solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

Surprise! Guess what has a Chapter 2. And a Chapter 3, already a complete first draft. I did not know about any of this until the most words I have ever written in a single day (I think) came pouring out of my brain yesterday.

[AO3 link]


[Two months later. Watchpoint Gibraltar.]

With a tooth-shatteringly loud screech, the outer wall of the medical bay peeled away and fell towards the ocean, just as Dr. Ziegler's nurse assistants finished prepping the Widowmaker's first treatment.

"Sorry, luv," Tracer shouted, appearing in the void, one pistol aimed straight at the doctor, as the ringing, clanging metal fell, its sounds fading in the distance. "Can't let y'do that. We made a promise. Back off."

"Lena," said Angela, half-deafened, clinging to her composure, thinking, this shouldn't be happening, but backing away carefully towards her staff. "You lost this argument. I know how you feel about what's going on, but it's better than a death sentence. Do not do this."

"Can't not. I keep my promises, you know that." She fired a shot over the doctor's shoulder. "And stop moving towards your staff. Can't have that, either. What's she on?"

"A twilight sleep sedative, voluntary muscle paralysis, and saline I.V., that's all. We wanted her partially responsive and were about to administer the first dose of treatment. Lena, you do not know what you're doing, this is not a..."

"Stow it. I know she didn't consent and I know this ain't right." Tracer glanced at the closer nurse assistant. "Pull her off the drip. Right now." The assistant looked nervously at Dr. Ziegler, and Tracer decided to make it less optional by shooting the saline unit with her other pistol. "I said now, luv," and the nurse moved to work.

"She can't consent," said the combat medic. "She will murder you in your sleep, and that's if you are very, very lucky."

Kestrel swooped in, a wary eye still attentive to the skies outside. "What's the hold up? We don't have time for chats."

"I have this under control, can you get her up off the table?"

Kestrel waved her gravity blade at the nurse assistant - Odion, she thought - who moved away quite rapidly. Stepping forward, she snapped her fingers in front of Widowmaker's half-closed eyes, and saw those eyes track her fingers, just a little - somebody was in there. "Widowmaker, I'm Kestrel, I sure hope you remember me, we're getting you out of here, just like we said we would, back in London." She pulled the blue woman off the scanning bed, and onto her back. "Let's go, while we still can."

"Emily," warned the doctor, as the flying agent carried the Talon assassin towards the light transport hovering outside, "reconsider. You can't come back from this."

The flying agent paused at the gap, and nodded grimly in return, watching as Tracer backed slowly towards her, one pistol still aimed at the doctor, the other at the two assistants. "Neither can you."

Buggery hell, this isn't how I wanted this to go, thought Lena. "Sorry, doc. Just how it has to be, I guess."

The flyer's loading door closed in front of her as she stepped onto the main deck. She could see Angela diving for the alarms before it sealed, and teleported to the pilot's seat as Kestrel got Widowmaker into the crash couch. "CLEAR!" the flying agent shouted, bracing herself for evac - and Tracer lit the engines up bright.

-----

Widowmaker opened her eyes, but not too much, examining the ceiling. Another Overwatch transport, she thought. Not the same one back from Egypt. Smaller. I am no longer at Gibraltar. How long have I been unconscious? Other than a deep legsrthy, she did not feel different - but then, how would she know? She compared her thoughts, and how they felt, to memories of previous thoughts, and how they felt, and they seemed very much the same, very much unlike Amélie's, her only other reference. It would have to do, for now.

She struggled with half-aware half-memories of being in a... medical unit? And being prepped for something. And voices, some unfamiliar, some... not.

"We've lost the last of 'em," she heard Tracer say. Tracer, who had not been in Egypt, who had not been at Gibraltar... or had she been, at the end? "I'm gonna keep us in the soup, but it should be smooth enough 'till we change ships at Iwik."

Change ships? Iwik? Why would they need to...

"I'm going to check on Widowmaker." Another voice, the flying one, Kestrel, who had also been missing when she'd been taken, taken again, this time, by Overwatch, no doubt to be remade yet again, if not just killed, but whose voice she knew...

"Widowmaker, can you hear me?" The assassin heard the voice, but could not see its source - keeping some distance, perhaps. She let herself smirk, internally. Even sedated, she invoked fear. Good. "You're safe, and you're unchanged. We kept our promise. We broke you out before Ziegler could do anything. You're safe."

What?! The assassin's eyes popped open, all the way open, all at once acutely aware of her situation, before her mind snapped back to promises made some months ago in London, promises she did not want to believe, but couldn't quite not. Then Kestrel's face appeared over her, and she was talking, saying, "Hi. We've kept our word. Do you remember being captured in Egypt? We got you out of the Watchpoint. You're safe. Well, as safe as any of us are, now - we're all in real trouble, but since when's that new?"

The words confused her, memory of promises or not. Is it a... no, it makes no sense, this cannot be a trap, they already have me, why would they... She did her best to move, but her arms, so heavy, why...

"Oh," Kestrel breathed, "you're definitely awake now, aren't you? Probably a little panicky, too. I'm sorry, it's the muscle relaxant. They had you pretty well sedated before we reached you, but that's all, as far as we know - they were still prepping the first course of reconditioning meds when I ripped the medbay's walls open."

Widowmaker's eyes locked on Kestrel's, and she shivered, an involuntary action, and the flying agent saw it, and reached to touch, to comfort - but thought better of it. "I... wish I knew whether you found touch comforting."

I wish I did too, thought the spider, a little dismayed by her own reactions as they span round and round in her head. You... kept... your... you... kept your... you kept your... you...

"We've just got away from pursuit craft, and we're heading towards a little nature reserve in Mauritania, where we'll be swapping ships."

"...ah..." Widowmaker managed, and she remained locked on Kestrel, Kestrel, who she barely knew, Kestrel, who'd kept her word, Kestrel, who had... saved... her...

"You're tearing up a bit, can you blink for... oh, good, there y'go. Can you follow my fingers with your eyes?" Widowmaker looked at the Kestrel's fingertips and watched them trace a rectangle, slowly, around her field of vision. They were strong hands, solid, a little square, chunky, much like the rest of the hawk. Strong, and unexpectedly beautiful. Well, I suppose I know who is more butch in their arrangement, she thought, and a "heh" popped out, to as much her surprise as Kestrel's.

"She just laugh?" she heard Tracer say from outside her field of vision. "Hey, luv, you just laugh a little?"

"I think she did, yeah."

"Well, tell her after this, we're headed towards... oh, bugger..."

"What?"

"It's official. Bulletin just went out. We're listed."

"Surprised it took this long. Can they shut down the transport?"

"Nah, I changed the codes and blew the interlock, we'll be fine."

Widowmaker grimaced. Intentionally. And it worked. She tried moving her mouth, and managed, focus back on Kestrel's face, "...liffsted?"

Kestrel sighed, and sat, next to Widow's bunk, leaning close. "Word's gone out. Our personal IFF codes have been invalidated. Overwatch may be illegal, but we had a few privileges within it to revoke... we're now 'foe', not 'friend'."

"Ah." said the blue assassin. Slowly, carefully, she looked into Kestrel's eyes, and whispered, "Je... regrette."

"Don't," replied the hawk. "If Overwatch is gonna start doing things like this, I can't be a part of it anymore anyway."

"And just so y'know," called Tracer, "Talon put a termination order out on your head once Overwatch got y'to Gibraltar. No goin' back there, either."

"...how?"

"Friend of yours let us know. We'll be seein' her in a bit."

"...big mouth...?"

Tracer laughed. "Yeah, she said you called her that."

The spider tested her arms. A little movement at the shoulder, not much yet. But fingers - yes, those, those were free. She tapped at the bed, experimentally, and saw Kestrel smile when she noticed, bright like cloudbreak. "It is, then..." managed the spider, "...us, against the world?" She tried her wrists. Yes. Wrists. More quickly, now. Almost to the elbow.

Us, Kestrel thought. Already? "Sounds like."

A louder heh, and the spider found she could move her head. "Then... a challenge. Good." She gave Kestrel a fierce look; it excited the flying agent in ways she did not expect, as did the spider unexpectedly - if weakly - taking her hand in her own. "We will destroy them both, cherie," the assassin said, with utter conviction. "We cannot lose."

-----

"As far as she knew," said the Swiss doctor, some hours later, "it was just sedation." Power had not yet been restored to the medbay, but the wall had, at least, been braced and covered, and structural stability insured. She sat at a small table in medbay's small consultation room.

"So you told her nothing about the enhanced receptivity effects?" asked the hirsute scientist sitting opposite and to her right, snacking on his favourite peanut butter, with oatmeal cookies and lactose-free milk. Hoisting girders about - that was heavy labour. He deserved a treat.

"Of course not," said the doctor, sipping her coffee. "But I didn't lie, we hadn't undone anything Talon did - and it really was a sedative, just one that leaves patients a little more..." she waved one hand back and forth, "...open to ideas, while under its influence. It would've helped with our treatments of her, helped her return to who she really was."

"Nicely played," said Jack Morrison, nursing a judicious amount of Tennessee bourbon. "Hope this doesn't come back to bite us on the ass any more than it already has."

Dr. Ziegler smiled warmly at her old friend, sitting opposite and to her left. "I'd suspected Lena might do something she'd come to regret. I'd hoped she wouldn't, or if she did, I'd hoped I could talk her down. But if push came to shove... she might as well have that thin chance." She shuddered. "I think she has made a grave mistake. I do not think that... construct... is a person or can be reformed, and I wasn't lying about being killed in her sleep, either."

"You did what you could," said the soldier. He put down his glass and rubbed at his eyes. "She's always been impulsive, but this is another level. If they come at us... we'll have to assume the worst. They might as well be Talon." He put the drink down, and rubbed his eyes.

"That will not be difficult," smirked Angela. "I am quite angry, both about being held at gunpoint, and at losing my best change to recover Amélie. And Kestrel," the doctor snorted, "she made a strongly negative impression on Gina and Odion. Gossip will insure everyone knows."

"I know their hearts are in the right place," Winston insisted. "Particularly Lena's. I think they're both being extremely foolish - but do not doubt their hearts."

"Just their judgements. And maybe their sanity," said the soldier.

The three sat quietly, for some moments, letting what happened today finally settle in as the sun went down. Morrison, thinking maybe they should've just handed the Widowmaker over to legal authorities; Winston, wishing he'd found a middle way, something to keep everyone happy, while knowing no such path existed; and Ziegler, angry, but still afraid for the two women who had, to her mind, made such a terrible mistake.

"To absent friends," Winston lifted his glass of water. "May they not become present enemies."

"I'll drink to that," said Morrison, raising the last of his bourbon.

Angela lifted her coffee cup, touching it against her friends' drinks. "To absent friends," she echoed. May they not be dead come morning.

[syndicated profile] 538_politics_feed

Posted by Harry Enten

Perhaps no major event in modern U.S. history has spawned more widespread doubt than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in November 1963. The official account: One man, Lee Harvey Oswald, did it. The unofficial theory: Well, there are many.

The JFK assassination is back in the news as the deadline for releasing a final batch of government documents related to the investigation approaches. Back in 1992, Congress passed a law ordering that all remaining papers be released by Oct. 26, 2017 — that’s this Thursday. President Trump could still decide to keep some information secret on national security grounds, but he seems inclined to allow everything to be released on schedule.

Will this last dossier of evidence put the conspiracy theories to rest? That’s unlikely. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, most Americans have believed that more than one person was involved in Kennedy’s death since almost the moment of the assassination.

According to a new FiveThirtyEight-commissioned SurveyMonkey poll of 5,130 adults, conducted Oct. 17 to Oct. 20, 2017, only 33 percent of Americans believe that one man was responsible for the assassination. A majority, 61 percent, think that others were involved in a conspiracy. In pretty much every demographic, most respondents believed that Oswald didn’t act alone.

Most people believe JFK wasn’t killed by Oswald alone

Respondents’ beliefs about President John F. Kennedy’s death, according to a poll conducted Oct. 17-20, 2017

GROUP ONE MAN KILLED JFK OTHERS WERE INVOLVED
Overall 33% 61%
Male 33 62
Female 32 60
White 38 56
Hispanic 22 72
Black 19 76
College graduate 42 52
No college degree 29 65
White college graduate 48 46
White without a college degree 33 60
Registered voter 35 61
Not registered 25 69
18-34 35 60
35-64 31 62
65 and older 32 60
Republican 36 60
Democrat 36 61
Independent, no lean 24 70
Voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 38 59
Voted for Donald Trump in 2016 35 61

Source: SurveyMonkey

A majority of men, women, white people, people of color, registered voters, non-registered voters, old people, young people, Democrats, Republicans and so on all believe that more than one person was involved in Kennedy’s assassination. This is one of the few questions in this polarized age on which you can even find agreement among Hillary Clinton voters (59 percent believe in a conspiracy) and Trump voters (61 percent).

That’s not say that every group believes in a conspiracy theory at equal rates. African-Americans (76 percent) and Hispanics (72 percent) are far more likely than whites (56 percent) to believe that Oswald didn’t act alone. The government, of course, has a history of lying to the black community, which may be why African-Americans are more likely to think the government isn’t telling the whole story about Kennedy’s death and other major new stories.

Additionally, independents who don’t lean toward either party (70 percent) and people who aren’t registered to vote (69 percent) are also more likely to believe there was a conspiracy. Again, that’s not surprising: If you don’t trust government, research has found that you’re more likely to not care who runs it and to not claim membership in one of the parties who control it.

Despite the low percentage of Americans who believe the government line, the theory that Oswald acted alone has actually gained steam among the public in recent years.

In our SurveyMonkey poll, the 33 percent of people who believe that one man killed Kennedy is higher than it’s been in any yearly average of polling since 1966. That was the year before New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison publicly accused the government of enacting a huge cover-up to conceal the fact that the president had been killed by anti-Communist extremists in the CIA. He later prosecuted a man he believed was involved in the conspiracy, and though he lost his conspiracy case in court, Garrison and his theory went on to be immortalized in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK.” Although the movie made millions of dollars and fanned the flames of conspiracy, it did not seem to have much impact on American opinion overall — the percentage of Americans who believed in a conspiracy remained pretty stable before and after the film’s release.

Why is it, though, that belief in a lone gunman has grown by over 20 percentage points in the past two decades? It could be that conspiracy theorists’ inability to provide proof has hurt their appeal to the public. It’s also possible that recent computerized evidence seeming to prove Oswald acted alone has gotten through to Americans. Finally, it could be a simple matter of demographic changes. The percentage of Americans who have at least a college degree continues to rise, and SurveyMonkey found that 42 percent of Americans with at least a college degree believed Oswald acted alone compared to 29 percent with less than a college degree..1 In fact, a slight plurality of whites with at least a college degree actually believed one man was responsible for the death of Kennedy.

Whatever the cause of the recent upswing in the popularity of the lone assassin theory, most Americans still think that there was a conspiracy and that more than one man was responsible for Kennedy’s death. Perhaps if the government releases the final documents on the assassination, that will put conspiracy theories about the murder to rest. But chances are it won’t.

Avoiding predatory publishers

2017-Oct-23, Monday 12:01
thnidu: warning symbol, black exclamation mark in yellow triangle (warning)
[personal profile] thnidu
On Friday the moderator of a listserv for copyeditors (http://www.copyediting-l.info) posted this:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

In September 2017 I wrote:

>>You may find this article, recently published by the American Medical Writers Association's AMWA Journal, helpful in spotting potentially disreputable journals:
>>
>>      "Avoiding Predatory Publishers in the Post-Beall World: Tips for Writers and Editors," by Ray Hunziker; pages 113 through 115 in volume 32, issue 3, 2017
>>
>>The article (and issue) are available only to AMWA members.<<


Since then, there has been so much demand for the article that AMWA has now made the article open access, which means it's available for reading by anyone:

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.amwa.org/resource/resmgr/journal/Spotlight/2017v32n3_AvoidingPredatoryP.pdf

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Since very long URLs can be troublesome, I've made a short link:

http://bit.ly/2y00yuK

Steampunk, Maya Banks, & Beards

2017-Oct-23, Monday 15:30
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Burn for Me

RECOMMENDEDBurn for Me by Ilona Andrews is 99c at Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Burn for Me is the first book in the Hidden Legacy series, and is an urban fantasy/billionaire story with magic, suspense. We had a great guest squee on the entire series and I can definitely confirm the books are amazing!

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire . . .

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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and

amazon

 

 

 

Beard in Mind

Beard in Mind by Penny Reid is $1.99 at Amazon! This is the fourth book in the Winston Brothers series, which I know is a favorite here in the Bitchery. The first book, Truth or Beard, is also on sale. Some readers wanted more of the heroine’s POV, but many said they pulled a Bad Decisions Book Club and stayed up all night reading it.

All is fair in love and auto maintenance.

Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.

Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.

She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words. Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.

The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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The Clockwork Dagger

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato is $1.99 at most vendors! However, it looks like it’s priced at $2.99 for Kobo. This is a steampunk novel with romantic elements. Readers love Cato’s writing, but felt the characterization was rather exaggerated and didn’t feel real. It has a 3.6-star rating on Goodreads.

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Just One Touch

Just One Touch by Maya Banks is $1.99 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble! This is the fifth book in the Slow Burn series and it’s a romantic suspense with some paranormal elements. Readers says there’s definitely some insta-love going on in the book, though others recommend it for fans of alpha heroes.

#1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks continues her suspenseful and sizzling Slow Burn series with the fifth book featuring the men and women of Devereaux Security Services.

Abducted as a young girl and raised in a strict religious cult, Jenna has no connection to the outside world beyond vague flashes of memory that seem to be from another life. Memories she clings to when the cult leaders discover her extraordinary ability to heal—and punish her. Years held captive and forced to do the cult’s bidding have turned Jenna into a meek, timid woman…or so they think. In truth, she is merely biding her time, waiting for the perfect moment to escape.

When a terrified young woman stumbles across Isaac’s path, Devereaux Security’s toughest recruit is intrigued by the beautiful, sheltered stranger. Jenna seems to know nothing of the world around her and refuses to tell him what danger haunts her, but Isaac will do whatever it takes to gain her trust. When it becomes clear that very powerful, dangerous people are after her, he vows to protect her at all costs… because with just one touch Issac knows he wants Jenna to be his—forever.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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and

amazon

 

 

 

Back From California

2017-Oct-23, Monday 14:34
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

As you know if you follow me here or on other social media, I’ve lately been in the great state of California. What was I doing there? Well, in no particular order, going to and being a photographer for my niece’s wedding, seeing family and friends, having business meetings and going to my 30th(!) high school reunion. Not all at once, mind you. Mostly one after the other.

It was both an enjoyable and productive trip, but now I’m home and glad to be here and seeing my pets and sleeping in my own bed. I’ve also got about two weeks of mail to sift through. One thing I did open up immediately, however: The box from Tor that contained my author copies of the Old Man’s War mini-hardcover. Folks, it looks great, inside and out. I’m super pleased with this edition and would recommend it highly even if I wasn’t the author. If you’ve been looking for a print edition, this is the one to get.

In any event: I’m back in Ohio! And it’s nice to be home.


Rainy Monday

2017-Oct-23, Monday 08:58
rolanni: (juggling the moons)
[personal profile] rolanni

So, yesterday was a work day, and I worked.  Five hundred words on an as-yet nameless short piece destined for a chapbook; and about 2,000 words on Fifth of Five.

Today. . .isn't looking good on the work front.  Our very efficient agent has lined up a tour of our list of possible houses, which is going to eat most-if-not-all of the afternoon.  This morning, I need to do the dishes I ignored yesterday because -- working, and also clean the cat fountain, which as decided to stop fountaining.  I Suspect Cat Fur in the motor; it's happened before.  Somewhere in there, too, I need to call the doctor because This Has Gone on Long Enough, and wedge in an evening appointment.  Or maybe early tomorrow.

So that.

On the topic of shorter works (by which I mean not novels), is there a story you -- yes, you! -- would like to read?  I anticipate that we will be writing several new stories/new chapbooks, and we're open to suggestions.  Let me know in comments.

And now. . .I'd better get with the dishes.

Everybody stay dry.

Oh:  Fifth of Five +/-39,000 of a theoretical +/-100,000 words
Titleless short story 500 words of whoknows

Snippet:  In the port city of Solcintra, on a certain day in the third relumma of the year called Phantione, a boy was delivered to the delm of Clan Serat, who did not want him.

[syndicated profile] 538_politics_feed

Posted by Christie Aschwanden

To hear the bill’s sponsors tell it, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) is about safeguarding fetuses that science has proven are capable of feeling pain. “No pain capable baby should have to undergo agonizing dismemberment in an elective late term abortion,” wrote the bill’s sponsor, Republican Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, in a Fox News commentary. If the bill is passed by the Senate2 — though that looks unlikely — the law would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more. But despite the scientific trappings, the heart of this debate, like many political debates, is about ideology and values, not science.

But let’s discuss the research for a moment. The bill uses a lot of scientific-sounding arguments to make its case, but abortion-rights advocates argue that the conclusions it reaches run counter to current scientific research about fetal development. Jennifer Gunter, an OB-GYN and pain medicine physician, said the first thing to know is that the bill’s framing of this as a 20-week ban is misleading: It’s a 22-week ban. That’s because the 20-week post-fertilization point referred to in the bill is what physicians refer to as 22 weeks of gestational age, which is counted from the first day of the pregnant woman’s last menstrual period.

But even at 22 weeks, a human fetus doesn’t have the capacity to experience pain, according to evidence cited by abortion-rights supporters. “Rigorous scientific studies have found that the connections necessary to transmit signals from peripheral sensory nerves to the brain, as well as the brain structures necessary to process those signals, do not develop until at least 24 weeks of gestation,” according to a 2013 statement on fetal pain titled “Facts Are Important,” released by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).3 “Because it lacks these connections and structures, the fetus does not even have the physiological capacity to perceive pain until at least 24 weeks of gestation,” continues the statement, which cites a review of the evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and a report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This month, the ACOG issued a new statement opposing H.R. 36, saying the bill “limits access to safe, evidence-based care.”

National Right to Life, an anti-abortion group whose model legislation was used to write H.R. 36, contends that the scientific evidence that ACOG cites is incomplete. According to Jennifer Popik, director of federal legislation for National Right to Life, the fundamental split in thinking here is over whether a fetus needs to have a fully formed and connected cerebral cortex before it can feel pain. The ACOG statement and the researchers who published the JAMA review say that brain structure is a prerequisite for experiencing pain, but National Right to Life says it isn’t. “There’s an entirely other body of research that says you don’t actually need the cortex to experience pain, that the cortex helps you modulate it,” Popik said. “We’re always looking for ways to talk about the baby — to keep the baby in the debate. This is a good way to do it, because it’s legally sound and scientifically sound,” Popik said.

Among the evidence presented in the bill to support its contention that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization is the fact that anesthesia is often used during fetal surgery. The JAMA review, however, concluded that such anesthesia is given to inhibit fetal movement and for the mother’s benefit, not for fetal pain. The bill also states that 20 weeks after fertilization, a fetus can react “to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling,” but Gunter said that this is not evidence that the fetus is feeling pain. “It’s only pain when the brain assembles a signal and tells you it’s pain,” she said. “Neither withdrawal reflexes nor hormonal stress responses to invasive procedures prove the existence of fetal pain,” according to the JAMA review, because these same responses can be elicited by nonpainful stimuli and may occur without conscious processing in the brain.

But this particular debate over what the science does and doesn’t show is largely a distraction, because what we have here isn’t a scientific debate, but a moral one. Each side is using science to support age-old value judgments about when life begins and how the rights of a pregnant person are weighed against the rights that a fetus may or may not have; new scientific evidence is unlikely to change many minds.

National Right to Life believes human life begins when an egg is fertilized, and several of the bill’s other proponents have also been clear that they’d like to ban abortion altogether. For example, a 2010 brief about fetal pain published by the Family Research Council, another anti-abortion group and supporter of the bill, states that, “The humanness of the unborn child is not contingent on its capacity for pain. Whether or not an unborn child can feel pain is irrelevant to the respect that an unborn person deserves.”

Opponents of the bill say the intent of the fetal pain language is to change the focus of the debate. “Obviously, no one wants fetuses to experience pain, and that evokes a lot of emotion in people,” said Kristyn Brandi, an OB-GYN with the ACOG. “But this legislation is not based on facts.”

QotD

2017-Oct-23, Monday 05:24
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)
[personal profile] dglenn

"American fascism isn't Hitler. American fascism is the Klan. American fascism is Jim Crow. American fascism is Bannon and Miller and Trump." -- Angus Johnston, 2017-02-18

You know what’s really ironic?

2017-Oct-23, Monday 11:37
kiaa: (Default)
[personal profile] kiaa posting in [community profile] talkpolitics
...All those Trump supporters saying "it's been forever and nobody's been put in jail over Russia. It's time to shut it down."

Of course, evidence is now being presented to grand juries to obtain indictments, but here's the real irony:

Benghazi: investigated eleven times, and Trumpists still think it needs to be investigated again.

Uranium One: under investigation since 2014, and nada. Hillary was exonerated, but they want to go for it again.

Emails: Hillary was exonerated, but they still want her in jail.

That's deranged.

None of those investigations are going anywhere. They've already been completed, but the Trump fan crowd still expects that something should happen.

The Mueller investigation is MOVING forward, and they want it stopped. Wonder why?*

Actually, that's not irony. That's pure, hyper partisan hypocrisy.

And don't forget the private email servers used by Trump's advisors. Oh, and we should have an investigation for the events at Niger while we're at it. Benghazi anyone!?

* Clown boy fired enough people who were already investigating him. Even threatened to fire the guy who wouldnt hold his water. Do keep that in mind.
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by SB Sarah

B

Highland Dragon Warrior

by Isabel Cooper
September 5, 2017 · Sourcebooks Casablanca
RomanceScience Fiction/FantasyParanormalHistorical: Other

This series was recommended by so many people on Twitter and in my inbox, I grabbed it immediately and skipped it to the top of my TBR spreadsheet. This was a good decision on my part.

Cathal MacAlasdair is running his family’s castle in remote Scotland, though he’s much better suited to running around doing soldiery things. He’s also a dragon shifter, something the people who live in his castle know about, but not a lot of people really discuss openly. Sophia Metzger is an alchemist who is traveling to the keep with a best friend and companion (and sequel bait) because she would really like to have, if Cathal doesn’t mind, some dragon scales for her experiments.

I really liked a number of things about this book, so I’ll start with those. I liked very much how Sophia is candid and honest about her purpose in making a very long, difficult, and very cold journey. She was much less hesitant about revealing her goal than she was about revealing that she’s Jewish. Said Jewishness could get her killed easily, and no one would care or protest much, so when she tells Cathal, she’s putting her life in his hands, and it takes him a second to remember that. He can’t immediately think of a reason why he should care, but that type of perspective is naturally born out of being a few hundred years old.

There are a number of minor ways in which Sophia’s faith and observance affect her residency at the keep, including one where Cathal kills a deer and asks if she’ll be able to eat it. It was touching because Cathal is trying to provide for everyone in his care, including Sophia, but he doesn’t expect her to compromise or change her practices to make his life easier.

Cathal and Sophia’s interactions in the first 3/4ths of the book were SO MUCH CATNIP. Cathal is not a natural at running a community, caring for people, and managing an estate and all the moving pieces (and people) within it. He misses his life as a soldier, and he’s got major concerns in his house – which he barters with Sophia to help solve (more on that in a minute). He’s also the youngest child in his family, and that role influences his worldview as well. He takes his responsibilities seriously, but he really, really doesn’t enjoy them or find them a natural fit to his personality or temperament.

Meanwhile, Sophia is really good at alchemy. She’s into research and experiments, lining up planetary and herbal influences to create potions to aid in the care and health of people around her. She’s like a non-magical, historical, proto-STEM heroine in a lot of ways. Her scientific rigor, research, curiosity, and brilliance with natural and alchemical puzzles was fascinating.

When she asks Cathal if she could maybe, you know, have some of his scales if he didn’t mind and all, he agrees – if she agrees to try to help his friend and fellow soldier, who was attacked by a sorcerer and is now visibly fading and dissolving before their eyes. There’s a mix of fantasy and magic in this story, and while some part of it worked brilliantly, other elements (hur hur) did not.

Cathal’s identity as a dragon, and as part of a magical family of extraordinary creatures was beautifully integrated into the world of the story, just as much as Sophia’s Jewishness – though the latter is not treated as some sort of mystical identity, so don’t worry. Cathal has rituals and spells that assist him in caring for the people in his castle and in the village beyond, and can switch between forms as needed without too much fanfare. But he’s also secretive about it, and is worried that seeing him change will cause Sophia to run in terror. To her credit, she is a little scared but way too curious intellectually to allow fear to limit her opportunity to study a dragon up close.

I loved the contrast between Cathal’s struggle with large-scale homemaking, and Sophia’s dedication to science and experiments, some of which are dangerous to her personally. I also really liked the way that languages were obstacles to communicating and understanding each other. Sophia and her friend speak Hebrew, French and English, and Cathal is constantly switching to French from Gaelic to make sure Sophia understands what’s being said. (There’s one scene where he has to translate between Sophia and another woman who have no language in common between them, and the degree to which he does not understand what they’re talking about, and his determination to get everything right, were adorable.)

Most of all, I really liked the historical competence porn of running a castle when you know there’s a blizzard coming, and managing travelers and guests, dealing with residents and nonresidents, caring for the villagers, and figuring out where to put this alchemist who might blow things up. The parts where Sophia is doing experiments and Cathal is still trying to figure out how to effectively manage his family’s castle were my favorite parts.

Then there were the very fantastical, dreamscape elements, and I was not as enamored of those. There is a Big Bad in this story, the sorcerer who harmed Cathal’s friend Fergus, the one who is dissolving. Said Sorcerer (who has taken on a pretentious name, which Sophia makes fun of when she learns about him, which was hilarious) has demanded Cathal join him, or Fergus will fully dissolve and die. Sophia is determined to cure Fergus, and maybe defeat this sorcerer or at least detach his hold on Fergus permanently. As the story progresses, the sorcerer attacks Sophia through her dreams, which leads to several extended scenes that were very, very weird.

The rules of the mortal world could easily accommodate Cathal’s dragon-ness, and Sophia’s alchemical skills and abilities. But the fantasy world or dreamscape world or whatever it was, felt so detached and nebulous, it bored the hell out of me. Sophia figured out how to navigate things way too quickly, and took actions that saved her own life over and over that didn’t seem possible. She was the Mary Sue of the sorcerer’s dreamscape world, which pissed off the pretentious sorcerer and bored me silly. Sophia figuring out how to develop potions, having them work partially or maybe explode? I totally buy that. Sophia navigating a world of demons, trees, and shoes that transform into bridges? Didn’t work for me. The fantasyland quest was the least interesting part of the story for me, and because the climax of a lot of the action happens in that fantasyland to resolve the issue of the Big Bad Pretentious Sorcerer, I was pretty unsatisfied.

What about the romance? It’s slowly built, which I liked, though there’s a long middle where Cathal has lusty thoughts which distract him from Running the Castle, which he doesn’t appreciate. Then he realizes that Sophia, her presence and his very brief conversations with her, are making the drudgery and insecurity of his inexperience with household management bearable. He looks forward to seeing her, and she grows from being a bright spot on the periphery of his day to being one of the key elements in his life.  Sophia is overwhelmed by Cathal and is pretty sure there’s no way for them to be together given their widely different social and biological status (he’s a dragon, after all, and very long lived). The solutions to those issues were very quickly introduced and accepted, which made the resolution much less satisfying considering the duration and dimension of the build up.

The ending to the romance was also frustrating for me, and I am not sure how to explain without spoiling the details, so please pardon the spoiler:

Show Spoiler
So much of the story takes place at the castle or in the dreamland that knowing they were leaving into an unknown world to travel at the end was unsatisfying. For one thing, I knew Sophia was likely to be much less safe on a daily basis while traveling from place to place, and I knew Cathal had just gained all this castle management experience. I knew the world of the castle, and I knew a little about the world beyond it from both Cathal and Sophia, not much of it positive. So knowing they were going to go travel around for awhile left me feeling as if the ending was too abrupt and incomplete, and overall too uncertain.

All that aside, I had a really good time reading this book. I loved the detail, the integration of fantasy and chemistry and history and alchemy into the world of a Scottish castle in the 1300s, and I really liked Sophia and Cathal. While I wasn’t as enthused about the dreamscape journey or the ending, I’m definitely going to read the next book in this series, Highland Dragon Rebel. There’s mention of the “otherworld” in the cover copy (darn it) but the heroine is Cathal’s sister, and she’s also a dragon shifter. I’m totally here for that.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by SB Sarah

I receive a number of email messages each day asking for recommendations. Sometimes the request is based on having discovered a particular book, author, or trope (speaking of, have you seen our growing “Genres, Archetypes, and Themes” collection?). Other times, I’m asked for help identifying a book or two that might satisfy a particular mood or desire.

The Undoing
A | BN | K | iB
This past week, to the surprise of absolutely no one here at Bitchery HQ, I’ve received three separate requests for, in effect, romances to read “when you want to burn it all down.” We are here to help, and will pass you some matches, should you need some. But be careful with open flames around yourself, your food, your pets, and your books!

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone anywhere that my first suggestion for anyone looking for comfort and solace inside rage and vengeance is the Call of Crows series by Shelly Laurenston. As I wrote in my review of The Undoing: 

The reason to read this series is not just the romances, which are terrific, but for the Crows themselves. They represent and embody coalesced female rage, and it’s incredible. Every slight against women, every crime against women throughout history is represented among the Crow membership (they have to die to be reborn through Skuld, after all) and the injustice and pain of having been victims fuels their power and their violent rage. They are unapologetically fierce and amazing to read about. If one looks at what happens to women throughout time, there’s a lot to be angry about. To me, the Crows represent the justifiable fury in response to all of it.

If you’re looking for literary representation of and an outlet for your possibly overflowing fury repository, a clan of women warriors whose mantra is Let Rage Be Your Guide might help you out.

But fear not – we have several other suggestions for “When You Want to Burn It All Down.”

The Bloodprint
A | BN | K | iB
Elyse mentioned this book in the most recent edition of Whatcha Reading? but I don’t think there’s a limit on how much one can discuss this book: Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

As Elyse said:

It’s an epic fantasy about a group of women with magical abilities working to overthrow a patriarchal, repressive society. Their magic is tied to the ability to read and use words of power.

This is a weird recommendation for me: as I mentioned in our Whatcha Reading post, I want to read this book, but after reading the first chapter, I knew it would overly-stimulate the part of my brain that likes to wake me up in the middle of the night with nightmares about violence. Based on that first chapter, I have a strong indication that this book is going to be incredible, and I’m so, so excited that Elyse found it and is enjoying it. (I can’t wait to ask her all about it, too.) (I’m a horrible person to correspond with for that reason.)

Amanda, I am betting, wants to recommend A Promise of Fire, and also has a key role in the development of this list. Amanda, which of the Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark series feature the most rage-filled, burn-it-all-down characters? Alas, the titles all blend together into a strange amalgam of Dark Needy Nights at the Edge of Wicked King Demon Darkness. 

Amanda: Sarah knows me so well.

If I had to pick just one of the Immortals After Dark series, I’m partial to the latest one, Wicked Abyss ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). The heroine outsmarts so many people who are physically more powerful than she is. Plus, the climax of her revenge plot is a moment in my romance reading history that I’ll remember forever.

In other burn it down recommendations, I loved Burn Down the Night by Molly O’Keefe ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). The heroine kidnaps the hero (who is part of a motorcycle club) and keeps him handcuffed to a bed until he agrees to help rescue her sister from a cult. The heroine, Joan, is unapologetic and so tough!

Dating You/Hating You
A | BN | K | iB
In a less visceral interpretation, Evie in Dating You/Hating You puts a “down with the patriarchy” contemporary spin on “burning it all down.” She fights against workplace sexism and I love how she refuses to sacrifice her goals. She knows what her work experience is worth and she’s kickassingly (yes, this is a new word, trademark pending) uncompromising.

I’m sure I have a handful of other recommendations lurking in my brain that I’ll remember long after this post goes live, but I hope these will do!

Sarah: What about you? Do you have any recommendations you turn to when you have that “Why, I’m Terribly Sorry to Mention It, But I’d like to Burn It All Down with Ragefire” feeling? Please share! 

[syndicated profile] google_blog_feed

If you’ve ever paid for something on your phone or tablet, you know just how frustrating checkout can be. Maybe you had to fill in a bunch of forms. Maybe your session timed out. Maybe you encountered an error and had to start all over again. Back in May, we shared a sneak peek of how paying with Google would help you skip all that. And starting today you can now speed through online checkout on many of your favorite apps and websites with a few quick clicks.

Check out quickly with any card in your Google Account

When you pay with Google, you can use any of the credit or debit cards you’ve added to your Google Account from products like Google Play, YouTube, Chrome or Android Pay. Google sends the merchant your payment info and shipping address using the information from your account—no typing required. Then, the merchant will handle all the details just like any other purchase.

Here’s a look at just how easy it is in the Instacart app.

pwg_instacart

Pay for takeout, trips, or that new pair of shoes

You’ll be able to speed through checkout on your Android device whether you’re shopping in apps like iFood in Brazil, Dice in the U.K., or Kayak in the U.S.—or on the web with Chrome.

Here’s a look at the some of the popular places you can pay now, with more coming soon:

pwg_partners

Calling all developers: Make buying a breeze

Got an app or website? Head to our developer docs to to learn how to get started with the Google Payment API. You can implement it with just a few lines of code, and it’s free—we don’t charge any transaction fees.

We’ve also partnered with an array of payment providers to make integration even simpler. They’ll continue to process all your transactions, so you can keep everything moving smoothly. Don’t see your payment provider on the list yet? We’re adding more partners all the time, so stay tuned.

pwg_processors

Paying with Google makes checkout so fast and easy, you can make the most of every moment—whether you’re grabbing a dinner spot or a parking spot. Give it a go!

If you’ve ever paid for something on your phone or tablet, you know just how frustrating checkout can be. Starting today you can pay with Google to speed through online checkout with a few quick clicks.
galacticjourney: (Default)
[personal profile] galacticjourney

by Victoria Silverwolf

As I prepared this article, I listened to President Kennedy's speech on Cuba, which was broadcast on radio and television throughout the nation.



Although many of you no doubt heard this address to the American people, I feel compelled to transcribe its shocking opening words:

This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.

As the speech continued, it became clear to me that the world is closer to the brink of nuclear war than ever before. I was already in a state of anxiety, ever since China escalated a border conflict with India into open warfare two days ago by invading on two fronts.



As if international conflicts were not enough, the riot that exploded when James Meredith (shown here escorted by Chief U.S. Marshall James McShane and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights John Doar) enrolled in the University of Mississippi filled me with shame and fear for my country. After two deaths, hundreds of injuries, and the necessity for Meredith to be guarded twenty-four hours a day by Federal troops, I have to wonder sometimes if the United States is heading for a second Civil War.



It seems likely that the threat of violence, which hangs over our heads in these troubled times, makes it necessary for us to make light of traditional terrors. We laugh to keep from screaming. As an example, on the same day that China invaded India, Bobby Picket's novelty song, The Monster Mash, reached the top of the charts.

Appropriately, the latest issue of Fantastic features another comic version of old-fashioned horrors.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

fiber monday

2017-Oct-22, Sunday 19:38
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Status: resorted to ___Sand's endless icord bindoff because a half-cotton yarn doesn't care about chapped hands. (Fires to the north, general windiness, then the sudden onset of rain plus temperatures chilly enough for the furnace.) Squeezed in a bit of pi shawl with today's good light; began binding off the toddler vest. Finally acquired hand balm for this winter, with thanks to partner. Also, I've bought a woven linen/cotton jacket on deep discount after reading that several reviews complained of ...exactly what I want clothing to accommodate for me. Fits great. It needs every buttonhole reinforced, but then it'll be a solid summerweight jacket that's fancier than I could ever devise for myself. Jacket + ___Sand cardigan = summer layers, check, and nicer than the random buttondown shirts I've used till now.

That's my Slow Fashion October moment for the year: don't buy petroleum-derived clothing anymore (minus waistband elastic/similar and bras, though I'm working on the latter---I mean polyester/nylon/rayon fabric blends; nylon in sock yarns can instead be silk, alpaca, or mohair; even tencel is better in terms of poisoning fish with every laundry load or handwash). Mend things, buy durable things I can't reasonably expect to make if replacing things I've worn out, don't support expensive-for-its-own-sake unless it actually translates to good wages for those in the labor/production chain. I couldn't handle making all my clothes even if I had no outside job time-wise (exacerbating joint pain is a valid limitation), but I'm moving in a direction I prefer. (In a poorer situation I would need to be part of a larger group where it'd be viable to trade intangibles for others' help. I've been pondering this piece alongside this one and the fact that till recently, I haven't had clothes nice enough that mending made sense: when they wear out, they're crap enough that mending would mean substantial remake and/or dyeing.)

The week was upside down due to after-effects of the mild back/pelvic sprain and a new cold, so let's ignore knitting's dismally slow progress in favor of something speculative.

Read more... )

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