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Good things. (Candy invention, migrant citizenship, Ursula Le Guin being awesome, and more) February 12, 2019

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“At first the brothers printed the sayings by hand. Since the lozenges were fairly large, they could accommodate long statements (Victorian favorites included “How long shall I have to wait? Pray be considerate” and “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail”).” The origin of Sweethearts.

“Impressive as this finding about hemimastigotes is on its own, what matters more is that it’s just the latest (and most profound) of a quietly and steadily growing number of major taxonomic additions. Researchers keep uncovering not just new species or classes but entirely new kingdoms of life — raising questions about how they have stayed hidden for so long and how close we are to finding them all.” Guys, we found a New Science Thing.

“I emerged from the complicated underworld of toxic shock syndrome science with far more than I bargained for, including a lecture from an elderly man on the “art of making love,” a possible TSS-related upside to having sex early and often, multiple accusations of collusion, and the story of a bitter, decades-long rivalry between two prominent microbiologists. I also learned that everything you think you know about tampons, period sex, and toxic shock syndrome is probably wrong.”

“On this page, you will find more information about The Green Hosting Directory. For every country, the list starts with Partners: the [Internet] hosting companies that provide proof of their green claim online.”

“Greece has awarded citizenship to three migrant fishermen – two Egyptians and an Albanian – who rescued Greeks from a devastating fire near Athens last July. At a ceremony the Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, thanked the fishermen for showing “solidarity and humanity” by rescuing dozens of people. ‘You are now European citizens too, and so you can teach all our partners who don’t realise the values of Europe, to do what they ought to do.’

Le Guin – sanguine, curious, unconcerned – looked around at the Venus of Willendorf replica, the flyers advertising knitting circles and separatist meetings, the box set of Dykes to Watch Out For, and said, ‘I like it.’ She walked further into the store. ‘Let’s look around.’”

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Bad things. (troop positions, scared refugees, lax gun laws, and more) January 8, 2019

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“Settled in their new countries, as years and sometimes decades go by, they often find these objects precious reminders of the lives left behind. They’re cherished long after the crisis has passed. In some cases, these keepsakes remind refugees and migrants of an essential part of who they are. NPR’s story about how a toy monkey ended up becoming a connection to a previously unknown part of a German boy’s family inspired us to look for other similar stories.

The president’s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces. Current and former Defense Department officials told Newsweek that information concerning what units are deployed and where is almost always classified and is a violation of operational security.”

“Attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia wrote the court in January, 2017, urging the judge not to approve the recall process. The notices weren’t descriptive or informative enough, they noted, and Remington hadn’t even tried to find its rifles’ owners. […] But in March 2017, Smith approved the settlement. By then, only 22,000 people had sent in their Model 700s. That left as many as seven million unfixed rifles in circulation — “guns,” the attorneys general noted, “that might go off accidentally at any time.”

Hate crime reports increased 17 percent last year from 2016, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday, rising for the third consecutive year as heated racial rhetoric and actions have come to dominate the news.” (Notice the use of the passive voice, here.)

“I’ve long understood that the dangers of global warming are real and rising. I’ve seen its power firsthand in the form of receding glaciers, dried lake beds, and Sierra tree stands taken down by bark beetles. This is the first time, though, that I smelled and tasted it in my home.

I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. A glimpse of the suburban grotesque, featuring Russian mobsters, Fox News rage addicts, a caged man in a sex dungeon, and Dick Cheney.” (Note: it’s got sexual harassment & homophobia in the mix.) (On the plus side, it prompted me to offer this morning’s cable guy a — much-needed, as it turned out — bathroom break.)

I wish we could stop calling it a “government shutdown.” December 31, 2018

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It makes people think every government program is coming to a screeching halt — and if there are no visible effects on their lives, their next thought will be “wow, what do we need government for anyway??”

Even though, if the operation of the federal government did really shut down, they would Notice.

Imagine if all flights were grounded because the TSA wasn’t in service. Imagine if Social Security checks went on hold, and Medicare service stopped being covered. Imagine no mail being delivered. Imagine how everyone with an international business would feel if the borders were actually closed, even for a very short time. Imagine not a single member of the Secret Service being on-duty.

And, on a slight time-delay, imagine the outbreaks of e.coli that could happen while the FDA isn’t checking your food, or the terrorist attacks that could be planned while the FBI isn’t listening.

What’s really happening is “lots of government employees are continuing to come to work without getting paid.”

…which is kind of amazing, if you think about it. Anyone who doesn’t work in public service: imagine if your boss said “hey, listen, you’re not getting your next paycheck, but keep coming to work anyway, we’ll have you covered eventually.” You wouldn’t believe it for a second. You’d assume there was bankruptcy on the horizon. Maybe you’d stay long enough to raid the supply closet, but the next day would be spent sleeping in, watching Netflix, and updating your resume.

(Congress, btw, is not included in this deferment. Because of course they’re not.)

(December talking meme.)

Just good things. (Nonbinary solidarity, great inventions, cool shadows, and more.) December 23, 2018

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“A 61-year-old person in my sample told me that they lived the vast majority of their life as though they were a gay man and was mistaken often as a drag queen after coming out. They didn’t discover nonbinary until they were in their 50s, and it was a freeing moment of understanding that nothing is wrong. They didn’t have to force themselves into the gay-man or trans-woman box — they could just be them. They described it as transcendent.

Evelyn Berezin, a computer pioneer who emancipated many a frazzled secretary from the shackles of the typewriter nearly a half-century ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan. […] Ms. Berezin held nine computer-related patents.”

Motto and his team had enough data to determine that their work was unprecedented in the history of suicide research. In the first two years following hospitalization, the suicide rate of the control group was nearly twice as high as that of the contact group.”

Parallax in action. (Someone put a light on a model train, then drove it around a dark room and filmed the beautiful shadows.)

“The people making these memes obviously have never seen some of the weird ass shit in old-timey photos.” (Contains B&W vintage photography of what is definitely an old-timey fursuit.)

CollegeHumor sketch: the CEO of Tumblr makes the slow-building discovery of what all the content on his site is.

By the way, if you’re on Discord, come take a look at the Comic Tea Party webcomic discussion group! They host regular chats on a variety of comics – and Leif & Thorn is scheduled for January 17.

A few more webcomic discord servers I’m on: SpiderForest Collective, Comicadia, and StArt Faire. (I sure hope all those links are current. Discord is…weird about that.)

“Scott Warren has a far stronger claim as to the sincerity of his religious beliefs than Hobby Lobby did.” December 21, 2018

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“Democrats in North Carolina earned 48.3 percent of the total vote cast in House races but appeared to win only three seats; Republicans had 50.4 percent of the vote and won at least nine seats.” The poisonous effects of gerrymandering. With maps!

If they’re good people looking for refuge, we’re Americans and we should have a heart and we should try to help them. […] How much suffering and effort are they putting forth to get to our border? They are after some freedom and liberty and a better life.” When literally Cliven Bundy thinks your immigration policy is racist and terrible, whoo boy.

Toronto police are investigating a fire they believe was deliberately set at a Toronto hotel housing refugees [in October], stoking fears in some that it was motivated by anti-migrant sentiment.”

Ivanka, a White House senior adviser, used a personal account to send hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, cabinet officials and her assistants – many in violation of federal records rules.” Because of course she did.

“As a 17-year-old girl scout, Cassandra Levesque led a campaign to end child marriage in New Hampshire, and was brushed aside by a state legislator. […] Rather than being deterred, Ms. Levesque decided to take her crusade a step further: She ran for the State Legislature herself, and won.” Such a power move. (I remember the original news story, and I am loving the sequel.)

We were all really supportive at the beginning […] We figured we didn’t know all the facts and something would happen and this won’t be a long-term thing.” So…next time Trump says something that doesn’t make sense, will you keep assuming that he’s actually right because of secret facts that only he knows, or will you catch on?

By the administration’s own estimate, on its current course (if nations around the world do nothing more to respond to the climate change threat) the planet will warm by 7 degrees by the end of the century. It means, as one Twitter commentator pointed out, that climate change is not only real, but catastrophic… and the response is to burn more carbon because we’re all dead anyway.” As always, the people running the con job know exactly how disastrous their ideas are. They just don’t care.

“Six degrees of separation? That sick bastard was in my passenger seat. And I didn’t know because I was too busy loudly proclaiming that I was just exactly the sort of man who couldn’t be trusted with knowing.” (At least for some people, the delayed self-awareness eventually kicks in.)

“Scott Warren has a far stronger claim as to the sincerity of his religious beliefs than Hobby Lobby did. He has a far stronger claim to such devout sincerity than any of the no-cakes-for-gays bakers or florists, too. […] Warren’s actions on behalf of immigrants are in accord with the most-repeated commandment of the Hebrew scriptures and with the very founding of Christianity at Pentecost in the New Testament.” I’m guessing it won’t, but, listen, good for this guy.

“But [research on actually-proven-false rape accusations] suggests that every part of this narrative is wrong. What’s more, it’s wrong in ways that help real rapists escape justice, while perversely making it more likely that we will miss the signs of false reports.” Important!

(Putting this on the December talking meme.)

Tumblr, sexism, transphobia, and presentation December 12, 2018

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Ever since Tumblr’s description of what will be banned under the new TOS, I’ve picked up so many links about the subtleties and complications of defining “female-presenting nipples.”

To date, I believe I’m the only transmasculine person I’ve met who neither binds their breasts nor is seeking top surgery. I can tell myself all I want that there’s nothing wrong with me and that I should just ignore other people’s reactions, but it isn’t that simple.”

I didn’t lose my ability to walk around at night feeling safe once I started identifying as a woman. It happened at some arbitrary point when men found me attractive enough at a distance to approach me. It’s my femininity, not my being transgender, that has brought about much of this privilege loss, and it’s misogyny that robs women of these privileges.”

“The police report read: Mr. Jones continued to yell that he had the right to show his breasts in public and wanted to be recognized as a female.

NSFW (it’s literally a porn site, sorry…): bearded, handsome, muscular trans guy who hasn’t had top surgery, and yet.

It’s only the American copies that are being censored. It seems that it probably made people uncomfortable. But that’s part of what’s interesting about the cover, I think, is that it’s playing with those ideas of gender roles. He’s topless, you can see that he’s a man, but if you look at his face, he looks like a woman and he’s so beautiful, he’s both in that picture, in a way. I think that’s what’s interesting about it.” (The model later came out as a trans woman, but as I understand it, he was closeted and wasn’t on estrogen at the time.)

As for that art: “a collection of Leif & Thorn characters with bare chests. Including at least one cis man, cis woman, trans man, trans woman, intersex woman, transmasculine enby on T, transfeminine enby on estrogen, and transmasc+transfem enbies on no hormones. (All adults here, in case you were worried.)”

(December talking meme.)

All the miscellaneous links I’ve been hoarding up through the midterms November 7, 2018

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Trying to actually clear out my to-post pile — from political, technical, and fannish links alike.


Useful:

“Am I really just lazy?: A helpful key to why you are not doing that thing you know you are supposed to be doing.

Many of us are taught to make sure our sites can be used via keyboard. Why is that, and what is it like in practice? Chris Ashton did an experiment to find out.” Great article, prompted me to review my own sites and make some updates.

“At the end of June, through Comic Tea Party, I surveyed webcomic/indie comic readers and gathered data on their reading habits. This included questions about reading frequency and how they interacted with the comics they read. The survey received 188 responses, and today I would like to go through the data and share what we have learned.”


Depressing:

The YouTubers taking this challenge are very young, and they are making fetish content for adults. They just don’t know it.” Creepy. (Article from 2016.)

Bowles knew the sedative was “dripping into her veins” and that at any second she would cede control to a surgeon who had just revealed his intention to do something she’d explicitly asked him not to do. She felt panicked, but her body was unable to move. She recalls saying no twice, repeating that she wanted to be flat.”

Many parents and their kids are becoming more and more immersed in the fandoms surrounding their favorite shows, movies, and books. The below article by guest contributor Sean Z. is an in-depth look at the recent history of fandom and some of the pitfalls we should all be aware of and be discussing with our kids.


Uplifting:

The intersex community is counting on doctors to improve the treatment conditions our community has inherited. We dream of a world in which diverse sex traits are once again seen as natural variations, as they are in some cultures — not problems to be fixed. It can be intimidating to be called upon to rebuild a paradigm. But at least there’s a step-by-step guide.”

So, hey, it seems like George Takei is cool. (And literally did get targeted by Russia-based propaganda networks.)


Miscellaneous:

If Le Guin’s hand-drawn map of the icebound planet Gethen is somewhat obscure, it’s perhaps because it seems to pop up for the first time only in the endpapers of The Hainish Novels & Stories. Published in 2017, the year before the author’s death.”

“The Dutch firm Ecory was commissioned to research the impact of piracy for several months, eventually submitting a 304-page report to the EU in May 2015. […] illegal downloads and streams can actually boost legal sales of games, according to the report. The only negative link the report found was with major blockbuster films.” (So guess what was the only part of the report that got released?)

“Not since the angel Gabriel visited Muhammad in a cave around 610 AD, informing him that he is God’s prophet, has there been a new globally influential religion with hundreds of millions of followers. Though the world’s religions are very dynamic, and major faiths continue to shift and evolve in ritual and doctrine, the world today is dominated by the same four faiths that dominated the globe a millennium ago: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. According to a 2012 Pew study, 92 percent of religiously affiliated people around the globe belong to one of these four faiths.” An investigation on some of the cults and mini-religions growing today, and why it’s been so long since one of them made it big.

Bad things. (Tax fraud, short-sheeting FEMA, separating citizens, and more.) October 5, 2018

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Categorized Tweets: “Enter your zipcode to catch up on the candid thoughts of individuals who represent you.

“We went through the transcript of the hearing and noted every single time a question was asked of Ford and Kavanaugh. (We didn’t include the times a questioner didn’t ask an explicit question.) Then we noted every instance in which answered the question or said they didn’t know the answer — and we also noted every time they either refused to answer or gave an answer that didn’t address the question. Here are the results.”

“A man emailed recently in response to something I’d written about street harassment. He was so glad, he said, that his college-age daughter never experienced anything like that. Less than a day later, he wrote again. They had just talked. She told him she’d been harassed many, many times — including that week.”

By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father.” And no, it wasn’t terribly legal.

“Americans by and large want the government to help them get healthcare when they need it—whether that means the ACA’s regulations on insurers or a more direct system where the feds or the states cover everyone. Republicans know this, which is why they are lying about wanting to defend pre-existing condition protections. More fundamentally, Republicans have spent the last decade using every avenue available to them to block any effort to expand coverage.”

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said this week that millions of water bottles meant for victims of Hurricane Maria have been left undistributed at an airport in Puerto Rico for more than a year.

“Merkley believes the transfer from FEMA to ICE was made this summer. He told Maddow that ‘it means that just as hurricane season is starting … the administration is working hard to find funds for child detention camps.‘”

“In one stunning example, the government listed one child who ‘cannot be reunified at this time because the parent’s location has been unknown for more than a year,’ and ‘records show the parent and child might be US citizens.’

U.S. policy has created a food system that excels at producing flour, sugar and oil but struggles to deliver nutrients at anywhere near the same scale. The United States spends $1.5 billion on nutrition research every year compared to around $60 billion on drug research. Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year.”

Good things. (Pool parties, Medicare, ocean cleanup, gay stuff in media.) October 1, 2018

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“Remember the teenage girl who got dragged by police at a pool party? Well, she’s getting her money and her own pool party. […] Cole said that her client plans to use a portion of the money to start a business and that she hopes to become a dentist.” I’m so relieved and happy for this nerd.

Koch-backed study finds ‘Medicare for All’ would save U.S. trillions. An estimated cost of $32.6 trillion over 10 years is less than the US would spend over the next 10 years under the current system.”

Engineers on Saturday deployed a trash collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.”

“I was just learning about how The Answer book, which was also very difficult to make and I only just now found out that a big part of why it was made was that one of the big champions of the book was an ally for her sister. We’ve had allies at all these different stages, people for whom this is very personal and they understand the personal toll that can be taken.” Rebecca Sugar on breaking ground.

“The truth is they’re scared of getting emails from bigots and they’re cowards. So they’re letting the bigots control the conversation. My response was basically, ‘Let ‘em complain,’ ‘they’re wrong,’ and ‘they’re just gonna have to live with it.’ Unfortunately, it got so contentious that [the network] essentially told me that if I didn’t cut the scene they would cut the episode and they strong-armed me out of it.” More on representation, with Voltron, Gravity Falls, and SU.

“Arnie as a film editor—if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple. I wrote sketches…Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert & Ernie dynamic.

Dog-walking, napping, and buying mints while black September 11, 2018

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In the surveillance video […] Arreola is seen asking for the price of the mints, then hands over cash to the attendant before pocketing the mints in his jacket. That is all it took for the officer to [draw his gun] and demand that Arreola place the mints back on the counter.” Thank goodness he made it out of that alive.

The 34-year-old grad student in African studies unlocked her dorm-room door in front of police to show that she lived there, but they still asked for her ID.” Her too.

“A police sergeant showed up, Fyffe-Marshall says in her account, and said he didn’t know what Airbnb was. The group showed the police their booking confirmations and phoned the home’s landlord to convince police they were telling the truth.” And them!

“Emory Ellis, a black homeless man in Boston, was hungry so he went to Burger King one morning in 2015. But instead of breakfast, Ellis got a ride to the police station and more than three months in jail after he was wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash.

[My eight-year-old daughter] cried for an hour and now refuses to go outside with her dog. … I told her she did nothing wrong – but she said she must have or someone would not have called the police on her.”

The Onion: “Deciding his firstborn was old enough to learn about the cultural dangers of having things in his hands, African American dad Aaron Mitchell pulled his son aside Thursday to have “the talk” about holding literally any object.