Open Thread: Slow Day

Hosted by a lazy river


Speed

Some things properly can’t be done fast,
like reading a poem, or kissing,
or driving in places with names like
Eureka Springs.

Children at piano speed through their Bach
to drown out their mother's cry: “Slow down!”
Why are the young, whose lives stretch out ahead,
in such a hurry?

And when you fall behind a car that pokes along,
you say, “It must be someone old,” and when you pass,
confirm it--some old woman
who surely knows

her days are drawing short
proceeds like a queen on a flowery float,
dispensing time like petals left and right, 
as if she's got a million

hours to squander. Think of the oak’s growth.
Think of the ax. Less simply, study a wren
fluffed over her eggs for days,
factual as the galaxy 

that somersaults over her head, like a pinwheel
pushed by a child’s breath. So Einstein,
watching his hair get white,
noticed that years fly by

at the same rate that love’s eyes dilate.
He took the crushed ferns called pencil
and wrote his theorem in a slow scrawl,
taking his own sweet time. 
- Hope Coulter

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s coming up, give us something new to explore!


And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Writer Workshop

A couple of you have requested a special monthly open thread dedicated to talking about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). So here it is!

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Open thread writing workshop below!

Narnia: Non-Consensual Conversions

[Content Note: NSFW discussion of BDSM relationships and rape fantasies. Harmful stereotypes about atheists (also at the Lewis biography link). Non-consensual acts, including rape and kidnapping.]

Narnia Recap: In which Eustace is turned back into a boy.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 7: How The Adventure Ended

I've been dreading this part of the chapter for a number of reasons which largely add up to it being difficult to deconstruct.

For one thing, while I accept that not everyone views That One Scene in Lions and Witches Gone Wild in Wardrobes as a crucifixion allegory, it comes across like a crucifixion allegory to me, and that context informed how I deconstructed that scene. In contrast, the scene of Eustace's de-dragoning slash conversion doesn't really come off as a straight allegory from anything in the Bible to me (though I did like muscipula's suggestion that perhaps we have a Saul/Paul "scales from the eyes" allegory on our hands), which makes it substantially harder to say intelligent things about it in terms of comparing and contrasting the source material with this text. 

Feminism: Mansplaining For My Lady-Brain

[Content Note: Graphic description of rape]

I don't consistently identify as an atheist -- more like an on-again, off-again, mostly-just-on-Tuesdays atheist (and yes, there are Wiccan atheists) -- but I like to buy a lot of books by popular atheist leaders in the movement atheism community. I own bunches and bunches of books by Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Richard Carrier, and the list could go on and on. My "religion and spirituality" section in my library has more books by atheist authors than it has books by Christian and Wiccan authors combined.

Most of those books, however, have been banished to the Not Gonna Read pile because of how their authors have been behaving in public. First there was Richard Dawkins, which regular readers of my blog will already know has put me off entirely by his careless appropriation of infertile women like me in order to "edgily" promote eugenics. Then Michael Shermer was banished to the pile based on his hateful railing against women skeptics in the movement atheist community, and the recent allegations about him (and his litigious response to those allegations) have not helped endear him to me.

Now Richard Carrier, who I genuinely thought to be a good ally, has a long-winded post in "support" of the women accusing Shermer of rape in which Carrier posts a graphic depiction of something that is quite clearly rape, but which he declares is not rape. This definition of a rape as Not-Rape isn't based on rule of law (much of the post is devoted to correctly explaining why rape is rape even when the law doesn't agree) but rather because... Richard Carrier says it is! And also because women have to follow a set script and announce magic words at various points along the way in order for rape to be Legitimate Rape.

Open Thread: Sunflowers

Hosted by a sunflower
Fun fact: did you know that sunflowers can absorb radioactive cesium from the soil they grow in?  They've been used this way to help clean up after Chernobyl.  For this reason, the sunflower has become a symbol for nuclear disarmament.

Also Van Gogh painted them and they are very pretty thank you.

Open thread!  Do you know any other fun or interesting facts about sunflowers?  How about fun or interesting facts in general?  Do you like sunflowers, and if not, what do you like better?

~ Kristy

Wednesday Reminder!  Open threads are meant to be fun, chatty places to discuss anything that doesn’t “fit” into a deconstruction or other regular thread.  This can be something totally off-the-wall and random, or it can be something interesting that a deconstruction prompted you to think of, but which would be derailing to get into in the deconstruction thread.  When in doubt, move it over here - that’s what it’s for!  

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  

Open Thread: Boo-boo

Hosted by a scrape on an arm
(Apologies for lateness; I'd tried to get this posted earlier, and my computer chose that moment to go wonky on me.)

We had a scare - and a rite of passage - yesterday: the first booboo. My toddler tripped and fell while running, and faceplanted on asphalt, scraping herself up and cutting the inside of her mouth.  (Note to any who have not experienced this - cuts inside the mouth always look worse than they are.)  We're still not sure who was shaken up the worst - baby or parents.  Happily, however, all is well, she is fine, and by the time she's grown this will just be a funny story.

Open thread!  Did you have any childhood accidents that turned into funny stories?  Or boo-boos that turned out to be much milder than they appeared?  Any stories with your own kids, or kids you know?  Share the kind of stories that make you go "Oh man, that was sure scary at the time, but everything turned out ok so we can laugh about it now!"  (But please use trigger warnings when appropriate!)

~ Kristycat

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!)  

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  

Open Thread: Nose

Hosted by a man's nose (and mouth and chin and beard...)

Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face

Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.

Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,
that clearly would not be a treat,
for you'd be forced to smell your feet.

Your nose would be a source of dread
were it attached atop your head,
it soon would drive you to despair,
forever tickled by your hair.

Within your ear, your nose would be
an absolute catastrophe,
for when you were obliged to sneeze,
your brain would rattle from the breeze.

Your nose, instead, through thick and thin,
remains between your eyes and chin,
not pasted on some other place--
be glad your nose is on your face!

- Jack Prelutsky

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s coming up, give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!
~Kristycat

Cooks Corner: Om Nom Nom Grilled Cheese

I don't like to brag, but I may have just made the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches in all of ever.

I feel the need to share this.

Step one!  Buy good bread.  Like, go to the bakery and get the bread they made and sliced up that morning.  I used Italian bread because it had a nice soft crust, which I approve of, and the slices - at least in the middle - were big enough to make decent-sized sandwiches.  Don't skip this step.  Bread is IMPORTANT.

Step two! Slather two slices of the bread with butter, on the "inner" sides.  Do not use margarine.  (Unless you have a food allergy or something, in which case you know your business.  Carry on.)  (Hint: it's a good idea to let the butter soften for a good while before starting!)

Step three!  Lightly sprinkle powdered coriander on both slices.  Trust me here.

Step four!  Place one large slice of Swiss cheese on one slice.  Place two slightly smaller slices of Munster cheese on the other slice.

Step five!  Atop the Munster cheese, place two to three slices of tomato, thickness according to your liking.  (I like thin, my husband swears by thick.)  Salt the tomato if you prefer.

Step six!  Atop the Swiss cheese, place 1-3 slices of ham.  If your local store carries it, use the good, maple-brown sugar ham from the deli.  If not, prepackaged honey ham will do.  The slight sweetness is important.

Step seven!  Close up the sandwich.  Butter the top of the top slice of bread.

Step eight!  Heat a flat griddle over medium-low heat.  Place the sandwich on it, UPSIDE DOWN.  The non-buttered side should now be up and facing you; butter it.

Step nine!  Periodically poke the ingredients (to see if they're getting warm and/or melting), and lift a corner of the bread to peek underneath (to see the color.)  When the bread starts to toast, flip the sandwich with a spatula.  Repeat.  Keep doing this until a) all the cheese is melted and all the ingredients (with the possible exception of the tomato, if that's your thing) are warm-to-hot, and b) both sides of bread are crisp and golden brown.  Patience is a virtue at this step; DO NOT turn up the heat.  Trust me.  No one wants to eat a burned sandwich.

Step ten!  Remove the sandwich from the griddle to a plate; cut it in half.  Toss some chips or other crunchy thing on the plate.  Enjoy.  Use lots of napkins and don't burn your tongue.

No joke, I've made lots of grilled cheese sandwiches before, but this one was goddamn amazing.

(Can you beat it?  Give your own recipe/method, if so!)

Feminism: Words Matter

[Content Note: Rape, Racism, Prisons] 

Words matter.

A group of people upset or angry or negatively interested in something is not the same thing as an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob motivated by a desire to intimidate, control, and terrorize a population of marginalized people. It is not appropriate to call things that aren't an actual lynching a lynching or a lynch mob just because the words sound nice and inflammatory when you're defensive about something or someone receiving negative attention.

Relevant example: Using the word "lynch mob" to describe people who believe a rape victim's testimony. 

The outcome of a sporting event or an unfair decision on the part of an authority figure or the expectation of a state or country that its residents render taxes to subsidize the governance of the area is not the same thing as sexual assault carried out on a person against their consent or in the absence of their consent. It is not appropriate to call things that aren't rape or related assaults against bodily consent rape just because the r-word is short and punchy.

Relevant example: Using the word "rape" to describe an overwhelming victory in a gaming match.

A group of people meeting together for a short-length but intensive-depth training session is not the same thing as a military training camp for almost exclusively able-bodied people, nor is it the same thing as a prison for underage people incapable of exercising their non-consent at being locked up in that place and who were placed there against their will because they were deemed dangerous to society and/or were deemed non-conforming with social expectations of body weight, body size, body shape, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any number of other "offenses" for which underage teens and children are sent to prison because of their failure to conform to the desires of their parents. It is not appropriate to call things which aren't actual boot camps boot camps just because the word sounds really hardcore and intense. It's also not alright to elide the actual, genuine, real problems with boot camps and their use in our society.

Relevant example: Using the word "bootcamp" to describe "a weeklong opportunity for bloggers and organizers to come together to learn about business and financial structures from leading experts, examine social business case studies, such as Change.org and Purpose, and get preliminary training in fundraising and development."

I encourage people in the comments to discuss similar frequently misused words, but do please remember to use content notes. 

Open Thread: Artifact

Hosted by a four-leaf clover
So the other day a friend of mine noticed something odd lying in the parking lot of his apartment building.  Going over to it, he realized it was a hardback book - and being a book lover, he felt it wasn't right for it to just lay out there like that, so he picked it up and brought it inside.

It turned out to be a first edition copy of A Time To Love And A Time To Die, by Erich Maria Remarque - a battered and slightly mildewed copy, so probably not worth a whole lot, but still pretty nifty.

And then he opened it.

And between EVERY SINGLE PAGE, dried and pressed, was a no-joke four-leaf-clover.  Every.  Page.

Now he and his roommate have it on a shelf in their living room, and give it wary glances as they walk past.  We're not entirely sure if it's some sort of magical artifact, or a cursed tome - but randomly stumbling across an entire book-full of four leaf clovers doesn't seem like it could be a coincidence!

Open thread!  Have you ever randomly found something that seemed like it was (or should be!) lucky or cursed or otherwise magic?  Strange coincidences?  Found a four leaf clover?  How would you test a book like this for luck or curses?  Has anyone read the book in question, and is it any good?

Wednesday Reminder!  Open threads are meant to be fun, chatty places to discuss anything that doesn’t “fit” into a deconstruction or other regular thread.  This can be something totally off-the-wall and random, or it can be something interesting that a deconstruction prompted you to think of, but which would be derailing to get into in the deconstruction thread.  When in doubt, move it over here - that’s what it’s for!  

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  

Review: To Be or Not To Be

To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path AdventureTo Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
by Ryan North

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To Be or Not To Be / B00ECJN7T6

How much do I like this book? I will tell you. I like this book so much that even though I participated in the Kickstarter for the book and got a paper copy AND an electronic copy in four different electronic formats, I still bought the Kindle version before writing this review just to make absolutely sure that this book will follow me around on my Kindle account for the rest of my life or until the heat death of the universe (whichever comes first).

If you like the fun and zany humor in Ryan North's "Dinosaur Comics", you will probably love this. It's not just that the idea of a Choose-Your-Own-Path Hamlet re-telling is delightful to me (though it truly is), there's also a wonderful amount of off-the-wall humor that tickles my funny bone to the core. I haven't read through the entire book (I think there are officially 3,001,181,439,094,525 different paths through this amazingly-densely-packed adventure of awesomeness), but I have read through huge chunks of the Ophelia adventure, and I loved every moment of it. Seriously.

The thing I like most about Ryan North's writing style is that he manages to hit that perfect zany-random-Monty-Python style humor that I love while still being progressive and not relying on tired old sexist stereotypes or gross-out humor. Not only does the reader get to go through as Ophelia (AWESOME), but she's also a "capital-s Science" major (Hamlet is, of course, a "capital-u Undeclared", natch), she's taller than Hamlet, and she also (if you take the appropriate path!) manages to invent thermometers and central heating, all without feeling like a gimmick or a 2-dimensional character. It's really amazing to see someone write a humorous strong female character who also comes off as totally real and delightfully relatable. I DEMAND THAT MORE HUMOR AUTHORS DO THIS! But in the meantime, we can all read Ryan North's masterpiece and stew at that jerk William Shakespeare for ripping Ryan off so badly. (Like, seriously, I don't think Shakespeare included the science major stuff at all. Boo.)

Back to the book! The PDF version of this baby has 768 pages, and it's jam-packed with gorgeous full-color illustrations. (These are rendered in black-and-white on my Kindle Paperwhite, but they still look detailed and beautiful.) And speaking of eReaders, this is the cleanest, bestest formatted ebook I have ever owned, bar-none. I was really concerned about how the Kindle would work with a Choose-Your-Own-Path book, but it works even better than paper -- Ryan and his team of professional formatting ninjas have linked everything beautifully in a visual style that works intuitively well, and also the Kindle's "back" button lets you skip back not just to your previous choice but to ALL your previous nested choices, one by one. I can't say how awesome that is when you want to go back to five choices ago to try something else, so instead I will just say that I have now experienced save-scumming while reading a book in order to beat Queen Gertrude in a deadly chess match. Aw yeah.

I don't want to spoil too much of the book, but some passages just beg to be shared. So I will leave you with my favorite-so-far ending just for hilarious audacity, and that would be the ending where I-as-Ophelia convince Hamlet that murdering people for revenge is a vicious cycle and instead we should put Claudius in prison for regicide, which netted me THIS ending: "So! Turns out you scored a possible 100 out of 100 in LEGAL JUSTICE POINTS but unfortunately you only got, like, a 3 in ADVENTURE POINTS. Man, that's baloney! That's what you get for working within the pre-existing legal system instead of employing unpredictable vigilante adventurism, am I right??"

This is an awesome book. If you like Hamlet or humor or zany Choose-Your-Own-Path books or would just like to see an example of a strong female character not only DONE RIGHT but done right in a humorous setting where she is just as awesome and funny and real as all the other characters, then YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK. And if you have any reservations about getting a CYOP book on the Kindle, I can officially testify that this book is well-formatted like the crown jewels are shiny, which is to say VERY.

~ Ana Mardoll

Open Thread: Trampoline

Hosted by trampoline tricks
Last week Spouse-Man and I cashed in a gift certificate for an hour and a half at an indoor trampoline park.  It was pretty much an exercise in finding out that we are, in fact, old now.

Don't get me wrong, it was amazing fun!  But after less than 10 minutes, I had to stop, get water, catch my breath and slow my heart rate.  After 30 minutes we were both flagging.  At 60 minutes he injured his shoulder (doing an ill-advised back flip) and I somehow messed up my back.  We got the last 30 minutes as a rain check...

But while it lasted, it was incredible.  Despite my body's weaknesses and limitations, I moved like I move in dreams, and I flew into the air with (what seemed like at the time) zero effort.  Made me remember why I loved those things so much as a kid.

Open thread!  When was the last time you were on a trampoline?  Do you have any of those indoor trampoline parks in your area, and if so, have you tried them out?  Can you do anything cool like flips, or do you just kinda bounce in place like me?  If you can't or don't want to use a trampoline, what other things do you like to do that are both fun and kinda (at least to you) physically taxing?

~Kristycat

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!)  

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  

Open Thread: Enchanted

Hosted by the sun on the water

If You Have Seen


Good reader! if you e'er have seen,
When Phoebus hastens to his pillow
The mermaids, with their tresses green,
Dancing upon the western billow:
If you have seen, at twilight dim,
When the lone spirit's vesper hymn
Floats wild along the winding shore:
If you have seen, through mist of eve,
The fairy train their ringlets weave,
Glancing along the spangled green;--
If you have seen all this and more,
God bless me! what a deal you've seen!


- Thomas Moore

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s coming up, give us something new to explore!  


And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  

~ Kristycat

Metapost: Going Offline

[Content Note: Stalking]

I'm going semi-offline for awhile, or more accurately I will be drastically reducing my visible online presence. I don't know for how long. I've posted up the deconstructions that I had in draft for the upcoming weeks, and I've set my Twitter profile to private, and this will probably be my last post for awhile.

I honestly don't know for how long. I wish I could give you a time. I wish I could give me a time. Maybe a day or maybe a week or maybe a month or maybe three months. Maybe sporadically. I've been triggered more often and more harshly in the past two days than I have in as long as I can recall, but a more immediate issue to me right now is that my mere public presence on the internet is putting individual women I care about in danger, because they're being caught up in an ever-widening net of harassment.

I'm sorry, I'm so desperately terribly horribly sorry, that I'm having to go offline for awhile. I hate having to walk away from a community I care about. I hate having to leave you all without things that I know give many of you joy. I hate having to set down my internet activism for a time when there is activism that needs to be happening. I hate how quickly a stalker and his scores of cheerleaders can target someone and tear their life apart. I hate a lot of things right now. I feel so unbelievably, crushingly guilty for leaving you all right now.

Maybe everything will be better in a week or two. I hope so. I pray so.

I deeply ask your forgiveness for walking away, and I hope that I can walk back soon. I hope you can forgive me for walking away, and I hope you can find it in your heart to welcome me back when it's safe for me to return.

In the interim, I will be reading the comments here on the board, and trying to heal from a distance without being in the thick of things making a bad situation worse with my presence. I will make sure that one way or another we have open threads going so that the community still has a safe space to congregate in. I love you all, and I am again so deeply sorry that I have to step away for a bit.

Film Corner: The Last of Us

[Content Note: Zombie Apocalypses and *everything* bad that goes with them. Everything. Also, all the spoilers from The Last of Us, including the final scene of the game.]

(Yes, The Last of Us isn't a film, but rather it's a game, but I didn't want to make a whole new tag. Massive spoilers herein, along with a lot of triggery stuff.)

Film Corner: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Fail

[Content Note: Racism, Misogyny, Holocaust appropriation, Percy Jackson Spoilers]

We went to go see Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters primarily because the trailer had Captain Malcolm Reynolds (i.e., Nathan Fillion) in it. His bits were, as anticipated, great. He also made a great Firefly joke, referring to a fictional TV show within the movie as "the best television show ever" before announcing "so of course it was cancelled". The sad face he held as the beat of the joke was possibly just a little too long, but we forgave him for it because he deserves all the nice things.

screencrush.com

Feminism: Storify Followup

[Content Note: Stalking, PTSD, Death / Mental Illness]

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, who is the kindest person I know, has offered to publish a followup on her site to the Storify situation. This keeps me from having to host the material here and get a direct-to-email transcript of every hateful troll who posts on the subject. (Which was the situation we had yesterday.)

The full story is here. 

Twilight: Human Time and Victoria's Secret

[Content Note: Boundary Trespass of Unconscious People]

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 14, Edward and Bella spend the night together.

Twilight, Chapter 14: Mind Over Matter

I cannot apologize enough for neglecting Twilight for so long, and I cannot praise highly enough Dawn M and Silver Adept for their wonderful guest posts which got us through the dry stretch while my brain was otherwise occupied. Here's hoping I haven't gotten rusty and lost my Twilight Touch.

   “Why don’t you sit with me,” he suggested, putting a cold hand on mine. “How’s the heart?”
   “You tell me — I’m sure you hear it better than I do.”
   I felt his quiet laughter shake the bed.
   We sat there for a moment in silence, both listening to my heartbeat slow. I thought about having Edward in my room, with my father in the house.
   “Can I have a minute to be human?” I asked.
   “Certainly.” He gestured with one hand that I should proceed.
   “Stay,” I said, trying to look severe.
   “Yes, ma’am.” And he made a show of becoming a statue on the edge of my bed.
   I hopped up, grabbing my pajamas from off the floor, my bag of toiletries off the desk. I left the light off and slipped out, closing the door.
   I could hear the sound from the TV rising up the stairs. I banged the bathroom door loudly, so Charlie wouldn’t come up to bother me.

I think I've mentioned that I deliberately haven't read the Twilight books after Twilight itself, though I have seen the movies. I find myself, therefore, wondering if this concept of "human time" ever comes up again or if this is the only time we see it. I'm fairly certain this is the only time we see it in Twilight itself.

Feminism: The Day The CEO of Storify Sent My Name To A Stalker

[Content Note: Stalking, PTSD, Death / Mental Illness] 

There will be more on this later, but as if I didn't have enough stress, in a Twitter conversation that I was having on the lack of an anti-stalking provision in the Storify TOS, the CEO of Storify used the Twitter "@[name]" feature to send the names of everyone in the conversation expressing concern about about stalking-via-Storify directly into the mentions of a known stalker who they claimed to have "warned" but refuse to actually ban from using their service.

The known stalker then started stalking me, as well as everyone else in the conversation. And a few people who tweet at me in general. Because the CEO of Storify gave him the heads-up that we were the sort of people who don't like to be stalked.

I don't talk about it much, but I'm a survivor of online stalking. My PTSD is triggered more right now than it has ever been triggered before. And the CEO has not only refused to apologize or address the situation, but is flat-out pretending he didn't do what he publicly did on Twitter. (I'm sure the tweet will be deleted soon! A few days ago I would have Storifyed it! *bitter laughter*)

I'm going to crawl under my desk now and hope the shaking stops.

Update: And you know what is awesome? The fact that the (apparently) white male CEO who made a stalker aware of my existence and crowds and crowds of (apparently) white men in my mentions explaining to me that this is No Big Deal (apparently) do not fucking understand that women die from being stalked. But, yeah, no, I'm sure this stalker who has invested thousands of hours into online stalking of women and whose very name is a reference to a female atheist being propositioned in an elevator in a way that made her concerned for her safety, I'm sure he's totally harmless. I feel solid about that.

Open Thread: Peacock

Hosted by a peacock
Ah, the noble peacock.  Isn't it a gorgeous bird?  Just look at it - all those lovely colors, the huge soft feathers, the way they fan out.  So elegant, so stately.

Too bad it's a big ol' jerk.

Have you ever encountered a peacock in the wild?  I have.  I thought it was going to eat me - they're aggressive damn birds.  The only thing that saved me from being pecked to death by a brilliant blue head was the arrival of another peacock, which was apparently much more of a threat than I was.  I managed to sneak away while they battled it out.

Open thread!  Have you had any experiences, good or bad, with peacocks?  What about other large birds?  Do you like peacock feathers, and have you ever used them in crafts?  Have you had any other weird or interesting encounters with local wildlife?

~ Kristycat

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!)  

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  

Metapost: A Somewhat Long And Rambly Update On Transcripts

I keep feeling like I should give some kind of update on the heady, wild, busy whirlwind that is my life right now, and keep finding that I lack the words to convey things well. So here are some things.

[CN: Medical Problems] Within the last week, I've had large-and-mysterious-and-very-painful lumps flare up all over the inside of my lips and the roof of my mouth. I finally got in to see my dentist today (which is the one medical provider in my life whom I actually like, so at least that wasn't stressful) and he declared the problem to be entirely stress-related, though he finally conceded that my favorite brand of lemonade might also be at fault. But he strongly prefers the stress explanation.

I've also, possibly unrelatedly, broken out with some kind of entire-body-wide heat rash that itches like fuck and keeps me from sleeping well at night. This started in mid-July with no indication yet of easing up. I'm supposed to see my general practitioner on Thursday, but I suspect she'll just tell me it's stress-related because that's what doctors do. *shakes fist at sky in frustration*

[/End CN]

I don't feel particularly stressed, but it has been pointed out to me by a few people I love online that I've been going on this whole Texas abortion activism slash transcript project almost non-stop since June 25th, which might to an unbiased observer be classified as potentially stressful. Mmph. But I categorically refuse to abandon the project or even to consciously slow down on it, because (a) it's needed and it's needed now, not later, and (b) I'm completely incapable of relaxing when I have unfinished business hanging over my head. That's just how my brain works -- if I tried to slow down, the act of trying to slow down would stress me out even more.

So in an attempt to compromise, I've made a semi-decision. I had originally planned to work out the following videos for the transcript project:

• 6/20 Citizen Testimony
6/25 Senate Floor Filibuster
• 7/8 Citizen Testimony
7/9 House Amendments
7/13 Senate Amendments

The bolded videos above have been either fully spliced and sent out for transcribing or (in the case of the 7/13 video) have been mostly spliced and sent out. The remaining two citizen testimony sessions have not been spliced or sent out.

I would very much like to splice and send out the citizen testimonies, but I am not sure if I have the spoons to listen to the gut-wrenching testimony given in these videos. What I most need right now is one or two volunteers who have the spoons to listen to 11 hours and 16 hours of testimony respectively and mark out clear splicing points for me. The way I mark out splicing points is simple but time-consuming. I have an Excel sheet that looks like this:

Start Time End Time Length
0:00:00 0:10:53 0:10:53
0:10:53 0:25:51 0:14:58
0:25:51 0:40:13 0:14:22
0:40:13 0:52:32 0:12:19
0:52:32 1:02:32 0:10:00

8:03:50 8:19:46 0:15:56
11:55:30 12:03:59 0:08:29
8:19:46 8:40:20 0:20:34
8:40:20 8:55:23 0:15:03
8:55:23 9:16:28 0:21:05

I type in a Start Time. I listen until approximately 15 minutes have passed (or a major period of silence has passed, since I don't like long silent stretches in the middle of the tracks) and then I find a spot where someone stops talking and a new speaker starts. I mark down the exact moment where there is an audible pause between speakers in the End Time column. The Length column is calculated by Excel and is a simple (Column B - Column A) operation. Once the Excel sheet is filled out for the full video, it's relatively simple for me to do the actual splicing on my end.

If there are one or two* volunteers in the audience who have the time and the spoons to listen to these gut-wrenching videos and mark them out for me, please send me an email and I'll package these videos for download. (Which is in itself a time-consuming task I've not yet done, but I can do if I have someone to send them to.) I know of at least a couple male volunteers who have specifically volunteered to handle "extra-triggery stuff" (and bless you so, so much), but I don't feel right outright asking someone to donate 11-16 hours of their life to this.

This decision to "outsource" the listening-to-the-testimony work would greatly reduce my stress levels. If no one is able to step forward to do this (which would be completely understandable to me), then probably the citizen testimonies will have to be dropped from the project, because I personally-and-currently simply lack the spoons to listen to the full testimonies on my own at this time.

* It wouldn't be very feasible for me to split the task into more than a 1- or 2-person job because that in itself would require me to find certain stopping points on my own.

Narnia: Love the Sinner, Period

[Content Note: Colonialism, Slavery, Violence]

[NB: The title of this post is a reference to the platitude "love the sinner, hate the sin" which is almost universally used as a rhetorical cudgel to harm innocent people who are guilty only of a failure to conform to various social standards, while excusing the hateful person from the responsibility of their harmful actions. This title is not meant to suggest that real acts of harm, such as those perpetuated by Caspian and Edmund, should be summarily excused.]

Narnia Recap: In which Eustace is turned back into a boy.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 7: How The Adventure Ended

Alright! After however many solid weeks of fobbing ya'll off with tiny posts because I've been burning the candle all fifteen ends, today we are going to start going through the unnecessarily long and violent process of Eustace's conversion. And remember! The best thing about metaphors is that you can write any old crap on the page and someone will work out a profound meaning for you to have meant all along because people are awesome pattern-spotters, even when the patterns weren't, strictly speaking, put there on purpose. (Which is a long and delightful way of saying that there are going to be Disagreements about how to interpret this. Tally-ho.)

Open Thread: Herbs

Hosted by ornamental rosemary
Rosemary is one of those herbs I have a love-hate relationship with.  I adore the flavor, the aroma.  I love how it tastes on meat, in soups, baked into breads... what I don't love, however, is the texture.  Dried rosemary seems to be magnetically drawn to the spaces between my teeth.  And fresh rosemary, yummy as it is, is a pain to chop up fine - and if you don't chop it up very fine indeed, you're going to occasionally bite into a mouthful of pure rosemary, which is a little strong.

My solution (and there must be others): rosemary-infused olive oil.  Which has the added advantage of being pretty - I can have a clear glass jar of fresh sprigs of rosemary suspended in oil out on my kitchen counter, and after it's been sitting long enough, use it to drizzle rosemary flavor into or on anything that I think needs it!

Open thread!  What are your favorite herbs?  Do you have methods you love to use for them?  Has anyone else run into the same dilemma with rosemary, and if so, what was your solution?  Are there any herbs that you thought would be TERRIBLE in a particular dish, and were pleasantly surprised?  Are there herbs you just hate, no matter what's done to them?

~Kristycat

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!)  

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!  


Storify: 2013-07-12 Texas Senate Amendments

Here is a collection of tweets from the 7/12 Texas Senate session where amendments were considered for SB1 and the bill was finally passed.

Storify: 2013-07-08 Texas Senate Citizen Testimony

Here is a collection of tweets from the 7/8 citizen testimony during the Senate Health and Human Service Committee hearing.

Open Thread: Faith and Science

Hosted by a microscope

"Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency. 

Twilight: Girlfriends to the Gods

Girlfriends to the Gods: Female Agency in RED vs the Twilight Saga

by Dawn M

[Content Note: Spoilers for the movies RED and RED 2 and for future events in the Twilight universe; kidnapping; lack of consent; some passing references to violence and death Also note: This analysis is based on the movie universe for RED as I am not familiar with the comic book. Discussion based on the comic book is welcomed.]

In RED and RED 2 the hero, who is effectively immortal, has fallen in love with a not-at-all-immortal heroine. This situation is directly comparable to Twilight. I want to look at how those two works respond to this power discrepancy.

First, a brief introduction to the RED universe for those who are not familiar with it: The main hero is a retired super-spy and assassin named Frank (Bruce Willis). By the time we get to the end of RED, he has collected around him a family of sorts: other spies who share a common moral outlook and bonds of affection. Among Frank's family is his main side-kick Marvin (John Malkovich). Marvin can be compared to Alice in that both are enablers of the activities of the hero and that both of them can, in some way, predict the future (one by precognition, one by completely warranted paranoia). Frank has fallen in love with someone outside of his super-spy world - a call-centre worker named Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) who has little life experience.

I consider Frank and his family to be just as immortal as the vampire family from Twilight. The spies are strong, fast, impressively armed and very smart. They can't be killed by normal humans. In theory, they could be killed by other super-spy-assassins, but our hero and his family are better at the game of being immortal than their antagonists are, and so there is never any genuine threat to the protagonists. In their skill set and in their supportive family relationships Frank and Edward are very similar.

Neither Sarah nor Bella are strong, fast or impressively armed. They may be smart, but their intelligence has not been honed for survival skills – in a world of immortals, they are vulnerable. The immortals that love them are terrified of losing them and wish to protect them from harm.

Open Thread: Damsels in Distress (Part 3)

Belatedly, (thank you for the reminder, Depizan!), here is the third Damsels in Distress video from FemFreq. And it is, as with the previous ones, quite awesome. Discuss at your leisure here since the YouTube comments are disabled.

Open Thread: Stone Door

Hosted by a door in a rock wall
If that passage up above doesn't lead to a secret treasure trove or a hidden sun-drenched garden or something beautiful and magical and tucked away from the rest of the world, then the universe missed a bet.

Open thread!  If you were in charge of designing the universe, what would that door lead to?  What stories would exist about it?  Have you ever found a door or gate or other portal in real life that made you convinced, if only just for a moment, that something magical lay on the other side?  Have you ever gone through such a door and found that it DID, in fact, lead to something... if not magical, at least rare and lovely?  (Or maybe magical, I don't know.  Although we'll understand if you were sworn to secrecy by the denizens of the realm.)

~Kristycat

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!) 

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else! 

Narnia: God's Will For Thee, But Not For Me

[Content Note: Reproductive Rights, Healthcare Denial, Immigration Inequality, Cancer]

Narnia Recap: In which Eustace is turned back into a boy.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 7: How The Adventure Ended

I wanted to get to Eustace's redemption narrative this week, but I've been feeling sickly all weekend and I can't seem to shake it. So instead today will be a short one, with my apologies. I hope that we can get to Eustace's salvation metaphor next week, Aslan-willing.

   But of course what hung over everyone like a cloud was the problem of what to do with their dragon when they were ready to sail. They tried not to talk of it when he was there, but he couldn’t help overhearing things like, “Would he fit all along one side of the deck? And we’d have to shift all the stores to the other side down below so as to balance,” or, “Would towing him be any good?” or “Would he be able to keep up by flying?” and (most often of all), “But how are we to feed him?” And poor Eustace realized more and more that since the first day he came on board he had been an unmitigated nuisance and that he was now a greater nuisance still. And this ate into his mind, just as that bracelet ate into his foreleg. He knew that it only made it worse to tear at it with his great teeth, but he couldn’t help tearing now and then, especially on hot nights.

Open Thread: Banana

Hosted by bananas!

Hey e'rybody, I'm back!  Sorry for denying you the pleasure of your regularly-scheduled Friday open thread, but I was laid up with the plague and NO GOOD TO ANYBODY.  But!  You get the promised banana thread that you would have gotten last week!  Yaaaay!

I love bananas, and not just because of the minion's love for them (which has been cited time and again as a great metaphor for how roleplayers generally act when they get a whiff of plot.)  No, bananas are just darn tasty, and almost (almost!) as good at getting me awake and energized in the morning as coffee.

Although apparently I have been opening them wrong for years :)

Interestingly, bananas were also the first real food my daughter would eat.  And loved them so much that eventually we had to take the bananas away and force her to eat other things because, well, it's not actually healthy to eat nothing but bananas, WHO KNEW?

Open thread!  Do you like bananas?  Do you like banana bread, banana pudding, peanut butter and banana sandwiches?  Did you ever buy Terry Pratchett a banana daquiri?  (NB: He does not want those anymore!)  Do you like minions?  Do you like minions and bananas?  Do you hate minions and bananas and all banana-related activities and wish we were talking about pineapples instead?  WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PINEAPPLE STORIES THEN??

...Bapple?

~Kristycat

Monday Reminder!  While I have fun coming up with pretty pictures and/or interesting “prompt” questions for open threads, you aren’t limited to those!  These threads are open - go wild, talk about whatever moves you!  (Just remember that this is still a safe space, please!)

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Feminism: Anonymous Downvotes

by Silver Adept

Riddle me this, New Disqus (and probably Facebook, Google Plus, and the like):

If I want to upvote something, a list of all the people who also upvoted it appears (including Guest upvotes), so I can see who else thinks this thing is great.

If I downvote something, the downvote is recorded in the system, but no list of usernames appears, not even any Guest votes.

Why are critics and potential trolls given the benefit of anonymity, while people expressing positive sentiment for things are broadcast to everyone, potentially so that such trolls can find a new account to descend upon?

Why do I have to risk more exposure of hostile forces finding my support for something if I do it on the Internet, when I could support something financially, even with a large amount of financial support, and be afforded anonymity? Why can I donate to PACs and certain political organizations and be assured that my name will never appear in the public record, yet pushing a like button generates an immediate and publicly-accessible record of my support?

Why is my ability to say I don't like something more protected than my ability to say I do like something?

And how many voices that would otherwise speak are silenced because they can't afford to be identified, outed, recognized, or connected with something because of the repercussions?

Privileging the critic with anonymity without a corresponding option for the supporter biases the system toward having more critics feel free to express their sentiment than supporters. It gives trolls a haven to hide in and the ability to potentially affect what things are seen and where, as well as what kind of weight and credibility is assigned to each comment. It lets the people who should have the least control over things gain the most control.

So what are comment systems saying, implicitly or explicitly, when they require a record of every like, but don't for every dislike?

Related Reading: Why I Don't Support A Twitter Report Abuse Button
Related Reading: Tropes vs. Women

Metapost: Sick

I'm sick. Some kind of stomach bug that's been steadily getting worse since Friday. Going back to bed.

Storify: TwitterSilence, TwitterNoise, and Gamera MST3K

Folks, I'm going to be live-tweeting the MST3K Gamera movies on my jail account . Switch over there if you wanna follow or see the (delayed) Storify tweets below.

This is in honor of today's #TwitterSilence call in support of the Report Abuse Button and the #TwitterNoise pushback. And it's being done on my jail account partly because my main account will be retweeting more meaningful activism (and I don't want that to get lost in the shuffle) and partly because my main account is still being storified for Texas tweets and I'm close to pushing my tweets off the 3200 page limit and I don't want that to happen yet.

I will be watching this MST3K Gamera Box Set for my live-tweeting.

Storify: 2013-07-09 Texas House Amendments

Below is a Storify collection of my tweets on the Texas House amendments session of 7/9. Please also note that there is a transcript of the session going up on Google Docs and the videos from the session can be viewed on my YouTube page.

Feminism: Name-and-Shame Bullies

[Content Note: Bullying, Harassment]
[NB: Not only women are subject to harassment, but this is a general post in response to a specific woman's experience, hence the use of "woman" and "her" throughout the post.]

Yesterday, activist Shelby Knox linked to a story about a female MMO gamer who regularly received rape-threats from other MMO players, refused to be brushed off by support-staff who told her to simply rename her character to a male-coded name, escalated her complaints to the game company's CEO, and was then banned by the CEO because he was "tired of hearing about" female gamers reporting rape-threats to him. The story was submitted with a pseudonym for the banned female gamer and with no naming of the CEO and the game company he represents.

What then followed in the article comments was the same harmful and harassing dynamic I have seen fully eleventy-billion times: people claiming to believe the female gamer (and some who probably actually do, because this isn't just a Troll Phenomena, it is also an Ally-Fail Phenomena) demanding with increasing aggression that the pseudonymous gamer "name-and-shame" the MMO company and CEO.


Every time -- literally every time -- a woman reports harassment, whether it be online or from a company or at a convention or by a well-known activist -- there is immediately a flood of comments from people claiming to be supportive and allied and on her side yet criticizing her intensely for talking about her experiences in the 'wrong' way and aggressively demanding that she disclose her experiences in ways that make them comfortable. This itself is harmful bullying behavior, and it must stop.

I completely understand the desire for women to name-and-shame their harassers. We, the audience to her lived experiences, want to be able to do something productive and active in response to her marginalization. We want to punish the people responsible with social activism: boycotts, blog posts, and other outlets of social pressure to try to rectify a bad situation. We also want to protect ourselves: we want to know which MMO company, which CEO, which convention, which well-known activist so that we can avoid them and so that we might avoid being victimized in the same way.

But. We also must realize that this perfectly-understandable desire for proactive outlets for ourselves and defensive positioning for ourselves is quite literally a process of making HER story about US. We are centering ourselves in the midst of her marginalization when we demand that she accommodate us; we are saying that her marginalization was very tragic and all, but it's in the past and the important thing now is us and our desires for social revenge and self-protection. We are suggesting that our feelings as non-victims are much higher priority than her feelings as a victim.

And when we allow ourselves to bully someone for not naming-and-shaming, we provide a cover for trolls to bully them simply for speaking up. The calls to name-and-shame become a protective cloak for suggestions that she is lying, that if she really cared, if it really happened that way, then she would provide more details. That she does not is not viewed as personal self-care for a variety of legitimate reasons but is instead used to cast aspersions on her character. It's not a coincidence that the comments on that article which aren't bullying her into naming-and-shaming are outright calling her a liar: these comments are all on a spectrum of behavior that is hostile to her story and to her self-care.

No one, absolutely no one, is required to believe everything they read on the internet. I choose to believe this story for a number of reasons, but I could have chosen differently. What I will not do, and what I will call out as abusive and harassing, is demand that this person release more details, provide more information, and cater to my needs as an audience member. If she is telling the truth, those demands can only wound her; if she is lying, those demands will accomplish nothing and will only convey to the watching world that if something similar ever happens to them, they can expect the same harmful treatment. That is not the mark I want to leave on the world.

Almost every day someone asks me what makes a good ally. This isn't the blog post for that; I'm not even sure it can be answered in a single blog post. But one thing I can say, and something we all need to remember, is that the human tendency to center ourselves as the most important person in the room is something we must overcome if we wish to be good allies. When someone shares her story of harassment with me, it is my job to listen and to provide comfort and succor (should she desire it). It is not my job to demand more details to satisfy my curiosity or my desire for social vengeance or my need for self-protection. It is not my job to harass her with aggressive demands that she tell her lived experienced in a manner tailored to my needs instead of to hers.

It is my job to listen.

Fat Acceptance: In Totally Not Surprising News

[Content Note: Fat Hatred, Reproductive Health, Economic Disparity] 

In a move that comes completely as a surprise to everyone who hasn't been paying attention to the national discourse about employment, healthcare, and Evul Fatties!!1!, employer Pennsylvania State University is imposing a $100 monthly surcharge on employees who don't meet new health [sic] requirements:

...instead of offering “carrots” to its employees for seeking preventive care, Pennsylvania State University starting this fall is opting for the “stick,” imposing a $100 monthly surcharge on those who don’t meet new health requirements.

[...] By November, faculty and their spouses or domestic partners covered by university health care must complete an online wellness profile and physical exam. They’re also required to complete a more invasive biometric screening, including a “full lipid profile” and glucose, body mass index and waist circumference measurements.

Hey, that sounds awesome and not horrifyingly invasive in an Orwellian corporate dystopia sense! I am only sorry that Penn State didn't opt for the full Republican healthcare package of mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds once a month to see if their "pre-pregnant" employees really are pregnant! I am sure that is a healthcare package that ALEC lobbyists are pitching right now somewhere and I cannot wait for that day!

I'm sure that will be stage 2, after we take care of surcharging all the fatties in an economic punishment model that will certainly not leave them with less money to allot to their monthly healthcare which might have the unfortunate side-effect of reinforcing the false impression that fat people simply are unhealthier than thin people by virtue of their fat as opposed to by virtue of the constant social and economic pressures levied on them by others! Because fairy dust, or something!

Meanwhile, Mark Pauly, professor of smarty-ness, is baffled by this move by Penn State:

Mark Pauly, a professor of health care management and business economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said he’d heard of a few other employers using the “stick” approach, but not for so “daunting” a menu of exams.

“The evidence does not really support the idea that this forced wellness helps, but employers these days are afraid to try anything else,” he said in an e-mail. “It is a mystery to me why Penn State would start irritating their workers.”

Why, it's almost like employers are confident that there are more workers than there are jobs in this economy and that they can therefore pass the cost of healthcare to their employees with impunity, because what are the noisy cattle going to do about it, huh? And perhaps they've also realized that a divide-and-conquer strategy that plays into the prejudices of the privileged in order to marginalize the oppressed tends to go over a little better with the populace! You know what they say: a spoonful of privilege helps the corporate dystopia go down!

Moving on to another Privileged Man Who Says Things, professor Jonathan Levin inadvertently admits that these healthcare "incentive" programs are all functionally identical across the board and that the only real difference between voluntary "carrots" and mandatory "sticks" is wishful thinking crossed with magical unicorn farts:

Although not immediately clear, Levin suggested that Penn State’s plan could still fall into the first category if “framed” differently.

“The upshot of incentive programs is that people end up with different financial rewards,” he said. “If you think of the people who get less as the baseline, those who get more are getting a ‘bonus.’ If you think of the people who get more as the baseline, those who get less are getting a ‘penalty.’ ”

Ha ha, which is totally not news to the fat people who have been economically disadvantaged by these programs and the fat hatred that they breed and reinforce in our coworkers since day one. Which is why the Penn State decision is actually not shocking at all to most fat people, most allies of fat people, and the corporate overlords hell-bent on oppressing fat people! This news is only a surprise to privileged people who choose not to deal with this shit on a daily basis! Yay!

(Hat tip to Shaker Kathy_A.)