More Things I've Made Recently

Apr. 1st, 2015 09:48 pm
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
In addition to Randomized Dystopia, I've made some additional things recently that I don't think I linked to here.

Last year, with Alex Bayley, I co-wrote an article for opensource.com about Growstuff and how open food can change how we approach technology.

In late March, my friend Elisa inspired me to write Captain America fanfic in the form of a sort of sonnet -- I called it "Spangled". It's 142 words, in case you're looking for a short read.

Today, I made my first fanvid, a 30-second Sisko study called "In the pale dublight". Thanks to Critical Commons for hosting transformative works! Thanks to the open source software community and especially the makers of VLC, Handbrake, and kdenlive for the software. Thanks to synecdochic, Skud, and the wiscon_vidparty vidding workshop for guidance, and thanks to Syun Nakano for the CC-BY music.

And it's behind a paywall right now, but I wrote my first LWN piece, on the upcoming release of Mailman 3.0. I think it's a pretty reasonable roundup of what's new in one of the most popular FLOSS mailing list managers and what that implies for the open source community as a whole. Thanks to Jake Edge, my editor, and to the Mailman dev team for making this piece better!

New vid: "In the pale dublight"

Apr. 1st, 2015 05:51 pm
brainwane: A silhouette of a woman in a billowing trenchcoat, leaning against a pole (shadow)
[personal profile] brainwane
Title: In the pale dublight
Music: "Intro movie", Syun Nakano, CC-BY
Source: Star Trek: Deep Space 9
Category: gen
Content notes: alcohol, one character striking another
Summary: Sisko's turning.
Download or stream: at Critical Commons

Today, I made my first fanvid, a 30-second Sisko study called "In the pale dublight".

Thanks to Critical Commons for hosting transformative works! Thanks to the open source software community and especially the makers of VLC, Handbrake, and kdenlive for the software. Thanks to synecdochic, Skud, and the wiscon_vidparty vidding workshop for guidance, and thanks to Syun Nakano for the CC-BY music.

Diversity in Reviewing

Apr. 1st, 2015 05:42 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
The children’s-lit world has been abuzz recently with Malinda Lo’s thoughtful, heartfelt four-part blog series on diversity in book reviews. I had distinctly mixed feelings when I saw how prominently Kirkus’ reviews figured in her analyses: it’s always nice to know that people are reading what you have to say, but it’s always a bummer to be accused of racism, as we were pointedly in reference to one review. I’ve been in something of a brown study ever since I read it.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[personal profile] tim
There are certain truths that those of us subjected to the education given to the middle class (which is to say: just enough critical thinking to do the rich kids' homework, and not enough to realize the rich kids hate us as much as they hate the poor kids) were taught not to question. Here are some of them; in The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home, Jonathan Kozol wrote about others.

We need more research and facts before we make a hasty decision.
There's more than one side to every story.
The only real ethical precept you ever need is politeness.
Objective truth exists, and we should never take decisive action until we find it.

When we present these received truths as vague generalities, it's easier to see that none of them are universally true. Even so, they have such a hold over the liberally (small-l) educated imagination that when made specific, they can be quite compelling. To wit:

We need to do more research about climate change.
Vaccines could cause autism -- who can prove they don't, after all?
Evolution is just a theory, and there are other valid points of view in the controversy.
It's really about ethics in video game journalism.
Call-out culture is an evil comparable in scope and impact to that of the prison-industrial complex.

This is not to say that all or most liberally-educated people doubt that climate change is caused by human activities or that vaccines don't have anything to do with autism. The point is that these assertions are all phrased in ways that are designed to exploit vulnerabilities in people like me, who have a certain kind of education -- to plant seeds of doubt in our intuitions and the generalizations we've made based on lived experience. After all,

Can you really be sure that no further research is needed before we conclude that humans are changing the climate? You, personally, who probably doesn't have a Ph.D in geoscience?
Can you really be sure that vaccines are safe? Maybe they only cause autism (which is presumed to be negative) once in a while. But what if that one in a million was your child?
Could you personally argue that evolution is a good explanation for the diversity of observed life forms?
Can you really laugh off concerns about ethics? That sounds like a real, serious concern.
Isn't it rude to "call people out"? Obviously being rude or shaming people or institutions publicly is kind of disreputable even if you have a good reason.

These questions have answers: "yes", "yes", "it doesn't matter", "yes", and "maybe, but who cares?" "More research" always sounds good. "Ethics" always sounds good. And you learned in kindergarten to be nice to people, right? But there is nothing magic about these phrases or concerns that prevents them from being used in a way that is bereft of meaning.

It's a false equivalence to say that the theory of "intelligent design" has as much scientific validity as the theory of evolution, or that a jumble of ideas about the potential harmful effects of vaccines should be given equal weight with the overwhelming evidence in favor of their safety, or that a handful of climate change deniers are as credible as the overwhelming consensus among mainstream scientists that humans are changing the climate. Likewise, it's a false equivalence to compare manufactured grievances about video game journalism with the many legitimate ethical concerns that a person could have about journalism, or to compare being told that your opinion is bad and you should feel bad to the state using its monopoly on power in order to put you in prison for life.

GamerGaters, corporate PR departments and climate deniers suck the meaning out of words and build Trojan horses out of words and phrases that appear superficially similar to modes of dialogue that school may have taught you to trust. They put a great deal of faith in the magical power of these words to suspend critical thinking while appearing to enact such thinking.

But words aren't magic. As Annalee on geekfeminism.org wrote:
...people on an axis of privilege have a nasty tendency to appropriate social justice terminology (like privilege and harassment) and twist it around to serve their own point of view. They treat these words like magic incantations, as if it’s the words, rather than the argument, that convinces people.

Words are not magic incantations. They have meanings. Using a word without understanding its meaning just because you’ve seen other people successfully use it to convey a point is magical thinking.


Another thing you may have learned is that arguing over "semantics" is a shameful frivolity. But semantics means "meaning", and if we don't have rough consensus about the meaning of the words we use, we can't communicate at all.

A thing that abusers, on the micro scale, do is to isolate victims from their friends. On the macro scale, that's more difficult, so people working to advance the interests of oppressive institutions work to isolate everybody from the tools we use collaboratively to identify patterns. One of the bigger tools we use that way is language itself. If you can divorce language from meaning, you can get people to believe anything, especially when you can channel emotionally charged concepts like making people feel ashamed of engaging in "public shaming" (that is, criticizing powerful people) or guilty about calling out bad behavior.

There is no trick or recipe for knowing when you are deceiving yourself, when someone else is deceiving themself, or when someone else is trying to deceive you. But knowing that it's a thing that happens does make it easier to discern truth from lies.

The general principles of skepticism, evidence-based decision-making, and even civility can be useful tools, but don't obligate us to entertain those who use them in a way that sets off our bullshit detectors. And anti-call-out-culture crusaders are obviously insincere -- if they were sincere, wouldn't they spend some time doing something other than the activity they claim to detest (namely, calling people out)? Like abortion or marriage, calling people out on the Internet is something you're totally free to foreswear if you feel it's not useful for you. But if you don't like it, the best way to show it is not to do it.

Sometimes more research is needed. But all the grad students in the world couldn't put clothes on the emperor.
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
When I met U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, astronaut, at the Texas Book Festival five years ago, I immediately reverted to my 6-year-old self and got all fangirl on the poor man, who had just returned from a mission on the International Space Station and was suffering from mammoth jet lag. I was so star-struck I don’t think I uttered a complete sentence while he blinked politely at me. I saw redemption, therefore, in the opportunity to talk with him about his new children’s book, Astrotwins: Project Blastoff (co-written with veteran middle-grade novelist Martha Freeman).
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Can you think of examples of revenge porn that are pre-1996 or so? Pre-web? I feel like there must have been stuff like this on usenet or bbses. I can't think what it would have even been *called*, since revenge porn was a term I never heard till later. Simply "blackmail".... Or seen as an internet prank, with a frat-like tolerance of "uploading nudie pics of your ex girlfriend".

New YA to Check Out in April

Mar. 30th, 2015 05:07 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
So, have you worked your way through all of those new March titles yet? Yeah, I haven’t, either. Nevertheless, it’s time to look at what’s coming in April!

Parties and Gifts

Mar. 30th, 2015 01:36 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
To what extent do you think of your open stuff contributions as gifts? Does this match up with your sense of your communities on the caring-to-combative spectrum?

several papercraft pieces I made, and gave awayTo you, what are the manners surrounding giving and receiving gifts?

In transactions without money changing hands, how do we demonstrate what we value?

Does it motivate you to think of your fanfic, your bug reports, your wiki edits, your patches, your teaching as gifts for a specific person? Or for a community?

Do the community leaders in your open stuff communities treat those artifacts as gifts? What about other participants?

What would a "Secret Santa"-style gift exchange along the lines of Yuletide Treasure or Festivids look like in the world of English Wikisource? Or Django? Or wherever you contribute bits?

More Books I've Read Recently

Mar. 29th, 2015 02:44 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
More book reviews from the past year or so! I am still catching up and am not done catching up.

Up Against It by MJ Locke. You can read the first 5 chapters free online. I read this fast-paced space mystery during the 2014 summer vacation I shared with Julia and Moss, and enjoyed it as a mystery/procedural, as solid hard scifi, and as a character study of the protagonist. The first time we see Jane Navio, head of the Resource Commission, she makes a tough call. She is the kind of creative, tough leader who can abandon a few likely-to-die people in order to save resources the space colony's going to need in three weeks' time. Later we see that she's a cunning, passionate, thoughtful, and empathetic leader as well -- once you've read it, talk with me about a monologue she delivers in the last few pages of the book, about work and the public eye, because when I read it (as I was thinking about the job I then had at Wikimedia Foundation) it struck me as though I were a gong. And you get space surveillance, posthuman subsocieties, and some teen drama as well, but basically I am all about super leader Jane. Incidentally, MJ Locke is an open pseudonym for Laura J. Mixon, whose work Leonard has really liked. I should pick up more Mixon.

Life Class and Toby's Room by Pat Barker. I thank yatima for bringing my attention to Barker's Regeneration trilogy, which is super great. And thanks to Sam Read Book Shop in Grasmere, where Julia, Moss, and I stopped during our walk. I saw and picked up Perfecting Sound Forever, then got to talking with the store clerk, found out Pat Barker had new World War I fiction out, and bought it. I read both of these books in spare moments while continuing the Coast-To-Coast walk, which meant I had a sort of double vision of England, seeing it in front of my face in 2014, and seeing it in my head a hundred years previous. During my Coast-to-Coast walk in 2012 with Mel, I'd basked in the hospitality of rural northern England. And I enjoyed it again when I came back last year, but I also saw it through wartime eyes -- participant and observer at once. The cosy bits of life -- board games, pub trivia nghts, jokes over breakfast -- felt like civilization, like something to protect, like "what we're fighting for." Life Class -- in comparison to Regeneration -- feels like Young Adult, perhaps because we see the journey these youngish adults take because of the war. Toby's Room has a lot to recommend it but there is a sex-related content warning that I'll put in the comments as it's a spoiler.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho (reread). So fun and funny and heartwarming and incisive. "I used to be a good girl and that was uncomplicated, but I thought complicated would be more interesting than safe." If you liked Jade Yeo, check out this interview with Cho about fluff for postcolonial booknerds, the fantasy of communicating easily with your ancestors and heritage, and her writing in general. I particularly love the bomb she drops nonchalantly: "I've always loved stories that examine the dynamics within small communities with their own rules and conventions -- Jane Austen's two inches of ivory, Enid Blyton's school stories, L. M. Montgomery's Canadian villages, Star Trek's starships." YES. Just add that last one on there. Ooof.

your blue-eyed boys by Feather (lalaietha). Via a recommendation from yatima. I read this both before and after I watched a bunch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it makes more sense afterwards (me during the first read: "who's this Sam guy?"). It's the longest piece of MCU fic I've read, but you might also like my Archive of our Own recommendations and Pinboard bookmarks.

American Taxation, American Slavery by Robin Einhorn (2006, University of Chicago Press) (partial reread). This history remains brainbending and full of astonishing anecdotes. Dr. Einhorn's particularly great in describing the importance of institutional competence in government agencies and in refuting "taxation=slavery" rhetoric. Check out this example of her amazingness.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (reread) and Iacocca: An Autobigraphy (reread). I wrote about these at the time but I did not really talk about why I read Iacocca. I was about eight, and visiting India with family, and I read voraciously. I remember reading many issues of Reader's Digest (the Indian edition, which was different from the US edition). And a relative of mine had a copy of Iacocca and I read it with tremendous interest. I had never read such a detailed narrative about grown-up work before! He used the f-word and I was SCANDALIZED. Cars, these things that I utterly took for granted, did not just emerge ab nihilo; someone had to think them up and design them and compromise and whatnot. And I think I also liked reading Iacocca -- as I liked watching and reading Andy Rooney -- because they used plain language and owned up to their frailties.

So I monologued, a lot, the way kids do, but about Lee Iacocca and Chrysler and the K-car and the Mustang and various other topics, and these Indian aunts and uncles of mine smiled and nodded and perhaps presumed I would be an automotive engineer when I grew up. And then my parents held a sort of family reunion party (the hook being "Sumana's and Nandini's birthday (Observed)"), and my uncle Ashwin gave me one of the most memorable gifts I've ever received: Iacocca's new book of essays, Talking Straight. I don't think I even knew it existed before I had it in my hands! I was SO EXCITED. I probably forgot the minimal socialization my parents had painstakingly attempted to instill in me and went off to a corner to start in on it right away. I am still laughing about this.

Incidentally, the hunger for reading material also affected me eight years later, on another trip to India, as I was preparing to return to the States. Airplanes had no seatback entertainment; you brought twenty-two hours' worth of self-entertainment resources to get you all the way to San Francisco or you explored new depths in boredom. The day before my flight, Mom took me to an English-language bookstore. I'd heard The Lord of the Rings was good, and long. The store didn't have it. But they did have this other super long book. And that's how I read Atlas Shrugged.

(Even so, somewhere above the Pacific I started skimming that Galt radio speech. It is so repetitive you could programmatically transform it into a musical score suitable for Koyaanisqatsi!)

An inflight shopping magazine that helped me discover my roller derby name ("Asian Competence").

On the cheery side

Mar. 28th, 2015 07:40 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Moomin is singing along to Janelle Monae songs and all is peaceful. <3

as usual....

Mar. 28th, 2015 07:21 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I had like 3 nice days and now am weirdly ill again. Bah!!!!!

Reflux or something. allergies. i slept most of today. I keep just falling asleep. Can't walk around without coughing painfully. eating hurts. why! I hate this. It was nice out... at least I fell asleep in the sun a lot. its like i suddenly have painful bronchitis from ... stomach acid? not for the first time. Am taking Dexilant (which i've been on daily for like, a year) and drinking carafate to help with the pain. it barely helps.
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

From my Congress.gov alert:

There has been activity on bills associated with Representative Don Young.

Bills cosponsored:

  • H.R. 1600 – To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to limit co-payment, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing requirements applicable to prescription drugs in a specialty drug tier to the dollar amount (or its equivalent) of such requirements applicable to prescription drugs in a non-preferred brand drug tier, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 1114 – To modify the definition of "antique firearm".

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: guns, healthcare
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

From my Congress.gov alert:

There has been activity on bills associated with Senator Dan Sullivan.

Bills cosponsored:

  • S. 873 – A bill to designate the wilderness within the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in the State of Alaska as the Jay S. Hammond Wilderness Area.
  • S. 738 – Genetically Engineered Salmon Risk Reduction Act
  • S. 571 – Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2
  • S. 872 – A bill to provide for the recognition of certain Native communities and the settlement of certain claims under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and for other purposes.

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: Alaska Natives, aviation, gmos, Lake Clark, Land, salmon
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

From my Congress.gov alert:

There has been activity on bills associated with Representative Don Young.

Bills sponsored:

  • H.R. 1730 – To amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to provide that Alexander Creek, Alaska, is and shall be recognized as an eligible Native village under that Act, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 1729 – To amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exempt certain Alaskan Native articles from prohibitions against sale of items containing nonedible migratory bird parts, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 1728 – To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve the efficiency of summer meals.

Bills cosponsored:

  • H.R. 1694 – To amend MAP-21 to improve contracting opportunities for veteran-owned small business concerns, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 1677 – To amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to ensure health care coverage value and transparency for dental benefits under group health plans.
  • H.R. 1684 – To amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to impose penalties and provide for the recovery of removal costs and damages in connection with certain discharges of oil from foreign offshore units, and for other purposes.

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: Alexander Creek, birds, healthcare, oil, pollution, retirement, summer meals, veterans
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

From my Congress.gov alert:

There has been activity on bills associated with Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Bills sponsored:

  • S. 872 – A bill to provide for the recognition of certain Native communities and the settlement of certain claims under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and for other purposes.
  • S. 883 – A bill to facilitate the reestablishment of domestic, critical mineral designation, assessment, production, manufacturing, recycling, analysis, forecasting, workforce, education, and research capabilities in the United States, and for other purposes.
  • S. 873 – A bill to designate the wilderness within the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in the State of Alaska as the Jay S. Hammond Wilderness Area.

Filed under: alaska, politics Tagged: Alaska Natives, Lake Clark, Land, Mining, Research

Heather's Descendants

Mar. 27th, 2015 05:58 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Know what picture book is having a big birthday this year? Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies is turning 25 years old, and Candlewick Press is celebrating with an anniversary edition of the book. Originally illustrated by Diana Souza, this birthday edition includes illustrations from Laura Cornell, who has illustrated many of Jamie Lee Curtis’ bestselling picture books.
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by David Ferriero

The National Archives’ Strategic Plan includes the bold initiative to digitize our analog records and make them available for online public access.

Our new digitization strategy outlines the many approaches we will use to achieve this goal, and I am proud share with you the results of some of our recent digitization work.

Recently digitized by staff in the National Archives Still Picture Branch, these stunning color photographs from the Battle of the Bulge were taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in St. Vith, Belgium. The photos depict the wreckage in St. Vith in the days after units of the 7th Armored Division liberated the town in January, 1945.

Wreckage in St. Vith Belgium
Wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730732

Snowsuited Soldiers Walk through the Snow Covered Streets of St. Vith, Belgium
Snowsuited Soldiers Walk through the Snow Covered Streets of St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730733

 

American Soldiers Man a Dug-In Mortar Emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium
American Soldiers Man a Dug-In Mortar Emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730734

M-4 Sherman Tanks Lined up in a Snow Covered Field, near St. Vith, Belgium
M-4 Sherman Tanks Lined up in a Snow Covered Field, near St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730735

Yanks Trudge through Snow from Humpange,Belgium to St. Vith

Yanks Trudge through Snow from Humpange,Belgium to St. Vith. National Archives Identifier 16730736

I will be featuring more digitization projects in upcoming blog posts.

More photos from the Battle of the Bulge are featured on Today’s Document Tumblr, and you can read more about “The Bloodiest Battle” in Prologue Magazine.… [ Read all ]

Let's Hear It for Live Bugs

Mar. 27th, 2015 06:16 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Editing reviews of children's and teen books can lead to some pretty strange diversions. Take fireflies—or more precisely, best practices in catching fireflies.
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