data point

Jan. 31st, 2015 05:12 pm
brainwane: A silhouette of a woman in a billowing trenchcoat, leaning against a pole (trenchcoat)
[personal profile] brainwane
I have 1671 followers on Twitter and 105 followers on Identi.ca/StatusNet (the microblogging service that runs on free and open source software). I post nearly the same content to both (I don't copy @-replies from one to the other). I get about the same number of tiresome, missing-the-point pedantic, or otherwise sigh-worthy (but not spam) replies/notes on both services. Does that mean that Identi.ca/StatusNet users are 16 times more likely to say sigh-worthy things to me?

Dramatic fall onto the fainting couch

Jan. 31st, 2015 01:25 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Well I got up to fold laundry and walk about the house a bit. Realized my stomach hurt like hell and I was running a fever. Back in bed. Not swimming. I would still like to go up the hill and be in the sun. But not if that makes me worse.

ate half an apple. trying to think what to eat. i think a lot of salad and veggies maybe.

Hanging in , going out

Jan. 31st, 2015 11:33 am
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Can't eat normally but faking it. (less than half of a normal amount of food)

nice dinner with metaphortunate anyway!

It isn't getting any easier to get myself out of bed to go swim today. Must JFDI. But it is boring. I will try to take some mpleasure in the bus trip and the nice sunny day and swim at my own pace and not hurt myself. Wish I had someone to go with or talk with at it! my small talk is not super stoked right now. Also, my back hurts and i will not enjoy the bus.

I wonder if i could make the drive there soon.

since it is so hard to get myself up and my back is so wobbly i am not going to alterconf, giving away the tix. sad to miss this personally and also i was looking forward to sharing it with milo.

i also want some coffee so very much but it would be a bad idea for gastritis. at least i can move around. it is not to emergency bad levels. on the edge though. Must eat super conservatively, rest a lot.

tempting... just stay home and do regular PT exercises? is swimming too much?

I can't tell.
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
At Hacker School we work on becoming better programmers, help each other become better programmers, and talk about that process. Here are some of the things I've said in that context.

On a Julia Evans post, "Fear Makes You A Worse Programmer":

Back to fear - this piece by Skud includes a bit of a horror story -- bad or missing code review led to a bad deploy which led a volunteer to drop out entirely, partly due to fear of messing up again. And here's a story where paranoia by management led to the firm going out of business.

....So the distinction de Becker makes [in The Gift of Fear] is that fear is your subconscious telling you about a genuine threat, because your intuition has put together the facts faster than your conscious self has -- whereas anxiety comes from the messages on the 10 o'clock news, racism, etc. Fear is a friend and anxiety is an interloper. If I were to use that framing, I would say that one characteristic of a mature programmer would be: she has a healthy sense of fear, and the reflex to mitigate scary risks ("we need to put this into version control NOW"), but she has control over anxiety ("people say C is hard to learn, maybe I'm not smart enough").

On choosing your own learning path:

I think you might like this reflective post by Ben Rosenbaum on "the moment in which I actually started to determine my education." (And a few current thoughts, by Indian students speaking to other Indians, that by implication say a lot about breaking expectations.) I try to be conscious of how others explicitly and implicitly guided me into certain achievement paths and avoid doing that with others, avoid making assumptions (so, for instance, I have retrained myself to avoid asking, "where did you go to college?").

On Philip Guo's post about "command line bullshittery" as a barrier to research:

I agree with Philip Guo so thoroughly, especially about the demoralizing effect of the gulf of execution, and that a leader should reduce the incidental complexity that slows down the people she's serving.

....As a card-carrying fan of Neal Stephenson's "How to Win Friends and Influence People^H^H^H^H^H^H^H In The Beginning Was The Command Line", and of [readings] on the usage and philosophy of Unix concentrating on the command line, I do not consider the command line bullshit. But Philip's right to consider the specifics of *getting research software installed and set up* as incidental complexity in the context of his students' substantive work. And that process takes place on the command line. It's like me calling the process of getting across town in Manhattan "L train bullshit"; it is good that the L train exists but arrrrgh.

On better ways to ask and answer code-related questions online (and the concept of a "yak trace," understanding the series of steps a person has taken to make something or debug a problem):

basically I think a yak trace emerges most easily in conversation with a generous interlocutor, whereas many fora online where people ask for help would prefer that help-requesters' initial speech act be delivered with the concision and throughput of a paramedic running alongside a gurney

....In my experience *building even the faintest of relationships* with the asker/user makes it a million times easier to ask the question. In IRC, for example, I've had tremendous success by *starting off saying* (roughly) "Hi [person's nickname]! I'm Sumana, [thing I do] and I live in NYC. Good to meet you, although sorry for the circumstances :/" [wait for reciprocation; most people will reciprocate by giving their name at least] "That problem sounds frustrating. Do you mind if I ask a couple diagnostic questions?" Now we are people together and not just Supplicant and Expert, and I can ask about the environment, and I can say something like "the approach you're using is sort of unusual so I want to check whether you're accidentally making it harder for yourself and there's an easier way to get the functionality you want :) " (although I can't remember the last time I had to literally explicitly say that; usually by this point they are open to talking about their process, their macro goal, etc.).

IMO the affordances of a lot of online tech-help-seeking spaces discourage this kind of necessary trust-building conversation.

In longer-term dev scenarios, understanding the user's underlying goals is a task that product managers and user experience designers have a lot of tools to do. Qualitative interviews. Ethnography. Market research. Looking at traffic stats and discovering/making funnels. IMO Val's insight about what the application developers really wanted was a user experience insight (some folks call it DX, Developer Experience, for stuff like this).

The API usability chapter in Greg Wilson's and Andy Oram's Making Software influenced my thinking thoroughly on this stuff.

Words, other than proper nouns and HTML, in this post that my in-browser spellchecker dislikes: bullshittery, arrrrgh, gurney, IRC, etc., IMO, affordances, tech-help-seeking, dev, stats, DX, API.

(no subject)

Jan. 30th, 2015 12:51 pm
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
Festivids opens tomorrow! So today I will post about [livejournal.com profile] holmestice, which had its reveals a month ago. I’m nothing if not timely, me. :-P

[personal profile] language_escapes wrote a lovely Beth Lestrade Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century story for me: “let my name not be forgotten.”

22nd Century doesn’t get a lot of attention among the other Holmesian fandoms, and possibly deservedly so: as much as I hate the phrase “just a kid’s show,” it’s fairly apt. (22-minute adaptations of canon stories — some fairly tight adaptations, some loose — set in a distant future with ray-guns, brain-wiping, floppy disks, and flying cars. Character development is shallow, but I still enjoy their versions of Lestrade, Watson, and Holmes. The show tends to skim lightly through the plots, but overall, it’s very strongly rooted in canon, moreso than many higher-profile adaptations.) I’m not passionately fannish about the show, but speaking as a fic writer, and especially as a fic writer who tends toward fic-as-meta, it’s a brilliant ‘verse to play in, as good as custom-made for people who want to explicitly engage with the adaptive tradition and its fall-out.

After all, the backstory for 22ndC is that Victorian Holmes and Watson actually lived, and then their stories became a cultural phenomenon to the point that the Holmesian legend has become a motivating force for the characters. A geneticist with criminal ambitions cloned the reputed greatest criminal mastermind of all time, Moriarty. In response, Inspector Beth Lestrade — a current member of Scotland Yard, direct descendent of G. Lestrade, and the literary heir of Watson’s journals — stole Holmes’s corpse and re-animated it. Her robot sidekick then read Watson’s journals and was so impressed by them that he adopted Watson’s personality for his own. Canon not only exists within this ‘verse, but exists with a weight that shapes and warps the characters’ world. It’s an excellent ‘verse for wrangling with the cultural legend of Sherlock Holmes as a thing in its own right. (Which is exactly why I turned to 22nd Century for my summer Holmestice story, “Persistence of Memory,” when I wanted to talk about the way that Elementary S2 had been sidelining Joan Watson and my frustration with the way that some had been defending it with “because canon.”)

[personal profile] language_escapes wrote a story that plays very nicely with mine (technically they’re not in the same continuity, but there’s only a distance between the two), in which she explores what it means to be a Lestrade in a world where everyone knows that Lestrades are always wrong. Additionally, we get plenty of what I love about Beth Lestrade: obstinance, optimism, and gratuitous kicking-in-of-doors. It’s really a lovely story, and it made me very happy.




My Holmestice contribution this last go-around was ACD!canon femslash: “So Keen a Sympathy,” Mary Watson/Kate Whitney, interstitial to “The Man with the Twisted Lip.”

…and you know, I thought I was going to have scads to say about it, but most of what I’d have to say is in the fic itself. But [livejournal.com profile] violethuntress’s meta about missing and secretive husbands in Twisted Lip was foundational, and the story taps hugely into my own feelings about how patriarchy creates very real differences in the lives of lesbians and gay men. But mostly it’s a story with a happy ending, because I’d rather spork my eyes out than write about unhappy historical lesbians.

Speaking of, I did a ton of background reading for this. (As is my wont. I even did substantial research for Holocene Park, and that was all ridiculous shit about genetically engineered dinosaurs killing people under the streets of New York. The actual world is always richer than my imagination.) I posted some of my favorite quotes on tumblr — diaries, letters, poems, and stories by Gerogian, Victorian, and Edwardian lesbians — but because booklists are always fun: “sources” )

Color Commentary

Jan. 30th, 2015 08:48 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Author-illustrator and graphic designer Michael Hall creates children’s books with bright colors; playful shapes; and sentences, for the most part, that beginning readers can handle. A “simple and engaging approach,” as he puts it at his website, is what he’s going for, and boy, does this deceptively simple approach work. I’ve enjoyed his picture books over the years—especially sharing them with children (many of them make great story-time reads)—and his newest picture book, Red: A Crayon’s Story, is one of his very best. It’s filled with such wisdom, this one.

80 Days!

Jan. 30th, 2015 08:39 am
[personal profile] yendi
Hey, Android owners! The best video game of 2014, 80 Days, is on sale at the Amazon App Store for $.99 (80% off)! Note that there's no qualifier in that last sentence -- it's not the "best mobile game" or "best story-driven game" or somesuch. Just the best game released in 2014. Go buy it (it's certainly worth the full $5, too, if you're on IOS or don't catch it while it's on sale).

There are supposedly 500K words of content in the game. That's more than the entire LOTR trilogy or any book in A Song of Fire and Ice. In other words, there's a lot of content, and a lot of replayability.

It's On My Mind

Jan. 29th, 2015 03:27 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
So a few years ago, a friend of mine was at a party, and one of the people at that party was a laconic fella, a new boyfriend who hadn't met this group before. Eventually someone got around to asking him what he did for a living. He said something a bit general, about government service, yes, at the federal level, until someone said, "you're a G-man? With the FBI?"

"That's right," he said, briefly, with a small nod.

Someone speculated as to whether he was in New York City because he was concerned with things like the security of the Indian Point nuclear power facility.

"It's on my mind," he replied.

And someone else told a story of a cop or a federal agent, losing their gun while on the job.

"That's frowned upon," he noted.

Ever since then, Leonard and I have found this triad of answers endlessly entertaining. These are polite yet distant ways of giving answers in the affirmative, the negative, and the noncommital.

That said, here are some links that are on my mind (whether I think they're right or frowned upon will be your guess to make!):

Transparency about money: a fiction author, a public speaker, and a publisher are sharing real dollar amounts so you know what you might be getting into. You might also enjoy a similar HOWTO that Leonard and I wrote, about making a one-off anthology.

Disagreeing well: This distinction between task-focused and relationship-focused people (which may be very similar to Rands's organics and mechanics model or my engineer and mother leadership models) will stick with me.

Transformative work and the origins of abuse: In an interview about Jo Walton's new book The Just City, check out Walton's response to the interviewer's question, "Why have Apollo learn about 'equal significance and volition'?"

Catwoman: chaila and beccatoria are telling me to read Genevieve Valentine's run writing Catwoman and I may well listen to them.

"Everything is a bit orange for some reason": I can't decide whether Holly Gramazio's hilarious analysis of games in fiction (e.g., the futuristic sports in dystopia movies) has more insights or jokes, but there are plenty of both.

Impostor syndrome tips: Concrete steps you can take to stop automatically assuming you can't do stuff.

What are you willing to consider?: Danny linked to this piece which I think stands alone (seeing as I haven't read the Chait piece it's responding to (and every time I see Chait's name I think of "TBWA Chiat/Day" and the old Apple ads)). This controversy touches on trust, courage, groupthink, the purposes of different environments and different kinds of environments, how quantity can have a quality all its own, the attention economy, and a zillion other things. Put this in the "on my mind" bucket.

Techish things: Hound is a new competitor to DXR. You should enable automatic updates on your servers. A Python developer is offering code review in exchange for donations to Doctors Without Borders. Learning to sit with discomfort: part of yoga, part of life. Changing history (advanced Git). The Mailman project wants to switch translation platforms. A gentle primer on reverse engineering.

The dream factory, the sausage factory: A television writing room feels a bit like the opening of Anathem (Socratic questioning about scifi/fantasy tropes).

Popular: I'm using Dreamwidth as my RSS reader. Check out the popular feeds, ranked by how many DW users subscribe. The top 10 feeds include the Organization for Transformative Works, Cake Wrecks, & PhD Comics. Also, as a data point, at current writing, the feed for this very blog has more subscribers than Paul Krugman's feed has.

Finally, because I have my immature moments like anyone else: A Project Gutenberg find by Leonard: "Diary of Richard Cocks, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan, 1615-1622" pub. 1882. (It's legitimately historically interesting .... but that's not what caught my attention at first.)

[syndicated profile] fanhackers_feed

Posted by fanhackers

Posted on request from Liorah Golomb:

I am looking for a collaborator with computational linguistic skills for a project mining the dialogue of the U.S. television program Supernatural (CW Network, 2005-present). My goal is to demonstrate, through textual analysis, the originality of the dialogue, the breadth of words and phrases used by the writers, the way language is used to distinguish characters and reveal character traits, etc.The product of this project will be an article for publication in a peer-reviewed venue. Presentation at an appropriate conference is also a possibility.

A chapter that I’ve written about my exploration of this project thus far is forthcoming in Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, March 2015). That chapter documents my process of creating the corpora from fan-created transcripts, testing and selecting concordance tools, and examples of the type of results these efforts will produce. It also discusses the limitations of examining only the dialogue in a visual medium and my own limitations as a non-linguist.

My hope is that a partner with the skills I lack will be able to help me with linguistic concepts as well as determine (1) whether there is a way to codify non-verbal action and communication for analysis and (2) whether it would be useful to encode the text for analysis. Interest in or familiarity with Supernatural is a plus.

I am an academic librarian and Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma with a long history of publishing scholarly work. My CV can be found at ou.academia.edu/LiorahGolomb.

Please contact me to discuss this project further: liorah.golomb@gmail.com.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

(no subject)

Jan. 29th, 2015 11:48 pm
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
Sometimes I get bad Usenet flashbacks.

Once I asked on the main Japanese language study newsgroup, which had a fair number of linguists and language professors, about how to study kanbun. Kanbun is a way of writing Japanese as if it were Chinese that gets used in a lot of historical documents. I said in my post that my Japanese level was fairly high but not so fluent that I was totally comfortable reading the test prep books for high school students.

And in a remarkable case of "I don't understand the question you asked so I'm going to assume it's your fault," people started berating me for not knowing kanji. Kanji, the part of the modern Japanese writing system that I could understand reasonably well actually.

The thing is, there really aren't shortcuts when it comes to kanbun. If you're serious about studying premodern Japanese history at that level, you learn Chinese. So even when I got the right answer, it didn't feel great. But that's the kind of thing, I think, that's influenced how I see reference service - when you think it might be the wrong question, you keep asking and keep asking until you're sure you understand it and don't end up making people feel foolish.

Blizzard Preparedness Reading Guide

Jan. 29th, 2015 07:15 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Almost exactly one year ago today, I wrote about working through a serious case of Winter Malaise by reading a few books about characters who had it far worse than me: a girl dealing with betrayal and lies in Antarctica; a group of teenagers snowed in at a rapidly cooling high school; a nonfiction picture book about a doomed Arctic expedition; a book that opens with a girl stranded on an iceberg.

It's On My Mind

Jan. 29th, 2015 03:27 am
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
So a few years ago, a friend of mine was at a party, and one of the people at that party was a laconic fella, a new boyfriend who hadn't met this group before. Eventually someone got around to asking him what he did for a living. He said something a bit general, about government service, yes, at the federal level, until someone said, "you're a G-man? With the FBI?"

"That's right," he said, briefly, with a small nod.

Someone speculated as to whether he was in New York City because he was concerned with things like the security of the Indian Point nuclear power facility.

"It's on my mind," he replied.

And someone else told a story of a cop or a federal agent, losing their gun while on the job.

"That's frowned upon," he noted.

Ever since then, Leonard and I have found this triad of answers endlessly entertaining. These are polite yet distant ways of giving answers in the affirmative, the negative, and the noncommital.

That said, here are some links that are on my mind (whether I think they're right or frowned upon will be your guess to make!):

Transparency about money: a fiction author, a public speaker, and a publisher are sharing real dollar amounts so you know what you might be getting into. You might also enjoy a similar HOWTO that Leonard and I wrote, about making a one-off anthology.

Disagreeing well: This distinction between task-focused and relationship-focused people (which may be very similar to Rands's organics and mechanics model or my engineer and mother model) will stick with me.

Transformative work and the origins of abuse: In an interview about Jo Walton's new book The Just City, check out Walton's response to the interviewer's question, "Why have Apollo learn about 'equal significance and volition'?"

Catwoman: chaila and beccatoria are telling me to read Genevieve Valentine's run writing Catwoman and I may well listen to them.

"Everything is a bit orange for some reason": I can't decide whether Holly Gramazio's hilarious analysis of games in fiction (e.g., the futuristic sports in dystopia movies) has more insights or jokes, but there are plenty of both.

Impostor syndrome tips: Concrete steps you can take to stop automatically assuming you can't do stuff.

What are you willing to consider?: Danny linked to this piece which I think stands alone (seeing as I haven't read the Chait piece it's responding to (and every time I see Chait's name I think of "TBWA Chiat/Day" and the old Apple ads)). This controversy touches on trust, courage, groupthink, the purposes of different environments and different kinds of environments, how quantity can have a quality all its own, the attention economy, and a zillion other things. Put this in the "on my mind" bucket.

Techish things: Hound is a new competitor to DXR. You should enable automatic updates on your servers. A Python developer is offering code review in exchange for donations to Doctors Without Borders. Learning to sit with discomfort: part of yoga, part of life. Changing history (advanced Git). The Mailman project wants to switch translation platforms. A gentle primer on reverse engineering.

The dream factory, the sausage factory: A television writing room feels a bit like acts out the opening of Anathem (Socratic questioning about scifi/fantasy tropes).

Popular: I'm using Dreamwidth as my RSS reader. Check out the popular feeds, ranked by how many DW users subscribe. The top 10 feeds include the Organization for Transformative Works, Cake Wrecks, & PhD Comics. Also, as a data point, at current writing, the feed for this very blog has more subscribers than Paul Krugman's feed has.

Finally, because I have my immature moments like anyone else: A Project Gutenberg find by Leonard: "Diary of Richard Cocks, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan, 1615-1622" pub. 1882. (It's legitimately historically interesting .... but that's not what caught my attention at first.)

Hard night

Jan. 28th, 2015 12:27 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Bad night, feeling very sick, sick to my stomach, reflux, and a weird strong headache that had increased over the day. Pain meds did not help the headache. It was so hard to fall asleep. like a horrible nightmare most of the night. I am not feeling well today, dizzy and sick and looking at the computer makes my head hurt. I tried to dial in to my 8:30 meeting and people's voices made me want to pass out.

Some sort of flu or virus I guess. Taking the day off. reading and dozing. I am missing the work I wanted to get done, swimming, and meeting up with people I wanted to see who are from out of town and also dropping by to see D. as she moves today from the nursing home to chuck's house. All on hold. I miss going to the office and swimming especially as I was looking forward to both.

Things what happened yesterday

Jan. 28th, 2015 07:37 am
[personal profile] yendi
1. We survived the Snowmageddon (which was most definitely nearly as bad as advertised up here, minus the power outages, thankfully). Work's still closed today, and I'll be doing a good amount of shoveling. Since the front yard is also 90% full of snow, there's the question of where to put the stuff I shovel, but that's a problem for after coffee.

2. I finally got my first gold character (Necromancer Undertaker) in the more-fun-than-it-should-be WWE Immortals. Yes, the gold characters really are worth it -- at level 6, he's twice as powerful as any other character I have.

3. I got retweeted and followed by John Hodgman. Um, yeah. Woke up to find that out. Consider this the buried lede of the post.

4. (As implied by 3), we powered through all of Mozart in the Jungle, which is damned fun, and has a great cast (including vets like Malcolm McDowell, Bernadette Peters, Saffron Burrows and relative newcomers like Lola Kirke, Gael García Bernal, and Hannah Dunne).
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
I'm the chair of the Ada Initiative Executive Director search committee, which means it's my name on the announcement we posted about six weeks ago: "The Ada Initiative is growing! Announcing our search for a new Executive Director".

Ada Lovelace We've received applications and expect to receive more, and it's not too late to apply, although we have already started processing our first "batch" of applicants. I thought it would be nice to dash off a quick note about some reasons to apply that you might not have thought of.

The board of directors is pretty great. I'm on it! Very thoughtful people with tons of experience and different perspectives are on it. We would help you make decisions.

The advisors: also great! Again, the quality and quantity of insight available to advise the ED is impressive. I've been on the Advisory Board for years and we have amazing conversations.

You're coming into something that's already working. Check out what TAI did in 2014, and look at the over-the-top success of the 2014 fundraising drive (over 1100 donors gave over $206,000, passing the original goal of $150,000). This ain't no glass cliff or turnaround job; you would be coming in already set up to succeed.

Sustainability includes making sure the ED doesn't burn out. Scroll down to the details in the job post. The hours: 40 hours per week, and we really mean that. Look at the leave (time off) provisions. Your board and your employees and contractors all know that you need rest and relaxation in order to be at the top of your game, and we've built that into the organization at a structural level.

If you're going to apply, please apply soon so the search committee can see how awesome you are even sooner! Thanks!

Busy morning!

Jan. 27th, 2015 09:02 am
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Read news, HN (which I do if i wake up in the night or very early) had tea and half a tramadol, slowly unstiffening. Knees and ankles bad in the way of post-airplane flight. I read a very excellent draft of an article or post by a friend and commented in potentially useful ways. She is admirable in her careful and nuanced construction of thoughts. What a pleasure to read. Also, a nice way to start the morning. I need more tea, and now to work email, 9:05am so it is not like I have shirked.

Not sure how things will play out at work this week. I would like to focus deeply and submit a patch! Must catch up with email, go to at least 2 meetings. So i could not until late afternoon. By then I may be in too much pain. Then Wed. morning a meeting and then physical therapy. So I really really want to try for this afternoon.

Home and happy

Jan. 26th, 2015 10:47 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I liked Salt Lake City and Park City both. I did a fair job of relaxing and not trying to do too much, slightly over the line but most of that was today (getting off the plane to go to ada's school play opening night, which was AMAZING.)

I had great food, 3 different really good hotels, nice people all around, got to see a little of the library, strange experience today of scootering around downtown Salt Lake City and, yay, went to hear an organ recital in the Tabernacle, which was truly great. Mormons weirded me out. I went into the geneology building.

Actually just crossing the street from the temple plaza to the geneology building was weird and hilarious and a good silly story. I was facing the building across a wide, completely empty street at a crosswalk and red light and don't walk sign. The lights on either side a block away were red and no cars were even visible. Across the street from me was a lineup of mormons with name tags, ladies in skirts and like big hair, and men in suits with flowers in buttonholes. It was as if they were in 50s shop windows. They were all staring at me like i was from Mars but with big smiles. I have to say my heart quailed as I realized I was about to jaywalk or jayscoot in front of these people. Do Mormons do a citizens arrest? So, I went across and they all burst into nervous laughter. I went to the median and thought perhaps we could leave it at that, but no, it had to be done right so I just kept going. We grinned at each other wildly. ONe of them stepped aside and made a remark, something like "Well, uh oh, you might just block our way or something!" (Which was weird because.... i am one person and they were like 10 and they were blocking the crosswalk ramp) False joviality! I laughed lightly while grinning (and considered dramtically taking off my hat to reveal troll doll crest; rejected as the right moment had passed before I thought of it, plus, not actually there to troll mormons, just wanted to cross street, so, unworthy) and went on to admire the Pioneer Cabin to collect myself (rattled!) and hack its portal(s).

Then peeked into the geneology place. A large imposing building with very ugly art inside. The greeters were perturbed but came at me with smiles and nametags. Sister something explained that I could go to watch a video then go to the computers and people would help me. I said I was pretty experienced in doing that kind of research and familiar with how to do geneology stuff online and what i wanted to know was what paper archives they have and what access people can have to them because I like history. She did not know but after some fumbling said that there were books and papers and things on other floors but would have to ask around. I didn't have time to stay so thanked her and went off to the GLORIOUS organ music.

Gershwin on an organ, meh. "Southern Song" ok, noted the blue note accurately done (impressive) but this compounded feeling of cultural appropriation/ruining done by Gershwin. and yet it was quite beautiful and dreamy. BUT. Toccata and fugue(s) A PLUS WOULD FUGUE AGAIN. holy shit! So great. The organist did a demo of the acoustics by dropping a pin 3 times onto the table and then a nail and then tearing a newspaper. My observation of the pin drop was that the pins were dropped onto a hollow wooden sounding box type of thing on top of the table. That is not quite cheating, it is fine, but, it was implied that they were just dropped onto the table...... Kind of cheating really. Wondered what the hell. Immense wealth of odd religious cult displayed. What if someone like, busted me for playing ingress in t heir plaza? What would it be like to flat out own like 4 city blocks for the your monumental architecture of your Thing, whatever it is? What even is their thing, wtf? I think my knowledge of mormons goes like this: Sherlock Holmes story. Pat Califia complaining about childhood. Abuse scandals. They wear particular underwear (garments). Feminist Mormon Housewives group blog (which was great when i was reading it). Oh, also, impression that it is odd, but mostly harmless, to think if you record everyone's family tree then you get their souls in your heaven. You know, weird, but, shrug....

Back in SF feeling the vast weight of wondering if Mormons will get me lifted off my shoulders.

Much more to say but must sleep. Must blog about things like, the movie itself, my amazing breakfasts, all the nice things about the hotels, mountains, things I wish I had gotten to do, the library, etc. etc. also ada's school musical which, highlight of everything, was great.

a bit of bitterness for today

Jan. 26th, 2015 03:19 pm
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[personal profile] brainwane
Someone posted to a mailing list I'm on about a scifi conference at Oral Roberts University ("Science, Faith, and the Imagination" - keynote speaker Orson Scott Card). I clicked through to "Experiencing Tulsa", whose second paragraph begins:

We are proud of our cultural diversity, and of the cultural activities that celebrate our part and our future.

Unfortunately, the next sentence is not:

In 2021 we will be commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Tulsa race riot, in which envious, racist white residents killed at least 39 of their black neighbors and destroyed the most prosperous black community in the United States.

And the list of key city attractions -- opera, ballet, the jazz district -- doesn't mention that, as a bonus, if you visit one of Tulsa's parks, you may well be standing on a mass grave.

The scifi conference is requesting submissions of short stories. Alt-history counts....

[syndicated profile] nara_feed

Posted by Larry Shockley

Through the holdings of the National Archives are a myriad of stories that are ready to be told, from struggle and misfortune to triumph and perseverance. In this “Stories From Our Holdings” series, we will endeavor to highlight works that have been created utilizing the tens of millions of our primary source documents, photographs, and films. In accomplishing this mission, we also hope to give well deserved exposure to the individuals who have come through the doors of the National Archives and discovered these stories.


Many stories are discovered while researching the records at the National Archives. One story, “‘The Hard Industry of My Own Hands’: Three American Civil War Widows in Ireland Struggle to Survive,” was created by Damian Shiels, an Ireland- based archaeologist specializing in conflict archaeology, which was first published on his website, Irish in the American Civil War. Mr. Shiels shared his research journey with us by email.

Damian Shiels
Damien Shiels, Photo courtesy of Goodreads, 2014

As he researched his story, Mr. Shiels utilized records culled from the pension files of the National Archives, including personal letters and official government correspondence between Washington D.C and the U.S. Consulate in Ireland, to tell the story of the hardships faced by three Irish women: Eleanor Hogg, Maria Sheppell and Honora Cleary. Although these women were from different religious and geographical backgrounds within Ireland, they shared unenviable commonalities in that all three were poor, illiterate, and had lost their husbands to the American Civil War. Interestingly, they also share the similarity that there is no evidence that any of these women ever set foot in the United States.

Shiels believes that the husbands of these women, Francis Michael Cleary, Farrell Hogg, and Nicholas Sheppell, left  poor lives in Ireland in order to eventually make a better life for their families in America. During this time, service on behalf of the Union Army in the American Civil War was much more financially lucrative than a farmer or laborer’s allowance in impoverished Ireland. As he continued to research the connections between these women, Shiels discovered appeals made by an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Ireland to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington, DC. The records showed that a case was made for the women to receive their deceased husbands’ pensions. The records indicate not only where, when, and at what age the men had passed away, but also that they left behind 15 children among them.

Because these records were digitized through a partnership with the National Archives and Fold3, they were available for a researcher in Ireland to discover and use. Since Mr. Shiels is based in Ireland and has no physical access to the U.S. National Archives, finding these records online was extremely valuable. In addition to labeling the NARA/Fold3 holdings on the Civil War Widows’ Pensions an “underused resource by many Civil War scholars,” Shiels also states  that:

“I firmly believe it is one of the finest repositories of information on 19th century Irish emigrants both in Ireland and the US available, but is completely unknown by Irish historians… None of my work on pensions would be possible without the exceptional effort currently taking place in the National Archives to digitize this material and make it available online via Fold3.”

170th New York, Corcoran's Irish Legion

170th New York, Corcoran’s Irish Legion on reserve picket duty. A significant amount of Irish immigrants fought for both the North and the South during the American Civil War. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

If you’d like to learn more about the digitization project that Mr. Shiels used in his research, check out the Civil War Widows’ Pension Digitization Project video on the National Archives’ YouTube channel.

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