Meanwhile...

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:44 pm
owlmoose: (ffix - garnet)
[personal profile] owlmoose
This past weekend was super and fabulous. I was fortunate enough to be able to snag four tickets to Hamilton for this past Friday, and I invited [personal profile] justira and [twitter.com profile] kaytaylorrea to join me. They both came into town, [personal profile] justira with their partner in tow, and the four of us had a great time not just at the show, but hanging out in SF.

Friday's show was a matinee, so we grabbed a quick lunch beforehand, then an early dinner after. The show was just as wonderful the second time, and in some ways I feel like it was better -- when I went in April, this particular troupe had been together for less than a month. Now that they've had two more months to work together, the ensemble gelled more, and I saw more nuances in some of the performances. I also saw a couple of different actors, in particular a different Angelica, and although her voice wasn't quite as powerful, I loved the acting choices she brought to the role. Another thing I noticed overall is just how funny this performance was -- this particular cast plays up the humorous moments in the songs and the choreography in a way I found really effective.

All three of my co-attendees loved the show as well, despite bringing very different levels of familiarity with it (one who has listened to the album a million times, one who'd never heard the music but read all the lyrics in advance, and one coming in almost completely cold), and it was fun to talk about how their various expectations colored their watching experience.

On Saturday, [personal profile] justira and I met up with [personal profile] forestofglory to wander the Ferry Building and Farmers Market. We noshed our way through, one of my favorite ways to eat breakfast in the city, including some breakfast ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (taking advantage of the lack of line). After that I met Kay for a Giants game; our boys lost (not unsurprisingly; the team is TERRIBLE this year), but we still had fun. Then we all (minus [personal profile] forestofglory, who had a prior engagement) gathered at my place for more chatting and hanging out until far too late, chattering about fandom and everything else under the sun, driving poor T to distraction I'm sure. I was particularly happy to see how well everyone clicked, considering that my two guests didn't really know each other before the weekend. There's nothing better than introducing two friends and watching them develop a quick rapport. :)

As Kay said a couple of times over the weekend, our parents were wrong: always make friends with strangers on the Internet. Sure, there's a risk, as people are always a risk, but the rewards are one thousand percent worth it.

Replica

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:40 pm
yhlee: Shuos Jedao (Hellspin Fortress) (hxx Jedao 1x10^6)
[personal profile] yhlee
Jenna Black's Replica is a YA sf novel that I picked up from the library one-cent-a-book discard sale along with its sequel Resistance. I have just finished Replica and have not yet read Resistance, although I plan on getting to it soon. My verdict is that this is a good novel, but it could have been so much better.

I was attracted to Replica because clones and faux!amnesia are bulletproof narrative kinks for me. You have to work to foul those up for me. Here's the back cover copy:
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake's marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in the Corporate States. She lives a life of privilege, even if she has to put up with paparazzi tracking her every move, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image--no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathaniel Hayes is the heir to the company that pioneered human replication: a technology that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Except he's more interested in sneaking around the seedy underbelly of the state formerly known as New York than he is in learning to run his future company or courting his bride-to-be. She's not exactly his type...not that he can tell anyone that.

But then Nate turns up dead, and Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn't know what--or rather, who--killed him.

Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

What's good: there's a lot packed into the premise. Nadia is genteelly raised, but far from spineless, and easy to sympathize with. Nate is a closeted gay man in a social class of a future society that strongly discourages homosexuality, and one of his major motivations is to protect his lower-class lover. And Nadia and Nate's friendship with its ups and downs is believable.

Neutral: the Executive class of elites allows women to inherit, but there's a behavioral double standard as to what men and women can get away with, which is why Nadia has to watch her every move so she doesn't cause scandals while Nate can act out all he wants. The narrative states that this is some kind of throwback to the nineteenth century (Western, presumably?). There isn't much explanation given for how this developed, but I've seen sillier setups in sf so I was willing to go along with it.

What's less good, without going into spoilers: As far as I can tell, the entire named cast minus one character (Chloe, a friend of Nadia's) is white. There is lip-service paid to Chloe feeling like an outcast because she's black, and then Chloe is very rapidly shuffled off-stage and we never hear from her again.

That's not actually my biggest complaint about the novel. My biggest complaint about the novel is that it has a lot of tense action and still never manages to punch hard enough. And I don't mean this in the social justice sense of punching down or sideways or diagonally or whateverthehell. I mean this in terms of narrative impact on the reader.

I can't discuss further without spoiling the whole thing, and I am really frustrated by the fact that this fairly good novel could have taken my favorite tropes and done them even better, so let's have a spoiler cut: Read more... )
owlmoose: (Obamoose '08)
[personal profile] owlmoose
This is it folks, this is the big one. I don't need to tell you that, I suppose, but here we are. Even in California, where my Senators are firmly No-votes and leaders in the resistance, there are things we can do to stand up and fight -- here's a short to-do list for anyone who lives in a state with two Democratic Senators.

A few links on healthcare:

And other things:
  • The Brookings Institution put out a scathing editorial on voter suppression in the United States, a good overview of recent court decisions with some damning statistics.

  • The Associated Press published a report on the effects of gerrymandering, and it's not pretty.

  • It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the Democrats lost the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, and in fact the narrow loss continues the trend of being competitive in districts that ought to be safe GOP, but given how much effort and money we poured into that district, it's also understandable that people were disappointed. But the rush of pundits and BernieBots to blame Nancy Pelosi for the loss is both a headscratcher, and almost unbearably stupid. Charles Pierce explains why.

  • And maybe before you get too invested in demonizing one of the most powerful women in the Democratic party, maybe you should consider who is in the trenches, doing the actual work in places like the Georgia 6th.

  • Meanwhile, another Congressional special election flew completely under the radar: the South Carolina 5th. The Republican won that seat as well, but by an even smaller margin. This is not a seat that any polls suggested ought to be competitive, and the Democrats spent almost no money here. This ought to scare the GOP; we'll see if they heed the warning.

  • Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued Donald Trump for violations of the emoluments clause and other conflict of interest laws.

Escape from Triassic Park

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:03 pm
fadeaccompli: (roles)
[personal profile] fadeaccompli
So, a few weeks back I ran into this one-page RPG on Tumblr. It's called "Escape from Triassic Park", and it's basically "Jurassic Park from the dinosaur perspective," with very fast and silly rules for maximum mayhem. This afternoon, I decided to try it out, and run a very short, very fast game of it for anyone who wanted to play.

(N.B.: The RPG was created by these folks based on the RPGs done by this guy and seems most like this RPG of his about criminal bears. Note has been also made of its similarity to Lasers & Feelings (PDF link), so, credit where it is variously due!)

The obstacles in their path were "all the males are in cryo storage" and "the guards are spliced with dino DNA"; they started "in their own enclosures"; and these are the stories of the Dinosaurs On The Run.

(Most of the OOC comments have been taken out of the log except for clarity, amusement, and where I forgot to do otherwise. One typo has been corrected, and two misordered poses have been put back into order. Otherwise this is exactly as it happened. Based on a true story, etc.)

Session Log )

*facepalm*

Jun. 26th, 2017 03:00 pm
yhlee: recreational (peaceful) tank (recreational tank)
[personal profile] yhlee
The moment where you see Microsoft Word's wordcount for the current story in progress saying "1701 Words" and think, Why is it 5:01 p.m.? I thought it was only 3 p.m.

Ballet Shoes

Jun. 26th, 2017 02:49 pm
sputnikhearts: girl walking in fog. from amelie maybe? (girl in fog)
[personal profile] sputnikhearts
Ballet shoes

Probably the biggest new happiness multiplier in recent memory: I (re)started taking ballet at local studio. Although I am a complete beginner, I grew up on a steady diet of ballet books at varying qualities. I don't remember when I first saw the photos but I remember being completely entranced by the unparalleled beauty of the form. Lessons were not possible, so I read books, which is always the next best thing. I read all the Noel Streatfeild books, random teen serials where no book is complete without someone bursting into tears mid-dress rehearsal, and of course I read Jill Krementz's "A Very Young Dancer" so many times that it's burned into my mind. I also read all kinds of books about technique, and pored over photographs of classical ballets. Thanks, well-stocked childhood library!

One of the really flattering things that a teacher said at my very first lesson was "I can't believe you've never taken ballet before." And no matter how failhard I am at every lesson, I definitely laid up that comment to live by whenever I feel discouraged (the adagios in center practice, they slay me). And I do fail pretty hard, even for a beginner. My hips are stiff, I can barely follow simple choreography, and my placement is a mess. But I flatter myself that I have been mentally dancing for a very long time. So even when my feet are not right, I do know exactly what I am supposed to have done, and that sometimes--somehow--just a bit--shines through the mess of bad posture and worse turnout.

The other thing I love about ballet is that ... I am a fairly competitive and perfectionist person in most areas of my life, but dancing shuts down that part of my brain. That makes it freeing and meditative--I suspect that ballet is to me as yoga is to a lot of people. If my steps are not perfect, that's just my version of it and it's as valid as anyone else's, and I am shockingly content with that.

Which is the complete opposite of how I feel about writing! I submit my stories for publication, and I love it when people read and hopefully enjoy my stories. Part of me feels that a story is not real until it is shared--that it's just a hallucination in my brain until someone else confirms that they heard those voices too.

In ballet, I do not feel that way. I am overjoyed just to be in the studio. I could do endless tendus alone save for the accompanying music on my phone. I feel absolutely no need to be on a stage.

I wonder if I would be a better writer, if I also felt that way about my writing?

Anyway, this was a rambling post. If you want to read a serious post about taking ballet as an adult, I wholeheartedly recommend the excellent essay "Swan, Late: The unexpected joys of adult beginner ballet."

The Intolerable Clock

Jun. 26th, 2017 12:58 pm
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
Because there is not enough roleplaying in my life, and it's been entirely too long since I GM'd (The Black Wall, Shazrad: City of Veils, The Hidden General, etc.), I am opening The Intolerable Clock ([community profile] hexarchate_rpg), a non-canon freeform multiverse hexarchate RPG.

The hexarchate is a star-spanning polity of monstrosities small and great, where consensus reality is enforced not just by a rigid police state but by the ritual torture of "heretics" on state holidays. Lately it is not just wracked by internal dissent but by the discovery of rifts in time and space through which people from other worlds appear.

You are one of a hardy group of people--whether from the hexarchate (or heptarchate) itself, a foreign state, or another world in the multiverse entirely--who have gathered with the explicit goal of destroying the hexarchate by going back in time and preventing its creation, or otherwise seeding its destruction.

The question is, can you succeed before the hexarchate's agents catch on and eliminate you?

Interested? See the write-up for the guidelines and the character application! Hope to see some of y'all.

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 12:30 pm
fadeaccompli: (risky)
[personal profile] fadeaccompli
Finally turned off the crossposting to LJ; it's been failing ever since the new TOS went up over there, anyway.

Alas, alas, for Livejournal of old. Long live the Dreamdwidth!

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:14 am
fadeaccompli: (determination)
[personal profile] fadeaccompli
I'm never quite sure how to treat my DW account, especially with how silent the place is compared to LJ of old. Not quite a ghost town, but certainly not the neighborhood coffee shop either. A suburb sidewalk, perhaps? We wave to people we pass when we see them outside, watering the lawn or checking the mail. Sometimes we wave from a window as they pass our house, walking the dog. It's quiet. Fairly amiable. Such is.

Well, since my day-to-day chatter is on Twitter, I suppose I treat this as a very broad kind of diary. Thus, recently:

1) I became less sick. Go me. Very much appreciated.

2) I went to Minneapolis for a week, where I:

2a) Met up with professors, picked up a lot of books from the library, saw some classmates (coworkers? what do you call fellow grad students in your department?), and figured out a better direction for the Catullus paper;

2b) Went to Fourth Street Fantasy, as I have apparently been doing for six years now, and had a marvelous time, especially because I was on anti-anxiety meds and carefully using my time, which meant I didn't get to everything I wanted, but I was able to really enjoy all the things I went to, and;

2c) not only enjoyed the panels I attended immensely, but ended up on the traditional impromptu But That's Another Panel at the end of the con, which was on happy endings, wherein I got to argue with people I like and have a great time;

2d) and then headed back home, as it's pretty eerie to be in Minneapolis over the summer, with the office empty and my dog somewhere else;

3) I've been picking up on German on Duolingo again, which is reassuring, in that I still have the basic syntactical structure and simple forms down, even if my vocab is lousy and thus I need Google Translate to get through an academic paper in German, yeesh;

4) I am working valiantly on my Social Services of the Damned project, and finally making the progress I've been wanting;

5) I'm mulling over the Catullus stuff, and about to go to UT and turn my TexShare Card (derived from my Austin City Library card) into a UT Some Title Here Card that will let me check out academic books I need from them, which, y'know, will be helpful, because JSTOR will only get you so far in the research grind, especially in classics, since JSTOR doesn't really do much in the way of non-English resources and I damn well need to pick up some stuff from other languages;

6) ...shit. I need to learn Italian. Should be easy, right? I've got Spanish, I've got Latin, I've got the French basics, how hard could it be?

7) Back to Duolingo it is.

8) Also I've read all the (modern) Squirrel Girl I can find and you guys, it's GREAT, it is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC, I'm turning into an evangelist for it, and you should read it. The graphic novel collections, the YA novel, anything you can find that's from the last few years. (Prior to that is...iffy.) Seriously. It's great.
[syndicated profile] kameronhurley_feed

Posted by admin

I was graciously invited by the Library Information Technology Association (LITA) to give the LITA President’s Talk on June 25th. The talk was recorded and will be shared publicly in the next few weeks.

Until then, here is the full text of the talk (minus my asides, of course).

Thank you so much to LITA President Aimee Fifarek for the invitation (and to N.K. Jemisin for the NYT review that brought Geek Feminist Revolution to Fifarek’s attention!) and everyone involved in coordinating the event. Thanks also to the Tor team, in particular Kathleen Doherty and Zohra Ashpari, for all of their support in ensuring this event went smoothly. It was lovely, and I felt honored to be there.


 

LITA TALK: WE ARE THE SUM OF OUR STORIES

So, this talk was described a bit disingenuously. And I apologize for that. What I’m actually here to talk to you about today is llamas.

Yes, I’m going to tell you a story about llamas.

#

On the surface, it’s pretty easy being a llama. I mean, all you want to do is eat, and poop, have sex sometimes, maybe raise some babies, and die old. These are desires that pretty much every llama shares. It’s something they can collectively agree on, and have collectively agreed on since there were llamas.

What they can’t agree on is what the point is of being a llama, anyway. Who made them? What’s the point of all this sex and pooping? They also can’t agree on if bigger llamas should be able to get access to more to eat, even if it means that other llamas may get less. Should little llamas have to poop in one part of the pen but big llamas poop where they want?

These are important llama questions. Pooping is serious business when you’re a llama.

These differences in such philosophical questions posed by herd life caused the llamas to all break up into divisive groups based on these different stories created around the facts of being a llama.

As divisions among the llamas escalated, they didn’t notice that sometimes there were some sheep dogs and leopards wandering among them, agreeing with their stories and planting new alternative facts into their heads, that not all llamas poop, not all llamas eat, so what do llamas really have in common anyway?

But leopards eat llamas, you might be saying, why on earth would llamas be listening to leopards, and I’d say #NotAllLeopards, why don’t you just hear both sides?

Pretty soon these llamas no longer stayed in the same herd together. They formed smaller herds. They started trusting no one but their own immediate families. The llamas could not form a shared reality, a shared story, about the state of the herd and the world around them. Soon, even their own families became suspect.

At some point, the llamas contaminated their grazing spaces. Many died of dysentery and ecoli. Some starved. But most were simply picked off one by one by the leopards who had helped nurture the stories that drove them into these little, more easily murdered groups.

The llamas all sat around blaming each other, until there weren’t any more llamas left. The leopards got very fat.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

Oh, you want a moral to the story. A purpose? Why share a story, if it doesn’t tell us something about ourselves, the way that stories are supposed to?

Well, I guess the moral of the story is…. Thank goodness we’re not llamas.

#

It’s certainly easier to talk about the folly of llamas and their warring versions of reality than it is to face and understand our own shortcomings. We like to believe that we are rational creatures. But as someone with a deep background in storytelling and over a decade of marketing experience, I know the ugly truth. We are not rational creatures at all. We are driven purely by emotion. And those emotional drives are most powerful when communicated through narrative.

Story is absolutely central to our understanding of ourselves and our reality. There is a theory that human consciousness begins with story. Our awareness of the world hinges on our ability to form narrative. This is why most of us don’t have any clear memories until we’re two or three years old. Before we are able to construct our own consciousness, we must be able to form narrative. It is story that makes us human.

It means we can be shaped and altered entirely by the stories we tell, the stories we are told, and the stories we choose to believe about ourselves.

Scary, right?

#

My 6 year old nephew thrives on rules and facts. Household rules, social rules, give him a baseline template by which to measure the world. It soothes his anxiety to know exactly how people are supposed to act. When rules are broken, he loses his mind.

I like to tell him wild stories that aren’t true. When he was four I convinced him that dinosaurs weren’t extinct, just nocturnal,. Which was super funny until he corrected his kindergarten teacher, during a class on dinosaurs, by announcing loudly: “DINOSAURS AREN’T EXTINCT THEY’RE NOCTURNAL.”

I know, I’m a terrible Aunt.

Before then, he was happy to believe whatever story I told him. Now he hesitates and interrogates on the assumption that NOTHING I tell him his true. “Auntie Kamo that’s not TRUE.” And when I assert it is he looks for other sources, asks his mom, his uncle, “Is that REALLY true?” in an attempt to find a consensus.

He has learned to think critically (I have turned him into a critical thinker! Mission accomplished!). He’s learning who the best sources of information are. (not me). If only those llamas could learn to think as critically as a 6 year old.

#

The way our behavior is shaped by story has been known by prophets, governments, and marketers (for millennia. It’s why religious books are largely written as a series of parable and stories. I still remember the Bible story where the King determines which woman is the true mother of a child by threatening to cut the kid in half! Memorable stuff.

For 15 years I’ve been working in an industry that was able to convince people that tobacco was cool, and then that it wasn’t. We got people to wash their hair everyday instead of every week, so we could sell more shampoo. The “tradition” of the diamond engagement ring can be traced directly back to a 1930’s ad campaign by De Beers, in which a copywriter like me came up with the phrase “diamonds are forever” and started convincing celebrities to show off diamond engagement rings.

Everything we do is made up. It’s all driven by stories.

#

Even our sense of ourselves as a nation is simply a story, one many of us learn when we’re about… six. It is a carefully crafted story of manifest destiny and independence, in which a collection of European immigrants went out into a largely unpopulated continent and tamed it to their will and gave freedom and equality to all.

The only way to stick to this sense of ourselves is to willfully ignore the fact that the country was also built through the use of genocide, slavery, and oppression. We were, for nearly two hundred years, a democracy only in the sense that Athens was a democracy, a democracy that didn’t include women, foreigners, or slaves.

Yet even here there is some truth to the story we tell ourselves, at least. This is a country of immigrants. Together we have built some great things. We have also, collectively, done and continue to do some very terrible things. These are facts we can all agree on. It’s the story around it that changes.

Hijacking the American story is much easier than we’d like to think. Because, like my nephew, we all learned these stories when we were very young, we reject much of what we learn we when are older. We don’t want to believe entire nations of people had to be murdered and forcibly relocated for this country to be what it is. We want to believe they all died of plague. White people in this country in particular don’t want to believe that enslaved hands helped build our White House. We want to believe all slaves were treated well and slavery “wasn’t so bad.” It soothes are sense of ourselves.

But that doesn’t make those things true.

Stories and truth aren’t the same thing.

#

Much has been made of the rise of the internet, and its power in fracturing our sense of ourselves and our stories.

But our mass media is simply a reflection of our true selves and the culture at large. It’s like a carnival fun house where we are constantly confronted with all the best and darkest and most twisted versions of our reality as individuals and a nation.

Technology has simply made abuse and misinformation easier. I get yelled at and harassed on the street constantly when I lived here in Chicago. While walking my dogs last week in Dayton, Ohio I had a guy follow me in his car, espousing my physical virtues while demanding to know if I had a boyfriend. I’m regaled by street preachers about their views of apocalypse and salvation. On trains here in Chicago I’d also encounter wandering folks who insisted we were being controlled by aliens, or…whatever.

Online, it’s simply easier for people like Todd in his boring corporate cubicle to engage in this behavior of abuse and misinformation – quickly and and infinitely.

For more than two decades, we have allowed bullying and abuse online and off, on playgrounds and by our sons and daughters, by our police forces, on our college campuses, in our streets, and we have allowed it in ourselves. To achieve this, we have built elaborate stories about why this abuse isn’t really abuse. We talk about how “boys we be boys” and “women are just asking for it,” and “if people just respected people with guns they wouldn’t get shot.” And we have allowed our media to serve us entertainment an call it news.

These stories aren’t solving these problems.

#

Story has power no matter how it’s communicated. Consider an examples less close to home. One without internet.

After an airplane carrying the then president of Rwanda was shot down in 1994, members of the political elite in Rwanda launched a campaign to encourage the Hutu majority to murder their Tutsi neighbors. Checkpoints and barricades were erected to screen those with Tutsi ethnic classification. One of the most powerful tools of the genocide, however, was the radio. On an extremist radio station, Hutu civilians were encouraged to take up whatever arms they had at hand, murder their Tutsi neighbors, and take their property. Over the course of about 100 days, Hutus murdered somewhere between 500,000 to 1 million of their own friends and neighbors.

A 2014 study estimated that 51,000 perpetrators, or approximately 10% of the overall violence, could be attributed directly to the propaganda espoused by a single radio station. The station was established several years before with a clear mission of promoting Hutu dominance in the region, and shared racist jokes and urged civilians to violence. More damning, the study also found that the station had not only directly influenced behavior in the villages within reception, but also indirectly increased participation in neighboring villages through social interactions. In short, mass media can and does affect participation in violence due to both direct and indirect exposure to propaganda.

#

I bet you relaxed and felt much more comfortable when I was talking about faraway Rwanda than Todd in his cubicle. It’s easier to say we aren’t responsible for dealing with Rwanda. A lot harder to admit that Todd has problems and those problems are American problems.

For decades we have called the rise of misinformation and propaganda in this country entertainment. But it’s becoming increasingly clear what they really are.

Russian chess grand master Garry Kasperov recently tweeted, “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking. To annihilate truth.”

Sometimes the only way to share the truth about ourselves is by giving it some distance. The closer it is to us, the more it hurts to see it. It’s like looking at our reflection. All we want to do is break the mirror.

#

Does truth still exist?

I have seen the attempted annihilation of truth in other countries, and I can tell you the general story of how it happens. But you already know by now, don’t you? You are encouraged to not think critically about media, but to reject it outright. You watch your government state a stance in one sentence and deny they ever said it in the second. When they are called out on this, governments then prevent themselves being filmed, so ordinary people have only the word of the already discredited media on what the government is saying. You see the pervasive spread of radio programs and Facebook pages influenced by foreign governments and bros looking to make a buck who actively spread false stories.

These are things we have witnessed. What remains to be seen is how each of us crafts the stories of these truths to shoehorn them into our internal story of the country we live in, and the people we are.

Because we would rather figure out a way to do that than confront what is really happening. The splintering of our stories of ourselves and our countries feels too much like dying.

So the leopards get fat.

#

If we can agree the world is confusing, and we often feel that we’re dying, we can, at least, ask ourselves… what happens next?

Now that so much in the world has been discredited and maligned, where do we turn? It turns out that there’s still one shining institution in America that has yet to be tarnished with the “fake news” label. It still holds a place in the public mind as an authority in fact and truth. That last bastion of truth is, of course, our libraries.

They’ve gone after your funding, sure. They don’t want to educate the populace because then they think critically. Authoritarian governments, corporations, people who want to retain power by crushing others, don’t want you to show the public how to really critically interrogate the information they consume.

But we’re not dead yet!

Children still come to libraries, young people still come to libraries, adults still come to libraries, looking for objective truth. In my hometown in Dayton, Ohio we just funded a massive new downtown library space with meeting spaces, cafes, and three floors of books. We still believe in libraries.

We unleashed firehouse of the internet on our countries without giving people the tools they need to navigate that information in a critical way. We assumed that somehow, magically, people would just figure out what was true and what wasn’t.

To help patrons, it’s not enough to show them where the information is, but also to teach them how to think critically about it. Incorporate guidelines for critical thinking in every how to use the library talk, every discussion about the internet. Hell, put up posters there along the computer banks, “Think before you click!” “Think before you share!” That sounds simplistic, but put those messages into the form of stories told by llamas who are making poor decisions, and it becomes powerful.

When I teach copywriting classes, I give my students handy green, yellow, red caution designations for common news sources and sites. It’s not that they can’t or shouldn’t see that information, no! But it urges them to think more critically about what the source is, what their motive may be, and gives them guidelines on how to navigate the vast trove of information. It invites them to take personal responsibility for the information they create, share, like, and broadcast. I teach them about hyperlinks, and clicking back, always to check the original source of a news item buried eight blogs deep. I tell them to take note of the author of the information, and think about what biases that person may have. I teach them all to be little mini-historians, using the same training I was given when I pursued my degree.

Most importantly, again, I urge you to share this information about how to uncover truth in the form of stories and fables, not bullet points. If you want people to remember the importance of critical thinking and their part in spreading misinformation… tell them about the llamas.

We unconsciously examine the biases of our own family members every day. Today, we must all be that studious 6 year old, shaping and reshaping reality, examining sources, doubting, always, but knowing the truth is, as ever, out there.

#

So finally, I realized that some of the problems I had in crafting this speech is that I was trying to tell you how to save the world with the power of story in…. 30 minutes. What can I say, I’m ambitious. What I’m going to do instead is share with you the story that is getting me through this difficult time in our history.

I tell myself that we all still have more in common than we have been led to believe. We all just want to eat and poop. Occasionally, we may want to have sex or at least have strong human relationships, we all want to live a life where we are comfortable and loved. We all want to die old.

I also have to believe there is a future. I often imagine that it’s 30 years from now, and the world here in America is amazing. We have tackled income inequality. We no longer wake up anxious in the middle of the night about medical bills or how to pay for our children’s medications, because we have all decided that we are only as healthy as the least healthy among us. We don’t worry about how to provide for our parents, or ourselves, in old age, because we have all decided to take care of each other from birth to death, just like a herd of llamas.

Our story, as a nation, has changed from one of The Hunger Games who can kill or rob more people faster than anyone else – to one of sharing for the common good. We have learned how to be kinder. Less angry. The story we tell ourselves now is that we all need each other to be here. I need other people to live, because they make my shoes, my medications, they pave my roads, they fund the library that helped me learn to read, they regulate the safety of the food I eat. We all understand and value that, now. Thirty years from now.

I understand that sometimes it takes the very worst happening for us to get to that future. Sometimes, as in Europe, it takes a terrible war. Hard times. Terrible times. I tell myself that we are just beginning to enter those times.

So in this future, I’m an old woman living in an off-grid adobe hut in the middle of the desert, not because it’s the apocalypse and I’m drinking my own urine, but because it’s hot and sunny and when I’m old I want that! And I imagine these students tracking me down. And they come to me and they say, “How did you survive this terrible time in history and get through to the other side? How did you keep up hope when it looked like America had lost its story and was going to tear itself apart, with a foreign war or even a civil war?

And I tell them what I’m telling you now, and that is that I persevered because I could see the future on the other side. I could see us coming together. I had hope for this future. I could see them, these students and their shiny faces. I could see the future I built for them, and all of us. And I told that story to others.

No matter how horrible things got, so matter how divisive we were all encouraged to be, I remembered our collective story.

We all want to poop. We all want to eat. We all want to die old.

And I hope that as we go forward, there is some solace and hope for you in that as well. We are not all going to make it to that future. And that itself is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy to be here. But I believe in that future. And that is my story. That’s the real story I wanted to share with you today.

So, if there’s one thing we can all agree on, those llamas sure have a lot of problems. I hope they can work things out.

I want to thank you all for coming to story time today.

I wish you the very best.

/fini

The post LITA Talk: We Are the Sum of Our Stories appeared first on Kameron Hurley.

[hxx] [story] Hunting Trip

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:00 am
yhlee: fox with nine tails with eyes (hxx emblem Shuos)
[personal profile] yhlee
For [personal profile] metaphormorphosis.
Prompt: hexarchate, "red pandas."

(NOTE: I promise this has a happy ending for the red panda.)

"Zoo?" High General Garit said. "Really, Jedao?"

Jedao, who was driving the car, glanced sideways to assess Garit's expression, even though the high general's tone of voice told him everything he needed to know. Garit had invited him along on this damned trip to a hunting preserve because Garit was desperate to bag a gray tiger, and alongside his record with firearms, Jedao had made the mistake of letting drop that he had grown up hunting. Jedao had tried to point out that going after pesky deer and jackalopes was not the same as gray tigers. Garit had merely clapped him on the back and told him not to be so modest. Modesty had nothing to do with it. On top of the stupid expense per round, the recoil on the ammo that Jedao was going to have to use was proportionate to something with its stopping power, and he wasn't looking forward to the ache in his shoulder.

"Just for an hour or two," Jedao said coaxingly. "My mom and my siblings wanted me to send home some vacation photos. And I promised my nieces that I would bring them back some souvenirs, and maybe the zoo's shop will have some mounted skeletons or the like."

"You spoil those kids rotten," Garit said with a snort.

"What are uncles for?" Jedao said. One of the great regrets of his life was that his job kept him away from his family for long periods of time. The girls grew so fast. "Besides, the folks down at the shop might have some tips for hunters."

Garit shook his head, amused. "You're transparent, but all right."

The zoo was not particularly busy. The two of them were off-duty, and the young woman who told them about the zoo regulations either didn't recognize them or didn't care, which Jedao found congenial. Jedao persuaded Garit to come into the zoo proper so Jedao could snap some photos.

Jedao fiddled with the manual exposure, trying to get the black panther to show up in its cave. The camera had been a gift from his brother, and was practically an antique. Jedao was not especially gifted at taking pictures that pleased his family ("These look like reconnaissance photos, who cares about all this kill zone stuff when you're snapping pics of an engagement party?" his sister had once complained) so he had resolved to do better.

"That's the oddest damned fox I've ever seen," Garit said, pointing.

Jedao gave up on the exposure and settled for a muddled silhouette in the shadows. "Beg pardon?" he asked.

They strolled closer to the enclosure Garit had indicated to have a look. A reddish, bushy-tailed creature was taking a nap in the branches of a tree. Bamboo shoots sprouted not far away. Some of them looked like they'd been gnawed on.

"That's not a fox," Jedao said, reading the enclosure's label. "Red panda. Apparently they eat bamboo. And sometimes birds and things."

"It's kind of cute," Garit said grudgingly. "Doesn't look like much of a challenge, though."

Jedao thought that coddled zoo creatures were generally unlikely to be much challenge, but he didn't say anything that would give Garit the idea of adding another kind of animal to his wishlist for this trip. "My nieces will like it," he said, and raised his camera.

"We should catch you one to take home to them," Garit said.

Jedao made a face. "Have you ever looked at the customs forms for importing wildlife? I'm pretty sure these critters don't exist on my homeworld."

"Well, I'll look into expediting it as a favor to you if you can help me with my tiger problem," Garit said.

"That's very kind of you," Jedao said, as diplomatically as he could, "but my nieces are notoriously good at killing goldfish. Let's just leave the red pandas alone and go hit up the shop so I can buy bat skeletons or fox-eared hats or something, and we can head to the hunting grounds."

Raksura and Other Stuff

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:15 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells
Yesterday was the anniversary of the day I found out The Cloud Roads sold to Night Shade, after two years of visiting and being rejected by various publishers.

So I posted: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/162255829557/something-else-ive-been-meaning-to-post-the The entry on the Three Worlds from Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collection for the Cushing Library exhibit.

I got my author's copies of the trade paperback of The Harbors of the Sun on Friday, so it should start showing up soon. The hardcover will probably be a week or so later, and the ebook will drop on July 4.


***


Murderbot got a really nice review on The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/25/15837368/all-systems-red-murderbot-chronicles-martha-wells-book-review

Our protagonist got its name after killing a bunch of company employees on another planet a couple of years ago, but while it has a bit of a bloodstained history, this isn’t Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a dour security bot that likes to watch steamy soap operas, and would rather be left alone. After its murderous rampage, it hacked its own governor module, not wanting to fall victim once again to hardware manufactured by a company that cuts corners to save a buck.


Ann Leckie also liked Murderbot:

http://www.annleckie.com/2017/06/23/recent-reading/

I’m not kidding, I can almost guarantee that my readers will enjoy this. I have already pre-ordered volume 2, which is out in January.


***


The Authors Auction for the victims of Grenfell Tower is going until June 27. My item is https://authorsforgrenfelltower.com/2017/06/23/signed-copy-of-the-murderbot-diaries-all-systems-red-by-martha-wells/

and the whole list of items is

https://authorsforgrenfelltower.com/items-for-auction-2/


***


If you need a quick break today, "Night at the Opera" is still free at Podcastle in text and audio:

http://podcastle.org/index.php?s=night+at+the+opera

It's a prequel to The Death of the Necromancer


***


I'm doing a signing with Rachel Caine at Murder By The Book in Houston, TX, on Saturday, July 15, at 4:30, and you can order our books and get them signed and personalized and shipped to you: http://www.murderbooks.com/event/wells-caine

fiber monday

Jun. 25th, 2017 09:08 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
The most recent office project (easy, very slow, for meetings in which I needn't speak) is finished. It's a narrow, single-skein shawl called See the Sea, and it's too small to stay on my damnable shoulders---not enough overlap, at 60" along the upper edge. Thus Sea is reassigned me --> Reason, and Dovana is reassigned Reason --> tiny relative when latter isn't tiny. *dusts hands* (What is this, though. I'm, like, the thinnest big-boned person of average height you'll (n)ever meet? Extra wool not only for cardigans but for shawls, pfui.) I don't block finished objects with pins, but because I can't wash this without Reason's notice, there won't be a photo till I've presented it, then taken it back for washing.

The prior office project is also finished now :P and won't look good till my hair is more heavily salted: undyed wool/alpaca grey-browns in a nifty gradient + chestnut with red tones = boring. *shrugs* The pattern is great, however: a shallow, asymmetrical shawl knitted in short diagonals. Unlike most of these yarn-club single-skein exercises, A+, would knit again.

My #SummerOfBasics idle daydream list, without buying yarn:
* Little Wave cardigan in progress
* ___Sand cardigan in progress (mine's not blue)
* Lena in "nutmeg"-colored yarn reclaimed from a failed shawl and/or Tegna in a lightweight green-grey
* Leigh in the repurposed purple wool/silk blend long allotted to it, though I see now that it'd be good only for chilly layering
...and then for next year, perhaps Summer in the "blue pine" Hempathy that never became something for Reason after her 3yo self snapped the yarn twice, and Noro Y839 skirt in yarn picked up when a shop closed a few years ago.

That said, I hope to finish the two cardigans and Reason's orange one, plus make my mother's gift by mid-fall. It'd be plenty.

Status: ___Sand's hem continues with pauses; now that those office projects have been polished off, the ghost shawl catches the pauses while my finger heals yet again. Here's ghost shawl in someone else's photo---blues are past, with the light/dark brown segment plus edging remaining. Baby hat is paused till my shoulder and wrist feel less aggrieved. Lately, joint woe tracks general inflammation evident in other ways, which still surprises me. I gather it's usual, generally.
catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
Queen of Swords Press will be tabling at the first ever Queer Voices Pride Book Fair at the Minneapolis Central Library on Tuesday 6/27, from 5:30-6:30. Then Catherine Lundoff will be one of a group of writers who'll be reading short excerpts of their work from 6:30-8:30ish. Come down, say hi and perhaps, pick up a book or two! We'll have copies of Out of This World and Silver Moon, as well as Queen of Swords Press mugs and some other fun things.

(no subject)

Jun. 25th, 2017 02:15 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
I have never read Dhalgren or indeed any Samuel R. Delaney. However, as of yesterday I have at least had a Dhalgren Experience, thanks to [personal profile] aamcnamara, who turned up a local theatrical-dance-music-light-'architectural puppetry' performance of something called Dhalgren: Sunrise this weekend.

Dhalgren: Sunrise is comprised of bits of text from what I assume is Dhalgren the book, accompanied by dance, light, and music, almost all of it improvised. Also, some of the music was performed on imaginary instruments. "That must be a theremin!" I thought brightly to myself on seeing one of the instruments, mostly because I don't know what a theremin looks like and therefore I assume that any instrument I don't recognize is a theremin. But it turns out it was not a theremin, because there was a credit in the program for 'invented instruments,' though I don't know whether the one I saw was the Diddly Bow, the Bass Llamelophone, or the Autospring.

Anyway, so my new understanding of Dhalgren is that it is about a city in which Weird, Fraught and Inexplicable Things Are Happening. This is not a very thorough understanding, but it's still more of an understanding than I had before. The show is composed of seven scene-vignettes:

Prelude: A brief reading of [what I assume to be] the book's introduction.

Orchid: Three women dance on a bridge and a man acquires a prosthetic hand-weapon-implement. The director at the end gave special thanks to the dude who made it, understandably so, because it very effectively exuded Aura of Sinister!

Scorpions: Gang members dance and fight in front of a building? Alien gang members? Just aliens? Anyway, some entities wrapped in glowing lights have a dance fight in front of a building; the text is from the point of view of a worried inhabitant of the building who Has Concerns.

Moons: The moon has a new secondary moon friend named George. The dancing in this section was one of my favorite bits -- the Moon did some amazing things with her light-strung hula hoop. [personal profile] aamcnamara pointed out later that the narration in this bit, which featured a wry and dubious radio announcer, seemed like a perhaps-intentional echo of Welcome to Night Vale. I have never actually listened to Welcome to Night Vale, but from my cultural osmosis knowledge this seems about right.

Fire: The light show took front and center in this bit about everything being on fire and also, simultaneously, not on fire. The maintenance man doing the narration is very plaintive about all of this. There may also have been dancing in this bit but I don't remember what anyone was doing.

Sex: The guy with the sinister prosthesis has an intimate encounter with two other people inside a blanket fort. I always like the blanket-fort method of showing sex onstage, it hints appropriately while allowing actors not to have to do anything they're uncomfortable with. At some point in this process the sinister prosthesis is removed for the first time, which I expect symbolizes something about human connection.

Sunrise: The characters who have previously just had sex emerge from the building and now seem to have a difference of opinion about whether the sunrise is just normal, or whether the earth is actually falling into the sun. Eventually all the characters are onstage being distressed, along with the music and the lighting -- again, really cool light effects here, especially the final overwhelming projection of light followed by and darkness.

It's a one-hour show without intermission, which we all agreed afterwards was for the best; the deeply weird mood and atmosphere would have been difficult to slip back into if one could get up in the middle to go to the bathroom. For those of you who have actually read Dhalgren, I will leave you with [personal profile] aamcnamara's sum-up: "It was a strange experience, but honestly could have been stranger."
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

A friend asked me for this blog post, and I really haven’t been feeling the blogging lately, so here we go, a way into it by talking to a specific person.

A lot of people do pacing instinctively, sometimes synaesthetically. This is why you’ll hear metaphors like an unbalanced washing machine, a car with a flat tire–things where the rhythm is off, things where the story is going THUMPa THUMPa THUMPa. If you have that feeling for it, if you have that instinct, hurrah! Lucky you. If not, here are some other ways to spot broken pacing.

Ask an external reader. If they are bored in some sections, the pacing is probably breaking down. (Also boredom, who wants it.) Also, if they can spot the scenes that are the most important to the writer, that’s no good–obviously there will be things like the climax of the piece that are important scenes, but you don’t want to have a lot of scenes that are obviously un-important. If the reader feels like a scene doesn’t matter to you and they’re right, take it out and find another way to do the thing it’s doing. If they’re wrong and it really is important to you? Probably a pacing problem.

Track things! Track all the things. Okay, not all. But any of the things. Figure out what elements are showing up in each scene, what each scene is doing. You can do this with characters. You can do it with things like description/action/dialog balance. You can do it with objects that are touchstones to your plot. You can do it with locations. Anything you are wanting to pull through the book and balance, you can track, sometimes with color. Put it on notecards, print it out in tiny font and highlight it, just do a chapter list in a different file: who is in Chapter 1 with the protag(s). Who is in Chapter 2. Or: where does the Axe of Awesomeness show up first, where does it show up again, how long is it between spottings of the Major Macguffin. Has the reader had time to forget about it or think it is no longer important or get distracted by the Minor Macguffin. Has the Shiny Red Herring come up often enough? Track it in red to see where it is swimming. Is there a love story? If there is supposed to be a love story but you are not seeing Captain Swoonypants between Chapter 2 and Chapter 13, the pants: they will not be swooning. That is what we call a major sag in the pacing. (And/or in the pants.) Negative relationship stuff, too: that distance between a fight and the next appearance of the person fought with will mean that that relationship is not carrying a lot of tension. The pacing on it will sag. The reader will forget that they are supposed to care.

A thing that I said in the previous paragraph: figure out what each scene is doing. Not just one thing. If it’s just one thing, the pacing will sag and fall over. Do more. But also: when you revise, sometimes one of the things a scene used to be doing will change. If you rip out a subplot, remember to look at the scenes around the stuff you removed. It’s not just that you have to check to get the information redistributed. It’s that the beats also have to be redistributed. If that subplot contained the moments to breathe, your new pacing will be too frenetic. If that subplot contained mostly action and excitement, a hint of that needs to creep back into the new pacing. Pacing, sadly, is not just something you can do once and be done.

Stylistic and length changes. Word length, sentence length, paragraph length, chapter length. You can change these deliberately if you want to, but if you find you have subconsciously changed them without meaning to, you may be rushing a section or meandering through a section that will not feel integrated with the rest of the book and will nag at the reader–sometimes without them being able to spot why.

Note that you do not have to do length analysis on every element of every book every time. This is more a diagnostic for when something seems to not be working or if you consistently have problems than something every writer should do at every moment. In fact, all of this is in that category. If you’re finding that people are saying things you don’t really get about pacing, that something is not working and you don’t understand why, you can poke at these things (or at ideas people will offer in the comments, maybe!). But no writing tool is universal, this is not universal, and you should feel utterly free to not do any of this if you don’t need to and don’t feel like it.

I feel like I can’t stress enough in process posts that everybody works differently, because I hear enough conversation about “I heard one piece of advice and I thought I had to,” and seriously, no, you do not have to, you never have to. Do what works for you. Discard things that sound horrifying until/unless nothing else is working and you feel like it’s worth a shot. Try things that are exciting or weird, try things that feel like they’re fixing the problems you actually have, and don’t listen to me when you don’t feel like it. Okay? Okay.

Snap the Whip

Jun. 15th, 2017 12:00 am
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Snap the Whip
Winslow Homer

Artist: Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine)

Date: 1872
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 12 x 20 in. (30.5 x 50.8 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of Christian A. Zabriskie, 1950
Accession Number: 50.41

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Flag

Jun. 14th, 2017 12:00 am
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Alida Schuyler

Maker: Alida Schuyler (1656–1729)

Maker: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

Date: ca. 1777
Geography: Made in New York, United States
Culture: American
Medium: Cotton and wool
Dimensions: 46 1/2 x 65 1/2 in. (118.1 x 166.4 cm)
Classification: Textiles
Credit Line: Anonymous gift, 1956, in memory of William Willis Reese
Accession Number: 56.65

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The Crossing Sweeper

Jun. 13th, 2017 12:00 am
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The Crossing Sweeper
Seymour Joseph Guy

Artist: Seymour Joseph Guy (1824–1910)

Date: ca. 1860s
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 12 1/8 x 8 1/2 in. (30.8 x 21.6 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900
Accession Number: 25.110.50

Information about hundreds of thousands of works of art is available in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Collection Database.

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Watson and the Shark

Jun. 12th, 2017 12:00 am
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Watson and the Shark
After John Singleton Copley

Artist: After John Singleton Copley (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1738–1815 London)

Date: ca. 1778
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 24 7/8 x 30 1/8 in. (63.2 x 76.5 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Gordon Dexter, 1942
Accession Number: 42.71.1

Information about hundreds of thousands of works of art is available in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Collection Database.

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