, wind, and other renewable power, the increased preservation of federal lands, and the use of stricter standards for carbon emissions and fuel efficiency of vehicles.
    • Immigration can be fixed, if only the House will pass the Senate bill that has been sent to them.
    • Voting need to become a core civic institution again, and be reformed so that not only will voting be fair, it will be swift - the kind of swift that could be accomplished in the federally-allotted amount of time someone has to vote (if their work shift prevents them from going to the polls when off work).
    • Finally, health care reform is working for everyone - millions are now covered through expanded government programs and millions more are covered under private insurance policies. Seniors enjoy reduced drug prices, women have their care covered without having to purchase expensive riders, and costs should go down for everyone because of it. So more people should be signed up to accelerate these good things.

    All of the above would be happening, moving faster, or otherwise making progress and contributing, if there wasn't an intransigent party who wants to waste time holding symbolic votes, filibustering everything, and gridlocking. If people are to start believing in the Dream again, the government has to function. Legislation has to pass that will actually do things for people. So, wherever it is possible, the executive will be acting alone to make things better. Like raising the federal contractor wage.

  2. The Diplomacy - The war in Afghanistan is finally coming to an end. The war in Iraq is done. There's still work to be done rooting out terrorists around the world, but it's not going to be alone. But we're also giving diplomacy a chance and trying to get the country off of a permanent war footing. It's time to close Gitmo and make sure that intelligence gathering is with purpose. Syria is working, Israel and Palestine are talking to each other, and Iran isn't making nuclear things. Don't screw it up by passing new sanctions. Don't screw it up by assuming other people are always evil and can only be defeated by military force. Try talking for once, whether to your people across the aisle or to other governments.

Seems like the President was interested in a message of things going well despite the obvious "problems" that have plagued his presidency. The financial crisis that was supposed to sap his energy, the health care reform that was supposed to have burnt up all his political capital and be sabotaged to the point of uselessness, the sundry amounts of disenfranchisement, abortion bans, and manufactured scandals, from the Birthers through Solyndra and Benghazi, nothing that has been thrown at this President has been able to do much more than divert the flow for a bit. Until the Republicans decided to sandbag and basically stop everything, at which point they were hoping the public would tar with a broad brush and cry "a pox on both their houses." That hasn't quite happened yet, but it seems like a good idea for the President to now start running against a Congress that can't get its act together, doing things that the executive can, and generally taking stands on populist issues to get there people involved in pressuring the legislators, having spent sufficient time trying to make things work and being rebuffed.

It wasn't a barnburner, but I think it hit a lot of the topics that the base wanted to hear and is interested in right now, and it places Republicans in the position of advocating against very popular things.

Then came the responses.

The Republican response (using United Press International's transcript of the Republican response, and listening to the speech): The normal "we're the party of small government" opening, the insistence that the President's policies aren't working and are going in reverse, and...as usual, rather light on the policy hints and possibilities and thoughts of solutions. One of these years, I'd like a substantive response that talks about actual policy elements that are underway and genuine disagreements, rather than platitudes and keyword-laden moments. The response mimics the speech, and probably wants to try and out-Dream the President's focus on the Dream, but it lacks substance to back that up.

Then came the Tea Party response (using the Salt Lake Tribune's transcript): The Tea Party response is...probably the best of the three responses, because it talks about specific policies currently being proposed, it make specific accusations against Congress and the President about how they promote and increase inequality, and it frames solutions to those problems in populist ways - taking power away from a government interested in enriching its own coffers and those of their cronies and friends and stopping programs that are seen as overreach and replacing them with better solutions. Instead of matching rhetoric for rhetoric, it talks populism and policy wonkery. The official response would do well to follow this idea - which also requires the establishment have actual proposals to advocate for.

Finally, the Rand Paul response (using a transcript from Western Journalism): Rand Paul is surprisingly more substantive than the official Republican response, even if he is a one-note speaker about the need to cut spending and avoid tax increases for most of the speech. He attacks both parties and their unwillingness to let their sacred cows be touched, before finishing the speech up with several fringe theories and ideas about an imperial presidency, the apparent disregard for the Second Amendment, and other common Paul complaints about Congress and the President.

Still, Rand Paul's one idea was more than the zero ideas presented by the Republican response. That shouldn't be true.

Knowing that this year is an election year, I don't have very high hopes for anything getting done by legislation. If the President can get anything done this year, it will likely defy the expectations.
silveradept: A head shot of Firefox-ko, a kitsune representation of Mozilla's browser, with a stern, taking-no-crap look on her face. (Firefox-ko)
A dream yet unfulfilled, but one we pay lip service to, because we are still unwilling to recognize who the dreamer was, in all their capacity, and to set aside hagiography for the reality of history.

United States Customs officials are not apologizing for destroying eleven handmade flutes of a musician, citing them as an ecological hazard that could not be allowed in.

The Assembly of the State of New Jersey is subpoenaing thousands of documents about apparent political retribution that closed all but one lane of the toll road leading to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, New Jersey. The resulting traffic backup gridlocked the entire town, to the point where even emergency response was having difficulty getting to their destinations. The gridlock lasted for an entire week. Several of the released documents indicate that not only was the retribution ordered from the office of the governor, more than a few of the officials in the office knew about the gridlock and maintained an official silence to any inquiries from Fort Lee about what was going on. To this point, the governor denies knowing anything about the issue, but he has already demonstrably lied about the involvement of his staff in the matter. In addition to this particular giant scandal, the Christie administration has been accused of retribution against several mayors that chose not to endorse the governor is his most recent campaign. Including an accusation from the mayor of Hoboken, NJ, accusing the governor's office of withholding hurricane relief money until she expedited a private development project the governor was interested in seeing completed. I hope the investigation roots out every last bit of rot and corruption from top to bottom.

No-longer-governor Ultrasound and his wife were indicted on fourteen felony counts today in relation to gifts, graft, and favors received while in office from a particular company seeking the muscle of the governor and first lady to promote their product.

The Supreme Court of the United States will be deciding how much leeway police have about gathering evidence from cell phones, and whether warrants will be necessary to search phone data.

An ancient Etruscan tomb revealed artifacts, which looked to be a man buried with a spear and a woman buried with jewelry...and then the bones said the woman had the spear, and the interest vanished. And the scientists stubbornly insisted that the spear was male, and a wedding gift. The discovery of embroidering needles allowed the gender prejudices to reassert themselves, and the spear was conveniently disappeared, despite the container from whence the needles came having a top that was a repurposed shield. This is bias - evidence clearly points to one thing, and there is a significant amount of back-bending to ensure that some other thing is the conclusion.

Several retailers have had their customers' credit card data stolen from their physical locations, impacting millions of people. Now including a craft retailer.

Netflix uses a very sophisticated system of breaking movies down into tiny elements, which forms the backbone of their recommendation system.

Forget low-grade microaggressions and constant sexism: online, women (and usernames that sound like women) are subjected to a daily barrage of threats and harassment that the police are often unwilling to take up or apparently unable to understand. Because taking threats seriously might mean police work against someone nowhere nearby. The other possibility, heinous that it might sound to the privileged, is that we can provide public pushback against people who engage in that kind of behavior, from usernames of all genders. Eventually, though, male culture that approves of assault and assault threats has to change. (That male culture has been floundering on what masculinity means for generations isn't helping men find the way forward. There's an inkling of how to go forward, though - having men talk with men and not treating assault like the weather, and ditching the idea that men must be gods and getting them to become cyborgs, instead.)

Research in mice suggests the involvement of previously unstudied cells in contributing to depression. Which helps to reinforce the reminder that depression is both unique to the sufferer and not something that can be cured only with techniques meant to assuage the symptoms.

Cosplay should not be restricted only to those who have skin tone to match the original character. Furthermore, just because the racism isn't obvious doesn't mean it isn't there, which is always a thing to remember, even in Liberalland.

Answers to all the questions family members ask the tech-savvy person.

The person that exposed the actions of the rapists in Steubenville may be facing a harsher prison sentence for alleged computer crime than the rapists did for rape. Betting on the Snowden precedent, the whistleblower gets full sentence with no parole, and all of the rapists get out on parole and stay out. Which would be a gigantic travesty.

The European Union requests your input on how you would like copyright to work. Responses may be from anywhere in the world, and there's no obligation to go through the entire eighty questions if you don't want to.

That said, there are a lot of people receiving ad-hoc and not very comprehensive privacy education, especially in immigrant or ESL sections of society.

People encountering the vastness of a university research library's collection are often bowled over at its vastness and unable to navigate or search it well. I think this extends to the Internet at large, and that's not helped any by the paucity of search tools we have for it. Have some tips on how to do good research.

Elsewhere, publishers, including academic ones, are greedy about their copyrights and will more than happily send takedowns to scientists who want to do as science should do and share their work. And worse, have perfectly legal claims to do so, because their contracts take everything they can.

Finally, an editor at Nature retaliated against criticism from a blog by outing the real name of the author criticizing. Which likely opened up the female writer to the scorn and sexism of the scientific fields.

A recreation of the area of London that the Great Fire started in, using video game technology.

The story of a company called Research In Motion, that developed a device that addicted many, many people.

Anatomy studies, especially in the World War II era, and even moreso in the Third Reich, were often done on corpses for which no consent was obtained or sought. Speaking of World War II, returning veterans with mental illnesses, or those suspected of being gay, were routinely lobotomized by doctors working for the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Ever wonder what the experience of freezing to near-death would be like?

Last for tonight, pictures of astrological clocks, ornate and timekeeping, single-sentence summarizations of paper theses, a kitten playing with lots of blue butterflies, and decrypting what ancient Greek music sounded like, despite very little surviving fragments of what melody would have sounded like.
silveradept: A head shot of Firefox-ko, a kitsune representation of Mozilla's browser, with a stern, taking-no-crap look on her face. (Firefox-ko)
An utter piece of garbage masqueraded as a sport piece about a putter and its creator. The writer, ostensibly doing a piece about a putter defying conventional wisdom about putters, is structured to be about the creator of the putter, in direct defiance of the stated wishes of said creator when they agreed to do an interview.

And then, the writer of the piece makes mention of how odd-looking this woman doctor (as in, has a $Foo.D degree) is, and how she sounds deeper than expected. And then trades a paragraph about the putter (which still works, in defiance of conventional wisdom) with two more about the person. Things are going that way until the writer does background research on the creator's education. And the qualifications the creator had turned out to be false. The putter, however, still works (in defiance of conventional wisdom), so, y'know, the article is probably finished, especially when you're writing for a supposedly sport publication.

The writer, however, digs deeper. And all of those hints they've been dropping suddenly come into focus when they reveal the results of their armchair, can't leave-well-enough-alone investigation - the putter creator is a transwoman. Having given sufficient lip service to the story about the putter, the pretense is dropped and the tabloid journalism takes over. Misgendering her when talking about her early life, painting her as mentally disturbed, and then describing a suicide attempt, before the grand finale...

...her actual suicide, described in detail, and probably related to this writer's insistence on uncovering her past. There are no words to describe how this terrible, horrible, no good, extremely bad, and journalistically bankrupt piece managed to pass both editors and their own conscience without raising any flags. It's a lurid piece more suited for yellow sheets than anything else, and the writer believes they can call it a eulogy.

May they understand the consequences of their actions.

Search engines can probably produce the source material in question, if you want to see it yourself. This account should have enough detail of the article.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
I dreamed at the new year.
In my dream, I dreamed and saw paths before me, and the universe told me I could choose.
Many roads laid before me. They promised Fame, or Glory, or Fortune, if I would follow them.
While they tempted, I saw a path, away from them.
Overgrown with weeds, thorny, rocky, and incomplete, this path offered Wisdom.
On that path, I walked, cursing every time I fell, stubbed, barked, or bruised.

I came to a viewpoint, and saw before me a valley filled with houses, with people.
Some I knew and wanted to stay with, some were new and wanted to get to know.
"Stay a while," they said, "and we will learn more about each other."
And we feasted and held festivals. (f-locked)

My journey, though, called me again, insistent.
"You are not finished yet." The pull of Wisdom drew me onward.
And so I passed through the places of forgetting,
where what I was fell away, stripped with each step
.
Some things I fought to keep, others I let go.
By the end, though, what I was had been left behind.
Out with the old, in with the new.

But snow is only tabula rasa until the first footprints,
A canvas blank until the first strokes.
Old and new competed for space,
and I tried to build a life where
the only thing I wanted was more of what I had.

I did not build alone.
Others left suggestions, hints, mines.
While contrary to those who said must,
I built goals I thought I could do
.
On the time that I choose.

I built spaces for others and me, too,
where we could share joy and triumph and support
.
In my dreams, people were there, helping, singing, and making great things they could not do alone.
It was good, but it was distant, and soon I realized I was not needed there any more.
Having brought the spark, the rest was in others' hands.

Finally, I dreamed my dream,
One where I was with someone who thought in binary modes,
Who spoke in imperatives,
And whose temper flared every time I appeared annoyed.
They could love dearly, though, for those that made it past their tests.
They were also fiercely protective of those they considered worthy.
And then I remembered
that I did not dream this dream
but was awake.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
Nelson Mandela is dead at 95 years of age. Without a concerted effort, the history of Mandela will swiftly become hagiography, therefore we must remember all the dimensions of Nelson Mandela, not just the ones that are convenient to our narrative.

What was the story of Susan Pevensie after she was written out of Narnia? Presumably, it was a good and long life, full of activism and bucking social trends.

If you are looking for a dose of humor in an otherwise academic paper, look to the acknowledgements section. There's a lot to be had in snark and shout-outs there.

40 million cards were stolen from Target. Not too soon after, they could be bought online and used to commit fraud.

A Harvard student sent a bomb threat to get out of an examination. He used the anonymizing network TOR...from the campus wireless, which made it easier for the FBI to identify him by cross-referencing the two data points. More anonymity would have made it harder, whether by using public wireless or by having more people using TOR.

And in encryption, a paper purporting a method to extract RSA cryptographic keys by using a sufficiently sensitive microphone at close range to capture the acoustic leakage from a computer voltage regulator during the decryption of specifically crafted ciphertexts. The attack apparently can also be executed using the attacker as a conduit that allows for the measurement of differences in current. The researchers provided countermeasures against their methods before publishing, so later implementations of crypto can defeat these attacks.

A six year-old child who forced a kiss on a classmate has had the sexual harrassment complaint against him dropped. This has apparently also brought out many comments claiming that there is far too much hullabaloo about a kid and a kiss, but think of it this way: if we want to teach children that there are wanted and unwanted touches with regard to grown-ups, and we teach kids about aggressive gestures that have to be curbed for the classroom to work, then we should take it seriously when one child gives another an unwanted touch, regardless of how its coded. Boundaries have to be learned, and earlier is better than later. And we wouldn't want to perpetuate the misogynist idea that women's boundaries are okay to ignore, now would we?

We must trust children and teens can handle serious issues like suicide, and then take them seriously when they tell us they have issues that lead toward ideation.

Leaking information tells us of two Americas, one an empire determined to keep its processes entirely secret from everyone, the other a democracy that demands to know what the government is doing in their name, and further demands a voice in making decisions going forward, because they are very unhappy about the way things are going now.

A fragrance campaign chooses to use a tattooed BBW for their glamour shots. Considering who is normally in those shots, this is different and edgy. Elsewhere in artistic expression, the use of from machines and electronic construction sparks a debate in metal communities about whether the machines are losing the soul of the music in their quest for speed.

We need more than just three ways of expressing gender. We need to not ask for it unless absolutely necessary.

A fifth grader wrote and delivered a first-rate speech about tge evils done in the name of religion, and was selected to represent his school at a county-level competition...until his school attempted to censor his work, ostensibly because they believed students couldn't handle topics like mass murder in the name of religion. Head. Desk. Thankfully, the school reversed, and the student went on to win the higher-level competition. The more we trust children to be able to handle big things, the better we educate them.

A Methodist minister officiated a wedding in a state where that marriage was legal, for his son, and was defrocked after a congregation member in his home state complained. As one might guess, the wedding was between two men. Aside from the church doctrine that forbade the officiating, there was no other reason to complain.

Grief may be alleviated best by laughing and smiling, but not because the grief is not intense, but because people are wired to return to normal. Which is weird, in its own way, because it means a lot of things that are important fade.

After the FAA proposed changes to rules that would allow mobile phone voice calls on airplanes, two Senators swiftly rushed to propose a bill that would ban voice calls.

Internet traffic intended for specific destinations was discovered to have been rerouted through unintended destinations thanks to taking advantage of trust in the way Internet traffic is routed. So unencrypted anything was potentially intercepted and/or modified before being sent on to its destination. Wouldn't it be nice if our ISPs encrypted everything by default before sending it off to another network?

60 Minutes and the NSA want you to believe that they are saving the country and world against malicious hackers that wanted to shut down all America's computers and other similar cartoon-villain plots. Over here in reality, a federal judge has ruled that the NSA's warrantless collection of phone metadata is uncsontitutional, a ruling that will be appealed by the agency, because they don't want to have to respect the law. The judge ruled that the government's precedent claims are in such a different telecommunications realm that old ruling don't apply to the new world. And then another judge ruled the metadata collection was entirely legal.

The Obama Administration admits the previous Administration started widespread Internet traffic collection, makes a case that the NSA should remain secret.

Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing are helping to make our smartphones smarter without draining the battery pinging satellites. As one might guess, advertising is taking the lead on how to exploit this new idea.

The linguistics of the dialect developing on the Interwebs are fascinating, and possibly making language shifts happen off-line as well, much to the annoyance of teachers and managers everywhere.

Last for tonight, the quotable Mr. Gaiman about political correctness, and the interesting Mrs. LeGuin about how science fiction and writing changed as she has been writing. Also, an affectionate cat and tentacles. And tips for improving writing, in addition to doing more writing.

How do people practice love? Sometimes, that also means figuring out how to do things that the RA training doesn't cover.
silveradept: The letters of the name Silver Adept, arranged in the shape of a lily pad (SA-Name-Small)
There's been a "post every day for a month, with topics selected by your reading list" going about. This is not that post. I could not commit to posting like that, especially with the chaos probability that is having animals and other people in the same house as you.

This is a post asking for topics that you want to see me post about, whether mundane or marvelous, low-brow, high-brow, or anything in between.

In addition to the inability to keep the schedule, I'm not doing the post-a-day version because I'm suffering from the duck problem. I thought about saying that I didn't think I was important to anyone, so why bother, but too many ready counterexamples nix that idea. And it's not just the people and animals that depend on me for food, shelter, and affection - the universe was even less subtle than usual in disabusing me of that notion, by having one of the regular teens at the library give me heartfelt thanks for the library being awesome since we reintroduced it to him in eighth grade with talk of excellent books, homework resources, and flying foldable discs that were not distributed until the day's end. Suffice it to say, the universe was having none of that self-pitying bull.

The right adjective is that I don't feel interesting enough to people for them to want to comment or ask questions of me. This is part of what can make things like love memes difficult - if I'm not nominated by someone else, does that mean I'm not interesting enough for them? If I self-nominate, but there aren't that many comments, am I too bland for someone to come up with something for me? I don't have the life experiences that make it important to deconstruct fiction or point out how obvious it is that Charlie Brown is just going through the motions when it comes to Christmas. And it's a one-way drive to Problematic City if I said something unthinking like, "Well, since I'm not visibly an oppressed minority, whether by gender presentation, race, sexual orientation, etc, etc, I'm not interesting, because oppression makes people interesting." or "Disability makes the world much more frustrating, but also interesting in how it gets dealt with, so disabled people are clearly more interesting." People who deal with that on a daily basis have interesting and mind-expanding thoughts and posts, but they themselves should not be exoticized into something interesting based on those characteristics. Plus, they would rightly chew me out for treating their experience that way. (That I've been socialized to think of it that way is a product of my provincial upbringing, and it gets firmly squashed if it starts to come out when in bad mental states.)

The other part is that I'm not really sure my hobbies or television watching or other such things would be of interest to others, because I'm used to a self-image that says the things of the mind are more important and worthy of speech than the things of the body. (Which more balanced people will point out is crap.) Wanting to present my most refined and intellectual self through linklists and commentary, I'm all-to-willing to dismiss the other parts of life, even as I give comments on those parts of life for others.

This is the duck problem, though - judging everyone else by their outside and me by my inside. And it can make for all sorts of weird conclusions based on comments or their lack. Which is part of why I thought the comment culture idea was brilliant - it's a package that allowed me to say, "I do not require this refinement for people commenting, so if that's been stopping you, please comment." (Anyone quipping, "Physician, heal thyself" right about now, I know, I know...)

So, as a way of trying to trick myself into getting out of my own head, and as a way of proving to myself that I'm interesting, ask me things, mundane or marvelous, body or mind, as the notion strikes you. Answers will be as comfortable as I feel answering, but only unasked questions get no answers.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
Hello again. Let's begin with a lion cub playing in the leaves.

Continuing onward, the Air Force Academy has member of the now-defunct "ex-gay therapy": organization Exodus International as the overseer of cadet counseling. Which is mandatory for cadets. The Air Force academy seems to have this type of problem more than others...

...but that could be peanuts compared to the difficulty of getting divorced in a state that refuses to recognize your legal marriage.

How about women being awesome, from a sixteen year-old monster truck driver who will be able to go Ivy League schools, thanks to crushing her SATs, First Lady, Michelle Obama, feminist icon (even if her feminism doesn't jibe with white expectations), Jordanian women participating in poetry slams, and Ms. Lawrence, when told that she did not look properly thin enough for Hollywood, channeled her inner Samuel L. Jackson (or Hugh Jackman) and told them to go fuck themselves.

The President may be feeling that attitude toward noisemakers claiming he's a godless atheist because he read a version of the Gettysburg Address that does not contain the words "under god" and the faction of the government responsible for the lowest number of bills passed by a Congress in history, a faction that runs perilous;y close to not even being able to pass bills that make sure the food market functions correctly ...but instead, he gets to let action do the talking, having a deal with Iran to roll back their nuclear program that has hardliners in The United States, Israel, and Iran unhappy about the deal, matters moving forward toward the complete destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, as well as a conference set for January 2014 to begin the process of ending Syria's civil war, prisoners at Guantanamo Bay able to plead their case to be able to leave the facility, a Treasury that intends to crack down on spending by anonymous donors and organizations that explicitly endorse and support political candidates while masquerading as ":social welfare organizations", and a Senate majority that said "Fuck this filibuster nonsense" with regard to presidential nominees and Appeals court and lower court appointments.

There's still a lot to go, though, including the giant need for excellent science and science-based education, right from the beginning of schooling.

A primer on the positive value of "negative" methods of coping with trauma and violence.

You, too, can create your own Giant Squid Pillow. Or, for the more DIY types, weapons and explosives that can be manufactured only with items bought past TSA screening points in airports.

Women in Open Source projects, who have happily had a lot less sexism to deal with, it seems, than other women getting involved in open source projects. Speaking of Open Source, Glitch, a 2D browser-based adventure game, has had all of its code and assets released into the public domain. Which means a large amount of creative possibilities for anyone so inclined and able to use or unpack the Flash assets.

The Supreme Court of the United States will decide whether for-profit corporations are permitted to impose the religious beliefs of their executives on their employees, with regard to things like contraception being covered by health insurance, something the Affordable Care Act requires. Oklahoma's Appeals court found they can, another said no. The Court does not generally rule predictably on anything, so we have to hope they'll decide to trust women. Especially if oral emergency contraceptives have a higher failure rate on women who aren't rail-thin.

The stories of the still-nonexistent War on Christmas are beginning again, with a town's Christian celebration changing from having official government support to being an affair put on by private citizens, school-based Christian toy drives becoming Christian toy drives happening on public streets without the appearance of school endorsement (also a healthy dose of "humanists are bullies who want children to starve", despite the complaint having nothing to do with the program and everything to do with whose resources were being used to promote it), and outrage that the Postal Service isn't promoting their explicitly Christian stamps alongside ones that mention other VEWPRFs. If you would like to see the real war of Christmas, examine not the privileged, but the disprivileged and how they are treated if they wish to celebrate their VEWPRF.

Walmart is very invested in having you believe all of their retail staff are super-psyched about working on Thanksgiving and the day afterward, with one of their top executives promoting a message for the "Proud Associates" to use on their Twitter accounts. This is the same Walmart that continues to have labor disputes and retaliates against workers that take part in protests and that wants its own low-wage workers to donate supplies so that other low-wage workers can have enough to eat at their harvest feast celebrations, instead of, say, paying them a wage they can live and purchase groceries on.

The Sears Holdings CEO applied all of his Wall Street and Ayn Rand economic knowledge to running Sears and KMart, and got stupidly rich individually while destroying the company. Take heed from his lesson, oh corporate giants, and stop screwing your workers and venerating Rand.

Penny Arcade wants one person to do the job of four, with no work-life balance at all, and for low pay compared to the job requirements. And will happily keep making trainloads of cash for themselves while their new hire exhausts themselves.

Stanford University offers an interactive map of the Roman Empire, including the varied ways to get from point A to point B, how long it takes by those routes, and what that trip would cost. Lots of very detailed data.

Last for tonight, three tales of an inn, its town, and a girl in grey who knows her stories, what the Epic of Gilgamesh might have sounded like in its native tongue, and poems read by Tom Hiddleston, who is enjoying quite a bit of fame for playing Marvel's Loki.

And a study that says cats know when you're talking to them, they just don't care.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone has a sprig of holly and is emitting sparkles, and is held in a rest position (VEWPRF Kodama)
Since it is now officially December, and that means I can take off the perception filter around all the December holiday decorations that have erroneously been going up before December, it's time for a correspondence post.

I have holiday cards and stamps. If you would like a holiday card with a stamp upon it, so that the post will let it be delivered to you, please leave a comment / send a private message / send an e-mail to this username at dreamwidth dot org. All comments will be screened and then deleted after I have obtained your postal information.

If you are celebrating a particular Vague Early Winter Possibly Religious Festival this go-round and would like the card to include greetings and well-wishes for that particular festival, please indicate this in your comment / message / email.
silveradept: A squidlet (a miniature attempt to clone an Old One), from the comic User Friendly (Squidlet)
The Association of Buggy Whip Manufacturers, in conjunction with Fox News, the Republican Party, and several strains of Abrahamic religions, would like to remind you that new things are always dangerous, and therefore, you should always venerate tradition to the exclusion of the novel. 13 examples are mentioned.

Handwriting, which is still in highly popular practice, is accused of becoming illegible, check-writing is presumed to be falling out of practice, and creativity in decline, despite the explosion of distribution of creative material and the still normal usage of checks as a signifier of middle-class lifestyle.

Memory is presumed to be failing, because we have technology that stores contact information electronically (as opposed to using that handwriting skill in a contact book or Rolodex), and we're supposedly less intelligent, because our search tools can find by multiple data fields at a few keystrokes, instead of having to use indexes generated by hand, and our mapping tools are portable and electronic.

Manual skills, such as auto and house maintenance, sewing, tying knots, and raising plants and animals are declining, not because technology has advanced to the point where those skills are now specialized and not everybody needs to know them to survive, of course, but because we should fear the possibility that all of that technology will fail in the zombie apocalypse?

And, of course, we all apparently have no idea how to socialize with each other without electronic mediation and we can't dance without it looking like scandalous sexual acts. Which the Twist and Foxtrot were called when they were introduced, and of course, there was Mr. Presley and his swiveling hips and the four gentlemen from Liverpool and their lyrics.

As one might guess, the bit has been met with derision because Technology Marches On and more than a few pointed remarks about how people these days can still do most, if not all, of those things. I have, for example, followed in the footsteps of my father and mostly eschewed cursive in favor of print, although I have yet to adopt his ALLCAPS style. I can read maps, telephone books, and have successfully changed flat tires, headlamps, and light fixtures, as well as various assemblies of bookshelves, computer desks, and computers themselves, and I socialize just fine at work and away from it, since my profession requires it.

I'm not sure why the impulse is to venerate tradition so heavily. It's what made Nicholas Cage's character in The Croods grating and unrealistic. It gets in the way of innovation - sometimes warranted, sometimes not. And it does not adapt well to new realities. Perhaps with age, the appeal of tradition will start to make sense, since I will be responsible for the creation of some and will have carried some from before forward into time. I can understand traditions with significance behind them, such as "we perform this ritual this way because it traces the steps of enlightenment along the path we have chosen", but only to the point where their significance is still remembered. Tradition for the sake of "we've always done it this way" becomes an impediment, like wasting the ends of a ham because it used to not fit in a pan.

Says the person whose job involves learning traditional things so that traditional people can get acclimated and succeed in the novel world, and maintaining traditional forms in the face of the novel world, because not everyone has the privilege or desire to be able to fully work in the novel world. So take my ideas with salt, to taste.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
Ladies and gentlemen, why are costume makers deciding to make chilldren's costumes all as variations on a ballet tutu, including a Batgirl...in pink? Because they're following the lead of studios like Disney, who deliberately removed all of the tomboy aspects of Merida to make her part of the Disney Princess line, much like what they did to Mulan.

Some of Sweden's cinemas are now including the Bechdel test as part of the critical rating they give a film.

The Beatles did a lot of very neat musical things with "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and did so by getting it past the radar with fairly bland, poppy lyrics.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was called to end the first Great War, which included battles like the one for the Somme. Despite having seen the horrors of war to come, more war came after that one.

Which only means that when we have disasters, we must post lists of NGOs ready to help survivors of a typhoon in the Philippines, instead of being secure that the international aid community can cover it with money to spare.

Rather than being summarily dismissed from his post for his purchase of cocaine from an undercover cop, as anyone in a normal job would be, a Representative charged with such will simply take a "leave of absence" from his work. The perks of being a Congresscritter.

The insistence that people work hard and love their company allows companies to fleece their workers and blame the workers for the decisions by executives to fleece them. Company loyalty, for most companies, should be predicated on more than getting paid.

A useful bit of information for you - several chain drugstores are helping with getting people signed up for insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act. They also have in-person assisters to help guide people through the process. So it's not just the website as an entry point. The slow start to the Affordable Care Act is quite similar to the start for its predecessor, Romneycare. And, because of the deliberate obstruction happening in the states, various plans are starting to be proposed to make things work better, many of which make the problem worse.

Oral arguments began at the Supreme Court of the United States on 6 November regarding a case involving Christian prayer at the beginning of town meetings, for which those protesting said the invocation made them feel unwelcome. Harassment given to those plaintiffs after their choice to sue suggests they may have been underselling the hostility of the town toward religious minorities. This appears to be a pretty obvious case with regard to the First Amendment, and all the lower courts have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, so it's troubling that SCOTUS agreed to hear the case.

John Boehner believes it appropriate to give virulently anti-gay groups meeting space in the United States Capitol. A challenger to a Senate seat will not dispute that he was involved with neo-Confederates, but if you claim he voted as a Democrat in a primary, he will fight you to the end of the suggestion.

238 names of lives cut short by violence against tráns* people. We're regrettably not there enough yet to work on reducing that. Because we have high-profile people like Liz Cheney throwing her sister to the wolves to score cheap political points, instead of showing familial support. Even when someone is the clear favorite, people can still find a way to have a good relationship.

Making your own clothes is a time-and-money intensive task because modern fashion uses waste and industry and economy of scale to produce their product. Much like a large swath of modern Western society, cheap and disposable rules the day.

Seattle's police department has installed a mesh network capable of tracking wireless devices over a rather large area of the city. And hasn't really said a whole lot about how they intend to use that power.

Despite being a direct competitor of Google, Microsoft is earning $2 billion USD from royalties on patents it claims Google uses in their Android mobile operating system, collected from manufacturers of products that have Android on them. The idea of voiding a large swath of technology patents and barring their reapplication starts to look really good as a way of fixing this.

Tech work has some advocates for removing entirely the work-life divide, which isn't as dastardly as selling one's soul to the company, but there is some pressure to stay for extended hours and days.

A new strain of malware that infects multiple vectors, including using high-frequency transmissions between speakers and microphones to cross airgaps, is potentially a very scary threat, assuming that peer review agrees with the initial conclusions.

Happy dogs wag their tails predominantly in one direction, compared to anxious dogs.

Business wear engineered with the same technology and design as performance sportswear. I'll bet they're really comfortable as well as being able to help with temperature and perspiration issues.

If someone tells you that cis people need privacy and protection from trans* people in the bathroom, freely call them on their bullshit and remind them that trans* people are more likely to be bathroom-policed and need privacy and protection as Reverend Lunatic points out.

Last for tonight, get to be on good terms with failure if you want to succeed at things that take practice. Which sometimes means having to own up to the mistakes of the past, like liberal thinkers that embrace and embraced eugenics as a way of improving the population.

And for something much more uplifting, the Make-A-Wish foundation and more than 12,000 volunteers in San Francisco make a child's dream come true by letting him save the city as Batkid. Which included such things as an indictment against Edward Nigma and Oswald Cobblepot.

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silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
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