Beware the perils of fine writing

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:21 pm
shewhomust: (bibendum)
[personal profile] shewhomust
And, speaking of holidays...

I enjoyed writing that post about what we did on my birthday, and making pretty patterns out of words and ideas. But if it weren't for sorting through my photos, seeing those patterns would have stopped me seeing things that didn't fit the pattern, our walk around Bouillon the previous evening, and the fact that we started our exploration of Trier that same day, still my birthday. I could have told you that I lunched on excellent chips, sitting on the steps of the fountain in the marketplace, enjoying the sunshine - but it took my photos to remind me that we also visited the cathedral. What can I say? My memory has its priorities.

It's a perfectly good cathedral. Living in Durham, I'm a bit spoilt for cathedrals, and after Trier we visited Aachen, about whose cathedral there will be much more, in due course. Also, in Trier the Cathedral has to compete with the Basilica. But it's a good cathedral. Here's how it looked from our bathroom window:

Cathedral view


More pictures under the cut )

The state of Augmented Reality

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:27 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
Five years ago I had a disagreement with a friend over whether this article was being overly pessimistic about augmented reality and whether we'd have "hard" AR soon.

Five years later, and this is the state of the art:


Which is, I totally admit, a very neat tech demo. But it's not "there" yet. The FOV is too small, and you can see the real world through it. Although, to be fair, most of the time the real world isn't _that_ distracting, you're definitely not going to be able to "see Victorian gas lamps in place of normal lights" or "have a real Coke can that you want to turn into an AR Pepsi can by drawing a Pepsi logo over the Coke logo".

Ah well, I'll make a note to come back in five years time and see where we are then!

No culinary activity, obvs

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:50 pm
oursin: The Accomplisht Ladies' Delight  frontispiece with a red cross through it (No cooking)
[personal profile] oursin

Today, in spite of various travel muddles and confusions, we went to Darmstadt. However, possibly more detail when I am less tired and it's not so late in a long day.

Home and abroad

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:00 pm
shewhomust: (Default)
[personal profile] shewhomust
We had a lot of catching up to do with J: she has been house-hunting, she has been on holiday. So we invited her to dinner last night, and to stay the night, so that she could tell us all about it. As a result, [personal profile] durham_rambler has spent the morning searching the internet for information about the property with which she has fallen in love, and I have been looking for information about Trieste, which sounds like a good place to visit.

With that in mind, an interesting piece in the WSJ and Trieste Tourist Office. Best coffee in Italy, allegedly.

J didn't come empty handed. She brought me a blue shirt, passed on to her by F., and not quite right (there was a reason, but I've forgotten it): it is a shade of blue which always makes me think of GirlBear, so it may not have reached its destination yet - we shall see. Also the last remains of a putizza, a characteristic cake from Trieste and Slovenia which combines innocuous looking panettone with nodules of concentrated essence of Christmas cake, to which chocolate has been added. And half a panettone, which we didn't touch last night, and divided up this morning. I shall make bread-and-butter pudding tonight (without the butter).

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:03 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday [personal profile] oyceter!

Attention tax

Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:32 am
[syndicated profile] marissalingen_feed

Posted by Marissa Lingen

One of the things that has been making me furious about sexual harassment lately–secondary to all the other things that make me furious about it–is the attention tax it imposes on women. The time spent figuring out whether there’s enough evidence for us to be taken seriously this time, whether the people who were in the “surely you misinterpreted” and “that doesn’t mean what it blatantly means” camp last time will finally take us seriously, the time spent recovering from someone shouting in our faces and someone else grabbing our asses, the time sharing stories and pooling information and cleaning up messes and figuring out what to do, what we can do, what we have the power to do. That is time not spent on other things that are frankly a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

When it’s in convention terms, the time spent discussing who did what and what to do and letting the adrenaline settle and coping is time not spent on ideas for books and stories and where to go with them. It is very directly a tax on attention that could and should be going toward work. And it makes me exhausted and resentful, and then I try to corral my attention back to my work, because that is a far, far better place for it to be. I have directly observed that when I am at a con where people are dealing with an ongoing situation of this type, I come back with far, far less in the way of inspired notes for new projects–not just coming away drained instead of energized, but the specifics of what business are we doing here, where is our attention going.

I’m lucky. I know a lot of good men. I know a lot of good straight, white men. One of the benefits of this is that when a straight, white dude is an asshole, I am clear that it is artisanal assholery that he is hand-crafting by choice, not a trait he can’t avoid by his demographics. And a lot of good straight, white men have been stepping up to share the work of dealing with sexual harassment on a community level. I appreciate it. I do. But that is a choice they are making. Statistically, on average, the nonconsensual part, the part where you have to cope with the fallout of being harassed again, the part where it happens several times in a row and then it’s on your mind and you go into the next professional situation having to have a plan for how to cope–that’s a drain on your time and attention that you cannot have back, that other people can help with structurally but not in the moment. They can donate their time but not hand you back yours, not give you back those hours and days of working on the situation and processing and coping. It can happen to men. It does happen to men. And as one woman I know never loses an opportunity to point out, it does not happen to every woman. But statistically, on average, it is an attention tax that falls much, much more heavily on women, for things that we did not ask for and cannot change.

It’s not just sexual harassment. This is not the only attention tax, and I don’t mean to talk as though it is. Racist bullshit and the people who visit it upon people of color? That is, among other worse things, an attention tax on those people of color. Having to cope with accessibility issues and prejudice against the disabled? Attention tax. Homophobia and other forms of anti-queer assholery? Attention tax. Navigating the world while neurodiverse, even in ways that do not feel like a disability internally, among people who are going to be utter jerks to any hint of non-neurotypicality? Attention tax. And while I’ve talked about men and women above, the amount of attention tax that falls on gender-nonconforming and non-binary people gets mind-bogglingly larger the more gender-policing the subculture they’re interacting with gets. One of the fundamental questions is: how much jerkitude are people going to blithely shovel on you for being you and then skip along with their day, and how much will that pull away from the focus you need to do your stuff that you do.

Do I imagine I’m the first to observe this? Hardly. But “show don’t tell” is hardly new advice, either, and writers get blog posts out of that several times a year. What I’m saying to you is: this is affecting the work of people you know and care about. All the time. It doesn’t have to. It is literally all entirely voluntary. The thing I said above about artisanal bullshit: last month I got very tired of people saying “so that’s a thing that happened” when they were describing a choice someone made. So let’s not do that. Let’s not ascribe to fundamental forces things that are actual bad choices people are making.

And also: people who are doing work through all these attention taxes, who are managing to push it aside and fight their way through to focusing on making something awesome: I see you. I appreciate you. I’m sorry it’s like this. I keep hoping that some of the draining work will gain us some ground and it will be long-term less necessary. But in the meantime, thanks for clawing back some of your own in the face of it. It’s so hard, and it matters so much.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Having seen Angels in America live (Boston, November 1995, first national tour) and on screen, this Thursday I split the difference and saw the currently-running London production on tape-delay live-stream in a movie theater. (Part one, that is; part two is this Thursday.) I don't love it but it's interesting to see the staging. Also Kushner has, per the intro to the combined ebook version I have but hadn't read until now, made unspecified changes to part two, so I will be reading that before Thursday so I won't be distracted while watching. (While I only skimmed part one, the only difference I saw between the text and this production was the dropping of the homeless woman's jokes.)

Here are some notes, cut for spoilers and lack of interest: )

There are various encore presentations going to be happening, if you missed this and are interested.

What if for 2018

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
My Friday reviews rotated between four long running series? Say, Vorkosigan, Kitty and two others?
kate_nepveu: Ed and (armored) Al standing together in snow (Fullmetal Alchemist)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
So yeah, trying to interleave FMA & FMA:B was not a good call. With the possible exception of FMA 9 (still coming on my schedule), just skipping the first episode of FMA:B would have done fine.

Spoilers for all versions of Fullmetal Alchemist.

FMA 3, 'Mother' )

FMA:B 2, 'The First Day' )

FMA 5, 'The Man with the Mechanical Arm' )

FMA 6, 'The Alchemy Exam' )

FMA 7, 'Night of the Chimera's Cry' )

FMA:B 4, 'An Alchemist's Anguish' )

Touristifying in Frankfurt

Jul. 22nd, 2017 05:35 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Having a weekend with partner in Frankfurt.

Hotel perhaps overdoing the stylish minimalism: why does this always mean, nowhere to put stuff in the bathroom? However, good marks for the breakfast buffet.

On matters of modern design, am I the only person who finds themself waving their hands at a tap that turns on some other way, and vice versa?

Today to the Stadel- art gallery, very good stuff and lots of it. Among works observed, one C16th courtesan as Flora, with obligatory symbolickal bubbie displayed.

Also to the Arts and Crafts Museum, which has gone full-on poncey and eschews labeling in favour of composing curatorial 'constellations'. Though I could have spent more time with the shiny pillow-like balloons that one was permitted even exhorted to touch. (Sometimes I am shallow and frivolous.)

Some general flaneurserie, looking into churches, etc.

An Honorable Discharge

Jul. 22nd, 2017 04:24 pm
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
[personal profile] shewhomust
Towards the end of a cold February day in 2016, Mark - also known as 'Whitney' - Houston's metal detector gave "a perfect tone" (whatever that may be) indicating the presence of an interesting quantity of metal at an interesting depth. He dug it out carefully, although his first thought when he saw it was "what a stupid place to discard an old motorcycle battery!" - a little stack of plates of metal. But he took it home, and started - very carefully - to clean it up, setting the washed plates on the windowsill to dry. It happened that the light caught the wet surface in such a way that he could see writing on them, and what's more, he could see enough to recognise that the writing was Latin.

The pictures on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database give an idea of what it looked like at the time, and the bit that really impresses me is that armed with this, the internet and a network of other metal detectorists, he was able to identify what he had found, to the point that when he contacted the PAS, he was able to say "I think I've found a Roman diploma."

The Lanchester diploma )

Interesting Links for 22-07-2017

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] epbot_feed

Posted by Jen

After John knocked out that Death Star shelf last month in just 2 days, he decided to take on another quick little woodworking project.


Over two grueling weeks later, and our "quick," not-so-little project is finally - FINALLY - done. It's more of a prototype, really, since of course we realized all sorts of ways to improve and speed up the process *after* the fact, but it's done and cute and delightfully rainbow-licious and did I mention it's finally done?


So without further ado, here 'tis:




Our Figment Rocker!


(EEEEEE!)




We've wanted to make another rocker since the AT-AT, but figuring out something fun and unique while still being relatively simple was tricky. In the end John came up with the idea (If you're new here, John cosplays an amazing Dreamfinder, and we sculpted our own Figment), which I then sketched out:




From there we enlarged it with a projector so I could trace a full-size version:
 


Next we figured out the layers and thickness so I could make all the paper templates.
 
 
Then I traced the templates onto 3/4" MDF:


 


... and sent John out to the garage to start cutting.


John works fast, so in almost no time he had the basic shapes down:


» Read More

Dress Codes: the Final Word

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:10 am
stevenpiziks: (Default)
[personal profile] stevenpiziks
My cousin Mark drew my attention to yet another rant about a girl who was sent home because her clothes violated the school dress code.  The mother posted photos of the offending outfit and howled that he daughter was body-shamed and the victim of a sexist school.

Sure.

As a high school teacher of 22 years, let me explain how this works--and what to do about it.

First, schools have the legal right to create dress codes or even force students to wear uniforms. The Supreme Court has ruled, it's law, and that's the way it is. Read Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District for full details, or look here: http://education.findlaw.com/student-rights/school-dress-codes.html  If you don't like it, the place to make a change is with your legislative body, not in the principal's office.  You will be completely unsuccessful if you storm into the school and shout, "You can't send my child home for wearing _____!"  Absolutely the school can, and the full force of the US government is behind it, so save your energy. (But see below for what you CAN do.)

Second, school dress codes are written to set a basic standard of appropriateness.  The school board decides, based on community standards, what is and is not appropriate for students to wear in school.  This isn't new, it's not strange or bad.  There are certain outfits and articles of clothing that are inappropriate for school, just like there are inappropriate outfits for worship services, a funeral, a wedding, or a job.  My youngest son recently applied for a job, for example, and he was handed an extremely strict dress code.  Our entire society dictates what you can wear and when.  Schools are no different.  Dress codes are NOT written to body shame girls or to stop girls from wearing clothes that will "distract boys."  I'm not sure where this idea got started.

Proper dress codes, such as the one in the district where I teach, spell out what clothes are allowed and which are not.  My district does not allow spaghetti straps, sleeveless shirts, off-shoulder shirts, visible underwear, "muscle" shirts, tank tops, or shorts above a certain length.  The sex of the wearer is irrelevant.  Both boys and girls cannot wear tank tops or short shorts.  If a boy showed up in spaghetti straps, he'd be sent home, though he'd be allowed to wear a skirt that came down to at least his fingertips.  A school that DOES mention girls not being allowed to wear Thing A and boys not being allowed to wear Thing B is asking for trouble and needs to change its code to focus on the clothes and not the wearer.

Third, students are not allowed to use clothes to "express themselves" and "be comfortable."  I'm not sure where that idea got started, either.  A student's primary job at school is to learn, and anything that interferes with that job must be removed.  The Supreme Court has also ruled on this (see Tinker above).  A school may, at its discretion, allow a certain amount of self-expression, but this is solely the district's choice, and not the student's. That's the way it is, and you won't have much luck in changing a Supreme Court ruling.  Save your energy.

Fourth, it's absolutely true that dress codes are often enforced unevenly.  That's just the nature of the animal.  This is because the main enforcers are teachers, and teachers are wildly different as people, and circumstances vary from class to class.  Here's what happens:

Linda wears an inappropriate outfit to first hour.  The teacher notices, but doesn't see enforcing the dress code as important, so she lets it go.  Linda's second hour has 37 students in it.  Linda slips into class and sits down while the teacher is dealing with 42 other problems, and the teacher doesn't even notice the outfit because he's so busy.  Linda's third hour teacher notices the outfit, but also notes that Linda only comes to class one day in four, and if he sends her out, she'll miss today, too, and he'd rather have her stay in class, so he says nothing.  Linda's fourth hour is gym, and she changes clothes for that one.  Linda's fifth hour has a sub who doesn't understand the dress code and says nothing.  Linda's sixth hour teacher says, "Your outfit isn't appropriate. You'll have to go down to the office and change or go home."  "That's not fair! I've been wearing it all day!" Linda protests.

So yes, the codes aren't always enforced fairly.  Such is life.  If you want to ensure the codes are fairly enforced, you could volunteer to the district to be a dress code monitor.  Call today!

What do you do if you run into dress code problems with your student?

First, per-emptively make sure your student has a selection of appropriate clothes.  Teenagers push back, yes.  Welcome to parenthood.  Your job is to be a mom or dad, not a best friend.  Remove inappropriate clothes from their wardrobe.  Also be aware that even well-behaved teens will sometimes rebel, and a common tactic is to change clothes at school.  If this happens and your student gets in trouble with the office, let them deal with it without support from you.  Don't leave work to rush over with a new outfit.  Let them wear the ugly set of school sweats all day or sit in the office until the end of school.  It's a learning experience.

Second, understand that posting a rant on Facebook or Instagram about your daughter being "body-shamed" isn't anything but a bid for attention.  You're just fishing for people to say how wronged you were and how lovely your daughter is, and you're secretly hoping the district will get deluged with emails or phone calls so they'll make changes without any work from you.  The district won't cave to random phone calls and emails from strangers outside the district.  Experienced administrators know that all they have to do is wait a week, and the outrage will die down.  Nothing will change, though you may have duped a few more people into following you on Instagram, and it's pretty shitty to drag the school into your scheme.

Finally, if you think the dress code is unfair, get a group of like-minded parents together and talk to the school board.  (Not the principal--the principal generally has no control over the dress code.)  Going in a group will give you more clout.  Outline what changes you think should be made, without yelling.  If the code mentions the gender of the student, lobby to have it reworded to focus on the clothing instead.  Have a list of reasons.  Avoid things like "she needs to feel comfortable" or "he wants to express himself."  Those won't go far.  Instead, focus on things like, "These clothes are acceptable in our community," and "This is accepted public dress around here." 

We have dress codes at work, in worship, and yes, in school.  Having them in school gets students ready for dealing with them in adult life.  They aren't going away, though you can have an impact on them if you do it right.


copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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