October 18--Needles x 3

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 21:51
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[personal profile] zyzyly
I finished my yesterday's lecture this morning, and now have a free week to prepare for the next batch. I thought I had two hours today, but only had one, so that gave me an extra hour to do stuff. I wrote a couple of recommendation letters. One for a former student, and one for a friend of Malida's who wants to go to nursing school. I've known him for about 7 years, since he was a teenager and just here from Thailand. I am sure he will do great.

I went over to the hospital to meet with a couple of students and their preceptors. I know both the preceptors, and they are both great. I am really pleased with how things are progressing this semester.

After work I went for my doctor visit. I mentioned yesterday that I wasn't sure about this doctor, but the visit went well, and he addressed all my concerns. We talked about how follow-up should go, and settled on visits every six months, which is what I was doing with the previous doctor. I got a flu shot and a shingles vaccine, which is what you get when you are 60. He ordered a bunch of labs, which I anticipated and stayed fasting for, and I got those all drawn. All three needle sticks were pretty much painless. I hate needles.

After the doctor I went back to the bank to complete some additional paperwork for the new credit cards. Not paperwork, really, it's all electronic. We tried to do it yesterday, but I had forgotten to unfreeze my credit reports.

While we were waiting for stuff to process, the branch manager pretty much told me her life story. Married at 20 to high school sweetheart. Started working in a bank at 21. Had some kids, and eventually became a single parent for quite a while. Met her current husband about 5 years ago. She explained all about how they manage their home finances. They have a household account and each has a personal account. She keeps a budget, and keeps track of everything that goes in and out of the household account.

She told me that sometimes a young couple will come in to the bank trying to make sense of their finances after a bunch of overdrafts, and she will sit down with them and tell them how she approaches it. She was delightful, and I am so glad we went to this credit union.

I came home and finished transferring all our bills over to the new account. All except our water bill, which is some antiquated system that requires me to go into the office with a voided check. I don't have any checks, but can get one from the bank, and the water company is just across the street, so it's fine.

In the evening I wrote out my students' mid-term evaluations. It is so nice to not have one or two that needs to be shuffled to the bottom of the pile for special attention. Such a good group.

It seems like it has been a long day, and I am ready for sleep.

new guy

Seen on one of the art department faculty office doors. Everyone in the art department has private offices. Even the new guy.
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[personal profile] elfs



Jeet Heer called that an "unpopular opinion." I think he's right.

I'm going to do some intellectual violence to Buddhism here, but in doing so I hope to open up a couple of pointers and maybe open up a discussion about a central tenant of Buddhism. Buddhism is basically an entirel religion built around one essential insight: you are not your thoughts, and your thoughts arise for reasons over which you have very little control.

That's it. The rest of Buddhism is an attempt to make sense of this insight, and to use it fruitfully. The technology for doing so is meditation. ("technology: the means and knowledge used to provide for human sustenance and comfort" — oh, if only!) And there are only three subdisciplines of meditation that you have to master in order to acheive Buddha's essential insight.

Concentration


The very first skill of Buddhism is being able to focus and control your thoughts on demand. This is the infamous Breath Meditation, the one that bores everyone and is the first major hurdle to overcome. This is the time when you spend first five, then ten, then twenty, then longer, concentrating only on a single thing: your breath, a candle flame, a mantra, a thought, a feeling. That's it. It's a discipline.

And for someone like me, with mild ADHD, it's been incredibly useful.

Mindfulness


The second skill is mindfulness. You can't even begin to practice mindfulness until done concentration for a while. Mindfulness starts with being able to recognize when your mind has wandered off from concentration. Over the weeks and months of concentration practice, you develop a sense of mindfulness about your own mind. There are two subdisciplines of mindfulness: external and internal.

External is easier: you become mindful of what's going on around you. You pay attention to the world, to everything around you, labeling every stimuli accurately but not considering anything else about it: not its origin, not its disposition. You can do it with your eyes open, even.

Internal starts out simply enough: meditating on physical states, like what temperature is your big toe, how much pressure is being exerted by your knees, what angle are you carrying your head at. Eventually, though, mindfulness moves to emotions: what does it feel like to feel sad, or angry? Where in your body do you carry stress? Where in your body do you feel happiness?

Between these two, you develop a sense of the transience of all these feelings. Thoughts happen to distract you, you are not entirely, or even mostly, in control of them. The best you can do is keep them marshalled.

Insight


Insight is the hardest of all. It builds off mindfulness. Insight is the realization that those feelings you're having aren't you. You've already developed a sense that your feelings aren't under your control. The distraction to get up and get a drink, or turn away from whatever you're working on to watch YouTube or hit Facebook, is terrible, but that distraction either is you or isn't you, and there's not a whole lot of in-between.

Even more importantly, the border between "you" and the "world" gets a little fuzzy. Sure, it seems to be your skin, but the world comes in through eyes, ears, your nose and mouth. Your skin and the world are in a constant negotiation about the temperatures and pressures to which you're subject, its comfort and its texture: is your skin "you," or is it doing something without your "self" making decisions?

Now the point of insight is to chip away, mindful moment by moment, that maybe there is nothing at all that is you. There's nothing you can point to that's "you" in a coherent sense. There's a version of you that's hungry, and cranky, and happy, and joyful, but none of those is in a real sense "you," an incontrovertible noun that represents you-ness.

The Buddhists claim that those who have had the full insight, the moment when all of sense of yourself has been extinguished and you've fully embraced the idea that there's no coherent "you," you become ineffably aware of the fragility of everyone else, and in doing so become more compassionate and wise, an arahat.

The science fictional view


"The Transporter Paradox," which asks who you are if you're disassembled in one place and reassembled in another, complete and accurate down to the last quark, is a classic of modern science. I've played with it myself. My robots talk a lot (too much, maybe) about negotating that barrier between themselves and the world, about the nature of thought, even about the way we come up with narratives to explain why we act in certain ways. My brain uploads find that giving up the body has its own suite of challenges, and many opt for simulated bodies to keep the level of stimuli familiar and comforting.

But the one thing that brain uploads also challenge is the idea of reifying time. In the current world, we have these lovely tools called "time traveling debuggers," which record the state of the program as its running, and allow programmers to view the program's memory state as a graph of use-over-time, looking for spikes and strange behaviors and bugs. If we reified someone's brain state in the same way, would that be the "self" she claims as her own? It would be more concrete, it would wrap the Buddhist objections about "impermanence" in a malleable, permanent representation. It would, in fact, challenge Buddhism to treat time as a phenomenon that is part of, and not distinct from, the three-dimensional representation of the body.

On the other hand, it would also definitely reify the way "you" and "your world" are inseparable; just as a time travelling debugger makes no sense without both a program to run and a computer to run it on, a consciousness running on any substrate, be it meat or metal, requires a context in which to exist. So in one sense, we've found a thought experiment that solidifies one sense in which Buddhism's insights about human nature might not be true, and one in which they are even more true. "Impermanence" is itself an illusory effect of any one human being's inability to perceive more than a singular instant of time. And yet, "selfhood" itself becomes something without any independent existence at all; your "self" doesn't exist except as an illusion, like a seam of silver in the great mines of spacetime that can't be extracted without destroying both.

Gnagh

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 21:43
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[personal profile] flemmings
It's been a decade since I used amazon Japan, so I'd forgotten the sad lesson I learned there: if a company uses Fedex, run away as fast as possible. $30 US shipping for a $48 order, plus Fedex fee for border paperwork, and Customs or HST on top of that. And then Clear the Air sends me an email telling me how to use their bags, with this helpful addition, which in a spirit of spite I will share with everyone here:
If you do not want to wait for bags to be shipped to you, it is possible to make your own bags:

Go to PETCO and buy Clear the Air Cat Urine Odor Eliminator. It is in the cat section near the cat liter (sic). It is in a pink canister with a white cat on the front. Most PETCO stores carry this product. Buy at least three or four canisters. PETCO SKU # 1564420

Pour the contents of one canister into an old nylon or sock and tie it off. One 14 oz canister will make one bag that will cover approximately 75 square feet.
Hang bag in room to be deodorized and, they claim, odours will vanish within a few hours. This I very much doubt. Vanish for others; not for me.
Still Wednesday )

Reading roundup: VALLISTA (and friends)

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 18:09
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45. Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows -- so I've been vaguely aware of this book and sort of avoiding it, until [personal profile] isis/[livejournal.com profile] isiscolo started reading them, and I found myself intrigued by the description of a layering of backstories and caper plot, gritty and complex characters, and a writing style with a lot of tagless dialogue, sparse on adverbs and adjectives but still strong on flavor. All of this sounded fairly Vlad Taltos-y to me, so waiting for Vallista to drop seemed like the perfect time to try it. Ultimately, it ended up reminding me more of a different book (more on which below), but I ended up enjoying it anyway -- and it was gripping enough in the reading that I missed my return commute stop once, and nearly missed it a few more times, and then lay in bed until I finished the book, which doesn't happen to me very often. (Damn cliffhangerish ending, though!)

I've been aware of Bardugo's Grisha trilogy books for a while, and assiduously avoiding them since I checked out some very basic Goodreads reviews and discovered the fake-Russian was going to be AWFUL for me (pro tip: If you're going to play with Russian last names, the -ov ending is masculine, and the -ova ending is feminine. "Alina Starkov" and especially "Aleksander Morozova" (or "Ilya Morozova") is INCREDIBLY grating, and also REALLY EASY to avoid with a quick beta check. I mean, seriously, Russian speakers are not extinct and do use the internet -- imagine! And don't pick names randomly off the census lists, maybe? At least not in gendered languages. Like, maybe there's even an in-universe reason for this? but I'm never going to read it, because you've lost me at the blurb.) BUT ANYWAY, once I was reassured that Six of Crows (which is a kickass title btw) was set not in !Russia but in !Amsterdam, I felt much more confident giving it a shot. There is a major !Russian character in this book, and some more minor ones, but fortunately she had a decently plausible name, and was also a pretty great character, although not noticeably Russian in any ways that were discernible to me (the way, say, Varvara Sidorovna in RoL is). There is still some fake-Russian mumbo-jumbo built into the fabric of the worldbuilding, but I could mostly ignore that. More, with spoilers )

44. Steven Brust, Tiassa (reread) -- part of my semi-accidental reread to lead up to the Vallista release. I ended up liking the first part (early Vlad), which was my favorite the first time around, less, and the ambigious-POV part 2 more, and still rather ground to a halt on the Paarfi section. I keep forgetting how little I actually enjoy reading Paarfi-prose, because I do enjoy a lot of the things that happen in the Paarfi books, but, gah, it was such a relief to go back to Vlad narration in the epilogue. Also, when I first heard about it, I didn't subscribe to the theory that spoilers )

46. Steven Brust, Vallista -- par for the course, I finished it in less than 24 hours (and what am I going to do now, until Taslmoth comes out?) Once I learned that Vallista was going to be a gothic, that both felt very fitting (duh, of course the Vallista book would have a building-as-character at its center!) and also made me apprehensive, because I just don't care for gothics as such. I needn't have worried, because it's Vlad, and it was both very gothicy and not overwrought in the way that turns me off actual gothics. I liked it! And it's a really clever book, thematically, and there are probably also construction bits I'll notice on rereads. It didn't leave me wanting to know what happens next (because what happens next is Hawk), and it didn't leave me wanting more of the same, which also happens a lot with Vlad books for me. It just felt... complete, which also seems fitting for the Vallista book. But I keep thinking about it and coming to new realizations as I do, which is really neat. I want to write my initial impressions down before I go looking to see what mailing list or chat people are saying (assuming anyone is saying anything anywhere :P), but I'm sure bits of this one will be dropping into place for me for a long time. SPOILERS from here! )

And a Vlad link: SKZB on Vlad reading order. The interesting thing to me is the idea that, once complete, reading in Cycle order will be another possibility. Presumably starting with Dragon (after Taltos) rather than Phoenix, but it would go Dragon, [Lyorn], Tiassa, Hawk, Dzur, Issola, [Tsalmoth], Vallista, Jhereg, Iorich, [Chreotha], Yendi, Orca, Teckla, Jhegaala, Athyra, Phoenix. This is an interesting idea. I can see how some successions would work -- Tiassa-Hawk is publication order, Hawk-Dzur could be fun, Vallista-Jhereg is a bit backwards but both have the reincarnation thing, Jhereg-Iorich is a very nice order, Yendi-Orca I can see, and Teckla-Jhegaala-Athyra makes for a super-depressing triad but actually make a fair bit of sense. The only thing I can't really wrap my brain around is reading Dzur and THEN Issola.

*

And two fic recs from Crossovering:

- Winterfell Tales (Vorkosigan Saga/Game of Thrones crossover, 2.6k, T), Miles and Ekaterin find themselves in Westeros and meet Sansa and Tyrion. This is a crossover I've wanted to see for ages, and it was a lovely take on it.

- The Start of a Long Summer (AtLA/Narnia, 1.7k, gen), a young Azula steps through the wardrobe. And this is a crossover I had no idea I wanted to see, but marvelously done!

India’s “Mother Tongues.”

2017-Oct-19, Thursday 00:31
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Posted by languagehat

There’s all sorts of interesting stuff in Parvathy Raveendran’s report for Scroll.in on a recent translation-centred literary festival in Bangalore, from what is meant by “mother tongue” to invented scripts (“as in the case of Santali in eastern India: the Ol Chiki script was invented in 1925 by Pandit Raghunath Murmu to approximate an alphabet which more adequately represented the sounds of the language than the Roman or Devanagari scripts”); I’ll quote a couple of passages that particularly intrigued me and let you discover the rest at the link. The first:

For sociologist, writer and translator Chandan Gowda, the mother tongue is not perforce linked to biological ancestry; rather, it is the language in which you find “the greatest existential ease and pleasure in encountering meaning”. Gowda spoke of the advantages of having been able to learn his native Kannada at the English medium school he went to, not least because he believes reading history, journalism and critical nonfiction in the vernacular gives one a richer sense of immediate contexts and specific pasts, and the literatures (poetry, in particular) one encounters growing up, form the core of one’s ethical and affective self.

Gowda’s formulation of the mother tongue primarily as a source of intellectual pleasure and a multi-pronged way of knowing (inclusive of aesthetic, emotional and moral sense-making) had direct bearing on the discussions that followed, around language and education.

I like that formulation: “the greatest existential ease and pleasure in encountering meaning.” And this, on Tamil:

Dalit scholar and intellectual Stalin Rajangam pointed out there is a similar encoding of the Dalit voice in “classical” Tamil literature. It is a little-known fact that Thiruvalluvar, the philosopher-poet who composed Thirukkural, the monumental Tamil treatise on ethics, was a weaver by profession and a Dalit. So were Avvaiyar, the great woman poet of the Sangam period, and Sekkizhar, the Shaiva saint-poet. Rajangam delved into a fascinating history of subaltern Tamil which goes by the poetic epithet of mozhikkullu mozhi (“language within language”).

It is a history inscribed in the age-old differentiation of spoken and literary Tamil – seri thamizh and senthamizh. The distinction is casteist, rooted in etymologies of purity and pollution: “seri” refers to the slums where Dalit communities live (another early adjective for Dalit speech, kotun, meant “bent, crooked, or twisted”), while the suffix “sen” comes from “cemmai” denoting proportion, elegance and excellence (in other words, a tongue that is straight, clean and beautiful). Rajangam recounted how this binary of the colloquial and the classical was cast in iron by colonial lexicographers in the context of the emergent print culture of Tamil Nadu in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A decisive battle in this regard was the dictionary debate between two missionaries, the Jesuit scholar Joseph Beschi and Lutheran linguist Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg, in the 1700s. With Beschi’s victory, the “High” Tamil he championed became the standard and the Dalit idiom, along with its distinctive lexemes, orthography, rhythms and aesthetic, was excluded from print. The binary persists to this day, Rajangam avers, in forms both obvious and subtle.

I also like the thought of “language within language” very much. Thanks, Trevor!

Things

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 19:31
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[personal profile] melannen
It seems like it's been ages that I've posted anything substantial and non-FMK here (which I knew was a risk; I have enough social media XP (extroversion points) to keep up with approx. 1 DW post a week, that is well-established). So here is a 5 things to break the monotony:

1. Pokemon Go will not let me install the latest update (It gives an error message that says "we hates your phone, precious" [paraphrase] and then won't install.) So instead I have been playing Magikarp Jump, which the app store always tries to tell me pokego players will enjoy. So far:

This is my fish. There are many like it, but this one is mine. )


2. Also I finally won the last boss level in Alphabear, so until I got my fish game, I was totally at loose ends for mindless phone games, and started looking for ports of the ones I played as a kid. HOW IS AN ANDROID PORT OF GODDAMP CATERPILLAR 11 megabytes? I coded that from scratch on my TI83 when I was a kid! In, like, about 100 lines of code! WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?

(I also coded a text adventure with a gender-ambiguous protagonist on that calculator, actually...)


3. I finished cleaning my bathroom yesterday! It only took me about two weeks! It is so nice to go in there and have it be clean! clean ALL the things )


4. So last November I kind of went into power-save mode for awhile, quit using Habitica and also quit a bunch of the things I had been doing on a regular basis (tag wrangling, practicing piano, working on Spanish and Icelandic, writing on a regular basis, using Tumblr...) But my sister got me back onto using Habitica again, and now that all the cat-related tasks are gone (and I trimmed some other stuff) it's a much more reasonable list of dailies.

I had forgotten how very motivating it is to get to tick the thingy. Now I am debating whether to use my Orb of Rebirth and start over or not (And whether to try to get together an active party with more than just me and my sister and a bunch of inactive accounts.)

And I'm trying to get back to doing some of the other things I stopped, too. I gave Tag Wrangling an un-hiatus notice, so I'm committed to trying to be less fail at that, and I pulled out a piano book for the first time in months (I found a copy of the very first one I learned out of, The Joy Of First-Year Piano, to warm me back up) Og ég er að læra íslensku aftur. Þótt jurtabókin er erfitt. Það er of mikið um illt kaffi í bókinni. Y yo hablé español a una clienta hoy! Un poco español, pero un poco es más que nada.

The only thing I gave up that I haven't missed at all is Tumblr. *shrug emoji* (even that's not true, I have a secret backup tumblr to which are added a couple people who post mostly personal stuff and also a bunch of nature and solarpunk and library special collections photos, and no politics or fandom, and it's still fine.)

5. One of the things on my habitica dailies is to post an AO3 comment once a day. Another one is to do something with politics once a week. I got my wires crossed in there somewhere and realized that if I don't feel up to actually engaging with politics I can just send one of my (excellent) congresspeople an email that literally just says, "Hi staffer who reads these, you are fighting the good fight, keep holding the line, thank you", just like when I want to leave an AO3 comment but don't know what to say, and it STILL COUNTS.

Also, people are trying to get public outcry going toward Congress passing the nonpartisan bill Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) which would make it so the US President could not launch a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war. TBH I can't think of ANY reason why that should ever have been possible, but ESPECIALLY now. So write your congresspeople or spread the word to #PULL THE FOOTBALL

/me crosses off "do politics" for this week

Quick Check-In

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 22:29
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Hello fellow humans! I am not dead. I am slowly making my way down the length of California toward my high school reunion.

Life is good. I hope also that your life is good.

Tell the class about your day in the comments.

Yours,

JS


[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

File this one under Wednesday weird. The #1 trending topic on Twitter is currently “Melania” after a video and comparison photo shots convinced wide swaths of the Internet that Trump had employed a Melania doppelganger. The conspiracy fast became a meme, and the rest is history.

First, Twitter lit up about this video. You have to admit that as we zoom in on Melania, her nose looks different, as does her fringe of hair—and her vigorous nodding to Trump’s words. It was made weirder by Trump saying “My wife Melania, who happens to be right here.” For those who really got into this thing whole-heartedly, I think it’s demonstrative of how out-there Trump behaves on an everyday basis that nothing he or his family does would surprise us anymore. We’d totally be down for believing he swapped in a spare Melania look-alike for a photo op.

While portions of the Internet took this very seriously and broke down comparisons to the microscopic level, others had more fun memeing and hamming it up.

Let’s all simmer down, folks. Camera angles can play tricks:

But personally, I’m going with this take:

Anyway, given the terrible things Donald Trump has done just today, like deny he was rude to the widow of a fallen soldier (hmm, who should we believe, Donald Trump or the soldier’s mother?), and never follow up on the promise of fundraising $25,000 for the family of another lost soldier, we shouldn’t be distracted by this silliness (or so focused on picking apart a woman’s appearance). Still, #FakeMelania was too much of a moment in cultural history not to record. Everyone really needs a break, don’t we?

  • Twitter says they’re going to institute new rules for handling abuse on their network. Oh, sorry, that banshee-like sound you just heard was my incredulous, hysterical laughter. (via Wired)
  • So who’s been watching Mindhunter??? OMG how I’ve missed Anna Torv. Also, this is cool:

  • The cast of Halloweentown, reunited. (via Buzzfeed)
  • Director Guillermo Del Toro doesn’t mince words about Hollywood’s toxic culture: “The people with money are assholes.” (via THR)
  • French women have their own “me too”-esque hashtag, only it’s #BalanceTonPorc (“expose your pig”) (via Time)
  • Is my wife Hayley Atwell’s presence in Georgia a possible hint that she could be filming there for the Avengers? Please? Peggy please? (via Comicbook.com)

You made it halfway through the week! Hooray! So what’d you see today?

(image: screengrab)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

Director Marianna Palka has taken a loaded word and a batshit premise and managed to create a feminist satire that seems to be as insightful and incisive as it is funny and weird. Check out the trailer for her new film, Bitch, above!

This dark comedy tells the story of a woman (played by Palka) who is so overwhelmed by her life as a mother and wife that she becomes an actual bitcha female dog. Her cheating husband (Jason Ritter) and their kids then have to navigate life without her, clueless about all the physical and emotional labor they heaped upon her day in and day out, completely taking her for granted.

The film’s title is a divisive word in feminist circles. I happen to be in the camp that believes that the word can be reclaimed and be empowering depending on context and usage. There are others who see the word as demeaning in all contexts and prefer it never be used with regard to women. At Sundance this year, Palka explained her take on the word and why she chose it as a title:

“I think because there’s such a power in the word, and I think that the word actually means so much to so many people. I think that it’s obviously sometimes misused as a word and a term. I always think there’s another way to talk about someone. If you want to call them that, you should call them something else. You could say that they’re being assertive.”

Bitch arrives in theaters November 10th. Will you be checking it out?

(via The Muse, image: Youtube)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

As Ava DuVernay reminded us when she spoke at the Hammer Museum Gala earlier this week, “good guys” do exist. As rife as Hollywood is with terrible, horrifying examples of manhood, there are also those who genuinely and wholeheartedly embrace their role in doing better and furthering the cause of gender equality. I needed to take a minute to acknowledge them here; to remind myself that the world isn’t a complete shit-show.

We’ve already heard today about Kevin Smith putting his money where his mouth is and donating all future royalties from any films of his produced/distributed by the Weinsteins (which is a lot of films) to Women in Film. Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, we’re also hearing about Channing Tatum stopping development of his film adaptation of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, which was in development with The Weinstein Company.

A post shared by Channing Tatum (@channingtatum) on

My hope is that more people in Hollywood take things like a company’s record re: abuses against women into account before deciding whether or not to work with them in the first place. And if new information comes to light, they do what Tatum and his producing partner, Reid Carolin, have done: take their business elsewhere.

In addition to those men in Hollywood who are fighting on the business front, there are those who are working toward changing the culture of masculinity by really examining it and redefining what it means. I’ve been following Justin Baldoni’s work for a while now, at first because I’m a huge fan of Jane the Virgin (he plays Rafael), but shortly thereafter because I’ve learned that he is extremely passionate about using his craft and his platform to better the world around him.

His production company, Wayfarer Entertainment, exists not only to create content, but to engage in social justice and change, primarily in the realm of homelessness, but for other causes, too. One of those productions is a show called Man Enough.

I’ve been getting glimpses of the making of the show as it’s progressed via Baldoni’s Instagram, and it seems like a really cool idea. It’s a dinner party-style conversation show with a rotating cast of male participants who will be gathering to have honest conversations about what masculinity is, and can be.

Far from being an MRA-style bro-fest, Man Enough will gather men with all different experiences and relationships to gender in order to perpetuate a masculinity that isn’t about destruction and pain, but rather, one that allows the space for vulnerability and growth. Says Baldoni, “There is no shortage of men, I can tell you right now, that want to be at that table and have that conversation even in this town, believe it or not, because men are ready to talk, men are ready to open up, men are tired of the way things have been.”

The Hollywood Reporter announced that the show’s rotating cast includes Matt McGorry (How to Get Away With Murder), Derek Hough (Dancing With the Stars), Javier Munoz (Hamilton), comedian Bassem Youssef, spoken word artist Prince Ea, transgender activist Aydian Dowling, and former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

The fact that they’re including not only straight, white, and cis perspectives on masculinity, but those of men of color, queer men, and trans men gives me a lot of hope that the conversations they have will actually be valuable, and hopefully inspire similar conversations among men who watch.

Man Enough premieres online on November 28th at wearemanenough.com.

Lastly, I’ve been heartened to see men outside the Hollywood environment begin to have conversations on social media via hashtags like #ItWasMe and #HowIWillChange, taking responsibility for all the ways, big and small, in which they have individually perpetuated rape culture and sexism while vowing to do better.

I hope that this conversation leads to real, concrete action, and that this action continues. Sexism can’t be dismantled without men’s participation, and it gives me hope to see that there are men out there that see the dismantling of sexism as something that will benefit them much more than any “power” they have under this oppressive system.

(image: Wayfarer Entertainment)

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so very streaky

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 14:40
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[personal profile] solarbird
I've still got this damned head cold or whatever it is and it's awful and won't go away. I was feeling better yesterday but that didn't last.

I was fuckin' terrible today in lunchtime Overwatch. Well, as Widow, anyway. I was good as Tracer as always, and the weird thing is, the one time I wasn't terrible as Widow, it was in deathmatch, where I was surprisingly competitive against a pretty heavy set of enemies including three Pharahs and a D.va, which is not normally a recipe for competitiveness but I was.

So I was feeling pretty okay in warmup. But christ, go into quickplay and suddenly it's WHAT IS SNIPERS? and I can't hit a shot to save my life. (And that included while winning. So.)

This is in huge contrast to yesterday where I was not just playing well, but had another entire game of being the Widowmaker I want to be. Defence in Hollywood, 70% scope accuracy, eight criticals, golds in objective kills and objective time and silver in total kills, enemy Bastion got so sick of me that he tried being enemy Widow and yeah that did not help, enemy Pharah kept trying to go over the gate wall and I just kept one-shotting her out of the air until she got so mad that on their last serious push she apparently decided "y'know what, fuck the objective, fuck the game, I'm killing that fucking Widowmaker at least once" and went through the security office while I was busy with other people, jumped me from behind and let loose her one and only ult at point-blank range just for me.

Honestly, I felt quite flattered.

I guess the short form is I am still a work in progress, and it shows.
china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Default)
[personal profile] china_shop
Reading
I finished Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch. It was good, but I'm not sure these books are quite my genre -- I want less focus on complicated cases and just a touch more on interpersonal relationships and the process of learning magic. Maybe I should just read the fanfic? Anyway, my TV died over the weekend, so now the boy and I are spending our evenings listening to the audiobook of Midnight Riot, the first Rivers of London book, which is wryly and excellently performed by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who does all the accents and makes me wish they'd stripped out the unnecessary speech tags.

Currently... I still have Cary Elwes waiting for me, but first I'm catching up on fanfic (primarily Les Mis E/R, and Star Wars Finn/Poe) and various internet posts that've been accumulating on my Kindle.

Kdramas
I've watched four episodes of Chicago Typewriter, and I'm soooo confuuuuused. Is it past-lives or time travel? Or a mix of both? Is Yoo a manifestation of the spirit of the typewriter (in which case, am I shipping Han Se Joo/the typewriter o.O)? And did they only name Yoo that so they could use that Platters song "Only You (and You Alone)" in the soundtrack -- hilariously, I might add? What is going onnnn? (Please don't tell me!)

Also, it's a little painful watching him struggle with writer's block, when I too am in a slump. I keep shouting advice at him that I am not taking myself. ;-P

I also watched the 2-episode time-travel/undercover-as-a-eunuch drama, Splash Splash Love, about a high school student who runs away from her SAT exams and jumps through a puddle into drought-stricken Jeoseon, where her identity is immediately mistaken because apparently "high school senior" is a homophone for "eunuch" in Korean. It was cute but felt like a school play compared to Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, by which I mean they didn't manage to sell me on the world-building, and the relationships felt very rushed. And the age difference between the pairing bothered me. And (on an extremely shallow note) the actors weren't as pretty.

J and I have given up on My Girl (I'll finish it on my own) and switched to Master's Sun instead, which is a re-watch for me. Ghosts! Humour! Complicated backstories! Oh, my!

Mystery Queen and Chief Kim are both on hold this week.

Other TV
My TV turned into a radio over the weekend, so our Parks & Recreation re-watch has stalled (though we did watch the Halloween episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine last night on my teeny laptop). Since I failed to buy a replacement over the weekend, I decided to explore the possibility of having my TV repaired after all and yesterday drove half an hour up the motorway and into Lower Hutt to the repair place.

I realise that to many of you, half an hour's drive sounds like nothing, but Wellington is very compact, and when I gave the repair guy my address, he said, "You're a long way from home." Heh.

Anyway, we have the rest of Parks and The Expanse s2 on DVD waiting for us, and Pru comes over to watch dramas with me once a week, so I'm going to have to resolve the issue somehow. I'd rather not watch stuff on my desktop, because it would involve reconfiguring my living room.

Writing
Ha ha ha ha ha. *sigh*

Korean study
I had my first language exchange over the weekend. We talked for over two hours, in a mix of Korean and English, and we're meeting again tomorrow. I'm a little concerned that we want different things, but I guess we'll see how we go.

I've also downloaded Duolingo, now they offer Korean, and I'm working my way through that. It's fun and addictive (game-ification!), but I'm not sure I'm learning a great deal. I need to knuckle down and actually memorise some vocab.

And my classes start up again this evening.

Computer
The guy who used to fix my computer finally emailed me back (\o/) and said he's super busy atm, so I'm hanging in here, waiting until his time frees up enough that he can look at it. Which is 100% better than not having a plan.

Today...
...is sunny and warming up. I have some errands to run, and I think I'm going to bike out and have lunch with the boy. And then, of course, Kclass.
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Posted by Princess Weekes

For weeks, my best friend kept coming up to me saying that I had to—I absolutely had to—read Spinning. I was promised a bucketful of tears and a heart full of queer feelings; that is exactly what I was given after reading Spinning by cartoonist Tillie Walden.

In Tillie Walden’s graphic memoir (published on September 12), ten years of her life are recounted, in which her mornings and nights are consumed by competitive figure skating. Initially, the structure, the intensity, and the competition are things that give Tillie comfort, a steadiness until her family decided to move from New Jersey to Texas. It is there that Tillie’s world begins to change, the routines she’s set up for herself slowly fade away, and the emotional needs she requires are more than ice-skating can provide.

What I find so powerful about Spinning from a narrative perspective is the honesty with which the author tells her story. While Tillie is our protagonist, we’re allowed to see her selfishness, her ambition, and her almost elitist behavior with the other girls, and recognize them as faults. Her parents are shown to be caring and distant. The emotional vulnerability is also clear as she recounts feelings of longing for both emotional love and romantic love. My absolute favorite panel is when she recounts the first time she knew she was attracted to women.

“I never ignored the fact that I was attracted to them. I had known I was gay since I was 5. Now I was almost 12. A teacher’s aide had shown me how to hold your sleeve when you put your jacket on. I still remember her hands on my shoulders. I didn’t have a word to describe it yet, but in that moment I knew.”

While Spinning is not about coming out, Tillie doesn’t need to go through a crisis to know she’s gay either (yay!), but her falling in love and infatuation with other women while she’s closeted only helps to illustrate how not acknowledging that part of herself to others keeps her in a box that’s getting smaller by the minute.

Being young and gay is still hard, despite how many strides we have taken as a society. Homophobia is all around us, and just because people don’t stigmatize women as much for holding hands and even kissing, that doesn’t mean everyone’s suddenly OK with lesbians. Coming out means risking relationships and hearing a lot of “I like you—but not like that” comments from same-sex friends.

Ice skating is shown for the physically and emotionally intense experience that it is, with one scene in particular with some busybody parents that made me want to find each one of them and shake them for shaming a child. It also provides this binary between Tillie, who in her everyday life is very tomboyish in her appearance, to the hyper-glamorized world of ice skating, where you have to wear a full face of makeup to then go sweat, and are punished for showing a bra-strap or panty-line, despite having to do spins and kicks. But Tillie is drawn to it and to women who managed to meld into that world in the seamless way she cannot.

As a work of art, Spinning excels at using shadows, darkness, and whitespace to illustrate Tillie’s joys, fears, and loneliness. Not to mention her athleticism and that of the other skaters.

When we call for a diversity of queer voices, Spinning is emblematic of why that call is there. There are so many stories to tell in so many ways that until we see them, it’s hard to believe it never existed before. Tillie’s story is about a young woman trying to get to a place in her life where she can be whole without compromising the pieces of herself that mean the most. As an artist, a lesbian, and ultimately, as a woman on the verge of self-truth.

Spinning is beautiful and brilliant so yes, you might want to prepare yourself for the feels.


(images: First Second Books)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

As Legendary Pictures gears up for production on the film adaptation of Detective Pikachu, rumors are starting to fly about the big names they have in mind for the title role. That Hashtag Show reports that Legendary’s top choices to voice Detective Pikachu are Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, and…Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Unfortunately for the studio, none of the four have even agreed to meet about the role – yet!

The internet might be disappointed by this list, since Danny Devito has been its most memed suggestion, but I am honestly so entertained by the idea of Hugh Jackman or The Rock voicing a goddamn Pikachu. I hope Jackman would go full Logan, growling all his lines while playing a bouncy yellow fantasy creature. The Rock could just be the Rock, doing his thing, and I would enjoy it.

The Detective Pikachu movie will be based on the Japanese Great Detective Pikachu video game, whose trailer you can see below. The game centers on a talking Pikachu who isn’t as skilled a fighter as most Pikachu, but more than makes up for it with his career as a talking, crime-solving master detective. When he finally meets a human boy who can understand what he’s saying, they team up to solve Pokémon-related mysteries.

Detective Pikachu is scheduled to being shooting in January 2018, with Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens) set to direct. I think Hugh Jackman and The Rock are pretty awesome suggestions, but who would you like to see voice Detective Pikachu? Viola Davis doing her Amanda Waller voice? Mark Hamill? Tara Strong? Hit me with your best suggestions!

(Via IGN; image via screengrab of the Detective Pikachu trailer)

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DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio launched an $8 million effort Wednesday to attract ideas for using technology to solve the national opioid addiction crisis that has touched scores of families, including that of Columbus mother Jacqueline Lewis, who said solutions can't come too soon....

What Is a Problematic Fave?

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 19:56
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Posted by Clare McBride

Much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart and obscenity, we know a problematic fave when we see it, but actually nailing down a specific definition can be hard.

Overuse of a word always runs the risk of devaluing it, which makes exercises like the first question at New York Comic-Con’s “Let’s Talk About Our Problematic Faves” useful in recentering and refreshing the concept. Moderated by Diana M. Pho and featuring panelists Lara Elena Donnelly, Terence Taylor, and Mark Oshiro, I was pleasantly surprised by both the delightful panelists—go follow Taylor on Twitter right now, you will not regret it—and the introduction to affect theory it provided.

But first, the definition of a problematic fave. While I do agree with Taylor’s baseline definition that a problematic fave is something you have to recommend with a caveat—such as noting that Lovecraft is a big ol’ racist when recommending At the Mountains of Madness—Donnelly provided the best explanation by way of metaphor. Specifically, the metaphor of ice cream. Ice cream is delicious and easy to love, but eating ice cream all the time will leave you malnourished. This doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream, of course, you just have to be upfront about what it is and incorporate it into a diverse diet.

Which, when it comes to geek media, is easier said than done. You only have to look at the uproar surrounding the gender and racial diversity in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ghostbusters to see what happens when you try to add to a classic by expanding on it, and it only gets worse when it comes to media criticism. How do we account for these kinds of reactions?

Two words: affect theory. To explain, Pho introduced us to the work of theorist Sara Ahmed—specifically, her essay “Happy Objects,” collected in her 2010 book, The Promise of Happiness. In it, Ahmed posits that there are objects that make us happy. (They affect us, hence the name of the theory.)

When people organize themselves around those objects, they create “affective communities”—or, in this case, fandoms. Fandoms, at a base level, are connected by fans commonly recognizing a piece of media as good or enjoyable. Not only does it makes us happy, it can form a major part of our identities. I mean, just look at how House sorting has seeped so far into mainstream culture. (I’m a Hufflepuff for life, by the way.)

So when someone comes along and points out its flaws—an “affect alien,” per Ahmed—we can feel threatened. Ahmed uses the stereotype of the “feminist killjoy” as an example of this. It’s not just someone yucking on your yum. Someone else being unable to find happiness in your happy object, especially for unassailable reasons like, say, “this story says terrible things about women,” can feel like a commentary on your own enjoyment of it. That your happy object is completely unworthy or that you’re wrong or a bad person to enjoy it all. To go back to Donnelly’s metaphor, you feel like you’re not allowed to eat ice cream and that you’re a bad person for even wanting it at all.

But the thing is, many “affect aliens” aren’t aliens at all, but other members of the fandom the “aggravated” parties have had the privilege to ignore in the past. Affective communities have rapidly expanded in the age of tumblr, as the previous barriers to entry for fandom have all but vanished and the social media platforms we perform fan labor on do not allow us to build curated communities of fans. (The loss of community building and moderation as a skillset in fandom is another post for another time.)

As a result, fandom is now less homogenous and members have much more access to each each other, even if their perspectives on their shared happy object are totally different. This is why ship wars seem so much more common now; when you’re all working in the same tag, you have to deal with people who ship something you don’t like all the time.

The petty kneejerk impulse is to point the finger at the seeming affect alien and tell them they’re wrong and that their inability to derive happiness from your happy object is a personal failure—the slave bikini is actually empowering or shipping Zutara makes you a bad person. I’ve had that impulse, you’ve had that impulse, we’ve all had that impulse. But it’s important to not indulge that impulse in order to actually engage with your problematic fave in a meaningful and useful way. We and the media we consume will never change if we dismiss criticism or problematic media out of hand.

ha(Although, of course, this doesn’t mean that you are obligated to consume media you find offensive, don’t like, or doesn’t like you. Catch you never, C. S. Lewis.)

We all love things that are problematic. The way to deal with it, though, is to be able to step back and have a nuanced conversation about its pros and cons. For instance, I find empowerment in the queer characters on Gotham, but I’m also very upfront about how awful that show (and, to be honest, the entire Batman universe) is about mental illness. We live in very polarizing times, but both of those things can be true.

I am, at the end of the day, a ride or die reader response theorist (tl;dr: meaning is generated whenever a reader engages with a text, which means that everything is subjective), but I find affect theory a really interesting thing to add to my fandom framework toolkit. It explains why we behave the way we do when it comes to our problematic faves. And once that’s quantified and defined, we can understand it and improve.

(images: Warner Bros., Clare McBride)

Clare McBride was raised on the Internet by a Nintendo 64 and reruns of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which is as good of an explanation as any. She is a contributing editor at the Hugo Award-winning Lady Business and SYFY Fangrrls. Find her at Twitter @omnivoreal

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