Wednesday Reading

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:54 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I read books!

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch was engrossing and satisfying, and now I'm ready for the new book in the series. I hope this trend of More! Guleed! continues. I am loving Tyburn as a character and hope to see more of her.

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard was more depressing than I was in the mood for, but did have the virtue of making me homesick for Vietnam, a place I've never been. (It was very odd reading about dark corridors being strangled by magic while lounging next to a pool in the sun, watching The Tots frolic.)

There's a lot going on about privilege and colonialism and autonomy and change.

See, there were positive sides to a House. But of course there were. Of course there would be good people like her, like Laure—within Silverspires, within Hawthorn—even within House Draken, where Theophraste the tailor had been kind, and sorry to see the Annamite troops drafted in the war, and made his best effort to cut them uniforms with flowing patterns like those on Annamite silk, and handed them scraps of cloth they could use as blankets against the killing cold. It hadn’t changed a thing. Such people’s lives were richer, easier because of the House system. And in turn, the House system existed only because such kind, gentle people kept pledging themselves to it and strengthening it from within. They were all complicit, without exception. And so was Isabelle. “What threatens the House?”

I think if you like Tansy Rayner Roberts' Creature Court books, you'll like this (and vice versa); they had a similar tone to me, great powers losing their power and trying to deal with that.

Coincidentally, the themes of the de Bodard had some echoes in the Fowler book I read next.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler has been on my TBR since before it came out. I think I'd call this literary fiction rather than specific. TW for primates in labs. It's about families, and how we think about families, and also about animals and how humans relate to them, how we treat each other, and what that says about us both. I was especially struck by the themes intersecting with my thoughts about the current American healthcare debate between those who think it's about money and those who think it's about people.

“We need a sort of reverse mirror test. Some way to identify those species smart enough to see themselves when they look at someone else. Bonus points for how far out the chain you can go. Double bonus for those who get all the way to insects.”

Once, she’d given me a raisin for every raisin she’d eaten, and now she had two poker chips and was giving me one. Two interesting behaviors--that was as far as Dad could go. Here is what I’d thought it meant. I’d thought Fern was apologizing. When you feel bad, I feel bad, is what I got from that red chip. We’re the same, you and I. My sister, Fern. In the whole wide world, my only red poker chip.

The NotSame was this: Like a chair or a car or a television, Fern could be bought and sold. The whole time she was living in the farmhouse with us as part of our family, the whole time she was keeping herself busy being our sister and daughter, she was, in fact, the property of Indiana University.
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Posted by Deep Lurker

My trouble seems to be that I generally have a situation that’s not really a dramatic situation. (“Character shops for new clothes on an alien planet.”) I can brainstorm or otherwise come up with ways to make my initial situation into something more dramatic. (“Debit card gets unaccountably locked.” “Alterations promised ‘to fit human women’ don’t.” “The highly-recommended store has shut its doors and gone out of business.”) But after that, working out a resolution almost always turns out to be a bridge too far.

Or as I grumbled in a comment on the earlier post: Brainstorming gives me a fast forced-growth of my usual barnacles. I get setting and character and story-start barnacles, but dang-near nothing for story-climax and story-ending barnacles.

Similarly when I do web searches for “story prompts.” I find loads and loads of sites with “Here are some ideas for starting a story!” But I don’t need that (usually). What I need are prompts and kick-starts for the climax and ending parts.

But maybe that’s Hard for everyone, not just me. Which would explain why help with the Easy parts is so easy to find but help with the Hard parts is hard to find.

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Was the cyber-attack that hit countries around the world sourced in malware-laden tax software?

The Visitor

Jun. 28th, 2017 09:17 am
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Posted by Dave Hingsburger

My father, right now, is receiving fairly significant care in a hospital in British Columbia. I went there to visit him and see how he was doing. For a 93 year old man he shows a strength of will that goes well with his strength of character. He is a kind, soft spoken man. People like him.

It's odd that what I admire about my Dad is also what worries me a little bit about him. There are times, as we all know, when being a nice person also requires being a strong self advocate. Given my Dad's age and temperament, would he be able to do that? So when I was visiting in the hospital I could tell that the nurses and doctors liked him and responded to him with kindness but I was also aware that they were aware that we, the family, were there and watching the interactions. I found myself watching their moods, watching the way they expressed themselves, watching how natural the interactions seemed.

I am not naturally untrusting but I'm also aware that systems are systems and that people who receive service within a system can cease to be anything remotely human. I don't want that to happen to my dad. I found no evidence of anything to be concerned about. Even at a distance, over the phone, speaking with nurses and doctors, I heard deep caring in their voice.

Situations like this remind me of the support that I provide to people with disabilities, would it withstand my own scrutiny of those who serve my father? Would my moods drive my behaviour or would my professionalism refuse temper to rule my words or actions? Would I speak with kindness or would I speak with patience, those are very different things, I wish people would realize that.

Kindness is different from patience and one doesn't guarantee the other.

Do I understand that well enough? I certainly did when watching those who came into contact with my Dad when I was visiting. I was pleased when a nurse came in to tell him about a procedure that needed doing that Dad stopped her and questioned her about what was going to happen and why it needed to be done.

My Dad didn't need me at all. He's got this. He in his own quiet way managed to communicate who was in control and who was making decisions and who had the right to question actions taken.

I think of this every time I call the hospital as I listen carefully to the tone of voice of the nurses I speak to ... do they know I listen for anger or impatience or frustration? I don't know. But if I miss it, I know my Dad won't.

long night full moon

Jun. 28th, 2017 09:21 am
missangelique999: my photo (fluff)
[personal profile] missangelique999
You only watch the news to find out
where the fires are burning, which way
the wind is blowing, and whether
it will rain. Forecast ahead but first:
A mother’s boy laid out
in the street for hours.
These facts don’t wash away.



-d.a. powell

Please be nice, Universe

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:59 am
darthneko: hiding cat ([personal] i iz not here. try back latr.)
[personal profile] darthneko
House inspection yesterday. Mostly good? A few small problem areas? Like, it's either "this is a $10 kit you can get a Home Depot and fix yourself" or it's "you're going to want a contractor to take a look at this and confirm the foundations aren't collapsing" and nothing inbetween. >_<

So yeah, I'm stressed beyond belief and praying that the crack lines in the exterior foundation are, in fact, like the inspector guessed, old damage from improper drainage that has since been fixed and that it's just a matter of "caulk it, patch it, done". Please please please let that be the case, because omg I don't want to have to start looking again and we really love this house. *cries*

Also, the deck DOES need to be jacked up and new supports with proper cement feet put under it, but that's frankly minor in the "can be taken care of later" way, imo. We can just not use the deck in the meantime.

Didn't get my license and car plates switched over because the inspection took a long time and I was very done and dead by the end of it. Didn't have it in me to go sit in the DMV for hours. I'll go on Friday.

And then I went home and laid on the bed with the cuddly cats and played clicky games and read because my head hurt. My head hurts even more today. Spring can stop springing with all it's damned pollen count, now, and the shifting weather pressure. My sinuses are on fire and my head is going to explode. DNW.

I continue to enjoy this

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:44 pm
sami: (Default)
[personal profile] sami
Final Fantasy XIV features:

- a misogynistic jerk with a very high opinion of himself who is going down in flames every time he tries to interact with a woman, because none of them are having any of his shit

- another guy quite a few female characters seem genuinely to be hot for, but sadly for them while he's super-nice and all he doesn't appear to notice their interest (but he did find some scantily-clad male warriors very distracting)

- a tribal group with unusual views on death and reincarnation that result in an interesting perspective on gender e.g. "She happens to be a woman at the moment, but she was a great man like three times already, so she's still the man in charge" and "yes, I do have a woman's name, I was born into a male body but I am in fact a heroic woman so what's your problem exactly?"

As far as I can tell they either determine "real" gender by what someone usually is or first was, or else by kind of a personal preference thing bordering on not actually caring that much, beyond encouraging people to take lovers who are reproductively compatible because they're kinda super-fighty and have a mild population crisis going. Like, they seem to use pronouns aligned to people's potential reproductive status because they need more babies and beyond that point they could not be persuaded to care less.

(Their take on life is this: that when one of their people dies, it's not a big deal, because that person will be reborn in a forthcoming baby, and identified by what familiar spirit they recognise behind the baby's eyes. Whereupon that baby will be given the person's name, and taught about their previous lives, and raised as that person. They are, therefore, undying warriors, whose souls burn brightest in battle.)

- Another group features all-male warriors who cannot stand interacting with women pretty much at all; a friend was surprised at herself for how belatedly she realised that they are also, of course, extremely gay.

Reading Wednesday 28/06

Jun. 28th, 2017 01:42 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I borrowed [personal profile] jack's copy to read this for the Hugos. It's thinky and original, but also rather unpleasant.

detailed review )

Currently reading: All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Partly because it's Hugo nominated and partly cos several of my friends were enthusiastic about it. I'm a bit more than halfway through and finding it very readable and enjoyable. Patricia and Laurence are really well drawn as outcast characters and their interaction is great. It feels very Zeitgeisty, very carefully calculated to appeal to the current generation of geeks. The style is sort of magic realist, in that a bunch of completely weird fantasy-ish things happen and nobody much remarks on them. I find that sort of approach to magic a bit difficult to get on with, because it appears completely arbitrary what is possible and what isn't, so the plot seems a bit shapeless.

Up next: I'm a bit minded to pick up Dzur by Steven Brust, because I was enjoying the series but very slowly, and it's been really quite a few years since I made progress with it.
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Posted by <a href="/users/Albastella/pseuds/Albastella" rel="author">Albastella</a>

by

Доктор и его спутница, отважная девушка с лупой Донна Ноубл, попадают в Лабиринт и отправляются выручать ТАРДИС, которую захватил в плен Джарет, король гоблинов.

Words: 8594, Chapters: 1/1, Language: Русский

nou: The word "kake" in a white monospaced font on a black background (Default)
[personal profile] nou posting in [community profile] flaneurs

I only managed one attempt at the June challenge this year: a modified version of Theme II.(a): Lines.

The full version of this challenge involves starting at a railway terminal and walking outwards from the terminus, following one of the railway lines as closely as possible. I’ve been doing this in stages from West Croydon Station to London Bridge Station, and this month I did a new stage.

I was originally going to walk from Tulse Hill to East Dulwich, but my lungs were playing up so I stopped at North Dulwich; i.e. I only walked one stop. Here’s a map showing my route so far (plus the bit I intended to but didn’t walk, which will be done next time), and here’s a photoset including all stages so far.

I photographed quite a lot of railway bridge identifiers on this one, since [personal profile] secretlondon and I are collecting them, and railway line walks are a very good source. My favourite photo is the one below, showing the premises of a “Fibrous Plaster Specialists”.

A view through a square brick-lined tunnel to an open passageway and buildings at the far end.  A dilapidated sign on the left wall reads “19a / E J Harman & Co Ltd / Fibrous Plaster Specialists / 19a Birkbeck Hill SE21 8JS”.

Someone came out just after I took it and asked me why I was taking photos. They seemed a bit offended by my use of the phrase “old sign”, oops. They were very keen to make it clear that the business is still going!

If it's not one thing...

Jun. 28th, 2017 06:49 am
mtl: Me as a POP! figure (Default)
[personal profile] mtl

On Juneteenth, I managed to trip, fall and fracture my left wrist. Fast forward to yesterday, where I went to orthopedist, got the awful splint off and went home with a purple cast.

Of the good:
  • The cast is way more comfy than the splint.
  • Doc says my break was clean and simple & should heal easily.

Still frustrating:
  • Most life tasks like showering, dressing/undressing, typing 1-handed, not being able to bake/cook/cut my own food.
    • I can't bloody work on ant of my writing projects. ::WAILS::

But, that said, it could've been a lot worse.

I go back to ortho in 4 weeks & hopefully can graduate from cast to removable brace.


Brainstorming blockages

Jun. 28th, 2017 11:00 am
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Posted by Patricia Wrede

“The best ideas don’t need to be sought out at all; you just have to train yourself not to swerve out of the way when they jump out in front of you.” – Jon Forss

Brainstorming is a mental activity, so it is unsurprising that most of the things that disrupt it are mental difficulties. A lot of them boil down to fear:  fear of not getting ideas, fear of “doing it wrong,” fear of failure, fear of success, fear of clichés, fear of wasting time, fear of regimentation, fear that no one will like the story, fear that the results will be embarrassingly bad.

The thing is, brainstorming is not a success/failure technique. There is no right way or wrong way; like writing, it’s what works or what doesn’t, and “what works” is different for every writer and every book. If you can’t manage to let go of whatever you are afraid of, try tricking yourself – doing it for practice (and then using whatever good stuff turns up, so that it won’t be wasted). Or switch methods from spiderwebbing to freewriting or list-making, or make adjustments and adaptations to your method to suit your personal style (some suggestions below). An remember, an unused idea is not necessarily the same as a useless idea.

The second biggest difficulty is usually escalation of either expectations or consequences. People build up an idea in their heads of the brilliant things that will follow a “successful” brainstorming (a perfect plot in ten minutes! No more thinking necessary!), or they come up with a horrific list of negative consequences that will result from a “failure” (clichés! Imagination burnout! Loss of creativity!). Either one is intimidating enough to put them off; both together make a lot of people refuse to play with the technique at all.

Brainstorming is a technique to encourage lateral thinking. It’s not a cure for what ails your manuscript, and it’s not an evil system for producing generic stories. If the results are horrible, you can always throw them away. If it totally doesn’t fit your brain, you can adapt it or use some other technique. Expectations – good or bad – are things you are doing to yourself.

There are a bunch of ways to adapt the basic spiderweb, freewriting, and list-making techniques to give them a little extra oomph. Using a picture as the center of your brainstorming spiderweb can give it new spin – a photo of someone who looks like one of your characters, or a montage of places and people and actions that “feel right.” The particularly kinesthetic can try role-playing, either to work out a troublesome scene, or perhaps playing one of the characters explaining the whole adventure after-the-fact to a college classmate over drinks.

Temporarily changing the intended media can give you a new outlook. What would the story be like if you wrote it as an epic poem? What has to change/be added/be subtracted if you write it as a movie script or a comic book? As a series of haiku?

Assume you are a newspaper reporter who will be interviewing one of your characters, and make up the interview questions. Then decide which ones the character would refuse to answer, which he/she thinks are stupid or irrelevant or misguided, and which ones he/she will exaggerate or lie outright about and why. Take your character(s) on a mental trip to your favorite bar, mall, or ethnic restaurant and see if you can get them to drop hints (“This food is so much better than that time in Eritrina!” “That’s because you were in the dungeons there, not eating at a fancy restaurant.”). Some of what you find out will appear to be plot-irrelevant, like the character’s favorite color, how spicy they like their food, or what their hobbies are, but again, the point of brainstorming is to pile up a large heap of information, not to sort it into plot-relevant and not-plot-relevant right off the bat.

If you like the spiderweb, but can’t get past the central topic, there are two ways of kick-starting things. The first is the old reliable Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How: from “who” you spin out all the characters you know and maybe some more you’ve just invented or folks who could possibly be in the story/scene; for “what,” you spin out the type of book (mystery, fantasy, thriller, fantasy-mystery, SF-romance…) and then the kinds of things that you think ought to or could happen in it, “when” and “where” are time and place, “how” can be anything from proto-plot-points like “go on a quest” to story structure (“circular, multiple POV”). Don’t be afraid to put down stuff you already know.

(If you’re really good at coming up with a character’s backstory, start your brainstorming ten or twenty years after the book you are writing, so that your current project has become the future-characters’ backstory. Or look at the story from an unusual viewpoint – the sidekick’s mother-in-law, or the villain’s rebellious teenaged son.)

The other kick-start works best if you have a situation but can’t figure out how to progress from there. Make the situation the center of the spiderweb (“George accused of stealing painting.”) Then make a list of five or six people – imaginary characters or real-life ones – who are REALLY different from each other, like Darth Vader, Xena Warrior Princess, Mahatma Gandhi, Hermione Granger, Donald Trump, Cleopatra. What would each of them do if they were in George’s place? Kill the accuser, hire a lawyer, bribe someone to provide an alibi, start solving the mystery on his/her own, seduce the accuser and/or the cop…now you have the start of a first ring of possible things that George could do, even if most of them aren’t things he would do. The “would he do it” part comes later, in next week’s post.

rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] thisfinecrew
In case anyone's got some spare cash they found down the back of the sofa:

The National Immigration Law Center have donation-matching up to $100,000 to help them create a Rapid Response Fund:

Donate to NILC

Planned Parenthood Action have donation-matching up to $350,000:

Donate to PP

The Climate Science Legal Defence Fund have matching up to $50,000:

Donate to the CSLDF

The National Network of Abortion Funds have matching up to $50,000, and their solicitation e-mail ends "Let’s fund abortion, build power, and radically love each other," bless them (they're also the only organization I've encountered where a staff member has their preferred pronouns in their sig which makes me feel warm and fuzzy):

Donate to the NNAF

If you know of others, please comment!

Ask the maker @ [community profile] icontalking :D

Jun. 28th, 2017 01:17 pm
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[personal profile] carisma_sensei posting in [community profile] inconformista
Hi! I joined the current activy at [community profile] icontalking and thought I would let you know about it. It's an ask the maker post where you can ask questions about making icons, effects, tips etc, and the makers will write guides and tutorials about these topics.

My thread is here in case there's anyone interested ^^

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