(no subject)

Mar. 1st, 2015 01:11 am
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)
[personal profile] sorcyress
At around nine PM, jere7my sent me a text bein' all "you wanna go see Kingsman with me in an hour?" I recalled from the previews that it looked to be a James-Bond-wannabe flick, but I like hanging out with jere7my and I was in a good headspace for, as I told him "stupid-and-fun".

Oh gods, was it ever! And far more importantly, light on the stupid, heavy on the fun! My review is under the cut, because I don't wanna be subtle about it, but if you dig action flicks (and don't mind a little gore) I totally recommend!

Yarr, here be spoilers )

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2015 10:53 pm
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
HI I have a working camera phone, have some pictures of Emily.

Yay, the return to catpix )

Tomorrow's to-do )

Building a better solar system

Mar. 1st, 2015 01:07 am
strangecharm: (Default)
[personal profile] strangecharm
Of course I'm fond of the one I grew up‎ with, but that's no reason to leave it that way forever!

I remember the poster of the solar system I had on my bedroom door as a kid, with all the planets' vital statistics -- diameter, orbital period, mean distance from the Sun, etc -- and how the number of moons for Saturn had a question mark next to it. I don't remember any of the other stats from this poster, just the two biggest numbers of moons for the two biggest planets: Jupiter had 16 and Saturn had "22?"

Twenty-two question mark! I was captivated by that question mark. I was too young to understand at the time how there could be any doubt about how many moons a planet had. Now I look back and marvel that there could be such certainty! Now there are like, what, 60? Does anyone even know? Does anyone mind that we're not quite sure of this?

The questions are intriguing and delicious because we can hope they are impermanent. That question mark excited me, because I believed this was something humans would be able to nail down and specify, coming to a soothingly "right" answer, accurate and stable and unequivocal, one day.

Looking at that memory now, I like it because it places me in a certain time and context.

I love the song "Little Fluffy Clouds" but the beginning always drove me crazy. The supposed impetus for the vocal sample that gives the song its name is an interviewer asking "What were the skies like when you were young?" What the hell kind of question is that? I always wanted to know. Who talks like that?

But on a slightly bigger scale, I think it could be a great question:
  • When did you come of age?
  • Back when we were at Twenty-Two Question Mark For Saturn.
It's something I could see Mr. xkcd doing as a chart. It's like how Romans used to name the year by saying "it was the seventh year in the reign of such-and-such." It's like those sf stories about using the positions of the planets in the solar system as a clock: you come back from a relativistic journey, no idea what epoch you've arrived back into, check the relative positions of all the planets in their orbits and then you can say "well this only happens every umptymillion years so it's this time, plus or minus one umptymillion!" which at least narrows down the possibilities.

Anyway, where was I?

Here's what I wrote the other day when I read about how close Dawn is getting to Ceres:
The best thing about space exploration is that it transforms objects in the solar system from ideas into places.

The Voyagers did this for the outer planets (and some of their moons); Cassini/Huygens has done it for the moons of Saturn; Spirit and Oppy and Curiosity are doing it for Mars; New Horizons will do it for Pluto and other Kuiper Belt Objects...and Dawn is doing this for Ceres, the largest asteroid in the belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres was the original "relegated" planet: when first discovered it was called a planet, but when a number of smaller asteroids were discovered it was gradually understood that Ceres is one of many such objects, not something that's cleared its orbital path like planets are supposed to. So Ceres was reclassified, without (as far as I can tell) all the fuss Pluto has received in its similar situation, and is still a subject of scientific interest, getting its own mission and everything, As is Pluto, of course!‎
They're not treated any differently no matter what they're called. Planets are important. Dwarf planets are important. Moons are important. Comets are important!

Is there any way that having the asteroid belt is worse than having just Ceres? Nobody I know thinks so. I didn't even know Ceres's history (its social history, its history as a subject of interest to humans, not its geological or astronomical history as a rock in space) until Pluto's reclassification caused all this fuss and there started to be articles about the new class of planets Pluto has been "demoted" to or whatever (such emotive language! the planets provide such an obligingly blank canvas don't they?!) saying things like "hey, Pluto isn't the only one in this bizarro new 'dwarf planet' class!" Until I knew it only as one of the largest asteroids. And of course I thought the asteroid belt was great, like kids do: lacking the singular personality of a solar system icon like Jupiter or Venus yet delicious in its anonymity, its plurality. And of course asteroids are just Space Landmines, if I could believe what movies taught me about the inevitability of having to drive spaceships through them.

Nothing about Ceres by itself could be as good as Space Landmines. And so why should I mourn for Pluto when it's transitioning from being a lonely exception to being part of the Kuiper Belt, a busy place where not everything is about us, full of Pluto-like objects. Pluto is no longer alone! Not the ugly duckling of the planet club but surrounded by its own kind.

How do we not love this story?! How long will it take for the queer folk and the non-standard deviations and the neurodiverse and the weirdos who grew up in small towns where they were led to believe they were the only weirdo in the world to realize this is their vindication?

Pluto was an ugly planet, never in all its time as a planet being captured as more than a smudge that needed a big arrow next to it in photos, or as a circle so pixilated I've been known to say it looks like a disco ball.

But Pluto will be a beautiful dwarf planet, in a process that's starting already as New Horizons zooms toward it, getting better pictures than any we've had before and more information on this small distant world. It's like we're finally getting to go on our first date with Pluto and find out more than its blurry photos on the dating website and see beyond the superficial facts like that it likes long walks on the beach and eccentric orbits, has a diameter of 2274 kilometers and a good sense of humor.

2015 is such an exciting time to get to know and love Pluto for what it is, and -- since New Horizons will also be looking at some of Pluto's satellites and hopefully a couple of other Kuiper Belt Objects -- the other swans we now realize it's swimming through the universe with.

Pluto is asking us "who says being a planet is better than not being a planet?" Pluto says "do I care if some people on Earth decided for a mere third of one Plutonian year that Pluto should fit some label rather than some other?" (A third of a year is a mere four months here, of course. Four months is nothing! Would we think much of a job title, a marital status, an address, that we only had for four months once?) Pluto is not surprised that the people of Earth, who think they live on a planet, accept unquestioningly that planets are the best things. I mean, they have invented this idea of a "habitable zone" that they think they're in the middle of! Of course they do! Their ego is flagrant, their hubris unbounded. Pluto is keeping its distance from all that silliness. Pluto's reminding us a better solar system is possible.

...Maybe it's time for me to go to bed?

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2015 07:33 pm
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
I had expected my next DW post would be a review of the Sleater-Kinney concert. Instead, all I will say about it is that it was a wonderful experience.


My grandfather, my mother's father, passed away Friday shortly before Shabbos. He'd been struggling with Alzheimer's for several years, and over the past few months, battling against a variety of lung problems as well, unfortunately making trips in and out of the hospital on a regular basis.

The timing of his death has been a little confusing. You're not supposed to really mourn on Shabbos, and it's postponed the funeral, so it feels like we've been in a kind of limbo where we can't avoid the emotions of mourning, but we're without some of the rituals of Jewish mourning that serve as a support. There was an aufruf at shul today, which made for even more confusing emotions. My mother found it a little difficult.


My grandfather was born in Brooklyn to Eastern European Jewish parents. My great-grandfather and his brothers ran a bakery in Coney Island, which as my grandfather told it, they were very insistent that he and his brothers not grow up to inherit. He served in the Army during World War II, though I don't think he saw very much war, and then attended podiatry school on the GI Bill. For the next fifty years or so he worked as a podiatrist. When I was a kid he actually treated me when I had a wart on my big toe, so I can supply a testimonial that he was skilled and gentle as a doctor.

He was a huge baseball fan. He grew up a New York Giants fan, and then, his team abandoned him. He became a reluctant Mets fan, and for as long as I can remember, the first thing we would talk about when I saw him was the latest game. But he always insisted that he wasn't really a Mets fan, he was really a New York Giants fan. He wasn't exactly thrilled that I was a Yankee fan myself, but he was happy that he could share his love of baseball with me.

And he was a kind and generous soul, who never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was loving and smart and I will miss him a lot.


In his memory, I wrote a fic this evening.

Variation 4 (496 words) by seekingferret
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Major Character Death
Relationships: Jessica/Lorenzo
Characters: Jessica (Merchant of Venice), Lorenzo (Merchant of Venice)
Additional Tags: Shiva - Freeform
Series: Part 5 of The Jessica Goldberg Variations
Summary:

Jessica mourns her father.

[restaurant] Cotto, Cambridge

Feb. 28th, 2015 11:30 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
Verdict: the dessert was amazing; we were offered tap water; my mother was correctly invited to taste the wine; the vegetarian main was a particular brand of incoherent charming only because I wasn't paying for it, in that it was very clearly the case that every vegetable accompaniment to every other dish on the menu had been piled up artistically. The result was very pretty and sort of fascinatingly confused, flavour-wise; I'd be willing to go back if someone else were paying (the same is emphatically not true of Alimentum, who served me the most insipid £25 risotto it's ever been my misfortune to consume; four-or-so years on I'm still resentful).

Dessert was, as I say, sublime; I had an intensely vanilla-y almond tart in which was sat a whole poached pear, done not in red wine but something else altogether; served with rosemary & manuka honey ice-cream, which was enclosed in a beautiful pink spun-sugar sphere. Excellent, would dessert again.

The meat-eaters seemed happy?

... right okay so it's my dad's 60th today, basically, and I wanted to come and visit my mum because approximately every human being I know in the south of England is at a particular club night in London tonight (club nights are fundamentally incompatible with my sensory issues alas), and so I accidentally ended up being taken out to a fancy dinner.

(no subject)

Mar. 1st, 2015 12:00 am
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1534 aged 11 Henry Brandon(my toy,wikipedia). Son of the sister of Henry VIII. Henry was a strong contender to inherit the throne - alas, he died too young.

Born on this day in 1683 to Margrave John of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Princess Eleonore of Saxe-Eisenach, Caroline of Ansbach(my toy,wikipedia). Caroline married George II.

daily gratitudes

Feb. 28th, 2015 01:33 pm
watersword: Graffiti scrawl of "ignore this text" (Stock: ignore this text)
[personal profile] watersword
  1. sleeping in
  2. throat drops that taste good
  3. plans with [personal profile] zopyrus tomorrow
  4. raspberry tea with honey
  5. kitten napping on my chest
strangecharm: (Default)
[personal profile] strangecharm
1. I found out he'd died just as I had realized water was leaking through the kitchen ceiling and dropping on me as I was trying to make dinner, which led to me doing an impressive job of burning the dinner as I had the requisite crying spell while I felt so wholly inadequate to dealing with yet another crisis.

2. All these quotes of that "the most human" line just reminded me that, a day or two before, apropos of nothing, Andrew announced to me that [personal profile] miss_s_b had promised that, if he dies first, she will at his funeral give that speech but change it to "he was the least human." Which made me laugh so much. It still does.

(Especially since, as I rightly said in the comments of a friend's Facebook, "Spock is basically to blame for what I've always found attractive in my partners.")

Excellent

Feb. 28th, 2015 09:24 pm
highlyeccentric: Dessert first - pudding in a teacup (Dessert first)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
The blanket I am making is now long enough to wrap around me. I may never leave the couch.

Favourite line of the week....

Feb. 28th, 2015 07:40 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon
"I for one welcome our new tyrannical marsupial overlords"

(For those who aren't fans, Speedy, the sleeping (and therefore not currently talking) koala in question, is a raging conservative and would count as a super-intelligent evil genius but for the fact that he mostly uses his powers to consult for the Federal government and work out ways to impregnate every female koala he can find. He recently visited a koala reserve and is a little, ahem, worn out)

(Does it pass the Bechdel test if it's two women trying not to talk about koala sex?)

Gratitudes

Feb. 28th, 2015 02:48 pm
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
[personal profile] kass
1. I registered for Vividcon! On my phone! While out and about doing things! I live in the future.

2. Glorious sunshine omg. We even stopped by a tiny street fair and ate fried dough outside listening to live music. In the 20 degrees (F). It was awesome.

3. I just cleaned all of the kitchen counters and for this one shining moment the kitchen is beautiful.

4. We have a crock pot in which later I shall be mulling more white wine with ginger, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and a goodly glug of homemade orange bitters. Because yum.

5. Did I mention Vividcon? Where there will be no snow? *grin*

Get A Head...

Feb. 28th, 2015 07:03 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon
Article in New Scientist discussing a researcher seriously proposing to conduct a head transplant within the next couple of years (with a proposal to deal with the severed spinal cord so the patient isn't left a quad). My immediate reaction was to think of Niven's Gil 'the ARM' Hamilton, and all the issues he faced with organleggers, in particularly the brain-transplanted crime-boss in The Defenceless Dead. I'm not certain the criminal justice system is ready for this...
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon
After all that muttering and whingeing about the weight of my chair, I drove into town yesterday and stopped at a traffic light next to someone using a lay-by to load a manual chair into the back of their car. It was a lightweight manual chair, and to completely take the piss at what I'm putting up with, he was holding it in one hand at arms length while he took the wheels off..... I tried later, and even with my stronger arm I can't quite lift the chair off the ground one-handed, never mind hold it at arms length!

And I was so busy muttering to myself about the state of the pavements - yes, the cobbles look very picturesque, but did you have to cobble <i>every</i> damned entrance that crosses the pavement? - that I rolled straight past where I was going and only realised a hundred yards further on! *headdesk*

I also started the prescribed physio exercises for my shoulder yesterday, and it's all very well saying 'don't push it so far that it hurts', but if the first indication that it hurts is when you shriek in pain then the boundaries are going to take some working out. Given the way my shoulders felt this morning, I opted for crutches for my trip into town.

Link that spam, link that spam

Feb. 28th, 2015 05:10 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

I have no intention of linking to a particularly egregious example, with nasty personal attacks included, of whingeing about current manifestations in sff and how they are polluting its clean scientific lines with gender and race and diversity generally. However, I will suggest that, hello, these issues have been there for a long time, citing in evidence this post on the personal papers of Jim Kepner.... a passionate science fiction fan and a pioneering activist for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) rights[.] Kepner (1923-97) belonged to both camps, and his collection of zines, artwork, and other sci-fi materials reveals hidden harmonies between the two movements and this piece, which although primarily about current black sff writers sets them in a context looking back to the longer tradition of Afrofuturism.

And while on the topic of sff tropery, I like this swingeing attack on the Campbellian model of the Hero's Journey, which resonated with other thoughts I've been having more generally about theorists who produce a unified Theory of something that people then apply as a fixed pattern, leading them to overlook the ways in which what they are looking at does not conform to it (this may be about a conversation I had during the week about Laqueur's Making Sex, ahem).

***

This motif of having a particular mindset about something and then plonking it down rather than thinking whether it really fits the evidence rather than providing yet another predictable piece of woezery about Teh Intahnetz, was in my thoughts on reading this piece the other day: How sharing our every moment on social media became the new living. Maybe it's Ma Genarayshun, but although I spend a fair amount of time on social media, I don't share my every moment, and I don't actually perceive that this is A Thing Which Is Going On. People are selective in what they post and I wonder that people who go on and on about this have never read e.g. Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life which it seems to me might be usefully applied to how individuals present themselves in different online venues.

Apart from the whole subsuming 'social media' to FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram, not that people don't even get those skewed or misread: Social media, with their chattering pursuit of “likes”, followers, comments and shares, are overwhelmingly biased in the direction of an airheaded, cringe-inducing positivity. Look at the breathless Twitter feeds that babble about the sheer wonderfulness of everything, or the groups on Facebook and elsewhere consisting of people gathering together to save the world and spread niceness by, er, gathering together. Does not map to my experience, srsly, rly.

I am not even sure that Henry Moore's daughter, in this interesting piece, is correct in claiming that

We don’t look at things, it’s terrifying, it’s happening more and more and more. People see two-dimensionally on their phones and laptops and iPads; they don’t see shapes or understand form.

***

Further to my recent grump about the gospel of decluttering, with particular reference to declutterers inability to understand Readers of Books, I was highly amused by this: It’s important to be very rich but have almost no items in your home. This will confuse vengeful spirits that come looking to destroy your possessions.

***

Also I guess on the subject of the domestic sphere, I really want to read Matt Cook's new book on queer domesticity, and did so even before reading this interview. I've heard bits of his work at conferences and read articles and chapters, but I'm looking forward to the whole thing.

***

I strong second this recommendation of the 1990s hospital drama series, Cardiac Arrest.

***

I have a big honking question here: I love my wife to bits. The problem is that she lies. If it was a one-off lie it wouldn’t matter, but there are all these small things where I feel like she lies to get me to do things. I really, really, want to know what those things are, and if this is the only way that she can get him to do them. Wot, me, cynical?

***

I wonder if online dating websites are – for some men – a safe place to be rude to women - I would not be at all surprised, or at least, a place for them to be rude to women who have the nerve not to fit in with their off-the-shelf criteria of What They Want in a woman, and may even, o horrors, have some views on what they require in a man.

I have an owie

Feb. 28th, 2015 04:59 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
Actually, two of them. My right eye has flared up again, for the third time in three years, and my stomach has decided that it doesn't like to have things in it.

The eye started on Monday, with a dull aching feeling, like my eye was bruised. This is different from the uveitis, which felt like sandpaper in the retina, and I hoped it would go away by itself. Instead, after three days I gave up and went to see the GP, who stared at it, put dye in it, and then tried to refer me to the Eye Pavillion. Who said "Naah, doesn't sound like an emergency, send him to his opticians, and they can refer him if necessary." Apparently this is the new process - opticians as the front-line for eye issues, Eye Pavillion for things that need a Serious Doctor.

The optician was awesome, checked my sight (fine, although my prescription in my right eye is now slightly too strong), checked my eye pressure (12 in one eye, 9 in the other, with the maximum safe level being 19), and put more dye in my eye to get a better look. He then showed be a bunch of pictures of eyes in various states of awfulness, and told me that none of these were wrong with me, and that I have episcleritis. Which basically translates into "That white bit that makes up the front layer of the eye is inflamed and we have no idea why." and that it usually goes away by itself. So I have a follow-up appointment for next Thursday, but otherwise am to carry on as usual. Two days later it does seem to be getting better.

My stomach is behaving bafflingly. Last night, after dinner, it decided that it no longer believed in food containment, and everything inside should leave at once. Which was remarkably painful for the half an hour I was confined to the bathroom. It was painful for the rest of the night, as if the muscles were all strained. This morning I still felt a bit off colour, but well enough to meet Nick and Louise for lunch at Spit/Fire. Which was delicious, and although my stomach was complaining a bit, all seemed well, so Julie and I dropped into John Lewis to look at something for [livejournal.com profile] widgetfox's wedding next month. And then I had to abandon her for fifteen minutes while I located their bathrooms and was confined there for a quarter of an hour.

So now I'm tucked up in bed, feeling rather sorry for myself, while my stomach intermittently produces stabbing pain. Which I think is going around a bit - so I'm assuming it's actually a stomach bug, rather than dodgy food. Hopefully it will pass in an hour or two.
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Thank you to everyone for the supportive comments and response to this first week of guest posts. I’m especially grateful to the writers for sharing such powerful, personal, and important stories. My plan is to take a week off, then come back with the next round of posts, just to break things up a little.

S. L. Huang addresses a common problem of representation: the idea that straying from the mainstream by more than one axis is too much, too implausible…especially for a protagonist. You can’t be too “different,” because you’ll knock readers out of the story.

Thank you, S. L. Huang, for dismantling that argument so well.


I’m a tangled intersection of underrepresented (female, nonwhite, queer, among others). Even before I had the vocabulary to express it, even before I had the self-awareness to acknowledge it, I remember always looking for people “like me” in media.

That’s not too surprising, is it?

It’s that same twinge of relating one feels when, say, seeing a nerd character who gets to be awesome in a story. I was always looking for those. But I also related to people who matched my identity in other ways—women, Asians, children of immigrants, people who struggled with their own inherited culture. And the older I got, and the more I gravitated toward science fiction and fantasy, the more it happened that the characters I related most to were always the side characters. The support. The ones who never got enough time for their own stories … or whose stories flat-out weren’t told.

I used to think this was just a product of my own preferences being off-beat. But over time I began to realize that the more dimensions of my identity a character matched, the further she was relegated from being a main character. From being important, a hero who would take the helm and drive the story into its own world’s legend.

It started to feel wrong, a piece of reality that kept wobbling like a busted chair leg.

#

I sometimes call intersectionality “the problem of Star Trek captains.” We’ve had five series-leading captains: Kirk (white, male, American), Picard (white, male, European), Sisko (black, male, American), Janeway (white, female, American), and Archer (white, male, American). Not a single one differs in more than a single category from white, male, American.

When I was a teenager, I wrote a piece of Star Trek fanfiction with a captain who was female, half-human-Chinese-from-China, and half-Trill. And I wondered, as my teenaged self, why a series about a globalized Earth—one known for challenging barriers, no less—hadn’t had a similar one. The question made me itch under my skin in a way I couldn’t articulate at the time.

#

“Nobody is a sidekick in their own life,” the saying goes, and growing up I’d never felt like one. In high school, I was bright, precocious, super excited about learning absolutely anything, and excessively opinionated. I never doubted I deserved a seat at the table.

Until I grew up. Gradually, the juxtaposition of my accomplishments with my intersectionality have begun giving me frissons of unreality, as if I’m a monkey playing the piano. I imagine I’m in a book or a movie seeing the moment my character is established: The only girl in the math seminar … who is also nonwhite and queer and will save the world!  The woman who outshoots all the men … who is also the Asian-American daughter of an immigrant and will be our Chosen Protagonist!  And I’m jolted out of the scene, the bulwark of traditional culture whispering “unrealistic” in my ear.

And I’m not the only one who’s been the girl in the math seminar, or the woman who can outshoot all the men. Not even close. My best mathematician friend is a woman who’s smarter than I am, and the last time I taught shooting the most advanced marksman was a markswoman who’d moved to the U.S. from Japan. There are lots of us, and we all kick more than enough ass to lead our own stories. The lack of fictional counterparts in SFFdom … it’s frustrating, and it sometimes makes me feel desperately lonely.

And angry.

And lonely.

Over and over, I’m constantly reminded that the mere fact of my existence is too brash and unusual and radical to be believable as a hero. In SFF worlds, where it seems every lead character is Extraordinary and Chosen and Destined … simply being born on more than one real-life minority axis is a bridge too far.

#

“I’ll be your ethnic sidekick,” I said to my white friend, when she and I were planning to put together a webseries. I said it with a laugh and an eyeroll, in the way one does when one wants to mock something but is still too hesitant to challenge it. Serious-not-serious, funny-not-funny.

“Nah, nobody’s a sidekick,” my friend said. “We’re both too awesome.”

I will always love her for that.

#

Zero Sum GameWhen I started the brainstorming process for what would eventually become my debut novel, I initially assumed I’d write my mathematically-superpowered lead character as a man. Probably a white man. Because … well, because. Something-something-mumble-blah about me being a nonwhite woman, and if I wrote my first lead as a nonwhite woman, no matter how different she was from me, wouldn’t that feel too contrived?

Because people from more than one underrepresented demographic are contrived.

Choosing to make my protagonist not only a woman, but a woman of color, felt … daring. Dangerous. Like people would find fault in her just for that. Not for any failures in writing or character, but for daring to exist, as a nonwhite woman leading her own story.

For existing.

I’m sitting here reading the history of my own thoughts and starting to cry. Because how many times have I looked at the television, or books, or movies, and wanted to scream, “I exist!”

I am the protagonist in my own life, in my own story. I am not anybody’s sidekick.

Neither are my characters. Neither are they.

I have now, thankfully, gotten over the knee-jerk reaction that every axis I assign to a character off the straight white able-bodied American male (etc) is somehow an additional layer of disbelief I’m asking my audience to suspend. That I must justify these choices. If I ever feel that urge, I remind myself I am a perfectly realistic person, someone whose birth needed no special reason.

And I do not need anyone’s permission to be a hero.

So I’m going to continue writing my main characters as nonwhite and female and queer and disabled and nonbinary and non-neurotypical and non-Western as I want, and cross these demographics with each other as much as I want, and make my characters drive their own stories just as much as I drive mine. Because we exist.

We exist.


SL “Lisa” Huang uses her MIT degree to write eccentric mathematical superhero fiction, starting with her debut novel, Zero Sum Game. Her short stories have sold to The Book Smugglers and Strange Horizons. In real life, you can usually find her hanging upside down from the ceiling or stabbing people with swords, and online she’s unhealthily opinionated at www.slhuang.com or on Twitter.

SL Huang

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[recipe] Curried Parsnip Soup

Feb. 28th, 2015 03:37 pm
angelofthenorth: (Adipose)
[personal profile] angelofthenorth
[Vegan, gluten-free]

2 small red onions, peeled and chopped
garlic low-cal cooking spray
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp medium curry powder
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cm ginger root
1 tbsp Bouillon powder
.75 litres of boiling water
500g parsnips - chopped into pieces

Fry the onions in the spray until softened. Add the garlic, curry powder and spices, and fry for a few more minutes, adding a little water if it's dried out.

add the parsnips, bouillon and water, bring to the boil, and then simmer for an hour. using a stick blender, blend until smooth, and serve.

If you want to make it look pretty, add a pinch of cayenne chilli pepper.

Kitchen coveting

Feb. 28th, 2015 01:14 pm
strangecharm: (Default)
[personal profile] strangecharm
I accidentally read a blog post about good stuff for small kitchens and then fell down this rabbit hole of things I suddenly really really want, like cabinet shelves (though I am of course sure I could find some less expensive way to get the same result!) and under-cabinet lighting (though it's not exactly under the cabinets that I need more light, the whole kitchen is so terribly lit and dingy that it couldn't hurt!) and my house actually has some of this wildly useful kitchen shelving stuff...but in the basement -- I keep meaning it get it out of there and install these things upstairs, perhaps a good inaugural project for the little cordless drill [livejournal.com profile] ejbigred has gifted me! Plus it turns out you can (at least in America...) get stick blenders with food processor attachments, which was very exciting because it seems so many of the recipes I'm interested in lately call for a food processor, or at least are things that'd be incredibly easy if I had one and are difficult or too faffy to do without (my stick blender has already been asked to occasionally do the job of afood processor, leading to okay but not great results, and once a nasty flesh wound...). And I'm hoping that a stick-blender kind might be a bit cheaper as that's far more of a concern to me than how much space it takes up.

Don't leave me, cake

Feb. 28th, 2015 03:00 pm
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)
[personal profile] yvi
And this is why I will never ever move away from this city.

Behind the cut : cake, cake, cake. Also known as Käsesahnetorte,
Flockentorte, Schokotorte and Chilli-Choc-Torte. Omnom

Read more... )

All done

Feb. 28th, 2015 01:02 pm
rmc28: (nursing)
[personal profile] rmc28
I haven't breastfed for nearly four weeks.   The first couple of weeks were uncomfortable and messy in the way it was when N was very new (for the first time in ages I had to worry about whether the clothes I wore would show milk stains) but that too passed.

I moved all my nursing bras into a box for storage and I'll ebay them at some point.  I got a lot of nursing bras from ebay in the first place - it's kind of heartbreaking how many descriptions go along the lines of "tried to breastfeed but it didn't work out" - because even with a 50% failure rate for good fit, it was a lot cheaper than buying them new.

I think I'm less easily tired than I was, but it's hard to tell - too many other things that also make me tired.  I'm definitely less hungry though, and for that alone I'm grateful.

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2015 12:24 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] ceb, [personal profile] miapatrick and [personal profile] shark_hat!

AC/DC's Hokey Pokey

Feb. 28th, 2015 12:20 pm
andrewducker: (obey)
[personal profile] andrewducker


Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] a_pawson. I'm amused to discover that the Hokey Cokey (UK) is the Hokey Tokey (NZ) and the Hokey Pokey (USA,Canada, Ireland), and the Boogie Woogie (some European countries). Oh, and despite the antecedents dating back to 1857 (at least) it's copyright to Sony in the USA. Of course.
azurelunatic: Azz and best friend grabbing each other's noses.  (Default)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Thursday:

I arrived at work to find unusually scant pickings in the way of parking spaces. I wound up wedging my car in next to a Jeep which was parked uncomfortably close to the line, who was in turn evading a shiny silver Lexus SUV (here I would say "of course", but my aunt drives a not-so-shiny silver one of those which is like at least 10 at this point) which was parked ... well, one of the tires was "on" the line, where by "on" I mean "also mostly over". So it certainly wasn't the Jeep's fault.

I hit lunch early because of the now-inevitable 1pm Thursday meeting. If it's not one part of the conference planning, it's another. On stepping outside, I heard a rushing noise, sort of like any one of the following:
* Niagara Falls at a distance of a quarter-mile or so
* A jet engine, slightly closer
* About a hundred distant and terrifyingly in-sync jackhammers
* A white noise generator, turned way up

It was a lovely day, though, so Purple's lunch table was out in the courtyard. It was such a nice day that Purple expressed the desire to sit on top of a mountain for a while. His not!boyfriend apparently gets tired of nature very quickly, and the concept "Is that all there is, just all these trees and this lake?" was floated, to much hilarity. So that was the main topic of conversation for a while.

Eventually someone mentioned the noise, and maybe walking down to see what was going on with it. Some people hadn't even noticed the noise (cue incredulity from the rest of the table).

The 1pm meeting was something to which I was able to contribute constructively. A note to all would-be presenters: I don't care if it's "just" five dozen pens, if you don't tell the logistics person about it, it's not going to happen. I am likewise vaguely unimpressed with the attempt to add a poster session without explicitly telling me what the plans are.

Following that was the team meeting, featuring some guy who canceled twice before being able to make it finally. The meeting was punctuated with 10 minutes of rapid-fire buzzing from my watch, in which the helldesk software dumped "an offensive load" of quadruplicate stale notifications into my inbox. I was Not Best Pleased.

I returned to find that radius had proposed a milkshake run. He and Purple converged on my cube, and we stomped up towards the milkshake dungeon.

Helldesk wasn't the only thing which was dumping: it turned out that the roaring sound was the local gas company venting some of their pipes, in either reaction to, or preparation for, something. We started out discussing that. And while I was a little caught up in my own bubble for it to register, Purple greeted someone he knew who passed us on the sidewalk.

One of the reasons I was caught up in my own bubble was that possibly while this was going on, I had caught sight of one of the security guards coming down the path that we were about to go up. Ordinarily this would be unexceptionable, except that this was the guy who I am actively avoiding. Since radius and Purple were already talking a mile a minute, and we'd scrunched ourselves into a somewhat more path-friendly configuration, they walked slightly ahead while I walked behind between them. I was aware that they were essentially in forward bodyguard position, and I looked Pointedly Elsewhere as the guy passed, although he was talking somewhat loudly on a headset.

This occasioned (also somewhat loud and probably audible to the guy as we passed) commentary from radius and Purple, about not super sensitive of mental health issues )

The sight of ravens on the upper cafeteria led radius to explain about the difference between North American crows and Australian crows: the Aussie crows are much, much ruder. That naturally led into a discussion of Craig Ferguson's flag-mouthed profanity replacement.

The guys aren't used to the vagaries of the elevator in this building. It's a double-sided elevator, with one door leading inside and one leading outside. We typically enter the elevator from the outside and exit from the inside door in the basement. In order that the rear door button works, however, requires a badge swipe. Generally I operate the thing, since I'm used to it, but Purple was closer this time.

We queued up to get our various ice creams. I'd neglected to take my lactose pills before stomping out the door, which situation I usually address by getting the lactose-free sorbets (lemon and strawberry are my favorites, though there are others I really enjoy too) but the chocolate and the vanilla looked very good. I comforted myself with the plan that I would eat them slowly and then take the pills when I got back to my desk.

Purple greeted someone. "So this is why you were in such a hurry!" he said, or words to that effect. Apparently there was some reason or other, but one of the things was that he was going in search of those little oatmeal cookies that are said to be in the break rooms, but in practice nearly never are (except in the Building of Conference Rooms) (except when they've been overrun with conferences). Stymied in his pursuit of cookies, he came for ice cream instead. Purple was amused.

We went outside to sit for a bit. There is asbestos in these here buildings. California law is at pains to let us know about it, and all of the main entrances have this very long URL on the windows, which presumably people are supposed to type in by hand. We comment on it basically every other time we see it. This time we got mired in server response codes. Then we walked back.

I popped in to see Madam Standards, and we wound up going over some of the party details together. She did a lot last year with the Commandant; this year she's heading up the party committee. She knows basically what she's doing, but appreciates cross-checking, especially when I tease out aspects of her ideas which she hadn't really considered. This one: a simple socializing hack using candy dishes.

Mr. Zune had shared the information about the llamas, and soon the dress also hit [off-topic].

My battle re: helldesk was interrupted by Researcher Carmageddon with actual research-related tasks for me. Hooray! So I did that, and then it was time to go home.

Purple walked me out as per usual. Since I've been a bit less steady on my feet these days than is quite normal for me (the extra steps may be getting to my knees) he has taken to walking with me to my car when I'm parked further out, just in case I need steadying (and because when we chat, that means I can lean on Vash). "Where are you?" he asked, when a quick peer around the parking lot did not yield the correct little white car. I was in the same column, just way down near the end, behind the van blocking our view. By this time, the Jeep was long gone, but the silver Lexus SUV was still there, still on over the line.

Purple was merrily talking smack about the parking job when the vehicle beeped. He peered around the thing to see someone approaching. "Oh hey," he said, to someone he obviously knew. Awkward! "He was the guy who passed us on the way up for milkshakes," he explained to me after the guy whizzed out of the parking lot. (It was the hour of departures, as a little white car across the way left within the same 30 seconds, and the van which had been blocking line of sight from Purple's car left within a few minutes also.) I shared my blueberries (I'd guessed wrong; I thought he didn't like blueberries, but it turns out it's pomegranates that he's not pleased with; generally he is in favor of fresh fruit) and we talked about surreal video game plots.

After not too long we headed off.

Still no update on the launderizer situation. I keep expecting to come home to find some sort of missive, but it has not transpired. On the up side, this is motivation to not let my housekeeping slip much during the week.

I was tired enough to go to bed without a formal writeup, though I had contemplated the idea of attempting to explain my day from my phone in bed. It turned out my tiredness had other ideas.

Sick of being sick

Feb. 28th, 2015 09:31 am
strangecharm: (Default)
[personal profile] strangecharm
James assures me whisky is a good idea, even at nine in the morning, because it's medicinal. Bless him. For now, at least, I've stuck to tea with honey in it.

But whisky does sound like a good idea. Did I mention that there was water leaking from the bathroom through the kitchen ceiling last night?

february books and tv round up

Feb. 28th, 2015 04:34 pm
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
[personal profile] ironed_orchid
What I've been reading, watching, etc.

Books: I've mostly been re-reading the Vorkosigan books, but not exactly in order. Also the Tiffany Aching books.

Currently I'm about three quarters of the way through Godless, by Ben Peek ([livejournal.com profile] benpeek), and finding it enjoyable. It is something of a departure for him, being the first part of a trilogy set in a fantasy world. It even has a map at the front, I opened it up and there was this map, and I can't even remember the last book I read with a map in it.

There are swords, and there is magic, and there is a history involving dead (or possibly dying) gods, and a world where some people have somehow ingested certain powers from the gods including immortality. But there are also diverse races which don't exactly map to the races we know, but are close. One protagonist is from a land called Sooia and she is "small, brown-skinned and black-haired", and on the front cover she looks East Asian. Another is "a large, bald black man. The only hair on his face was white stubble on his chin..." who has an Ooilan accent. There are women soldiers and women in positions of power, although there also seems to be a feudal system operating in many places where power is passed down through the male line.

There's also a lovely line where a baron, now in exile, is told by his oldest friend that "Your privilege is showing." Which, I contend, could only take place in a post Racefail work, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the novel.

I'll definitely be reading the next two books. My only quibble, and it is a minor one, is that the names of people and places have so many vowels in them, and I'm not always sure how to pronounce them (and I keep internally pronouncing Mireea as Mirena, as in the hormonal IUD). I guess it's better than the usual can-I-buy-a-vowel consonant smush of sff naming cliches.

TV: I'm all caught up on Elementary and Sleepy Hollow, which after the last episode (S02.E18) has tied off a lot of sub plots that were annoying, and hopefully will get better again. I've finished season 3 of Scandal, and will probably wait until I have a few episodes of the current season lined up before I watch them.

The new addition to my watching was the utterly adorable The Librarians, which is by the team who made Leverage. There were apparently a couple of tv movies featuring a single librarian doing Indiana Jones type stuff, and I haven't bothered to watch those. What I like most about the show is the new recruits figuring out how their individual skills contribute to the team, and learning about how magic fits into the world they know, which is supposedly our world.

But my absolute favourite part is every single time that John Kim is on screen as Ezekiel Jones. Because he is the best Australian I've seen on US tv in probably forever. He's even been on Neighbours, so he's got that perfect "Australian" accent, the one that people overseas think all Australians have.



Next up I'll probably watch Agent Carter.

After that I'm not sure. I keep seeing intriguing looking screenshots and gifs from The 100 on tumblr, if you are watching it, I'd love to hear about what you like (or don't like) about it.

the difference three years makes

Feb. 27th, 2015 11:10 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
(I am trying to post when I think of things, even if they don't seem "worthy" of posts, because I want to get back in the habit.)

We took the kids to Wild Kratts Live tonight. Wild Kratts is a PBS show about two brothers who, in bookending live-action segments, meet and talk about wild creatures, and in the animated middle, put on "creature power suits" and fly around in a giant turtle-shaped ship with a tech crew of three saving animals from the obligatory villains. (I have never actually seen an episode all the way through, so this is a rough approximation.) The kids love this, though SteelyKid is starting to go off it a bit, and it must be pretty popular because six weeks ago, the only seats left were literally in the second-to-last-row of the balcony.

Anyway. The show was cheesy but hit all the kid-pleasing notes, and they had a great time. But the thing of note was the end special effect [*], which was the brothers using a "miniaturizer" they'd recovered from the villains: they said they were activating it, fog or lights or something covered their exit, and then when the stage lights came back on, there were stuffed toy versions of the brothers on the stage where they'd been standing. (Which were, of course, for sale outside.)

As the subject line says: SteelyKid (now 6.5) and the Pip (now 3.25) nearly got in a major fight over this, because she saw that they were toys, but he insisted that they'd been miniaturized. Fortunately we were able to distract them before someone started crying over this disagreement.

[*] Prior special effects included "caracal power" of high-jumping using a springboard behind a fake rock, and "orangutan power" of moving through trees by swinging on a big swing coming in from off-stage. Also the process of donning a "creature power suit" was a stage blackout while the actor went off-stage to put on a cloth costume, covered by a super-slow animation on the screen, which made me really grateful for the person who put together all the Iron Man suit sequences into one video to clear the palate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to listen to something other than the show's theme song to get it out of my head, fold laundry, and then collapse into bed.

daily gratitudes

Feb. 27th, 2015 09:56 pm
watersword: A young girl with artistic supplies and the text "The fact that no one understands you doesn't make you an artist." (Stock: artist)
[personal profile] watersword
  1. a day that begins with a yoga class
  2. tea with honey
  3. I survived my first whiteboard coding exercise (I don't want to talk about it)
  4. I have a delightfully reliable wardrobe that can make me look like a grownup
  5. oh my god it's the weekend yaaaaaay
starlady: That's Captain Pointy-Eared Bastard to you. (out of the chair)
[personal profile] starlady
We'll miss you, Leonard Nimoy. You really did teach us all the meaning of LLAP.

Spider Monarch

Feb. 27th, 2015 07:01 pm
sorcyress: Drawing of me as a pirate, standing in front of the Boston Citgo sign (Default)
[personal profile] sorcyress
The Spider Monarch is a part of me that I haven't told anyone about yet.

I think I've hinted, once or twice, and named them in at least one thing I haven't posted yet (real helpful, right?). They first started to appear a little bit after Halloween last year. I can't always summon them, but when I can, they are currently one of the most powerful tools I am able to use.

They are a dom(me). They are gender neutral. You will refer to them as "Their/Your Majesty". They are not amused by excuses and have no time for procrastination. When you are actively in their web, you are expected to be listening to their instructions and Doing The Thing.

They would love to have more Little Spiders in their web. Right now I am the only one. You may think it's weird, that I can split myself like that, but I've had years to practice. I am very used to letting the other voices take over and be commanding. I am good at following commands. About the only problem I have is letting myself have the rewards that should be offered. It is hard to think of things that I am good enough to deserve, especially since, when I need to be following Their orders, I am likely to be more in the low places.

But learning how to accept rewards is a part of it. We cannot all be perfect all of the time. We cannot all be efficient, working, creating, making, doing all of the time. We need breaks. We deserve good things, especially if we can make a positive change in our worlds. The whole reason for the Spider Monarch is to help their Little Spiders create a positive change in our worlds.

You don't have to spend all your time in their web. You can choose when is the right time to be there, and when is not. You can tell them what you are trying to do, and how you can be punished and what good you should get as a reward. The Spider Monarch is not here to judge you, not for anything. They are here to help you try again, to balance the things you need with the things you want. They are here to help you up and remind you to take breaks.

I haven't been managing to schedule any time in their web, just sometimes realizing that I need to be acted on by a force greater than mySelf. I have an Indicator, a totem I wear to mark when I am theirs and will be focusing on the tasks they have set me (the tasks I have set myself).

So far it is working, a little. We will see if it continues to work.

~Sor
MOOP!

(no subject)

Feb. 28th, 2015 12:00 am
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Died on this day in 1453 aged 53 Duchess Isabella of Lorraine(my
toy
,wikipedia).
Mother of Margaret who married Henry VI. Isabella was Duchess of
Lorraine in her own right, and married Rene who was Duke of Anjou,
King of Naples, and King of Jerusalem (although it doesn't seem that
they did any Kinging there).

Born on this day in 1155 to King Henry II of England and Eleanor of
Aquitaine, Henry the young king(my
toy
,
wikipedia
).
Henry was crowned Junior King of the English following the French
fashion (AFAIK no other English monarch ever was) but died before his
father. He had an important role at the court of his father. He was
betrothed at the age of 5 to the daughter of the King of France and
married her 12 years later. In 1173 though he fell out with his
father and a civil war was started, after they were reconciled he
retreated from politics. Later they were fighting again, and the
young Henry was killed.

Wistful

Feb. 27th, 2015 06:52 pm
kass: "let love be your engine," image of Kaylee and of Serenity (let love be your engine)
[personal profile] kass
By and large, I am happier with my life now than I was ten years ago. Many things in my life are far more awesome now than they were then.

But I do miss having the free time (and disposable income, though the free time feels more relevant at this moment) to make it to the far coast for Escapade every year. Escapade was my first real con and I loved it a lot -- and I love a lot of people who attend. Thank God a lot of those same people come to Vividcon, which is now my One Con Of The Year I Absolutely Cannot Miss. *wry grin*

Anyway. The 25th annual (!) Escapade is next weekend. I wish I were going, but I hope all of y'all who go have a grand time. And meanwhile I am already looking forward to VVC, for which I intend to register tomorrow. ♥

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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