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Silver Adept
09 September 2013 @ 08:41 pm
I welcome all of the following types of comments on ANY of my entries:
  • Single or two word comments, e.g. , woo!, yay, yes, no, please, thanks, absolutely, agreed, seconded, so much, no way, etc.
  • "+1" or Facebook style "like".
  • Otherwise brief comments, e.g. single sentences.
  • A comment that is a punctuation mark(s) to let me know you read, e.g. a period, an asterisk.
  • A comment that is a punctuation mark(s) to express your response, e.g. an exclamation mark or question mark.
  • A comment that is an emoticon(s) to express your response, e.g. \o/, <3, :), :(, :-D, :-P, etc.
  • Long, wordy comments. Rambling is totally okay.
  • Comments and links on related topics.
  • Comments on single links, entities, paragraphs, topics, or words in the entry. I throw out a lot of things each entry, and I don't expect anyone to have to come up with a coherent comment on each and every one of them to comment.
  • Sequential commentary. It's totally okay to comment about one thing as you read it, then another thing in a separate comment, then a third thing after you've chewed on it for a while and feel ready to talk about it.
  • Incoherent comments. It’s all good. I would rather have you here and showing interest,, even if it's just a *flail*, than for you to stay silent because you are afraid or unable to get the perfect comment out.
  • Talking amongst yourselves in the comments is fine. I like creating a place where people get to interact!

I also welcome:

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

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

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

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

Transformative works:

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

Adding and access:

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

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

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

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

(This idea stolen and modified from [personal profile] trascendenza, who first broached it in their own journal when talking about commenting culture and their own anxieties.)

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Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Mitsuda via Valente - Schala's Theme
Silver Adept
10 June 2015 @ 07:17 pm
So. This is a bit awkward to write, not just because there's a whole cultural Thing involved here, but because, y'know, we try so hard to put up a front of invincibility, or at least competence, that it's difficult to say that you've basically Failed.

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

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

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

I Want Work.

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

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

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

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

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

Please link to this post so that I can be sure that everything is in one place.

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Current Mood: distresseddistressed
Silver Adept
Good morning. I'm going to start with a post about stories with non-villainous dragons, which warms my heart completely. As do proper cards to be sending for serious illnesses, insects made from discarded circuit boards and components, and the incredible power of shared storytelling. (Or of universes that allow for infinite possibilities.)

Then there's sick systems that people set up to make sure their partners or employees stay with them forever. Which could sound suspiciously like many relationships that I see...or experience.

More on the Hugos and how the rabid faction took over and promoted fascism with their slate. On the other hand, on the matter of dogs, the groups claiming canid origins aren't really acting like dogs. For a palate cleanser, a review of the 1963 Hugo winner, that is basically unavailable, but sounds like an excellent book.

The strength of the cloister is that all tasks have time assigned and that all tasks will have to be done again, preventing stressing out at any one instance of the task. Which is great for those tasks that have to be done repeatedly. Not so good for the ones that are important but that only appear so often or only once.

In San Francisco, the Lexington Club, a bar that was for an explicitly lesbian and queer women crowd, closed after 20 years. And I feel, even just from an article, that a piece of the history of the city and the Mission neighborhood goes with it.

On the other end, the explicitly trans-exclusionary Michigan Womyn's Festival is closing after forty years.

The power of the Internet is that it permits people to get 101 educated on issues on their own time, instead of asking people who are having a more advanced discussion to teach them.

Teaching prosocial behavior to young children is tricky - assuming that the people teaching and parenting believe that children can learn to modify their behavior in the first place.

Fashion fails to fit, including things that are supposed to be designed for larger women.

if you ask them, sixty percent of people in the United States favor marriage equality. Which is something to take into account when the Supreme Court is required to make a decision about whether to allow equal marriage to continue. As one might guess, there are many stories to tell about the road to marriage equality. Some involve scarves.

Queensland, Australia no longer considers "gay panic" an acceptable partial defense against a murder charge after a Catholic priest led a campaign to have it removed - the priest saw firsthand the results of that defense and found it unconscionable.

The testimony of a guard at the infamous Auschwitz prison continued in conjunction with his trial for being an accessory to hundreds of thousands of deaths of the camp's prisoners.

Leak classified secrets as the CIA chief to your lover? Two years of probation. If you're a lower-level analyst and you expose atrocities and other illegal operations, though, you can expect a lot more jail time as well as being called a traitor.

The upshot of being called a traitor is that an appeals court rules that the bulk metadata collection program is not legal and the NSA's reading of the applicable law is wrong.

An appeals court overturned the obstruction of justice conviction for Barry Bonds, concluding that being rambling does not constitute obstruction.

Now that Hillary is running for President, the Clinton money trail is going to be very complicated to untangle. Including the millions of dollars given to the Clinton charities by foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State. That said, the book helpfully titled "Clinton Cash" is not likely to be authoritative, as its author has a history of bad research.

And there is a progressive challenger to the Clinton campaign now - Bernie Sanders will at least try to pull the centrist-conservative Clinton more toward the left if not mount a serious challenge to her.

Senator Warren expresses contempt for secret trade deals from her administration, while Senator Cruz expresses contempt for the democratic process in the District of Columbia. Which of these two Senators would you like as yours?

A proposed bill in Wisconsin would restrict two-thirds of food stamp money to items found on the official Women, Infants, and Children list, because it irritates a Republican that food stamps might actually be used for things life shellfish, and because Republicans delight in hurting and creating more obstacles for the poor, who they wish would either die or get properly hired as a servant for less than minimum wage. Minnesota looks well on their way to getting rid of any funding for helping the sick get healthy or insured. This is not only a bad idea, it's the underpinnings of how the privatized world sees health care for the poor, in their own country or in others - if you pay, you live, otherwise, die, even if your death will contribute to the sickness and death of others.

The election in the United Kingdom that put the Conservatives in power means the erosion of the social safety net already underway that has claimed several dozens of lives is likely to accelerate. Environmental issues like alternative power sources are likely to be put on the block as well. And the social ministers are on record as being hostile to the types of things they are supposed to be administering.

We do better in taking care of the emotional needs of people whose pets are dying or dead than we do those whose important people are.

Drone strikes have consequences - so why aren't we talking about them, or whether we use drones at all? Because we're too busy chasing conspiracies about the Army using war games as a cover for overthrowing the elected government of states. Which seems to share some mental states with estranged parents that never actually tell why they're estranged, despite having been told repeatedly what the problem is, instead insisting they are not at fault and nothing they did caused the rift.

Donald Trump has someone in his corner ready to be his superPAC of he should decide to seek a presidential nomination again.

Because of the lack of consequences for agents involved in sex and drug parties at the DEA, it should be no surprise that Congress lacks faith in the head of the DEA, who has subsequently resigned their post.

The management of Duke Energy repeatedly denied requests for inspection that would have prevented the fouling of a river with their chemical waste, we find, as they settle with the government over violations of the Clean Water Act.

Investigators are trying to piece together the cause of an Amtrak train that derailed after accelerating to twice the speed limit of a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight.

The person who consulted on what would become a lethal injection protocol adopted in all the states that have a death penalty said they did not anticipate unqualified people administering the injections and doesn't believe there is a more humane method of ending prisoner life.

The Baltimore Police think they have found a way, by beating a 25 year-old black man to death, visiting sufficient violence on him as to sever 80% of his spine. Baltimore has, predictably, reacted with demands for prosecution and accountability for the police, for a new reality to come into being. Charges have been brought against the officers involved. If you want to see what the reality of Baltimore is [personal profile] synecdochic knows. The real Baltimore is not the thing on the television machine, just like the real Ferguson wasn't. The real Baltimore hangs signs across from posh white clubs telling them that black lives matter.

Woe, says columnist, for men have no reason to get married anymore, and feminism is to blame by allowing men to get sex without marriage as well as the reduction of the man from respected provider to mere buffoon. In addition to the fundamental holes in the premise, marriage as described in the column sounds awful and nobody should want one like that. Besides, everyone knows that the cake bakers are the people whose endorsement you have to have.

Bullying by peers produces worse long-term mental health effects that being maltreated by an adult.

In science, Even if we could, it would probably be impractical and possibly unethical to bring back the mammoth. There are other species that would be better to being back from extinction that could have just as large an effect...but of course we like to believe big things are the right achievement.

Graphics cards are now a potential vector of attack for malware, now that we have enough experience programming them to do other things.

The reaction has mostly been snark.

If S.H.I.E.L.D. were really about the Logistics Division part, they'd have a network like these ones for shipping people and material around the world.

baby foxes in the backyard, bigger foxes in the Arctic, and learning what your cat commands with their communication.

A synaesthete paints songs in oils and acrylics. And someone else pants iconic characters with coffee.

Last for tonight, It doesn't surprise anyone that major fatigue accompanies autoimmune conditions. Additionally, self-care for depression is difficult because feelings of all sorts are tangled up in being depressed and safely surviving a depressive episode.

idiomatic language in other tongues.

We leave you with the musical abilities of Vienna Teng.

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Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Wood - Mannin Veen
Silver Adept
So Secretary of State Clinton used a private email address for work purposes, but claims no wrongdoing.

Hillary Clinton is officially in for the Presidential campaign of 2016. it seems like the Democrats are willing to let her have the nomination. Not for lack of candidates, but because everyone seems to be okay with Hillary Clinton as the candidate. Elizabeth Warren, however, could make it a primary all the same.

The GOP field is working itself together - Jeb Bush wants to outraise everyone else, while trying to distance himself from both of the other unpopular Bushes in the family, Ted Cruz wants true believers, Marco Rubio wants to be seen as serious, and Rand Paul is hoping for some of the magical appeal Ron Paul always got.

...and all the dark money that corporations can buy plus whatever voter identification laws can be passed.

The shooting of a black man by police in Wisconsin prompted an apology from the police chief after protests. Then, a manslaughter charge against a deputy who shot an unarmed black man, the sentencing of Blackwater guards that killed Iraqi civilians, and a murder charge for an officer that used his stun gun and then shot a fleeing suspect in the back four times.

Here's the thing, though. There are so many other incidents of brutality that go unreported and without comment, because it takes white people caring about black lives for change to happen.

it counts for other minorities, too. It's great to hear that the Administration will support efforts at banning conversion therapy, especially for teens, but legislation would be better, and enforcement of that beyond legislation the best still.

A terror group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kenya that appeared to target non-Muslims for death, killing almost 150.

Republicans wrote a letter to Iran warming them that deals made with this president still had to go through Congress, a move they admitted in retrospect was not the smartest thing. And a deal was still struck.

A Cuba thaw is underway, as the federal government removes Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In what could have been more than eight billion dollars USD of fines, New Jersey governor Christie accepted a $250 million USD settlement from ExxonMobil over environmental damage. And then had the temerity to brag about it. Whose palms got greased there? And whose might be in the investigation into an oil rig explosion in Mexico?

Loretta Lynch is a qualified candidate for Attorney General. So why is she languishing, even though the Republicans hate Eric Holder more?

The largest remaining cache of chemical weapons in the United States is slated for destruction. And this makes the rest of the world safer. On a more local level, a group tried to raise awareness of gun violence by stocking a store with prop weapons and stories of the violence committed with weapons like that.

So does not building a big tar sands oil pipe from Canada.

The troop levels in Afghanistan are likely to remain higher than the planned drawdown. Because endless war is totally what everyone wants. The way we fight it, with unmanned vehicles, we're saying a lot more about what's happening when things go wrong.

While the High Court considers whether lethal injection will be allowed to continue, Utah authorized the use of a firing squad for executions as a backup. Because the right to kill someone is apparently a thing no state wants to give up.

Arkansas passed a bill that said it was okay to discriminate against others, so long as you're doing so from a religious conviction. It follows Indiana in doing so, and the backlash is already on its way, trying to dissuade others from following suit. The technology industry is leading some of the pushback, but the politicians are not very far behind. some of that oddball has resulted in states modifying their laws, but not repealing them.

The Missouri Republican Party chair whose ads suggested untrue things about the State Auditor before the Auditor took his own life days he's been cleared and nobody should be talking about the incident with his name near it. Even though the ads were untrue and muck and in favor of his preferred candidates. The apparent suicide if the Auditor's spokesperson isn't helping subside any thoughts on the matter.

A nationwide strike of low-wage workers trying to raise the minimum wage to $15 USD/hr.

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Current Music: Ben English - Beast Bashers
Silver Adept
10 April 2015 @ 10:47 am
I realize that there's a necessary functioning of the universe that things must be destroyed. Light elements become heavier by fusion, and something new happens in the destruction of the old. Systems consume resources to produce new products. With the application of energy and technology, we can build wonders of great size and/or complexity.

Unfortunately, the things that make complex systems able to do great things also require the consumption of energy. When you stop giving a system energy, it ceases to be productive. Given enough time without energy, all complex systems begin to break down into their components.

It's not exactly fair that we are subject to entropy still. I understand that it's a necessary part of the function of the universe - creation and destruction all wrapped up in a giant process. That we aren't able to control it yet seems a great black mark against our technology, that all of our wonders will amount to a statue in the desert, a monument to our hubris and nothing else. The Last Question has not yet been answered, much to my great distress, and there is no Universal AC anywhere near completion to compute it.

In short, entropy sucks. Even when you know how necessary it is.

I'm thinking about this truth because last month I was reminded that it's been ten years since the rather sudden death of a good friend, a man of curiosity and wit, who, unsurprisingly, ran a used book store. His store also had meeting space for groups in the community that might be interested in books or other properties, and it was here that my hometown anime club found its start and first meeting space. I made this friendships and watched sometimes good anime in that shop, and his death was unexpected. Nearly broke the club apart, but venue changed to a house in the area owned by one of the members, and things continued.

That's the other problem with having a finite lifespan - I'm sure that the time before and the time after me are full of wonderful and exciting things, and I'm going to miss out on them. And they're not going to know who I was, or anything that I did. In the cosmic timespan, I am but a blip, of no importance. That, too, sucks, as entropy will get everything about me and my work, and eventually everything, including the molecules and component parts of what I compose this on and what you read it on.

I'm not ready to die yet. Perhaps in time I will be, but I'm still hoping that we will be able to choose the time and manner of our own passing, after we feel that we have had enough life before that decision is mine.

I'm pretty much a bad practitioner of any belief system I've tried. I do not have the Buddhist's detachment, the surety of Heaven or an afterlife by which all are reunited with those they have lost, or even the serenity to accept the thing that cannot change. Being reminded of my own mortality is always frightening, because there's so much left to do and not nearly enough time and no certainty that there will be a post-existence.

The other reason I'm reminded of entropy is because today was the day we put one of the dogs to sleep. She'd lost the function of her back legs, excepting in limited ways. She had a valve malfunction in her heart that was slowly enlarging it. Most recently, she'd had a severe bout of diarrhea and vomiting a couple weeks before, at which point we thought she was lost, but a course of antibiotics, some acupuncture, and a change of diet had her back to full speed, so long as we could support her back legs.

The diarrhea returned this morning, after a warming sign that it might last night on their last potty run. And then again. And again. The anti-diarrheal we have her passed through and exited in the next bout, and at that point, we knew it was time.

She passed peacefully unto DEATH just a few minutes ago, and there will be much about her that I miss.

For now, though, mourn the dead, comfort the living, feed the survivors. For life continues, even if we wish it would stop for a moment to properly truly grieve.

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Current Music: Naught but the wind in the trees...
Silver Adept
06 April 2015 @ 08:37 am
Baseball season begins today, and with it, every fan's hopes that this year they'll be able to see their team win the Series while they're still alive to enjoy it.

Those who were around for last year's December Days remember that I have a Tarot deck that is all baseball-themed. So, in honor of Opening Day (and to secretly test if there's interest), you can ask for one card from the Baseball Tarot on a question of your choosing.

  • Please indicate the level of verbosity you would like with your card - anywhere from "Just the card, please" to "I don't know anything about baseball, why this card?" so that I can gauge how much explanation will be needed to describe your card.
  • This card is entirely gratis - and comes with no warranty, for entertainment purposes only, and all standard and nonstandard disclaimers apply, including this: I am not any of the following - doctor, lawyer, accountant. If you need assistance in any of these areas, please consult those professionals. I promise that I will do my very best to give you the best reading I can to the best of my abilities. Use the information for your reading as you choose, and understand that you probably have more context than I do when it comes to application.
  • If you would like a longer, more in-depth reading, please feel free to PM me for further information, and we'll figure out methods of exchange.
  • All results will be screened by default, unless you specifically indicate you are okay with public results or that you would like a PM with those results.
  • Spreading the word would be lovely, but is not required. I can offer a clarification or extra context card to those who do - please include a link to your boost to claim the extra card.
  • Finally, this draw closes at 21:00 PDT on April 6, 02015. Requests timestamped after that time may not be responded to.

  • If baseball isn't your thing, [personal profile] alexseanchai is also doing a one card draw today, so there are options.

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Silver Adept
A long-form piece in the Guardian about the use of social media to document our existence and provide proof of our experiences, sometimes to the detriment of the actual experience.

The cry of the title was born out of the earlier days of the Internet, and possibly the culture of the imageboards - "Pics or it didn't happen" - is in response to a different caption - "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." In previous media forms that wrote and reported nonfiction, there were filters and gatekeepers and persons whose job it was to ensure that things said were not libelous and were factually accurate. While they occasionally failed (which is what retractions and corrections are for), it was generally accepted that things that came through those channels are accurate and happened. With the advent of the Internet, any entity with sufficient design skills can produce any thing they want and pass it off as true, because it looks sufficiently official and talks about Big Important Names and Organizations and possibly users Statistics to back them up. Enough hoaxes, misrepresentations, and robots writing things means going online now requires a hardened sense of skepticism. It should have been a golden opportunity for information professionals to educate is on how to evaluate what we see and find those places that provide honest information.

That didn't happen, and still isn't happening, even in the schools where that sort of thing should be taught. Instead, what we got was a half-baked skepticism - text is inherently untrustworthy, so further evidence must be supplied. Pics or it didn't happen.

Except, if you continue on in those same corners of the Internet, you will find that once people have access to the rooms that professionals use to retouch, enhance, superimpose, and create effects with, they will use it to create things that never happened, and then allow other people to think it's real, because the fact that the "proof" of its existence is right there for the seeing. Pics, even if it didn't happen. The art of forgery is alive and well and living on the Internet in a hundred thousand tutorials and informative documents.

Which is a long way of looping back to the first point of the article, that the things we post on social media are inane, banal, trivial, and boring. But, as establishing ourselves as not robots, agents, or corporate shills working off profile documents on how to appear like real people on the Internet, posting about what we had for lunch, or about our latest relationship dramatics, or pictures of pets and children are reasonably effective at proving that we are essentially human.

The article follows a parallel line to this, as it warms to the idea of deconstructing the practice of social media as we do it now, by declaring that it's not the content of the content that's important, but whether there's content at all and how quickly it arrives. Since our feeds all constantly scroll downward as new material arrives, the only way to stay afloat us to do something that momentarily puts us at the top of the list again.

Information professionals have long known that if your page is to be the one selected by someone doing a search, it is an absolute necessity for your page to be on the first page of search results. You could have the most accurate, informative, beautiful page on the Internet, but if you are on page 2, only the most dedicated of searchers will actually find it. Thus is born that most black-hearted of enterprises, search engine optimization. Which basically boils down to telling an algorithm, however sophisticated it may be, that your page is the most correct, most informative page on the internet, and therefore the best result to have for someone's search query, so push your page to the top of the results page.

The other part of search results is something that probably has a more scientific name than "the spam threshold", but there it is. Somewhere, after a few pages, the results all start looking like other things, because they're copies of something higher-ranked, or they have gibberish of key words, including yours, while advertising warez, pr0n, or other such things as the actual content of the page. Once you've hit the spam threshold, most people abandon the search, figuring there's no new information to be had. It's quite possible there is, but it's not likely.

People, of course, are not algorithms. We count our optimizations in the form of followers and subscribers. And one of the best ways to get followers and subscribers is to have a steady stream of activity. It helps to be witty or poignant, of course, but it might be more important to be frequent.

The other side of this idea is what the article goes to next - that if everyone is posting things, there's the danger that you're going to miss out on the one important post on the middle of the deluge. If all interactions and posts are substantive, then the scroll shouldn't move too far before you get caught up. That said, even with my tiny monkeysphere, if I go away for a few days, I will reach the limit of being able to go backward, with all of your excellent posts lost unless I examine your pages individually. In a faster-moving medium, it would almost be certain that something would get lost or I would spend forever in the infinite scroll trying desperately to catch up. The treadmill is particularly vicious here - must be able to simultaneously stay at the top of the scroll while reading through it and making comments.

This push-pull then reinforces the idea that we are measured by our responses as much as our posts. A prolific poster with no comments or kudos is seen as a failure, someone shouting to an empty room. Someone who isn't posting things as they think of them potentially runs into "Simpsons did it" and someone else getting all the credit. So somehow we have to find the formula that has us posting high-quality material regularly that makes sure to gather lots of likes and kudos, too. No wonder famous people and corporations designate people as their handlers of the social media - it's at least a full-time job. How do the rest of us plebians manage it when we're already working jobs?

The answer appears to be that you just throw everything at the wall and see if anything sticks. The need to document everything to prove existence will quickly produce what's what and what's chaff for your particular feed.

Which goes to the major part of the article - once you have an idea of what the people want, the next step is to package it appropriately. With the technology we have available, a picture can be given the appropriate filter, have a caption attached and be sent out to the world within a five minute span. Or a video, or audio recording. (Much to the consternation of local and other police departments caught in the act of doing something other than serving and protecting.) So not only are we documenting ourselves in real time, we're able to apply production values, editing, and presentation to the things we're doing before they get posted. We're not only just thinking about what to show, we're thinking about how to frame it, what effects to apply to the shot once it's taken, and what captioning we're going to put on it. The kinds of things that professionals take days, weeks, or longer to put together are being decided in seconds, executed in seconds, and sent out to be viewed for a few seconds before the process starts again.

So now we have created and packaged an identity for ourselves, myself included (although I tend to stick to text rather than multimedia), and are presenting it to others, seeking their approval and commentary and hoping that one is interesting enough, waiting for the ding that indicates that a new notification is here.

You can probably see the snake eating its tail at this point - a post, looking for comments, about an article pointing out how posting with the intent of looking for comments is an empty pursuit, but a very popular one, and that we do this because we want to be part of the network that we have. Which is pretty much what I'm shooting for here - to participate in a network of interesting people by making a post and hoping for comments. It's a performance, because my internal picture of myself is much different than the person others are imagining in my writing. I'm hoping to put my best foot forward and be witty or erudite or something else that's interesting with each post, and gather comments that say as much. I know that my identity is supposed to not be bound up in such other-focused things, but there's the part where as a performer, you want to both have an audience and have an appreciative audience. So it would be a lie to say that it's all completely about what I think is interesting, or just about what I'm thinking. But it's a lie that most people partake of, and I'd like to believe that I'm not doing it primarily for other people to notice and comment on. If I were, I think of be in a different profession. And possibly a different House.

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Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Yoko Shimomura - Dive Into The Heart
Silver Adept
23 March 2015 @ 10:12 pm
I've airways been resistant to the idea that I'm part of House Hufflepuff in the numerous Sorting Hat questionnaires that proliferated on the Internet while the Hermione Granger series was popular with the books and the movies and now the online experience. Hufflepuff is the house of "everyone else", after all, the people who don't get in to any other house. The Sorting Hat says so, although it's in Order of the Phoenix that he does.
Said Slytherin, “We’ll teach just those
Whose ancestry is purest.”
Said Ravenclaw, “We’ll teach those whose
Intelligence is surest.”
Said Gryffindor, “We’ll teach all those
With brave deeds to their name,”
Said Hufflepuff, “I’ll teach the lot,
And treat them just the same.”
Which doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for the Hufflepuffs. Even though, by this system, they are probably the most numerous house by far.

There aren't many, if any, Hufflepuffs in the books, (Cedric and Tonks, apparently), so there's no real way of getting a representative sample of what a Hufflepuff is. All we get off what Hufflepuff House is supposed to be about comes from other Hat Songs.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
By Gryffindor, the bravest were
Prized far beyond the rest;
For Ravenclaw, the cleverest
Would always be the best;
For Hufflepuff, hard workers were
Most worthy of admission;
And power-hungry Slytherin
Loved those of great ambition.
So the virtues of the House of Hufflepuff are Hard Work and Loyalty, which are definitely the virtues of the Everybody Else. They're not the foolhardy Gryffindors that rush in before considering the consequences, or the ambitious and manipulative Slytherins who consider every interaction and try to come out ahead with personal gain.

[Aside Number One: Draco Malfoy is a Gryffindor. The way he acts, and the henchmen he uses, are supposed to be Harry's mirror images in a different house, but Draco rarely stops to consider consequences and advantages. He's part of Slytherin for the same reasons Harry is part of Gryffindor - because it's where he wanted to go, for whatever value of "want" is possible in a first-year. Also, if experiences like Harry's are typical, I'm surprised more people don't talk about them. If you want the exemplars of Slytherin, you want Horace Slughorn and, to some degree, Tom Riddle, who use their connections, charm and knowledge to advance their goals and acquire more resources to use.]

Hufflepuffs aren't after knowledge for knowledge's sake like the Ravenclaws, either.

[Aside two: Hermione Granger is most definitely a Gryffindor. While she's certainly brilliant enough to be in Ravenclaw, her knowledge is geared toward practical application. She knows the answer to school questions, and does her research to solve the problems she faces. New facts and ideas are fascinating to her based on their applicability. Hermione at her most Gryffindor, though, is when she's campaigning and working toward solving the problem of house elf slavery.]

The way things were designed, it seems like Hufflepuffs are House We Do All The Work And Everyone Else Gets The Credit. Which, as someone on the tail (lead?) end of the Millennials, there was a steady diet of "You're going to change the world, one you get control of it from the cynics of the previous generation and the hangers-on from the last" in the formative years. Hufflepuffs aren't world-changers, they're just hard workers and loyal to those they work with / under. (Which, some may point out, is one of the ways that change is not only achieved, but sustained.)

And then I went into the public library profession. Which is increasingly a profession that finds itself with one foot in the past, one in the future, and two in the grave, acting as the bridge that allows the past to walk its way into the future, either by choice, disaster, or layoff. There are very few entities engaged in the practice of making sure there is training for older people on technology and the new ways of working, and training for young people outside of school for their interests (and technologies, too), as well as maintaining collections and resources from the past so that we don't forget things too quickly. It is a corner of the world that is not always paid attention to, past adulthood and/or college, unless there is a disaster. House No Credit finds one of its many homes in public library service.

For extra sting, I work in children's services, where miracles of literacy, storytelling, rekindling interest in books, and programming happen on a regular basis. But, since the profession is very much women-heavy, it turns out that it's possible for No Credit House to have a No Credit House nested inside it. Molding the future and all that, but how many people remember their children's librarian past story time? It's a triumph for us that we were able to plant in your head the idea that reading is a good thing to be enjoyed frequently, before school dug it up and replaced it with the idea that reading is a chore and must be suffered through.

This is not to say I regret my career choice. I am well-suited to public library children's and teen services, and I like what I do. It's just that I was fed a large diet of "you are going to be important to the world" as a youngster, and it takes adjustment to realize that it did not mean that you were going to become world-famous or fantastically wealthy or any other thing that would guarantee your presence in the history books. At least not immediately.

After some resetting of the sights, and the very real possibility that someone's thought that I wasn't competent enough to do the job would halt my career, I started keeping track of the things I have done - not just because it makes it easier to put down on my evaluation worksheets what kind of awesome person I am, but because chasing the idea that success is measured by magazine covers makes it very easy to miss out on all the success that is happening on lower levels than that.

Like the fact that children want to do one of your storytime rhymes outside of the program, because they love to bounce up and down so much.

Or planting the seed of an idea in a child's head that this, too, is something that you can do, regardless of what anyone says about you and that thing.

Or the unvarnished joy in the face of an octogenarian who is learning for the first time how to select and download books from a library collection to their tablet.

And the high praise delivered at the end of a session covering those basics: "Thanks. That's the most fun I've had in a computer class at the library." Because making learning fun is making it memorable.

And there's the skills. I left an easel pad out to occasionally talk to my teens about things I wanted their opinions on. While I didn't always get a response to the questions, the easel pad started to sprout art. (And games of hangman that use inappropriate words in their blanks, but that's to be expected from teenagers.) I wanted to showcase and preserve the art, and so, in addition to getting some material that I can use to decorate the windows with the art, I decided to try and preserve them by digitizing them. That way, they could join the slideshow of images advertising various library services that was already at work there, thanks to a generous donation of code for use with repurposed netbooks running Linux off a flash drive. (Which was an interesting thing to get to play with, as well. I've gone through a couple different iterations of portable Linux, learning all the way about what they can do and what their quirks are. In all things, there is training.) I've picked up some rudimentary image-manipulation technique in digitizing the artwork - digital inking, basically. Not enough to make a profession at it, but enough to be able to help Significant Other clean up a possible logo idea for them into something they quite liked.

And while nobody in the teen section has explicitly said thanks over the easel or the sideshow or anything else, for that matter, the artwork keeps appearing. It has to be enough to have filled the need, or to have provided a serendipitous moment in someone's life. House No Credit still abides.

Not that I don't occasionally try to raise my own profile - I've submitted an idea to three conferences so far. One said no, and I'm waiting on the other two still. And I've been writing some articles and posts about things I think are important or that are working on a theme. Some even have been published. But it's less about the pursuit of rockstar status and more about trying to find a platform where those ideas can be voiced.

So, because I like helping, and because I'm trying to put in the work, and because I still get joy of of the thanks that do happen, that pretty well puts me in house Hufflepuff. Now all I need is my zodiacal House badge and quote. [personal profile] jenett has "Virgo Hufflepuff - details managed.", which I think it's great and would happily embrace, if it were anywhere near the truth on sign or aspect. Heh. I'm not sure what to do for my own sign. "Foodstuffs Managed", perhaps? Maybe if there were just a set with all of them somewhere?

Anyway, it takes time to reach the point where you can be accepting of being important without being known. I suspect there should be a pithy tag on the end of this, like "This is the beginning of wisdom" or something, but I suspect that of my words were going to be used as aphorisms or wisdom quotes, I'd end up more like G'kar trying to illuminate his disciples than Laozi.

Luminous Emporium used a quote by Daniell Koehler, and I think it's a good closing line.
“You are not too sensitive or too needy. You are thoughtful and empathetic. You are compassionate and kind. And – with or without anyone’s acknowledgment or affection – you are enough.”
That's House Hufflepuff.

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Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: Masami Ueda - Okami Main Title
Silver Adept
A big politics mess-up to start - a former Mayor of New York City who still has inexplicable power over conservatives said the closest thing to the "Secretly Foreign" attack that he could about Barack Obama - he "doesn't love" the country. That is not newsworthy. What is, however is that The governor of Wisconsin, Mr. Walker, chose not to distance himself from the remarks or condemn them, and the governor of Louisiana chose to put a meaning in the Mayor's mouth that isn't there to agree with the remarks without agreeing with them.
We note that there are still some organizations that choose to go with the Secret Muslim idea - and get called out on it.

An Idaho state legislator asked whether or not the cameras that can be swallowed for colonoscopies can also be used to perform ultrasounds. He was told no, and when pressed, claimed that he knew it was ridiculous and just wanted the answer on the record.

A study out of Northeastern University in Boston days classical chivalric motivations are sexist. I'm inclined to agree with the Shakesville headline - any feminist could tell you this, because classical chivalry is about redirecting violence in such a way so that it becomes socially approved, using both Church and women as the convenient excuse for it.

A heavily redacted memoir of a detained Guantanamo Bay inmate reminds us all again that torture happens in the name of the United States, yet nobody seems interested in stopping or prosecuting those involved. One of the persons involved in the torture of the writer has a history of using coercive tactics to extract confessions in Chicago. At some point, you hope for a monster to come in and clean house.

More cameras to capture faces, says the chief of the London police. For crime-solving, of course. Airstrip One begins to resemble itself, does it not?

I am a collector of things. So I think, perhaps, the best way to mark the collection of the creator of the Disc by his iconic smallcaps-speaking character is through all the tributes that I've seen on my lists - Neil Gaiman, a big fan, a fan since a very early age (and another), a fan of his fans, (and another), a fan of the works on the Disc, a fan of the ideas present on the disc, a fan of the presence of the monsters (and that the Disc is the place where familiar stories become different and twisted), a teller of stories in their own right, a fan of the funny, someone for whom the Disc is a bedtime companion, the fan who hasn't yet gotten completely immersed, and all the fans that return when the tragedy has struck.

Here is a guide to the Disc and its books.

Unsurprisingly, there's a large market for porn that isn't about catering to straight white dudes with certain formulas. And with tools like crowdfunding, it's a lot easier to make those movies without having to be exploitative.

Fans of merpeople are hard at work expanding their mythos and the body types that one can say are definitely merpeople, with a lot of work going into diversifying the look of the mermaid to match their environment.

Collegiate policies on readmission to the school may be deterring students with mental health issues from taking beneficial absences from their classes.

A thing for our days, we are told, although really it had been going on for a lot longer than this: We do work when not at the office, and not work when we are - but now we're starting to actively ask for that flexibility, rather than sneaking what we can in the era of increased productivity. If a woman, what leisure time is afforded is generally spent on other people's needs - leaving women with no leisure time at all for themselves.

The creator of Zombies, Run! talks about creating an app that's about exercising and enjoying the body, and not competing or having to already be in peak physical condition to achieve.

The federal civil rights investigation into the Ferguson, MO police found a pattern of bias in the police department, as well as racism on display by the police. So, in the small way that they can, the federal government agrees that black lives matter. They're going to need it - a Wisconsin police officer shot and killed a black man on the same day as the finding, sparkling protest.

The state auditor in Missouri suffered an attack ad in his run for governor that insinuated he was Jewish and that this was a problem for his campaign. Except the auditor wasn't Jewish...and things get worse from there. The auditor killed himself a few days later, but it appears to have been over something other than the antisemitism.

A South Carolina state legislator made several sexist and misogynist comments at an event where the only female state senator for South Carolina was in attendance. The senator so slandered was ready to exact revenge and defend herself. If you want statistics, as it turns out, women are better at all aspects of legislation, in introducing bills, getting them passed, and getting them multi-partisan. not, as was commented, a "lesser cut of meat". This sort of thinking stems from an inability to see women as people and insisting that they are objects that men are entitled to if they do the right things. Which, when taken to correct conclusion, means there should be a lot more of angry cat hissing at men who behave that way.

Effective methods for avoiding pointless arguments with fans/critics of a work.

The mistakes of the United States, with regard to the protection of trans people, should not be replicated elsewhere, and especially not using the same reality-free bullshit that passes for argument here. Solutions must also make sure queer people aren't marginalized or assumed to be binary, aces are protected and not seen as anything other than normal, and one does not make secondary those children conceived outside of PIV sex.

Have your politicians tasked about love and loving relationships? Not in the way where love is a substitute for sex, but in terms of long, lasting, fulfilling relationships between people.

Private home use and growth of marijuana is legal in the District of Columbia. The initiative passed would also have set up a framework for the sale and regulation of marijuana, but Congresscritters from well outside the District are blocking those parts.

In the state of Florida, the governor and others insist that terms such as "climate change" not be used. Because, as we are all familiar with, refusing to name a Thing prevents it from becoming real.

Financial literacy regarding simple elements such as compound interest, inflation, and a diversified investment portfolio is rather weak in the United States, which is unsurprising, considering how few people have sufficient income to save, invest, or consider long-term goals.

Advice on making your presentation slides excellent and advice on making your presentations even better.

Trying to piece together Sappho the poetess is like trying to piece together Sapphic poetry - lots of fragments, and not everything agrees.

All Hail Androgyny, and women modeling menswear (and all hail the Almighty Glow Cloud, too).

An anti-equality group chose the Mardi Gras broadcast in Sydney, Australia, to debut an advertisement imploring everyone to THINK OF THE CHILDRENS and reject marriage equality. Backlash was swift.

A better idea would be to do as Venice did and train orphans, the disabled, and the poor in musical performance, so that the city is blessed with the presence of lots of wonderful music. Or maybe not the training, but providing for all children would be better than trying to deny marriage to those who would raise them well.

Medical students who are not on the gender binary or who aren't straight often stay closeted, and a major reason why is fear of discrimination. If we are to have medical professionals who will fairly and properly treat all people, we need to have medical students that feel they can be open and contribute their experience.

Biologically speaking, there's no wrong way to do sex so long as there's a shot at genetic transfer. Questions of "right" and "wrong" are things of culture. Which doesn't mean things like consent aren't important. What it does mean is that all the possible consensual combinations you can think of are all equally valid.

Tips on how to make a pleasant hotel experience - being nice to everyone and being free with the tips certainly helps.

In technology, the value of Apple is larger than all but a few countries' gross domestic product.

Maxis, the developer of the Sim series, starting with SimCity, is having its doors shuttered by EA, the parent company. And another studio that made things that were unique and different is closed down.

A marvel of engineering that is a bridge in the shape of a dragon, that breathes fire and water.

A similar marvel, this time in the form of the illustrations to The Velveteen Rabbit.

To survive, animals will change their diets, meaning normally-herbivorous creatures will start consuming meat and other animals. And it's not just those in Kellis-Amberlee amplification, either.

The FCC approved net neutrality. One of the greatest beneficiaries of that decision decries it as the vanguard of government regulation of speech and content, demonstrating the fundamental misunderstanding of reality that moved this person to an Internet show off of the network they used to have.

The English language can be used to communicate in gender-neutral ways, just by tweaking things a bit from the default patterns.

Credit card breaches with point-of-sale vendors, which means that smaller organizations are just as likely, if not more so, to suffer thieves attacking them. There are steps that can be taken to make compromising your computer and devices more difficult, and free courses you can take on computer security, but there's still the possibility that you may be compromised because someone else's security failed.

An insistent light bulb demanding to be changed flooded a smart house network, causing a denial of service issue. Because, of course, devices do not know to ignore themselves unless told.

The Organization For Transformative Works helps clear up common misconceptions about Fair Use in the United States.

Time-lapse photography of the skies of New Zealand, which are quite lovely to look at.

For those in a climate where there is rain but not strong wind, an umbrella that makes kittens and paw prints appear in the presence of precipitation, with the strength of the presence correlating to the strength of the rain.

Searching for things in our age is about either anticipating the search before it arrives or being sure that the answer to a question is clear and visible from the first page of results. Which suggests that my library may need to integrate Worldcat straight into the regular search interface. I suspect, somehow, that we'd probably end up abusing the API or something.

The Internet Movie Database makes it much easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with a tool that lets you find what projects two people have worked on together.

The cuisine of India achieves is unique flavor by using ingredients that do not generally share flavor profiles, meaning that most dishes have multiple unique flavors in each bite - a general shock to most Western palates. Additionally, correcting misconceptions expressed in fitness advertisements intending to shame people into doing workouts of a certain type and to eat a certain way and women taking about the ways they learn to make their bodies friends rather than enemies.

Kitchen gadgets that make geeks and geeky kids happy, paired with the reality of being English, working in a French patisserie, to Japanese coworkers and boss. Surprisingly, for me anyway, there's a lot of sound involved in making sure everything is right, in addition to the touch, smell, and occasional taste. Also, I linked, some time ago, to an article pointing out that the Japanese are quite good at replicating culture, to the point of being as good as or better than the original, and I think this is still true in this article.

Continuing in culinary things, the origin of the Boston Peking Ravioli.

Interpreting low-resolution photos of Ceres says a few things about its geology, which are exciting, but we'll need higher-res to examine those interesting features more.

Last for tonight, Spock chooses his identity, and we must respect his choice, even though many of the things that drive the movies are all about not respecting that choice, the need for more choices so that more people can find themselves, the real secret of the Lego Movie, which is not about the Big Twist, and control mechanisms and implementations for the profusion of fairy portals.

And a video of a Stark Industries representative delivering a bionic arm to a seven year-old customer.

The tools we have available to us today make it possible for us to never stop learning all of the things that are interesting to us. And they make it easier for us to give back our own knowledge to others, at whatever price we feel is fair.

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Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Bruno Mars - Runaway Baby
Silver Adept
Greetings. We'll begin with the knowledge that people from areas stereotypically associated with sex-negative religious attitudes and their attendant repressive ideas are buying lots of tickets to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Of note is Mississippi, who topped early pre-sale and opening weekend charts and is home to the American Family Association, who invoked the Streisand Effect by calling for people not to go see it. (The same AFA that sponsored a trip for Republican Party leaders to go to Israel and promote Christianity.) Probably not in response to this, the town where the AFA calls home, Tupelo, Mississippi, has sold out showings for the movie.

Much consternation cometh from renewed interest in Fifty Shades and its grafting of BDSM elements into a romance tale, but take care not to police literature choices by women, while at it. A lot of criticisms do or wring their hands about people taking the fantasy seriously as How It's Done.

Finland will join the Century of the Fruitbat in 2017.

The Impossible Missions Force, the Massive Dynamic family, the hobbits of the Shire, the True Organization XIII, the town of Springfield, the Planet Express team, the models that he photographed, and all the other subjects, too, the United States Army, Bruno Mars, the recipients of his poetry and wisdom, whether in his most famous role or not, all those who replicate his benediction, whether famous or not, and in whatever medium suited them best, those who identified with any of his characters, but especially those who saw a representation of themselves in him (a representation he was fully aware of and consciously used for good), and, of course, the crew of the Federation Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, salute and welcome Leonard Nimoy, actor and great example of a human being, to the end of his journey of life at 83 years of age.

Photographs of abandoned locations, capturing moments in time otherwise long gone.

if you want to make progress in mental health issues, work on building the capacity and availability for those with mental issues to get help, as it's not that people aren't trying to get it, but that it isn't there for them. The system is designed to be incredibly difficult to access by those that need it, and measures are routinely proposed and enacted that punish those with mental issues and make it harder for them to get effective help.

Watercolor and ink makes cats on canvas that are strikingly realistic.

it is significantly less likely that a marijuana user will reach a lethal dose of their drug, especially when compared to alcohol.

Another Bush wants to be President. Which would be okay, I suppose, but for hiring a guy who regularly made sexist and homophobic tweets as the chief technology officer (he resigned, after trying to delete the evidence), and publishing thousands of unredacted emails of correspondence with Floridians to promote an upcoming book on the subject of how awesome a governor he is and how he'd make a great President. The featured comment strain when I read that article was a dick insisting that since nothing Jeb Bush did was illegal, nobody should be worked up about having their personal data put out in the open, and they should have known what would happen when they wrote. Which was missing the point, as usual - privacy is not just the technological means of keeping data secret, but a set of social norms where people who may have data agree not to disclose that data where it would hurt someone. So Wheaton's Law applies here.

The death of an aid worker taken hostage by the terror group operating in Syria and Iraq renews the commitment to the destruction of that group from the White House, regardless of the cost needed to achieve that goal. To that end, the President has officially requested that the Congress give him authorization to use military force against said terror group.

Three Muslims, shot by their neighbor over what is officially a parking dispute, but what may turn out to be hate motivations, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The shooter owned a significant number of weapons and ammunition, which is not inherently wrong, but suggests a clue to the ideology of the shooter.

Alabama joins the Century of the Fruitbat...or would be, except the state's highest judge, Roy Moore, issued orders telling lower judges to ignore the federal court order. This is the same judge that refused to take down their Ten Commandments, was tossed out, and then re-elected to a higher court position.

The blizzard conditions are sufficiently tough in the Northeast United States that environmental waivers are being sought and granted to move excess snow into local bodies of water.

People have disabilities, regardless of what they use to accommodate them. So if they're not with their devices, it doesn't mean they're getting better. That said, it appears that we have too many people who think dead is preferable to disabled, and are willing to give parents a pass for killing their disabled children.

Am inquiry investigating whether NBC anchor Brian Williams exaggerated claims he has made about his time in Iraq and during national disasters had resulted in Mr. Williams removing himself temporarily from the job until the investigation is compete. Which is a sound thing to do - for an example of what not to do, we turn to fake news correspondent Bill O'Reilly, who uses exaggerations to try and leverage himself into positions of superiority and then levels attacks that encourage bad behavior against those that fact-check him. which only encourages other organizations to find more instances of his lies - regarding the witnessing of violence against nuns, or his lack of presence at the suicide of a person involved in the JFK assassination. And after the evidence he was hoping would exonerate him didn't, and the heat continued to build on his avoidance, well...nothing. No apology yet.

Author John Green went on an odyssey to try and discover whether a quote being used all over the place to promote a work of his actually was in his book. it wasn't, which meant plagiarism had unwittingly occurred, because everyone thought the quote was in the book. So there's an entire process there of finding the correct author and paying them for all the uses done so far. That the author needed an illegal version of his own work to digitally search it (as all legal copies contain DRM that prevents searching the text of the book) says a lot about the state of copyright and our ability to fact-check.

After several confirmed attacks, owl strike warning signs were installed in a park in Oregon. The signs were suggested by the Rachel Maddow Show as a way of warning potential joggers, and then taken up by the Parks and Recreation Department where the strikes are occurring.

Scandalized in many ways, including seeking to have emails stored on a government server deleted, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber is resigning his post.

The problem of an independent bookstore closing, supposedly brought about by minimum wage laws that made it unprofitable. These are competing issues - the bookstore is being eaten by conglomerates, yet the workers deserve a fair wage for their labor. The store eventually decided to pilot a patronage model, selling memberships to cover cost.

A Kickstarter project intended to provide stock images of people of color or outside the Hollywood standard of "attractive white people. Even if just used for book covers, I can see a lot more authors getting to see their vision, rather than having to avoid it.

Probability is a branch of maths that often makes very little sense compared to what should be right. For example the maths behind the Monty Hall Problem are so counterintuitive that Marilyn vos Savant received a deluge of "corrections" when she initially gave the correct answer. One could make a case that at least some of this was people wallowing in the idea of being able to take a prominent woman columnist down a peg, or being able to say that the really smart person was wrong, and that the fusion of the two (Marilyn vos Savant is undeniably a very intelligent woman) is what generated the large volume of patronizing corrections and comments. Were it to happen today, I would guess that Marilyn vos Savant and Anita Sarkeesian would be BFFs from shared experiences.

Columnist says "men do not have a uniform identity of masculinity anymore", says it's best to forge one's own path, in the context of talking about various forms of identity that are either popular now or are giving way to new fads of masculinity. The good part is that the column acknowledges the basic impossibility of many of those popular forms, much as has been foisted on women, and sees this confusion as a natural conclusion of feminism - the changing definition of what female roles are and the expansion of possible identities naturally changes what masculinity is as well, even if others believe such change must be stopped.

Exhortations for people to leave their comfort zones ignores the reality for most people that already includes sufficient fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Those who truly would need pushing outside their comfort are those with the means to make life more comfortable for many others. The rest of us are still waiting for the time where we can be authentically ourselves.

The hero's journey as an example of Tropes Are Not Good. Contrast with Afrofuturism as an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, and especially so here as The hegemony of white men in science fiction is being slowly knocked over in favor of increasing diversity of writers. Not necessarily at the biggest publishers yet, but it's getting easier to sidestep them anyway. And, as it turns out, due to a shared interest in imagining worlds that were better than the one lived in right now, science fiction and QUILTBAG activism were often able to work together, with the overt interest in science fiction providing the necessary cover.

"Human Resources" devalues humans and puts time-sucking processes that demand every worker justify their continued existence in charge of a company.

The United Kingdom's practical realities of taxation are much like the United States - disproportionate burden on the poorest, not being at full capacity, and the rich doing the most of the tax dodging.

Relentless enforced optimism is a sucker's bet, but there are more than a few powerful forces that want you to be unable to express anything but optimism.

The Regents in charge of UCLA are looking to get rid of a garden gifted to them under an agreement that the University would maintain the garden in perpetuity, citing cost of maintenance as too much. We note that going back on promises does not engender good will...or donations to those places that renege.

The city of Vanport, Oregon, from origins as a place to stash black people to its destruction from dike failure, to the march of gentrification proving to new more adept at displacing the poor and minorities than any redlining practice ever did.

In a world of more people competing for less resources, certain drugs are being used as cognitive enhancers, even if they don't really enhance cognition.

Columnist laments the death of traditional publishing when compared to serial publishing apps like Wattpad. We, over here, are whistling and pointing to all the literary magazines in existence, the crowdfunded projects like "Foo Destroys Bar" and the gentle reminder that parts of the literary canon such as Sherlock Holmes were published as serial instalments initially, only to be given a codex form later.

The A.V. club examines the usage, prevalence and wisdom of the "Will They, Won't They" trope, although they title it as being about the fan practice of (relation)shipping. Shippers are one influence on showrunners, who indulge or reject them at their peril.

Why aren't we taking children's books seriously as literature, asks columnist, not realizing that children's books are automatically considered lesser because children are considered lesser, excepting to parents (limited), teachers, librarians, and those with an interest in censoring literature. While authors of books for kids may go on for a long time afterward, their work is not going to be put up for prizes in literature because the prize definitions of literature and what makes an excellent children's book are often opposed.

Sometimes a prolonged silence between books is good, often times not, columnist writes, then wonders where all the women comeback authors are, speculating perhaps lowered ambitions or a decreased tolerance for a return after bad behavior. More likely is the same phenomenon that affects women who would otherwise climb the corporate ladder - being forced to choose between career and family, being seen first as a dabbler and then a fad, but never seriously, and the general discounting of women writing outside genres considered to be "appropriate" for them.

Unsurprisingly, more than a few men choose to use dating sites as their preferred platform to insist that there are no women suitable for them. They're right, but not for the reasons those men think.

Try spending a year reading authors that are not white, straight, cis men. This is not a thing about staying in comfort zones. Reading good fiction by people who aren't like you is going to push you well outside any comfort zone, but it will also mean you get exposed to really good fiction outside your normal orbits. It might also be a good exercise to go back and read reviews of the books after you're fine reading them - there are a lot of implicit biases toward white and Western culture, which makes books with diverse casts and settings to have to work harder to satisfy those reviewers. Your public library should be able to help you with this pursuit - if their collection and recommendation staff aren't able to fill your requests, that represents a potential bias on their part as well, in the selection and retention process. Not that it's easy to select well - competing interests, ideas, and budgets make selection difficult for the now, much less for the long term, in deciding what should stay and what should go in any library collection.

An attempt at encouraging analysis and discussion of fanfiction started as a student-run class at Berkeley... well, backfired spectacularly. Link is to a good jumping-off point, from whence one can see a large amount of the reaction. To wit, students were asked to read from a list of fiction and leave constructive-criticism type comments on the fic. The authors of the fic were not informed of their inclusion, and the idea of leaving those types of criticisms apparently violated several large fandom norms about not leaving critical remarks unless solicited on a fic's comments. As one might guess, Wheaton's Law applies here, too.

And also it applies to lawyer behavior, but you at least can ask your counsel to not be such a dick.

The redesigned GED is experiencing an incredible decline in those taking and passing the test, which appears to be related to the move to an online-only test, the increased cost, and the college-preparatory nature of the test. Considering that the test is used as a substitute high school certificate for those that dropped out or entered the prison system before graduation, so that they can find employment, there's a lot of pushback against orienting the test toward those intending to go to college, and testing on skills that are not likely to be used for the kids off work being sought by those who want the GED. I suspect there's an underlying issue here about poverty, school quality, and things like the school-to-prison pipeline, where there really is no safety net underneath someone who, for whatever reason, doesn't complete enough schooling to get into "society". And in places where that help is most desperately needed, there isn't enough support to hire a library director at anything more than minimum wage.

The suggestion that the only things that need to be in your life are those things that give you joy - all others are to be shed, which very much insists, intentionally or no, on a very Spartan lifestyle, in terms of objects. The Toast understands this and takes it to the most logical of conclusions.

Writing things down can have practical and spiritual benefits, not just for memory aid, but also for working through things and keeping a record of what's happened and how it has been dealt with. There's a reason I'm impressed with people who give others access to their writing.

Coins thrown into the Thames River as wishes for love.

Technology opens with pre-installed adware on Lenovo computers that allows anyone to spoof a secure website without the computer raising a peep, because of the self-signed security certificate injecting itself and representing the website as secure, instead of using the actual security certificate. Once you have the password to the certificate, you can exploit that certificate to make any website appear genuine and secure.

Open Source software can be vulnerable to security issues as well, including on phones, where many of the keys for custom software are the test or debug keys that are well-known. Plus, if you want great software from other sources, you have to let all unknown sources install, potentially.

And then there's the fact that many of us are making decisions about the sharing and use of our data without full knowledge of how it will be used, since "free" things generally means giving up data in one form or another, which is then added to the storehouse of data associated with us.

Making better everything requires thinking about accessibility. For example, it's highly likely that people consuming visual data will have someone who cannot perceive the full range of colors. The fixes on that, once you're aware, are pretty easy. Even better, though, is include as many combinations of people using assistive technologies in your design and your test cases, baked right into their user stories along with the other things that need testing, so that it does being about "people with disabilities" and "normal people" and is instead just about "our users".

Library and librarian knowledge and information needs to find its way to the open Web, so that it can then be mashed up and remixed in ways that make new knowledge, including all of that useful Reader Advisory knowledge. Which means taking advantage of the cover provided by frameworks and policy statements to empower users to not only function within structures when needed, but to be able to question and dismantle those structures and their power bargains.

Also, teaching source evaluation to students by starting with the familiar and moving to the authoritative.

There are many, many ways of streaming movies and television that are free, if you're willing to sit ads, and some of those services offer subscriptions to get rid of the ads and add HD.

On the practicalities of integrating Wikipedia editing into one's academic coursework. On the same resource, advice on how to edit while female that amounts to basically, "Don't be female-coded, don't give out any information, and ignore the bullies as best you can". This is also offered as advice on how to close the gender gap on Wikipedia as well. Perhaps I am missing something, but if you want to be showing that you're closing the gender gap, then don't you need visible women who aren't being harassed, bullied, and run off the site? The advice is good for participating in an environment that's toxic, but that shouldn't really be good enough for anyone.

Starting a just space is more possible if you think to be inclusive and to give people appropriate outs at the beginning.

It's very tough to determine what it would cost to have every possible journal resource in any given library, because the quantity to buy and the cost of the buy are both unknown and somewhat unknowable.

Very old cheese.

The use of computer tomography on a statue of a meditating Buddha has revealed scrolls of writing placed where organs were removed during the mummification process that provided the base for the eventual statue.

Last for tonight, chocolates intended to represent the onomatopeia of texture, Warp Zone Prints, making geeky cookie cutters, a person who builds temples that are meant to be burned, a company that will make plush versions of pets, based on photographs, The use of mood lines in artwork, with movie posters and other examples of each line, and a person who wanted to build a community for living after the end times and found he wasn't suited for it.

And the best librarians in fiction, what life is like for security personnel at a public library, and the need to build software (and libraries and collections) that encourage wanderlust, sharing, documentation, and the building of a diverse community. And here's the links and supporting information for that talk.

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Silver Adept
Here we go again. Let's start with a dragon that helps the princess choose the knight of her choice - by throwing flame at those the princess doesn't want. In a more metaphorical sense, meet some of the people who would get flames thrown at them were they to approach the castle. They probably believe in the reality of the awesome superpowers granted to women with exposed navels, but consider it a bad thing instead of freaking awesome.

Article on Yahoo suggests that when confronted with images painting women as objects, a la a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover, parents teach kids media criticism skills and provide alternate images of women. And then fails to do so in the article, preferring instead another shot of the cover model, although this time not about ready to drop her bottoms. Couldn't find one they liked or could license? Here, have some ballet dancers, whose costumes show as much as a standard swimsuit, and yet are contextually clearly not intended to be sexualized. I might also note the clear musculature on some of the images that point out the reality of the strength and endurance required to dance.

The Fifty Shades film gets the proper review it deserves.

A graphic novel guide for straight guys on how to have healthy hook-ups is forthcoming. Because everyone needs useful information and ways of getting the answers to the questions of how to navigate the mixed media messages involving what guys do when it comes to sex. And because it's still a radical statement for a woman to say she does not want to be raped.

Although it will make full sense to precisely one person, who may not be around these parts any more, it still needs be said: Lord Michigan and his Patriot-bots win again, despite a spirited defense from LC Seattle.

The Dead Pool Snarky Announcers Club puts Gary Owens to work at 80 years of age. Fans of the talking versions of Space Quest games enjoyed Owens as the announcer, whose lines included gems such as "Your reach is about as good as your personal depth."

A couple plans on using the (which they own) to educate others on gay rights and issues. I think it's wonderful that they're going to use that domain that way.

The Wiki War that broke out regarding the inclusion of innuendo, hearsay, and harassment on the pages of persons caught up in the attempt to drive women out of video games has reached a conclusion from Wikipedia's arbitration committee. To put it mildly, the committee decided they should massage a decision without consulting the relevant context, our, for that matter, the experiences of those editors being harassed for trying to keep nonfacts from being put on a Wikipedia page. In doing so, they would give the harassers everything they wanted and ban those who were defending Wikipedia from the libel. And so, Wikipedia fails to even learn from this and put into place policies, procedures, and staff that will prevent something similar from happening.

If you're being stalked or harassed online, the Crash Override Network (CON?) intends to provide support and information to fight the legions of trolls looking to silence women from bring online.

Pakistan's Taliban may be responsible for polio continuing to exist in the country, as they consider vaccinations to be Western intrusion on their religious society. Which may be a good shock line for your resident anti-vaccination conservative - their beliefs are in line with the Taliban. The continued campaign against autism as the worst possible thing ever is part of what gives the anti-vaccine movement its strength, when it should be clear that injury and death are worse than mental things that can be compensated for. Except, apparently, facts don't actually work against anti-vaccination beliefs. Which is how you get Senator Rand Paul and Governor Chris Christie making remarks that were against full vaccination. Rand Paul walked back his comments, and so did Chris Christie. But the damage has already been done. Governor Christie also doesn't send cards to new parents recommending vaccination.

The facts not working is something we knew, I suppose, in general, with Fox News and their inability to report on reality, a lack of reality endorsed fully by entities like the Family Research Council. Who have been invited to the real places to observe how wrong their beliefs are. Which they could do by going outside and observing the world around them. Even so, some will stick to the false story even knowing the truth.

Next thing we know, they'll be advocating for the proper medicine of the time...of Edward Teach.

Or they could have that decision made for them by a knowledgeable expert.

Instead, take a look at one hundred reliable websites for getting health information from.

After video of a Jordanian pilot being set on fire was posted by ISIS, it was rumored (incorrectly) that part of the revenge Jordan would take would be the king flying attack missions himself. The actual vengeance started with the execution of prisoners and has continued with airstrikes.

The drug war has always been racist, and that racism destroyed Billie Holiday while preserving Judy Garland, as well as trying to get jazz musicians convicted for marijuana use.

A lot of interesting things came out from jazz, like A dictionary of hip lingo from Cab Calloway himself.

And then there's steampunk. A regular Tokyo festival for steampunk looks really excellent, even if the tickets are possibly a bit steep in price.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Justice is being contacted to take a look at Saudi Arabia's prison and justice system, for a sum that seems too small to be effective. And it's also a secret deal, which means questions that should be easy to answer freely are instead receiving no comment.

The United Kingdom is also going to force a separation of a family or to have the entire family move to South Africa, after denying status to the husband of a citizen who met the minimum income requirements. (She met the requirements, not him.) The immigrant experience is designed to refuse as many people as possible and cause distress in all the rest, it appears.

Life exists, even in places where energy is scarce. Where else have we not yet discovered it?

By studying remains in tar pits, scientists are able to chart the changes in size of the American coyote in relation to the extinction of other predators.

The pipeline that burst and sent toxic salt brine into a river in North Dakota? Had never been inspected at all, because the state can't seem to hire or retain inspectors at the salaries they're offering.

The new commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, intends to make the game more accessible to more young people, especially those in disadvantaged areas. I hope he can come through on that promise, and continue to make baseball a more diverse place. Maybe even let women back in, Commissioner? In all cases, we no longer have Bud Selig's name to curse anymore.

Coloring mandalas or other repetitive patterns can be used to relieve distress. If you would like, there are some free patterns available to print.

Walk the Wheel, a series of meditations and outdoor journeys involving keeping the festivals of the year.

Mementos of travel, stitched in embroidery. I wonder what they would make of the pictures of the bottom of an iceberg?

Suggested advice on how to have a successful poly relationship as a secondary partner, including why any secondary partner needs to be treated with respect and participation. Because in the wrong hands, or on those not really ready for poly, secondary partners can really get hurt.

The children of abusive parents owe them nothing in terms of reconciliation or care, despite sometimes intense social pressure to forgive.

A virulently anti-everything-not-Christian organization disavowed a spokesman to try and deflect heat from their planned trip to Israel with the Republican National Committee - with the organization paying for the Republicans. Because what United States politics needs right now is a major party openly declaring how much they hate everyone not them. Actually, now that I think about it, we could use just that, so that people know the honest truth about them. So it needs to be publicized fast and wide that Bobby Jindal is courting many elements of the fringe right in his bid to be a viable Presidential candidate.

Allowing yourself to think of others in categories, good or bad, diminishes your ability to remember that each is unique and should not be judged based on others.

Indiana governor Mike Pence believes Indiana needs a state-run news agency, which will apparently make available pre-written stories for other media outlets to grab and use, as well as some amount of breaking news generated by the state to release as its own exclusives. After being confronted on the matter, the governor backed down and said the entity would be much more limited in scope, but the idea is still leaving a bitter taste for people who think government should leave the news to the free press.

We are entitled to have an argument over our positions, not to have our positions remain unchallenged. This distinction is vitally important.

In the Department of Better Late Than Not At All, more than fifty years after their initial arrest, the convictions for nine men arrested for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter have been overturned.

Procrastination is an avoidance behavior borne out of trying not to fail by not doing anything that requires judging.

A convent for Catholic nuns is renting the rooms in their compound for visitors coming for the NFL championship game.

Spiritual practice that requires the harmony of all participants and/or raising energy together suggests that the optimal working group is smaller than most church sizes. Considering what churches are best for, this may be an accurate observation.

Websites with images that can be reused for blogging or commercial purposes, then award-winning photographs of nature, which likely cannot, and a virtual-reality gallery of stolen artwork that have never been recovered.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are the best example of love in modern times, and represent the bold possibility that even superheroes can mature and change their relationships, with Peter as a good example of a guy who lost his destined partner and still made good because of his allowed maturity.

There is a system in place that insists women should hate their bodies. It gets to them early and it never leaves, even after wrecking self-esteem, inspiring self-harm, and perennially comparing women to artificial models. (Many content warnings for that link)

One of the ways that abused children can overcome the abuse is by finding a way, with an adult brain, to examine and replace the underlying assumptions of self instilled as a child.

Questions of race, tokenism, and whether to fight any given battle on racism are not solely the province of the obviously different-looking.

An all-female cast for a reboot of Ghostbusters. Which is awesome! Also, despite not having seen a full episode of the X-Files, Gillian Anderson has some really great things to say about acting and the standards of Hollywood. I did like her in the movie that was all about the interconnected stories - Love, Actually, was it? Gillian Anderson has been busy since then, doing a lot of work that hasn't filtered back to the States.

Addiction may be caused by a lack of human bonding and connection more than the addictive properties of the substance or habit itself. The article goes off the rails when it suggests the Internet is not able to create real human contact and bonding, but otherwise, it's pretty solid.

If one does not believe in the idea of surrendering problems for the divine to work out, it's probably a good idea to adopt the maxim that the divine helps those who make an effort. Realize, though, that the complexity of life means the path forward is not going to be simple. And, most likely, choosing means giving up something else.

How you express your opinions about other cultures' foods can easily shade into commentary about their culture, in a bad way. Additionally, choosing movies like American Sniper indicates a belief in the white version of America and it's belief in might making and being right, if it's from the United States.

Japanese animated series often carry messages and symbolism that hearkens to a day when Japan wanted to rule its neighbors - in some ways, the local form of attitudes on display in American Sniper.

Master storyteller Ira Glass has advice for those doing creative work - the only way your work will get up to standard is by doing enough work that isn't. Those who take shortcuts may end up finding out the real answer to the dreaded question.

A wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton will be exhibiting rarer photos of both men.

Take a look inside a restored old movie theater in Brooklyn and go "OooooOOOOooooh" with me.

A food critic explains why they prefer anonymity to recognition when evaluating a restaurant.

A gent had various completeness of makeup put on him for a week, and wrote about the experience of seeing himself as others saw him and looking in the mirror to see a different person. The middle point, between a little and the full monty, was apparently the most awkward for both person getting makeup and their coworkers.

The United States Federal Trade Commission reminds you about scammers, fake debt collectors, and thieves who will try to pressure you into paying debts you don't owe or forking over money for nonexistent prizes.

How does someone legally punish an autonomous machine that breaks the law? And who is responsible when it happens? With greater ability to decide and the ability to self-update and program, what happens when machines break human laws? Are the original programmers responsible for their machines? Or something else entirely?

Teenage brains work differently from adult brains, so techniques to get happy adolescents must work at the level of the teenage brain.

Fanfiction had an important part in the universe of works. Professionals that acknowledge this will likely do better, by not driving away the fans that like their work enough to write fiction for it.

To cliffhang effectively, there must be the realistic possibility that something could happen to the character. That said, stuffing your women in refrigerators as a time-honored tradition isn't the way to resolve your cliffhangers, even if it opens up opportunities later on.

In technology, a service that will allow you to store and make copies of your various keys and allow others to do the same.

Radio Shack is going bankrupt, leaving many a person who needs electronics components (me, too!) or budget electronics without options. It could be that Amazon will want a piece of the company for their own, though.

Shooting bows for visual effect and shooting bows correctly are two very different things, which depend even on what type of bow is being fired. So if someone links you to a speed shooter claiming ancient technique, link them right back with the reality of what's going on there - mostly flash and very little technique.

A service / add on for Google Mail that allows for the delaying of messages and for reminder nail to be sent to you about projects and conversations so that a lack of response doesn't mean a lack of action.

A script for bulk changing items in a Google Calendar, for when your reoccurring events have to move times, places, or other details.

Google offers you a way of seeing what it thinks you like, as well as the possibility of changing those things to something else. And in Germany, an artificially intelligent Mario is exploring his own world relatively autonomously.

Andromium intends to do for Android devices what Ubuntu Touch wants to do for their devices - provide a desktop experience when the phone is docked.

Because of the latest iPhone, Apple posted a worldwide record for quarterly profit at over 18 billion USD, handily beating even petrol companies' best marks.

A spectrograph of the components of a modem handshake, which involves a lot of line testing, PSTN manipulation, and figuring out a common protocol for both modems to use.

Open hardware, strategic antennas, and compatible municipalities means the remote areas of Mexico (and elsewhere) are building their own cellular networks and offering rates through municipalities for extremely cheap. I think this is excellent and hope for the day when municipalities can control their own telecom access. Or when individuals can build their own connection to the networks for inexpensive costs.

Google Cardboard, a way of building a housing for a smartphone so that you can experience stereoscopic images and video. if the design reminds you of a certain red plastic toy from earlier decades that did the same thing, that's probably intentional.

A list of websites to do very interesting and somewhat specialized things.

Last for tonight, a monthly mystery box program for your cats, accompanied by 100 adorable cat pictures, with captions and suggestions on why boxes and other confined spaces are good things for cats.

Then, photographs of working dogs, a free-range sanctuary for foxes in Japan, pets attempting to prevent reading by laying on books, and the changing of a bill to avoid bad numerologu.

Also, Greek pottery designs replicated on nails. (The main site is also awesome and should be looked at.) And why it is exactly nobody's business whether or not someone owns, covets, or proposes with a Potter-themed ring.

Truly finally, the city of Pompeii, and visitors, in Lego bricks. Which is paired with the unshakeable knowledge that death takes all of us before we are even close to done with All The Things, and what documentation we leave behind is a pale shadow of the us that was, that can only speak one way, instead of conversing.

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Silver Adept
07 February 2015 @ 10:42 pm
I really don't like unfair games.

And by that, I mean games where it is entirely possible for one person to collect an insurmountable lead strictly through chance, without strategy or tactics.

I had a recent event of this a little while ago in a Mario Party session. Now, Mario Party is semi-strategic, in that you can control things like how well you do in minigames to amass the coins that purchase Victory Points and strategic assistance, like being able to throw multiple dice or to obtain a larger-than-usual amount of coins during a turn. So you can form a broad stroke of strategy, and try as much as possible to minimize the effect of the die roll. Done well, the game stays relatively even.

Ultimately, however, your fate is determined by a die. And so, when on the first turn, the other team found the special space that leads to a free Victory Point, that was an annoyance. On the second turn, though, I hit the space that would produce a free Victory Point...where the other member of the opposing team was.

By the time my team got our first VP, the opposing team had three. And then they hit the space where a VP would have to be surrendered instead of gained... right before my turn, so one of ours had to be given back.

By this point in the game, the conclusion was foregone, and I quipped that the machine had it out for me this game. The rout continued.

Rather than ragequit, I soldiered on to the end of the game, but there wasn't much enthusiasm left. Significant Other asked the other team if getting all the VPs was boring, getting an affirmative. This was supposed to needle me into making more of an effort to have fun, apparently, as my lack of fun apparently was making it no fun for anyone else.

This dislike of chance is often mistaken, especially by Significant Other, as "Silver doesn't have fun if they aren't winning." I'm okay with not winning - I don't win games a lot, but I have fun in the company of others. I am okay with games where bad strategy turns out to bad results, so that I can learn good strategy. Or games where you may end up winning or losing by a chance element, but that it all stays close if the strategy is good.

But I roll poorly a lot of the time, and so I end up spending a lot of my strategy trying to make the most points I can regardless of whether the rolls are good or bad. If I have to trust that the dice are going to be nice to me to make progress in a game, or there's a strong element of random that can't be controlled, I may not have as much fun as anyone else, unless I'm in a particular mood where the enjoyment of company is more important than the fairness of the game. Otherwise, I tend to avoid games of chance, primarily chance, or games where luck is a major factor. (Slot machines get a pass because of the pretty visuals and the bonus games and the utterly virtual currency.)

This dislike extends into places like fighting games on consoles. If a game says that it uses an adaptable difficulty, that's okay, or it displays the difficulty of the level so that I know what's coming, fine. But if it has a set difficulty level (or a settable level), I expect the difficulty to stay at that level the whole way through that mode. Many games start with a simple set at that difficulty, and then as the stages progress, the difficulty starts to increase, such that with several stages in, the easier-set difficulty is kicking me soundly instead. That's not fair - I set my difficulties to be challenging bit winnable, and I want them to stay that way, instead of adding extra difficulty on top. This can cause hair-tearing, controller-tossing frustration when the difficulty level spikes, no matter the setting. Enough curb stomping of me, whether by person or machine, and it stops being fun and I stop playing (with people) or I go look up cheat codes or AI exploits (for machines).

So I don't like games that are or seem unfair or heavily luck-based, unless they're fun despite the randomness.

Another thing: Kids are Genre Savvy, sometimes dangerously so. Intelligent kids, even more so.

It probably comes as little surprise that in our earlier years, when it came time to receive our certificate that detailed the standout thing about us that year, "academic excellence" was our catchphrase. It started in kindergarten, and continued each year that by the point of the fifth grade, we specifically requested of the teacher (the school we were in had one teacher for all subjects in K-4, and exchanged classrooms for a couple subjects between the fifth and sixth graders) to not use "academic excellence" on the certificate that year. Everyone else seemed to have changing virtues from year to year, but for five years, a single note sounded for our certificates, and at that time, we were worried that there wasn't anything else about us that was worthy of note.

So what should appear on the certificate for that year? "Academic excellence...and a good personality." I don't really remember what the other part was, because even fifth-grade me knew that I was going to be the academic excellence kid from then on out. And so it was - there's an entire collection of pins collected from middle and high school in relation to good grades, a degree with Honors and distinction, and a graduate school degree as well, just in case the point wasn't blazingly obvious.

At what cost, though? Knowing you're the smart kid, and having everyone reinforce you're the smart kid doesn't help with any other parts of your development. Thus, another thing:

[CN: Body image talk]

I'm ambivalent about body image and whether or not I'm a physically attractive person to anyone. I am assured this is the case by Significant Other and some of their friends now, but at that formative point where people are insecure about themselves and could use external reimbursement (also called the teenage years), there wasn't any explicit external indication. What indication there was always came after the fact - at graduation and heading off to college, or after that point, then it came out that there may have been people who thought so. Late is not helpful in that idea of self-image, so far too much of identity is wrapped up in what is known and not what isn't. So there will be days of staring in the mirror and wondering what anyone would see as attractive. Not by making inappropriate comparisons to image-manipulated cover models and declaring ugliness by not looking fully like them, but not being able to look at the body and decide there are attractive parts of it, because there's no frame of reference of "this is attractive on you" from earlier in life to say, "Yeah, I guess it is" to.


We get the last laugh, though, of a sort, having chosen a profession where everyone is basically brilliant and great, and recognition for that is less than it should be, but when it comes, it's usually for something spectacular, because the bar is set so high. Which is a way of beating "academic excellence" and other generic praises, but which also generates insufficient praise and encouragement for the high-caliber work done on a daily basis. What was surprising and gratifying about the award nomination was that it was for something that is a highly complex maneuver to pull off on a yearly basis, but that looks routine from the inside because the procedure is so well documented and hammered out that there are very few hiccups and a process of what to do if there is a hiccup. Being recognized for Standard Operating Procedure is an invitation to really examine whether what seems simple really is. (I wonder, sometimes, whether those retail outlets that prominently post things like the speed of their checkout clerks are doing so in recognition of a job well done, or as a goad to the other employees to pick up the pace.)

The end result is that a lot of the defining of success, progress, and achievement is left up to me. Beyond compliance and excellence at the posted job description's requirements and whatever additional is added on top by cohort expectations and supervisor requirements, what constitutes success in the career is mostly an individual exercise. That could mean lots of conference attendance and places of prominence in professional organizations, recognition in professional publications, or just striving to give each person as complete an answer to their question as possible, putting an enjoyable book in every person's hand, and helping to solve community problems with information and collaboration.

These are all valid goals, and could all be sought concurrently, sequentially, or not at all. So maybe there isn't a standard solution to the question of what constitutes outstanding work. But for someone who's been constantly recognized throughout their formative years for their academic excellence, when there are no more grades or rubrics or well-defined assignments, then how do you define success, and how do you achieve it?

(For both: Any way you want to, so long as your supervisor approves. It's flip, but it's true.)

So yes, journey of constant self-discovery and all that. And it's quite possible that my current mental model of "expend what effort is necessary to achieve the greatest effect and no more" is predicated on the very adult realization that I am not one of the chosen few who have the power to make the world change based on my opinions. Or, for that matter, my organization. (I also have no idea whether I would thrive or bomb out completely in an environment where I did have that kind of power.) So it's best to conserve energy until the opportunity arises to be more and do cool things.

And possibly write blog posts about it.

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Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Yoko Shimomura - Dive Into The Heart
Silver Adept
28 January 2015 @ 07:42 pm
This was different than many of the games played between blogs. Here's what the game says:
You know that meme that goes around sometimes where you post your five favorite kinks and then five favorite couples, and it's like a wish into the universe to see if anybody will write it for you? Let's make it a little more interactive.

Comment here if you want to play, and I will give you 3-6 couples that I associate with you, and you make an entry in your journal talking about those couples and fics that you wish the universe would write for you.
For reference, or as the alternate game to play, I think the first paragraph refers to something like this:
Give me up to 3 things you love to see written. Pairings, kinks, tropes, structure, pictures, lyrics, quotes or anything else. I will write you something, probably short, based off of the mini-wishlist.
So I stopped by [personal profile] thebonesofferalletters and collected some partnerships from them.

Kaylee/Serenity: The best pairing in Firefly ever, as Kaylee really loves the ship and keeping it running as her primary love, and the ship's crew zealously guards Kaylee's cheerfulness, including acts of violence, to make sure that the ship runs smoothly in all its aspects. Kaylee would totally be the Pilot for Serenity if the ship were a living ship like Moya in Farscape. All of her DRDs would be named, and everyone on board would have to address them politely and respectfully by their names for swift and effective work to happen. Mal has the hardest time remembering this, because of the way he treats all the women in his life. And Jayne often ends up on the wrong side of doors that "malfunction" in his presence.

Kaylee/Serenity works best in universes, in my opinion, where the two can fuse and share consciousness, so that Serenity can feel Kaylee's unconditional love and respond accordingly.

Identity/Mythology: In essence, I ship who we are with the stories we tell ourselves and you make me think of this so, so much.

I appreciate the compliment. Identity and Mythology are definitely intertwined with each other. I see them as linked through Zhuangzi's Butterfly Dream. I gave some discount Daoist advice a little while ago that seems relevant here: Those of us looking for our true selves are never entirely sure we've found them, because our dream selves are pretty convincing. Identity has Mythology to thank for that, as Mythology is all about finding the stories that fit to describe us, regardless of whether those stories ate the stories we want to have. Identity always says they're looking for the truth, but it's a truth that paints Identity in the best light. Mythology has no such compulsions about making anyone look good, so the relationship anyone has with them, but especially Identity, is one of a friend unafraid to give you the advice you need, but that prefers to tell it as a story and see if you can get what they mean. That could manifest as a mentor/supplicant relationship (for any value or formality of that relationship) or, just as likely, as an explicit and contracted D/s relationship. Because Mythology is in control of how others react to Identity, even Identity themselves.

The Major Arcana: Yes, I ship tarot. Go with it. Also, I ship facets of it with each other and just....I want Poly tarot representations, okay? This is the nonsense you make me think of.

Well, certain aspects of the Arcana lend themselves to being paired or grouped off more easily. Fool/Magician, Priest/Priestess/Hierophant, Star/Wheel of Fortune, Tower/Devil, and so forth, but putting the whole thing together seems more like a harem comedy, with the Fool taking the role of the focus of the harem.

Regrettably, the only experience I have so far with a harem comedy that scales up to this requirement is Negima! Which, if the serial numbers were filed off, the name changed, and the characters aged at least six years, could work out - there's magic, there are cards with powers and identities, and the setting is good enough to accommodate.

Something else that comes to mind is that perhaps the Persona series of games would work, too, with the Tarot thematics and the Social Link systems. I have no experience with those games, though.

The whole Major Arcana in one relationship would be a giant map to have to work out, though, so any story line that would probably have to start out with certain groupings and then have them link through various hinges or situations. It would probably be epic enough just to recount how they all get together and relate to each other, much less have a frame story to have to work with. I don't think I'm up to that kind of work, as I'd probably give in to the temptation to make all of them one-dimensional based on their Tarot aspect (basically committing the same mistake that Negima! did).

So, yeah, that's the sort of stuff that goes on in our head. Feel free to run screaming now.

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Silver Adept
As has become procedure for Presidents, President Obama delivered a suite of proposals for the upcoming Congressional session and the loyal opposition said they have no intention of letting any of them happen.

The speech that I watched was the White House YouTube channel, which chose to provide infographics to accompany the speech at points where infographic would help illustrate the President's points. It is a very slick presentation, and it should be watched if for no other reason than to appreciate the presentation.

To the content, then! The opening gambit is to say that the page is turning on the wars of the previous administrator, which is not true - Afghanistan will continue, but at a lower visibility. Additionally, I'll not sure that bringing to mind the current campaigns of this administration is the way to start out to say that things are better. Or that we are ready to turn the page.

The real thrust of "turning the page" is to say the economy is recovering from the crash of 2007 and the mismanagement of the previous administration. That much is true, and the President is right to note that the recovery is mostly benefiting the rich. He backs off that position immediately with a story of a construction business owner who had to find other work when the industry crashed, whose wife retrained with community college, and who was able to return to it after the recovery. This is supposed to be an example story of the United States after recovery. It really isn't, though, as most of us don't have access to those kinds of resources.

What follows is a listing of what is supposed to be achievements - new jobs, in the country, less dependence on foreign energy, more people than ever with health insurance, regulation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent the next financial crisis, and school children doing better in tests and graduating high school more than ever. Which seems a bit more like Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking, but you take the victories where you can get them, especially in the face of an opposition that regularly declares their intent to never work with you.

As the President put it, "middle-class economics works." If he were being completely honest, he'd say, "Focusing on working people works.", but that's still a bridge too far for the Democrats, who have much the same moneyed interests pulling their strings as the Republicans do. The promise to veto anything that threatens to roll back the gains of the last few years is the low-hanging fruit of protecting those gains, but will likely be the one put into play the most.

That hesitation to go all the way manifests in the way the President makes his appeal to the Congress for more help. He describes "middle-class economics" as setting up the field so that everyone has their fair shot - not that people should be able to live their lives with a minimum level of security or guarantee, but just that everyone should be able to have an equal chance of success. Taken out to its logical conclusion, that would say the President is in favor of strong redistribution of wealth and of a minimum floor of social safety net so that everyone is free to try and succeed at what they really want to do, instead of having to make the decision between making enough money to live and pursuing their desired profession.

What we get as examples of how to go ate good ones toward achieving this, though - the need for affordable high-quality child care, which chews though family finances at an astonishing rate and holds otherwise productive people, usually women, out of the workforce because someone has to take care of the children, the need for guaranteed sick leave, so that parents can take care of sick children (or stay home from work when they are sick, reducing the risk of infecting others and speeding their own recovery, and raising the minimum wage (which has an invitation to the Congresscritters to try and live on $15,000 USD per year and see if it's easy). It's still in the language of "a fair shot", but those things would be excellent in giving working people, especially working women, some amount of security. That it seems to be accomplished mostly through tax breaks rather than wage boosts or other direct support means there will still be plenty who can't take advantage, though.

The President then outlines a suggestion to try and make community college, the two-year degree, have a net zero cost so that adults can retrain and young people hit the workforce with more than their required school diploma or equivalent (a certification that has become basically useless in terms of employment prospects). He follows that up with the need for infrastructure investment and net neutrality (couched as protecting the United States against China and other powers rewriting trade and other rules to their own advantage, which should make some Republicans feel like the President is speaking their language) and talks about new missions into space.

Those investments can be paid for if the tax code gets revised to close the exceptions that the very richest use to avoid paying their fair share, the President points out. It's true - all that and more could be done if the Congress could shake itself free of the campaign cash and perks that large corporations and rich donors offer in exchange for favorable treatment. As it is, though, it's unlikely anything well be done about that.

To prevent a complete conservative panic, though, the President throws them a bone by mentioning all the foreign aggression he's conducting and asserting his right to hunt terrorists wherever they are, national sovereignty be damned, before pointing out that the Congress still needs to pass an authorization for all that work and talking about the thawing of relations with Cuba (acknowledging, finally, that they can't topple the regime and must learn to deal with it) and other diplomatic successes, such as the lack of progress in Iran's nuclear program, trade deals, and the fighting of Ebola. He also wants secure networks against intrusion and attack from hackers, especially networks that handle infrastructure and sensitive data.

Then it's back to more liberal (for the States) thinking - fighting climate change, denouncing racism and bias, whether anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, or anti-LGBT, and closing up the Guantanamo Bay prison, symbol of all things gone wrong with US aggression since 2001 (even though the prison itself predates that usage). The President had an opportunity to twist a knife hard on any of these issues by mentioning the progress made to this point, but he refrained. Considering what this Congress is likely to do for the next two years, a sharp poke would have been eminently justified.

Instead, the President chooses to plant his Take That in his continued belief, despite the last six years, that there is not "black America" and "white America", or conservative America and liberal America, even as pundits and commentators point out that partisanship is still as strong as ever, if not more so. (At least on the conservative side of the aisle.) The President makes an exhortation for "better politics", true cooperation, less seeking talking points and sound bites and more seeking what's best for the country, less cozying up to money and more thinking what's best for the people. The kind of politics that can disagree about the morals of abortion and still work toward making teen pregnancies lower and providing comprehensive care for women, or that can debate the best policy for immigration without freezing out or deporting those who are trying to make a good life or who have always been here and know no other life. A politics that entrusts the people with the vote and let's them use it, instead of finding every way that it can to deny them the vote. (With the speech bring delivered on the federal holiday for Dr. King, voter disenfranchisement should stick particularly hard.) A politics that wants to make it safe for both police officers and young black men. (He didn't say #BlackLivesMatter, but he implied it, at least.)

To conclude, the President talked about standard things, like promises to the next generation and that the country has seen and bounced back from some pretty horrible things, so we should be more like a tight-knit family. And with that, the ritual theistic sign-off, and the speech is over.

This speech is much in the same vein as other Obama speeches - it talks about the right topics to be considered a liberal affair, but when the specifics come out, it's not nearly as liberal as it could be. Which aggravates those looking for a real liberal party - they want it to be more aggressive and left-leaning in policy and proposals, so that when the inevitable compromise happens, there's a chance to move things in the liberal direction.

The start of the official response turns out flat, as the Senator from Iowa says they're going to talk about the priorities of the country. I have to wonder whether Joni Ernst was selected because the Republican Party wants to forestall the perpetual complaint against them that they don't put women in power positions (or, for that matter, care about women at all), or because they have faith that Senator Ernst can deliver a compelling argument. The delivery of the speech is a little too much of "reading the screen" rather than ah organic-sounding speech, but I'm not sure I could do better in a national address.

The content of the speech is a disappointment, really, for anyone hoping that the Republican Party would start sounding like an entity interested in serious proposals. A "BOOTSTRAPS!" narrative of life in Iowa is supposed to establish the regular folks image, while providing an easy way to capitalize on the general sentiment that the economic recovery hasn't had strong effects on the life if the average worker. So it's not without purpose, but it's more interested in proving bona fides than getting to Republican ideas.

Also, the idea that the Affordable Care Act is a failure is demonstrably untrue. It may be inconvenient or hurtful for the constituency that the Republican Party is trying to cultivate, but the Affordable Care Act has been successful.

There's a slick rhetoric device at work in calling the Keystone XL oil pipeline a jobs bill. It's not a lie, as a construction project of that magnitude will create jobs, but the consequences that come with an oil pipeline have been playing out over the last few years, months, and weeks. The issues involved are greater than just job creation, and to say that there will be "minimal environmental impact" in the pipeline being built sidesteps the possible environmental impacts in case the tar sands oil being transported is spilled or leaked out. That's a bad claim to make with news of oil and chemical spills from pipelines still recent in memory.

If both parties are so invested in making the tax code simpler for the regular people, why can't they actually agree on what to do?

I can't say it's a bad thing to get an officer to talk about confronting terrorism and taking care of veterans, but actions speak louder in this case.

The rest of the speech is standard Republican talking points about cutting waste, repealing successful legislation, being tough on Iran and cybercrime, and reiterating that the Republican Party is still the party of "life".

The speech closes with an extended jingoistic version of the ritual theistic sign-off.

After both speeches, it's still pretty clear that the Republicans are not interested in cooperation, to put it mildly, and despite speaking for nearly ten minutes, I have no idea what sort of proposals the Republicans are thinking about, past trying to pass a D.O.A. proposal to build a very large oil pipeline and passing symbolic measures of how much they hate the Affordable Care Act. This is not a good thing if you want to be seen as a party with plans and the capacity to govern, then that the Republicans have majorities in both houses.

It's quite possible we'll all be pleasantly surprised by practical proposals that try to minimize the partisan rewards and hidden benefits for their benefactors while also helping the people that voted them in, but the last many years have made cynicism and gridlock the default, which is not a good place to be in if you're hoping for optimism in the population.

Thus, this year will still likely be characterized by what I decided to title the post - proposals unlikely to move forward. No matter which party is proposing.

Two more years.

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Current Mood: irritatedirritated
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Silver Adept
Let's ring in the new calendar year with caves containing bioluminescent organisms in New Zealand, which makes for an interesting light show in the darkness. If you go, these methods may help with packing small and light.

Dr. King is not a safe historical figure, no matter what textbook history says. And no matter how much students are discouraged from seeking that history in the places where it happened. Or how much memorials may fade into the distance because their participation hasn't been as high before. This year may have more focus, but this year is not unique in any special way - these things must be done at all times, not just when it rises high enough in the collective conscious.

To promote and maintain harmony among cats, try to encourage a group scent by brushing each cat sequentially, so they all get each other's scent. Additionally, persistence is key in retraining a cat to accept a new configuration of foodstuff. And you can use a cat attractant as mosquito repellent.

Surprising very few of the people who have read the actual tales, the Grimm fairy tales, in their first edition, had more of the dark content they are known for today, due to new knowledge from a translation of a first edition.

The offices of the publication Charlie Hebdo were attacked by gunmen, killing many of the staff, and three policemen, at least one Muslim (because the attacks were apparently motivated by some philosophy claiming to be Islam), as well as attacks in a Jewish market. A Belgian arms dealer confessed to selling the weapons to the suspects. And things are not yet done - Some suspects are still sought in relation to all the attacks.

Charlie Hebdo has the right to say provacative and scandalous things in the name of satire. We also have the right to call them out on it. But not the right to kill anyone over it. So we wonder what Anonymous will do in revenge for the attack.

If you intend to overthrow a dictator, check to make sure your country is at war with them, unless you want to be charged with crimes in your home nation for an unsuccessful attempt.

The Twitter account for United States Central Command was hacked for a short amount of time to display pro-ISIS propaganda.

The current House majority whip for the Republican party was the guest of white supremacists in 2002. Nobody appears to have a problem with this, nor the lack of women in leadership positions I'm this Congress.

Memo to Kirby Delauter: Being a public figure means newsmedia can use your name without begging your permission when reporting on what you do as a public figure.

Governor Cash and Prizes was sentenced to two years in federal prison after a conviction on more than sixteen federal corruption charges, significantly under the minimum recommended sentence for hits crimes, apparently receiving such a reprieve after the testimony of many character witnesses. Which should mean precisely dick in relation to the bribes and favors he did while in office. His wife is due for sentencing on her own charges after Governor McDonnell is to report to prison.

New things to know about the web this year, which are entirely familiar to those that have been here. For actual progress, take time to document the accessibility features of your event and post them. If for no other reason than to get you thinking about how to make things better. And then you can budget for accessibility, possibly using a service like LinguaBee to contract interpreters.

Because her parents could not provide unconditional love, a teenager committed suicide. Because her parents insisted their reality was more real than hers, and only allowed her to exist in their world. This is a critical failure, and one that will be replicated many times over until we understand what needs to be done. Medical students are starting to get the training they need to get it right, so hopefully the next generation of physicians can help, but we still need more for parents and laypeople. Under-eighteen teenage women may be your best bet for a starting point, as they are likely already hip-deep in the relevant issues and conversations.

An article about how some people are naturally highly sensitive to stimuli, and that knowing this may be helpful in interacting with the world.

Remember: When you are invited to the table, do not go and sit at the high place.

There are still some aspects of Japanese culture and topography forbidden to women for some flimsy-seeming reasons. Culture is tricky to say aye or nay to completely, though, as a prominent dictionary of the Japanese language has removed heteronormative language from definitions such as love or carnal desire.

Infographics on various healthy foods and preparations, along with methods to maintain a healthy kitchen, although the last bit about cast iron skillets may be bunk. Additionally, using spice mixes has advantages, no matter what the nose-in-the-air snob says.

The United Kingdom Home Secretary believes it a good idea to send them students back to the country they came from immediately, instead of trying to retain them for a while to see if they will find employment.

The legal system does not provide clear avenues by which those subjected to online harassment can stop or prosecute their assailants, nor has it adequately trained people to correctly respond to those complaints. Additionally, avenues outside the legal system are often ineffective and/or place the burden of stopping harassing behavior on those being harassed.

Police officers have many ways of getting people to give up their constitutional rights, including intimidation, attempting to instill fear, and lying. Anything to get consent to the search.

Dystopia and revolution do not function normally as young adult novels suggest they do. They are far messier.

Effective editing requires context awareness, just like effective writing. For writers, context may mean having to thoroughly understand and write the world from someone else's viewpoint. Or to turn the nitpick off long enough to enjoy what is good about a story and to be willing to tell any supposed rules of writing to go fuck off if they don't work for you.

Because sometimes all the shameless self-promotion pays off.

Because certain countries in north Florida have decided they won't allow all people to get married, the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, had said anyone denied their license at home can get married in his city.

Some excerpts describing the increasing pressure in World War II to stigmatise gay and lesbian relationships among soldiers, and the ways those soldiers fight back. Not to mention the long history of drag shows.

Feminism helps men, too, by providing them with an alternative to the worldview of MRAs and others who see the power struggle as zero sum, instead of absurd.

Rum + Coke fashion creates sizes for all sizes and shoots their fashion exclusively on plus-size models, although in this case, it seems like using plus-size is wrong, because the point isn't to stigmatize any body type.

When it comes to feminism or other issues that disproportionately affect minorities, prioritizing feels over reals, or even treating them equally, is a bad approach to solving the issues. Once we're solid there, if someone from a minority says something is so, odds are it is so, and you should believe them. Their reals are still more important than your feels. Because they live in a reality with an entirely different set of questions about life, one where no matter what they do to respond to a compliment, it reflects negatively on them, and you have to adjust to that. Because they can't yet tell you off as firmly as they want to. And they also get to deal with products that aren't different, except that they're more expensive when marketed to them.

So one of the best things you can do is indicate you can be talked to about issues, but also that you will listen instead of trying to talk over them. And not using offensive language. Additionally, figuring out how to avoid making someone else's narrative all about you.

And no, there's no equivalent thing oppressing the privileged as there is privilege oppressing others. There are intersections that might make someone who seems privileged not so, though. And people who should be allies in feminism instead have to fight lies.

Nearly three million gallons of a toxic brine spilled into a North Dakota river right after a large oil spill into the Yellowstone River. Tell me again why we shouldn't be accelerating the production of energy that doesn't foul the environment?

I could have used this bibliographic instruction when I went into a degree concentration that required a senior thesis. Instead, I ended up bouncing ideas and functions off my advisor and peers, but it probably would have been much more awesome had I made time with a librarian. (Yes, I became a librarian, so now I wish people would make time with me.) Because, as you should know by now, librarians are awesome. We can recommend you other resources than your favorite search engine that will help with your inquiries, show you apps that can make your daily life a little easier, get your Gmail experimentally powered up, and point you at tips and underused features for your Google products, or suggest contrasting colors to use so that your calendars and their appointments are not confused for each other.

Jessamyn West is entirely correct - librarians have incredible treasure troves of knowledge regarding what you can do with technology and the things you own, but because copyright cabals continue to find new ways of screwing their consumers, the "right" way to do things like borrow library materials are privacy-invasive and require hoops to jump through that direct purchasing doesn't. Since those cabals see any use that isn't paid for as piracy, libraries are increasingly being subjected to ridiculous restrictions. And those same cabals have so messed things up that nothing can be definitively added to the public domain in the United States until 2054. Examine what United States audiences are missing it in being able to build on, while others enjoy the newfound public domain material.

It is incredibly difficult to tell whether or not the deceased in a cemetery got there by normal attrition or by catastrophe if all you have to study are the bones. What you would need would be things like the accounts of those that survived, as one might get by studying the records of a cult leader and his settlement.

A tautology: Biblical literalism is a-historical. Elsewhere, mindfulness without its context is mindless, and therefore much less useful than it could be.

In attempting to blame technology and multitasking for decreased cognitive performance, neuroscientist makes a strong case for social changes that demand instant and immediate answers to all queries as the proper culprit for cognitive exhaustion, as it is quite possible to treat all those apparent problems as the tools they are and not engage them excepting on one's own terms.

When executive function is impaired, victory means completing a step (or more) along the path.

Architecture still fails to construct bathrooms in such a way that women do not have to wait in line while men sail on through. And retrofitting over buildings, even governmental ones, is a slow process marred by many years of institutional sexism.

Possible approaches to collecting and analyzing gender data, with commentary on the ethics of using those methods.

Hair care suggestions that can appear counter-intuitive.

A mirrored surface on a teacup reflects the pattern of the saucer beneath it to create a complementary pattern on the cup.

How two twins, separated and adopted at birth, found each other, thanks to one being semi-prominent and the other having a social media account. Or, a solution to a small world problem.

The Sixth Stage of Grief is Retrocomputing - coming to terms with loss by replicating the past and then realizing that the past lives on in new forms, as the foundations of the now, and sometimes as the way things get done in the now. As the traffic report of Night Vale puts it: We are eternal. We will not last.

Even so, every now and then, something survives past us, waiting for the future to return it to life. (Several tracks of that revived sound can be listened to.)

The virtues of the Kitty character I'm the show Elementary.

Forty-three methods to lace up shoes, skates, or other footwear.

A selection of the newest members of the identified species club, many of which are tiny, but very important. Considering how a single unit in the universe can inspire significant in-depth study, there will be a lot of information to come on these matters.

When reading about science in anything other than a research paper, it's best to check the source. If in a research paper, check the source all the same.

Common confusions about intellectual property and its use, including what it means when you license your work permissively though schemes such as Creative Commons.

In tech, methods by which someone can batch-convert documents in a Microsoft Word-compatible form to the Portable Document Format.

Tips for staying less discoverable while on a public network, which can help protect from intruders on your side of a connection.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but most popular freeware material includes bundles of things you really don't want on a computer, and your antivirus software may not stop them from installing.

Using an Arduino and a smartphone, a dancer can use their pointe shoes to leave traces of their moves on a recording of their dance.

As technology advances, the technology to fool that technology advances as well. But also technology makes a process like bone marrow donation much less painful. And some experimental features allow you to undo what you have already pressed send to.

Vintage advertisements from John Cleese selling Compaq computers.

A significant portion of games from the DOS era can now be played in modern web browsers, thanks to the Internet Archive. So if you want to try games you never owned or get some nostalgia going on, here's a possible way.

Speaking of nostalgia, how the film Clue bombed at the box office and then became a cult hit on par with the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Also, drawing on the web with tools much like the Spirograph art toy and the beginning of a Twitter-type choose your own adventure game.

A translation matrix between common client comments and what it means to web designers.

An excellent analysis of fanfiction purposes, weights of story, and what fanfic does well that paid work does not. Which can then be paired with recommendations for stories and books where disabilities are done well (although the comments suggest that some of the recommendations are not actually done well) and reflections on horror writing and the expectations that come with it.

In praise of Wonder Woman, who has, by being Wonder Woman, spent many decades telling great stories. Along with this, ways to design better women in games, as both protagonists and antagonists, and to make the supposedly gender-neutral not read male.

1.5 billion pixels is still only one third of the Andromeda galaxy. I wonder how the computers back on Terra will be able to process the image so that it can be studied for interesting things to zoom in on. As I wonder, I'll examine panoramic time-lapses of the sky, captured by an array of fisheye lenses.

Advanced X-ray techniques may provide a method of reading the text on scrolls burned in the Vesuvius eruption. That would mean the possibility of new primary sources, which would be awesome.

Last for today, Pigeons. And animals in snow. Also, the Grand Canyon covered in snow, all the way to the bottom.

And something very vulgar - a discussion of the proper spelling of the vulgarity suggesting ejaculate or ejaculation.

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Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Current Music: Tally Hall - The Whole World (and you)
Silver Adept
[This is the last of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot. If you would like to prompt for a part of the game or a card from the deck, regrettably, there are no more open slots. All comments are still welcome, of course.]

Wow. I did it. Thirty-one posts, one each day. That's exhausting. I think I understand the elation of finishing a NaNovel a bit more now.

As befits the ending point of this series, there's very little left to do but tally up the score. Which is easy enough for television graphics or newspaper box scores to do at the end of their games, often with neat rows and columns about RHE, and then individual player statistics for the game - how many at-bats, hits, runs scored, runs batted in, walks, strikeouts, and so forth. Very nicely arranged in straight rows as befitting a summary meant for quick and casual consumption or the fantasy sports players to see how their team of awesome did in the game for that period of time. The television-era equivalent of this is the highlight reel, where particularly noteworthy plays off the game are played in mostly-chronological order, but without any context surrounding them. You'll see the pitch that results in the home run, but you won't see that the batter fouled off two pitches like it right before finally getting to turn on the third one and put it in the stands. You don't see the methodical work of the pitcher that gets ground balls all the time, but the one pitch that got a away from them a bit and looked for all the world to be a hit before the shortstop proved that white men occasionally can jump and snagged it out of the air as it was passing overhead. We remember the exceptions quite well, but an appreciation of the efficiency of a pitcher requires paying closer attention. Much like Association Football, baseball looks to be a lot of nothing punctuated by short bursts of Very Interesting, and the long stretches and breaks in between action lends both sports to work well as social outings. (I highly recommend seeing sport with other people. A good time can be had by all inexpensively if you don't have to have Major League Baseball.)

If you want to know how a game ended, you can just look at the box score. If you want to see what happened during the game that brought about that score, you need to see the notebook of someone keeping score. Every game has an Official Scorer whose job it is to rule on whether particularly tricky plays should be counted as hits for the offense, errors for the defense, or other designations, based on rules and their judgment about the play as it unfolded. I don't know what their books look like, nor what their complete system is. Most sport supply shops, however, will carry a notebook that will give people a basic layout to record the game as it happens. Typically, on one page, there will be space to record the name and number of the players in the batting lineup (and their substitutes) for one team, the pitchers in the game (and their substitutes) for that team, the names or numbers of the umpires for the game, and a space to record the action of an at-bat during an inning for each of those players, and any other action that might happen to them on the basepaths. On its most basic level, I can look at a score book and know that in the third inning, #25, Mr. Bunny Foo-Foo, hit into an inning-ending double play off a 3-1 pitch from the starting pitcher, #13, Ms. Bar None. I'll know how the double play went down, as each defensive position is represented by a number from 1-9. (In order: pitcher, catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field, right field.) So a 4-6-3 (second-shortstop-first) is fairly common, but a 1-5-6 (pitcher-third-shortstop) is going to be memorable. (Most likely, it's a poorly-executed bunt.)

After that, though, it's mostly up to the scorekeeper and their system to provide as much or as little detail about the game as they want. One common addition is to mark a strikeout with whether it was a swinging strikeout or a looking strikeout by changing the orientation of the K symbol. Sometimes an out is given extra letters to indicate what kind of out it was (for example, F can be Fly out, P a Pop Fly, FO indicates a Foul (Fly Ball) Out, FC indicates a Fielder's Choice), or someone might make notations about pitch speed or selection through the use of colored pens and pencils when marking the balls and strikes. Each keeper develops their own system based on what they want to remember about the game as it goes on our when it is over. Keeping score is a way of staying engaged with the game at all points of the game, not just the ones where the crowd gets on their feet. And it's still easy enough to do and maintain the social aspects of the game, as well. The prize for keeping score is that, at the end of the game, you have a record of what happened, which serves as a memory aid for describing the game later. For many games, that may not be that important, but for the ones that are going to etch themselves on your memory, or for when you want to give a gift to a young child that says "I was there for you, and I was paying attention", a scorecard is a really good way to go. I remember that I watched my first live professional game at a young age at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, that my dad and uncle were in attendance with me, that we sat behind the foul screen...but I don't actually remember the game itself, other than that the home team lost. (I have a bad record with live professional game attendance - most of the time, the team I'm supporting doesn't win.) I would have liked to keep a scorecard from that game so that I could look back and remember what happened that day. Instead, I have mildly-embarrassing video of myself expressing my team love at home while a televised game plays in the background. Some things are better left to live performance.

The associated card for all of this is Nostalgia, which can be both an act of looking back on the past with fondness and the physical collection of stuff as reminders of the past, preserved from the now so that the future can see what we were up to and what we considered important. "Retro" as a styling is an intentional invocation of the past, whether to evoke nostalgia while maintaining technological advances, or to produce some sense of the past, often sanitized to greater or lesser degrees, for the future to try and understand and experience. The card represents looking back and seeing how far the journey has come, rejoicing in the highlights and reliving some of the pain of the lowlights. It's associated with Retirement pretty strongly, as those who realize their time is coming to an end often come to the question of whether their career had been a good one, and whether the Hall or a retirement of number is coming in their future. This can sometimes evoke a panic and a flurry of attempted activity in service of making the career look better in retrospect. Right around the end of the year and the Vague Early Winter Possibly Religious Festivals, a lot of movies get play that are about this kind of nostalgia - It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, the original Charlie Brown Christmas - these are all about looking at one's legacy and seeing how everything, good and bad, produced the person looking back on their life. In most of these cases, there's a major decision to be made based on this information, one last possible push before time seals what history will think of them. If Nostalgia appears, it's time to think about both past and future - what lessons from the past have you taken to heart and how do they guide you, how are you going to inspire others, and what artifacts are you leaving for others to collect as they think of you? Beware of doing things for cynical or manipulative reasons to try and influence opinions, though - most people can see through it, and the statistics will win out in the end when it comes to your career.

There's a bad side to nostalgia as well - if you spend too much time in the past, time will eventually take apart your carefully constructed world, fiction by fiction. Refusing to acknowledge that Time Marches On will eventually put you in a bad position - you'll become someone who believes in a Past That Never Was and try to dictate policies that do not apply to the reality around you. Later generations may find you pitiable, others will find you laughable. This is not to say that the past must be discarded wholesale and that there is nothing to learn or keep from it - I suspect many ventures and adventures in our current world could have been prevented by studying the history a bit more. But lionizing what was often requires willful ignorance of the entirety of the past - life may have been good or simpler for you, but that was probably the result of privileges, and sometimes laws, that protected you or unfairly put burdens on others so that you could be comfortable. It may have been nice, if you were of a certain social class or race, but things were not universally rosy, nor are they now. Our careers are too short to have to relearn everything, so part of our work is to preserve those things that will mean later generations do not have to learn those lessons. Whether they can is up to them, but we must provide them with the opportunity to do so, or we are just as guilty of living in Nostalgia.

The game changes, always, as new methods and new ways of gaining advantage are discovered, perfected, and eventually patched by changes in the rules of the game or the imposition of luxury taxes and revenue-sharing methods. The past may appear better, and memories are with cherishing, but the pitfall is a big one. It's up to you to decide whether or not this is something to aspire to or to be repulsed by:
(From The Simpsons Movie, staring at an impending apocalypse)

Comic Book Guy: I've spent my entire life doing nothing but collecting comic books... and now there's only time to say... LIFE WELL SPENT!

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30 December 2014 @ 11:20 am
[This is the next-to-last of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot. If you would like to prompt for a part of the game or a card from the deck, regrettably, there are no more open slots. All comments are still welcome, of course.]

On any given baseball field, the are two lines that extend from the corners of home plate closest to the pitching mound in the direction of the corner (as if it were an arrow, and the corner the top of the arrow) indefinitely far (or, in a modern stadium, to the outfield fence). These lines define the areas known as fair and foul territory. Sixty (for Little League Baseball) or ninety (for collegiate and professional baseball) feet from home plate on those lines is one of the bases (first and third base) that the offense will need to touch to make progress toward scoring a run.

Unlike cricket, where the entire field is playable, with the batters at the center, in baseball only a portion of the field is considered legal (fair) territory for balls to be batted in such that the offense can advance. Fair territory constitutes the area in between those lines, extending as far as the lines themselves do. All other territory is foul territory.Any ball batted that is in fair territory is live for as long as it stays in fair territory, does not leave the playing field, and the time-out that is the end of a play has not been granted by the umpires. Balls that touch a fielder or the field of play in fair territory at or beyond beyond first or third base are permanently fair (and live) balls for the remainder of the play regardless of where they go after that. Balls fielded in fair territory when first touched remain fair regardless of where they go after that.

The space beyond the outfield fence is fair territory, but not in the playing field. A ball going there is out of play, which is important for the awarding of bases and home runs - if the ball was touched by a fielder or touched any part of the field of play in fair territory before leaving the field of play, bases are awarded according to the rules. If the ball leaves the field of play in fair territory without touching any part of the field of play, a home run is awarded. To assist the umpires in their decisions regarding fair or foul, most professional stadia have poles erected at the outfield fence on the foul lines. These days, those poles also have grates on the fair territory side of the pole to make it easier for the umpire to see whether or not a fly ball passes in front of the foul pole as it leaves play (foul ball, also known as a long, loud, strike) or behind it (home run). Striking the grates with a fly ball is a home run according to the rules, as the grates are beyond the field of play and are in fair territory.

Any other ball first touching down or touched while in foul territory is a foul ball, and will be called so. Any batted ball that strikes a batter-runner while still in the batter's box is a foul ball (outside of the box, any contact between batter and ball in fair territory likely to be called interference) Foul balls are dead balls, excepting those balls cleanly fielded in foul territory without first touching the ground (i.e. fly balls caught in foul territory), which are live, and which runners can attempt to advance bases off of at their own peril.

Make sense? The rules regarding fair and foul are often full of exceptions, as you can see. But they govern some of the most important interactions between offense and defense. They create some of the competitive balance that keeps the game in the ballpark of fair.

At it's most basic, a foul ball is an attempt to put a ball in play that doesn't succeed. Contact is made, but the ball goes places that won't help the offense, as a foul ball that doesn't result in an out is a dead ball and no runners can advance. Even if they were stealing and going to get to the next base. Most foul balls have limited defensive values, as well, since they count only as a strike against the batter if not caught for an out, unless the batter already has two strikes, at which point the foul ball counts for nothing, assuming the player is swinging the bat - a third strike resulting from a bunt attempt that goes foul is an out. Good batters extend their at-bats and force the pitchers to throw more pitches at them by fouling off pitches that aren't quite right for them or that are different than the pitch the batter wants to hit for a very long way. The longer the at-bat goes, the more likely it is the pitcher will make a mistake or the hitter will get the pitch they are looking for. And in a metagame sense, the more pitches a pitcher has to waste on one batter, the less pitching strength they have for every other batter that follows them, which means possible good things like the starting pitcher leaving the game earlier than planned (relief pitchers are generally good only for a few innings before passing things off to a closer) or, in the case of Little League, a pitcher reaching their appointed pitch count faster. So sometimes a foul ball helps the offense in little ways.

As you can see, the fair-foul determination is incredibly context-dependent, based on where the ball is when it is touched first, and by what it is touched. What happens as a result of the foul ball is also context-dependent, and so both players and umpires have to be able to sort scenarios automatically to arrive at the right call or likely call so as to know what to do with the ball. For example, any bunted ball that looks like it's going to roll foul should be allowed to do so, unless the fielder has such a great jump on it that they can definitely get an out. It is far preferable to force the batter to try again with an extra strike than to have to make a difficult play against a fast runner. You may end up eating a hit if the ball stops rolling in fair territory near the line, which is the mark of an excellent bunt, but even that is preferable to the extra possible bases from a wild throw. If you're in the outfield and there's a ball drifting foul that you can catch with great effort, remember where the runners are - if you catch it, but are otherwise unable to get up and throw the ball back in for a while, will that be trading a run for an out? Maybe it's best to not slide or dive for that one and hope the next ball will be easier to handle.

Unsurprisingly, when this card shows up in your reading, it's a reminder to check the context of your situation - what looks like an easy out might end up being nothing more than a strike. Good for you if you're the batter - you get to try again for something better, even if it does mean the pressure increases a bit, some of your options become a lot riskier, and you're closer to a bad end. With two strikes, you'll have to play more defensively - "protect the plate" by swinging at pitches that are close - foul them off if you have to, so that you can try and get the pitcher to throw something better.

It's not so good if you're the fielder, but there's still a small benefit to be gained by putting the batter closer to out. Stay alert to the next action, and you may yet get your result. If you're the battery, pay attention. A foul ball is only a little way off from a ball in play. You may want to consider changing your next pitch or your at-bat strategy based on how that ball was fouled off. Proceeding without thinking will likely get them a hit instead of you an out.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot. If you would like to prompt for a part of the game or a card from the deck, there's only one space left for tomorrow. Leave a comment with a prompt if you want in. All other comments are still welcome, of course.]

For [personal profile] onyxlynx, who wanted to talk about how players sometimes live on.

A career in sport is much like any other career, truthfully. After study and practice, one applies, and if accepted, begins the path. The Rookie represents the beginning of the journey, and also, in my opinion, its end, but most people would peg the end of a career at the point of retirement, when one stops doing the job that one has been doing for many years of life. There's no guarantee, of course, that retirement will be with the same team, or doing the same job, or that one won't have been fired, laid off, or otherwise had an upheaval along the way that caused a change in direction. No, at retirement, one gives up the game completely, at least at the point where one is engaged, as many players go on to be coaches, managers, commentators, or maintain ties to the game after they stop playing. Coaches and managers sometimes do the same, but more often than not, they move on from the game entirely.

The Rider-Waite equivalent of this card is DEATH, which has long been used as a symbol of change in mystic traditions. The evocation of mortality, however, often brings with it feelings that are difficult to process, memories of those gone, and the existential unknown of whether there is a continuance of existence after consciousness and corporeality cease. It's a scary place whenever DEATH gets involved, which is why it can be more comforting to think of it in less final terms, or to portray that particular sibling of the Endless as a generally perky and upbeat Goth woman, because she knows the secret of what's next. Retirement is certainly a preferable concept to work with, even though for a career in baseball, it can be just as final.

There are some whose career will be cut short - injury is common in baseball, and some injuries are worse than others. Some will necessitate a trip to the Disabled List, others will be described as "season-ending", but the very worst will be described as "career-ending." Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis claimed the career of a very good baseball player long before their time. Other players will do things off the field that compromise their ability to play or coach, by behaving in ways that gather or warrant prison sentences. Or participating in a military draft. When those things come to light, that player or coach will not likely be able to play again. Much like life, one's time in baseball is not a fixed guarantee.

Then there are the players who want to prolong their retirement as much as possible, or that feel their career arc is not going to produce enough fame and fortune for their liking. Some people turn to performance enhancement as a way of keeping themselves in the game, risking their bodies and their careers for a little more - to be a little stronger, a little faster. These days, especially in the wake of the BALCO scandal, it appears to be an open secret about the use of steroids and other methods to produce bigger and better baseball players for hitting, running, throwing, and pitching. The game seems to be losing the mental aspects in favor of becoming a brute-force contest. This is not good, especially when it encourages bodies that aren't yet developed to try better living through chemistry. There may be a benefit in the short term, but the long term effects, including what happens after retirement, could easily wipe out those gains.

In the end, though, retirement comes for us all. The body is not fast enough any more to run the bases, the arm doesn't have enough zip, the eyes don't see, the bat doesn't pop any more. Or the game just isn't fun or worthwhile any more. For whatever reason, someone just can't keep up any more, or the game has changed sufficiently for them that they're no longer able to play well. In the best case scenario, it's after a long career with great numbers and statistical categories, possibly with more than a few playoff visits and at least one World Series ring on their finger. The kind of career as a player that would make someone a first-ballot entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame and well-remembered by the team(s) they played for throughout. There are many names in the Hall that aren't names that come immediately to mind, unless you're a fan of that particular team, but if you look at their accomplishments, they clearly deserve to be there.

The pinnacle of accomplishment, even after making the Hall, is for the team that you are most famous for playing with to determine that your career with them was just that good that all other players for that team will no longer be able to select your number. When you retire, so does your number. There's usually a big ceremony where a jersey with your number on it is presented, and your number and name will be displayed somewhere in the stadium where they honor the team's greatest players. There are a lot of players in the Hall who didn't have their numbers retired - it's usually only a handful of players even for teams like the Yankees of New York, the Cubs of Chicago, and the Red Sox of Boston that have a very long history of baseball. When teams change places, their history still comes with them, even if they change names, so you may find some very famous people who are retired from the Nationals of Washington, D.C. whose mark was made on the game when they were the Expositions of Montreal. Having a number retired is the way to ensure that your legacy is felt by the team for years to come. You become the legend that many will talk about when they lament the team's current state and long for when the team was good, or at least decent. Certain fans may have a skewed view of what constitutes good (the AL Central is closer to reality than the AL East, for example), but you'll always be good in their minds.

Framing it as retirement helps to take away the sting of finality that accompanies the knowledge that this card is normally DEATH, and helps to also point out that the nature of the card is change, not finality. Most people do not retire from their careers by dying. They have put in their work, saved their wages and are ready to go on to the next phase of their life. Most of us plebeians retire from our jobs to live out the rest of our life without having to work, with the freedom that implies. And many people that I see who have retired are busier than ever doing all the things they want to do instead of the things they were paid to do. Baseball players sometimes follow the same track - they end up mentoring or coaching or being available to younger teams without pay, or they end up in the front office of their team, recruiting, marketing, and sometimes managing, whether in the dugout or as the general manager of the team, drawing a salary to another retirement later on in time. Those who don't stay with the game still have lives to continue on doing, and all the assets to manage. Or they have families to spend more time with, and new generations of players to inspire. Things change a lot when you retire, and that freedom can be scary, with all that time on your hands and having to manage the money you've collected over working time (with a little help from pensions or Social Security) to last for many more decades.

If Retirement appears in your reading, change is on the way. You're moving from one phase of life to another - it may seem like the end, but it's a transition into something new and likely just as exciting. You might have a little time left, so now is a good time to shore up your legacy and make sure that the people who come after you have everything they need to succeed when you aren't there. Your hope is still to get to the Hall and have your number retired, but those things happen after you're gone. If what you leave behind is good, then you'll make it.

The bad side of Retirement is refusing to acknowledge that it's a force of life. Postponing the planning makes it harder to transition and may leave you entirely unprepared for Retirement when it happens. If you can live your life and career with the expectation that you will be out of baseball tomorrow, then there is very little that can phase you on the field or off. Make sure you have all your paperwork in order, for you and for the other people in your life, because the time they need it is usually the time that you're incapacitated or unable to express your wishes. And in those situations, you want nobody to be guessing what you want.

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Silver Adept
[This is part of a series exploring the Baseball Tarot. If you would like to prompt for a part of the game or a card from the deck, there's only one space left. Leave a comment with a prompt if you want in. All other comments are still welcome, of course.]

For [personal profile] onyxlynx, whose prompts have been numerous and wonderful.

The Rules do say that everyone on each team, players, coaches, and managers alike, must wear a uniform. They say that the uniforms must be similar in color, cut, and trim, and that they must have numbers on them that are at least six inches high. They do leave it up to the leagues to decide for themselves whether each team has one uniform or two, one for games played at home, one for away, and what color choices are permitted or restricted for those uniforms. Both leagues have adopted rules that give a high color contrast between the visiting team (often in grey) and the home team (usually in colors or in white).

There are obvious benefits to this requirement - it makes it easy to tell what team any given player is playing for, which means fans and fielders alike can tell at a glance where the action is. The number means each player is uniquely identified (the rules leave it up to the leagues to determine what their requirements are regarding names, with the exception that if there are to be names on the uniform, they are to be the surname of the player, unless the League has approved something else for them), such that when recounting the action of the game, or in those occasions where the umpire needs to talk to someone specifically, they have a method to do so. As baseball becomes a more international sport through things like the World Baseball Classic, it starts to need the same chain of translators that Association Football does to ensure that instructions are given in a language that the player understands. The gestures are, thankfully, universal, but they're a limited way of talking about things and you want to be sure the right player gets the right instructions.

Patches and other deviations from the approved uniform have to be cleared by the League, so it is possible to have memorial or celebratory markers on the uniform. Those teams or players playing in the World Series or the All-Star Game will often have an emblem attached to their uniform for those games to signify the honor accumulated by achieving those milestones. And, occasionally, the League honors players that have contributed significantly to the game - for example, a game honoring Jackie Robinson had all players on both teams wearing Robinson's number, 42, which in some ways has become the shorthand for referring to that player. Famous names are sometimes associated with their numbers that tightly.

There are other benefits to the uniform as well that are less tangible or visual. They are the kind of benefits that appear with any form of uniform or similar dress requirement, with the intention being that a unit of disparate people will unite under one purpose if they are wearing similar costuming. By requiring a uniform, many entities believe they can also manufacture a team. They are, of course, entirely and completely wrong. The uniform does not constitute the team. If you want proof of this, take a look at your local low-wage service industry job. Do the people that work there wear their uniform outside of going to, at, and coming back from work, with occasional stops for chores or errands to be run? Do the executives of the company also wear the uniform? Are the people there enthusiastic about working there, about the people they are working with, when they are away from the prying eyes of their paymasters? No? Then the uniform means nothing about whether or not there is a team present.

One part of team-building involves managing personalities. There are some people who can work well with anyone, anywhere, and will produce an excellent game every time they step on the field, whether they're making the league minimum or have been signed to an exorbitant amount of money over time. (Treasure them and pay them what they're worth. Forserious.) There are others who insist on being the star player and getting the star treatment - perks, high salary, promotions and billing, and some measure of control over themselves and who they work with. For some teams, if a personality like that can produce on the field, they're willing to work with their shortcomings off the field and try to mold them into a less abrasive version of themselves. It doesn't always work, and sometimes off-field antics can be more expensive to the team and players than anything produced on-field. Other teams have no want to deal with drama or personalities, and will get rid of even their star players when they start to develop an attitude. Disgracing the uniform is one of the fastest ways to get traded, benched, or suspended, whether by the League or by the team. Outside baseball, those kinds of antics generally get you fired, although many entities these days will fire a worker for much less than causing drama, because they do desperately believe that all their workers are part of a team that they can't stand to see those same workers talking about the team's shortcomings in any sort of public forum, including social media. I get told that wherever I go, on-line or off-line, I represent The Organization and should conduct myself accordingly. Which is a highly restrictive burden - if everything I do reflects on The Organization, then where's my room to have my own life, desires, and wants, apart from them? A lot of celebrity and sport gossip revolves around this issue - a player makes a choice or does something questionable and everyone wants to know how that will affect the team, as if all private life decisions have something to do with team cohesiveness. (Some do, like getting arrested, or showing up to work in an altered state. Most, like having a drink with friends, or, for that matter, coming out as (X), don't, or at least, shouldn't.) That said, it seems pretty reasonable to say, when you put on the uniform and go to work, you agree to conduct yourself as a professional member of the team, because you want to be part of that team and stay there.

Baseball requires a high degree of coordination of individual efforts for success. There's enough room for individuals to shine, as when performing difficult catches or relays, or when hitting in tight situations, and players will often be recruited or traded to fill holes in these skill categories. But there's a definite need to work together for the game. I can't imagine a game where one player has to handle all the pitching, catching, and fielding duties - it's kind of ridiculous to imagine a single player having to cover all of that ground by themselves and still get outs. So the players have to work together, and, with their coaches, learn how everyone else plays the game and eventually come to an agreement about how it's done. At the learning levels, this often means the coach is putting people in the places they want, based on the tendencies of the hitter before them. Eventually, that duty passes on to the catcher, with help from the dugout. Even so, everyone has to actually do it. A shift only works if all the players know where they are going to be and what they will be covering. Some of that chatter on the field is players reminding each other of scenarios, but it's also letting those who need to know around them what parts of the play they have covered. And some things, like who covers second base on a steal and how one performs the exchange from one middle infielder to the other to start the double play sequence, are a matter of having practiced it many thousands of times, to the point where it is automatic. To the point where a fielder might cheat one way or another unconsciously, knowing from experience that this player tends to hit the ball back up the middle a lot and their fielding partner isn't as good at range and movement. When an outfielder knows from the angle of the pitcher's arm that he needs to start running for the warning track once the bat leaves the batter's shoulders, because it's the only way he's going to run down the fly ball that is about to happen. When the entire infield shouts "Bunt!" and a flurry of activity results where the base fielders charge and the middle fielders dash to cover the appropriate base. That's where teamwork comes from - mass repetition of basic things to the point where they are executed well every time. If the team isn't working together on the basic things, preventable errors happen and opportunities and games are lost.

The card associated most with the uniform is The Team, which translates in the Rider-Waite system to The Lovers. As one might guess, this card is most associated with things you do with others, with fitting in to a larger group and contributing in such a way that the many can do a lot more than just one individual. When you're on a team, you should have a role that you fulfill well, even if that role is being the person that can step into any other position and help where needed. (There is a term for that - utility player. They may not have the specialized knowledge and practice that the normal people in that position have, but they can perform any role at an acceptably professional level. Most teams have at least one of these players on their roster in case of injury, suspension, or another situation where a hole needs filling. They also tend to be great pinch-hitters.) Think about whether or not you are part of a larger picture and what part in that you might need to play, or be asked to play. This includes managers and coaches! Effectively putting your team's skills to work and avoiding personality clashes makes for a good workplace. It also means listening to your team and trying to make sure their needs and passions get fulfilled - a team that doesn't enjoy the work, or at least find some important meaning in it, isn't always going to turn in the highest-quality material. When the team is working well, everyone is in harmony, the manager is able to concentrate on the game, and the execution is excellent.

A downside of the Team is dysfunction. At the learning levels, and sometimes even in Major League Baseball, there are times where things break down. An obvious-to-the-viewer example is what happens when two or more players are all calling to catch a fly ball, and it drops in between all of them, or there is a collision. In the drop scenario, nobody remembered who has the priority in terms of coming in to catch the ball, and so to avoid hurting each other, everyone stays too far away. With nobody willing to step up, or without a reminder of what job it is to do things when nobody else is doing them, things get dropped. In the collision scenario, nobody is willing to compromise. They've still forgotten whose job it is and who has priority, but most likely, the colliding players are completely convinced that the other person coming to the ball isn't going to get there in time. So they will continue on and finish the work, right up until they hit the person that is actually getting there. Some collisions still result in an out, as the fielder catching is able to hold on. Others don't, and in either situation, both players suffer injury. The lack of trust between teammates produces this scenario, and it can be just as damaging to good operation and execution as the drop. If you're part of a dysfunctional team, is there something you're doing that's contributing? Do you not trust others to do their job? Does the manager need to know, or are they the problem? The Peter Principle affects us all, but there should be ways and systems that can be put in place to ensure quality work happens even when there are errors. And sometimes being part of the team means that you have to let other people share in the credit for the work you were the primary person on. Almost all outs require at least two people to achieve, and most runs are scored by someone other than the batter that hit them in.

The very worst negative part of the Team is cliquishness. A team that closes ranks around those who are already in and refuses to let others in unless they meet very specific and arbitrary requirements is not going to be a great team to work with or be a part of. This isn't about qualifications - if you want to make it to The Show, you've got to have the stuff that can compete on that level. This is more about the Royal and Ancient Order of No Silver Adepts Allowed. The history of systematic racism in the United States, and in professional baseball, is a black and indelible mark on both. The fact that Major League Baseball honors and promotes the story of Jackie Robinson bravely breaking the color barrier tacitly admits the color barrier was there in the first place, and reminds us of the history of enslavement and legal discrimination that preceded and succeeded the accomplishment of Jackie Robinson. Major League Baseball employs no women in their ranks, even as Little League Baseball is a mixed-gender organization and celebrated the accomplishments of a black female pitcher in getting her team to the Little League World Series. As was pointed out in a previous entry, there were good female pitchers and players, but then the men got too scared of what would happen to their egos to whiff against someone they considered inferior, and women haven't been back. Likely not because they lack the qualifications, although you will probably hear that said if you asked, but because there is still a system in place that says women are lesser, and their sport is lesser, and obviously they could not compete with the men, so they should be given no opportunities to try. If that sounds familiar outside of baseball, then the system is there, too. Boys are good at maths and sciences and want to play with action toys and video games. Girls are good at reading and want to play with nurturing toys and social games. Pink and blue. It starts early, and it can seem intractable and invisible, an impersonal force that is a constant of the universe, but it is not.

The Team represents us at our best and our worst, because we are all part of many teams with what we do and what characteristics we are born with. And if that cleaves our heart in twain, then we must throw away the worser part, and live the purer with the other half.

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