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

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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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.

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Monday Works Roundup, 4/2/18 April 2, 2018

Posted by Erin Ptah in And Shine Heaven Now, But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
A Girl And Her Dragon (art | Jany, Kara Lynn | worksafe)
Thoroughly Modern Mary (art | María, Josh, Saxon, Dove | worksafe)
Be not afraid. (sketch | Dove | worksafe)
The Big Olive (art | María, Saxon, Josh | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Hazelnut and Hyacinth (art | Hazel, Hyacinth | worksafe)
This is not an effective sweater (AI sketch | Leif | worksafe)
Stripes and Blades (art | Del, Juniper, Mata, Alruna, Vine, Imri | worksafe)

Fake News
Tek and the Daily Girl! (art | Tek Jansen/girl!not!Jon | worksafe)
Draw This Again: Tek and the Daily Girl (art meme, worksafe)

Hellsing, Good Omens, religion, various
Shine Profiles – Heaven and Hell (art | Aziraphale, Crowley, Integra’s shoulder angels, Sett, Harkonnen Spirit, Helios, DEATH, Count D, Ballaberith, Lisa, Jesus | worksafe)
And Shine Heaven Now Resurrected (comic | Integra, Alucard, Seras, artist | G)

General/Miscellaneous
Webcomic Woes 11 – Hard follows (comic, G)
Webcomic Woes 12 – #QueerPlanningProblems (comic, G)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Nerves are running high as Patrick and his former Master are about to be reunited.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
A fusion-filled extended visit to the Steven Universe AU.

If we’re done being thankful, here are some things we need to be angry about. November 27, 2017

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Two months after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a sense of desperation seems to be yielding to resignation at best. More than half of the island is still without power, and hundreds of thousands of residents are fleeing to the American mainland in an extraordinary exodus.”

“Within months, Deen’s career was back on track. There was initial backlash, but none of it stuck. He continued to make money and win awards. But we were back to the drawing board. The network refused to give us the rights to the show and wouldn’t let anyone watch the already-shot pilot. After two years, we are still not legally allowed to show it to anyone.” How the media is set up not only to excuse rapists and punish their victims, but punish random innocent people who unwittingly worked with them.

“The liver department’s clinical director is Irish. Its academic director is Spanish. The hospital recently tried to hire a German as academic head of department, but he declined: He had been awarded a high-value European grant that he could not take to Britain after Brexit.” The (totally foreseeable) real effects of Brexit on the NHS.

“Trump was reportedly considering deporting Guo until aides talked him out of it—including informing him that Guo happens to be a member of his Mar-a-Lago resort (a privilege that costs $200,000 in initiation fees plus $14,000 in annual dues). The president subsequently changed his mind.”

“ICE agents in Austin scrambled — and largely failed — to engineer a narrative that would substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by public safety concerns. Instead, the emails detail the evolution of ICE’s public statements once it became obvious that the Trump administration’s narrative was not true.

Militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshipers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others. Officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.”

“I’m as tired of writing it as you are reading it, but you know good and well that if [this white American terrorist] was a young Muslim — hell, if he had ever even visited a mosque in the past 25 years — that Trump would be tweeting about him right this very moment to tout how essential a Muslim ban is for American safety. […] In this case, though? Crickets.

Remember that time a white supremacist was reduced to a terrified blubbering mess when he realized he might actually get arrested? (Was that really only a few months ago?) A lot of these people are cowards at heart. They treat being Nazis like it’s LARPing. They do not expect actual consequences. Make them suffer consequences.

Erin Watches (and likes!): Madame Secretary, Rizzoli & Isles, Angie Tribeca, Lucifer November 5, 2017

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Feels like it’s been a long time since I posted about some TV that was actually good, instead of so-bad-it’s-fun (looking at you, Scandal). Which is weird, since I’ve watched a bunch of it.

Have some recs.


Madame Secretary

Adventures in diplomacy with a Secretary of State and her artist/CIA husband.

If any current show is the spiritual successor to The West Wing, it’s this one. Elizabeth McCord is devastatingly smart and has vast depths of experience, all of which shines through in the writing. The political situations are complex and layered; it doesn’t get too fluffy about ethics and principles being easy, but it also doesn’t get too grimdark about good people being inevitably destroyed by Harsh Reality.

Her husband’s great too — also smart with a background in a lot of fields. My favorite parts are when his knowledge of art history is legitimately what saves the day.

And it’s a textbook example of how you don’t have to shoehorn dishonesty or unsupportiveness or bad communication into a relationship to make it interesting.  These characters’ lives are so full of international conflict, the choices they make every day at work so consequential, that they need a healthy and well-adjusted marriage to get through it all. They lean on each other in these complicated and substantive ways that are great to watch.

The show does pull the wishy-washy cheat of “the president is a Republican, but a ‘moderate’ Republican, which means we don’t actually see him take any positions in common with the current Republican party.” On the plus side, it uses real countries in its diplomatic intrigue plots, China and the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan (all with their own fictional diplomats and heads of state) instead of Qumar and San Lorenzo.

I’m in the middle of season 3 right now (so if anything terrible happens later on, don’t tell me).


Rizzoli and Isles

Cop drama, starring a detective and her BFF medical examiner. The one thing I knew going in was that they’re very shippable.

Good solid background TV, like Bones or Law & Order. The plots were fun to watch, if forgettable in the aftermath. It takes place in Boston, so I got a lot of “hey, I know that place/route/reference!” moments.

There’s a bit of ship-teasing in early seasons — contrived “we must pretend to be lesbians” moments, that sort of thing. It mostly fades away later. The canon romantic tension is all focused on unconvincing m/f — I don’t even remember any background same-sex couples — although I’m sure there were one or two involved in the case-of-the-week. At least it doesn’t eat the show.

And the series finale does end with our heroines going to Paris together for a month. As fanservice goes, they could’ve done a lot worse.


Angie Tribeca

Parody cop show. Created by Steve and Nancy Carell, and the series is saturated with their kind of humor. New joke every other line. It’s great.

The directing and staging and camera work and everything, parody-wise, is spot-on. I was alternating episodes of this with Rizzoli and Isles for a while, and sometimes I would be in the middle of a scene waiting for the next joke and realize, oh wait, this is the serious one.

I think most of the humor would still translate even if you’d never watched a police procedural. But if you do watch them, it’s a total must-see.


Lucifer

Also technically a cop show. The Devil got sick of working in Hell, so he did the logical thing and moved to LA, where he ends up using his evil-punishing skills to solve crimes. As you do.

Okay, you know the character type of the guy who’s really self-centered and socially clueless, often to the point of being mean or careless? And you’re supposed to think it’s forgivable — justified, even — because of how brilliant and talented he is, but mostly it’s annoying?

Lucifer takes that archetype and exaggerates it so far over-the-top that now it’s just funny. “It makes perfect sense now! This was all about me! Thank you, detective!” “Lucifer, wait, that’s not what I–” There are scenes where he gets run emotional circles around by eight-year-olds. It’s lovely.

He has a therapist, which is an inherently entertaining idea just to start with. For a while she was going along with the “metaphor” of his family drama being about angels and demons…then she complained she couldn’t keep track of it anymore, so Lucifer busted out some demonic proof, and she had this extremely understandable BSOD. (She got better.)

There’s romantic tension between him and his detective partner, which is not the unconvincing type of m/f, although Lucifer still hasn’t shown her the literal-Devil-proof, and at this point the reasons why are starting to get strained and contrived. As a character in her own right, she’s great. She has a daughter who’s also great, a perfect kid mix of oblivious and savvy. One of Lucifer’s friends is a demon who makes a delightfully weird bond with the kid — they go trick-or-treating together!

And all the mythology is very cool. Obviously the foundation is pop-culture Christianity with a touch of Paradise Lost, and it adds other layers, like the season-long arc with Lucifer’s mom: a creation-goddess and God’s ex-wife.

I’m mostly caught-up with currently-aired episodes, and looking forward to seeing where it goes next. (I haven’t read any of the comics it was based on. So, again — no spoilers.)

Vintage subways, eclipses on other planets, and music on X-rays August 19, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom, News Roundup.
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Photos of the Boston construction of America’s first subway system.

“On Jupiter, which has 69 moons, it’s possible for there to be multiple eclipses occurring at the same time. On Pluto, whose moon appears much larger in its sky than the Sun, total eclipses can happen every day for years on end.” [Video]

The only music that was allowed were classic composers, or simple folk tunes, whose words were all about how great socialism was.” So Soviet Russia got an underground cottage industry in illegal music…recorded on discarded X-ray film.

Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman advocated a female Doctor in 1986. (As well as some very ’70s companions.)

People tend to lose track of actual facts about the Bible, including how Lovecraftian it is: There are twelve pearly gates, they’re carved from a single pearl each, and they are never, ever closed.

Refugees, tomato raids, libertarian towns, and more August 8, 2017

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You can send a set of ITMFA pins to your Congressperson. Proceeds go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

“‘The refugee agencies didn’t really feel comfortable sending their kids anywhere,’ Adams says. ‘We needed to be that place for them.” It’s no coincidence that as Sullivan has established itself as the go-to school for refugees in the last couple of years, its academic standing has also risen.

“Airwars researchers estimate that at least 2,300 civilians likely died from Coalition strikes overseen by the Obama White House—roughly 80 each month in Iraq and Syria. As of July 13, more than 2,200 additional civilians appear to have been killed by Coalition raids since Trump was inaugurated—upwards of 360 per month, or 12 or more civilians killed for every single day of his administration.

“I was having lunch with Shonda Rhimes last week and a woman stopped at the table — well-dressed, probably in her 40s or 50s — and she said, ‘I just can’t leave this restaurant without telling you I’m just so devastated,’ and she just started to cry. I was on the other side of the table, or I would have done what I have done countless times since the election, which is just put my arms around her. Because people are so profoundly hurt.” The surreal post-election life of Hillary Clinton.

“Not only were the Hartes upstanding citizens with clean records, they were also both former Central Intelligence Agency officers. And they were not weed growers. Rather, the quick-trigger suspicion of law enforcement had snagged on — it would later turn out — tea leaves and a struggling tomato plant.

Initially, the city would impose property and sales taxes, but the property tax would ratchet down to zero over time. The business-friendly environment would draw new economic activity to Von Ormy, and eventually the town would cruise along on sales taxes alone.” Spoiler alert: it did not cruise. It crashed and burned.

“A Facebook group for Norwegians opposed to immigration was widely mocked after members apparently could not tell the difference between empty bus seats and burka-clad women.

Rethinking immigration, tanks, refugees, Africa, and more June 5, 2017

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The inclusion of survivors’ information, she says, is a violation of federal law protecting the information of people applying for special visas or other protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking.” An Orwellian ICE database by people who want to whip up fury at criminals, without actually protecting their victims.

White Terrorists Killed More Americans This Week Than Refugees Have in 40 Years.” That’s true a lot of weeks.

“The tank debate between the Army and Congress goes back to 2012 when Odierno testified that the Army doesn’t need more tanks. Odierno lost then too. Congress voted for another $183 million for tanks.” But tell me again how the GOP believes in fiscal conservatism.

I could give him a 30-minute lunch detention […] But do you really think that’s going to remedy what his issues are? … He walked miles to get here. Why?” Schools in New Orleans trying to practice trauma-informed discipline.

“Sources suggest that authorities were informed of the danger posed by Abedi on at least five separate occasions in the five years prior to the attack on Monday night.” His friends, his family, and his local mosque all tried to warn the police, but nothing was done. Keep that in mind next time you hear someone asking why the Muslim community isn’t doing its part.

“Sure, there’s money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid. But there’s also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes. […] Then there’s the $30bn that these corporations “repatriate” – profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. […] Today’s report estimates that $29bn a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and trade in wildlife…”

60 percent of those who benefit from the home-mortgage interest deduction didn’t think they had ever used a government social program. Fifty-three percent of those with student loans didn’t think they had used one. Among Social Security beneficiaries, 44 percent thought themselves unsullied by the touch of government, and among Medicare beneficiaries, 39 percent said the same. Twenty-seven percent of those in public housing answered in the negative, as did 25 percent of those on food stamps.”

A partial list of good and worthwhile things the GOP is out to destroy. February 24, 2017

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A federal civilian hiring freeze ordered by President Donald Trump has forced at least two Army bases to indefinitely suspend some child care programs. Okay, louder for the folks in the back: Republicans do not support our troops. They pay lip service when it’s convenient and screw them over once it’s not. The party that gives a damn about the military is the Democrats.

“[The Obamacare removal of health-insurance lifetime limits] took effect September 23, 2010. Timmy was born September 29. On December 17, he surpassed $1 million worth of bills in the neonatal intensive care unit. He didn’t leave the NICU until he was 6 months old.” One of the many American children that Republicans don’t care about.

In El Paso, 11-year-old Rudy Smith lost most of the therapy services that helped him cope with cerebral palsy and a severe form of epilepsy, which plagues him with 50 to 100 seizures a day. His mother says she’s having trouble getting prescriptions filled, and the insurance company keeps sending her incorrect or faulty medical supplies.” A subset of the many children in Texas that Republicans don’t care about.

I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens. I lasted eight days.”

One more way the Trump administration is killing jobs: he’s on track to devastate our tourism industry. “A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.”

A case from 2011, with lessons for today: “Cash gets angry when people tell him that his Hispanic workforce was taking jobs away from Americans. Since the new law began two weeks ago only two American citizens have come by his farm asking for work.”

Thousands of photographs showing what America looked like before the EPA. (Hint: there’s a whole lot of smog.)

Good things. (Racists reforming, disability savings, free art, and more.) February 20, 2017

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Leaving Westboro Baptist: “When Brittany Murphy died, Phelps-Roper had seen the disparity between her reaction and that of the rest of the church as a sign that something was wrong with her. Now the contradiction of her mother’s glee and her own sadness made her wonder if something was wrong with the church.

Leaving Stormfront: “But the unstated truth was that Derek was becoming more and more confused about exactly what he believed. Sometimes he looked through posts on Stormfront, hoping to reaffirm his ideology, but now the message threads about Obama’s birth certificate or DNA tests for citizenship just seemed bizarre and conspiratorial. He stopped posting on Stormfront. He began inventing excuses to get out of his radio show, leaving his father alone on the air each morning to explain why Derek wouldn’t be calling in.”

“Justin Bainbridge is 27 and works two jobs, but he wasn’t allowed to start saving money for his future until a few months ago. Bainbridge has Down syndrome, and like other people with disabilities who receive government benefits, he can’t have more than $2,000 in savings. If he does, he would start to lose those much-needed benefits. But a new type of savings vehicle is giving Bainbridge, and others, a chance to save more cash.”

I moved my whole company to a five-hour workday where everyone works from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over a year later, we’re sticking with it.”

“As of [February 7], all images of public-domain works in The Met collection are available under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). So whether you’re an artist or a designer, an educator or a student, a professional or a hobbyist, you now have more than 375,000 images of artworks from our collection to use, share, and remix—without restriction.”

Notice when the #AllLivesMatter crowd doesn’t show up January 27, 2017

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“Immediately after the reports, BLM was blamed because Black people are violent threats who hate police, right? But that entire narrative was wrong—it turned out that the perpetrators were two white men who were far from affiliated with BLM. At that point, the Blue/All Lives Matter crew dropped the subject, not because it suddenly didn’t matter that the cops had died, but because the people who had killed them were no longer part of the threat group.”

“British police used a Taser on a black man they thought was a robber. He was their race-relations adviser.”

Police officers responding to a burglar alarm fatally shot a homeowner, who had grabbed a gun when he spotted an intruder, after shots were fired in their direction as they arrived at his house.”

(Although most news stories about cops shooting homeowners involve a black victim, you can also read about the occasional white guy getting shot in his own house. Along with his dog.)

Dozens of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. were evacuated [January 18], including in Manhattan and California’s Bay Area, after receiving near-simultaneous bomb threats, according to various local reports.”

Millions of Shia Muslims made the pilgrimage of Arbaeen this fall, in defiance of Daesh’s threats and deadly attacks against the pilgrims.

Here’s a list of things white friends have done/can do which actually make me feel safer.

Practical advice for white allies on how to talk to white non-allies.