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

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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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.’”


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.


“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.”


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.


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.)


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.

Things I Have Been Reading Lately May 24, 2011

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup, Recommendations.
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1. Wild Seed and Clay’s Ark, by Octavia E. Butler

Rereads. I was going to skim them as a refresher for my earlier Butler-meta post, then realized I had forgotten enough of the details to be sucked in all over again. Bleaker in some ways than I remembered; more intense in others.

2. The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane, by William Holtz

One of several books I was inspired to check out a while ago, after reading an LJ post (which alas I can’t find now) about the real family behind the Little House books.

The post itself was inspired by someone (Sarah Palin?) using the books as emblematic of the American can-do independent spirit, and pointed out that not only was the Ingalls family scraping by with colonial-era technology in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, but the books don’t mention that several of the girls went on to spend most of their lives on welfare. A few chapters in, and The Ghost in the Little House is already full of Take That tidbits: Rose got on a government watchlist for her interests in socialism; the family contemplated emigrating to New Zealand because their American Dream was going so badly.

Not that the backstory isn’t interesting for reasons other than smugness. My mom had a set of the original books, and ended up buying the whole Rose series for me as it came out, so I’m eating this stuff up.

3. The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead

I actually read this back in January, but couldn’t figure out how to describe it until now.

It’s elevatorpunk. I mean that in all seriousness. It takes the fascination and geeky technical glee and semi-mythologizing that steampunk applies to gears and zeppelins, transports it to the 1950s, and focuses it all on elevators.

And if you don’t like the tone-deafness that steampunk fiction can bring to race relations (or so I hear; I mostly just read Girl Genius and look at pretty brass toys), give this a look.

4. Shadowjack Twitters From The Geofront [In Which I Watch Evangelion]

A series of threads (link is to the first one) for a rewatch of Evangelion, by people who have already watched it, rewatched it, analyzed it, argued over it, and are ready and eager to dive in and do it all again. With a wicked sense of humor to spice it up. (From the first page: Sunshine Rei’s Organic Orange Juice. No pulp!)

I first saw the TV series in high school anime club (although I’m not sure whether we made it to the last two episodes), and rewatched it alone recently. I figured I had forgotten a lot, and it would all make more sense once I watched it fresh, armed with a bunch of spoilers from the Internet as backup. You can probably guess how well that went. On top of which, the series is so well-known and well-discussed that I have a hard time putting aside the narrative-archetype goggles and getting into the characters as people.

So this thread is turning into a combination of “thoughtful people pointing out things I never noticed, and explaining their theories to each other in ways I can sit back and read and understand” and “invested people talking about the character development, letting me appreciate the characterization through their eyes.” With a side of “warning newcomers that this show has a way of twinging viewers’ depressive tendencies.” I hope I’m not being a masochist by trying to go through this so fast. Definitely using it to procrastinate, but that’s hardly news.

5. The Birthday of the World and Other Stories, by Ursula K. LeGun


Also, a society with women running everything and men kept separate, you know, for their own good. Xuanwu, go read this. It’s good research.

6. Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest, by David Blumenthal

This book will spend chapters going through the most careful, methodical (or, if you’re not being generous, nitpicky) analysis of language, in the finest Jewish theological tradition…and then stop for a brief interlude that is basically “BUT SERIOUSLY WTF how are we even talking about this like it still matters THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh.”

Picked it up on the recommendation of a professor for whose religion classes I wrote a bunch of psych papers. I’m almost to the end, and by this point it’s feathered with little bookmarks. Not that I have exact plans for what to do with them, but they’re there.