(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:27 pm
girlofprey: (Default)
[personal profile] girlofprey
I've been feeling so stressed lately. Just stuff going round and round in my head, like I want to write essays or something about it, but I don't. I couldn't sleep last night. And it's one of those things where I can't tell if me getting too anxious about that stuff, or if I'm anxious because of other stuff going on in my life, family stuff and that, and my anxiety's getting an outlet through worrying about other things. I've also been having weird cramping today and yesterday, so it could be pre-menstrual tension, but I just have no idea what my cycle is or what's going on with my body anymore.

My MN is coming around, and I've been thinking about saying something to him about perving on those girls, because I don't want to let him think it's okay. But we've just had some neighbours round, because we live in a residential cul-de-sac, and the lovely older couple who've lived down at the end since we moved in are having some sort of planning war with the guy who lives near them, and wants to stop them parking their cars where they always have so he can knock down a wall and have a driveway at the back of his house. Despite the fact he's completely block-paved the front of his house and has been selling multiple cars from it for years - which he's not supposed to do. So now I'm too tired to even try to have a discussion with my MN.

Video games make me happy. Most of the video games I really want to play are not coming out for a year or so. I tell a lie, some are coming out very soon, but they're not the ones I'm obsessing over because they're not the ones that are far away.

Daily Dose of Cute

Jun. 23rd, 2017 02:15 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lounging on the couch, looking super cute and fluffy and silly
This flufftastically silly monster right here, tho. LOL.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Hey, did you know I’m currently writing a novel? I am! It’s called Head On, and it’s coming out in ten months. Also, it’s not done yet, and the deadline is real soon now. I need to make some real progress on it in the next few weeks or else my editor will give me highly disapproving looks. Which would be no good. My problem is that whenever I make any real progress and take a break to see what’s going on in the news, it looks like this:

 

And, well. That’s not great for my focus.

The world is not going to stop being like this anytime in the near future, alas, but I still need to get my work done, and soon.

So: From now until the book is done, my plan is to avoid the news as much as possible, and also, to the extent I do see news, to avoid writing about it in any significant detail. Tweets? Maybe. 1,000+ word posts here? Probably not.

Note that I’m going to fail in avoiding the news entirely — I live in the world, and next week I’ll be at Denver Comic Con, which means that at the very least in the airport CNN is going to come at me, and anyway whichever way the Senate plan to murder the ACA falls out, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna know about it. Be that as it may I’m going to make an effort to keep as much of it out of my brain as possible.

Incidentally, yes, just in case you were wondering, this is confirmation that at least one of your favorite writers — me! — finds it hard to get work done in these days of the world being on fire. “The art of the Trump era is going to be so lit!” people have said. Dudes, when you’re worried about friends losing access to health care and American democracy being dug out from below because the general GOP attitude to the immense corruption and bigotry of the Trump administration is “lol, as long as we get to kick the poor,” just to list two things about 2017, the creative process is harder to get into, and stay inside of. I’m not the only one I know who is dealing with this right now.

But the work still needs to get done — and not just for you folks. I like getting caught up in my work. It feels good when the writing is moving along.

So, again: News break.

This doesn’t necessarily mean fewer Whatever posts over the next few weeks, since I’ll have July Big Idea pieces and other posts in the pipeline. It does mean the posts that show up probably won’t touch much on world/national news or politics.

I mean, I hope they won’t. But I also know this is a thing, especially with me:

So. I will try to be strong.

Also, when the book is done, oh, how I shall opine.

In the meantime, I don’t suspect you will have difficulty finding other opinions on news and political events. It’s called “the Internet.” You may have heard of it.


Fic: The Fitting

Jun. 23rd, 2017 02:28 pm
alisanne: (Snarry hug)
[personal profile] alisanne
Title: The Fitting
Author: [personal profile] alisanne
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Severus Snape/Harry Potter
Summary: Harry takes advantage when opportunity presents. What he may have forgotten is, Slytherins are masters of opportunity.
Word Count: 365 x 3 (1095)
Warnings: semi-public sex (sort of).
A/N: Written for [livejournal.com profile] hogwarts365/[community profile] hogwarts365's prompt # 197: “I take care of my flowers and my cats. And enjoy food. And that’s living.”—Ursula Andress, picture of cats, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.
Beta(s): [personal profile] sevfan and[personal profile] emynn.
Disclaimer: The characters contained herein are not mine. No money is being made from this fiction, which is presented for entertainment purposes only.

The Fitting )

Home again

Jun. 23rd, 2017 12:29 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
Home late last night after a lovely, lovely train journey up the coast to Portland, and then east to Minneapolis. Once I got there, I bumbled my way to the delicious breakfast place my daughter and I found last year (The Buttered Tin) and after that, in perfect weather--low seventies, cloudy, tiny drops of rain--made my way to the hotel for Fourth Street Fantasy.

Other than a somewhat jolting experience at the opening ceremonies, which made it clear yet again that many of those who have always assumed their perfect safety in any circumstance (and who thus find argument entertaining) simply do not comprehend the paradigm for those who have always had to be wary, to at least some degree, while maneuvering in public spaces. I trust that learning happened.

After that, things went so very well. So many great conversations, over delicious food. Interesting panels, lovely weather. Another thing occurred to me: I so seldom get that quick-back-and-forth of conversation, as my social life is about 95% online, that I found myself frequently behind a couple steps. At least, I think it's due to that and not (I hope) to me dulling with age.

The con was splendid right to the last moments: my return train was to leave Mpls. at ten-ten that night, and I did not particularly look forward to sitting at the Amtrak station for six hours, but I didn't have the discretionary cash for adventuring about. However after delicious ice cream sundaes (yum, yum, yum!) [personal profile] carbonel generously offered to take me home, then drop me at the station, though it was not even remotely in her way.

My six hours passed so pleasantly it was emblematic of the entire weekend for me: after the fast pace it was so nice to sit quietly, watch some BBC animal planet documentaries . . . and, to my utter delight, the resident kitting--after doing considerable showing off by leaping to wall and ceiling beams and down again--curled up in my lap to purr. When you realize that I rarely get to see cats except in youtube vids when the news is too fraught, you will understand how that was the perfect close to an excellent weekend.

Thence an equally lovely train trip back, much reading and some writing achieved.

And this morning, I hauled my aged bod to yoga, for a much-needed session. This last couple weeks has been all about the head. Exhilarating, but not good for the bod. I used to be so active, until the arthritis turned all my joints into a constant ache; now exercise is something I have to do, so I've some tricks to keep my lazy ass in gear.

Anyway, it occurred to me as I sweated and stretched that the fundamental good of yoga is to strengthen all those muscles we otherwise do not notice that hold the body upright. Especially someone like me with rotten posture (I've had the child-abuse shoulder hunch all my life, and when young fought against it in dance, constantly hearing, "Shoulders down, Smith!" The only time I didn't have it was in fencing, oddly enough) it's easy to turtle. But I feel much better and stronger overall when I keep up with the yoga.

So--that, and to my desk to catch up!

A bit of writerly stuff to pass on: an indie writer I met through a fantasy bundle project last summer, C.J. Brightley, has put out a call for fantasy stories of the uplifting sort, and asked me to pass it on. Submission data here.

Today - the things

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:45 pm
hunningham: Person sitting quietly on bus, contemplating life (man on bus)
[personal profile] hunningham
1) It has stopped being hot. This is good. It is so good. There is a cool breeze and I have had to go and shut windows and put on a jumper. I work from home, my house is cool (old, high ceilings, inadequate insulation) so I can cope with a heatwave, but oh, 30oC is a very bad temperature.

2) I have started coding an update for an open-source project on github. Also good. I have been meaning to this for a very long time. Today it was my displacement activity; I have another (big horrible) project which I really didn't feel up to, so it's my equivalent of scrubbing the floor under the fridge instead of revising for exams.

3) My period has started. Not so good. Pain and exhaustion. I feel as if I have been hit over the back of the head with a cartoon brick.

4) And now... I am going to have a hot bath, and then I am going to have some good whisky, and then I am going to bed with a book.
[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Dan Van Winkle

We love Sir Ian McKellen so much for so many reasons, but watching him stand up for the LGBTQIA community—especially during Pride Month—is a big one. Donald Trump’s presidency, no matter how much he said he’d be “much better for the gays,” is a disturbing one for LGBTQIA rights, particularly because we were already struggling to make progress before things were seemingly completely derailed with the 2016 election.

While the damage done by the Trump administration hasn’t been as visible as, say, actively overturning the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that upheld marriage equality, there’s still plenty to be concerned about—including the rollback of federal guidelines on the treatment of transgender students, as well as the revocation of rules barring federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Under normal circumstances, those may sound like strange moves for a candidate who actively proclaimed himself to be a friend to those very same people during the campaign, but McKellen perfectly summed up the unique problem with Donald Trump—without just saying, “He’s unusually full of shit.” Did we mention that eloquence was one of the qualities we love about him?

He told them, “I don’t always understand what [Trump] says, and when I do, I have to admit later that I got it wrong, because he’s changed his mind.” He also mentioned that it’s fundamentally “unAmerican” to interfere with LGBTQIA rights and brought up the history of the rights movements in our country, eventually calling Trump out on the idea that not being “aware” of any of this is plausible.

When Trump was asked about marriage equality, his best answer was that his personal opinion on it was immaterial due to the Supreme Court ruling, but taking McKellen’s logic on awareness a step further—as I have to believe he meant it—Trump can’t have avoided having a personal opinion on it. If that opinion follows the rest of his actions, rather than his disingenuous words, it’s not good.  Rumors are circulating that there may soon be another Supreme Court opening that Donald Trump could fill with someone who could make that personal opinion a nationwide reality, and even if they’re not true, he may yet get the chance eventually.

But Trump wasn’t McKellen’s only target on the subject of awareness. As we talk about a lot around here, the entertainment industry, despite how much flak it already catches for being left-leaning, could be doing more to help out. After all, those “left-leaning” complaints are frequently more revealing of the skewed worldview of those making them and what they’re normally shown, as McKellen pointed out, “I wouldn’t say the films coming out of the mainstream are quite as related to what’s going on in the real world as I would like them to be. One indication of that is LGBT people don’t really get quite a big enough say. If you’re one of those initials yourself, you do notice that actually these movies are not about me at all.”

(via Variety, image: screengrab)

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Posted by Marykate Jasper

YouTube comments are the infamous cesspool of the internet, and they remain stubbornly hateful despite the introduction of comment moderation and (controversial) programs like YouTube Heroes. While a solution to the problem remains elusive, academics may have identified one of the causes. (Spoiler alert: it’s 4chan.)

In the papers, “Kek, Cucks, and God Emperor Trump: A Measurement Study of 4chan’s Politically Incorrect Forum and Its Effects on the Web,” and “The Web Centipede: Understanding How Web Communities Influence Each Other Through the Lens of Mainstream and Alternative News Sources,” researchers attempted to analyze 4chan’s effect on the wider web. Specifically, they looked at the effects of the “Politically Incorrect” board, better known as /pol/. As one of the researchers on both papers, Gianluca Stringhini, explained in an interview with Nature, we understand a fair amount about how content spreads once it’s been posted on a platform – how a “fake news” story gets shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter, for example – but we don’t have as much data about inter-site traffic. How does hate travel from site to site?

Researchers for the “Kek, Cucks, and God Emperor Trump” paper analyzed over 8 million /pol/ posts for insights into both the types of content that appear on the board, and how that content leads to user behavior. The revelations about the content will surprise exactly zero persons. It’s full of hate speech, memes, and links to extremist “tabloid and right-wing leaning” sites. “We find that 12% of /pol/ posts contain hateful terms [i.e., hate speech]…In comparison, analyzing our sample of tweets reveals just how substantially different /pol/ is from other social media: only 2.2% contained a hate word.”

The content on /pol/ is also often original, making it a clear starting point for plenty of racist memes. “Most content on 4chan is quite unique: 70% of the 1M unique images in our dataset were posted only once and 95% less than 5 times,” said the researchers. “In fact, /pol/’s ability to find or produce original content is likely one of the reasons it is thought to be at the center of hate on the web.”

However, the revelations about /pol/’s effect on YouTube were a little more intriguing. “The website most linked to on /pol/ is YouTube,” the researchers found, “with over an order of magnitude more URLs posted than the next two sites, Wikipedia and Twitter.”

Seeing YouTube’s popularity on /pol/, the researchers then studied “raiding” behavior. As defined in the paper, “a raid is an attempt to disrupt another site, not from a network perspective (as in a DDoS attack), but from a content point of view. I.e., raids are not an attempt to directly attack a 3rd party service itself, but rather to disrupt the community that calls that service home.”

“We studied ‘raiding’ behavior by looking for evidence of /pol/’s hateful impact on YouTube comments,” the researchers wrote. “We used signal processing techniques to discover that peaks of commenting activity on YouTube tend to occur within the lifetime of the thread they were posted to on /pol/.”

In short, although explicit calls for “raids” aren’t allowed on 4chan, when /pol/ users share a YouTube video they disagree with, it often serves as a call to other /pol/ users to leave abusive comments on that video.

In his interview with Nature, Stringhini also discussed the “Web Centipede” paper’s findings about /pol/’s effect on other sites. “Twitter influences the other services a lot, which makes sense,” he said. “Users of /pol/ and reddit will see news on Twitter, and then they will post those stories on their own boards and talk about them. But we also found that the opposite happens. To give you an example, we found that about 12% of the alternative news on worldnews — one of the main news boards on reddit — is coming from 4chan. And over 16% of the alternative news on the same board is coming from The_Donald.”

As we come closer to understanding the causes and sources of the most hateful news in our media ecosystem, and how that content spreads, the next step will be masterminding solutions. Given how much traffic this content can generate, I’m not sure I trust companies like YouTube and Twitter to develop those solutions – but at least academics are on top of researching the causes.

(Via Boing Boing and Nature; image via Justin Taylor on Flickr)

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[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

What do you do with a problem like turning your greatest Nazi-fighting superhero into an agent of Hydra, upsetting fans for months? Continue to milk the storyline unto infinity, if you’re Marvel Comics!

We’ve written about Nazi Cap several times before and now I’m just. Done. At this point, I’m devoid of any other emotion where my beloved Steve Rogers is concerned except for a sense of total exhaustion. Despite more than a year of consternation and pushback from fans and lots of distraught press coverage, Marvel has decided to beat this dead war horse for all that it’s worth. Screenrant reports:

“…it looks like the controversial Captain America story will go on even longer thanks to Secret Empire Omega #1. What originally started as a nine-issue series and countless tie-ins had previously been extended with a tenth issue depicting Captain America’s new Hydra armor on its cover – suggesting his reign as Hydra’s leader wouldn’t be stopped by story’s end. At least, Steve Rogers wouldn’t be returning to the version of Captain America fans actually love.”

This is frustrating particularly because Marvel had assured us, in its tone-deaf way, that we’d be feeling better about Steve’s decisions by the end of Secret Empire, telling fans to “wait and see.” Now you have to wait and see and also buy some more comics! Oh and here also are even more “countless tie-ins.” Gotta catch ’em all!

I guess nothing sells books like exploiting the good will and affection built up for a superhero over seventy years. A character created by Jews to punch Hilter in the face who is now running Hydra. And Marvel’s sitting there like, how can we do even more of this? They’ve certainly thrown a ton of money into promoting and growing this thing rather than, say, the recently canceled titled featuring diverse characters.

Go on, Screenrant:

When an issue is described as something of an epilogue dealing with the “Aftermath” of a major event, there will be some readers who feel it a less-than-necessary read. For the cynics, it’s merely a chance to extend an event’s branding for one more week or month. But with writer Nick Spencer and artist Andrea Sorrentino remaining on for Omega, and announced to contain 40 pages, it’s looking more and more like the creative team may be saving some of their biggest, or most pivotal closing words or events for the very end.

This is what we in the business like to call “LOL suckers we’re coming for more of your hard-earned cash.” Nick Spencer’s probably cackling like some kind of actual Hydra villain going “Muahahaha, I could have wrapped this thing up when I said I would, but oh look AT THIS NEW AND SIZEABLE PAYCHECK.”

Here’s the official synopsis for Secret Empire Omega #1, if you can bring yourself to care (SPOILERS I GUESS):

SECRET EMPIRE AFTERMATH! Hydra has fallen, but the world is still not secure! As the heroes of the Marvel Universe stir from the wreckage of the battlefield, the inevitable rebuilding must begin. However, one question hangs in the air over the proceedings: What redemption can there be for Captain America?

I don’t know? Maybe Captain America wouldn’t need to find redemption if he hadn’t been turned into the leader of Hydra and betrayer of his friends and deepest principles? I’ll give you that idea for free, Marvel.

There’s also this: when you cancel Black Panther & The Crew and World of Wakanda, which were being written, respectively, by Ta-nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, two best-selling and immensely respected writers with massive followings that you somehow could not figure out how to market effectively, you are doing things wrong. When you delete spaces for diverse voices but find time and resources to extend the universe where Captain America is evil, you are DOING EVERYTHING WRONG.

You may find a way to narratively “redeem” Secret Empire‘s Steve Rogers to some readers’ satisfaction, but how will you, Marvel Comics, redeem yourself from the ill-will and sense of betrayal this year’s decisions have provoked in fans?

Please just let me rest.

(via Screenrant, image: Marvel Comics)

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Reading: The Mountains of Mourning

Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:25 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
If the Miles Vorkosigan of The Warrior's Apprentice is Francis Crawford of Lymond In Space, in the novella The Mountains of Mourning he's basically Lord Peter Wimsey In An Isolated Rural District On An Alien Planet*, as he's sent as his father's representative to investigate an alleged case of infanticide in a small village in a remote corner of Vorkosigan District.

For a short book, this packs a lot in. As well as a competent whodunnit plot, the story explores the backstory of Barrayaran culture and social attitudes, particularly attitudes to disability, and more universal themes of generational differences in social attitudes. It's the sort of science fiction that doesn't really feel like science fiction; with the exception of the interrogation drug fast-penta there's no futuristic techology and it's hard to believe it's set in the far future instead of, say, the 1930s. It's an interesting and thoughtful read, and I liked it a lot (though I was a bit taken aback at "Ma" apparently being a formal honorific for older women, but maybe that's just Barrayar).

*The presence of a minor character called Pym, on a planet where most names appear to be Russian or Slavic in origin, did nothing whatsoever to dispel the Wimsey associations my brain kept making, either.

Invitation to the dance

Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:57 pm
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
[personal profile] oursin

Well, not literally.

But I have finally managed to have a discussion with the editor at the Very Estimable and Well-Reputed Academic Press whom I had hoped to get together with during the Massive Triennial Conference the other week, which did not happen for, reasons.

And they are very keen about a book I have been thinking about for ages, which is not the Major Research Project of the moment, though somewhat tangentially related, and I'm hmmmmmm about it.

Because it's a book where I haven't done more than research rather a small part of one angle of the bigger picture, but on the other hand, I do know what has to be in there and where to look.

And unlike the Major Research Project, which is large and contains multitudes, this would be a discrete project that wouldn't (I hope) keep starting yet more hares for me to go baying after.

*Wibble*

6/23/2017 The Nature Area

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:58 am
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I intended to walk out Nimitz, but the fog was blowing so badly at 6:45 that I didn't even get out of the car. Instead I drove down to the Nature Area, parking outside the gate, and made four passes: north on Lower Packrat, south on the road/boardwalk, north on Upper Packrat, south again on Loop Road and back around to the car. This time I heard olive-sided flycatcher up on Loop Road; two, in fact. The List: )

Between trying to decide something and being extremely annoyed to see multiple bike tracks on Upper Packrat* I'm pretty sure I was not as observant as I can be. But I had a very active area up on Loop Road: two hairy woodpeckers (both apparently females, having no red at all, not even the red forehead of the juvenile, and yet I strongly suspect one was indeed a juvenile, by fluffiness and behavior; at one point they were beak to beak, as if feeding); a Nuttall's woodpecker; an empidonaxflycatcher, almost certainly a Pacific-slope but it a bit far and in shade; and a brown creeper that play peekaboo with me so successfully that I never got a really good look. It was great.



*What is wrong with people? What is it about "no bikes" signs, narrow wooden stairs, barriers at each end of the bridge, and several downed trees left across the trail that says, THIS IS A TRAIL I MUST BIKE ON! I don't give a shit if they fall down the slope into the poison oak but they're going to seriously injure someone who's walking and birding, like me. The trail is very narrow and the sight lines are short. It's terrifying. Assholes.

We Resist: Day 155

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump's Argle-Bargle Codswallop on Taping Comey and "I Feel Like We Sort of Choked".

REMINDER: KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS TO TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON TRUMPCARE.

Nahal Toosi at Politico: Trump Administration Dissolves Afghanistan-Pakistan Unit. "The Trump administration on Friday moved to eliminate the State Department unit responsible for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan — transferring its duties to a regional bureau whose leadership ranks have been decimated, two sources told Politico. The development came with less than a day's notice. It deeply rattled U.S. officials who say the shift leaves unclear who is responsible for handling diplomacy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan at a time when the Trump administration is considering ramping up military efforts in that region." OH MY GOD.

Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker at the Washington Post: Trump Is Struggling to Stay Calm on Russia, One Morning Call at a Time.
Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia.

The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump's lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the "fake news" media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president's own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.

It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.
On the one hand, there's a part of me that feels satisfied that Trump is squirming over Russia, because it's the least he fucking deserves when many of us are having major anxiety about it. On the other hand, a stressed-out Trump is a Trump that makes even worse decisions than usual, so. Frankly, the only solution is removing him from office. As soon as possible.

Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey at Politico: Trump Loses Patience with His White House Counsel. "Trump started the week by giving [White House counsel Don McGahn], a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on. ...Trump's willingness to lay into him for the escalation of the probe — largely the result of Trump's own decision to dismiss Comey — illustrates McGahn's falling stock in the West Wing, as well as Trump's desire to find someone to blame for his legal predicament." And Trump's terrible temperament, lack of leadership, and cavernous void of ethics and decency.

Ken Dilanian at NBC News: Coats Tells House Investigators Trump Seemed Obsessed with Russia Probe. "Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told House investigators Thursday that [Donald] Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion, a U.S. official familiar with the conversation told NBC News."

Michael Martin at Metro: FBI Official Won't Say That Trump Is Not a Russian Agent, a First for an American President. "Donald Trump's unprecedented actions as president are stacking up daily, but this is a truly new one: A top FBI official will not say whether the president is an 'unwitting agent' who aided Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee [on Wednesday]... 'Did Donald Trump become an unwitting agent of the Russians?' asked Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. After a long pause, Priestap said, 'I can't really comment on that.' 'I don't blame you for not answering that question,' replied Heinrich, to laughter from the audience."

Sarah Kendzior at the Correspondent: Trump Is the Best Autocrat. The Best. Nobody Has a Better Autocrat Than We Do. "There are some who believe Trump is too dim-witted to carry off the manipulations of both law and the public that have defined his presidency. 'He's not playing three-dimensional chess,' pundits insist snidely, unaware that the game is actually charades. Many do not realize they are playing along with him, abetting his administration by reporting planted stories of palace intrigue or doubting the criminality that takes place in front of their eyes. Trump is the kind of guy who can beg Russia to access Hillary Clinton's emails at a press conference and, nearly a year and multiple federal hearings later, still have people asking if there's really anything to that whole Russia story."

Timothy L. O'Brien at Bloomberg: Hey, Mueller, You Should Check Out Iceland. "Earlier this week I wrote about the Bayrock Group, a property developer that did business deals for a decade with [Donald] Trump. Felix Sater — a Bayrock principal who was a career criminal with American and Russian mob ties and who has remained in the Trump orbit — helped reel in funds of murky origin that Bayrock and Trump used for projects such as the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan. And one of Bayrock's biggest financial backers was an Icelandic investment bank, the FL Group. Iceland would seem like an unlikely place for U.S. Justice Department investigators to look as they probe Trump connections with Russia and related matters. Yet there are trails to pursue there."

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Feds Are Investigating Financial Deals Involving Manafort, Son-In-Law. "Financial dealings involving [Donald] Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's son-in-law are under scrutiny by federal investigators, the New York Times reported Friday. Two sources close to the matter told the Times that Manafort bankrolled real estate purchases of luxury apartments and homes in New York and California in collaboration with his son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai, who was sued by a former investor for defrauding him. The sources said it was unclear if this particular investigation was part of the broader federal probe into Russia's election interference and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives."

Jason Leopold and Claudia Koerner at BuzzFeed: Memo Shows Preet Bharara Was Concerned After Phone Call from White House. "Former US Attorney Preet Bharara sent an email to Justice Department officials in New York to express concern about a voicemail he received in March from [Donald] Trump's secretary, Madeline Westerhout, according to emails BuzzFeed News obtained Thursday from the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act. ...Bharara ultimately decided not to speak with Trump and called back the president's secretary to say so. 'At approximately 6:30 p.m., I called back the President's secretary, Ms. Westerhout, and told her I had consulted with the AG's [Attorney General's] office and that it was their advice that I not speak directly to the President at this time,' Bharara's wrote in the email. The next day, Bharara and dozens of other US attorneys were asked to resign. He refused, and the following day, he was fired."

Zack Ford at ThinkProgress: Fox News' Embarrassing, False Attack on James Comey.
Conservative outlets are eager to feed Trump's conspiracy-minded fanbase — and will seize on the tiniest scrap of information to support their efforts. The Daily Mail "reported" Thursday that Comey was seen with his wife entering the New York Times' building. Suspiciously, the two were wearing sunglasses!

This prompted several pro-Trump outlets to speculate that Comey was doing an interview with the Times and possibly sharing more information that would hurt the President.

Fox News picked up the Daily Mail's story about Comey's "sneaky visit," fueling conspiracy theories about Comey, Mueller, and the media all supposedly working together against Trump.

...All of this speculation was wrong. Comey, a foster parent, was attending an event at a law firm in the building in support of a charity that works to find safe homes for abused children.
Good grief. GOOD GRIEF.

* * *

In other news...

[Content Note: Neglect; injury; climate change] Griselda Nevarez at the Guardian: Burned Feet, Parched Throats: Arizona Homeless Desperate to Escape Heatwave. "According to the National Weather Service, when the air temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is shining, blacktop can be heated to as much as 167 degrees. That is hot enough to fry an egg or cook ground beef, though more worryingly, the weather service also notes that in such conditions, 'human skin is instantly destroyed.' Pets' paws are also vulnerable — and it is common for homeless people to have dogs. ...On Thursday, close to 100 homeless people packed the Lodestar Day Resource Center in downtown Phoenix. Some were drenched in sweat and their skin was tomato-red, while others sat and laid their heads on round tables trying to sleep."

Terrible. If people even think at all about homeless people navigating extreme weather, we tend to think about winter more than summer. But summer presents its own set of problems for homeless people (and their pets), and those problems are worsening with climate change.

Phil Wahba at Fortune: Sears Closing Another 20 Stores Amid Ongoing Sales Slide. "Sears Holdings is closing another 20 locations on top of recently announced shutterings, bringing to total store closures to 260 this year for the struggling retailer which is trying unsuccessfully to stanch years of sales declines. The latest closures include 18 Sears stores and two Kmart locations, according to a regulatory filing on Friday by real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, which was spun off by Sears in 2015. These stores will start liquidation sales by June 30 and be closed by mid-September, Sears said in a statement."

I'm including this in the We Resist thread not because there's much we can do to resist the collapse of retail (besides shop in brick and mortar stores), but because: 1. The attendant job losses are all the more reason to resist the Republicans' assault on the social safety net; and 2. The continued decimation of retail as a result of online shopping must underwrite a demand of all political leaders to craft serious policy to meaningfully address automation.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?
grav_ity: (no power in the verse can stop me)
[personal profile] grav_ity
I loved this book SO FREAKING MUCH.

Basically: a girl who is distantly related to the king skips out of a banquet early because she gets anxious at social functions, and then EVERYONE IS POISONED and she inherits the throne. Immediately, she has to deal with figuring out who to trust, royal privilege, incredibly complicated politics, new places, new friends, and it's just really really good.

Give me all of the introverted girls who will just get the job done because someone has to.

ANYWAY, so: girls who are smart, girls who are good at a variety of things, girls who learn to cooperate, enemies to lovers, actual literal chemistry, soooooooo much politics, examination of class distinctions, EVERYTHING. Highly recommend.
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Posted by Charline Jao

Remember how psyched I was for the sci-fi exhibit at the MoMA this summer? Well, there’s another exciting film series in the city this summer. The New York Asian Film Festival is coming up at the end of the month, giving those in the city an opportunity to watch all kinds of Asian films on the big screen with appearances from 30 different directors and actors.

There’s definitely something for everyone in these 57 films, as the description states:

“Get wooed by die-hard romantics, unnerved by devil children, and bear witness to the fury of angry young men on paths of destruction in the sweet sixteenth edition of the New York Asian Film Festival. Wild cinematic outings that always have something to say about the human condition, this summer’s crop of titles range from the heartwarming to the desperately dark. Dive headfirst into the raging sea of talent from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and across South East Asia—filmmakers unafraid to take on controversial subjects and explore complex emotions.”

Every image in the trailer alone looks mesmerizing, with images from cult favorite Sabu’s Happiness and Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess (making its U.S. premiere) in particular standing out to me. I’m also especially curious about the female-centered stories like Daigo Matsui’s Japanese Girls Never Die and Ahn Jung-min’s Fantasy of the Girls, as well as what’s sure to be a compelling watch, Jero Yun’s Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman. While there is definitely a generous amount of action films and thrillers, there’s also wholesome films, like Han Han’s Duckweed, Shinobu Yaguchi’s Survival Family, or Nattawut Poonpiriya’s Bad Genius. Even if you’re not in NYC, NYAFF is a great reference if you’re looking for something to add to your watch-list.

The entire roster is a treasure trove of films that are easy to overlook when you’re more focused on English-speaking films, and a great opportunity to watch something different. For me, I’m definitely curious to check out some of the Taiwanese films since I don’t get an opportunity to watch them on the big screen very often.

NYAFF will take place from June 30 to July 13 at the Film Society and July 14 to 16 at the SVA Theatre. Check out showings and ticket info here.

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

I sometimes have to wonder if people who fight so hard trying to derail already marginalized communities would instead focus their considerable energy into something more productive, if we wouldn’t have a cure for cancer by now.

As you may recall, Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas held (sold out!) women-only screenings of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, and some men on the Internet got real mad about it. Those that didn’t get out and angry still thought the whole thing so ridiculous, apparently, that they decided to “make fun of” the women-only screenings by holding their own response events.

Take the “dudes” over at The Billy Madison Show, a nationally syndicated radio show on 99.5 KISS in San Antonio. Last night, they held a men-only screening of Metallica Through the Never (because nothing says manliness like Metallica!). Here are some of the hilarious things about this:

  • They paid for it themselves. Rather than organizing it and showing how many men actually even needed/wanted something like this by allowing tickets to be sold publicly, they rented out the Alamo Drafthouse themselves and made the event invite-only, giving away tickets to their listeners. So they spent their own money to, what, prove that their listeners are sexist? That there aren’t nearly as many men who are in any way threatened or upset by a women-only screening because more men than they like to think actually fucking get it?
  • Whatever point they’re trying to prove, they did so with the least amount of people involved possible. According to MySanAntonio.com, “Madison said the showing will feature ‘dude seating’ and a ‘dude Q&A’ session with ‘dude-only questions’ hosted by himself and his co-hosts. Derek Allgood, one of the show’s co-hosts, said ‘dude seating’ means there will be one empty spot between each guy.” Way to get people to rally and give a shit, guys.

Let’s just linger on ‘dude seating’ for a seconda thing that is stupid in regular life that is even more stupid at an event like this. You’d think that getting as many men together as possible would make the stronger statement. You’d think, right? But for these guys, it’s more important to prove the latent homophobia of some men by catering to it at their event. Not to mention clearly reminding the world that “real” men are straight men, because God forbid there be any gay around here. This is Texas!

What the hell is a “dude-only question?” Like, I know they’re trying to be funny, right? But seriously, that joke only works as far as the press release. I can imagine them all getting there, and the hosts being like, “We’re ready for your dude-only questions!” And then they all laugh. And then there’s an uncomfortable silence. And then the hosts are like, “No seriously, anyone have a question? About Metallica? Or, you know, us being dudes? Anyone?” *crickets*

What this screening did was simply illustrate why the women-only screenings of Wonder Woman were so necessary, and helpful, and a wonderful move for Alamo Drafthouse:

  • Multiple women-only screenings of Wonder Woman sold out. There was clearly a desire and a need for women-only screening of Wonder Woman that Alamo saw and jumped on. Men don’t need “men-only” screenings, and only get up in arms about them whenever women want an all-women anything. If men really needed “men-only” screenings, they’d already be having them. But they don’t. Because the world caters to “men-only” enough as it is. It’s likely that they gave away tickets and made a production about “dude seating” because they knew they wouldn’t be able to fill a theater otherwise. Not for this nonsense.
  • They’re not making a great case for masculinity. So, to these “dudes,” what men want (what they really, really want) is heavy metal, no women around (except when they want sex, of course), and no gayness (because gay and trans men aren’t men). Oh, and to be reactionary rather than proactive and actually giving a shit about the world around them. Because they have it so good as men that any change is a threat. So, whereas the women-only screenings also served to raise money for Planned Parenthood, this men-only screening served…nothing. No purpose. Men like this do nothing most of the time, fighting only when they’re denied something to which they feel entitled…which they believe are most things, but in reality is actually very little. I often wonder why so many men are so willing to play into the worst stereotypes of themselves just to prove some vague point about their entitlement. For all that say that “feminism” is about hating men, I think it’s about loving men as much as we love women. It’s about believing in them and knowing that they can be better than that. It’s about reminding men that they don’t have to be hateful, or hurtful, or destructive to be men. It’s about not treating men like children, but treating them like adults who are capable of being vulnerable, taking responsibility, and seeing beyond themselves enough to care for others.

Meanwhile, Alamo Drafthouse wasted no time in responding re: their part in this, making sure we know that they’re not believers in this nonsense. “This is not an Alamo Drafthouse-promoted event,” an Alamo Drafthouse spokesperson said. “It’s a private event and our feelings on this have been previously expressed.”

I suppose I should be grateful for this men-only screening. It serves as a hopeful reminder that there are more decent men out there than we think, and those are the men that we need to engage in doing away with sexism. As for the hosts of this show and their echo chamber?

As Beth Elderkin says in her tweet above, “Boys, knock yourselves out.”

(via Beth Elderkin on Twitter, image: The Billy Madison Show)

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Links Post

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:47 am
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[personal profile] wendelah1
About saving the affordable care act: I will not lie to you. This is personal for me. I have relatives with preexisting conditions (doesn't everyone?) and I worked as nurse for 32 years, taking care of people with conditions as diverse as Head and Neck cancer, Chrohn's Disease, kidney failure, and infertility. Instead of this bullshit "Repeal and Replace," which is designed both to cut health care from the most vulnerable of our citizens and fund massive tax cuts for our wealthiest, we need a bill that will "Keep It and Fix It." But first we must stop the Republican party from shoving this massively unpopular bill down our throats.
Saving the Affordable Care Act )
Journalism )
Miscellaneous )

Dear suspiciously rotund cat

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:56 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Not my cat, not my house. Please don't be pregnant.

Swing Life Away

NSFW Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:42 pm
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[personal profile] kephiso
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Posted by John Scalzi

If you’re a fan of the Midnight Star video games I helped create, here’s something fun for you: John Shirley, legendary writer and lyricist, has written “Purgatorio,” a serialized story set in the Midnight Star universe. He’s written it for Bound, a new company (and iOS app) specializing in serialized fiction. Which is pretty cool.

And, it’s the first time someone’s done media tie-in work for a universe I helped to create. Which is also pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

Here’s the post on Bound’s site talking about the story. If you have an iOS device you can also download the app there.


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Posted by siria

Stiles groans and drops his face into his hands. “I’m seventeen, I can kind of use mountain ash and I can explode houses when I’m mad enough. How am I gonna win any kind of magic fight?”

“We’ll work on it,” Deaton says, as infuriatingly calm as ever. “The important thing to remember, Stiles, is that when everything else is chaos, you’re the port in the storm.”

Or-

Laura Hale never died, and Stiles is magic.
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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

It’s Friday! Let’s talk tattoos. Do you have a geeky sigil of pride, an artful drawing, a favorite lyric inscribed on your body? Or are you like me, tattoo-free and confused? Do you hate tattoos? We need to chat.

Pull up a squashy armchair, Mary Suevians, because I want to hear about you and your ink (or lack thereof). Personally, I’m kind of obsessed with tattoos, but I’m also plagued by indecision. I can never seem to settle on a design or creature or superhero symbol or phrase for long enough to get it permanently marked on my skin (also they can be mad expensive).

Every time I’ve come close (recent brief flirtatations were some kind of ancient Greek ship or a grandfather clock), I end up in a spiral about the other parts of the process: black and white or with color? What size? Which artist? And perhaps most importantly, where?

My tattoo-dappled friends—of which I seem to have many—assure me that the upper arms and thighs are the least painful spots. I’m not afraid of the pain part exactly, but if I end up actually getting my first tattoo I probably shouldn’t do it in a place that’s supposed to hurt quite a lot, like the top of the foot, right? And while we’ve come a long way from the days when a visible tattoo might get in the way of getting a job or an apartment, I still like the idea of being able to cover it at will.

So, my friend’s rad Cap’s shield, which is on his wrist, is probably not for me. I do, however, love the concept of paying homage to a lifetime of devoted geekery with some kind of fannish ink. Another friend has Loki’s crown on her forearm, and recently I saw a Twitter thread about Lord of the Rings tattoos—quite a few people have Sting the magical dagger, the Misty Mountain range, or all kinds of Elvish inscriptions in that distinctive script.

Talk to me about tattoos. Do you have them, do you want them, are you bare-skinned like me? If you have one you’d like to share with the class, upload a pic to a site like imgur and give us a link. Please do not send us to look at non-tattooed related imagery or anything crass or I will be sad and ban you. We’re throwing a tattoo party here, people.

Here’s one I approve of deeply, inspired by Teresa’s reminder that Hamilton is full of tattooable quotes:

http://thefederalistfreestyle.tumblr.com/post/135606575360/100-suns-so-my-sister-and-i-have-just-spent-10

What’ve you got?

(image: Shutterstock)

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Jane the Virgin... and Friends

NSFW Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:18 pm
petra: Text: "There's nothing magic about words," he said. "They just do things if you say them right." (DWJ - Nothing magic about words)
[personal profile] petra
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Don't forget that if you want to vote in the 2017 OTW Election, you have to become a member by June 30. Join today! https://goo.gl/yUZHvQ

"I feel like we sort of choked."

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:00 am
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

I feel like we sort of choked. Those are the words of "a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia," quoted in this massive piece by the Washington Post's Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, detailing the timeline of discoveries of the means and extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and the subsequent responses of the Obama administration, the intelligence community, and Congressional leaders.

After reading the entirety of the piece, which I highly recommend, it's hard to disagree with that official's assessment.

This passage in particular is haunting me: "To some, Obama's determination to avoid politicizing the Russia issue had the opposite effect: It meant that he allowed politics to shape his administration's response to what some believed should have been treated purely as a national security threat."

It haunts me for two reasons:

1. Although I had criticisms of Obama's presidency, I never felt—never—like I could not implicitly trust him on national security. I always felt confident that we could trust him to protect us. So to find out that we couldn't, and that the reason we couldn't is because he was afraid of accusations of partisanship, is really shaking me.

2. As longtime readers will no doubt recall, my biggest hesitation about Obama during the 2008 election was that I feared he did not take seriously enough the intransigence of Congressional Republicans. I had strong reservations about his emphasis on bipartisanship and worried that the Republicans would use it against him. It's really fucking something that my greatest fear about Obama may turn out to be the very thing that got us into the mess in which we now find ourselves.

Make no mistake: I am powerfully angry at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and all his party compatriots, for abandoning all pretense of patriotism and threatening President Obama with accusations of partisanship, when he appealed to them to publicly disclose Russian meddling ahead of the election, when voters absolutely should have been made aware of that information.

I am angry at the leaders of intelligence agencies who dragged their feet, and who didn't connect the dots they should have. I have particular contempt for (no surprise) James Comey, who "initially agreed to attach his name [to the administration's first public comment on Russia's 'active measures'] officials said, but changed his mind at the last minute, saying that it was too close to the election for the bureau to be involved."

That was on October 7, three weeks before he sent his letter about the Clinton email investigation to Congress. So a month before the election was "too close" for the FBI to make a statement about foreign meddling that was being orchestrated on behalf of one of the candidates, but 11 days was not too close for the FBI to make a public statement about an investigation of the other candidate. Cool.

I do not singularly hold accountable Obama, by any means. But he was the president, and it was ultimately his call, and I don't think he made the right one — even as I want to stress, again, that I understand how difficult a decision it was, especially without the benefit of hindsight.

Charles P. Pierce writes on this subject:
It's at moments like this that I wish he'd never given that speech in Boston in 2004. It froze him into a public persona and a political stance that made even justifiable partisan politics look like base hypocrisy. It is entirely possible that, at what we must now believe was a critical moment (if not the critical moment) of his presidency, the better angels of a president's nature were the voices he should have avoided at all cost.
Yeah.

The interference of Russia in our election, and our reaction thereto, is a complex (and still unfolding) story. It is also a very uncomplicated story of simply not doing enough when we should have.

And the why of that failure is partly because of miscalculated priorities — avoiding the appearance of partisanship over protecting national security at any cost — but is also partly because of a pernicious cultural narrative we have about Strong Women.

We celebrate Strong Women for overcoming the horrendous barricades we put in their way, and we do so by dehumanizing them as superhumans and heroines. We imagine that they don't need any help, even when they're women who talk about how each of us needs a village to succeed.

Others will surely disagree with me, but I think this single line might be the most important of the entire WaPo piece: "The assumption that Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency."

That's the problem, right there.

The Obama administration assumed that Clinton would win, even in the middle of unprecedented foreign meddling into the election with the explicit purpose of undermining her campaign.

Clinton had absolutely earned a magnificent amount of confidence from her president, her party, and the electorate — but the assumption that she would win, in spite of Russians doing everything they could to ensure she wouldn't, while the Republicans and large parts of the political media were doing precisely the same, is not reasonable confidence. That's abandonment justified with precisely the dehumanizing narrative of the Strong Woman, who is meant to be uniquely impervious to oppositional forces, no matter how harmful.

Clinton needed help to win (the electoral college and thus the presidency). She needed her village.

But her village didn't step up. They just assumed that she would single-handedly take care of demolishing all the incredibly powerful forces that were conspiring to derail her.

And then they used that assumption to justify doing nothing.

When Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater to deliver the commencement address last month, she said: "You know, our culture often celebrates people who appear to go it alone. But the truth is that's not how life works. Anything worth doing takes a village."

Surely that includes protecting the sovereignty of this nation and its democratic institutions.
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Posted by Marykate Jasper

Zendaya, who will be playing the mystery character Michelle in Spider-Man: Homecoming, recently chatted with Entertainment Weekly about the movie’s high school dynamics and demographics.

High school and all its cruelties are a canonical part of Peter Parker’s origin story, and since Homecoming has the character at 15 years old, I was curious how they’d update and play with the decidedly ’70s social dynamics from the comics. While Peter’s character is traditionally the nerdy outcast, Zendaya said the dynamics of this high school will be a little more modern. Smart kids, she observed, are also often the cool kids in today’s world. “The dynamics in high school now are just different,” she said, “It’s not like the old-school ‘this is where people go’ and ‘these are the groups that are cool’ and ‘these are the groups that are not cool.’ It’s different. That’s how we reflected it.”

“Even our bully, Flash, who is played by Tony [Revolori], this is the new-age bully,” she said. “It’s different. It’s not necessarily one type of person.”

She also said the cast will reflect modern, multicultural New York, unlike many other on-screen depictions of the city. “That was one of my favorite parts about this movie,” she said, “is the diversity of the cast. It’s reflecting what New York looks like. It should be represented in that way, I think.”

It also sounds like they’re emphasizing this Spidey’s relative immaturity and growth. “The big difference with this movie is the fact that he’s 15,” said Zendaya, “and you really get to see what it would be like if a 15-year-old guy had these powers. Of course, they’re not going to do everything right. They’re not going to be perfect. They’re going to mess up. They’re going to be a 15-year-old superhero. And I think they did a really great job of capturing that – because that’s what makes Spider-Man so real for everybody is that he’s just a kid and just a kid from Queens.”

“I love the awkwardness and the funny that comes out of those real moments in high school that we’ve all been through,” she also said.

In addition, Zendaya gave a few details about her own who-from-the-comics-is-this character, Michelle. She previously described her as a “very dry, awkward, intellectual” who “comes off very weird,” and this interview was basically along the same lines. “She’s got an edge to her,” Zendaya said, “She speaks her mind, says what she thinks, but for some reason it comes off likable. And it’s very dry. It’s very real.… She’s super smart, very intellectual, and because she’s so smart she doesn’t know how to interact with other kids. So she doesn’t have friends. And I think there are a lot of kids out there like that, including myself. So I relate to her in more ways than one.”

She also again emphasized that this character will not be Peter Parker’s love interest. “I think it’s just a nice change of pace, especially for a superhero movie. It changes the typical female character in a superhero movie, which is usually like the damsel in distress – not super independent, doesn’t really have her own thing going on, her perspective constantly revolves around the superhero, right? So it’s nice that I’m not the love interest, which means I’m not that girl. And it’s nice to have that relationship that’s not romantic.”

While I still think it would’ve been cool to have Zendaya play Mary Jane (or another love interest), I can also appreciate giving Peter a female friend. And I actually love the idea of writing her as the uber-nerd character – dry humor, super smart, and a little weird. That’s a role we often see given to male geniuses, and it’ll be great to see those traits given instead to a teenage girl, whose quirkiness – instead of being cutesy or charming – is a little biting and strange.

Overall, this interview has me more excited about the movie, but what did you think?

(Via Entertainment Weekly; image via Sony Pictures)

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Pollen in the Air

Jun. 23rd, 2017 12:38 pm
malkingrey: (Rain)
[personal profile] malkingrey
Or something, anyhow. It's making me itchy, and all the news reports about that brand-new (or newly-discovered, anyhow) tick-borne disease aren't helping any. Just reading them makes my skin crawl.

This is why I don't actually like summer very much. I like fall, and spring, and most of winter except for the godawful electric bills, but summer is heat and humidity and biting insects and allergens all over.

And today it's overcast and drippy, as well. (No surprise there.)
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Posted by Charline Jao

I watched Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch last month, and despite an exciting premise that featured a Mad Max-esque lawless wasteland, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, and cannibalism with the director of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the film was wholly underwhelming.

The film centers around Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), who’s dropped off in the Texas wasteland “fenced off from civilization” and almost immediately captured by a band of cannibals led by Miami Man (Jason Momoa). After losing an arm and leg she makes an escape and starts to build a home at a place called “Comfort” and encounters a kind of hedonistic, drug-fueled, rave-like place led by The Dream (Keanu Reeves). Amirpour calls it “a psychedelic western” about human connection and the film plays out as a kind of island of misfit toys tale with lots of blood.

Now, I was watching this in May so I kept making Fyre Festival jokes about this horrendous wasteland as Arlen wanders aimlessly in her high-waisted shorts. Those are outdated now, thanks to the embargo, but there you go. The first act, or “the cannibalism part” was the strongest for me as an introduction to this world. The sense of decay, abandonment, and building a home only with scraps makes for a stylish and distinct look that I fully enjoyed. However, as the film progressed and I saw more coverage of the film, there are aspects that made it less compelling and outright uncomfortable at times.

Spoilers for The Bad Batch ahead:

After Arlen escapes and has been in Comfort for a while, she acts on a desire for vengeance and finds the Miami Man’s wife and daughter, Maria and Honey. There, she takes a gun and shoots Maria in the face, and takes Honey with her to Comfort, a place the cannibals are not allowed to enter. Honey becomes a sort of adopted child to Arlen, and after a series of events the two reunite with the Miami Man in what may or may not be a romantic connection. So, The Bad Batch stars a white woman who shoots a black woman in front of her daughter without consequence. Afterward, she essentially takes Maria’s face within that family.

This was not the only issue I had with the movie. Keanu Reeves, who I firmly believe has all the likability of a cult leader, plays a cartoonish and wholly uncharismatic cult leader that felt weak to me. The scene where Arlen goes on some kind of acid trip was too long and felt like someone at a party trying to explain their acid trip to me (which is like listening to someone tell you about their dreams—not nearly as profound as you think).

Honey is barely given a voice. Arlen says to Miami Man “I hate your kind” after he opens up about being an undocumented Cuban man, and while it’s not clear if “your kind” meant cannibals or undocumented immigrants, what? The tone is uneven and Momoa feels more like a babysitter than anything else. The accents are questionable.

I could go on an on about this, and how the equalizing “we’re all Bad Batch, aren’t we?” story about human connection in a wasteland doesn’t work when you have to acknowledge that everyone in this wasteland has faced different experiences. Amirpour has argued that everyone in her film is treated poorly regardless of race or gender, but the fact is that violence holds different connotations the viewers who are very much equal. This isn’t some prudish concern about brutal and explicit violence in and of itself, but a question about where that violence has been traditionally directed.

Maria and Honey’s story isn’t the only issue with the film, but it’s by far the most telling.

I highly recommend you read this interview between Valerie Complex and Bianca Xunise, who attended a Q&A with Amirpour and had her questions about the violence in the film completely dismissed. After Amirpour shrugs off Xunise’s question to a cheering crowd, she describes her feelings like so: “I had suddenly become that disrupting, angry black woman that ruined the fun for everyone … I have never felt such embarrassment in my life, so I slinked away from the mic humiliated.”

Amirpour’s subsequent treatment, first shared in this Twitter thread, demonstrates a complete disregard for valid concerns about how violence against black bodies is often treated as spectacle and treating black women as irrational plays into stereotypes that make it harder for them to be treated seriously.

In another interview with The Verge, Amirpour says she is “a good person coming from a good place” and “I’m happy to have interesting conversations, but I don’t feel the need to stand there against a corner and get attacked or called stuff. It feels mean.”

The director goes on to say “She can be upset by the film, that’s her right,” and continues:

“But I also think that, you know, as far as me, and what I’m doing, I’m asking questions about human nature, and about if one violent action justifies another. That’s the deep moral fiber of what I’m thinking about in this world called The Bad Batch. Are people inherently good or bad? The system makes us into these things. Everybody in that film, every character has a fucked-up reality. It’s safe to say that. Everybody in our world has a story and a reality and a justification for how they feel, and has gone through some fucked-up shit. So I don’t know. I don’t even know what the question is. I don’t even know what we’re talking about.”

The Bad Batch falls short on a lot of levels, but this particularly leaves a poor taste.

(images: Neon)

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Sign Up Extension

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:23 am
scribblemyname: (teadragon)
[personal profile] scribblemyname posting in [community profile] multifandomdrabble
It dawned on me I gave myself a week for matching. I will wait to close sign ups until whatever time Sunday morning I reach the computer to start that process.

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 12:09 pm
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
I slept better last night than I did the night before, and the sneezing and such seem to be gone. I will likely keep taking the various allergy medications for a few days in case what I'm seeing is them working rather than the trigger being gone. I'm still pretty tired, so I will likely try to nap later on. Cordelia and I don't have anything planned today, so I think it will be feasible.

I'm debating Camp NaNo. The main thing against it is that it doesn't tend to motivate me to write more or more often. The social aspect only works for me if I know the people I'm interacting with. Then again, signing up costs me nothing (except a lot of emails from the website).

I realized yesterday that the first two pages of a side project I was working on didn't belong in the story at all. They were necessary world building/scene setting for me but would probably bore readers. I can work in a lot of the details that matter later in the story and in small chunks.

Does anyone know anything about the folks running [personal profile] captiveaudience? The maintainers on the AO3 collection are [archiveofourown.org profile] nonx and [archiveofourown.org profile] CaramelShadows. The former looks like a sock, and I don't recognize the latter. The exchange theme, captivity with either Stockholm Syndrome or Lima Syndrome, sounds like something I'd have fun with, but I suspect it's not likely to be a large exchange. At the moment, it looks more appealing than Fic Corner simply because there's nothing in the Fic Corner tagset that I'd be really enthusiastic about writing. There are a number of things I could write and/or request, but I don't know if I'd enjoy writing any of them.

I suspect that part of the problem is that the things I'd be comfortable offering to write are all kind of old and not necessarily the sorts of things that people think of first when signing up for exchanges. There are often specific requests that are things I'd be comfortable writing, but without the specifics, I don't dare offer because there's a lot of those canons that I don't feel I know well enough or have time/access to review properly. The things I can generally offer always have way more offers than requests.
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Posted by Tia Vasiliou

A frequent criticism of literary or visual media is the use of what have colloquially come to be known as “tropes.” (Yes, I see you, fellow pedants. A trope is actually meant to refer to figurative language, but its meaning has expanded in popular usage, and that’s totally fine.) Certainly, using stock characters and clichéd plot devices can dilute the impact of a story. But these conventions can also play an important role in furthering a narrative, particularly one that’s about subverting expectations. (You can’t subvert expectations until the reader actually has expectations.) Take, for example, Gail Simone and Cat Stagg’s new Image book, Crosswind, in which a hitman and a housewife swap bodies.

Picture an archetypical gangster hitman. He’s wearing a suit. He’s got a gun. Maybe he’s wearing sunglasses. He probably takes snitches out into the woods to execute them, in a flurry of swearing and stone-cold violence. There will almost certainly be a scene with a nearly naked lady. And of course, at some point in his gangster arc, things will tilt south. In a few deft strokes, readers understand the basic outline of Cason Bennett. We have a fair idea of how he’ll react in the types of scenarios his character can be expected to face.

Juniper Blue—a housewife who is bullied by her husband, her children, her neighbors—is in every way the opposite of Cason. Readers quickly understand how her worn-down, fragile self-confidence prevents her from standing up for herself as she is objectified and infantilized at every turn. Where Cason is capable, Juniper is unsure. Where he is aggressive, she is meek.

When a mysterious man casts some sort of spell over Cason and he swaps bodies with Juniper, the intersection of their lives shifts the plot from conventional establishing shots into real action. How is Cason going to react from behind Juniper’s eyes when her horrible husband treats her cruelly at the special dinner he’s ordered her to prepare for his boss? What is Juniper going to do when faced with the brutality that comes with Cason’s line of work?

It’s in these stark contrasts that clichés become absorbed into storytelling and transformed into something useful. They’re a way for readers to understand certain parameters of character and situation, acting not as a destination but as signposts guiding us toward the subversion of expectations that really make up the story. Building real stories and characters out of clichés is a particular strength of writer Gail Simone. Her legendary Red Sonja run, one of my favorites, turned the pulpy fantasy pin-up into an iconic feminist anti-heroine.

In comics, of course, writing is only half the story. Visuals like body language and facial expressions are essential to establishing the characters in Crosswind, before their lives are turned upside down. Co-creator and illustrator Cat Staggs sets out a recognizable physicality for Cason and Juniper, giving the swap a strong visual component rather than leaving it to play out in the dialogue. In suddenly off-kilter panels, Juniper’s face stretches into Cason’s sneer, while Cason recoils with Juniper’s horror at the scene of a grisly crime. This is a very smart touch that is sure to be important later, as Cason and Juniper attempt to navigate one another’s conflicts.

This book is surely about the folly of judging by appearances, so I hesitate to classify Crosswind as any one thing. It promises to be action-packed, humorous, gritty, and heartfelt. What could we learn about ourselves if we suddenly became our own opposite? I suspect the answer is that we’re all more alike than we know, and that none of us are stock characters at all.

Tia Vasiliou is a digital editor at comiXology and co-host of The ComiXologist Live, every Wednesday on the comiXology Facebook page at 4 pm ET. You can find her on Twitter at PortraitofMmeX.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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Posted by Charline Jao

We’ve been missing national hero Jessica Williams since she left The Daily Show, so it’s very exciting to see her in the upcoming Netflix original movie The Incredible Jessica James.

In the trailer, we see Williams in New York City embarking on the 20-something journey of Tinder dates, dancing, and asserting “I’m pretty, I’m smart, I am a cocoa queen” to a woman while working her catering job. Just, you know, the typical NYC stuff. There’s also a pretty great moment when she’s on the subway and gestures at a man-spreader to close his man legs.

Here’s the full synopsis:

“Jessica Williams (The Daily Show) stars as a young, aspiring playwright in New York City who is struggling to get over a recent breakup. She is forced to go on a date with the recently divorced Boone, played by Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) and the unlikely duo discover how to make it through the tough times in a social media obsessed post-relationship universe.

Lakeith Stanfield (FX’s Atlanta, Straight Outta Compton) and Noël Wells (Netflix’s Master of None) co-star. The film was written and directed by Jim Strouse and produced by Michael B. Clark and Alex Turtletaub of Beachside. Jessica Williams and Kerri Hundley serve as executive producers.”

Williams has spoken candidly about the challenges and pressures as a young black woman to represent “these ideals and values that I was taught as a young lady” while being “still kind of a mess” as many young women are. The movie comes onto the streaming service July 28th. Are you going to check it out?

(image: Netflix)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:40 am
yhlee: voidmoth with starry wings in a triangle (hxx emblem Nirai)
[personal profile] yhlee
Which faction of the hexarchate are you? [Solaris Books].

A quiz! I get Nirai...?!

Take Action Against Trumpcare

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:45 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

The most recent polling on House Republicans' version of Trumpcare is abysmal: "Just 16 percent of adults believe that House health care bill is a good idea, versus 48 percent who say it’s a bad idea." So just wait until everyone gets a good look at the Senate version, which is even worse.

I have never, in all my days, seen either party so arrogantly pursue legislation that was so wildly unpopular. It's almost like the Republicans know they won't have to answer to voters next year. Which is a pretty terrifying thought.

But as of right now, as far as we know, they still will have to answer to voters next year, so let us all take the time today to make calls, send faxes, compose emails, craft tweets, whatever it takes to communicate with our Republican Senators (if we have the misfortune of being represented by one or two of them) and let them know in no uncertain terms that they will not have our votes if they vote for this disgusting piece of legislation.

Work those teaspoons, Shakers!

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 04:00 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
Today I definitely slept twelve hours, broken a couple times with drink breaks. Possibly more.
Guess moving every box and book in the house repeatedly makes you tired.

Also yesterday I bought a fan and today the weather went acceptable again so I don't need it.
You're welcome ;-)

Probably it was the being cooler and no window open that let the sleeping work.

For values of work that involved dreaming a mage caused epidemic that killed fifteen thousand people.

It was an interesting setup, college of magic, rules about celibacy, me and Magneto and the Professor planning to break them, Julian Bashir turning up for the medical parts along with his politician older twin Alex. Plenty of romance options and bonus magic. But the bit with all those thousands of people bleeding from the everywhere kind of took all the fun out of the other parts. Read more... )

I also dreamed that the reason I'm... built with a handy energy reserve suitable for surviving starvation rations... is that I'm instinctively good at the spell Monk's Feast. Hmm, dreamed it wrong, in GURPS it's Monk's Banquet. Either way, it's the spell where you can go without food or water for a day because magic took care of it. If I cast that and ate anything on top, that would all be bonus calories and end up going to my waist.

Pretty good excuse.

But I've spent most of the afternoon, it feels like, dreaming about the various slightly bad tasting penance rations of the college of magic, so I think I'm hungry. I'll go eat a real food.

Cool Stuff Friday

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:18 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday is almost finished with this first draft…

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Bingo card for me

NSFW Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:40 am
petra: Barbara Gordon smiling knowingly (Default)
[personal profile] petra
( You're about to view content that the journal owner has advised should be viewed with discretion. )
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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

We’re still waiting to see if the current push towards virtual reality will actually catch on or if it will be another misfire along the path to fulfilling our Star Trek holodeck dreams, but as that goes on, augmented reality is making an unexpectedly strong case for itself. When pushed beyond just a gimmick into the area of virtual objects that you can actually move around and interact with in real space, it makes for impressive displays like this real-world Super Mario Bros. level.

Created by developer Abhishek Singh, the recreation of the NES game’s introductory level is entirely unofficial, so you’ll probably never get to try it out for yourself (although Nintendo’s own theme park should make for a nice consolation prize), even once the consumer model of Microsoft’s HoloLens finally makes it to the public. It’s fun to watch, though, with or without the actual overlay that Singh saw as he played—the passersby were probably pretty amused.

It still comes with its own AR-specific limitations, though, mostly related to the fact that AR game players can’t actually touch the objects they see in-game, so Singh had to cheat a bit and use his adaptation’s 3D liberties to step around pipes and other obstacles, rather than walk through them and break the illusion. The overall visual effect is pretty convincing, though, especially when looking down bottomless pits embedded into the sidewalk.

The inability to jump on top of objects might put a damper on the Mario experience, but he’s reportedly considering letting other developers tinker with his code and see what they can come up with. A game tailor-made to use the HoloLens to create a large environment like this could be a lot of fun with the hardware’s limitations incorporated into the design.

(via Engadget, image: screengrab)

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