bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

BooksWhen I posted about my resolution to read (almost) only women in 2014, a handful of folks asked me to share what I read. While I do maintain a Goodreads page, it occurs to me that blogging my progress is probably a lot more interesting and flexible for everyone.

So. Here goes.

This month, I finished three books that I began reading prior to the new year: a general book on fitness, Frank Herbert's Dune, and Tiffany M. Gill's Beauty Shop Politics. Of the three, Gill's book is the only one that would meet the criteria of my challenge, and is also the one that I'd recommend most highly.

The history of beauty culture in the American African American community is not something much discussed, and in particular I don't think I really understood the centrality of it in terms of bolstering the Civil Rights movement and empowering women of color. I can't say as a white guy that I have a bone-deep understanding after reading a book, but this adds context I didn't have before.

Other books I finished in January:

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
This is actually a re-read for me, and enjoyable because while I know the story well, I'd forgotten the particular shape of the original text. I'd also forgotten how much it references the works of others in her personal circle, so those parts of me that delight in minutae got a nice workout.

Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I was aware of the upcoming film for Divergent, and I'd started seeing copies of it floating around in public, so I figured I'd give it a go. I ended up binge reading the whole series. It hits me right in the sci-fi dystopia buttons, and the story is one in which there's a lot of opportunities to think about identity, justice, conformity, courage, bias, etc. The diversity level in the text is middling -- lots of PoC, very limited LGBTQ, good gender variety -- and I kind of want to start watching IMDB to see how badly Hollywood sucks out the good stuff and replaces it with crap. Also, like any trilogy there's a necessary shift in the third book, but I'm still trying to decide how I feel about some of those changes, and if there was a better way to tell that part of the story.

Exploring the Northern Tradition by Galina Krasskova
I realized around the late middle of January that I'd enjoy engaging in book club-style behavior with my Pagan studies without going to the trouble of actually starting a book club. Krasskova's book is the one I chose for January. You can find my write-up here.

That puts my counts for 2014:

- 8 books finished
- 5 read in their entirety
- 2:6 ratio of men to women

For February, I'm already working on a good blend of fiction and non-fiction, including another well-loved re-read, and a possible exception to my resolution (under the "required for a project/study" provision). So, uh, stay tuned if you're into that sort of thing.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

chainSo I basically lost two days this week to delirious stimming thanks to some kind of fever-and-wooziness bug.

I enjoy these experiences, even if they're physically miserable. Temporary discomfort is like formal poetry; the constraints make it interesting and force us to approach challenges in novel ways. The level of challenge and contrast between the ordinary and constrained way are part of that. It's like a roller coaster, though I'm not entirely sure if it's more like being one than riding one.

Plus, I lose a lot of my filters -- both for input and output -- when I'm feverish. It's nice to have inexplicable laughing-at-groceries experiences. I feel "fresher" mentally after a couple of days of atypical connections. Sometimes my brain just needs to play without anyone at the helm, I guess.

And now, links.

10 Years Ago, Opportunity Rover Began a 90-Day Mission That Never Ended
Ten years ago, two rovers -- Spirit and Opportunity -- started exploring Mars. They were supposed to last three months. Spirit gave up the ghost in 2011 after spending a few months doing stationary experiments after getting stuck, but Opportunity is still kicking well past it's expiration date. If your heart is not filled with pride and love for these bravest of toasters, I am not sure you are capable of either.

One map sums up the damage caused by the anti-vaccination movement
Here's the thing: even if one believes that vaccines may contain toxic compounds -- a thing that can no doubt be improved -- using them is demonstrably better overall for populations of humans than not using them. And, given that Wakefield's findings have been pretty much debunked at this point, the anti-vacc argument is increasingly weak sauce in the face of the obvious benefits of maintaining herd immunity.

Satanists Blamed For Theft of Pope's Blood
Because, you know, nobody else might really want a memento of Pope John Paul II because human beings love tangible things and tend to collect and like to touch. Nobody could possibly think that stealing a reliquary for sale on the black market might make them a significant amount of money. There's no possible way that anybody, ever, might think to steal something rare and valuable and religiously significant. Except, you know, Satanists. Scary, scary Satanists.

Women Destroy Science Fiction All Genres!
There is a reason this Kickstarter project is nailing its stretch goals, and that reason is that it is awesome. Sweet gods, I need to win the lottery.

The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture
One of the many reasons monosexual cisfolk can be difficult to deal with: misogyny in the gay male community. Which, incidentally, tends to drive a lot of transphobia as well.

Green burials reflect a shift to care for the body and soul
I love that green burial is starting to get a toehold in the monotheisms in a visible way. It's actually in my top three preferences in terms of future disposition of my remains -- if I can find a place that will let me include some grave goods, it could beat out alkaline hydrolysis as my #1 and cremation as my #2 -- though I still have a lingering discomfort with the concept of future anthropologists misgendering me. So.

If You Want To Fit In At This Public School Just Become Christian
This kind of thing, incidentally, is why secular public schools are important. By that I don't mean that individuals can't express their faith and that religious topics can't be taught or discussed in history, literature, or cultural studies. They should. What I mean is that students must be allowed to participate and feel safe regardless of their faith, and that educators have a responsibility in their role not to infringe on student's rights to do that. If the teachers in my rural hometown during the 1990s were able to do that for the most part, this school should be able to figure it out. Then again, looking at this map, Louisiana is also in a state that allows public schools to teach creationism. So.

- CHVRCHES covered "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
And I don't hate it. Mostly because I don't expect it to be Bauhaus, and because it does something new with the original instead of trying to imitate it. Your mileage may vary.

- What Kind of Meat is Human Meat?
The answer may surprise you. And possibly make you uncomfortable about veal if you weren't already.

- Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars
The Internet can be a fantastic tool for minorities and others dealing with inequity. On the other hand, we also seem to have a nasty habit of eating our own. This is going to take some work.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

Roommate J and I are both home sick today. To give you an idea of how this is going, I offer an extract.

Me: *in kitchen, bursts out laughing*

J: "Huh?"

Me: "Nothing. I'm just...laughing. At groceries."

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

chainToday has been interesting. Lots of writing, but the sort that takes a significant amount of revision as I go.

Which means all kinds of things didn't happen today. Or maybe that a lot of the thing I wanted to get done most got done, just in a slower way than was entirely convenient, and that my weekend now has meaning.

Oh, and I just finished binge reading the second and third books of the Divergent series. I need some kind of recovery program now. Or a new heart. And some tissues. And more books to read.

So. Links.

Why Getting A Job Doesn't Mean Getting Out Of Poverty
Income inequality and crappy jobs: why the recession feels like it's still happening for almost everyone.

Dad gets OfficeMax mail addressed 'Daughter Killed in Car Crash'
Third-party mailing lists: kind of evil.

Utah is ending homelessness by giving people homes
I'll be interested to see how this program develops. I mean, if solving the problem is cheaper than the problem...

Meryl Streep, National Treasure
Not actually the title of the video. Basically, Ellen gives Streep random readings, each to be read in a different character. Pure Internet candy.

Father photographs his 5-year old daughter in the clothing and settings of Renaissance Dutch, Flemish, and Italian masters
Exactly what it says, and just as awesome as you think.

World's first comet chaser wakes up suddenly from 31-month hibernation
Nerd happiness. Yes.

Non-alarmist commentary on the body mod ban
So the whole "OMG ARKANSAS BODY MOD BAN" thing goes around from time to time, but nobody seems to get past the point of freaking out. So here. Have some useful info from someone on the ground, who worked with legislators to make sure folks were well-informed.

Singer Gets a Major Photoshop Makeover in Music Video
Again, does what it says on the tin, but in a language I don't speak.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

body with herbsWednesday night, one of my roommates and I were at a social function and she asked me whether I prefer Harold and Maude or Tenacious D.

I was confused, given that one is a really excellent film, and one of them is an amusing musical act, but then she clarified that she'd specifically wanted to know about Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, and not necessarily Tenacious D in general.

You guys. Let me tell you about how I love Harold and Maude. Harold's obsession with acting out the idea of death, his ingenuity in the execution, how it changes when he experiences Maude's relationship with life and mortality, the way the story shows characters dealing with the reality of death and how that stands in contrast to the way we symbolize it, how the whole thing is informed by the concept of how a Good Death is a desirable thing, the mentoring/maturity storyline, how it destigmatizes suicide in a beautiful and sensitive way...

It is a hell of a film. Pick of Destiny is a laugh, but it's not even in the ballpark.

And really, of course I'd feel this way. Ghostbusters is the film that stuck with me more than any other, with Beetlejuice coming a close second. I worry may have come close to wearing out the copy of The Making of Thriller we used to rent from the Curtis Mathes shop when I was a kid. I have always loved monsters and dead things and death. The aptitude tests my high school guidance counselor gave me actually suggested I consider being a funeral director (among other things, including being a writer).

Cemeteries are my happy place. I think a lot about the implications of my own future possible deaths, the logistical nuts and bolts (both for myself and loved ones), and the disposition of my remains. I have a lock of my grandmother's hair from when she died. I keep meaning to build myself a nice coffin/bookcase.

Death is such a big part of who I am that I don't really notice until I notice it's not like this for other people, or until someone asks something death-related and then I get really, really excited.

So, uh, yeah.

And now, links:

In Which We Can Only Imagine The Decay
Sarah Wambold writes about embalming, and our weird relationship with it, and embracing death as it is.

Finally, Some Decent Leather Battle Armor For Cats
Because why not? I mean, how else are they going to be able to compete with well-armed guinea pigs?

The Aesthetics of Reading
Typography affects mood. While I'd venture that most graphic designers have known this for ages, it's nice to see it in study format.

Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels
Relatedly, researchers think they've found some common traits shared by bestsellers. Still deciding what I think about this.

London Underground in the 1970s/80s
Some of these are really fantastic, and I got a good hit of nostalgia for the aesthetics of my early years (though the London Underground almost couldn't be more different from where I grew up). Possibly even more interesting: color film of London from 1926.

How to Save Local Bookstores in Two Easy Steps
I'm not sure I agree that Espresso and e-book shopping are the only fixes for the brick-and-mortar model, but the combo in a local shop context is intriguing.

'Mein Kampf' Was A 2013 eBook Bestseller
Speaking of e-books, Mein Kampf is apparently selling best in that format, possibly because of social stigma. It's an uncomfortable topic.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story
Adichie grew up in Nigeria, but had little early exposure to stories about people like her. The effect of that "single story" -- i.e. the experience of white Europeans -- was that she didn't realize that people like her, in places like her home, could exist in books. She cautions us about simple, limited narratives, and narratives that don't accurately describe the world as it is.

EXPLAINING WHITE PRIVILEGE TO A BROKE WHITE PERSON...
Hint: privilege != everything being easy. Hint #2: Intersectionality is a Thing.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about Cecil Gershwin Palmer.

If you've got no idea who I'm talking about, stop what you are doing and go discover Welcome to Night Vale. Aside from what it is on its own (i.e. podcast theatre/storytelling in the format of community radio from a brilliantly bizarre desert town), it's also a thing with a significant and creative following composed of people who like to make art, and cosplay, and write stories.

Which, you know, without visual cues means that the community decides what things might/could/should look like.

Given that WTNV is entirely audio, and given the nature of the show -- a literal five-headed dragon is running against The Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in your home in the mayoral race! -- Cecil could look like anyone and/or anything.

He could look like Chiwetel Ejiofor. He could look like Jim Morrisson. He could look like a pastrami sandwich (though this is unlikely given the policies in Night Vale regarding wheat and wheat byproducts).

The way fandom visualizes Cecil (the voice of Night Vale) fascinates me. I initially came to the show because I kept seeing dream casting on Tumblr suggesting Richard Ayoade in his role, and had misunderstood that to mean he was actually involved in the podcast. I later became aware of what's become one of the most common Cecils -- white, blond with-or-without dark roots, lots of squiggly purple tattoos, into sweater vests, may or may not have a third eye -- as well as what Cecil Baldwin (the voice actor who plays him) looks like.

I like the uncertainty. I like the different possible Cecils. I like that there's a Cecil I can be for Halloween (white Cecil with the tattoos) while having a very different headcanon (my Cecil has always been multi-ethnic, dark-skinned, tattooed, and a snappy dresser in an punk-ish sort of way). The openness and variety is really satisfying to me because anyone can play.

(Well, everyone but Steve Carlsberg. That guy's a jerk.)

Of course, that may be the reason I resist getting too deeply into the WTNV fandom. Because as much as I want to believe that everyone on that particular train thinks as I do -- that an abundance of Cecils is much to be desired -- I keep seeing hints that this is not the case often enough. Or that white Cecil is just "Cecil" while Cecils of color are perceived as special variant Cecils. Which is annoying but not surprising, given how race works in our culture.

So yeah. I'm chewing on this a lot.

And now, links:

- This is Anxiety
As someone who struggles mightily with anxiety at times, I was excited to see that this exists. It's not just a matter of calming down and being rational. It's a matter of body/mind doing things that make even a rational person crumble in bizarre ways.

- Shovel Your Fucking Walk
Not that we have done this at my house yet, but given that the city can't seem to be bothered to deal with our street, I've kind of chosen Skyrim over shovels.

- The BBC's Social Media Problem With Sherlock
Given how spoiled I've been with Doctor Who (in the "given many things" sense, not the "early information" sense), I'd actually forgotten that the UK is getting Sherlock before us until the .gifs hit Tumblr.

- Trans Housing Network
Kind of like "need a penny, take a penny" but with couches and people whose gender identities tend to make us homeless and stigmatized.

- Sneak-Peek: Top 5 Sky Events of 2014
Look up a few times this year, yeah?

- Why Some Parents Are Refusing HPV Vaccine For Their Children
A really solid look at why some of the common reasons parents resist having their kids immunized against HPV, some rebuttals, and a fantastic visualization of the data.

- Words, Words, Words: On Toxicity and Abuse in Online Activism
The evolution of call-out culture in online environments is increasingly broken if the people it's supposed to help are the ones being hurt. Just putting that out there.

- Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet
This is a long read, but it's a powerful one about the extent of the hostility about half the wired population experiences daily, and the lack of seriousness with which it's treated by our current culture.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

It's been a while since I did these on a regular basis, but I'm kind of thinking I'd like to bring them back. Sharing things tends to lead to discussing them, and I seem to enjoy that sort of thing. So.

The Year We Broke the Internet
The nice thing about the Internet is that anyone can have a say, and that information moves very fast. The problem with the Internet is that everyone can have a say, and that information moves very fast. And, as it happens, these things have consequences not just for the masses, but for journalism as well.

Thoughts After Writing My First Official Fanfiction Story
In December, Jim Hines wrote Crimson Frost and posted it in installments. Here's his post-fic wrap-up, where he discusses his experience of writing it, shares some thoughts about how fanfic fits into the experience of writing, and where you can find links to the story.

Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak
It turns out that uptalk is something everyone uses, that it doesn't reflect a lack of education or ability, and that attitudes about it are more or less rubbish. So.

Scientists: Dogs poop aligned to Earth's magnetic field
Yes, this has already begun to figure into post-walk discussions about the dogs.

ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk
Three years ago, Tamisha Means rushed to the hospital because her water broke only four and a half months into her pregnancy. When she arrived, she was told to go home and hold out for nine more days. Two days later she returned, bleeding, in pain, feverish, and desperate for help, but the hospital told her that they could not assist her. Only when she began to deliver the child -- while they were in the process of discharging her -- did they assist. The reason? The hospital's religious stance on therapeutic abortion. The ACLU is helping Means sue the bishops, the source of the rules that put her and other women at risk.

Have a good weekend, all.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

jan 2014It occurred to me the other day that I haven't taken a photo of myself in a while. Usually when I do I try to look kind of serious, or focus on trying to accentuate my better points.

So. That's working out quite well for me these days.

As first days of the year go, I'd say the beginning of 2014 has gone pretty well. It started out with a really excellent shower, some fun entertaining a guest, and then the rest of it was mostly Thai food and brilliant conversation with a friend I don't see nearly often enough.

We were at Chim's for over six hours. So much tea. So much coconut-based curry. So much thinky. Mmm.

As for resolutions, I figured out mine for 2014 in the car on the morning of the 30th, almost entirely by accident. See, I've been tracking my reading for the last couple of years, and while I do seem to read a few women, female authors still aren't making up at least 50% of my reading diet.

Thus, my plan: read only women authors in 2014, with the following exceptions:

- I can finish any books I am currently reading, regardless of the author's gender,
- I can continue reading any series I am already reading (currently A Song of Ice and Fire, Magic Ex Libris, and Dune)
- I can read books by men if they are required for a course, of if I'm doing specific research and they're the best source

I'm actually pretty stoked about this. I've got Veronica Roth's Divergent waiting for me on my desk, Seanan McGuire's second InCryptid novel on deck, as well as a few others already waiting.

It's going to be a good reading year. Though, uh, considering I'm still awake at 1:30 in the morning, possibly not so great in terms of sleep. Er.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

ZombieWell, that didn't work out quite the way I thought it might.

Actually, no. Honestly, the remainder of the summer seems to have done more or less exactly what I anticipated. I went from moving my mother to downsizing my own clutter and moving house, then found myself in a place where my downtime needed to be downtime while I let the toxicity of the last seven years bleed and seep and ooze out of me.

Yeah, I anticipated being a little less quiet, but there you go.

So here's what I did on my summer vacation. I arranged and rearranged my room. I binge-watched all eight seasons of Supernatural. I spent time bonding with my dogs. I started the work of consolidating all of my old data from various previous computers and then trying to delete the duplicate copies of everything (which is a chore just with my music collection alone).

Somewhere along the line I started working again. A friend lured me onto a project a couple of months ago that I can't wait to be able to talk about. I hammered out several really fun pages on something else yesterday. I'm reading more again. Things are unknotting. This is good, because when the full scale of what I did by walking away from a house hits, I'll probably want to be pretty bendy.

Overall, though, I feel pretty good.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

boxesI've been quiet over here for much longer than I intended. For those of you wondering where I am and what's going on, the short version is that 2013 is turning out to be sort of a big year for major life changes.

For one thing, my roommate and I got shot at a couple of months ago. That was exciting.

Not in a directed way, fortunately. Mostly we stepped outside at just the wrong moment to find ourselves behind the shooter's actual target. Still, that's the kind of moment that changes one's perspective about life. Intended targets or not, that could have been it.

Since then, we've been in the process of finding a different place and way of living. That's meant relocating my mother (and two 26' trucks full of her stuff) and deciding what to do about our own household. We're pretty sure we've got all of that figured out at this point, but spending a couple of months flailing around and dealing with multi-household logistics is exhausting.

Seriously. I'm sick of moving and I haven't even started moving my own stuff yet.

On the whole, I'm feeling mostly optimistic. There's still a lot of stress and exhaustion happening. There are some things that won't be sure or settled for a while. On some levels, that's marvelously liberating. In other ways...well, that "unspecified doom" feeling can mean many things.

It's been good for my creativity, albeit in a terribly erratic way. I'm making things in bursts in various media. I'm collaborating on a secret thing I can't discuss yet. I'm getting rid of a lot of things while being smug enough not to be an Annoying Rich Internet Minimalist. I'm re-learning that I'm allowed to be comfortable (though, importantly, not entitled).

So yeah. It's a thing. You'll probably hear more from me as things settle down. It's just been a week and I felt like I really need to start putting thoughts here again.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

So I'm mostly through what will be my longest week until mid-May, and I'm really starting to feel it.

Oh, sure, I'm still getting over that nasty chest/throat thing I had for a while. And yeah, in addition to logging some heavy hours I'm also trying to organize some serious lifestyle changes and and reading some relatively weighty books instead of feeding myself delicious fiction, but still. Ugh.

My head feels like it's made of wood tonight. If you've seen my brain, please send it home.

While it's away, some random links:

- Hanzi Smatter, or a website devoted to why it's dumb to get things tattooed onto your body in a language you don't know.

- Wringing things out...FOR SCIENCE! Canada is better at space than every other country because of Chris Hadfield.

- Wee octopodes! (Also, how much do I love how complicated it is to pluralize "octopus?")

- Mark Ruffalo is all about the Science Bros. Pardon me while I wipe away a tiny tear of glee.

- Pagans help save the Parliament of the World's Religions. Because we're awesome like that.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

...is this short film called Cargo, in which a bitten father tries to protect his infant daughter.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

jayne-hatSo Fox has contracted a company -- Ripple Junction -- to make licensed Jayne hats. You can get them on Think Geek and stuff.

My personal reaction is that it's nice to be able to get one that's "right" in the sense that it's a licensed piece designed to be accurate -- AbbyShot makes some things I'd really like to own, for example -- but I also like the option of obtaining handmade. Jayne hats, for example, tend to be made with nicer materials than the acrylic yarn Ripple Junction's using, and buying handcrafted means supporting people who do handicrafts as a hobby or livelihood.

Some Browncoats I've seen talking about this have a pretty strong attachment to the Ma Cobb ethic in that Jayne hats ought to be DIY and not mass-produced pieces of luh suh.

Well, now folks on Etsy are getting Cease and Desist orders.

So here's the thing:

Fox owns Firefly. They're absolutely entitled to market and license the manufacture of Firefly-related stuff. That's not up for debate. They're also allowed to defend their intellectual property, even if it's a property they mistreated pretty egregiously, then pointedly ignored for years.

That said, there's apparently a pretty good case to be made that Jayne's hat itself isn't a thing that Fox can stop people from making and selling. Calling it a "Jayne hat" might be problematic in terms of trademark, but if someone were to knit replicas and call them "cunning hats," for example, Fox would have (in my absolutely non-professional opinion as someone with a B.A. in English, informed by some lawyer's blog) less of a case. They've got even less of a leg to stand on with Jayne-style hats that are color-inverted, color-shifted, or mashed up with other things (like this Fourth Doctor Jayne hat).

And, of course, there's no way for Fox to stop anybody from making their own, teaching other people how to make their own, giving them as gifts, airdropping them, etc.

Of course, some of this may technically be moot for the poor knitter who can't afford to stand up to them, but I'd be surprised if the Browncoat community didn't pull together to raise money if Fox actually lawyered up.

Fans are going to make things, full stop. While property holders do have some rights in terms of controlling works based on media, those powers aren't total and complete. Fox is very big, and throws its weight around, but fandom isn't powerless, and telling a bunch of creative people working in community to stop doing that simply doesn't work.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

beesI was dinking around on Twitter last night and happened to see someone talking about home-cultivated honey a friend had given them, and how awesome it was.

While I wasn't jealous, exactly -- we have a lot of local honey going on around here, and I can get some pretty good stuff relatively inexpensively -- it did make me think about how I'd really like to learn about apiary at some point. Also, mead-making.

Of the two, learning to make mead is undoubtedly going to be the easier of the two to get away with. After all, if one can make a wine-like substance in a prison toilet tank out of sauerkraut and orange juice, I'm reasonably confident that I can produce something drinkable in a proper kitchen using proper tools. Plus, unlike Oprah, not everybody is completely stoked about having a colony of bees rocking out within spitting distance.

Mead, meanwhile, is comparatively inoffensive. It just kind of hangs out and ferments for a little while, and all it asks for is to be left undisturbed for a while in a relatively constant environment. Dogs don't (usually) bark at it, there aren't sad movies about children being attacked by a swarm of angry mead, and unless something goes really wrong, it's unlikely to try and build a colony inside the walls.

So yeah. New goal. Learn to make mead. And then maybe befriend a beekeeper with it or something.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

BurkhartSo I was doing my morning news round-up today and learned that Julie Burkhart, who worked with Dr. George Tiller before he was murdered in church by an anti-choice extremist in May of 2009, has just reopened a new women's health clinic in the Wichita building where Dr. Tiller practiced before his death.

She and her staff are, unsurprisingly, facing a lot of harassment (mentioned in this segment from Maddow), but it sounds like they're just as undeterred in making sure that women have access to a full range of reproductive healthcare now as they were in February.

Meanwhile, Burkhart's Trust Women PAC is going to continue working to preserve and find ways to provide full-spectrum women's health care and family planning options in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. You can check them out (and donate, if you're into that sort of thing) here.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

strawfeministWhile I don't usually duck and cover on April 1 -- I actually enjoy well-executed pranks and faux product launches, and even the occasional questionable news article -- this year I spent most of the day away from the keys.

This might not have been a bad thing overall since a lot of my energy is spoken for at the moment and I might not have had the extra brain cycles to enjoy a lot of the jokes anyway, one thing that happened yesterday has managed to penetrate the busy and the brain haze: Lawrence Person's offensive post on the Locus site, Locus' response, and Person's reaction to the whole thing.

From what I can tell, here's what went down:

- Person posted an April 1 post in which Wiscon's organizers announce a burqua-only dress code for the upcoming convention.
- Sensible people decried it as offensive.
- Locus pulled the post, ended association with Person, and issued an apology to readers.

Person, who has posted a copy of the post on his blog, seems to have decided to embrace the whole thing, and has indulged in a bit of traffic statistic victory lapping.

I'm all for a bit of succès de scandale, but I'm skeptical that over 20,000 people seeing that that the problem essay is basically a heady mish-mash of Islamophobia and misogyny, or that Person goes straight for the "humorless feminist" stereotype, or that he is comparing this to Elizabeth Moon's infamous "Citizenship" post from 2010 as if that were a good thing is going to have a positive effect.

I will be the first to admit that the way we do social justice on the Internet can be flawed. Well-meaning allies do dumb things, people don't always understand differing cultural norms, folks get dogpiled for the wrong reasons, and the Internet frequently combines a long memory with an inability to forgive in really ugly ways. Really ugly. Even so, there's a difference between what might be rightly called "social justice fail" where someone gets hurt by the seething mass for asinine reasons and what's happening here.

There is nothing "radical" or "fringe" about inclusivity. Locus' decision to pull something that doesn't represent its values isn't an impingement on speech. That SF/F as a group of genres increasingly caters to diverse communities of people instead of just a particular kind of white guy may put a crimp in the style of people who'd really rather not deal with the rest of humanity as equals, but them's the breaks.

You can adapt to the plural public square -- which, gasp, includes women and Muslims -- and learn to include people even when they're different, or you can rage against it and alienate yourself. Expecting someone to maintain a basic level of civility and professional inclusion isn't a "petulant demand." It's basic common sense. Locus made the right call. Good on them.

And yeah, this all happened in the context of an April 1 post (which Person has apparently been doing for eleven years), but the fact remains: Person made an Islamophobic, misogynist post in the guise of a joke, and then expected all of us to be okay with that. We weren't. Disparagement humor has real effects. And no, "Don't be so sensitive!" isn't an acceptable response.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

An ostrich dancing to a tin whistle.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

2012 ChallengeSooner or later I need to post about my Epic Birthday Adventure, but I find myself experiencing a woeful lack of photos from the person(s) who had iPhones handy. Soon? Soon.

Still, even more belatedly, I've been meaning to post some thoughts about the books I read last year. Because, ah, I read a few, and Goodreads helps me keep track of them. They also have a feature that allows readers to sign up for yearly reading challenges.

Last year, I started with a 24 book goal, but bumped it up to 36, and then finally 48. I finished out the year with 50 books finished in 2012. Considering the current size of my physical "to read" stack (which has about 50-60 books in it at any given time), I feel reasonably good about that.

But, you know, I get curious when I have a stack of data in front of me. So I looked at the list of books I read in 2012 and decided I wanted to know what I could learn from it.

- In 2012, 28 of the 50 books I read (56%) were works of fiction.
- In 2012, 34 of the 50 books I read (68%) were written by men.
- The author I read most in 2012 was Seanan McGuire (6 books), with Alan Moore and George R.R. Martin tying for second place (4 books). Suzanne Collins came in third place (3 books).
- Most of my non-fiction reading pertained to spirituality, with history and natural history coming in tied for second place, and all three topics having significant crossover.
- Most of my fiction reading was series fiction (October Daye, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hunger Games, Magic Ex Libris, Princesses, Promethea).

I was surprised by some of this. I knew the fiction/non-fiction ratio would be pretty close, but I was surprised by the gender gap. Somehow I got to the end of the year thinking this would have been a lot more even. I haven't run numbers for things like race and sexuality -- some of that info simply isn't available -- but at a glance 2012 was relatively short on LGBTQ and PoC where my reading habits were concerned. I think I may try and remedy some of this in 2013.

I also hadn't really thought of myself as someone who primarily reads series fiction, but either 2012 was unusual -- hello, mainlining three series in 2012! -- or this was just something I didn't know about myself. I'm fine with that, obviously, but somehow it was a surprise. Don't ask me how. It's not like I thought I'd read a bunch of stand-alone books or something.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

skullApologies to Morrissey, but this week is already feeling like one of Those Weeks.

Things are pretty tight, and if I'm a dollar off, stuff doesn't happen in the right order or at all. Not rocket science, but definitely stressful in terms of making sure that things that need to work continue working, etc. It would have been nice if this wasn't happening when other things I've been trying to juggle are refusing to juggle as nicely as I'd like, or if all of this wasn't happening in the same week as reaching another milestone in the "living with an ageing parent" part of my life.

I keep reminding myself that I signed up for this, but it's hard when she creates a physical boundary for me by smoking in the house. Thirty minutes downstairs last night made me feel sick much of the evening, and my sinuses are making my skull a truly unpleasant place to live today. I'm finally to the point where I've as much as told her that her smoking inside makes it pointless for us to share a building, and if she doesn't quit -- or at least meet me in the middle by using a patch or electric cigarette when it's too cold for her to do that -- I may as well see if the bank will take a deed in lieu of foreclosure and pack her off into assisted living because I physically cannot do what she needs me to do in that environment. Which is absolutely true. And exhausting.

So, you know, the usual.

The writing has been a mixed bag. I'm really pleased overall with the work I've done so far this year -- he says, 23 days in -- but am feeling a lot of anxiety while I try and get some of the outlining together for something I want to get started this weekend. This isn't an unusual state of affairs. As I joked with my roommate this weekend: "It's not like this should be so difficult! It's not like I have to, oh, make everything up or anything! Oh wait." The main source of stress is that I've struggled a fair bit with longer fiction of late, and it's easy to latch on to those stumbles as reasons to be afraid of trying again.

Mostly, I am countering this by a) pointing myself to my Alice novella and reminding myself that I did that while also doing my last semester of college, and b) reminding myself that not trying is an automatic failure, and if I am set on failing, wouldn't I rather at least fail in interesting ways?

So that's fun when it's fun.

Basically, I'm spending a lot of time right today wishing for just the right flavors of feeling secure and cared for, while knowing that what I really need is to to a) make these things for myself, b) be flexible, and c) actually accept what others offer me, even when it's scary or I feel like a burden. I'm extraordinarily lucky in that regard because have friends who are kind, amazing people who occasionally reassure me that if everything really does come apart I can build a yurt in their yards and live as their full-time cabana boy.

Not that this is the actual plan, mind you, but it's nice to have a fall-back. It's a nice change from putting myself in a position where I feel I'm not allowed to fail, ever, and that doing so is literally the end of the world.

And now, links:

- I could stop listening to this weird, major key version of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," but I'm not sure I want to just yet.

- Seanan McGuire talks about women in cover art, including some really negative reactions to the cover for Discount Armageddon (which I admit I haven't read yet because I was too busy mainlining the Toby books last year).

- Jane Bond, and her empowered, self-confident Bond Boys! I confess, I'd sort of love for this to be a real thing if someone would execute it with rigor and seriousness instead of going ha-ha, nudge-wink, isn't it cheeky comedy. Aggressive subversion of the male gaze is maybe a favorite thing for me right now.

- Oh look. Flaming goat cheese in Norway.

- Roommates with disabilities struggle to keep the power on. From the article: "Tipton-based Co-Mo Electric Cooperative shut off their power Tuesday morning, even though that meant the loss of heat and medical equipment." This strikes me as missing the point entirely of having a cooperative instead of a hypothetical evil corporate energy overlord. At least the hypothetical overlord is bound by law not to let people freeze.

- From New York magazine, Why You Truly Never Leave High School.

And now, more Aleve, water, and grumping.

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com

bodlon: (cumberbatch - with book)

The Food Timeline
I've been reading a bit about food recently. Specifically, I've been looking into historical meal time habits. On the way, I discovered The Food Timeline. Now? I cannot look away.

DAVID TENNANT KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT THE DOCTOR WHO ANNIVERSARY BUT THE BBC WON’T LET HIM TELL US
You guys. How much do I love David Tennant's inability to not tell us things by not telling us things? Enough that I left that headline in all caps. That's how much.

4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence
If there is a gang sign for MLA, somebody needs to teach me.

Trouble in the Henhouse: The Scam of Organic Eggs
When I talk about having chickens, a big part of that conversation comes down to the fact that I really loathe commercial egg production. While this is a step above de-beaked battery hens who can't move, this is a serious problem on the industry's part. As organic grows into a thing that people want -- and I tend to think that ways of producing food that are less poisonous, destructive, or cruel is a worthy aim, so I can see why it should be -- industry is going to want to make as much money on it with the least amount of effort for the mass market. That will include this kind of shady dealing. Kudos for Cornucopia for their vigilance.

Boxer And Kitten Nuzzle Tentatively, Remind Everyone To Embrace Each Others’ Differences
Thing is, that dog's body language is deep in the confusion place. Lots of little stress signals, lots of backing away. There's a bit of trying to play, too, but the owner doesn't want a boxer-sized creature dog playing with a kitten. So. Still kind of adorable, but not quite as "AWWW!" for me as it could be.

Quote Investigator
Not so much a specific link as a recommendation for an entire site. I like accuracy, I like citation, I like knowledge. Quote Investigator has lots of that, which is great because it is chock full of all three of those things. Hooray, research!

Minimalism is Simple: 30 Day Challenge
Basically a 30 day decluttering regimen. Looking at my house, it will take many more than 30 days to unclutter this madness. Still, I'm trying to move in a less pack rat-ish direction. This could be good practice. Now all I need to do is find a box.

And now, an etude on the trombone, as viewed from the end of the slide:

This post has been mirrored from Christian A. Young's Dimlight Archive. To see it in its original format, visit dimlightarchive.com