February booklog (catching up at last)

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 09:53 am
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[personal profile] wychwood
14. Greenmantle and 15. Mr Standfast - John Buchan ) I did mostly enjoy these, but I also find them intensely frustrating on all sorts of levels.

16. The Blue Castle - LM Montgomery ) I never stop loving this story.

17. Obsession in Death - JD Robb ) I'm not getting tired of this series yet, that's for sure.

18. The Gospel of Loki - Joanne Harris ) Not badly told, but also not worth bothering with unless you have never actually read any Norse mythology; if you have, you already know everything this book has to offer.

19. Rilla of Ingleside - LM Montgomery ) Thoroughly satisfying as always.

20. Life: An Unauthorised Biography - Richard Fortey ) Fortey writes in a much more personal voice than, say, Attenborough, but I like that for this kind of writing. Well worth a look.

21. The Latin New Testament - Hugh Houghton ) Interesting, but too specialist for me.

Book review: "The Fading", Carole Nomarhas

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 04:47 pm
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[personal profile] fred_mouse
Disclaimer: This book was one of many I read as a judge for the 2015 Aurealis Awards. This review is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.
Score: 4.5/5
Quick review 1: Somewhat formulaic horror/dark fantasy, but (nearly) every story grabbed me. The twists are good genre tropes, handled well. Consistently competent, nicely varied.
Long review:
Nomarhas is not an author I was previously familiar with, and there is no visible publishers imprint in the ebook, so I was all braced for this to be a little on the dreadful side. But four reprints in a single author collection (of eleven) stories went a little way towards reassuring me, as did the rather striking cover. As did the first two stories, which I was somewhat surprised to discover were not (either of them) included in the reprints. From there, I was pretty much hooked. Other than one story that I found a little thin, a reprise of an author's conceit that I felt really only works once, and the bookending with a couple of too thematically similar stories given the range of the rest, everything worked for me. 
For me, the highlights of the collection are "Of Bone and Dust and Hide" and "Bernie's Mother". The former takes the terror that dust and heat and distance can create for those who are not familiar with them, and creates a landscape that devours. The latter follows the career of a wanna-be serial killer who just needed the right impetus. 
Of the others, some interesting explorations of identity, of the creation of reality, and the illusions that keep us sane. A number of classic horror tropes show up - the serial killer, the vampire, the predatory middle-aged villains, the lost girl, the revenge fantasy. There is the odd twist in the tale, but some really are just the story that they look to be. For example, the vampire story - nothing unusual, just a good, solid, 'suspicion of vampire' trope, played with all the beats in the right place. And, without spoilers, there is one story, where my story summary includes the phrase "..Almost Lovecraftian, without the dodgy bits". Across the darker of the stories, the author does a fabulous job of showing a range of deeply unpleasant people without beating the reader over the head with the details of the protagonists' awfulness(es). 
As for the book as a collection, it works well. I've already flagged my issues with the bookending of two thematically similar stories, both reflecting the ideas of a slow apocalypse. The bringing of the collection around to its start works well in this case, with the final story providing a gently icky finish for a gently icky collection. The afterward is nothing startling, but does give a little of the author (and it is blissfully brief, a feature I have started looking for when author's write about their own work). This collection is not going to set the world on fire, but it is rock solid, with reasonably consistently strong stories with a good range of ideas/tropes

more hiking, more eating

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 09:05 am

Annoying dreams are not helping

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 12:31 am
archangelbeth: Bleary-eyed young woman peers up, pillow obscuring the lower half of her face. Text reads: SO not a morning person. (So Not A Morning Person)
[personal profile] archangelbeth
Six hours and 25 minutes is not optimal sleep for me. ;_;

Nevertheless. Percy went to the vet for shots. He got shots. He was annoyed by shots, but otherwise was pretty chill.

We saw Zootopia. It is good. I admired the sparkly black shorts, with stripe-like rents to show the orange fur, on the tiger-boy dancers. Spouse went "hmph" at me. ^_^

Havva Quote
Life isn't some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.
--Chief Bogo; Zootopia

INwatch+Bookwatch )

Dragons under fold )

Life happened

Friday, April 29th, 2016 10:22 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
No Tanith Lee review this week. To make up this, I am extending the Lee reviews past the 52 week mark to the end of 2016.

Ah, young love

Friday, April 29th, 2016 07:45 pm
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[personal profile] telophase
The further adventures of Murderface McKenzie, Esq. in Skyrim.
Read more... )
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[personal profile] renenet posting in [community profile] vividcon
Just swinging by to drop a friendly reminder that the vid submission deadline for Club Vivid is tonight, 4/29/2016, at 11:59 p.m. (in any time zone).

Please remember that you must have signed up in advance with AbsoluteDestiny to submit a premiering vid for Club Vivid.

As always, please see the Uploading instructions on our website for details on how to prepare your vid and get it to us!

If due to extenuating circumstances, you expect not to be able to meet tonight's deadline I refer you to the answer to the following question in our FAQ:

What if I can’t finish my vid by the submission deadline?

Thank you, and happy vidding! :D

May 22: Victoria Park Happening: a Task Party

Friday, April 29th, 2016 08:47 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

Come play in Victoria Park!

A Task Party is a collaborative art event. Everyone will draw tasks and complete them in whatever interpretation they see fit. The only limitation is your imagination! And physics.

BRING: yourself, an open mind, optional: snacks, craft materials/ random objects to contribute, and a smile*!

Take Chances! Make Mistakes! Get Messy!

This is a kid-friendly event. In fact, kids are probably 10,000% better at the whole Take Chances! Make Mistakes! Get Messy! thing!

* If not your own, then someone else's.

Short Fiction Recs for April 2016

Friday, April 29th, 2016 05:43 pm
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[personal profile] forestofglory
So it is almost the end of the month, which means it is time for short fiction recs. However right now I'm feeling a bit discouraged about this project. The Hugo finalist were announced last week, and the bigoted slaters were able to control most of the nominations. This year more than 4000 people nominated, and I had hoped that would make difference. I'm angry for the people who nominated for the 1st time this year, that they had such cruddy experience, and I hope they won't all be discouraged from nominating again.

Really though, I'm so sad for the stories I loved last year. It was such great year for short fiction and I really hoped to see some of my favorites be recognized. Or if my favorites couldn't be on the short list, I wanted the stories that beat them out to have done so because people loved them. And it feels self aggrandizing to admit it but part of the purpose of this project is to help people find fiction they love to nominate for the Hugos, and I was hoping to have some impact on the final ballot. Which is silly because only an handful of people read my recs.

Anyways I do have some recs, because this project is also about sharing things I love with my friends. I wish this set was a bit more cheerful, but I hope you enjoy them.

"Dragon Brides" by Nghi Vo A slightly creepy story about what happens a princess after she is rescued form a dragon.

"This Is a Letter to My Son" by KJ Kabza (content note: cancer death) A sweet domestic story in the near future, featuring a trans girl and her dead mother.

"A Salvaging of Ghosts" by Aliette de Bodard (Content note: death of an adult child) This story is so beautiful and sad, and lovey. You should read it especially if you liked The Citadel of Weeping Pearls.

"From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review" by Marie Brennan I adore The Memoirs of Lady Trent, this story takes place between volumes 3 and 4 and stands on its own though it does contain spoilers. It is in the form of exchange of letters in scientific journal.

Have you read any good short fiction lately? Recs for something cheerful would be especially appreciated just now.

(no subject)

Friday, April 29th, 2016 08:25 pm
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[personal profile] the_rck
The last couple of days, when I’ve been at home alone (so that it’s quiet), I’ve been hearing something that sounds like a sink with a very heavy drip or a rapidly moving fan with a little catch in it. Nobody else has noticed it, probably because Scott and Cordelia have music or the TV on all the time. At any rate, all of the fans are off. None of the faucets upstairs are dripping (and I wouldn’t expect to hear something like that from the basement). I’m not sure Scott believes me that it even exists.

I’ve eaten toast, crackers, and mashed potatoes* today. I really, really want something else, but I don’t dare. This is definitely going to make taking my mother out for lunch a lot more complicated.

*I wasn’t sure the mashed potatoes would come out. The instructions on the package called for some milk. Almond milk is generally fine, but Scott never, ever checks when he grabs that to be sure he’s getting the plain kind, so what’s in the fridge is a nearly fully, very large container of vanilla almond milk. That would be just plain nasty with garlic mashed potatoes, so I used extra water. I think it would have been better with milk, but it’s not inedible. But why on earth does Scott keep buying the vanilla flavored almond milk? I’ve asked him repeatedly not to.

The 100: Fire Inside the Mountain

Friday, April 29th, 2016 08:08 pm
tassosss: (Clarke)
[personal profile] tassosss posting in [community profile] vidding
Title: Fire Inside the Mountain
Vidder: [personal profile] tassosss
Fandom: The 100
Music: I See Fire by Ed Sheeran
Summary: A fire is building inside Mount Weather
Content notes: Show levels of violence
Spoilers: Season 2
Length: 4:55

Download and Streaming
AO3 | tumblr | DW | Youtube

Alien Day, RPG Sessions

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 09:04 am
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[personal profile] tcpip
Last Tuesday was Alien Day, which we 'celebrated' by attending a packed double-feature at the Astor. Reebok managed to embarrass themselves by releasing Ripley's stomper boots in a manner that Ripley wouldn't have bought. They are, of course, a great pair of films for both horror in the first case, and a highly quotable action film in the second. I think the third film is good in its own right, but the wheels on the narrative had pretty much fallen off at that point. After the film discussed whether as a biological specimen, the facehugger stage seems to be an unnecessary complexity. Next year I think I'll run a session of the somewhat maligned Aliens RPG.

Played Laundry Files on Thursday and Eclipse Phase last night. The former involved investigating the retrospective myth of the Slender Man, although we were a little distracted by a member's donation of library items. The latter session, with some juxtaposition, included both negotiations with an interrogation expert and attendance at a young socialite's new sleeve party (kids these days, eh?). That session also had an interruption in the form of a high-speed utility vehicle taking down a light pole outside the house. Both sessions were characteristed by a high level of social table banter, which is fine, but to be honest we didn't progress either story particularly far.

They Have To Be Monsters

Friday, April 29th, 2016 09:47 pm
[syndicated profile] coding_horror_feed

Posted by Jeff Atwood

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That's why it's troubling to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for his family because he’s not alive for it.

He died of a heroin overdose last February. This year is even harder than the last. I started weeping at midnight and eventually cried myself to sleep. Today’s symptoms include explosions of sporadic sobbing and an insurmountable feeling of emptiness. My mom posted a gut-wrenching comment on my brother’s Facebook page about the unfairness of it all. Her baby should be here, not gone. “Where is the God that is making us all so sad?” she asked.

In response, someone — a stranger/(I assume) another human being — commented with one word: “Junkie.”

The interaction may seem a bit strange and out of context until you realize that this is the Facebook page of a person who was somewhat famous, who produced the excellent show Parks and Recreation. Not that this forgives the behavior in any way, of course, but it does explain why strangers would wander by and make observations.

There is deep truth in the old idea that people are able to say these things because they are looking at a screen full of words, not directly at the face of the person they're about to say a terrible thing to. That one level of abstraction the Internet allows, typing, which is so immensely powerful in so many other contexts …

… has some crippling emotional consequences.

As an exercise in empathy, try to imagine saying some of the terrible things people typed to each other online to a real person sitting directly in front of you. Or don't imagine, and just watch this video.

I challenge you to watch the entirety of that video. I couldn't do it. This is the second time I've tried, and I had to turn it off not even 2 minutes in because I couldn't take it any more.

It's no coincidence that these are comments directed at women. Over the last few years I have come to understand how, as a straight white man, I have the privilege of being immune from most of this kind of treatment. But others are not so fortunate. The Guardian analyzed 70 million comments and found that online abuse is heaped disproportionately on women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientation.

And avalanches happen easily online. Anonymity disinhibits people, making some of them more likely to be abusive. Mobs can form quickly: once one abusive comment is posted, others will often pile in, competing to see who can be the most cruel. This abuse can move across platforms at great speed – from Twitter, to Facebook, to blogposts – and it can be viewed on multiple devices – the desktop at work, the mobile phone at home. To the person targeted, it can feel like the perpetrator is everywhere: at home, in the office, on the bus, in the street.

I've only had a little taste of this treatment, once. The sense of being "under siege" – a constant barrage of vitriol and judgment pouring your way every day, every hour – was palpable. It was not pleasant. It absolutely affected my state of mind. Someone remarked in the comments that ultimately it did not matter, because as a white man I could walk away from the whole situation any time. And they were right. I began to appreciate what it would feel like when you can't walk away, when this harassment follows you around everywhere you go online, and you never really know when the next incident will occur, or exactly what shape it will take.

Imagine the feeling of being constantly on edge like that, every day. What happens to your state of mind when walking away isn't an option? It gave me great pause.

The Scream by Nathan Sawaya

I admired the way Stephanie Wittels Wachs actually engaged with the person who left that awful comment. This is a man who has two children of his own, and should be no stranger to the kind of pain involved in a child's death. And yet he felt the need to post the word "Junkie" in reply to a mother's anguish over losing her child to drug addiction.

Isn’t this what empathy is? Putting myself in someone else’s shoes with the knowledge and awareness that I, too, am human and, therefore, susceptible to this tragedy or any number of tragedies along the way?

Most would simply delete the comment, block the user, and walk away. Totally defensible. But she didn't. She takes the time and effort to attempt to understand this person who is abusing her mother, to reach them, to connect, to demonstrate the very empathy this man appears incapable of.

Consider the related story of Lenny Pozner, who lost a child at Sandy Hook, and became the target of groups who believe the event was a hoax, and similarly selflessly devotes much of his time to refuting and countering these bizarre claims.

Tracy’s alleged harassment was hardly the first, Pozner said. There’s a whole network of people who believe the media reported a mass shooting that never happened, he said, that the tragedy was an elaborate hoax designed to increase support for gun control. Pozner said he gets ugly comments often on social media, such as, “Eventually you’ll be tried for your crimes of treason against the people,” “… I won’t be satisfied until the caksets are opened…” and “How much money did you get for faking all of this?”

It's easy to practice empathy when you limit it to people that are easy to empathize with – the downtrodden, the undeserving victims. But it is another matter entirely to empathize with those that hate, harangue, and intentionally make other people's lives miserable. If you can do this, you are a far better person than me. I struggle with it. But my hat is off to you. There's no better way to teach empathy than to practice it, in the most difficult situations.

In individual cases, reaching out and really trying to empathize with people you disagree with or dislike can work, even people who happen to be lifelong members of hate organizations, as in the remarkable story of Megan Phelps-Roper:

As a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, Phelps-Roper believed that AIDS was a curse sent by God. She believed that all manner of other tragedies—war, natural disaster, mass shootings—were warnings from God to a doomed nation, and that it was her duty to spread the news of His righteous judgments. To protest the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in America, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS and of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members held signs with slogans like “GOD HATES FAGS” and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS,” and the outrage that their efforts attracted had turned the small church, which had fewer than a hundred members, into a global symbol of hatred.

Perhaps one of the greatest failings of the Internet is the breakdown in cost of emotional labor.

First we’ll reframe the problem: the real issue is not Problem Child’s opinions – he can have whatever opinions he wants. The issue is that he’s doing zero emotional labor – he’s not thinking about his audience or his effect on people at all. (Possibly, he’s just really bad at modeling other people’s responses – the outcome is the same whether he lacks the will or lacks the skill.) But to be a good community member, he needs to consider his audience.

True empathy means reaching out and engaging in a loving way with everyone, even those that are hurtful, hateful, or spiteful. But on the Internet, can you do it every day, multiple times a day, across hundreds of people? Is this a reasonable thing to ask of someone? Is it even possible, short of sainthood?

The question remains: why would people post such hateful things in the first place? Why reply "Junkie" to a mother's anguish? Why ask the father of a murdered child to publicly prove his child's death was not a hoax? Why tweet "Thank God for AIDS!"

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to this question, and you're not going to like it.

Busy-Work by Shen, owlturd.com

I don't like it. I don't want it. But I know.

I have laid some heavy stuff on you in this post, and for that, I apologize. I think the weight of what I'm trying to communicate here requires it. I have to warn you that the next article I'm about to link is far heavier than anything I have posted above, maybe the heaviest thing I've ever posted. It's about the legal quandary presented in the tragic cases of children who died because their parents accidentally left them strapped into carseats, and it won a much deserved pulitzer. It is also one of the most harrowing things I have ever read.

Ed Hickling believes he knows why. Hickling is a clinical psychologist from Albany, N.Y., who has studied the effects of fatal auto accidents on the drivers who survive them. He says these people are often judged with disproportionate harshness by the public, even when it was clearly an accident, and even when it was indisputably not their fault.

Humans, Hickling said, have a fundamental need to create and maintain a narrative for their lives in which the universe is not implacable and heartless, that terrible things do not happen at random, and that catastrophe can be avoided if you are vigilant and responsible.

In hyperthermia cases, he believes, the parents are demonized for much the same reasons. “We are vulnerable, but we don’t want to be reminded of that. We want to believe that the world is understandable and controllable and unthreatening, that if we follow the rules, we’ll be okay. So, when this kind of thing happens to other people, we need to put them in a different category from us. We don’t want to resemble them, and the fact that we might is too terrifying to deal with. So, they have to be monsters.

This man left the junkie comment because he is afraid. He is afraid his own children could become drug addicts. He is afraid his children, through no fault of his, through no fault of anyone at all, could die at 30. When presented with real, tangible evidence of the pain and grief a mother feels at the drug related death of her own child, and the reality that it could happen to anyone, it became so overwhelming that it was too much for him to bear.

Those "Sandy Hook Truthers" harass the father of a victim because they are afraid. They are afraid their own children could be viciously gunned down in cold blood any day of the week, bullets tearing their way through the bodies of the teachers standing in front of them, desperately trying to protect them from being murdered. They can't do anything to protect their children from this, and in fact there's nothing any of us can do to protect our children from being murdered at random, at school any day of the week, at the whim of any mentally unstable individual with access to an assault rifle. That's the harsh reality.

When faced with the abyss of pain and grief that parents feel over the loss of their children, due to utter random chance in a world they can't control, they could never control, maybe none of us can ever control, the overwhelming sense of existential dread is simply too much to bear. So they have to be monsters. They must be.

And we will fight these monsters, tooth and nail, raging in our hatred, so we can forget our pain, at least for a while.

After Lyn Balfour’s acquittal, this comment appeared on the Charlottesville News Web site:

“If she had too many things on her mind then she should have kept her legs closed and not had any kids. They should lock her in a car during a hot day and see what happens.”

I imagine the suffering that these parents are already going through, reading these words that another human being typed to them, just typed, and something breaks inside me. I can't process it. But rather than pitting ourselves against each other out of fear, recognize that the monster who posted this terrible thing is me. It's you. It's all of us.

The weight of seeing through the fear and beyond the monster to simply discover yourself is often too terrible for many people to bear. In a world of hard things, it's the hardest there is.

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Relitigating the Golden Rule

Friday, April 29th, 2016 09:41 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Protect religious groups you admire by protecting religious groups you do not admire. Otherwise you're just trying to find a loophole in the Golden Rule -- trying to compel others to do unto us as we would have them do while exempting ourselves from any obligation to do unto them as they would have us do. And that's not good.

[ SECRET POST #3404 ]

Friday, April 29th, 2016 06:31 pm
case: (Default)
[personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3404 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 00 pages, 000 secrets from Secret Submission Post #486.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

(no subject)

Friday, April 29th, 2016 11:02 pm
reddragdiva: (geek)
[personal profile] reddragdiva

installing and setting up xubuntu 16.04. why the hell does vim-gtk have apache2 as a “suggested package”.

to make capslock a control key, run /usr/bin/setxkbmap -option "ctrl:nocaps" from Session and Startup->Application Autostart, and fuck you xubuntu for still not including an interface for this basic x11 config shit. you’re darned lucky you haven’t comprehensively sodomised the pooch like gnome or kde.

(i'd be running xfce debian if it wasn't as bloody ugly as sin and mint if they'd ever heard of security.)

how the fuck do you set preferences for nautilus when you’re not actually running gnome.

About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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