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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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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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Silver Adept
Hi, everybody!

Look at this - if you deliver consequences to people who behave abusively on-line, and you do so citing the specifics of the problem, bad behavior stops. A lot of the time, anyway. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work in the opposite direction. Google+ has finally relented on their requirement that people use their real names to use the service. The apology, however, lacks some critical points in it that would demonstrate Google understands what they've done with that policy - an alternative formulation demonstrates what the apology should have looked like to show that Google is really committed to not doing evil on this.

Melanie Gillman has a comic about the intersections of many spaces, all under the guise of a Christian youth camp. And the art is gorgeous.

Sailor Moon is a way that many engaged with adult topics in feminist ways, without being preached at or After School Specialed.

The Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics Department reminds us that before freaking out about a particular statistical conclusion, it pays to read what actually had been considered in building that conclusion. The example linked is that persons living in collegiate shared housing, like dormitories, are consisted to be living "at home" for the purposes of Census data - so a large part of the "failure to launch" freakout is due to an increasing number of young people getting collegiate degrees.

A surface-to-air missile fired in separtist-controlled Ukraine struck a Malaysian Airlines commercial plane, crashing it and killing all those on board. The missile itself is not one that can be fired with a little training from a shoulder-mounted launcher, but that takes significant hardware and military training to fire accurately. The plane that was destroyed contained a significant number of experts on HIV/AIDS, whose expertise is now lost through their deaths.

If you are part of a protest group or other civil disobedience element and someone new is pushing you to go bigger and possibly commit a terrorism act, they are most likely a government agent, should be named as such, and then immediately expelled, as a report analyzing high-ranking profile terror cases points out the direct involvement of such agents provocateurs in almost all of the cases analyzed.

Goodwill Industries, operators of many, many, thrift stores across the United States, is the latest victim of a data breach that stole bank card information of customers.

As if you needed another reason to hate the Congress, because the Senate cannot be arsed to allow confirmation hearings, more than one quarter of United States embassies have no permanent ambassador. A very small percentage of those may be due to current diplomatic hostilities, but most of them are due to a lack of confirmation.

Another botched execution - this one took more than two hours, and the person executed exhibited visible signs of distress and pain from the drug combination. The process took sufficient time that the defenselawyer for the executed called a federal appeals judge to appeal for an emergency stay of execution, which wasn't granted due to the final death of the executed.

In the Dirty Tricks Department, Michigan's Republican party sent out interns equipped with glasses that could record video to Democratic fundraisers and public appearances to ask them questions that would be turned into campaign fodder. I'd like to say that it's because the Republicans are so very desperate not to get stomped on in the next election that they have to resort to the dirty tricks department, but there are enough conservatives in the state that this is probably just standard operating procedure. After all, they believe it's legal to depose elected government and install a dictator in mostly-black towns, cities, and school systems.

Seanan McGuire points out what most scholars actually already know - much of the work we consider "literature" now can fall under the heading of fanfic - we just have had enough time and distance from the originals and this fic to consider it on merit, rather than as derivative drivel. They also take time to point out two important things about fic - it's not all about sex, really, and that many writers write because they think the creator (or writing team) messed up somewhere, and often do so by creating relationships that don't exist in the original work.

Redrawing Disney characters to read as a different gender or race. Note that not all racebending is created equally - from minority to minority isn't necessarily a good thing. I, personally, like the idea of costume swapping better - it creates female characters with power and identity instead of putting them into similar-looking poses and dresses. And, it can lead to questions and conversations about how men get the benefit of being normal and genetic, while women are always marked as different - especially in sport, where people will blithely say that the all-time leading scorer for football is a man with half the goals that the chief scorer of the women's game has.

The Oxford Dictionaries family is now offering forums and discussion boards, for those whom langauge and its complexities are their passion in life. Or for those who are looking for more information after reading the Guardian and Observer style guide.

Your public library should be a place that helps you stay private online, with their technology and their knowledge about privacy tools. If they don't know, and you do, offer to teach. Provide them with data about whether smartphone apps really do reflect or protect privacy and are clear about what they'll collect.

For example, Trello is a system designed to keep track of things in a collaborative way. How clear is it going to be about what data it collects, how it shares that data, and what happens to the data should Trello vanish? Or get sold? (It looks like a cool app.)

Juries are allowed to use their power to do more than determine guilt or innocence - they can also determine whether or not they consider the law or the sought sentence just, and vote accordingly to not convict someone they believe is guilty of the crime. This power, of course, is not something you will hear from any court officer or lawyer, because there is a very real fear that if juries exercised this power, the authorities would be unable to put away the people they want to rot in jail. (You may add your own -ism implications if you like, they're there.) Additionally, once in the system, it is very hard to get away from it - one man was held in a mental institution for twenty years despite clear records showing that he was not suffering from any psychosis.

A person suffering from scarcity expends a significant amount of time and cognition dealing with that scarcity - which keeps them alive at the cost of having no ability to take advantage of long-term thinking and offers. The easiest way to defeat that cognitive tax is to remove the scarcity. Surely there are enough people who can give from their excess so that others do not have to trust that a safety net will be there for them? Or some form of basic guarantee could be made so that all citizens don't have to worry about scarcity?

Unsurprisingly, the higher stressors that accompany life as a black person contribute to an accelerated aging process, biologically speaking.

Peek in on the construction and operating procedures of biosafety-level-4 laboratories, where research on extremely dangerous pathogens is conducted. As one might guess, especially if a fan of the Mira Grant novels, there's a lot of disposable items and required cleaning to get in or out of such a facility.

People who read fiction and nonfiction in deep ways are better able to empathize, philosophize, and make better dates, according to this article. Something about this makes me go "That's a nice compliment, but that's not really it, is it?" I can't quite put my finger on it - maybe it's that this is another thing that emphasises one part of a person to the exclusion of others? But in a positive way, instead of having to react to negative statements like "this body is too wrinkly to make a man excited". More like using a beauty pageant contestant's decision to show their medical device while competing to make a point about how much easier it is for ordinary people to do the same. But not quite to the level of sharing stories of ordinary doctors with authentic compassion and a willingness to treat their patients as people who know their own bodies.

Making changes to nature results in nature changing to adapt - so sea wind farms attract mussels, attracting fish, attracting seals.

If you need a quick background removal, the Background Burner will do so in a jiff.

Some quick tips on how to make Evernote work better for you, as well as a system of organizing tags for efficiency.

Flights coming to the United States will require technology to be switched on to prove they are not explosives or terror devices. If you're able to get on the flight, there are some ways of making sure you stay the healthiest you can.

The musicians of the MET have a blog, with all sorts of really great musical things, including all the work a reed instrumentalist goes through in creating and refining their reeds and the ways professional musicians approach music to make it sound the very best it can in a performance - there's so much that isn't printed on the page that a musician has to do to make it all work together.

If music isn't your thing, a website devoted to showing and teaching calligraphy basics.

How do you pay tribute to the anniversary of a gold-medal ice dance routine? One with a perfect score attached? In Nottingham, they teach the dance to many different community groups, city service workers, and others, and then film them as they recreate it. Of note in the video is the sheer diversity of people participating - all ages, shapes, sizes, and ability statuses got to participate in the recreation.

And now, it's opposite. Tech startups and Silicon Valley exhibit all the signs of being cliquey in their selection and hiring practices. If you asked them, though, they will deny it to your face, often because they don't get that they are doing it. In some ways, it's reminiscent of how the Republican Party alienated black voters by nominating Barry Goldwater as their candidate, which sent a very clear message about what Republicans stood for, or how dress codes for establishments are used in such a way to make sure the "wrong" people are denied entry, especially through selective enforcement of those codes that always favor one group over another.

Take a look at these photographs that work against the myth of the absent black father. Then read many quotes from people of all races about the continued prevalence of racism", the reaction of others to the idea of a child being named with the mother's name instead of the father's, and ways to combat privilege in public spaces.

And taking more about destroying stereotypes, a YA author who actually is YA talks about what the demographic actually wants to read, and what publishers should be buying and promoting heavily.

A British documentary shows how the gun-happy culture of the United States looks from the outside on the matter of teaching kids the use of weapons. Of note in the write-up is the many, many, references to the responsible and safe use of weapons and proper training that the United States families provide for their children. So it's not just giant gun nuttery.

As one might guess, the evolution of the roads and paths of a city govern how the city develops and expands over time. The linked city and its animations is London, but similar patterns would likely emerge in other large cities with sufficient history.

A study finds that people left to themselves with nothing but their own thoughts do not find the experience pleasurable, and that many find it difficult to entertain themselves only with their own thoughts. The suggested reason, although lacking sufficient evidence to be conclusive, is that evolution is interfering with introspection, as introspection and existing without doing anything means not being alert to environmental changes.

Things marked as lower in calories, fat content, or other elements that suggest they are healthy for you have are reported as being less satisfying when consumed, according to a recent study, suggesting that the advertisements intended to get people to purchase "healthy" things may be causing overconsumption of those same products, based on satiation.

...if that's deliberate, then the corporate officers of those companies could stand a public shaming as the bare minimum of outcry.

The things that we are at fault for and those things we have responsibility for do not have a one-to-one correspondence. Taking the right responsibility helps create a healthy view of the world. That can mean being more open about the things that trouble you and cause pain and stress.

San Diego Comic-Con, even with a Code Of Conduct, still has issues to work it regarding harassment at the convention. Because the Code still needs staff and volunteers who can enforce it on the spot, including how people in costume are not automatically consenting to anything, including pictures.

Last for tonight, a joyride involving a llama, the American Museum of Natural History has digital image connections for free, movie characters taking selfies, real-time maps of lightning strikes, how adopting a shelter cat, especially the difficult ones, is life-changing for the cats and the humans alike, pictures of waves from inside the wave (also, many beautiful pictures of turtles), and Trowel Blazers, women pioneers in fields such as archaeology and paleontology.

As a postscript, calculations about whether to do something yourself or hire out for it should also include questions of health, ability, and time.

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Silver Adept
[personal profile] thebonesofferalletters is moving very soon into a much better situation, but has run into unexpected expense. They are offering art and writing to raise money for those costs.

I know that many of you have been excellent at helping others into better living situations. If you happen to have largesse, or happen to be in the commissioning mood, could you send your material that way?

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Silver Adept
Unsurprisingly, the Hobby Lobby decision is already being used well past what the Court claimed was its narrow ruling.

The group They Might Be Giants, who I was first exposed to on Tiny Toon Adventures, are offering live performances of the first album they released for free. "Minimum Wage" is still enough of an audio cue to remind me of certain high school tests...

Passing through a space delineator, like a doorway, may caush the flushing of certain memories, making it easier to forget why you changed from one room to another.

Let's do some art. Because the creation of art has benefits, including building resilience and stress relief. When it's something like embroidered panels of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, there's happiness all around.

The world of mythological creatures is more expansive than our literature would normally suggest.

xkcd suggests that when we find other people lacking, it is our own perception and expectations that are being disappointed, not that other people are particularly lacking. So we're quite happy to read about the people who do Cards Against Humanity apologizing for a transphobic card in earlier printings, and revealing that they change out cards when they realize cards are punching down instead of punching up, and gamer editors understanding the depth of casual sexism present in the community, and that they are contributing to it, which means they do better than many of the standard responses to discovering prejudice, discrimination, and -isms in your backyard. Have we mentioned yet that television and movies are clearly documenting that shows about strong women will succeed, even though this documentation isn't moving the needle a single iota on the conventional wisdom that women will never sell? Or pointed out how facile an argument it is for conservatives to hate footie and call it not a real sport, and, by extension, the cosmpolitan attitudes of the younger generation? (Blame Canada! Blame Canada!)

Need a break. Enjoy some eye candy while reading satire about how male sexual clothing causes marital issues.

And we're back, with an understanding that what constitutes beauty changes from one country to another, using the body as canvas to create art that glows in black light, although I note all the featured pictures are women's bodies, and vintage photographs of gay and lesbian relationships.

Facebook conducted research by altering News Feeds to see if, by changing the posts others see, they could affect the moods of users. And published the results - it appears you can influence emotion in such a way. This particular study has a lot of people very upset that Facebook claimed it could do this to its users without informing them of the plan and collecting their explicit consent. Researcher danah boyd considers the outrage to be public outcry about corporate ethics, which deserves a serious conversation, instead of one-stop shopping at things like an IRB for corporate research.

Several Massachusetts Special Weapons And Tactics teams claim they are private corporations and immune to public record requests...while also collecting taxpayer money, exercising law authority, and functioning as a government entity.

Regrettably, even after the Supreme Court said phones are protected under the Fourth Amendment, the government can still easily spy on your communications in secret. Likely because The Supreme Court requires large amounts of technology instruction, as well as needing to let go of analogies to predigital technologies.

Herd immunity is a thing, and when you have a population with low vaccination rates, outbreaks can happen from even one unvaccinated child.

Applications that auction vacant parking spaces in the city of San Francisco are receiving cease-and-desist notices from the city attorney for engaging in illegal activities. The creators and defenders of such applications claim they are only selling information about a soon-to-be-open space, or that private parties are conducting a transaction regarding efficiency.

The CEO of American Apparel was dismissed from his position for causes involving improper behavior, misuse of corporate funds, and attempting to keep all of it quiet with payments and hush money. The CEO was costing the company too much money and notoriety, so he had to go.

Collective action is the tide that lifts all boats, regardless of what revisionists of history wasn't us to believe. So tell us what would a feminist-oriented crowdfunding site look like?

There now exists a device to assist women in performing pelvic floor exercises that measures the effectiveness of the exercise and communicates that data back to a smartphone application. Feedback from the device intends to improve the technique of the exercise.

One does not alleviate a gender gap in professions line technology by imbuing the tech with coded-female colors in an attempt to get more women. One alleviates the gender gap by making the environment welcoming, the pay equal, and by stomping hard on mindsets that suggest women are lesser and must work twice as hard to be seen as equal. Or by treating female fans exactly as you would male fans, including all the drills and all the coach encouragement and everything else.

Disabled students are not finishing college, often due to buildings that are inaccessible and faculty that do not accommodate, even when they are required to, as well as the prevailing narrative that insists disability is an individual problem, and something to be overcome.

This piece is a stellar example of Othering and exoticizing an asexual, making them into something weird and deviant and somehow wrong. Instead, realize that ace people exist, can form healthy relationships with allosexuals, and are not immune from assault, either. They are, just as you are.

Blaming the presence of complaints about triggering content everywhere on oversensitive youngsters does not make for good arguments, especially not when trying to make an economic theory fit a social issue. Especially when even a cursory step outside a privilege bubble reveals that most people experience plenty of harm, danger, and trauma in relation to their identities, with the attendant issues that accompany being triggered by content.

Transracial adoptions of kids of color by white families produce significant issues, because kids out of the culture their skin color suggests can't always get back in because of mistrust of their white parents. Which leaves the kids getting the culure of their parents and not the one people assume they have or need because of their skin color.

A new study suggests the annual gynecological pelvic examination for women may not have any actual medical benefit or basis. Although, it may be a useful vehicle for conversation about other health issues, but it also runs the risk of being triggering or problematic for abuse or adult victims.

Some things on our need to keep our mental state healthy - [personal profile] kaberett leads with the trick of not making the problem bigger when it appears, which is really quite difficult to do when in the middle of the problem. [personal profile] umadoshi linked to The Book of Jubilation, which chronicles many things related to therapy and being a therapist. Starting with a point regarding the absolute variability of normal, going through how everyone, including therapists, should get therapy if they need it, (even if there's a very real possibility that admitting you got help will make people uncomfortable around you)and then landing at how stoicism in families is not good for fostering support in families, and, for that matter, neither is telling those stories from childhood that are funny only because they rely on the victim being too dumb to realize it. Which gives some insight into why I don't like certain stories to be told.

What I found best, though, is the understanding that praise may be the last thing that a person needs, after validation and encouragement, to have a positive self-image.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, most recently of Cosmos fame, had a strongly athletic background, including the creation of a wrestling move based on physics, the Double Tidal Lock.

Tips for improving the quantity of kudos and comments on your fanfiction endeavors. If you're a person who enjoys fandom, published authors think fandom is great, even if they aren't able to read your work until they aren't writing in that universe anymore. If you're struggling, understand how others are, too, even the highly successful ones, and build a community that boosts each other while trying not to get bored down in jealousy.

Last for tonight, passion is important, but if passion consumes your life, it is important to step back. And possibly do things to help you maintain your happy, productive life, instead of driving yourself into the ground trying to be all writer, all the time.

Monster cookies.

Oh, and sometimes, the easiest way to get out of a low mood is to do a thing that is doable, so, congratulations, you've read the whole post. That makes you awesome all by itself. Have a poem, that's really more of an affirmation or an oath, and one that I strive toward all the days of my life. It's by [personal profile] jjhunter.

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Silver Adept
And here's my evidence:
  • The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that establishing a fixed buffer zone to protect women's health clinics, their patients, staff, and doctors from acts of terror is subordinate to the right of terrorists to commit acts of terror. Theoretically, it's about the right of protesters to protest something they find objectionable, but to argue that requires someone to ignore the storied history of violence against reproductive and women's health centers, the intimidation and harassment that women receive when trying to access their constitutionally protected services, and the intense campaign state legislators and government are waging against women. If there wasn't that history, and it was all just about the right of someone to stand and yell, then the argument that things were being taken too far would have more weight. The tendency of those particular protesters to act beyond shouting and standing should give some different considerations to decisions about free speech rights and how they are exercised.

    Based on this ruling, I'm sure the Court would have no problem at all if I camped the entrance they used to enter their building, being conspicuous not to block their way in, but setting myself up so that I can hurl invective at them as soon as I see them until the door closes, and I can bring as many people as I want to line the sidewalk and the path to the entrance to do the same, every hour of every day of the year.

  • The Supreme Court also determined that corporations with few owners are allowed to impose their religious beliefs on their employees, regardless of the religious beliefs of the employees or the number of employees that in the company. This "corporations are people" bullshit is really perverting the law and the Constitution. Corporate entities should not be entitled to religious protections, unless they incorporate as religious entities under the codes and laws that govern them. Persons running corporations are certainly allowed to express their personal religious beliefs, and even, if they are so determined, to try and write those beliefs into the corporate policy. But they should not be permitted to contravene the law and claim that the corporation shouldn't have to obey because of their personal religious beliefs, unless they truly are religious entities.

    The majority claims they're ruling is very limited in score and only pertains to this particular mandate, but the precedent established is likely to be cited in later cases. Because it will only be a matter of time before someone objects to all contraception, or to other procedures, or to hiring women.

  • The Court also ruled that persons reimbursed by a government agency but hired privately do not have to pay agency fees to the union that bargains for their wages and benefits. Because the plaintiffs objected on free speech grounds, saying that they shouldn't have to support a union they don't want, regardless of what benefits they accrue from the collective bargaining. The simplest solution would have been to say, "Fine. If you don't want to pay them, you don't get the benefit of their work. Negotiate your own contacts and wages." Which would be bad, because the sector, before collective bargaining, was low wage and no benefits.


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Silver Adept
01 July 2014 @ 06:20 pm
  • Saw the Book Three Korra premiere. Found it underwhelming, considering the past two seasons. Except where Asami and Korra found out the other was not as concerned about Mako. And where we got to see Fire Lord Zuko's most excellent ride, and where he and the twins commiserated a bit about past attempts to kill the Avatar.

    Otherwise, though, I couldn't really accept that both Tenzin and Korra are so phenomenally bad at trying to recruit. For one thing, Tenzin seems unable to figure out that he has the ability to remake the Air Nomad culture into whatever he wants it to be, and to use that to his advantage. Korra, while never particularly good at PR, would never take the same approach Tenzin did after seeing how poorly it worked. Or because it was Tenzin's approach. So the characterization seemed off. And even more so with what Korra does for the Earth Queen. Korra had been down this road before - more specifically, last season and to some degree, the season before that with how Amon positioned himself in relation to benders. At this point, she should be immediately suspicious of these kinds of favors or fetch quests. I'm hoping we get some interplay between Team Avatar and Team Villain Benders where it's not one-dimensional evil.

  • [personal profile] jenett has a great icon that reads "Virgo Hufflepuff - Details Managed", and that makes me wonder what sort of phrasings would be used for each of the main HP houses and the primary Western zodiacal sun signs. I don't know enough about the actual sun signs to even hazard a guess, but I would also expect that it's been done somewhere and my searching skills aren't quite up to par enough to find it.

  • I'm still continuing the series of deconstructing (or at least trying) the Dragonriders of Pern at The Slacktiverse. I'm just about finished with Dragonflight, which will mean new opportunities to jump in at the beginning of a book when we move on to Dragonquest. There's a lot more wrong going on there than I noticed when I was younger.

  • I got to see Catching Fire on a second run tonight. I can't say that I'm wild about the decisions on what content to exclude from the adaptation, because it took away a lot of the development and uncertainty that the novel presented, making it more of a "wha?" when it turned out that Plutarch was with the rebellion. Although I personally always saw Plutarch as a tall black man, so yeah. They also cut out the watching of footage portion, probably so as to not have to hire in more actors, but that part also means neither Katniss nor Peeta got to see the previous Quarter Quell, where they find out that sober Haymitch is freaking scary. The adaptation decision seems to have been that the audience would know no more than Katniss is supposed to, if that. It made the movie much more straightforward than the book was. I'm not sure what they will do with Mockingjay, since it's the most straightforward of the three.

  • Oh, so close! Still, I suppose it's progress to have required extra time against Belgium. Next time, Gadget, next time.


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Silver Adept
Staying at the very beginning, persons with Massachusetts connections, please come to the aid of one who needs a new housing situation, as well as possible leads on social services and/or employment prospects.

This may sound like a broken record, but if you're in a profession where you get to regularly see the cool things other people are doing, understand that Impostor Syndrome is a thing, and that it may reach very far, indeed. It doesn't even have to be about work - women get taught a variation of Impostor Syndrome almost as soon as they start to realize what beauty standards are and how they are expected to react and conform to those standards.

So when I get in the mode that I'm "just" a curator of links, I need to remember (or be reminded) that my creative exercise is in how I present the material and my successes at getting my readers to think in new ways - which would be a great compliment when I'm not feeling like I'm doing productive things or that my essay quality or output isn't much. Also, if I get that way, I should probably make pancakes from scratch.

The idea that prominent female science fiction writers of the past would attack someone for putting out Women Destroy Science Fiction is untenable, especially once you read the words of the women in question.

And continuing in the writing theme, the little good things often have more weight than the little bad things and Mr. Hines with bullet-point advice on improving writing. If you'd like a longer series, [personal profile] hellkitty is offering a sequence of kickstarts, on topics like clustering thoughts into ideas, how much is too much, constructing good sentences, using established stories to tell new ones, untethered writing, and springboard sentences or images.

A study conducted in Europe suggests that parental affection is an important factor in determining whether or not adolescents use drugs. The headline suggests that he strict-control, no affection "authoritarian" style is ineffectove, but they distinguish between it and the effective "authoritative" style by talking about parental affection, and they do the same in contrasting the ineffective "neglectful" style and the effective "indulgent" style. Such effective parenting may be a method by which perfectionism dies not develop in children, but more research is needed.

Similarly, research suggests that talking with your partner(s) about relationships and how they are handled helps prevent separations. This particular experiment used movies as the catalyst to the discussion, so that nobody had to feel defensive or put upon.

The Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics Department reminds you that the presence of a study on a subject does not mean a universal conclusion on that subject has been reached.

A Methodist minister whose credentials were revoked after he officiated his son's wedding had had them restored on appeal, although that may not be the final word on the subject, as the appeal may be appealed.

A United States Federal District Court judge ruled that the "no-fly list" violates the constitutional rights of United States citizens because they have no method to challenge or dispute being placed on it. Not that having a list of persons not allowed to fly because of capricious reasons is illegal, but that the lack of redress is the problem.

The United States Marshals Service seized records legally requested by the ACLU pertaining to the use of a device that can spoof a cellular tower and gather significant information about any mobile phones used in its radius. The Marshal Service cited a non-disclosure agreement signed with the manufactured of the devices as the reason for the seizure. There has to be a law broken here somehow, and preferably one that can't be swept under the rug of "national security". It makes no sense how a corporate agreement can have more force than the Freedom Of Information Act request that had already been properly executed and approved. And then there's the knowledge that the Marshals service told the local police to deceive the courts about the use of the spoofing device. Now I'm really interested in what they were looking for.

Even more interesting, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously that cellular phones require warrants to be searched, subject to ordinary rules that prevent expedience in situations where evidence might be destroyed in the delay for a warrant.

Some states have built legal frameworks that allow for the incorporation of companies whose primary missions are not pure profit, allowing them to focus on other priorities without the threat of being sued by the shareholders for not being completely about profit. Since money is a measurement and an instrument of power, rather than some firm of finite resource, it makes sense to orient a company on protecting the finite resources, like people, rather than protecting the money.

Starbucks is not actually creating a scholarship for its workers, but is instead reimbursing some out of pocket costs and negotiating a steep discount of cost per credit hour with Arizona State University. So, I guess it really isn't then trying not to be evil.

The pressure to confirm to an arbitrary beauty standard leaves marks. And this sorry if thing starts early, as school dress codes assume barely pubescent women are wearing clothing with the intention of sexualization, when nothing is further than the truth. Apparently, we're all supposed to be at the mercy of all the boners out there giving their unsolicited opinions. Or constantly being pressured to be sexual, instead of letting each person approach their sexuality in the way that makes sense to them. Instead, let's cheer on comics heroes that are unafraid to be women. And celebrate the idea behind Before You Were Hot, even if the execution thereof doesn't quite ring all the bells in sequence for me.

The alternative is to have more columnists justifiably aggravated at people blithely placing the responsibility of avoiding sexual assault on the victims. Or having people be amazed at the presence of a graveyard for sex workers and other people considered "disgraced".

Pictures of love and surprise at the first sight of a partner at their wedding.

In their pursuit of keeping it alive, many Japanese businesses have skillfully replicated and improved upon products of the American past. So much so, that if you want to go retro, you're probably getting it from a Japanese-owned business. But be aware - that thing that you might find exotic and chill could very well be someone else's albatross, because others see them differently than you do. Not that this is the first time someone is mining culture to make a profit - drug companies want to manipulate your perception of what constitutes an illness, so that you will buy their product.

Video devices can, when equipped with an algorithm, correctly guess a numeric passcode with excellent results, because they can basically figure out where your passcode keypad is and extrapolate the numbers based on the analysis of various shadows.

Those who allow their trademark to be eroded slightly in exchange for having their trademark become the generic term trend to fare better than those who insist on protecting their mark, add this article about the Xerox Corporation's successful campaign to stop people from using their name as a generic has proven.

Certain versions of the OpenSSL security implementation are vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack that can trick both ends of the communication into using weak security, if both ends of the communication are running vulnerable OpenSSL. A fix has been released, so it's update time again.

The PF Chang restaurant security breach likely stretches back to September 2013, which is almost a year's worth of possible fraud, card selling, and other account abuse possible from dining at a particular restaurant. Additionally, a large data breach occurred through the use of compromised remote administration tools for point if sale terminals at car washes.

An app aims to avert panic attacks by having minigames timed to breathing exercises available for mobile platforms. Another person suggests that looking at the world through the camera lens of a smartphone may be a useful meditation on being present in the now.

Aside from English and Spanish, seeing the most spoken language in your state can be quite interesting.

Very pretty cosplay from people who racist nerds think shouldn't be able to cosplay.

Ethical behavior is influenced by energy level, which is related to time of day, so people operating in the opposite realm of their preferred times tend to be less ethical, according to the authors of a study.

Last for this post, the differences in visual technique with regard to Western comics and Japanese comics, the baby stolen by the Goblin King in Labyrinth premiered his own puppet-driven short and a book that has butterflies fluttering forth from the pages.

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Silver Adept
Not to try and depress you right at the start, but the communists generally are right about how the world is currently arrayed. And if you would like more proof of that, understand that reality television is probably one of the last ways to study a culture and understand its underlying assumptions. That is, when the legal system isn't helping plenty, by sending a man convicted of raping his partner at home back to that same home to serve out his sentence.

Long-term weight loss is unlikely, but the article chooses to say "so the obesity crisis is awful!" instead of "so we should consider the idea of health at every size as our default". One can guess what the comments say.

For further anxiety, not only does research suggest that high school is, indeed, hell when it comes to the most important self-defining time in our life, but that the experiences gained during that time have profound and lasting effects on our adult lives.

Teaching children rhetoric may be a way of preventing fights with them down the road. Assuming that a parent is willing to lose to a well-crafted argument. And willing to explain from the depths of their knowledge where warranted</>.

Speaking of lasting effects,
no, being family is not an automatic entry into the lives of children, grandchildren, our significant others, and especially not if that family has been abusive.

And of things in adult lives, the casting of opera roles, normally a matter of skill in singing, is trending very dangerously toward the idea of looks first, singing ability second.

The Dead Pool Disc Jockeys department claims Casey Kasem at 82 years of age, although more people may know him now as the voice of Shaggy on the animated Scooby Doo Mysteries than as someone who counted down the top songs of the week.

Hall Of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn died at 54 years of age from cancer developed from the use of smokeless tobacco during his playing days. We realize, though, that not many people will look at that and choose to stop their usage of tobacco products.

An unfinished but still published commentary makes the point that many women writers rely on a second income from their husbands or boyfriends to make ends meet while they write. The intended attitude on display, and as one might see in the actual URL slug, is that women are taking advantage of their husbands to write instead of contributing with a "real job." Since that never appeared, not really, instead a writer chose to focus their response on the blithely-assumed heteronormativity in the incomplete piece.

The best way to combat that is for women to unlearn what has been taught to them about how they should behave. Getty Images is starting to help with that, by actively promoting and photographing active women doing cool things, of all body types, and not letting them be dead-eyed props. And to not accept crap excuses for objectification of women. And speak out when ye religious institutions censure you for asking questions and starting conversations.

Also, if you believe that the presence of other women, scantily clad or no, is an impediment to your happy marriage, rethink the priorities of your marriage. Most people do not stay married because they are solely interested in the body of their partner. And if you are worried about other bodies, have you thought about talking with your husband about other bodies? You may find it interesting to see what he will say when he sees that he can talk with you about those things and you won't come off as being insecure.

A couple years after the emergency financial manager ordered the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit closed, despite their proven track record at getting teen mothers through high school and into four-tear colleges, the school had to close from lack of enrollment as a charter school. Because the people that the school was serving wouldn't really be able to afford a charter tuition. And because the emergency financial manager and state leadership in Michigan are misogynist dicks.

Illegal drugs and sex work contribute approximately 10 billion GBP to the United Kingdom economy. The majority share of that 10 billion is in sex work. Imagine what would be possible for the economy if it were a licensed and regulated practice.

Even by conservative estimations, the benefits of the current Clean Air Act outweigh the costs by at least a 2x multiplier, and more likely, several orders of magnitude. Not that it stops complaining about how new proposed rules will bankrupt everyone and everything, despite that not having happened every time it was floated in the past.

The Transportation Security Administration's backscatter scanners, that produce a nude image of a person being scanned, are being relocated from airports to prisons, because while citizens can object to having nude pictures taken of them in the name of security, prisoners can't.

There is much less recoverable oil in a popular fracking destination than previously estimated, which should be obvious once it became known that the original estimate was based on industry calculations.

Google has released testing source code for an encryption plug-in designed to make email messages more secure. It's the tip of the iceberg on the need for privacy and anonymity. The Internet's current model for making money is mass surveillance, which doesn't actually make money but does allow for the centralization of data so that governments, companies, and hackers don't have to go very far or to very many places to get that data. So that things like credit card skimming and hacking, like at the P. F. Chang's restaurants most recently, becomes a lot less lucrative of a deal.

The increased visibility of minorities in our current times makes it possible for them to build a robust social network and to be able to rely on that network when problems develop. It's not a substitute for actual stability or the ability to live a comfortable life, but it is much better than what it was even a short time ago. That is, unless they are put into the justice system - as a consequence of the War on (Some) Drugs and the still-offensive idea that minorities and the poor are more likely to commit crime, courts are charging costs and fees to their defenders, especially those convicted, for things including the use of the public defender, their own mandated treatment or monitoring devices, or their own jail time and supplies.

Lightspeed Magazine has an issue entitled Women Destroy Science Fiction. Which is great! If you don't believe me, Seanan McGuire gives you plenty of good reasons. Why Seanan? Because she intrinsically understands the power a story (or many) can have on someone.

The pick-up artist culture embodies a lot of the worst aspects of toxic masculinity. But we knew that, even before the recent violence. Even though a lot of those same people would decry it as "gay", taking a page out of the ancient Greek playbook and building strong friendship between men could help.

The Secret Service is trying to develop a way for a computer to catch sarcasm, so as to filter serious threats against a President against non-serious ones. Which, if it succeeds, will mean the birth of the Singularity, among other things, because understanding sarcasm requires so much contextual and cultural awareness that you would need an A.I. to pull it off.

Bacteria resistant to the strongest forms of anti-biotics available have been detected in the food supply, which removes "last resort" protections for many with regard to possible infection by virulent superbugs. Beware the upcoming global pandemic, perhaps?

Suggestions from someone who is chronically ill about their own mental state, so that those around them can understand seemingly random events.

After being told there was'nt space for him on a transport to the beach where the Allied invasion of Axis Europe began, a veteran in a care home slipped out, found friends and hitched a ride to the 70th anniversary celebration. The care home called police after the discovery of the missing veteran.

Not everyone celebrates Father's as a celebration of a loving family. Some celebrate it as a reminder of their triumph in getting away from their family.

Texas Republicans refused to allow a booth at their state convention advocating for the inclusion of gay men and lesbians in the party, because the both conflicted with the party's current platform decrying the existence of homosexuality as anti-family. A nice Catch-22 there. The spokesperson said that gay and lesbian Republicans could attend as delegates and attempt to change the platform, but there would be no large visible space with which to get the delegates thinking about that issue available for them.

The last prisoner of war from the conflict in Afghanistan was returned in a prisoner exchange - five Taliban fighters to Qatar, one United States serviceman home. This was greeted with happiness and well-wishes. Right up until the point where they realized that a Democrat had achieved this. And allegations surfaced suggesting the prisoner had deserted or was responsible for the deaths of other soldiers. And so, the people who were happy thata soldier was coming home scrambled to delete their congratulatory social media messages as fast as they could. Not that the Internet forgets such things, mind. And it has sparked an interesting discussion as we see the normally hyper-jingoistic conservative side reverse themselves and decide not to support the troops, the decision, or anything else related to the return of this soldier.

Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader (the vice-captain for the Republicans in the House right now) lost his House seat to a one-track campaign decrying the evils of immigration reform. This is bad, in that it's the bad being beaten by the worse, and that this victory will likely reinflame the conservative movement for another several rounds of trying to invest those they consider too moderate for conservatism. This may be a gift to the Democrats - but it will depend entirely in how well the anti-immigration message does with the general voting population.

Think about introverts and how they react to things before inviting friends over, our, for that matter, responding to an invitation

Last for tonight - the love of books promotes the skill of reading, which your children's librarians have known for a very long time. It also promotes skills like critical thinking, so that when encountering a hypothesis that doesn't do the research, you can look askance at it.

Also, an actress enjoying her role, an excellent attempt to photographically recreate an iconic opening anime title, and The coup that Pearls Before Swine pulled by getting some panels drawn by Bill Watterson.

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Silver Adept
It should not be news when a celebrity comes out as lesbian or gay. Not because it isn't a momentous occasion when anyone comes out and chooses to live their lives openly and honestly. Not because it doesn't warm the heart to see other celebrities congratulate and rally around someone who has just come out.

Because...

Orientation should only matter if you're trying to get in someone's pants. At that point, it is worth knowing, as a general measure of how successful your attempts could potentially be.

But the United States is not a country that has a history of not being concerned with difference. It took the U.S. almost one hundred years before white people decided that people who weren't white should be treated as full persons, instead of property. And then it took almost another hundred before some white people started actually believing it. And it's been almost sixty years since then before one state decided that marriage should be open to everyone. That it came so quickly after many states and the federal government decided marriage should be restricted only to certain persons may be the accelerating force of history toward justice, but acceleration is still the second derivative of distance traveled.

We're still working on the bit about how women and men should achieve equality wherever possible. And while there have been a couple steps forward, there's a lot of stalling going on in that regard.

So, in that regard, it should be utterly un-noteworthy to note that Ellen Page, actress, has come out as a lesbian, joining a large complement of actresses and other famous figures who are lesbian. Because, if the United States were the country it claims to be, or claims to want to be, things like that would be routine matters, and not potential invitations to violence, exclusion, and disbelief from people who appoint themselves the ultimate arbiters of reality and what the ideal should be. Now, Ellen Page is unlikely to suffer these things, because her notoriety will likely insulate her from those effects. But others less famous have to calculate the tradeoffs between being out and the possible ramifications of that, versus staying closeted and the soul-eating effects that accompany that decision. They shouldn't have to do that calculus.

But then you listen to Ellen Page coming out at an event put on by the Human Rights Campaign and you realize that even famous actresses have to deal with this calculus. Because the world of Hollywood reflects not-Hollywood, often to fun-house dimensons. And that if someone with as much relative privilege as she has is talking about these things with visible and audible emotional distress present (seriously, the transcript does not convey the emotional content, watch the video), then imagine how much worse it is for someone who lacks the standing of being a famous and well-liked actress. And for someone who is not guaranteed the supportive audience at their coming out and the many expressions of solidarity from others in their community after they come out.

Coming out, whether as QUILTBAG, or as kinky, poly, furry, pagan, or one of the many identities that suffer oppression, could be less stressful for everyone, if we were willing to actually make a welcoming environment for everyone. Until then, though, take heart and strength in those accounts where people do come out, and are accepted, and are able to live normal lives, and then choose to use their platform to help others come out and be accepted. And in the fact that when Ellen Page committed an act of bravery, the audience, and others, applauded.

It does get better for most. But instead of waiting, let's make it better now.

That way, we won't have to call it news when someone comes out. And when someone commits violence based on hateful ideologies, especially when the person committing violence expressly states their violence is based in hateful ideologies, we don't spend news cycles trying to decide whether the violence was because of some other factor. That's cowardice, and it takes away from what we should be doing - condemning the act of violence committed against other people and the hateful ideology that brought the violence about. Our newsmedia still can't conclude what should be obvious. So it falls to us, instead, to consistently refocus the conversation, to build the environments that will support people in the identities they take for themselves, and to strive for the ideal, so that everyone can live fully, authentically, and completely as themselves.

It shouldn't be news when someone comes out. Because coming out shouldn't be so difficult as to be newsworthy.

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Silver Adept
We open tonight with a thought about enjoying the now as it is, instead of eternally questing for the deeper meaning.

Poet, author, and activist Maya Angelou joins the Dead Pool Writer Corps at 86 years of age. And, actually, the corpus of sex workers who have gone on to their rest. Since Maya Angelou was proud of that work, it is remiss for us not to mention it.

Now that sectarian prayer is permitted at City functions (or has always been permitted), a Florida gentleman applied to open a city business meeting with a prayer to Satan. Mostly as a point to show how far religious freedom really should be able to go.

Pennsylvania joins the Century of the Fruitbat, a federal decision which neither the governor nor the state attorney general will appeal. Additionally, a different ruling brings Oregon into the Century of the Fruitbat. We almost have both coasts covered, but the middle of the country reamins a tougher sell on marriage equality.

I think this poem about being a monster will resonate with many of you. It's by [personal profile] kaberett.

An Ottawa teen was arrested in connection with the practice of spoofing a telephone number and then calling in a false emergency in an attempt to get the police to respond to the spoofer's target with violence. As if there weren't enough real emergencies to have to deal with at any given time.

eBay got hacked. You didn't hear about it? Thank eBay' complete clusterfrak of a non-response. Even though more than 145 million user credentials may face been compromised. Anyone claiming to have the full list for sale, though, is likely trying to scam a company into buying false data.

The United States Justice Department is seeking a change of rules to allow judges to issue warrants for searching computers outside of the judge's jurisdiction. The DoJ says they need this power because of botnets and anonymizing technologies that obscure the location of the physical computers, so they need permission to hack and search through the tunnel they already have. If I trusted the government not to abuse those powers, we might give the proposal any sort of consideration. Since I don't, based on the evidence provided by the high-profile leaks, I hope the answer is NO. And that legislation intended to curb the very worst excesses of the government spying on us is followed by even more oversight and restriction until the government is forced back into abiding by the restrictions of the Constitution.

Amazon is quietly trying to leverage their position as the sellers of all things to get the Hachette Book Group to give them better contract deals, by removing links, obscuring others, and only selling Hatchette materials at their full price.

A suggestion that those who are making the minimum wage are a much smaller group than those who benefit from minimum wage increases in indirect methods, and that those who will be harmed by minimum wage increases are larger still, with the reasoning that increasing the minimum wage reduces the number of available jobs and increases the price of consumer goods, resulting in little net benefit for the demographic groups that would most directly benefit from a minimum wage increase. Because "job creators" choose not to hire people when each worker costs more to hire, since it cuts into their profitability.

And for the small businesses that conservative pundits claim are always the hardest hit by everything, I can believe that. Of course, if all they had to pay were wages, because the government took care of things like retirement income, health care, education, child care, and other such things, then it wouldn't be nearly so bad. (Such things could probably be funded though charging taxes based on what big companies reported to their shareholders as income and profits, instead of to the government.) And those profit-maximalists could probably be taken to task about their decisions regarding staffing. Or the government could embark on an employment program like the Works Progress Administration. In any case, though, the idea of "wages should be kept low so that greedy profit-maximalists will deign to employ people" comes across as exactly backward - but at this point in the game, the very richest have consolidated sufficient control that the rest of us are basically at their mercy, so their logic, while backward, rules.

What we need is for profit-maximalists to seek profit not to enrich themselves, but to enrich everyone, where the number of employees one has at stable, living-wage jobs is seen as the point of pride. And for those who believe social welfare programs are coddling the indolent to understand that most people who are using social welfare programs are probably working more than their critics are, for less total pay. If you want people to not use the social safety net, then employ them in jobs that pay sufficient wages and give sufficient hours, and understand that less profit now means more people can purchase your product or service in the future.

And no, that's not emotion talking. Most reactions to injustice are based on logical conclusions and calculations, not emotional states.

Movies being made about slavery or white-black relations often whitewash how things actually were, which gives the impression that things were better than they actually were, or that focuses on exceptional individuals with no consciousness of everyone else.

A review of the card game Privilege Check, whereupon the goal is to construct the most oppressed character through traits on cards, ostensibly to win an Internet argument by virtue of being able to tell everyone else to check their privilege, which we all know are the magic words that shut down any discussion so the more privileged person will avoid being called all sorts of -ists for continuing. Except, of course, it doesn't work that way, and there's not nearly enough satire that could cover an idea like that game. Especially when reality gives us a gubernatorial debate supposed to appeal to women framed as a dating game, one that avoids the most pressing issues facing women today.

And speaking of issues and women, a mass shooting at the University of California Santa Barbara is the end result of a Nice Guy (TM) taking his beliefs out to their logical conclusion. Rather than condemn the poisonous belief system that sparked the shooting, members of those communities tried to capitalize on the tragedy by claiming their ideology could have prevented the violence as others believed that the shooter was permanently insufficiently masculine to make a splash with his violence, or to obtain his stated goals. Dissent Of A Woman has an excellent roundup and commentary. So the hashtag #YesAllWomen came about so that women could tell their stories about the commonality of assault on women, and describe, in as much detail as needed, all the things women do to try and protect themselves from those men that feel entitled to them, even when, should things go bad, they know they're going to be blamed for whatever it was that resulted in their injury. The precautions are there so that if there is a chance to get away, it becomes a greater chance. Ideology kills. Especially ideology that thinks of women as lesser, inferior, or subordinate to men, or that men are entitled to women so long as they meet some arbitrary parameters. There are things people can do to stop this from happening.

The use of tools for one's own health and energy levels can provoke an interesting reaction from people trained to see certain tools as the signs of disability.

Outcome-oriented evaluations for tasks that are not really about numbers produce poor pictures of the effectiveness of the methods for accomplishing those tasks.

The human desire to improve and make things better extends even to the designs of guns composed of printed plastic, even as legislatures and law enforcement attempt to catch up to it with new laws and processes.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe does not treat its female characters well at all, having them act out of character for their backstories or shoehorning them into roles that allow them to be easily sidelined.

Last for tonight, dragons and their less usual hordes"> and irregular dragon hoards, part two.

Finally, something that was memetic a bit ago - if I were the avatar of some deity, which deity would I be pledged to? (No, you don't want me as a deity. I'd figure out a way to do something cosmically horrible with it.)

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Silver Adept
16 May 2014 @ 01:36 pm
The class you are born into will affect your entire life, either for the better, or for the worser.

Because it starts right at the beginning: babies in poorer households suffer more stress, even in utero.

Yes, and then the children of richer parents have more opportunities for enriching activities.

Yes, and then after the first year of life, richer kids have better cognitive development and abilities.

Yes, and then those who fall behind due to their poverty tend to drop out of required schooling.

Yes, and then those kids that are poor do worse on standardized testing, assuming they're even allowed or able to take the test at all, for fear of dragging the school down and cutting their funding.

Yes, and then the rich kids go to the choicest colleges, leaving everyone else to struggle with community college or no college at all.

Yes, and then of those who do get into college, the richer you are, these more likely you are to finish. And possibly get more degrees.

Yes, and then, unsurprisingly, those kids who had poor parents end up working at jobs where they will be poor as well, because they were denied entry to higher socioeconomic classes by not being able to afford and attend college.

Yes, and those who are poor and minorities can expect to serve lengthy prison sentences for minor offenses or be seriously injured or killed for the crime of being visibly a minority, or visibly poor.

Yes, and then even those who manage to beat the odds and finish college end up lower on the pay scale, coming in behind even those rich kids who didn't go to college, because once you have a certain amount of wealth, it can be configured to replicate itself, regardless of the skill of the person who has it.

Yes, and then the richest get even more as their parents and relatives pass away and leave them to inherit the wealth, while the poorest get no inheritance and still have to strive with their wages and work.

Yes, and the United States doesn't do a whole lot to try and prevent this inequality from expanding. Because the rich have captured the legislators and make it impossible to run campaigns for high office without them.

Yes, and then the poor die early from their stresses, their poverty, and the fact that they're being forced to strive for an ever-shrinking part of the national wealth, which brings out the worst in everyone.

Yes, and there's nothing short of a very strong rebalancing that will fix this.

Yes, and there seems to be almost nobody who has the power to do something about this that wants to.

Yes, and...now what?

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Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: King of Pop - Smooth Criminal
 
 
Silver Adept
If ever we should meet, please tell me if there are adaptations necessary for your health and happiness, whether physical, gastronomical, or emotional. It's important to me that you are able to enjoy yourself fully.

It is worth examining whether technological innovations take advantage of sex-linked characteristics, so that they can be refined to be more equal. As one might guess, the comments section has at least some who are more interested in protecting their privilege than engaging the material.

No thing is simply easy to anyone who is being taught. Some may have better aptitude, but the subject is always challenging.

It is possible to tell how good a given gelato place is merely by looking at the gelato. Color and presentation are really good indicators of the presence or absence of artificial materials.

Speaking of food, the price one pays for food at a buffet directly affects the enjoyment obtained from the food.

In their attempts to make clothing more uniform to hide the dwindling economic prospects of everyone during the American Great Depression, fashion adopted designs that accentuated the body underneath the clothes, trading anxiety about appearing to be too rich for anxieties about not looking attractive enough to fit into fashionable clothes.

To the West, Everest is a legend. To those who live there, it can be a way of living, and a way of marking the passage of time, by those that die there.

The Supreme Court of the United States determines it is okay to open legislative sessions, including city council meetings, with sectarian prayers, so long as there is enough good-faith effort made to find and present different sects. Which, if you examine the place from whence the suit originated, you find that there's a lot of people and practice there that aren't going to benefit from the ruling.

Protestant denominations are just as likely to have abusers hiding in their ranks. They, however, will have to rely on organization like GRACE instead of a denominational structure to root them out.

Failed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin spoke conservative glossolalia at an NRA gathering, indicating that she saw the torture practice of waterboarding add a baptism for terrorists. It is a bit frightening to conceive of the alternate universe where she and Senator McCain were elected, and then the further universe where she ascended to the Presidency. That said, Ms. Palin is a perfect fit for the NRA, who believe they are the last bastion of freedom against a world utterly corrupted.

A Florida Congresscritter accused his wife of bigamy, claiming she was married when she married the Congresscritter, even though he also claims she secretly divorced her other husband in 1994. Which wouldn't make it bigamy any more...

Ostensibly-tolerant religious sect claims true nondiscrimination is discrimination against their sect members. Which is way too steeped in so many privileges to do much but stare at them. And possibly curse. Because it's already hard enough to get people to see the subtle signs of privilege, overt, flagrant displays like this often get condemned as "those nuts", when the fact that they even have a platform where millions listen to them is the thing to be working against. Because most people think its perfectly normal for others to debate about whether some people really aren't people (If you can't watch, have a transcript) without it pinging in their brains that this thing is exactly like that other thing they deplore, because they were taught to deplore it. Because they don't make the connection, they will ignore a rich man's documented action and become incensed when a secretly-taped private conversation is leaked, because the leaked tape says the words we have been taught to understand are wrong. But we haven't been taught that those actions are wrong, even though they are illegal. The response, such that it is, is late to the actual racism.

Persons believing that the federal government holds no authority are sufficiently unpopular in the Nevada territory around Cliven Bundy that allegations are coming in that they have set up road checkpoints in Nevada.

Ohio's constitutional amendment banning marriage equality is being challenged, as Northern Ireland rejects marriage equality, gay men in Syria have their lives threatened, get brutalized, and are killed, with Brunei set to follow suit (prompting Mr. Fry to boycott any hotel owned by the sultan's investment group, among others).

Looking to the President to produce change? He&apos:s doing a lot of things that the previous administrator was vilified for, just with better PR. It can be tough to gauge what is an accurate account of things, because truth becomes distorted in small ways every time someone with a partisan position retells the story. Or big ways, but at least small ways.

NPR gave only one side of the story when talking about buffer zones around clinics, neglecting to add the accounts and experiences of those who walk those zones on a daily basis.

An attempted execution in Oklahoma finished with the executed saying he could feel his body burning during the execution. There's also the part where the continued difficulties in obtaining drugs to be used in lethal injections that contribute to the idea that perhaps lethal injection has passed as a method for execution.

On the opposite, the governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, may have helped save the life of a constituent by performing CPR on her until paramedics could arrive and take over.

In technology, it's a lot easier to commit tax fraud when the outsourced payroll company is accessed though compromised logins.

Internet Explorer is vulnerable to a Flash-based exploit, which has a patch released, but updating Flash is always a good idea.

The Heartbleed vulnerability may be baked into various Internet of Things devices, which may or may not receive updates depending on whether the device manufacturer bothers to put one out.

Anti-virus software is useful for defeating yesterday's threats - today's threats are encrypted so that they don't trigger against current definitions. So, don't uninstall it, but exercise your bullshit detectors.

A small and secretive team is constantly monitoring crucial financial networks to ensure that they are uncompromised, to the point of being able to detect a USB device inserted into a computer port and shunt the entire computer into a walled garden until the device is cleared.

Last for tonight, when the observation of stars disproves a theory about their age, there's only one thing left to do: attack the messenger. Which is a perfect opportunity to deploy your pocket bullshit prevention guide.

Iterative design works, even on a single-person level - work until you're bored, and change your definition of complete to count even when you only accomplish a fraction of what you intended. If only other parts of work worked like that.

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Current Mood: okayokay
Current Music: Pharrell and the Minions - Happy
 
 
Silver Adept
I got bit by the literary criticism bug after seeing so many good examples around the Internet. So now I've joined in, by taking a look at Pern, from the beginning.

The first installment of the Pern deconstruction is available right now on The Slacktiverse, and I hope to make it a weekly thing. Go check it out and comment, please. And stick around at The Slacktiverse, because they could use not only more contributors, but more comments.

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Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: Daft Punk - Get Lucky
 
 
Silver Adept
  1. The privacy screens are there for your protection.
  2. Just because I know how to do something does not mean that I will tell you how it is done. Especially if such things involve copyright violations or you have a gross misunderstanding (not simply rectified) of how the Internet works.
  3. Our patience extends as far as your willingness to learn by yourself.
  4. Our patience also extends as far as your politeness and cheer. Fake it if you have to - we probably didn't do what made you upset.
  5. The temptation to abuse the on-line Summer Reading mechanisms should be curbed...because there are people watching behind them just in case...
  6. If it's a typo, on big paper, on the library...and it's not been taken down, check to see whether it's a joke.
  7. The privacy screens are for your protection.
  8. No, we do not take kindly to domestic abuse in the library.
  9. Our options are limited in getting someone mental health assistance - the police are probably our best option, and that sucks.
  10. We like positive feedback - we don't get nearly enough of it.
  11. Don't cut in line. You should have learned that by now. No, we don't care if it's "just" a small thing.
  12. Respect the closing times. The announcement is there to help you.
  13. The busy person at the desk helping someone is the wrong person to return your in-house item to, especially when there's someone right next to them that is available.
  14. The computers don't do things past the very basics.
  15. I will not be there all the time. You must at least try to learn on your own.
  16. The privacy screens are there for your protection.
  17. We do not have gremlins that steal your computer time. You can come up to us to ask about computer issues.
  18. Similarly, sending your grandchildren over to get me with "my grandma needs you" does not endear you to me.
  19. Search engine suggestions are aggregated from millions of searches, not because the computer is somehow spying on you and saving your personal data despite you not being logged in.
  20. Forserious, the correct way to summon help is to approach the staff desk and ask. Waving from your computer only ensures that you have a lesser chance of being noticed, and shouting from your computer lessens our chance of hearing you.
  21. New systems take time to learn. Stop giving me that animal-in-headlights look when you see that things have changed.
  22. We do notice when people print and don't pay. It's why we installed a system that forces you to pay if you want your stuff.
  23. For Prime's sake, stop stealing things from us.
  24. The privacy screens are there for your protection.
  25. Don't interrupt me when I'm clearly helping someone else. If you do, have the good grace to wait when I tell you that I will be with you in a bit. Seriously, this is grade school stuff.
  26. If you had to wait, getting shouty at me when I do help you is the fastest way to make me only help you for exactly the question you asked and no more. Or to get asked to leave, depending.
  27. Yes, I do need your password to make your reservations now. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can reserve on-line yourself now.
  28. I can only help you if you stop and listen after describing your problem to me. Barreling ahead will likely only reproduce the error - helpful for me, but not for you.
  29. Parents, we're not a public telephone service. If at all possible, please equip your children with a means of contacting you.
  30. The privacy screens are there for your protection, dammit. Use them.


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Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: BooHooWoo - Phase Six: Macha
 
 
Silver Adept
Being the Only Black Kid anywhere means people treat you like you represent all Black kids, which can lead to being thought of as not black enough by some, too black for others, and nowhere do you get treated like an individual who happens to have pigment. You become the Token Minority Pal that others use to try and excuse their racism, an exotic curiosity to the otherwise very whitebread community, and so forth. It's the inverse of the No True Scotsman fallacy - instead of redefining everything to exclude people or actions you don't want in a category, it's redefining everything so that so long as one person in the group thinks its okay, everyone does.

Despite not being black, I know that what's described in that post is true - I just got to see it from the white, small town, religiously conservative point of view. My provincial upbringing was in a community that was pretty unconcerned about its diversity. There were the adopted Asian kids, but not a whole lot of people of color while I was getting my federally mandated education. While there were gay students at the high school, it was something that was Not Spoken Of seriously, no matter how obviously they were signaling such things.

And then, in high school, we got our own Authentic Real-Life Black Man (TM). Who we promptly assumed would be trying out for the basketball team, had an excellent collection of rap and hip-hop (if he wasn't part of an underground rap crew), and were probably bombarding with questions about whether black people really were $foo, $bar, and $baz. And possibly wondering what sort of behavior or criminal activity they had done that warranted their transfer.

There's a reason I don't like my provincial upbringing. A more cosmopolitan atmosphere might have helped prevent that monolith-izing. University was excellent for dispelling the monolith. In addition to their reputation as the liberal campus garnered by anti-war protests, my first year in the dormitories introduced me to a man attempting to be a walk-on to the university football team, a very large black man. He could also play an extremely mean game of Super Smash Brothers, would make fun of the hockey advertisements, and had a copy of a PlayStation 2 Final Fantasy game. And thus, there was not just the Only Black Kid in my life, thank Prime. I learned that people are not a monolith. And much more kindly than other people do, considering all the possible ways I could have learned it. There were also plenty of other cultures I received exposure at university, too.

University also gave me a solid grounding in cultures and politics and the ability to see them good and bad. Because professors will answer you honestly if you ask whether all the Abrahamic religions have justifications for aggressive violence, which makes a strong point that anyone concerned about "Islamic radicalism" as some novel thing should pay attention to. And they will trace out the history of the use of the word "witch" and show how many times it gets used as an exclusionary and ostracizing word, making the accusation of magic more a social issue than one of devil worship. (They also teach you about ha-satan, The Adversary, whose job it is to provoke The Being Represented By The Tetragrammaton into all sorts of unjust things so that he can make a point about how even divine beings need reminding about justice. And forgiveness. And how he eventually morphs into Capital-S Satan, The Devil.) You learn that some romance languages are sexist in nature, because while some of their words will change their suffixes based on gender, there are others...that don't. If you want to indicate a woman in a traditionally male profession, sometimes you have to say "woman [job title]." Which is something that basically calls out the oddity, the weirdness, the apparent contrary nature of someone in a profession not set for them. It cuts both ways, too - "guybrarian", for example, indicates that men are not traditionally in the library profession, and thus become a novelty.

It's not the same as being the Only Black Kid, not to the same degree. But I know a little bit, now, of what it's like to be the only person in your cohort.

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Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Holst - Mars, the Bringer of War
 
 
Silver Adept
So, have you appreciated your librarians lately, especially those that work in Youth or Children's or Teen Services? Many of them are under the impression that what they do is not enough, because someone else always seems more dedicated and more able, or because they aren't A Name in the profession, they aren't really good at their jobs. None of which is true, but changing your self-perception takes a lot of effort and support. And the pressures to be the super-awesome rockstar librarian are increasing, not decreasing.

Youth librarians do awesome things for underprivileged people as part of their jobs, you see, the kind of stuff that's really good, but because things seen as "women's work" are immediately devalued to near-nil, that awesome is similarly devalued, even within a library. And it really has nothing to do with whether or not the person in front of a user conforms to their expectations of a librarian, or any other element that, in other situations, would be the grounds for a discrimination lawsuit or a serious discussion on intersectionality. The way the culture is set up, in both society at large and in many libraries, youth librarians routinely sell themselves short and devalue their own contributons, considering their extraordinary work to be just ordinary expectations. You giving them outside appreciation, orally and/or in writing, will remind them of the awesome that they do on a daily basis and will help them remember to believe that they are valuable. Because they are valuable - perhaps one of the most valuable - staffers, because they are in charge of seeing whether or not the next generation appreciate libraries and votes for their funding. Because they do cool things that capture interest and promote lifelong learning. Because they validate confused adolescents and tell them that they are okay, exactly the way they are. Because they help set kids on a course that includes reading as a fun and useful thing to do, no matter what format it takes. Because they help teach kids how to navigate systems, how to think critically, and how to evaluate sources and search results. Youth librarians do a metric fuckton to really awesome shit on a daily basis. And they don't get near as much kudos and thanks as they should. Give them some.

Oh, and if you don't read, and are proud of it, uh, would you please look at this webpage with a nice easy way of getting you back in the habit of reading...and follow it? Because we could use more readers that admit they read stuff.

Finally, librarians are constrained by certain rules about how they discard things, so don't give them shit about discarding books that haven't circulated in twenty years into a recycling bin - it's the best place for them.

The use of mindfulness meditation as a thing to do for health benefits is not backed by rigorous scientific studies, and may produce effects intentional to Buddhist practice, but very surprising and difficult to those who haven't been told about them. So meditation is best undertaken knowing what the risks and likely effects will be.

An avalanche on Mount Everest has resulted in the deaths of Sherpas, the guides and attendants to the mountain that make it possible for tourists to climb, and that end up taking care of the trash left behind as well. Everest is now an industry, instead of a thing to do for only the truly dedicated.

A recent study suggests that the United States has ceased to be a country that has even token gestures of majoritarian democracy and is instead run by the wealthiest and their special interest groups. Which isn't news to anyone, really, but now there's a methodology attached.

Every second on the Internet, a lot of things happen. Which leads to interesting visualizations, like a map of the internet, with the use of each website represented by a proportionally-sized dot, or auralizations, such as Listen to Wikipedia. Or columnists saying that media outlets using tabloid-style hype is good because it draws the clicks, and then can link to more serious reporting. Tell me again how non-Page 3 publications with those overwrought headlines are doing, again?

Motion pictures being recorded in digital makes localization of visual elements significantly easier, as this series of screenshots from a Captain America film shows.

Conservatism backpedaled furiously from supporting Cliven Bundy and his sovereign citizen outlook when Bundy repeatedly, and on tape, made racist remmarks suggesting African-Americans were better off as slaves. Thing is, as the Maddow Show points out, the whole sovereign citizen thing is basically rooted in white supremacy, so this was, in many ways, inevitable. What's novel is the Memory Hole approach being taken.

The Great Saint Reagan is too liberal for the conservatism of 2014.

Having gotten tired of waiting for Congress to act, the Justice Department is signaling their desire for commutation requests for nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences under old mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines, so that everyone can be treated equally under the newer fair sentencing laws.

In addition to their usurious prices, in-flight WiFi providers may be spying on you more than the law requires. To keep everyone safe, of course.

By collecting user credentials for the HR managers at various companies, criminals are able to collect necessary tax forms and data, file fraudulent returns, and have any refunds due shipped off to money launderers, with the victimized employees none the wiser until the IRS informs them that their taxes have already been filed. Charges filed against an Ohio man alleging these activities disproves Experian's claim that no consumers were hurt by the routine sale of identity data to an identity thief. And, apparently, doctors and medical personnel have been hit hardest by this form of fraud.

Three million consumer credit and debit cards have been potentially stolen from Michael's and Aaron Brothers stores in an eight month breach period. So, the list is Sally Beauty Supply, Target, Michael's, and Aaron Brothers so far. And while many of these are technology-facilitated attacks, understand that people will work around security procedures if it gets in the way of their workflow. Which means designing unobtrusive security.

And also not putting infrastructure unguarded on the Internet. The SHODAN search engine is designed to find unguarded Internet-connected devices. An excellent name choice.

Phishers have been spoofing communications from title companies, telling their targets to wire transfer their earnest money to accounts the phishers hold instead of the proper escrow accounts the title company has. If all transfers had to be completed by bank draft in person at a location, that might help cut down on the phishing some.

A look at the distribution that Edward Snowden used to communicate anonymously and securely with reporters. In addition, things that network operators, OS creators, and ISPs could do to make communications more secure across the Internet. And then, Mr. Snowden questioned whether Vladimir Putin also has a surveillance network in Russia. Mr. Putin, predictably, denied that he did, and is probably also lying like United States intelligence officials lied to the people charged with their oversight about the extent of their own surveillance. The NSA regularly proves paranoia is correct with regard to government surveillance, after all.

The Heartbleed vulnerability can apparently also be used by servers to read information from clients that are using vulnerable versions of OpenSSL. So, basically, update everything? Then change ALL THE PASSWORDS?

The United States Department of Justice wants to be able to warantlessly search a cell phone, because they fear remote lock and wipe features can be used to destroy evidence. Local law enforcement wants the ability to remotely disable or wipe any phone when it is stolen. So, civil liberties violation on the one hand, the ability to stop crime using stolen phones on the other. And who will win? Probably both of them.

The Canada Revenue Agency stopped accepting tax returns electronically for a short while after they discovered someone using the Heartbleed vulnerability to steal social insurance numbers, for which a 19 year-old has been arrested.

A 38 million gallon reservoir in Portland is being drained after a teenager was caught urinating in it through an iron fence. Apparently, that's some fairly strong urine to force a drain, or something, because otherwise the contamination would be miniscule. And doesn't reservoirs usually have a filtration system they pass through before hitting the pipes?

There exists in the universe a planet of size comparable to Terra in the habitable zone of its star, suggesting that the happy accidents of our planet may have been replicated elsewhere.

A technology called Spritz purports to help people read information faster by presenting it to them one word at a time, but with the placement of the word such that the eye does not have to move to read the words.

An open source design for a prosthetic is preferable to a much more expensive one, for one man. Preferences, yes, but the real story is the advancement of printing to the point where it's cranking out prosthetics. Once things get small enough, we'll probably be living in something akin to Doctorow's Makers. And then everyone can have workspace tables designed for cat owners.

Pictures of the past, including some things we think are relatively recent. And a showcase as to why Hayao Miyazaki's characters feel entirely real.

Having been dismissed and replaced by a ghostwriter on their own series over creative differences, the creator of the Vampire Diaries series is showing the world their intended path through officially licensed fanfic to be sold on Amazon. The secondary story, here, though, is READ THE GODDAMN CONTRACTS that are presented, as the people publishing are often intending to take away more than you should probably give.

Additionally, your editor is usually trying to help you, and you should always take the copyeditor seriously.

Language is forever changing, and sometimes, errors in "proper" pronunciation of the past create "proper" pronunciation now.

Mothers can influence their children's conception of body image in bad ways as well as good, and especially when there's a world out there that has definite opinions about what size a woman should be.

Unsurprisingly, young women are the fastest-growing comics demographic, but how much of that will be sustainable when they discover the "best" of everything continues to be written by white men, with all the problems that implies? Because there's a definite bias toward running certain types of stories, and they usually don't end well for women. So, in addition to the need to write different stories for women characters, there needs to be conscious selection of those stories, instead of sticking with what's already there.

Write people as people, including writing those off the gender binary as they want to be written.

Last for tonight, an OECD sudy shows only three countries of their membership where girls feel more comfortable with math than boys. Pair that with studies that show, despite that self-perception, girls and boys are almost equally competent at maths, and you have a Problem. And no, just saying that it's a crisis of confidence, when you acknowledge openly that women who show confidence are punished harshly and seen negatively isn't going to pass inspection.

Then consider the problem of those at the top of the academic sphere in school who are not receiving resources that would help them maximize their potential, because of the focus on bringing those at the bottom up to speed, and noticing the inefficiencies becomes that much easier.

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Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Pharrell - Happy
 
 
Silver Adept
Some corner of the Twitterverse believes that it's not possible for someone to be traumatized to the point of PTSD from comments and harmful remarks on the Internet, and proceeds to bully, harass, and be the cesspit of discourse toward someone who does claim sustained online bullying is a traumatic event.

Let's see... so, reading audience, what comes to mind if I have you imagine a suit with no head, or a Guy Fawkes mask? Or when I remind you just how many incidents there are of cyberbullying of teenagers that end up in violence or the taking of lives? Or that there are entire blogs and websites devoted solely to the pursuit of trying to debunk a single person or website? The are plenty of places that will happily and callously inflict trauma, and the lucky people are often those whose trauma stays on the Internet, instead of those who have the hordes looking for their offline address, place of work, and other such ways of bringing the harassment into everywhere.

So there's that. The hordes of the cesspit, when confronted with all the ways someone could conceivably experience traumatic stress from being online, switch to argument number two: "It's not real, because only members of certain classes, such as soldiers in the theater of war, or victims of sexual assault, can experience traumatic stress. Anyone else making that claim is just being a professional victim and diluting the Srs Bzns that those people are suffering from." Which runs into the problem that, y'know, there's an official diagnosis and criteria, not that it stops the hordes from using those criteria to claim there's no way that diagnosis applies, but also runs into the problem of "Who gets to define what constitutes traumatic events to another person?" (Hint: If it didn't happen to you, the answer is Not You.) There's no authority conferred merely by being part of a crowd, and being part of an adversarial crowd raises the requirements for proof and authority, not lowers it.

Additionally, the way that soldiers and victims get used to make an exclusionary point produces the opposite effect of what was intended - the horrors of war, of violence, and of assault are being minimized, as only the province of certain people, and it allows people not only not to care that those people are hurting and have suffered traumas, but to avoid doing anything about helping them or about fixing the situations that are causing trauma. After all, we aren't soldiers or survivors, so we couldn't possibly help someone who has been beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road. Surely some other priest or Levite with the right experience will come by and help them.

Given that harassment really can come from online corners, and that trauma isn't actually limited only to certain classes, a third option appears: "Well, if being online gives you trauma, then stop being online." Or, in its more confrontational form, "Your trauma can't be real, because if you were actually traumatized, you would stop being online."

*beat*

...riiiiiiiiiight. That's a pretty weak position to take. If your job requires you to be managing social media accounts, you can't stop being online. If email or chat is an essential part of keeping in contact with important people in your life, you can't stop being online. If you have any intention of staying connected to this world we live in, you have to be online. And besides, there's no guarantee that going offline will make the bullying stop.

And we're still focusing on the wrong thing, here. Unlike what the school system and the society at large and the house in the cesspit would have you believe, you do not fix problems of bullying, harassment, and trauma by telling the victim to shut up, stuck it up, or to leave the place where they are hurt. You can bury them, or put them off, or procrastinate on the solving of those problems, but they do not get solved by victim-blaming or by silencing the victims or driving them away. You start by believing them and taking them seriously. Then you listen to them when they suggest how things could be made better. Then you take their suggestions and you do them.

"Step on a crack, break your mother's back." That same lack of logic applies to any of the arguments put forth to claim that someone couldn't possibly be suffering online-induced trauma. So I believe and support Melody Hensley. I've seen far too much, just in my own corner of existence not to.

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Silver Adept
To build a better mousetrap, one must first invent the universe....no, wait, that's not it.

"As technology advances, the technology to fool it advances as well."

Unsurprisingly, this is a truism first taught in nature, as the many attempts of children to capture small insects, reptiles, and amphibians demonstrates handily. Eons of evolution along the twin tracks of evasion and capture produce all sorts of ways of hiding in plain sight and adaptations to penetrate defenses. Then come the humans, who think they're special, and the cycles begin anew, just in different theaters.

We like these kinds of exercises. We have lots of war-analogue games, where a vital part of the strategy element is misdirection, laying traps, hiding moves, and knowing when to change from attack to defense and back again. We often start with "simple games", which these days means "computers can play them perfectly." After things like chess and checkers, some move on to "team sports", where they play squadron-based tactics against other squadrons, while others advance on to playing command simulations. Sometimes both.

Technology plays a crucial role in both. The rules have to be rewritten and revised here and there to take advantage of that - video replay, better pads, composite-fiber sticks, scientifically-engineered balls, and perpetually more-powerful and well-trained athletes. Faster computers, better intelligence, and more ability to analyze everything at minute amounts tries to reduce the amount of incomplete information available for any conflict, mock or real. For tactics to succeed, they have to be able to reintroduce uncertainty and ambiguity into the calculations. (Thankfully, Global Thermonuclear War is a solved game with zero uncertainty as to how it will come out.) For every Radar Dome and GPS satellite, there will eventually be a Gap Generator. Every infrared camera produces thermoptic camoflauge.

The greatest game of Janken going on, though, is on the Internet and other networks, where programs are looking for known vulnerabilities and people are looking for more and new vulnerabilities. A disclosed vulnerability gets patched, eventually. The spot in between, from when the issue is discovered to when its patched, is where the advantage is gained. Whether for crime, whether to gather intelligence, or to sabotage, those exploits are all the difference.

Which is why all of the information released showing how much of our equipment and connections are already compromised by government agencies and fiats is profoundly disturbing. Any vulnerability in a system is an exploitable one, and ones that are baked in are just waiting to be found and exploited by someone other than the intended audience. Really, the only way to have something potentially secure is for everything about it to be known and to be publicly examinable to find any weaknesses. It won't protect you against a new creative force being able to put two and two together to make five (like Heartbleed), but it will at least prevent entities from using secret knowledge to exploit your highly popular software program or operating system to do horrible, awful things to other people.

We should make our government hackers that don't officially exist work damn hard for their salaries and illegally-obtained intelligence. Just saying.

Of course, after a certain point, for many things, it goes completely out of the range of the hobbyist, out of the range of the amateur, and completely into the range of someone who devotes their life and and remaining free time to doing that single thing. If it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something, then only those who devote themselves to it wholeheartedly achieve that expertise. Which often means making it your professional life and finding a way to make money at it.

The funny thing is, most of the financial incentives available to help develop expertise are intended for those that show aptitude for the thing, often at a very early age. Competitive exercises, scholarships, schools, programs, and equipment are geared toward those that already show skill, not those that already show interest. If someone has enough privilege and resources, they can continue to pursue interests and build their skills, but if they don't, it's going to take assistance, which means showing aptitude early. And even then, for each step of the way, there are the heavily competitive elements that basically whittle down the talented and interested into the lucky few. And the social attitudes that encourage or discourage certain groups to participate. It's a pretty inefficient way of helping everyone achieve the expertise they want and allowing them to be happy with their lives.

Surely, we can do better.

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Silver Adept
13 April 2014 @ 03:21 pm
"Nobody can ride your back if your back's not bent" - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent" - Eleanor Roosevelt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

After all, at some point, something's gotta give.

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