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Good news about escaping from Irma, Chechnya, and/or the KKK September 10, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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The last flight out of Puerto Rico, ninja’ing its way out the narrow spiral between the body of Hurricane Irma and one of the arms. These pilots, and the people on the ground who plotted that flight, deserve some kind of medal.

“They helped him get job training. They helped him get counseling. And now, as a former white supremacist himself, he will receive training on how to help other people. It’s a very individual program and it really works.” The important work of Life After Hate (whose government funding got cut under this administration, because of course).

I was a neo-Nazi. Then I fell in love with a black woman.” It’s more complicated and less Pollyanna than the headline suggests, but the progress is genuine.

“For three months, the [Canadian] federal government has been secretly spiriting gay Chechen men from Russia to Canada, under a clandestine program unique in the world.”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.

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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.

Good things. #LoveWins, and every win makes the next fight easier. June 27, 2015

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All these rights and protections are open to the whole US now.

So are all these wonderful, loving, affirming scenes. (Every time I think I’m done being emotional about this, someone links to a photo of a together-for-five-decades couple finally being able to tie the knot, and I start tearing up all over again.)

That includes all of us queer cis people, all the queer trans people, and all the straight trans people, whose relationships would have been treated differently from state to state depending on whether they recognized your gender identity.

We got Mexico, too.

And Ireland is removing the requirement to get an outside medical opinion before you can be recognized as trans.

And US federal health plans now have mandatory transition-related coverage.

And we get to keep our healthcare subsidies.

And the White House is lit up in rainbows. (As are all these other buildings.) (And my Facebook feed.)

And you know, here’s a thing: There’s been a ton of political and corporate celebration, including politicians who never really pushed for this talking about what a great victory it is, and companies dressing up their products and logos in rainbows purely because it’s good branding. You can look at all that and think, great, they only care about our rights now that it’s the cool thing to do. Or you can look at all that and think, wow, caring about our rights is the cool thing to do.

None of this was happening in 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to make same-sex marriage a thing. These politicians and these marketing departments are the weathervanes that show us what direction the winds of social change are blowing. And it’s a good direction.

There are more fights to fight, but the way is so much smoother than it was just 11 years ago. And every victory makes the next one easier.

Fly your rainbow flags high June 26, 2015

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This is for the lesbian with cancer who needs to be on her partner’s health insurance.

This is for the bi man who needs his partner’s children to be allowed to visit him in the hospital.

This is for the trans woman who won’t be able to keep her house unless she gets spousal benefits after her girlfriend’s death.

This is for the couple who won’t be able to afford a house at all unless they can file as husbands.

This is for the woman who’s going to be deported without a marriage visa from her US-based wife.

This is for the queer person whose parents kicked them out of the house, but would happily swoop in and try to claim their possessions from a grieving widow…and then demand that their friends attend the funeral in birth-sex-conforming clothing.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of acting like marriage is just a symbol, just an excuse to have a party with cake. It’s not. Marriage is a set of substantial rights and recognitions, many of which are most important when your life is at its worst. There’s a reason the fight for same-sex marriage was originally catalyzed by the AIDS crisis. Everyone (even people with loving biological families, but especially people without them) deserves the ability to get legal recognition for their family of choice.

AND NOW WE’VE GOT IT.

Four lovely things that have brightened this week March 11, 2015

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(1) Cantwell Faulkner Muckenfuss III is a real name of a real person.

Not only did somebody think “Cantwell Faulkner Muckenfuss” was a great name, but three sets of parents in a row had the same thought. Either that, or Cantwell Faulkner Muckenfuss Sr. was so unhappy with his lot in life that he decided to relieve the misery by sharing it, and Cantwell Faulkner Muckenfuss Jr. figured this was a great and sensible tradition.

Just. You guys. Cantwell Faulkner Muckenfuss III.

~~~

(2) Bloodstone parasol handle. Definitely a parasol handle, and not an ornately carved bloodstone version of…um, some other object.

There’s one of these stashed in Cecil Palmer’s bottom drawer, is what I am not saying.

~~~

(3) The sudden realization that you can cook rice in a crock pot. Which seems so obvious in retrospect, but I have wasted so much rice by boiling it on the stove and inadvertently burning some, never realizing there was an easier way.

~~~

(4) Wind turbines on the Eiffel Tower.

Artistically cohesive wind turbines on the Eiffel Tower. Gosh, those are classy. How soon can we install artsy-but-functional wind turbines on everything else? Because it should be sooner.

Modern toasters have USB ports in them. January 22, 2015

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Which apparently means you can plug one into your computer, map the handle-pushing action to any key on your keyboard, and use it to, say, play video games.

Now who’s going to take the next step, plug in ~104 toasters, and start typing things (Internet comments! programming!) with a full-fledged toaster keyboard?

Humans make fun stuff: past through present. April 26, 2014

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Medieval kids’ doodles on birch bark. This is the greatest thing. 13th-century children draw exactly the same way as 21st-century children.

“An Austrian collector has found what may be the oldest globe, dated 1504, to depict the New World, engraved with immaculate detail on two conjoined halves of ostrich eggs.” (It has most of South America down correctly, but above that is ocean, with a couple of scattered islands where you would expect North America to be. Someone needs to write an AU in that universe.)

“Modern GIFs may make the Internet a more animated place, but they’re no match for the sublime weirdness of 19th-century animations.

“The girl who is standing in the photo is the one who is dead.

Isaac Asimov in 1964, predicting what the world will be like in 2014. He’s close to the Internet, way off when it comes to hovercars, and, as you would hope, right-on about robots.

Apple II emulator, with tons of games! In the name of nostalgia, I had to play a round of Oregon Trail, and then may have lost a couple of days rediscovering Lemmings.

Like every visual artist ever, Osamu Tezuka had a clandestine stash of personally-drawn porn. Specifically, sexy anthro mouse porn.

Virtual planet maker! Impressively shiny.

Hacking together your own solar chargers, suitable for powering your USB devices or whatever else you’re in the mood for.

To balance out that last post: Sometimes, people are awesome April 8, 2014

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Both executive orders mirror provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Congress has twice failed to pass. One would prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who share their salary information with each other. […] The second executive order will instruct the Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to report wage-related data to the government, in the hope that it will hold them more accountable for salary differences based on sex or race.”

“17-year-old Angela Zhang […] has been making headlines recently after taking home a check of $100,000 from the national Siemens science contest, and now it has been suggested that her research could lead to a potential cure for cancer.

“A physics student from Egypt’s Sohag University, Aisha Mustafa, 19, has patented a new type of propulsion system based on quantum theory that she says could propel space probes and artificial satellites without using any fuel.

That one time the US had a lesbian First Lady.

I did not know that the woman who wrote America The Beautiful, Katharine Lee Bates, lived with intimate partner Katharine Coman for twenty-five years. Now I know. Learning!

Ching Shih is getting a miniseries! Next up, in Actual Women Pirates of History Who Deserve To Be On TV: “Jeanne de Clisson, the ‘Lioness of Brittany’ and fearsome pirate queen, stalked the English Channel for French ships from 1343 – 1356.”

Mona Parsons: Ziegfield Follies star, Nazi resistance leader, avoided death by firing squad, walked 125 km barefoot through enemy territory, basically all-around dazzling.

Dyslexia fonts, Native American names, irregular words preserved, DNA word preservation October 15, 2013

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“Although Dyslexie is not the first font out there to help aid dyslexics, it has received much fanfare from sufferers thus far, including participants from the aforementioned University of Twente study, who commented that the font allowed them to read with improved accuracy, and for a longer time before tiring.

The locations that generate the most hateful tweets across the US, broken down by various slurs, mostly racist and homophobic.

“We get a lot of questions about the meaning of Native American names found on the Internet, so here is a list of many of them and what (if anything) they really mean.” Beautiful etymology research all over this page.

There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries.” My favorite: “wend” used to have the past tense of “went”, and its synonym “go” used to have the past tense of, basically, “goed”, and instead of dropping one regular verb but keeping the other, English created a totally irregular frankenverb by keeping half of each.

“A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world.”

Related: “[This method should] be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10^15) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry.

LIL BUB meets Grumpy Cat August 31, 2013

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My online-meme-cat f/f OTP has finally met in person!

And there was much rejoicing. Well, rejoicing from everyone except Grumpy Cat. But that’s only to be expected.