Seamstress to the (literal) stars

Oct. 24th, 2016 09:13 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

How Jean Wright worked for three decades to land her dream job of sewing for NASA

Jean in front of Discovery. Photo courtesy of Jean Wright.

An audio version of this story can be heard on Episode 2 of Slack’s podcast Work in Progress, a new show about the meaning and identity we find in work.

One summer evening in July of 1969, 13-year-old Jean Wright stepped outside her house and stared up at the night sky. The moon above Flint, Michigan glowed as brightly as ever that night, but Wright looked at it differently. Moments earlier she had watched Neil Armstrong on TV as he took his first historic steps on its barren surface, and suddenly the dark sky brimmed with possibility.

Neil Armstrong’s Moon walk on July 21 1969. Photo courtesy of NASA

“There’s men up there,” Wright recalls thinking. “Someday, I am going to be out there working for NASA too.”

It was a big dream for a girl from Flint, even though it made perfect sense. Wright grew up passionate about outer space and sewing. After her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Hansford, taught her and her sister how to sew, Wright began making her own clothes. At the same time, she was crazy about the space program and would clip articles about the Apollo missions from the newspaper and send little patches she had designed for the astronauts to Houston. There had to be a way to combine her two loves.

Seamstress Hazel Fellows sewing the thermal micrometeoroid garment of the ILC A7L spacesuit. Image courtesy of ILC Dover.

“I knew we had seamstresses that sewed spacesuits and I wanted to get involved in doing something with that,” she says.

It took her more than three decades, but Wright eventually achieved her goal at age 49, when she was hired to work as an Aerospace Composite Tech of Soft Goods, or seamstress, for NASA’s space shuttle program. Wright would go on to work on the Endeavor, Atlantis, and Discovery, hand-sewing thermal protection between the gaps in the shuttle tiles, known as “gap fillers,” which acted as a kind of bumper so the tiles didn’t crack as they vibrated against each other during reentry.

Side view of Discovery thermal blankets. Photo courtesy of NASA

Now retired, Wright looks back on her hard-earned career with pride. One of her favorite things she loves telling her granddaughters is “Grandma has stitches in the Smithsonian.”

The story of how Jean landed her dream job at NASA is an incredible tale of perseverance. Not everyone has the patience and drive to follow a dream for more than three decades, but her story still offers some lessons for the rest of us.

Keep your eyes on the prize

It may be a no-brainer, but the first step towards achieving any dream is to figure out what it is in the first place. Jean set her sights on NASA at an early age. Being an astronaut seemed too far of a stretch, and she knew wanted to be in a creative field and to work with her hands.

Jean hand sewing thermal barriers inside the nose landing gear door of the Discovery. Photo courtesy of Jean Wright.

Having such a clear idea of what she wanted to do served as a guiding star for Jean over the years that followed, helping her take incremental steps in the right direction.

Location, location, location

Jean got married at 18, and spent the next 22 years raising three children, working as a tailor, and following her husband around the United States for his naval career. When he retired at age 40 and asked where she wanted to move to, she knew just the place.

“I want to move to Florida because I want to work at the Kennedy Space Center, and I’d love to work for NASA,” she told him.

By relocating near NASA, Jean increased her chances of being able to actually work there. While it’s becoming easier in some industries to work from anywhere, there are still hubs for different fields — if you want to be an actress or work in politics, you have a better chance of it happening if you move to Hollywood or DC.

Jean on the Flight Deck of Discovery a few hours after it landed. Photo courtesy of Jean Wright.

Do your homework

Every occupation has its own particular language, including the space sector. During the years before Wright landed her interview at NASA, she spent hours preparing for it by watching NASA TV. When Jean finally had her interview, she surprised everyone by using the correct terms and phrases. She also spent time studying the fabrics and threads that NASA used.

“I would go on the computer and study everything I could about thermal protection on the off chance, if by some miracle, I got a chance to work there, I wouldn’t sound foolish during my interview,” she says. Her hard work paid off.

Gotta have faith

There’s a lot to be said about the power of positive thinking. Jean kept a reminder of her goal, kind of talisman that kept her going: a lanyard that hung from her bedroom mirror that said “To quilt is love, to finish divine.”

“I would look at it everyday and it would give me inspiration that someday a miracle might happen,” she says. Jean would tell herself when she saw it, “One day you’ll be there, Jean. Don’t worry. Someday it’ll come, it’ll come.”

Emily Brady was inspired by an entirely different moonwalk when she was young.

Seamstress to the (literal) stars was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Power of Words

Oct. 24th, 2016 03:15 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
The only thing better than reading books is reading books about books. And if you find books about books that are also about the power of story and language and books, well, that’s three layers of joy, and pretty much the epitome of Reading Bliss.
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Monday, October 24, 2016 marks the start of early voting for the 2016 Presidential Election here in Alaska. I strongly encourage fellow Alaskans registered to vote to take advantage of early in-person voting. Vote as soon as you can and then encourage your friends to vote.

Voting Information


Haven’t made up your mind for other candidates, ballot measures or judges?

By this point, I think nearly everyone has made their choice in the Presidential race, so I’m not flogging that horse. But I want you to vote the entire ballot – state candidates, ballot measures and judicial retention candidates. If you need more information about these races, check out:


A word for protest voters – Alaska not the safe state you think it is

Some folks in Alaska vote third party for President not only because they dislike the available Democratic/Republican choices, but because traditionally Alaska is a Republican blowout state where the Republican nominee can count on winning the state by 15-30 points. Democrats can vote Green because any non-Republican Presidential vote is “throw away” under the Electoral College and very disgruntled Republicans can vote Libertarian because a win is a win whether it’s by 30 points or by 10 points.

That’s NOT the case this year. As of this writing (10/23/2016), aggregate polls for Alaska suggest that Donald Trump is barely FIVE points ahead of Clinton, according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast for Alaska. Depending on which party’s voters are more motivated, Alaska could go either way. Though it is still somewhat leaning towards Trump.

If you are a protest voter – on either the left or the right, your decision to stay home or vote third party could actually swing Alaska one way or the other. Especially if turn out in Alaska is suppressed on Election Day due to either candidate doing well in eastern states.

Alaska – not a safe state this year. Think about it. Then vote. Early and the full ballot.

* – Neither Donald Trump nor Gary Johnson contributed candidate statements for Alaska’s General Election Pamphlet. Their parties were invited to contribute, but they missed the print deadline, but are being offered a second chance to show up in the online version. They have till October 25th to respond.

Filed under: alaska, politics
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Monday October 24

Tuesday October 25

Thursday October 27

Saturday October 29


When you vote, vote the whole ballot. Your down ballot candidates need you. If your state has initiatives or other ballot measures, your input is needed.

If you don’t live in the states above, you can type [“your state name” voting] into Google and get a voting schedule and requirements – BUT CHECK WITH YOUR STATE’S ELECTION OFFICE to make sure that’s the right information. It probably is, but don’t get disappointed.

Filed under: civics

Fixing the IoT isn't going to be easy

Oct. 21st, 2016 11:35 pm
[personal profile] mjg59
A large part of the internet became inaccessible today after a botnet made up of IP cameras and digital video recorders was used to DoS a major DNS provider. This highlighted a bunch of things including how maybe having all your DNS handled by a single provider is not the best of plans, but in the long run there's no real amount of diversification that can fix this - malicious actors have control of a sufficiently large number of hosts that they could easily take out multiple providers simultaneously.

To fix this properly we need to get rid of the compromised systems. The question is how. Many of these devices are sold by resellers who have no resources to handle any kind of recall. The manufacturer may not have any kind of legal presence in many of the countries where their products are sold. There's no way anybody can compel a recall, and even if they could it probably wouldn't help. If I've paid a contractor to install a security camera in my office, and if I get a notification that my camera is being used to take down Twitter, what do I do? Pay someone to come and take the camera down again, wait for a fixed one and pay to get that put up? That's probably not going to happen. As long as the device carries on working, many users are going to ignore any voluntary request.

We're left with more aggressive remedies. If ISPs threaten to cut off customers who host compromised devices, we might get somewhere. But, inevitably, a number of small businesses and unskilled users will get cut off. Probably a large number. The economic damage is still going to be significant. And it doesn't necessarily help that much - if the US were to compel ISPs to do this, but nobody else did, public outcry would be massive, the botnet would not be much smaller and the attacks would continue. Do we start cutting off countries that fail to police their internet?

Ok, so maybe we just chalk this one up as a loss and have everyone build out enough infrastructure that we're able to withstand attacks from this botnet and take steps to ensure that nobody is ever able to build a bigger one. To do that, we'd need to ensure that all IoT devices are secure, all the time. So, uh, how do we do that?

These devices had trivial vulnerabilities in the form of hardcoded passwords and open telnet. It wouldn't take terribly strong skills to identify this at import time and block a shipment, so the "obvious" answer is to set up forces in customs who do a security analysis of each device. We'll ignore the fact that this would be a pretty huge set of people to keep up with the sheer quantity of crap being developed and skip straight to the explanation for why this wouldn't work.

Yeah, sure, this vulnerability was obvious. But what about the product from a well-known vendor that included a debug app listening on a high numbered UDP port that accepted a packet of the form "BackdoorPacketCmdLine_Req" and then executed the rest of the payload as root? A portscan's not going to show that up[1]. Finding this kind of thing involves pulling the device apart, dumping the firmware and reverse engineering the binaries. It typically takes me about a day to do that. Amazon has over 30,000 listings that match "IP camera" right now, so you're going to need 99 more of me and a year just to examine the cameras. And that's assuming nobody ships any new ones.

Even that's insufficient. Ok, with luck we've identified all the cases where the vendor has left an explicit backdoor in the code[2]. But these devices are still running software that's going to be full of bugs and which is almost certainly still vulnerable to at least half a dozen buffer overflows[3]. Who's going to audit that? All it takes is one attacker to find one flaw in one popular device line, and that's another botnet built.

If we can't stop the vulnerabilities getting into people's homes in the first place, can we at least fix them afterwards? From an economic perspective, demanding that vendors ship security updates whenever a vulnerability is discovered no matter how old the device is is just not going to work. Many of these vendors are small enough that it'd be more cost effective for them to simply fold the company and reopen under a new name than it would be to put the engineering work into fixing a decade old codebase. And how does this actually help? So far the attackers building these networks haven't been terribly competent. The first thing a competent attacker would do would be to silently disable the firmware update mechanism.

We can't easily fix the already broken devices, we can't easily stop more broken devices from being shipped and we can't easily guarantee that we can fix future devices that end up broken. The only solution I see working at all is to require ISPs to cut people off, and that's going to involve a great deal of pain. The harsh reality is that this is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg, and things are going to get much worse before they get any better.

Right. I'm off to portscan another smart socket.

[1] UDP connection refused messages are typically ratelimited to one per second, so it'll take almost a day to do a full UDP portscan, and even then you have no idea what the service actually does.

[2] It's worth noting that this is usually leftover test or debug code, not an overtly malicious act. Vendors should have processes in place to ensure that this isn't left in release builds, but ha well.

[3] My vacuum cleaner crashes if I send certain malformed HTTP requests to the local API endpoint, which isn't a good sign
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Jason Reynolds is well-aware that he doesn’t fit the stereotype of a writer. He has long hair and tattoos and prefers sneakers to tweed.When he visits schools, he says, “there’s always one or two kids who say, ‘I didn’t think you were gonna look like this. I didn’t think a writer could look like you.’ ” What they mean, he points out, is that they they thought he’d be white, or at least lighter skinned.

Slack 103: Communication and culture

Oct. 21st, 2016 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

How to be a good citizen of Slack

Illustrations by Pete Ryan

After Slack 101 and 102, our final installment of the Slack onboarding series is about one of the most difficult aspects of adding people to your team: growing and maintaining your culture.

Putting things out there

Slack is designed to add transparency to an organization, so it’s best to default to communication in public channels whenever possible. Slack’s own team sends tens of thousands of messages each week — in a recent summary, 70% of those were posted in public channels, with 28% occurring in private channels and just 2% in direct messages. Posting messages in public channels means anyone in the organization can see what various teams are working on, see how much progress people are making on projects, and search the archive for context they need.

Minimized disruptions

It’s tempting to make sure no one misses your very important message, but it’s courteous to refrain from notifying large groups of people if it’s not truly necessary. We use @everyone, @channel, and @here alerts, but rarely, because doing so sends a notification to a whole bunch of people who might not need it.

In the past year and a half, I’ve only seen an@everyone message pushed out twice during emergencies. Even though I follow hundreds of channels, @channel is only used a few times per month for important announcements. Slightly more common is @here, which only pings members of a channel who are logged in. Pare it down even more with user groups: if I just need the people I work with directly to see a message, I alert @editorial-team and spare the rest of the channel.

Time and boundaries

It’s a good idea to check the number of members in a channel, as well as the purpose in the channel info pane whenever you’re going to ask a question or post a general comment — you want to make sure you’re doing it in the right place. If it’s your own team of, say, eight people, an off-topic message won’t be as big of an issue as if you’re in a large channel with hundreds of members.

There are many members here, so tread lightly

We ask everyone in busy channels to search before you ask. It’s another way to be respectful of everyone’s time. Spend a few minutes searching related channels for keywords around your specific problem, and chances are you might find your answer, or at least you’ll be aware of previous discussions you can reference.

The posting patterns of most teams at Slack vary throughout the day. In my own immediate team, we typically spend the first hour of the day planning, meeting, and sending reminders of project due dates, then our team channel goes mostly quiet until the afternoon. We close up each day by turning in work and getting feedback, but try to give everyone a few hours in the middle of the day to focus on work. It’s not completely silent, and some work requires real-time discussions in Slack for a decision, but our channels are slightly lower traffic between 10am and 4pm.

Every team and company’s workflow will be different, but we’ve found it helpful to be clear about our communication expectations.

For example, one of Slack’s internal mottos is “work hard and go home” and we take it pretty seriously — almost all of us use the Do Not Disturb feature to protect our non-working hours (which may vary for team members working in different roles, across time zones, or with different lifestyles). Our rule of thumb is if you need to send a message outside of the recipient’s normal working hours, there is no expectation of an immediate reply. Generally, this is a good rule to keep, given the recipient of any message might be otherwise occupied — in a meeting, heads down on project work, or eating lunch.


There’s a saying at Slack that “all channels tend towards #random.” We use the term “raccoon” (and an associated custom emoji) to denote when a discussion should take place in another channel. In a busy general channel where someone is asking lots of very specific questions, it’s not uncommon to see a message saying someone should “raccoon their questions to DM” or a specific team instead. It’s not used to shame anyone, but instead to help teach everyone where a better place for the discussion might be. Here’s a good example:

Getting raccooned to a more specific channel


Over the past year since emoji reactions launched, we have adopted several ways of using them internally. Our most common use is polling or voting. We regularly ask in channels if everyone prefers option 1 or option 2 by marking each with a reaction, and decisions are quickly made as everyone’s votes get tallied up.

We’ve also introduced a small workflow using reactions. Often someone will make a request and another person will “claim it” by marking it with the eyes emoji to say “I’m going to take a look at this.” Once the question is answered and the task complete, that same person will mark it with a white/green checkmark to let members of the channel know it’s done. If you leave your mentions and reactions activity sidebar open, you’ll know the moment someone completes your request.

We hope these three installments of our onboarding series give you plenty of ideas how to use Slack thoughtfully as well as offer tips on how to train up new employees for your own team.

Matt Haughey recently butt-messaged the entire company’s #general channel. On a Saturday.

Slack 103: Communication and culture was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Yellow Time

Oct. 21st, 2016 04:38 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
HappyDayThe color yellow gets a bum rap. I think it’s too often seen as being insufferably peppy, but I have an ardent fondness for it. It’s more modest than red and less ingratiating than orange. I even painted my home office yellow so that it will help boost me as I stumble out of bed and get to work. A morning person I am not. I need the humble cheer of yellow to nudge me toward things like speech and common courtesy.

We love it when the numbers turn over

Oct. 20th, 2016 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

A little update on Slack’s growth and platform

Hitting milestones is always fun. When you’re a fast-growing company, you get that hit of gratification pretty frequently. A million users! Two! Three! Four! But it’s not just enjoyable — it is also an important reminder of the impact you are having in the lives of your customers and partners. We take that seriously.

Over the last few months, we’ve had many occasions for cheers and high-fives around the office: cruising past a million paid seats and $100,000,000 in annual recurring revenue over the summer. Just last month we crossed 2.5 million simultaneously connected users. And, most recently, a new favorite: eclipsing six million apps installed on Slack teams.

Continued momentum on the Slack platform is an important sign of the expanding role we play in the business software ecosystem. When we say “Slack is where work happens,” we don’t just mean people sending messages to one another, but the integrated workflows, business processes, data streams and applications that spin the gears of work for tens of thousands of our business customers around the world.

And so our beloved Slack-using friends, please join us in celebrating a few more of our recent milestones. And…thank you! :)

We love it when the numbers turn over was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Facing the Consequences

Oct. 20th, 2016 05:02 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
This she gets: that “first time” meeting with your parents. When they tell you they love you, but you no longer feel like the girl they thought you were or want you to be. The soccer star and perfect student, happy and “killing it” at college. Now past tense, and the new you reflected in their voices, in their eyes. Their disappointment and pain like gasoline poured on your personal pyre. It was hard for her, what must this be like for Jenny?

Google Drive + Slack

Oct. 19th, 2016 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Create and share without losing your groove.

At work, you create — be it a proposal, a presentation for an upcoming project, or a new financial model for your business. And now, with our new Google Drive integration you can create and share Google Docs and Drive files directly within Slack.

Simply click the + button next to the message box in Slack to create new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These files can be shared in the Slack channel where you’re working and saved to your Google Drive. You can also import files from Google Drive into Slack, and your original sharing preferences will be preserved so that only the people you’ve specified can access your file.

Create a Google Doc file from Slack

Every Google Drive file you share in Slack is automatically indexed and searchable, so you can tap into your team’s collective knowledge and quickly find past conversations and files.

Add the Google Drive integration to your Slack team today from our App Directory, or if you’ve already integrated Google Drive with Slack, reload your Slack team to get these new features.

Now, let’s all get back to work.

Not using Slack yet? Create a new team to get started. Once you’ve signed up, connect Google Drive, add some teammates, and kickoff a project.

Google Drive + Slack was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Der Hund von Baskerville (1937)

Oct. 19th, 2016 09:11 am
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
(I watched and wrote this in mid-September -- I meant to do a chunk of HOUN liveblogs alongside [ profile] okapi1895 -- but I got swamped, ugh, and am only now getting around to posting. SORRY OKAPI.)

Der Hund von Baskerville (1937), Bruno Güttner and Fritz Odemar

So, I scrubbed (video-speak for “skimmed”) the first chunk back when I was making the vid, but I don't otherwise know much about this one. However, scrubbing was enough to learn that:
  1. it’s a non-standard treatment of HOUN,
  2. it’s filmed in modern dress (as everything was in this era),
  3. Holmes wears a turtleneck as a matter of course (!!!), and
  4. Watson lies far enough outside the general run of Watsons that he’s difficult to recognize.

That was all mildly intriguing, but I didn’t investigate further: the film was made in Nazi Germany and I had neither the time, the background, nor the German to discover how much trouble I would be letting myself in for if I tried putting it into the vid.

But now I have subtitles, time, and nothing at stake: it’s not like this thing going to get ick all over a year’s work if this turns out to be Nazi propaganda made by war-criminals. So let’s do this.

Read more... )

…so there was definitely some stuff I missed along the way (who was in the shrubbery with Beryl near the end? what was the urgent phone call about back at the beginning? who is Schmidt?) but that was a fascinating take on the Holmes-Watson partnership. There were at least two Deutsche Hunde before this film (1914 and 1929), and more generally, a solid nexus of Deutsche Holmes adaptations made before WWII. (You know how over the last half-century, there's been a solid Russian fanbase, enough to fund a body of Russian-language productions? From what I can tell, that same thing was happening in Germany before WWII.) Anyway, I am now hugely curious about that body of German adaptations look like. Is this one an outlier from the rest in how it portrays Holmes and Watson, or is this what Holmes and Watson looked like to pre-WWII Germans?

Sonia Patel

Oct. 19th, 2016 05:08 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Patel is the most common Indian surname in the U.S. The name comes from a caste of village leaders and landowners in the state of Gujarat, many of whom moved to North America in the 1970s, buying hotels and shops to support their families. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stereotypes about what it means to be a Patel: first and foremost is an intense focus on family.

[Linkspam] Monday, October 17

Oct. 17th, 2016 06:42 pm
tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
[personal profile] tim
The white flight of Derek Black, by Eli Saslow for the Washington Post (2016-10-15). I am not sure how much credit former white supremacists deserve for coming to their senses, but nonetheless, this is a pretty gripping story about the son of one of the founders of Stormfront disowning his previous involvement with white supremacist groups. Education can and does change people sometimes, even though doing the work of educating isn't any specific marginalized person's responsibility.

Discerning Emotional Abuse in Relationships, by Xan West (2016-10-14).

D&D For Young DMs and Players 3: The X-Card, by Rory Bristol (2016-10-03). Interesting example of content warnings in practice (in the context of roleplaying games.) h/t [personal profile] joxn

[CW: rape, rape culture] When Men Brag About Sexual Assault, by [ profile] siderea (2016-10-10). I also recommend its predecessor piece, Trump's Sexual Inkblot. This is about much more than just Trump:
The "locker-room banter" excuse says to women (and others), "you don't get to make the same natural surmises that men get to make about the very same speech acts applied to other crimes". It's a double standard: when the crime being boasted about is sexual in nature, women (and others) are supposed to give it a pass. "He's just saying that. It doesn't mean he does it."

When it comes to sexual crimes and torts, women (and others) are told they are supposed to suspend operation of their common sense. What men say when bragging about sexual misconduct is to be held in a little epistemological bubble, where none of it means, signifies, or counts in any way outside the bubble. Within the bubble – the rhetorical "locker-room" – those speech acts are to be understood and evaluated only by a special set of rules, which insist such utterances are not of relevance to the (presumed female) parties spoken of, only to the (presumed male) parties spoken to. Those utterances are not to be taken outside of the bubble; they are not to be exposed to reasoned contemplation in the light of anything outside the bubble whatsoever. We are to pretend under all circumstances not to have heard that which we have heard that men arrogate to the bubble; we are to pretend not to know anything the knowing of which men arrogate to the bubble. It is, Orwellianly, knowledge that, if we know it, we are forbidden to know.

[CW: suicide, discussion of mental illness hospitalization] Suicide Didn’t Kill Me, But Capitalism Might, by Beck Levy (2016-09-09). 'The bottom line is that in this ongoing crisis, “awareness” and “ending stigma” are toothless if depoliticized. All the awareness in the world won’t dismantle for-profit healthcare. Applying free-market principles to human needs wreaks havoc on our bodies.'

North Carolina Governor: My wife and I are being shunned by friends over anti-trans law, by Nick Duffy for PinkNews (2016-10-13). The lack of self-awareness here is breathtaking.

Men, You Can Survive Without Us—Please Try, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment (2016-10-14). "All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead."

The Ada Initiative’s legacy, one year on, by the Ada Initiative, 2016-10-17. Includes a list of ways you can continue supporting women in open technology and culture!

How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women, by Imani Gandy for Rewire (2016-08-20). On how Margaret Sanger's views on race have been grossly misrepresented by the pro-forced-pregnancy movement.

on #notallmen, derailing, and the fury it causes, by Jay (2015-08-01). Because this can never be said enough times:
Let’s talk about metonymy. defines the kind of metonymy I’m talking about as “a figure of speech in which the name of one object or concept is used for that of another to which it is related, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink”. So, if we extrapolate, we see how saying “I hate men” could stand in for “I hate the kind of man that rapes, kills, refuses to listen to me, voids my agency, trivializes my experiences, speaks over me, and makes jokes at my expense.”

You can see how the one is quicker and easier than the other.

White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness, by Elspeth Reeve for Vice (2016-10-09). White supremacists got their 23andMe results and you won't believe what happened next! (Truly delightful.)

Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-10-11). Good.

Going with the flow

Oct. 17th, 2016 10:33 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Why sometimes having no plan is the best career plan

Hans Fenger’s Langley Schools Music Project got some unexpected attention from big stars like David Bowie. Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

An extended audio version of this story can be heard on Episode 1 of Slack’s new podcast Work in Progress, about the meaning and identity we find in work.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most people have been asked that question (hopefully, expectantly) at some point in their youth. Some people have a clear-cut answer, others leave matters to fate.

Musician Hans Fenger was in the latter camp. The holder of a highly practical degree in Medieval English and Music Studies, life in the 1960s influenced him to pursue a path as a rock star — or at the very least a guitarist with steady paying gigs. That was he until he found out he was going to be a father.

Innocence & Despair by The Langley Schools Music Project. Bar/None Records.

If at that moment you’d have told Fenger he’d wind up a beloved music teacher who’d later get invited to festivals by David Bowie and whose career would inspire a popular Hollywood movie, he surely would have laughed in disbelief.

Fenger’s Langley Schools Music Project, which produced a now-famous collection of recordings in the mid-1970s, is an icon of unconventional music education and the inspiration for the 2003 film School of Rock. But it started in an unglamorous, accidental way that a lot of people can relate to: necessity drove Fenger to a job he hadn’t planned on or prepared for, and by winging it, he stumbled into a new calling.

Fenger’s impending fatherhood meant he needed to start making money. A friendly neighbor tipped him off to a teacher shortage — particularly a shortage of subject matter specialists, like music and language teachers — in a rural community just outside the city.

Hans Fenger and his students at Glenwood Elementary School. Photographs by Kevin Finseth.

“I didn’t even come from a high school music program. I came from my own music program, which was really the rock and roll background,” says Fenger, “I wasn’t a big fan of school. I didn’t do well in school.”

Naively, Fenger entered a one-year teaching program expecting it to be a breeze. It wasn’t. What he hadn’t accounted for was how he’d react to the everyday realities of the job.

“I was good at teaching, I was not good at the profession of teaching,” says Fenger unabashedly. “I was not good at staff meetings. I was not good at report cards. I was not good at talking to parents. I was not particularly fond of a lot of other teachers. I liked me and the kids and the guitar. That was the part of teaching I liked, the teaching part of teaching.”

His aversion to pedagogy and practice, scales and sheet music, form and function ruffled some feathers, though that didn’t stop him: “I never changed my method of teaching, which was no method,” he says, “I never changed how I prepared for a class, which was no-preparation.”

Instead, he chose his lesson plans based on his mood, which swung often as he grappled with the worries and anxieties of becoming a father for the first time. Rather than teach classical music, Fenger had his students play rock classics. The Beatles were in heavy rotation.

To Fenger’s surprise, the kids “glommed on,” soaking up the emotions of the music they were learning and throwing it energetically back into their own renditions. In relating to their real feelings about the world around them, Fenger managed to deepen their appreciation for the craft.

“Even a nine year-old is cynical enough to know that joining hands and singing is not going to bring peace to the world,” says Fenger. “They needed a way to express themselves musically and it wasn’t going to be with songs about loving their cats or how much they enjoy math.”

Fenger’s a bit of a legend in that community, even though his teaching career didn’t last very long. To this day, 50 years on, he occasionally runs into his former students, who enthusiastically address him as “Mr. Fenger,” though he struggles with defining himself as a teacher.

“I was a single parent. I was a school teacher. I was a rock and roll musician. I was up and down, like most people are,” admits Fenger.

“Heck, I was just moseying along like a lot of people, trying to adjust to a world I hadn’t really expected.”

Lima Al-Azzeh cried her way through grade eleven math.

Going with the flow was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

October Country 2016

Oct. 17th, 2016 07:33 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Every October, in addition to rewatching Twin Peaks and watching as many horror movies as I can cram into thirty-one days, I read a lot of horror, dark fantasy, and Gothic fiction. I do it because I love it, and I do it because it feels right for the season.
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Stories about the meaning and identity we find in work

“And what do you do?” It’s so common, even trite, to ask. We’ve all used it to strike up a conversation, seeking to connect with another person, a simple way to establish common ground.

On the receiving end, the question can feel loaded. When we answer with “music teacher,” “actor,” “taxi driver,” “comedian,” “chaplain,” “fourth-generation family business owner” — just a few of the people whose stories you’ll hear in Work in Progress, Slack’s new podcast about the meaning and identity we find in work — we are describing more than what we do for a living. We are describing who we are.

Whether we welcome it or not, our professional lives have become a big part of our personal identities. It’s a symptom of modern life that we seek ever more purpose in our work; our jobs, careers, occupations, and gigs have come to mean a lot, both to ourselves and to others.

Yet the premise of Work in Progress remains optimistic. In a world where we are decreasingly defined by traditional cultural, religious and geographic identities, we are more free to create ourselves.

On Work in Progress, you’ll hear the accounts of a former slave who escaped on the Underground Railroad and found freedom driving a taxi in Toronto, an industrial seamstress who landed her dream job at NASA, an engineer who quit his job to run the family business, a humanitarian war crimes lawyer who finds her true calling as a stand-up comedian. And lots, lots more.

These are stories from real working people, some of whom you may have heard of and most of whom you’ve not, and their search “for daily meaning as well as daily bread” (borrowing words from Studs Terkel, whose work as a radio producer and oral historian inspired the show).

Hosted by Dan Misener, the show will take you across industries and time, diving deep into a human desire we can all relate to: finding meaning and a sense of purpose in how we spend all the little moments that fill the hours between nine and five, and beyond.

If we’ve done our jobs right, maybe you’ll like it.

Download the first episode of Work in Progress on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts. The show also airs each weekend on Sirius XM. Follow along @slackstories.

Julie Kim’s dream jobs have included artist, pediatric neurosurgeon, architect, and travel guide. She settled on words.

Behind Slack’s new podcast ‘Work in Progress’ was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

I've Changed

Oct. 16th, 2016 02:30 pm
[personal profile] jazzyjj
I moved out of my parents' house in August of 2004. At first I thought I was at summer camp, and my neighbors and others around me were all the counselors and other camp staff. Then as I got to know them better I began to realize that they wanted us to become as independent as possible. But they would help us along the way, and that's exactly what has happened to me. I now work with 2 tutors, who were actually never camp counselors but are very good.
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