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3 weeks for dreamwidth seems like a good excuse for starting to post again. Apparently I stopped posting in January because these are mostly links from January.

I love reading about shipping.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150209-the-network-that-runs-the-world
Read more... )
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Hey, anyone want to help work up any of these ideas as Wiscon panel descriptions? They're listed with the name(s) of the people I talked to about them.

• there are several entirely different WisCons going on simultaneously (jesse the k)
• "The Structural Underpinnings of Social Isolation" (jesse the k)
• "a panel that isn't about picking people up for sex, but meeting folks one has an emotional/intellectual spark with" (possibly for dating in the future. ACE-friendly) (sophy)
• "carbon dating fairy": which books have aged well, how and why? Not so much about which books the various $suck and $fail fairies have visited, but which ones feel modern even after decades (Dune?), which ones are classics for every age (Tolkien?), and which ones remain attached to the era they were written but stand as great examples of that era's writing and concerns (PKDick?) * Is SF more likely to age badly than fantasy? * How much of a role does writing style play in the feeling of aging well or poorly? Some other books/authors: _War for the Oaks_, Piserchia, _God Stalk_, McCaffrey, Le Guin (the OH)
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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awordtothewitch/2015/01/26/witchcraft-and-the-monkeysphere/

Almost all of my spiritual practices that involved other people have taken place in small groups. This article suggests that small groups work better than large ones because of the way human social brains are wired.

Reading it, I suddenly realized part of the reason I'm reluctant to get more involved in my local sangha (http://insightmeditationcenter.org) is because I have no experience of doing spiritual stuff in the context of more than 4–8 people. (I went to a big church with my parents when I was growing up, but that wasn't at all spiritual for me.) I've gone to the sangha to sit but I don't take part in planning or running things. Sitting with others is different from sitting alone, which is also true for me in other spiritual activities—some kind of group energy is generated. But my limited attempts to socialize with people at the sangha haven't brought a strong feeling of connection.

I couldn't necessarily say this is all due to human brain limits on the number of people we can know well, though, because I've always built or joined as a founding member covens and other spiritual groups instead of joining an already established one, and I think that makes a difference to me, along with the number of participants.

Also my tendency to other myself (thinking "I'm too weird for these people," in the absence of any corroborating data) is active at the sangha because I don't know the people from other contexts. There was an LGBQT* retreat last weekend and I wanted to go, but I couldn't drag myself out of bed early enough (why do Buddhists always start things so effing early?).
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Great essay about design of female warrior characters in video games. Because "Not all women have breasts as big as our heads."
https://medium.com/@Ruby_Magatama/on-designing-better-women-in-games-ebe785d8689
~
Via [personal profile] silveradept, managing your life when you have impaired executive function (but also could apply to managing when you have other kinds of disabilities).
1. Probably the most important part in my experience: especially if you’re having bad executive function problems, you get a star for every success. Metaphorically speaking. Put the dishes in the dishwasher? Star (even if you didn’t wipe the counters or empty containers out of the fridge or whatever). Put laundry through? Star (even if you didn’t fold it and put it away and you end up using it out of the pile of clean clothes before it gets there). The biggest problem with executive function malfunctions (and this is science!) is that we get caught in horrible self-reinforcing loops: we expect too much, we don’t achieve all of it, we feel awful for not achieving all of it, we get more depressed/upset/stressed/anxious, our exective function goes down. You want to do the opposite: set small, achievable goals and the celebrate your successes.
http://last-snowfall.tumblr.com/post/103741300275/hi-folks-im-asking-for-some-help
~
"The Debt: When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?" (Spoiler: Nothing, but it's hard for some people to make that choice.)
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2013/02/abusive_parents_what_do_grown_children_owe_the_mothers_and_fathers_who_made.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_top
~
Cab Calloway's Hepster dictionary ("the first dictionary authored by an African-American" according to Barrelhouse words: a blues dialect dictionary.)
http://www.openculture.com/2015/01/cab-calloways-hepster-dictionary.html
~
Coyotes are the third most common carnivore found in The The Tar Pits Tar Pits (sorry, I mean La Brea) and we can study their evolution relative to that of the gray wolf.
...climate change couldn’t account for the shrinking coyotes. Instead, Ice Age coyotes may have been larger because size was an advantage during a time when there was a broader guild of big predators stalking the land. Once the dire wolves, sabercats, and American lions went extinct, competition for prey ceased to be so intense and coyotes became smaller. Also, many of the large prey animals of the Ice Age – such as horses and camels – went extinct, too, meaning less food on the hoof for coyote packs.
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/14/how-extinction-changed-the-coyote/
~
In praise of non-photogenic food
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/14/my-cooking-is-a-mess-and-tastes-better-for-it

Many interesting excerpts from Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in WWII by Allan Berubé
http://thingswithwings.dreamwidth.org/219082.html
~
Sherlock Holmes (TOS) fans take note.
...literary scholar Clare Clarke has uncovered some long-forgotten texts...as she sets out to examine the detective as criminal, the bad guy as the hero and societies where crimes may well go unsolved – as well as London, the books take in Australia and India. She introduces us to a master of disguise (yes, another one), a dodgy private enquiry agent, all manner of indolent young men about town and a bent copper. There is a moral complexity to a number of these novels, she contends, that has previously been overlooked.

Along the way, Clarke places the burgeoning crime fiction genre in the context of the growth of the police force and the modern bureaucratic state.
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/books/late-victorian-crime-fiction-in-the-shadows-of-sherlock-by-clare-clarke/2017766.article
~
Interviews with various people in the SF publishing world about SF featuring people with disabilities. Thoughtful but misses some stuff I'm surprised it missed. [And now I wish I had written down what those were, because I had something in mind when I first recorded this in my linkspam collection, but now I can't remember what.]
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/09/mind-meld-disabilities-in-speculative-fiction/
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Movies


The Dark Knight Rises
2012 movie wrapping up director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. I didn't like it as much as the other two, but I thought they did a pretty good job with Catwoman. Also, I really want Bane's coat. (Costume designer Lindy Hemming "personally designed Bane's coat, which she admitted took two years to complete. The design was difficult as Hemming struggled to find a tailor in Los Angeles who could work with shearling.")

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Continues the tradition of telling the history of Middle-Earth by means of focusing on the humans that hang around with hobbits, with special emphasis on battle and escape scenes. This tradition started in Fellowship of the Ring. I saw it with a sweetie, who left to go to the bathroom (which was located on the other side of the theater) when the troll fighting scene in Moria started. When she came back, the scene was still going on. Well, in this movie, I could have spent half of my time in the bathroom and still not missed anything but battle scenes. Then again, since the title is Battle of Five Armies, I suppose I knew what I was in for going in. I watch these because I'm a Tolkien fan and Jackson's designers have done a fabulous job designing a Middle Earth that mostly tracks with the one that's been in my head ever since I first read The Hobbit at age 9. I don't think the plots track so well but I don't particularly care about that.

Planet B-Boy
2007 documentary about the 2005 Battle of the Year award for crew b-boying (aka break-dancing). The competition has taken place in Germany annually since 1990. I would have liked it better if I had understood more of the moves.


Episodics


Agent Carter
Marvel series about a woman agent in the 1940s just post-WWII. She was romantically involved with Captain America and played an important part in the war. Now that the war is over, she's working in a covert agency called Strategic Scientific Reserve but the men treat her like an office girl. So she starts taking secret missions on the side. First two episodes were very good and the third episode was pretty good.

Doctor Who
I heard that Netflix probably wasn't going to remove Doctor Who permanently after all but the threatened removal is a game of chicken with the BBC. Nevertheless I'm determined to catch up on Doctor Who before February 15. I'm currently in the middle of seaon 7 (11th Doctor with companion Clara Oswald. I REALLY LOVED the episode "The Snowmen."

Fiction


Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)
Competently narrated by Emily Grey. Fforde is a science fiction / fantasy writer comparable to Pratchett and Douglas Adams in his extremely high "clever idea to text ratio," absurdist humor, and complex world building. I'm liking this one better than the others. There is an extremely high clever idea to text ratio, and it makes me laugh fairly often. I recommend the first two books in this series, but I particularly liked this one, in which the protagonist leaves the "real world" and enters the "BookWorld," in which stands the Great Library (containing all books ever written, and all books ever attempted but not finished — the well of lost plots), and in which the organization Text Grand Central manages software that allows books to be written and read. Anyone who has worked in publishing or writing is highly likely to enjoy it.

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https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/01/facing-challenge-online-harassment

I'm glad they said something.

It's true that rules and regulations aimed at harrassers are likely to end up being used against the same groups of people who are most often the targets of harrassment (women, people of color, queer people, etc.). For example, Facebook's real name policy has been used to harrass drag queens and trans people.

The suggestions they describe for addressing harrassment are important but they aren't sufficient. Stronger blocking tools that are easier for individual users to employ? That matters, but it's not going to help with doxxing. More control over the online availability of personal information? That matters, but it's a really inadequate tool against harrassment per se. It puts a huge burden on the victim and limits their participation in the public sphere. Counter-speech? That is absolutely necessary, but it's not a solution that allows victims to stay online, especially when the victims are individuals who would rather not spend every moment of every day being reminded of their harrassment.

I have a problem with the phrase "The kind of harassment we are worried about happens when Internet users attract the attention of the wrong group or individual," because it's subtly victim-blaming.

Also the post relegates the demographics of harrassment (e.g. that women are harrassed at a far higher rate than men) to a footnote.
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https://www.zooniverse.org/ is a collection of science projects that lay people can help with. Most of them involve looking at images and marking things on the images. Apparently it's easier for humans to do some tasks of this sort than computers.

One of my favorites is called Radio Galaxy Zoo. You're shown an image that is an overlay of radio signals on an infrared photo of a distant part of the universe. You click the picture to indicate associations between the radio signals and the infrared signals. I find it easy and calming.

http://radio.galaxyzoo.org/

Another easy and calming one involves keeping tabs on penguin populations. Basically you see a photo that may or may not have penguins in it, and if there are penguins, you click them.

http://www.penguinwatch.org/
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Movies

To Catch a Thief
Hitchcock with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (and Edith Head doing costumes). I haven't laughed this much over a movie in a long time.
Read more... )
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Why "you can just make your own clothes" isn't always a great alternative for people who can't wear straight sizes. I appreciate the reminder "There is no shame in not having a lot of craft skills, but there is shame in making people feel like they should have those skills."
http://meloukhia.net/2014/12/costuming_while_fat_and_uncrafty/
Read more... )
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I recommend all of these (except GRRM). More detailed reviews on request!
Read more... )
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[personal profile] snippy posted about an interactive feature on CNN.com that attempts to determine whether you, a person residing in the US, can correctly identify whether you count as "middle-class."

Here is the gist of the comment I left over at [personal profile] snippy's post:

Income is not a great gauge of class by itself. Net worth matters a LOT.

Have you read The Millionaire Next Door? One of the main themes is that some professionals with high incomes believe that appearing wealthy is an important part of their professional reputation. So they have big houses, expensive cars and clothes, and are deep in debt. Some rich people think it's important to save money, so they have lots of assets but they don't live in fancy houses, drive beat-up cars, etc. (The book is rather simplistic in its judgements but I agree that those patterns exist.)

Those rich folks and professionals might have similar gross incomes. But are they the same class?

They are defining "middle class" where I live as a household income of $68,420—$107,815.

They're counting it as the middle fifth of income, which means they're assuming five classes. One wonders what the results would be like if they took the middle third of income (I suspect the results would be more boring, although I'm sure some people would define themselves as middle class when they aren't in the middle third of income).
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I really like Moby-Dick (the novel by Melville).

I'm afraid I don't much care for this guy's artwork style, but he made 552 illustrations for Moby-Dick (one for each page of his edition), which I think is a great project.

http://www.tinhouse.com/books/fiction-poetry/moby-dick-in-pictures.html

He also claims to have "the world's largest personal collection of Nazgul art"

http://everypageofmobydick.blogspot.com/p/the-worlds-largest-personal-collection.html

This is a recent article about him.

http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/artsmindsblog/wild-weird-world-matt-kish/

While digging around to find out more about this guy, I discovered there is now a biennial "marathon reading of Moby-Dick" in New York City. This happened in 2012 and 2014. In 2013 there wasn't a reading, but there was a "Moby-Dick Not-Marathon," aka a convention. The next marathon will be in 2016. Its Kickstarter campaign is a sight to behold.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amandabullock/moby-dick-marathon-nyc

I found out about Matt Kish via a pattern by Ann Weaver, "His Mark," in the new (50th!) edition of knitty.com:http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEw14/PATThismark.php

She has published two books of knitting patterns based on Moby-Dick. The paper versions of the books have illustrations by Matt Kish.
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A psychiatrist thinks the patient-run web site about psychiatric medications, http://crazymeds.us , is great, but can't recommend it to their patients because it has offensive jokes.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/27/such-mixed-feelings-about-crazymeds/

~

Anita Sarkeesian is on the cover of Business Week, along with the text "VIDEO GAME AVENGER: One woman's crusade to vaporize gaming's grossest trolls."

Need I say DON'T READ THE COMMENTS even though Business Week is moderating them.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-26/anita-sarkeesian-battles-sexism-in-games-gamergate-harassment

~

It's funny that this article about gender norms among "millennials" starts out by focusing on men who have chosen to decorate their fingernails. I've never decorated my fingernails before but recently I've started wearing nail decals. I vaguely worry that they make me present as too femme. But I'll save the details of my worries about gender presentation for another post.

It's OK to peek at the comments on this one. A couple of the top comments are along these lines:
"What is the incessant need to classify people in arbitrary "generations" and then build stereotypes around them? People are far too diverse to make such generalizations" (Lencho)

"This just in: Gender norms have never been challenged until millenials came along! (Don't tell David Bowie.)" (fictitiousengineer)
http://www.npr.org/2014/11/30/363345372/for-these-millennials-gender-norms-have-gone-out-of-style

~

The gender norms article referenced this documentary about Bindle & Keep, an LGBTQ-friendly tailoring company.

http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2014/09/lena-dunham-lgbtq-tailor

~

Lately company "wellness" programs have been in the news for forcing workers to undergo invasive medical exams or face large health insurance "surcharges." Good news on that front—the EEOC considers these programs inappropriate and has been suing to stop them.
In the Honeywell wellness program, employees and their spouses are asked to get blood drawn to test their cholesterol, glucose and nicotine use, and also have their body mass index and blood pressure measured. An employee who refuses is subject to a $500 surcharge on health insurance premiums and could lose up to $1,500 in Honeywell contributions to a health savings account. A worker and spouse are also each subject to a $1,000 tobacco surcharge if they refuse to do the screening. That means a couple could face a combined $4,000 in financial penalties.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/12/02/367842386/government-says-bosses-cant-force-workers-to-get-health-tests

~

Time to rewatch Gangnam Style! It has been viewed more than 2.1 billion times on YouTube, thus forcing YouTube to upgrade its 32-bit video counter. "Going to the video page and hovering over the view counter will show an animated math easter egg."

http://www.theverge.com/2014/12/3/7325819/gangnam-style-broke-youtube-view-counter
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My friend Katherine Lampe is an independent author who writes a series called Caitlin Ross. The genre might be described as "small town paranormal fantasy". The difference between this and a lot of other paranormal fantasy is that the protagonists are humans with the ability to work magic in various ways, rather than undead or fairies (although various undead, faeries, and other supernatural characters do make appearances).

Katherine Lampe's books as trade paperbacks on Amazon, as Kindle editions, or as Smashwords DRM-free ePub editions. (The first two books are temporarily unavailable to buy directly from SmashWords, although I am able to buy copies as gifts.)

http://www.amazon.com/Katherine-Lampe/e/B00BRWSDFO/

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/wysewomon

I want to introduce folks to these books so I'm offering ten folks a choice of the following:...

ETA: Gifts have been claimed! This post is now unlocked; comments are still screened.

4 Dec 2014 02:35 am
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So apparently with my camera and a foldio photo studio box and certain kinds of BOTMO beads I can take photos that look exactly like last-generation CGI. This is completely unprocessed except for a bit of color correction.

P1130093.jpg
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Movies

Advanced Style
Ari Seth Cohen has a street fashion blog called Advanced Style which focuses on stylish people (mostly women) aged 50 and over (usually a lot over). The blog has spawned a coffee table book, a coloring book complete with paper dolls and this documentary, which features a few of the women he photographs regularly. All of them live in New York City. You see them working (one works in a vintage clothing store, several teach), being photographed for ad campaigns, singing in a nightclub, being part of a flash mob at New York Fashion Week, visiting Los Angeles to appear on the Ricki Lake show, and more.

Edge of Tomorrow
Tagline is Lather. Rinse. Live. Die. Repeat. Time loop movie. Fairly entertaining in that twenty-teens excessively seriously dystopian way that movies can be. I liked the female protagonist, played by Emily Blunt, and that there was almost no (spoiler) romance between her and Cruise's character, although there was a little. (Wikipedia says the kiss between them at the end of the movie was unscripted and was Blunt's idea. I think it was a bad idea.) (end spoiler) I also loved the cranky old general character played by Brendan Gleeson.

Gravity
An astronaut and a scientist inexperienced in space travel get stranded in space. Much effort was put into making the space environment seem realistic, although the scenario is less realistic. If you can see it in the theater in 3D, definitely do that, but if not, it's wonderful in 2D on a large home TV also. Great soundtrack. Sandra Bullock is an amazing physical actress.

The Last Unicorn
Animated 1982 film of Peter Beagle's 1962 fairy tale. Liked it a lot. Proves that (spoiler) "the princess marries the prince and everyone lives happily ever after" trope could be subverted long before Frozen came along (end spoiler).

Men in Black 3
This one wasn't as good as the first one but was better than the second one. Doesn't pass the Bechdel test, but has Emma Thompson as the head of the agency. Boris the Animal and Griffin are fun aliens. Time travel to the 1960s is generally fun.

Shaft
Speaking of time travel to the 1960s...oh wait, this one was made in 1971, but close enough. One of the first and most iconic blaxploitation films, although apparently it annoyed white audiences for making too much of racism and black audiences for not making enough of it. (Gee not much has changed in 43 years.) The relationship between Shaft and his white contact in the police is fun. Everyone is wearing rust colored turtlenecks and lounging on fake fur rugs. Lots of product placement. If you want to make a point about male characters who would be called Mary Sues if they were female characters, be sure to mention Shaft. Now I want to do crossover fanfic with Shaft and James Bond.

Fiction

Up from the Grave, Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress #7)
This is the last book in the Night Huntress series, although Frost has written other books set in the same universe. I'm somewhat incapable of explaining why I like these books, so have a collection of funny (some intentionally, some not) lines instead:
  • "Baring the majority of my breasts"
  • "That’s how two vampires, a medium, and a dog came to sit around a Ouija board in the back room of a floral shop."
  • "The fact that I hadn’t known what I was doing when it happened was almost moot by comparison."
  • "Groin cleavage"
  • "Changing someone into a vampire was downright prissy-looking by comparison."
Oh, and I really didn't like the way she described Detroit.

The Sittaford Mystery, Agatha Christie
Audiobook, well narrated by Hugh Fraser, who does a wide range of voices well. Published in 1931. Not part of a series, although it was rewritten for a TV show in which Miss Marple became the crime solver. Set in Dartmoor (English title: The Murder at Hazelmoor). The rural nature of the area, along with its bad weather, and the fact that someone can hide upon the moor play into the plot, but not the beauty or loneliness of the scenery as in Conan Doyle's or Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes in Dartmoor mysteries. My favorite characters are the chief crime solver, Emily Trefusis, who is the accused man's fiancée; and Caroline Percehouse, a cranky and very smart old lady. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is mentioned in the context of his being interested in metaphysics. I had trouble keeping some of the other characters straight. Enough red herrings to feed an army.

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They stuck real-time translators into fMRI machines to try to figure out how they can do such a complex task. They found out a little but not as much as they hoped. Meanwhile, translators talk about some of the more difficult aspects of the job.
Word order is a particular problem in fish meetings, which Miles said she dreads. In a long sentence about a particular variety of fish, and in a language where the noun – the name of the fish – comes towards the end, the interpreter is left guessing about the subject of the sentence until it's completed.
http://gizmodo.com/inside-the-weird-brains-of-real-time-translators-1660521550
~

I've heard of most of these words but not all, and I had no idea in some cases that they were considered native to one side of the pond or the other (e.g. "jaywalk" is American, "dodgy" is British).
http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-fourth-untranslatables-month-summary.html
~

Kelli Dunham writes brilliantly about Heather McAllister, Brittany Maynard, and assisted suicide
http://www.xojane.com/issues/assisted-suicide-heather-macallister-brittany-maynard
~

Here is a comic that seems to do a pretty good job of explaining asexual orientation.
http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/10/5-myths-and-misconceptions-about-asexuality/
~

Jonah Soolman is a nutritional counseling practitioner who works in the Health at Every Size paradigm. He attended the Cardiometabolic Health Conference, at which various procedures and products aimed at "weight loss" were much discussed. He writes: "Following this paragraph is my list of key moments from the conference. By default, I was going to group them by disease state, but given the circumstances perhaps it is more appropriate to categorize them by the emotional state they created." The headers for the article are "Interesting," "Startling," "Disappointing," "Frustrating," "Horrifying," "Infuriating," and "Made Me Want To Throw Something."
http://www.soolmannutrition.com/2014/10/cmhc/
~

Paintings of migraines by artists who experience them.
http://dangerousminds.net/comments/migraine_headaches_depicted_by_artists
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I've been vaguely trying to learn the ukulele, and I discovered this guy Alistair Wood, a musician and writer who maintains a web site called Ukulele Hunt. Here he performs his beautiful adaptation of Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" for the ukulele. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyis-5m5brM
~

DapperQ calls itself "GQ for the 'unconventionally masculine.'" This post discusses masculine fashion for people whose bodies don't conform to the tall, thin stereotype of androgyny (which just so happens to match the tall, thin stereotype of every kind of fashion).
http://www.dapperq.com/2014/11/ask-dapperq-curvy-androgyny/
~

Proof that political sensibilities and entertainment can mix with hilarious results: Unused audio commentary by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky for The Fellowship of the Ring DVD. Excerpt:
Zinn: You view the conflict as being primarily about pipe-weed, do you not?
Chomsky: Well, what we see here, in Hobbiton, farmers tilling crops. The thing to remember is that the crop they are tilling is, in fact, pipe-weed, an addictive drug transported and sold throughout Middle Earth for great profit.
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/unused-audio-commentary-by-howard-zinn-and-noam-chomsky-recorded-summer-2002-for-the-fellowship-of-the-ring-platinum-series-extended-edition-dvd-part-one
~

By the Racialicious Team: Voices: The Michael Brown protests you didn't see (because the media were too busy showing violent protests instead).
http://www.racialicious.com/2014/11/25/voices-the-michael-brown-protests-you-didnt-see/
~

By Janee Woods: 12 things white people can do now because Ferguson
http://qz.com/250701/12-things-white-people-can-do-now-because-ferguson/
~

A fat guy who is an employee of a Sam's Club in Mexico dances with great enthusiasm in front of a display of stereo equipment (the song is "El Serrucho" by Mr Black).
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=550861918348080
~

Yudkowsky does a great job of explaining a way to approach the hateful voices that people sometimes have in their heads. (I call them my brain trolls.)
"when you have a thought, you write it down
like, say
'You are different from the others. You will never know their innocence… and that is why you should hate your own existence. Die. Die. Die.'
then you figure out whether, if your life were a fantasy novel, these words would be spoken by figures wearing black robes, and speaking in a dry, whispering voice, and they are actually withered beings who touched the Stone of Evil
and if so then you don’t listen"
http://yudkowsky.tumblr.com/post/103192100330/cognitive-trope-therapy
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Movies


The Expendables
Good-natured way over-the-top ensemble old guy action movie, directed by Stallone, with cameos by Schwartznegger and Bruce Willis, and a good performance by Mickey Rourke.

Nosferatu
I have never acquired a taste for the kind of acting that is often done in silent movies and my experience of Nosferatu suffered from this, but I'm glad I watched it. I wish I knew more about all the ways it was influential on movie-making. There's a famous scene where Nosferatu rises straight up out of his coffin. I found myself mumbling "wire-work."

Episodics


Hawaii Five-0 (reboot)
We're watching season 2, and enjoying this more since Masa Oki became a regular character

Fiction


Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (#2 in the Night Prince series)
Vampire romance. I like them except that the plots are too heavily driven by manufactured relationship angst of kinds that would make a sensible person run screaming in real life.

Fire in the Blood, Blood on the Water (Vampire Files #5-6) by P.N. Elrod
It's the early 20th century in Chicago, and a journalist who was recently made into a vampire (Jack Fleming) works with a human British P.I. who used to be an actor (Charles Escott). They associate with gangsters and femmes fatales a lot but they mostly have modern middle-class values (e.g. the vampire doesn't hunt human victims but drinks from cattle at the Chicago stockyards). Although these are technically 2 novels, they come in an omnibus (Vampire Files part 2) and Blood on the Water doesn't really stand alone. I was pretty annoyed at the ebook because it was a badly done OCR conversion and had not been adequately proofread. For example, there is a character named Escott, but his name is spelled Escort half the time. And one character has a book called The Invisible Matt on his desk. I like the protagonists a lot and there are quite a few very competent female characters in the series. And this vampire has a really good romantic relationship that has no manufactured angst at all.

Nightingale's Lament (Nightside #3) by Simon R. Green
I want to like this series more than I do. Green has a fabulous imagination at times, but it's mixed in with a lot of fairly cliched noir tropes and moralism.

The Moor, Laurie R. King (Mary Russell #4)
This is really well written in loving detail. I loved her descriptions of the moor and it was amusing to see Holmes reacting to people wanting to talk to him about The Hound of the Baskervilles. The mystery itself I didn't care that much about...the villains were not very interesting, and for the most part the solving of the mystery wasn't very interesting either; it was more of an excuse to get Russell and Holmes interacting with local folks. For calibration purposes, I don't know anything about Sabine Baring-Gould. I will read more of this series.

The Sittaford Mystery, Agatha Christie
Audiobook. I picked this up while reading The Moor and was amused to discover it is also about Dartmoor. It's a little Dartmoor fest over here.

Games


Little Inferno
This is the most adorable, bizarre game ever. You have a fireplace and you can buy stuff and burn it. Weird things happen when you burn certain stuff. And you have a penpal. If that sounds boring, I hope you go try it out anyway.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I seem to be learning Spanish. I got sucked into it via an iThing app called DuoLingo, which I found pretty addictive.

DuoLingo is also a web site and you can also learn other languages there. They currently only have languages that use the Roman alphabet.

I'm not sure if it is the best way for me to learn a language, because it does not teach about grammar at all; it just tests you on phrases and sentences in various ways. Which does work for me to some extent, but eventually I began to seek out other sources.

Anyway, I went through the whole mini-course on the iThing app and now I want to branch out. Have you learned or practiced or brushed up on Spanish using any particular web sites or apps that you recommend?

I'm willing to spend money. I don't actually want to interact with anybody, though, so I am not up for taking in-person classes or doing chats over the Internet or anything like that.

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firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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