Sep. 20th, 2017 09:19 pm

i need a d.va icon apparently

solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
Today was the most badass I have ever been as D.va.

Offence. Volskaya industries. Backfill, with about 2:30 to go; first point taken, first third of second point taken, but they've been flailing. I grab D.va, and they waste about 2:15 just raggedly charging in, ignoring my group-up requests - tho' I did get the enemy to blow a few of their ults. And once I announce that my nerf is up, my team finally groups, mostly because hey, about out of time.

I lead the charge in. I get one and a mech with my nerf. One of our team gets someone else, I don't know who. I get my mecha back, charge in, kill a third.

Their Reaper drops in with his ult and kills FIVE OF US. Quadruple kill. It is, in fact, play of the game.

But he does not get me. I am the only member of my team alive.

I kill every remaining member of the enemy team and take the point in overtime, while the entire rest of my team is dead.

I gold in objective kills, but I don't even card.

I cannot imagine what that looked like to everyone else.
[syndicated profile] jamesfallows_feed

Posted by James Fallows

Eric Liu (Citizen University)

If you happen to be in Redlands, California, on Thursday evening, September 21, I suggest you go by the headquarters of the tech company Esri to hear a talk by my friend Eric Liu, on the practical possibilities for civic engagement in our politically troubled age.

If you don’t happen to be in Redlands, I recommend getting Eric’s book, You Are More Powerful Than You Think. It addresses a central question of this politically troubled age: what, exactly, citizens who are unhappy with national politics can do, other than write a check or await the next chance to vote.

This is a question I wrestled with immediately after last year’s election, in this Atlantic article, and in a commencement speech a few months later. But Eric, author of several previous books about the theory and practice of citizenship (including The Gardens of Democracy and A Chinaman’s Chance) and head of the Citizen University network, based in Seattle, has devoted his useful and enlightening new book to just this topic, in the age of Trump. He described some of its principles in a NYT interview with David Bornstein a few months ago. Essentially his topic is how to bridge the gap between thinking, “something should be done,” and actually taking steps to doing that something, on your own and with others. This also is the ongoing theme of Citizen University, which emphasizes that citizenship is a job in addition to being a status.

I’ll leave the details, of which there are many, to Eric — on the podium in Redlands or in the pages of his book. The high-concept part of his argument flows from these three axioms:

  • Power creates monopolies, and is winner-take-all. → You must change the game.
  • Power creates a story of why it’s legitimate. → You must change the story.
  • Power is assumed to be finite and zero-sum. → You must change the equation.

He goes on, in practical terms, to illustrate what these mean. The political question of this era (as discussed here) is how the resilient qualities of American civic society match up against the challenges presented by the lurches of Donald Trump. Can the judiciary adhere to pre-2017 standards? How will the Congress fare in its ongoing search for a soul? Will states and cities maintain their policies on the environment, on standards of justice, on treatment of refugees and immigrants? And how, fundamentally, can citizens play a more active and powerful role in the affairs of their nation? These and others are central struggles of our time. And Eric Liu’s book is part of the effort to push the outcome in a positive direction.

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:27 pm

[ObMeme]

yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
By way of [personal profile] thistleingrey, because I need a break. On the bright side, I finished a short story today. :D

Read more... )
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Sep. 20th, 2017 04:19 pm

art accountability

yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
Sunday's sketch of the Dragon while we were getting food:


(Dammit, I like life drawing, even if I'm too n00b to be good at it. Joe says I have been getting better since I started a few years back though.)

Pen: Pelikan M205 Aqumarine (F nib)
Ink: Diamine Eclipse

Moving on from heads to eyes and lips? )

I haven't gotten back to Ctrl+Paint because life has been busy, but yesterday my art accountability was working on a Thing in Photoshop, mainly blocking in values.
Sep. 20th, 2017 04:15 pm

This Week in Nazi-Punching

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”

A few things to consider…

1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.

The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.

2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?

We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”

3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).

Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.

Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.

The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.

Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.

My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.

Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.

I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.It’s time for Wednesday Links, where we post some neat things we’ve found on the internet. I’m currently in one of those states where I’m not sure what day it is and when I do figure it out, it’s always earlier in the week than I’d thought. Which is a real bummer.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has a Kickstarter to be made into a movie! It’s already been successfully backed (yay!), but there are some awesome stretch goals that the team is working toward.

Big thanks to all of you who sent me the link to Entertainment Weekly’s cover reveal & interview with Lisa Kleypas. I loved this little historical fact from the Q & A:

Where did your idea for a female physician/doctor come from?

When I write these historical romance novels, I do an incredible amount of research just to get the flavor of the time period and to pick up all these details that give the story life. As I was reading about important people back in the late 1800s in England, the name Elizabeth Garrett Anderson came up. I was shocked to realize that she was the only female physician in England for 20-30 years and I had never even heard of her. After she got into the British Medical Association through a loophole after completing all these studies at the Sorbonne in France, the British Medical Association changed their rules so that no more women could be admitted for another 20 years. And I could not stop thinking about her because what an incredible thing to be the only woman in an entire country for that long. So I based this character Garrett Gibson on her and, of course, used the name Garrett, because I loved the idea of using a slightly androgynous name for this really tremendously accomplished and brave woman.

Also, what do you think of the cover? We had some thoughts here at the Bitchery.

 

The Ripped Bodice is doing a Blind Date with a Book, where readers can purchase books based on the description. Readers won’t know the actual title of the book until they receive it and unwrap it! I always love it when people do this. And just a reminder that The Ripped Bodice has graced us with an affiliate link for all of your online shopping.


Laptop Cord Winders

I have one of these from Above the Fray, and it's great for keeping my MacBook cord contained and safe from being pulled or frayed. There are earbud winders, too! -SW


In a previous Wednesday Links, we mentioned that Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester was being made into a stage production. Well, welcome Reader Melinda who saw it! Here’s her review:

Not long ago you mentioned on the blog that Lifeline Theatre in Chicago is doing a stage adaptation of “Sylvester” this fall. I’m a resident of Portland Oregon but realized that I’d be in Chicago visiting family during the play’s previews. So we got tickets.

Yesterday afternoon we went to the show, and I am pleased to report that it was well done and very, very fun! All of us enjoyed it–not only myself and my daughter, who are Georgette fans and familiar with the story, but also my husband and son in law who had never heard of Georgette or Sylvester.

The theatre is small, so the environment is intimate, and the production is creative (costumes are suggested, casting is diverse, each actor plays many parts, and there is a “game of love ” theme that organizes and comments on the action). I was personally amazed that such a long and complex novel could be dramatized in a way that made it manageable for a 2-hour running time and yet retained the essential character (and comedy) of the book.

Interestingly enough, the program mentioned that this is the theatre’s fourth adaptation of a Heyer novel, so it seems they have an interest in this kind of literature. They also seem to have done adaptations of Dorothy Sayers and “Miss Buncle’s Book.” If I were a Chicago resident I would definitely be keeping my eye on their future productions

Does anyone else plan on seeing it?

Erotic romance author, Selena Kitt, did an AMA (ask me anything) over at Reddit and I thought the Q & A was pretty informative for authors! Check it out! She talks about promoting books, how to manage a large backlist of books, and more.

Don’t forget to share what super cool things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way!

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:39 pm

And Then There Were Five...

[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

... GAME OF THRONES successor shows, that is.

Truth be told, we've had five scripts in various stages of development for months. Which I believe I mentioned...



But now at last all the deals are signed, and it can be told. BRYAN COGMAN has come on board to pen the fifth of the successor shows. James Hibberd broke the news on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

http://ew.com/tv/2017/09/20/game-thrones-bryan-cogman-5th-prequel/

Bryan Cogman should need no introduction for any GAME OF THRONES fan. He's been part of the show since the beginning... since before the beginning, actually, since he was first hired as assistant to David Benioff and D.B Weiss way before the series got on the air, before even the pilot had been filmed. From those humble beginnings, he advanced to staff writer, to story editor, to co-producer and producer and supervising producer. Less formally, he has also been GOT's "Keeper of the Lore," the guy who knew the canon better than anyone (except me, though sometimes I am not even sure of that). He's written more episodes of GAME OF THRONES than anyone but Dan & David... including some of our very best ones. If D&D have been the kings of Westeros for these past seven seasons, Bryan Cogman has surely been the Prince of Dragonstone.



I'd love to tell you more about the series Bryan will be working on... but we haven't done that for the other four successor shows, so we shouldn't for this one either. All in good time.

I can say that, like the other pilots, it will be a prequel rather than sequel, a successor rather than a spinoff. Bryan's series will be an adaptation, and one that will thrill most fans of the books, I think, set during a very exciting period of Westerosi history. And I'll be working with him every step of the way; we're going to be co-creating the show.

Meanwhile, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, Max Borenstein, and Carly Wray are all at work on the other four successor shows. I've been working with them as well (some more closely than others), and I'm excited by some of the ideas they're coming up with. HBO should have a wealth of material to choose from. (And that's not even counting the four weird-ass series concepts I've come up on my own, just for the hell of it. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and maybe ten times as many in Westeros and the lands beyond the narrow seas).

You should not expect to see all five shows, though, at least not immediately.. much as I might love the idea, HBO is not about to become the GAME OF THRONES network... but we could possibly see two or even three make it to the pilot stage, with one series emerging on air in 2019 or 2020... and the others maybe later, if they come out as well as we all hope. Then again, maybe... but I should not speculate, you folks get WAY too excited. Truth is, no one knows. Least of all me.

For now, suffice it to say that Bryan Cogman has signed on, and we're thrilled.

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:03 pm

Moon and Hummingbird

yourlibrarian: Butterfly and Alstroemeria by yourlibrarian (NAT-ButterflyAlstroemeria-yourlibrarian)
[personal profile] yourlibrarian posting in [community profile] common_nature
This is the most recent case of what I dub a "low moon" -- meaning that it seems very low and large in the sky.

Read more... )
Sep. 20th, 2017 04:17 pm

Emmy Winners

[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Emmy Awards. And especially to my friends at HBO, which once again led all other networks in number of nominations and number of victories.

It was a great show this year, I thought. Yes, even without GAME OF THRONES. Stephen Colbert made a terrific host. I especially enjoyed his opening number.



A strong lineup of nominees this year gave us some great winners... though, as always, that also means some equally deserving finalists wound up as losers. WESTWORLD especially was robbed, as was STRANGER THINGS. But it IS an honor just to be nominated, and the time will come for both of those shows, as it finally did for GAME OF THRONES. The big winners this year were Hulu's HANDMAID'S TALE (adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood) and HBO's BIG LITTLE LIES (adapted from the novel by Liane Moriarity). ((Notice the common denominator there? BOOKS! Do a faithful adapatation of a great book, and you can't go wrong)). I was also pleased to see BLACK MIRROR get some love, especially for its brilliant "San Junipero" episode.



GAME OF THRONES, of course, was not eligible this year, having shifted from April to August. Which meant that, for the first time in seven years, I was not actually at the awards in LA. Instead Parris and I watched from home. It felt kind of strange not to be there, truth be told. Not bad, just strange. It was actually sort of relaxing. The Emmy weekend can be very exciting, but it is also exhausting, even the parties... the heat, the crowds, the noise. The red carpet seems to get longer (and hotter) every year. Maybe that's an ordeal that should be left for the younger and more photogenic members of our television community.

Will I be back next year, or the year after, or the year after that? Time will tell. Emmy is a fickle goddess who bestows her kisses where she will. But either way, I'm good.

((Comments on the Emmys welcome. Off topic comments will be deleted)).
rolanni: (Default)
[personal profile] rolanni

For those following along at home:  The hearphone movie test was inconclusive.  I could, indeed, hear the dialog in Fantastic Beasts clearly while wearing the hearphones, but!  So could I without.  I am forced to conclude that the speakers on the new television set are superior to those in the local movie theater.

I have not yet done the Noisy Bar test drive.  I have a window of opportunity tomorrow, when I need to be in Augusta insanely early so the car can get its 10,000 mile inspection, fine-tuning, whatever.  Steve has bravely volunteered to go with me, and the plan (The Plan) is that, after the car is taken care of, we shall adjourn to IHOP, which is really pretty noisy, and I will do a test there.

One of the things that's really freaky about the hearphones, besides hearing yourself talk through your ears, is that there's a option for "silence" -- which turns off your ears.  Or at least feels like it's turned off your ears.  No input gets through.

In other news, the page proofs for Neogenesis, the twenty-first book in the Liaden Universe®; the eleventh Liaden book we've written for Baen -- landed in my in-box yesterday.  Today, after breakfast, Sprite and I sat down with our red pen and our sticky tabs and went over the front matter and the first 48 pages, which takes us through the first section/chapter.

I will now go on to other things, including working on Fifth of Five, the sequel to Neogenesis and the last book in both the five-book arc beginning with Dragon in Exile, and the last book in the arc begun 29 years ago, in Agent of Change.

Twenty-nine years ago.

Well.  I guess I've earned those purple hairs.

Before anyone asks:  Nope, still don't know when the eArc of Neogenesis will appear at a Baen.com near you.  The last word I had, from two "Baen insiders" (editors, actually, but "Baen insiders" sounds infinitely cooler than "editor") was that the eArc would be available in September.  That is the sum of my knowledge on the subject (honest!).  If you need to know more, you need to write to Baen.

What else?  The fountain pen experiment continues to go well.  I have one pen (out of, er, four?  that escalated quickly) that I'm not really crazy about, but I am declaring success.

So, that seems to be all the news.  Everybody be well.

11.03%
 
48 / 435 pages

 

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:30 pm

More 99c Books from the Swerve Sale!

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Level Up

RECOMMENDED: Level Up by Cathy Yardley is 99c! Sarah and author Bree Bridges (one half of Kit Rocha!) had an entire podcast episode dedicated to squeeing about this book. If you want more geeky romances in your life, the next book, One True Pairing, is also on sale!

Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can’t do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…

Adam London has always thought of his roomie Tessa as “one of the guys” until he agreed to help her with this crazy project. Now, he’s thinking of her all the time… and certainly as something more than just a roommate! But his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions, and he knows that Tessa is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world.

Going from friends to something more is one hell of a challenge. Can Tessa and Adam level up their relationship to love?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line by Audra North is 99c! This is the third book in the Hard Driving series, but it works fine as a standalone. I’ve read some of North’s books in the past and she does write some pretty sexy contemporaries. Readers loved the chemistry between the hero and heroine, but others wanted more racing action.

He wanted her the first time he saw her. It didn’t matter that he was on stage in front of a room full of reporters, or that his publicist was telling him to move on, or that she was asking him a question about racing. One look at her “just been bedded” hair — completely at odds with her deliciously prim appearance — and Ty Riggs is hooked.

Corrine Bellows is one of the woefully few women in a male profession: sports reporting. In a field where “Hey, sweetheart, can you fetch me a cup of copy” is part of her job description, she’s determined to keep things professional. And while interviewing Ty Riggs, the hottest new driver on and off the track, is a major scoop, Corrine knows that she is in major trouble when it becomes clear that Ty wants so much more and is determined to get it. As things heat up between them, Corrine finds herself on shakier ground. Her big secret just may destroy everything.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Beauty and the Highland Beast

Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall is 99c! This is a historical romance with Beauty and the Beast elements. Readers say the book has a great start introducing the hero and the heroine, but there were others who felt a lot of the plot points seemed unnecessary. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. This is the first book in the A Highland Fairytale series and right now, you can grab all three books for less than $3!

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.

When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.

Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Meat

Meat by Opal Carew is 99c! It doesn’t look like this book is part of any series, so you can read without worrying about details from any previous books. I wanted to include this book because the title made me giggle. This definitely falls into the erotic romance category, so expect a lot of sexytimes. However, readers thought the book could have benefitted from being a bit longer.

Just one taste isn’t enough…

I ran into Rex Keene—literally—when I was trying to catch my flight and his muscled, tattooed arms stopped my fall.

Then our flight gets canceled, and we’re stranded in the same hotel room together…it ended up being the steamiest night of my life.

All I knew is that I had to see him again.

I just didn’t expect him to show up a week later in the restaurant I manage…as our new head chef.

But the generous, tender man I spent that night with is gone; instead he’s arrogant, demanding, and terrorizing the staff.

But he won’t give up until we’re together – and I’m not sure I can stay away.

Which man is real?

Who is Rex Keene?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:13 am

Let Life Happen.

theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

“I’m not up for sex,” she told me. “I’ve had a lot of medical issues lately. It’s more painful than not to even try.”

“Cool,” I said, and we spent the day going to a street festival.

I woulda liked sex. But life happens.


“I’m in the middle of my seasonal affective disorder,” I told her. “You show up, I might not be able to leave the house. I might just curl up and cry all day.”

“Cool,” she said, and I was pretty morose but we cuddled a lot and eventually managed to go out to dinner.

I woulda liked to have a working brain. But life happens.


“I’m not sure I can make it through this convention,” they told me. “My flare-ups have been really bad this season. I might not be able to go out with you in the evenings.”

“Cool,” I said, and I went out for little hour-long jaunts before heading back to the room to cuddle them, then charging out again to circulate.

I woulda liked to have them by my side when I hit the room parties. But life happens.


I’m a massively flawed human with a mental illness. I need to have poly relationships that include for the possibility of breakdowns. Because if I need to have a perfect day before I allow anyone to see me, I might wait for weeks. Months. Years. And then what the fuck is left by the time I get to see them?

I know there are people who need perfect visits. They have to have the makeup on when you visit them, and they’ll never fall asleep when they had a night of Big Sexy planned, and if they get out the toys there’s gonna be a scene no matter how raw anyone’s feeling.

But I can’t do that.

My relationships aren’t, can’t be, some idealized projection of who I want to be. If I’m not feeling secure that day, I can’t be with a partner who needs me to be their rock so the weekend proceeds unabated. And if they’re feeling broken, I can’t be with someone who needs to pretend everything is fine because their time with me is their way of proving what a good life they have.

Sometimes, me and my lovers hoped for a weekend retreat of pure passion and what we get is curling up with someone under tear-stained covers, holding them and letting them know they will not be alone come the darkness.

We cry. We collapse. We stumble. We don’t always get what we want, not immediately.

But we also heal. We nurture. We accept.

And in the long run, God, we get so much more.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm

Hands across the ocean

rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Thanks to [personal profile] cesy for the heads-up -- Hope not Hate have launched a US site:

Hope Not Hate (Twitter: [twitter.com profile] hopenothate_USA)

By way of making a dramatic entry, this seems to have been timed to co-ordinate with the announcement of their epic undercover project: Patrik Hermansson, an extremely brave young Swedish grad student, infiltrated the alt-right and lived undercover in the movement in London and the US for nearly a year, wired for sound and carrying hidden cameras. This ultimately included being at Charlottesville and witnessing the car attack that killed Heather Heyer.

The documentary is coming soon, and the comprehensive report on the international alt-right (for which the infiltration was part of the research) is here:

The International Alternative Right

News reports:

New York Times: Undercover With the Alt-Right

Raw Story: ‘It’s gonna end with concentration camps’: Alt-right executive boasts of a future Europe with Hitler on their money

As you will have noticed, I love HnH. They have a long history working against fascist and far right groups in the UK, through research, infiltration, legal action, anti-racist/xenophobic education and campaigning, and their work seems to have naturally become international as the "alt-right" has (e.g. with the "Defend Europe" boat). I think their expertise (and the willingness of their reporters to put their necks on the line, holy fuck) will be a formidable addition to the US scene.

Also they will allow you to give them money to help sue Nigel Farage, and honestly I would love them for that alone. PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY, PLEASE.
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
The Guardian: Medieval porpoise 'grave' on Channel island puzzles archaeologists

I love everything about this story:

Archaeologists digging at an island religious retreat have unearthed the remains of a porpoise that, mystifyingly, appears to have been carefully buried in its own medieval grave.

MAYBE THE PORPOISE WAS A MONK, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THAT.

... and now I eagerly await the medieval monk were-porpoise shifter romance.

For a different kind of wonderful:

The Fader: This Artist Is Filling London With Murals Of Extraordinary Black Women

The art is gorgeous, but what I really love is that he's portraying his female friends, people who aren't famous but are ordinary/extraordinary people - a youth worker, a psychotherapist, and so on. And I love the shots of the murals with the real women posed next to them.
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

Sorry this one took so long. I'm not good at large action sequences, and this chapter was difficult to write, mostly because of that. I was trying to keep it gamelike, in that it would be evocative of a failed charge onto take a point with a payload on it in game, as opposed to a realistic infantry scenario. I hope it works.

If nothing else, it's way longer than most of my chapters, so at least nobody's being short changed. ^_^

[AO3 link]


The opportunity came sooner than expected. An arms shipment, escorted by Los Muertos, task force almost certainly to be led by Jack Morrison - or, as it seems they called him, the white ghost.

Jesse McCree had been the one to catch the rumour, talking with some of his old Deadlock Gang contacts, who, turns out, would be happy if a rival gang did not get to run goods through their territory. And so, they passed the news to him, and he passed it to Amélie, who passed it to Venom, who gave it to Overwatch, and Gabriel Reyes, who built a plan.

Mockingbird lay atop the crest of the hill, silent, even her breath inaudible, even to herself, even she wasn't entirely sure she was bothering to breathe right then, as the small three-vehicle convoy stirred itself, beginning its early-morning trundle out of the two-building ghost town that had once called itself Cloverdale. There had been more here, once, before the climate warmed, but really, it had ended before then, a former bit of a farming town, a little store, a dance pavilion, enough water - just - for a bit of crop and cattle raising, but now, even that last was gone, which is, of course, why they were all where they were.

The sniper had been in her nest since two days before, had watched the convoy trundle its way across the desert and to a stop, loading out into the little stone ruin, and calling it a night. She had not slept; she did not need to, for this watch. Once everyone had tucked themselves in so nicely, so quietly, she'd then confirmed via radio to Gabriel that Jack Morrison was, indeed, in the front truck, and that they were not, in fact, transporting refugees or undocumented workers - there were no innocents to get in the way. Just a simple cargo delivery - maybe the weapons, maybe a side delivery before the main delivery, no way even to know.

Not that it mattered, really.

She watched as the convoy slowly rode its way west, towards her and past burned out soil, past former farm gates, now collapsing along the road, the paint bleached in the sun. She took in a breath, just enough to speak. "They're on their way."

Gabriel's voice in her ear. "Do you have the target?"

Lena allowed herself the smallest of smirks. Less than a kilometre. No breeze, at all. Crystal clear skies. Do I have the target. Honestly, Gabe. But she kept it to herself. "Target confirmed and moving into go/no go. Do I have go?"

Reyes ran through the numbers one more time in his head. Everyone in position for the ambush. A lot more fighters on the Los Muertos side - more than they expected, and it bothered him - but only one hard target. The gang side wouldn't be trying for a capture - they'd be shooting for kills, without hesitation - but Overwatch had surprise on their side.

"Nearing optimal range, Gabe. Go or no go?"

Who knows when we'll get intel even this good again, he decided. "Action confirmed. All team, on my mark - go."

Venom - no, Mockingbird - smiled the spider's smile, and pulled the trigger. Morrison's head jerked to the side as the tactical visor went flying out across the desert in pieces, and he swore, loudly, in Spanish, blinded by his own blood, but not really hurt, despite the proximity of the bullet. The transport vehicle swerved, blocking the road forward, but did not fly out of control, and seconds later he was shouting orders to his team as the Overwatch group moved in from the northeast, from the dried-up spring.

"Visor down," the sniper confirmed, as Mei threw up a wall behind the convoy, Gabriel lay down fire blowing out the front vehicle's tires, and the unlabelled Overwatch carrier blared its orders to drop weapons and be commandeered. Pharah charged into the air, letting loose with a series of rockets aimed at vehicle engines, as Mockingbird readied for a spray of long-range discouragement fire from her position, to keep the grunts under cover. She grinned as she watched the Los Muertos gangsters circle their vehicles and swarm for weapons, and then her grin froze as Jack darted away from her sight, without a visor, then reappeared on the other side of the transport vehicle, with one.

What th'...?! She looked back towards the wreckage of the visor. Yes, there, pieces, still on the ground. She called into comms, "Gabe, he has a second visor somehow, watch it!" just as Jack triggered the device, visual overlay screen appearing almost instantly, knocking Pharah out of the air just as she'd disabled the third vehicle. Mockingbird adjusted her sights and took a second shot, surely hitting him dead on, but somehow apparently not as he just kept shooting through the visor, after briefly jerking to the left.

She waited for a third shot, and Jack's head popped up again, again through the front transport, behind two windows. Mockingbird reacted instantly, and fired. Her vision seemed to blur, and suddenly, it was a Los Muertos grunt splayed out across the sand, her head smashed, and Jack Morrison was still firing.

Nobody's that lucky, she thought, coolly. Something's going on.

Los Muertos got a shield generator running as Mei threw up another wall while taking bullets to the shoulder and chest, saving Gabriel, who had also been hit and hurt by the barrage of bullets. Pharah limped back into the air, got off a single rocket knocking Morrison down, and went down again herself almost immediately, Mercy flying to her wife's side. Gabriel, Mockingbird, and - a moment later - Mercy's fire kept most of the rest of the Los Muertos fighters ducking for cover, as Winston leapt down, shield in place over the wounded Mei, Tesla cannon keeping braver Los Muertos back, as Athena flew in as pickup for the injured.

"Gabriel, Tracer here," Mockingbird shouted into comms, trying to force some emotion back into her voice. "Mockingbird's hit this guy in the head three times and he just shakes it off, something is very wrong. We need to..."

And then Jack fell to the ground, unconscious, and an older woman's voice came over the Overwatch comms, saying, "He's down, but it won't last more than 30 seconds. Get your wounded out while you can, and regroup at my position. Tracking beacon enabled."

-----

"A second visor?!" Gabriel - limping, but mobile - looked incredulously at Mockingbird as the small Overwatch strike force mended its wounds at the beacon site deep in the hills to the north. "He can't have a second visor. It's unique to each soldier. It was wired into his brain."

"Don't care," insisted the woman in black and green. "I shot the first one off, just like we planned it. It was on the ground, in pieces." She folded her arms. "My sight takes pictures, I can show you."

"But a second visor - that's not possible," Gabriel insisted.

"I know I hit him. I know I did. Three times. There's something we've missed, Gabe. This should've been easy and it was a disaster."

"You look very familiar," said the older woman with the beacon, looking with narrowed eyes at the younger sniper.

Mockingbird blinked, and looked over to the older woman, finally realising who she was seeing. "...no question of it on my side," she said, recovering. "The legendary Ana Amari, in the flesh. You're supposed to be dead. What the hell, mate? And how'd you get on our comms?"

Gabriel glanced away from Mockingbird and brushed dust off his hands, looking resolutely unsurprised. "Ana, this is our sniper specialist, callsign Mockingbird. Mockingbird, this is Ana Amari, apparently not dead."

Ana snorted at her former Blackwatch friend, and gestured over to Mockingbird. "You think that can replace me?"

"You have been dead since 2069," said Winston, stepping in between the new and the old, "as far as we knew." He gave Reyes a look, a look that said they would be talking about Reyes's lack of surprise in the very near future. "She's an independent contractor willing to work with us, and we're happy to have her service."

"I know that kit," said the Egyptian, with a sideways glance back to the younger woman. "And I know that blue tinge. Working with Talon, are we, now? Maybe Jack's not so crazy as I thought."

"Not with Talon, luv," Mockingbird lied. "But I always buy from the best. No second chances in this game. 'Cept for you, apparently. And Jack." She looked around at Angela and Gabriel and Ana, and frowned. "And apparently all you old lot."

Amari glanced disdainfully at the young assassin, then returned to ignoring her, looking back to Gabriel. "And where's the so-called Hero of Old London supposed to be, then?"

Mockingbird glared, anger a flash across her face. No, she told herself. Lena's not here. Ana's trying to provoke you. Realising that, she found she didn't even need to bring up the web further to keep control. It's a game. She knows, she just wants us to admit it. Spill the beans, grams? Not likely.

"We all thought it was for the best if she stayed out of any direct action involving the man who left her to die in the Slipstream." He looked directly into the sniper's eyes. "Knowing you're here, I'd say that was the right call."

"Afraid she'd lose her cool, get hurt?" She made a little unimpressed sound, a kind of pffft. "And yet here you hand whatever they've made of her" - she waved at Mockingbird, without looking - "a sniper rifle. You're fools."

Lena almost spoke up, then almost laughed, but kept her expression flat. Nice try, she thought. "So I shouldn't ask for your autograph, then?"

Winston shook his head at Mockingbird's verbal jabs, and Gabriel crossed his arms, with a frown. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Ana. More importantly - where the hell have you been all these years?"

"Really? You're going to keep up this laughable facade?"

"Whatever. You gonna tell us where you've been all this time?"

Amari glared. "No. But I will give you this." She pulled a small memory card out of a coat pocket. "It's video and notes from a... previous attempt to solve the Jack Morrison problem. If you're going to try to kill him, I need you not to make things worse."

"We aren't trying to kill him," Winston said, taking the card. "We're trying to bring him to justice."

Amari spat at the ground. "There's no justice for what he did, or for what he's become. I thought you understood that."

Well, thought Mockingbird, there's one place we agree. She found she didn't like the agreement. "That's what I thought, too. Maybe I ought t'reconsider the point."

"Does it always make this much noise? Maybe it should be reprogrammed again."

"ENOUGH OF THIS." Mercy glided down from the flat spot on the hillside above, where she had been tending to Mei and Pharah, watching since Ana showed herself, stunned to see her mother-in-law, of all people, reappear from the dead - not her way, but alive and well the entire time.

"Angela, why are you mixed up in this idiocy? I thought you'd know better."

The field medic marched over to the old military officer, and slapped her across the face, hard, staggering her back. "You dare show your face? You dare act like this to my friends, after what you have put us through?!"

"Woah!" interjected Mockingbird, jumping forward to restrain the doctor. "Angela, no! It's fine, she's just horrible!"

"No," she said, looking back, and shaking her arms free, "it is not fine!" She turned back to the old soldier, and pointed to Pharah, unconscious, but recovering. "She mourned you. You ignored her as a child and she loved you anyway and then you died and she put it behind her and now you are here and alive and she is here and wounded and you have not even acknowledged her existence?!"

"I've done what has been necessary, and I've stayed out of the way of the medic while she works. Fareeha will understand that."

"Will she? I hope not! But I will make sure she knows. I will make sure she knows everything. Including how horribly you have just abused our Mockingbird. 'It?! '" She shook herself, as though fluffing feathers she did not have, except in her wings. "You call her an it?! She is a person, not a tool, and you have become a monster."

Quietly surprised, Lena's heart tore, just a little, at the medic's furious defence. "Doc, really, it's fine, she's just digging..."

"I know what she's doing," Mercy said, not looking at Lena. "And I don't care why." She turned to the openly astonished Reyes and Winston. "We should get the wounded out of American territory as soon as possible. They will not be happy with our actions today."

"I agree," said Reyes, taking the opportunity. "Ana, we can pick this up later. Do any of your old dropboxes work?"

"No. Do yours?"

"Boxburg does."

"I'll leave a contact point there, then."

"Thanks. And... thanks for helping out."

"You're welcome. Maybe next time we can work together, make sure the grown-ups are in charge."

Mockingbird's face showed absolutely no sign of emotion, and her hands did not tighten visibly on her rifle.

"We'll talk later," said the former Blackwatch head. "Team - back to the ship. Mockingbird, give Mercy some help with Mei; Winston, I wouldn't mind a little help myself. Let's roll out."

The Lunar gorilla offered his friend an arm, as Mockingbird turned towards the Chinese scientist with a curt "acknowledged." Behind Venom's mask, beneath the web, the assassin roiled viciously, but no hint of that storm made it outside.

Maybe I've got more than one problem to solve, she thought, as she guided the semi-sedated Mei up off the ground. Maybe I've got two or three.

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:00 am

Speaker of the Lost by Clara Coulson

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Posted by SB Sarah

D

Speaker of the Lost

by Clara Coulson
September 15, 2017 · Knite and Day Publishing

It’s getting a little bleak for me, reading-wise. This was the first book I finished after 8 DNFs in a row, some of which were nonfiction and some romance or fantasy. I was pretty excited that the beginning of this story was so promising. Then it became repetitive, emotionally limited, inconsistent, and then offensive.

Summary time! Stella Newport is a brand new FBI agent. Specifically, she’s a Lark, which is the name given to the agents in the paranormal investigation division. She’s sent to work with a curmudgeonly, unkind agent named Oswald Bolton, known informally as “Oz.” There are a couple of familiar character types here: the intelligent rookie who is more than she seems, paired with an experienced, jaded agent who lost his partner prior to the start of this story, and who doesn’t want to work with anyone else because emotional vulnerability is awful and he hates it. He works alone – doesn’t anyone understand that?!

This novel is book 1 of a new series called “Lark Nation,” but according to the listing, it’s part of the same universe as another series. First off: I do not think this book works as a stand-alone, and that’s a shame. The exposition and world building presumed that I knew things that I did not, and many major elements, like the entire other worlds and universes that exist parallel to the one the characters inhabit, are very sparsely described.

As a result, I switched between being frustrated that I didn’t get what the characters were talking about and being annoyed that they were so lacking in basic understanding of jurisprudence. For FBI agents, they didn’t know much about aspects of investigation that I would think were obvious. For example: if you suspect your partner has been hit in the head with a brick, throwing that brick into the water while you’re having a tantrum because she’s been fridged seems like a bad idea. Oz’s reasoning is that the rain washed away the evidence that it was used in an assault, but that’s some pretty flawed reasoning for an experienced agent. There are also multiple instances where “something” isn’t right, or “something” seems off, but the main characters shrug it off, or figure they’ll deal with whatever it is at a later time.

Stella and Oz are in Maine investigating a beheading. Some guy was walking home at night on a deserted road, and a headless horseman shows up and lops his head clean off. So Stella is sent to assist Oz, who is already on site, but because there are so many supernatural crimes happening all over the country – a byproduct of some event that happened in the earlier series which I didn’t read – there’s not much in the way of backup for either of them. At one point Stella has a call with her supervisor where she has to tell him about a few more beheadings that happened, and I was so confused how that wasn’t information said supervisor would need to know as soon as they had happened.

The book started out pretty strong: Stella is nervous about her first investigation, but very smart, capable, and confident in her training and her abilities.

Then we meet Oz. Oz is grumpy and also, he’s an asshole. They start by trying to figure out why the dude lost his head. Then more people start dying, and the narrative starts repeating itself. For example: I was told over and over that Stella isn’t sure if she wants to be the one who breaks down Oz’s defenses/”scale the concrete wall Oswald…had built around his heart”/lather rinse repeat.

Honestly, I didn’t care if she did or not. It was perhaps the second or third day of their working together, he barely managed to treat her with respect, and I didn’t really know the scope of what happened to him in the first place. I have dreadfully low tolerance for characters who lack any emotional fluency, and even less for people who use that excuse to treat other people poorly. Example: here’s Oz after he berates a local cab driver – and this is in a small town where he and Stella are already worried about gossip regarding the FBI’s presence and investigation:

Oz knew he’d been too hard on the guy, but again, he couldn’t bring himself to care about the feelings of a random stranger who would ultimately mean nothing in the grand scheme. The cabbie would get over his scare, resume his normal activities, and live, if not happily ever after, then some mediocre variation.

Nice, huh? And it’s pretty consistent with how he treats ancillary characters. I don’t care what kind of structures he’s built around himself. It’s probably a good idea he stay inside them. One of the goals (I presume) of this book is to establish Stella and Oz’s partnership as agents, but the overtly romantic tone, the constant reassertion that it’s somehow Stella’s job to emotionally heal Oswald, and the compressed time period of a few days or maybe a week, did not do enough to make me believe in their alleged progress.

The two things that frustrated me most, aside from the repetitiveness of Stella vs. Oz Walls, were as follows.

First: there was not enough connecting the magic to reality.  There’s a magical world connected to the real one, and the FBI has some sort of jurisdiction over it. But how that works is not ever fully explained, nor is their authority over magical events that happen to humans. Stella has some kind of magical ability (more on that in a moment) and both she and Oz have mage kits and magical rings but the integration of their individual magic into the reality they inhabit was also poorly built. The magical rings are particularly ludicrous: to use one, they have to point the ring at a target and yell “SHOOT!” to make things happen. I kept picturing the elementary school kids in my neighborhood playing superhero and waving their hands at each other: “BOOM! You fell down!” Without a more robust explanation of how the magic works, what the cost is, what its effects are, why they have it and some don’t, the whole wave-your-ring-at-the-bad-guy part seemed dumb.

Then, there’s this part which ruined the whole book for me. Get ready.

Stella is described by Oz when he meets her as follows:

She was roughly twenty-five and built like a ballet dancer, with light brown skin and facial features that spoke of a multiracial ancestry. Her long hair was tamed into a ponytail of black ringlets, leaving no shadows on her face to hide her bright green eyes. No, vividly green eyes. Eyes that almost seemed to shine, even.

I didn’t read about any other characters of color aside from Stella, but figured there would be some. To my knowledge, there were not – though I may have missed a description or two, as I began reading pretty quickly once the book began to sour for me.

Then Oz and the reader learns something pretty crucial about Stella:

Show Spoiler

Stella is revealed to be a powerful telekinetic, and part fae. Oz, it turns out – and this is revealed about him after Stella divulges that her grandmother is Summer fae – hates and distrusts the fae. Which leads to this rumination on his part:

Faeries were not his favorite creatures – they stood one step below vampires on his list of THINGS I HATE – but most of his ire was directed at full-blooded fae. They were mischievous, sadistic creatures, who’d taken their inability to lie and honed it into a mastery of manipulation. They were cold, callous, crafty, and clever, and every interaction Oz had with them in the past ended in absolute disaster….

To think Newport had their blood running through her veins unnerved him. It made him question everything she’d said and done since the moment they met. But…Oz rejected the impulse to categorize Newport with her inhuman relations….

No, Newport’s interactions with Oz had been true to form. She was what she appeared to be. Headstrong. Smart. Practical. Controlled…. She didn’t have faults as an agent that a few years of fieldwork wouldn’t fix.

Weighing all those qualities against her fae blood, Oz could find no legitimate reason to shun her. Her heritage was beyond her control. Her behavior was not, and what she’d displayed so far spoke of a talented agent in the toddler phase who’d one day grow to be a truly spectacular force.

My comment on my device: “Oh, no.”

So Stella is to my knowledge the only character of color in the book, and she’s part fae. But it’s ok: she’s not like other fae, and though Oz hates them all, she’s proved herself so he won’t shun her. Am I supposed to look at Oz favorably for overcoming his own prejudice? Am I supposed to ignore the substitution of “fae prejudice” for racial prejudice?

WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. LIVING. HELL.

If I cringe any harder, I’ll develop a hernia. Sloppy characterization that’s painfully racist is not what I wanted. I’ve sat here watching my blinking cursor trying to think of coherent words to respond to that scene. Stella even lampshades herself in an earlier part of the book, joking with a receptionist who expected Oz’s new partner to be “another brown-haired man around thirty-five” that her unit is “a little more diverse.” But she’s still a token character – on multiple levels.

I get so excited when I see more inclusivity in the fiction I buy. But this is not the representation I’m looking for. This is the exact opposite.

I was close enough to the end that I finished the book, but neither Oz nor the story were redeemable for me. There was so much potential in the first chapters: a bit of X-Files with a complicated set of partners, plus a headless horseman – who talks to the heroine! They have whole conversations after he yanks his head out of his saddlebag! They were the most interesting pair in the book, now that I think about it.

I would have been a lot happier if Stella had left Oz to his grumpy racist emotional navel gazing and run off with the murdering headless horseman.

[syndicated profile] ontd_political_feed

Posted by blackjedii

Backlash throws last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort into doubt

Republicans hoping to jam a last-minute Obamacare repeal plan through the Senate are confronting a rising tide of opposition as health care groups, patient advocates and even some red-state governors join forces against a bill they worry would upend the nation’s health care system.

The wide-ranging backlash threw the GOP’s repeal push into fresh doubt on Tuesday, even as White House officials and Senate Republican leaders insist they are on the verge of winning the 50 votes needed to dismantle Obamacare under a reconciliation bill that expires in two weeks.

Opponents of the proposal co-authored by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seized on its plan to overhaul Obamacare’s subsidized insurance and Medicaid expansion and replace those with block grants to the states — a mass restructuring they warned would sow chaos in insurance markets. They panned its new regulatory flexibilities as a backdoor route to undermining key patient protections — including safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions.


And in the biggest blow, several Republican governors urged the GOP to abandon a plan that would force states to swallow potentially billions in funding cuts — and instead to focus on stabilizing Obamacare.

“The Graham-Cassidy bill is not a solution that works for Maryland,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of the half-dozen GOP governors to come out against the bill so far. “We need common-sense, bipartisan solutions that will stabilize markets and actually expand affordable coverage.”

The criticism from Republican governors adds another complication to an already fraught process for Senate Republicans facing a tight deadline to repeal Obamacare. GOP leaders — once skeptical of the Graham-Cassidy plan’s chances — are now all in on a bid to speed it through the Senate.

In a clear bid to boost the bill’s prospects Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House came out in opposition to a bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare being written by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash). The intention was to put pressure on Republican senators to back the last-ditch effort to gut Obamacare.

Alexander later announced he’d abandoned work on that effort after failing to find consensus. He has said he’d “like to” be able to support Graham-Cassidy and is still reviewing the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also backed the approach Tuesday, although he declined to commit to bring it to the floor.

“We’re in the process of discussing all of this,” McConnell said. “Everybody knows that the opportunity expires at the end of the month.”

All of which has amped up the pressure on GOP lawmakers who are eager to fulfill their seven-year repeal vow but who remain puzzled about what the bill would actually mean for their home states — especially since the Congressional Budget Office said it will not have details about the practical implications of the bill, including how many people could lose coverage and the impact on insurance premiums, "for at least several weeks."

“The kind of status quo on money, or more money to states and more control to states — that’s very appealing, very simple,” said Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, who added that he’s still poring over the bill’s effects. “What I’m very focused on as we speak is figuring out the dollar amounts, frankly, and the formula and how it impacts my state.”

Cassidy — the chief architect of the bill’s proposal to take Obamacare’s federal funding and redistribute it to states in equal amounts — has spent the past several days reassuring senators that their states wouldn’t see major funding cuts under the block grant plan.

But that rosy view has met with increasingly harsh pushback from policy analysts, industry groups and state officials — including some in the Louisiana Republican’s own state.

“The legislation you’ve introduced this past week gravely threatens health care access and coverage for our state and its people,” Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee wrote in a letter to Cassidy, estimating that the bill’s block grant system would slash $3.2 billion in health funding for the state over a decade.

That figure tracks with early estimates published by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, showing that only 15 states would end up better off financially under Graham-Cassidy compared with the current law — while those that have been most successful at enrolling residents in coverage would face tens of billions in cuts.

Another state-by-state analysis, set to be released Wednesday by health care consultancy Avalere, will similarly show most states losing federal funds through the bill.

“That is definitely the case,” Avalere Vice President for Policy and Strategy Caroline Pearson said. “The vast majority of states will get less money.”

The projected financial hit to states has pitted some Republican governors against their own Senate delegation. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval — in a break with bill co-sponsor Dean Heller — and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both signed onto a 10-governor letter urging the GOP to abandon Graham-Cassidy in favor of propping up Obamacare. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, opposed the bill too.

The state-level objections echoed the message from across the health community — a diverse group of industry, patient and public health advocates that have nevertheless remained largely united against the GOP’s repeated repeal efforts.

Sixteen patient and provider groups, from the American Heart Association to the March of Dimes, slammed the bill in a joint letter over worries it would gut Medicaid and undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions. A raft of other powerful health lobbies, including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, piled on throughout the day on Tuesday, each urging the GOP to abandon repeal in favor of bipartisan fixes.

Hospitals and insurers — until this week largely convinced the repeal fight was over — sprang back into action as well, criticizing the prospect of creating 50 wildly different state health care systems as unworkable and irresponsible, with minimal vetting of the bill’s merits ahead of time.

“Could you have imagined any other Senate in our modern history that would even consider this process?” one health care lobbyist vented, calling it the worst GOP proposal yet. “We’re talking about such a tremendous portion of the United States economy. Real people’s lives. The reverberations are just so huge.”

To date, not one major health care industry or advocacy group has expressed support for the Graham-Cassidy plan.

The hits are going to keep coming. Activist groups that Democrats credited for helping derail the last repeal bill are ramping up their efforts, targeting holdouts like Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine.

And comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who lauded Cassidy in May for his promise to vote against any bill that undermined protections for people with pre-existing conditions, is expected to go after the senator Tuesday night for breaking his promise. Graham-Cassidy would let states obtain waivers that allow plans to charge higher premiums based on individuals’ health status.

Cassidy has defended the provision by noting that states would be required to ensure “affordable and adequate” coverage options for sick enrollees.

The sudden scrutiny has heightened tensions in a Senate that last week seemed resigned to simply shoring up Obamacare for the short term.

“I have nothing to say,” McCain, a key swing vote, retorted Tuesday when asked about his position on the bill. “I have nothing to say, OK? Did you hear me?”


politi LET IT GO ALREADY
pameladean: (Default)
[personal profile] pameladean

This is very long and detailed, so I’m going to try to put in a cut tag.

All right, I can't get that to work, not if it was ever so. I'm sorry.

 

On Tuesday Raphael and I went to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. The forecast was for a sunny, almost windless day with a high of 87. The air quality was moderate. I complained about this the day before and Raphael asked if I'd prefer not to go. But Sherburne is actually a good place to go on a less than perfect day, because there's a seven-mile wildlife drive with stopping points for viewing whoever happens to be around; also a tiny oak savanna (1/10-mile loop) trail and a prairie trail with an oak grove in the middle with a bench (1/2-mile loop). And it's September; hiking season will be over at some point.

We got a late start but arrived with about five hours of daylight ahead of us. Sherburne is near Sand Dunes National Forest, and its soil is also sandy. It's a lightly rolling landscape full of marshes, pools, and prairie, broken by lines and clumps of trees. You drive through a short stretch of mature restored prairie to reach the actual wildlife drive. It was awash in blooming goldenrod and blue and white asters and rich brown grasses.

 We stopped at the Oak Savanna Trail and had a sandwich, read the list of plants presently blooming (six kinds of goldenrod, four kinds of white aster, two kinds of blue aster, rough blazing star, and boneset) and then walked out on the tiny boardwalk. We examined what looked like an abandoned bald eagle's nest through one of the spotting scopes provided, and then started looking at spreadwings (yet another kind of damselfly) in the tall grass that the boardwalk runs through.

 Here is an image of a spreadwing that one might see in Minnesota, though I don’t know if that’s what we did see.

 http://museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Odonata/lere.html

 A flicker of motion in the distance caught my attention, and I looked up to see three sandhill cranes landing across the prairie near the road we'd come on. "A family," said Raphael, looking through the binoculars. "See the juvenile?" I did see the juvenile, which did not have all its red in yet but was almost as large as its parents. The cranes started walking through the grass, not unlike herons stalking through shallow water; occasionally they would bend their long necks down and poke around in the grass roots, and occasionally one of them would make a sharp dart and come up with food and swallow it.

It was hard to decide whether the cranes were more awesome through binoculars or just as tall shapes against the pale road and prairie, bending and straightening, wandering apart and together again. If you didn't look through binoculars you could also see meadowhawks darting around, the spreadwings rising to catch tiny insects and settling again to eat them, the unexpected wind shaking the oak leaves and the grass and the asters. From time to time a darner moved across the larger prairie, veering after prey or just powering along.

At last a truck came fairly fast along the road, raising a cloud of dust, and the cranes paused, considered, opened their huge wings and rose up, gawky but graceful, and flew away low over the grasses. We went back to looking at smaller wildlife

I was trying to spot a spreadwing through the binoculars when I saw what looked like an animated tangle of brown grass. I said to Raphael, “There’s some kind of mantis there!” and when Raphael expressed astonishment, I added, “It’s very stick-y,” which allowed Raphael to come up with the actual name: It was a stick insect. It took a few moments for me to describe its location and for Raphael to see it, and then I had trouble finding it again through the binoculars, but it was busy clambering around against the wind, so we did both get a good look at it. It was only the second stick insect I’d seen in Minnesota. The other was at Wild River State Park. That one was much larger and was rummaging around in a pile of leaves at the edge of the parking lot. This one was fascinating because its camouflage was so great, and yet it did have to move around, so you could differentiate it from the grass if you worked at it.

We’d arrived in the deep of the afternoon when smaller birds are quiet. We heard a few goldfinches murmuring, and a phoebe carrying on, and a chickadee. We left the boardwalk, admiring the asters waving in the non-foreseen but welcome breeze, and walked around the oak savanna loop. The little oak saplings tangled among the other shrubbery were already starting to turn red. White asters poked their flowerheads through leaves belonging to other plants, to startling effect. Autumn meadowhawks floated and hovered and darted, snatching up gnats from the clouds around them. We had seen a monarch butterfly in the asters while we were eating our lunch, and also a dark-phase swallowtail wandering over the grass; now we saw a painted lady butterfly.

We made an attempt to leave, but a darner landed on a drooping dead branch of an oak tree right in front of the car. The sun was behind it and we couldn’t get a good look without tramping heedlessly into the prairie, so we didn’t, but its silhouette was lovely against the brilliant sky.

 We drove on, past tall browning and reddening grasses, clumps of goldenrod, clouds of asters. Darners flew up from the sides of the road and zoomed away. We found at the turning that the refuge had reversed the direction of the wildlife drive since we were there last, which was momentarily confusing; but we found our way, and stopped at the Prairie Trail. I pointed out some thoroughly spent plants of spotted horsemint. We’d seen it in bloom, if you can call it that, at William O’Brien. It’s a very weird-looking plant. Here’s a photo:

 https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/spotted-horsemint

 This observation continued my inability to accurately provide the names of things; I’d just called it horsemint and Raphael reminded me that that particular weird plant was spotted horsemint. There are other horsemints, but they don’t look so strange. As we stood looking over the rise and fall of the little prairie, with folds of alder and sumac, and lines and whorls of different grasses and goldenrod, all truly starred with the blue and white asters, I said that I loved how big the sky was at Sherburne. Raphael noted that it was a slate-blue just now; we assumed that was the haze of the wildfire smoke all the way from the west coast, a somber reminder of far too many things.

 We took the grassy path, startling small grasshoppers out of our way and stirring up meadowhawks from the tall plants and shrubs. We saw a monarch; we saw a painted lady. Passing through a little grove of young alders, on almost every tip of the dead trees intermingled with the living there was a meadowhawk perched. They swept upwards, snatched a gnat or fly, landed to eat again. Raphael showed me how to identify a female autumn meadowhawk: they have a definite bulge just below the thorax, which was easy to see against the sky. Darners zipped past from time to time. If it was a green darner we could usually tell even from just a glance. The others were mosaic darners, but harder to identify in passing.

 I think it was as we approached the oak grove that we started seriously trying to identify the grasses. We’d known big bluestem, aka turkey-tail, for years. After seeing it labelled repeatedly here and there, I could pick out the charming clumps of little bluestem, just knee-high, with their pale fluffy flowers lined up and catching the light. We’d looked at an informational sign at the trailhead, but its drawings of Indian grass and switch grass didn’t look right. Raphael pulled up the photo of the sign about grasses at the visitor center at Wild River, which had struck both of us at the time as much more informative than other attempts to depict native grasses; and we could suddenly identify Indian grass after all. It has a long, narrow rich brown seed head with varying degrees of spikiness; some are quite streamlined and others are tufty and look as if they need combing. And we felt more confident about the switch grass with its airy spreading seed heads.

 Raphael pointed out a beetle on the path, maybe a Virginia leatherwing, and then realized that it looked like a moth. A little research when we reached the oak grove and sat down showed that it was a net-winged beetle, and the entry even mentioned that it looked quite a bit like a leatherwing.

 The bench we were sitting on was made from boards of recycled plastic. At some point Raphael had had enough sitting and went ahead a little way just to see what was there. I’d noticed when I sat down that there were verses from the Bible printed on the back of the bench in some kind of marker. On the left was the passage from Matthew that begins, “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy-laden,” and on the right the passage from John that begins, “For God so loved the world.” These might have been written in different hands. But the passage in the middle was definitely in a different hand, and began, “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine.” The ending of the passage was a bit smeared and I couldn’t read all of it, but at the bottom the name “hunter s. thompson” was clear enough. I followed Raphael and relayed the beginning of the passage. “Hunter s. thompson!” said Raphael, going back to the bench with me. “It’s from <i>Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas</i>.” Raphael looked this up too, and showed me the unsmeared passage on the cellphone.

 Giggling a bit, we went on our way. We were now well around the loop and into the straight stretch back to the car. From the other side I’d pointed out a lovely layering of grasses, goldenrod, a narrow cleft of willow scrub, and a candy-red line of sumac. Now we came to the sumac from the other side. On the path in front of us was a butterfly. “What is that?” said Raphael. “It’s a Red Admiral,” I said confidently, but it wasn’t. It was another Painted Lady. Raphael consolingly told me that they were both Vanessa, very closely related, but the Red Admiral is very common in Minnesota and I was chagrined that I’d misidentified something else as that.

 We came to a little stretch of boardwalk over a marshy area. On a shrub was a shimmery amber-tinged odonate. I pointed it out to Raphael. It turned out to be another autumn meadowhawk, though it looked as if it ought to be an Eastern Amberwing, or at least a Band-Winged Meadowhawk. It had perched on a bit of red-stemmed dogwood, just to be extra-cooperative. We went on through the cattails and willow, past a minute patch of open water and up onto the grassy path again. Raphael pointed out that where the path climbed back out of the tiny marsh there was a nice view over the rest of the open water and the winding marsh with more willow, and cattails, and a shrub we should have known but didn’t. (I briefly misidentified it as more red-stemmed dogwood, because it was my day to misidentify everything; but it had deep purple stems and leaves just starting to turn reddish.)

 On our right for the end of our walk was the brilliant sumac and the cleft of alder saplings, all their leaves fluttering and twinkling in the wind and sunlight; on the left a long slope of prairie grasses interrupted by goldenrod and asters. More darners sailed by. The sky had lost its smoky cast and was a fine late-summer deep blue. We came back to the car and Raphael began to drive away, but I exclaimed at the sight of a big clump of stiff goldenrod covered with pollinators. We didn’t get out, but looked our fill from the car. Big bumblebees, a Ctenucha moth, beetles, ambush bugs. Once Raphael started reading it, I had to edit this entry to correct the Ctenucha moth's name and type, so have another link, since they are very handsome:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ctenucha_virginica
 
There’s one more trail you can actually walk along, near the end of the wildlife drive, but there was a sign at the beginning saying that it was flooded. Before that we drove past long stretches of marsh, open water, and rolling prairie, all patched with clumps of trees. From time to time there would be a wider spot in the road, sometimes a formal space big enough for three or four cars, with a bench or two, or a platform over a low spot with spotting scopes and some informational signs about the wildlife; others just a metal platform with railings, where you could stand and look over the water. We tentatively identified the spot where we’d once common moorhens, which are not so common that we weren’t deeply excited. We’ve also seen muskrats and various ducks in these locations, and once there was a gigantic cloud of mosaic darners all brown and yellow – I seem to recall that some of them were lance-tipped darners, but I may be wrong. This time we heard water birds making a ruckus, but couldn’t see them. Darners came by in about the density that they had been all the while. Over one platform we saw what turned out to be a northern harrier; these guys have an amazing acrobatic flight, and they’re reddish on the underside and bluish on the back. I excitedly called this one a kestrel, which would be smaller and have the colors reversed: bluish on the underside and red on the back. We also very clearly saw a nighthawk with its white wing bars, though the sun was still up.

 We also saw some cedar waxwings fly-catching from a tree with a dead top, and heard a yellow warbler.

 At last we came to a stretch of water, islands, and snags so large that it had two separate viewing-spots. From the first we saw several groups of large white birds. I thought the first were swans, but they were white pelicans. There were also some swans, however. We came finally around a curve of the gravel road to an observation station in a little oak grove, overlooking the far side of this large sheet of water. This is where most of the dead trees are, and here, to our delight, we saw as we’ve seen before several times a very large number of cormorants. The sun was setting by then, off to our right. The sky was pink and the water reflected it. Many cormorants were roosting already, but some were still coming out of the water; they would land on a branch, sometimes settling and sometimes glancing off several different trees before finding one that suited them, or one in which the other cormorants accepted them. It was hard to be sure. Then they would spread their wings out to dry, looking as if they were practicing to be bats for Halloween.

 We found the swans and pelicans we’d seen from the other viewing station, though it was getting pretty dark by then. Cormorants still flew up into the trees and spread their wings. Through binoculars you could see the ones that had folded their wings now preening their breast feathers. Some of them had pale necks and brown fronts rather than being entirely black. I mentioned this to Raphael, who looked it up in Sibley and confirmed that those were juvenile cormorants.

 It was getting quite dark by then and the mosquitoes were starting to think about biting us in earnest. We drove past two more pools; beside one two groups of people we’d seen pass earlier, a third car I didn’t recognize from before, and a man using a wheelchair were standing and gesticulating. We pulled up and got out. The water and trees were lovely in the twilight, but we didn’t see any wildlife. The solitary man went away in his wheelchair, the unfamiliar car left, and we followed, watching the varied texture of the grass and flowers fade away into the dark.

 

Pamela

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Posted by James Fallows

The Ken Burns / Lynn Novick 18-hour series on The Vietnam War began its run on PBS on Sunday night and continues through this week and next. I felt about as familiar with that era as I could imagine—with its tensions at the time, with the journalism and literature that came out of it, with the historical assessments, with the war’s role in music and movies and others parts of pop culture and public imagination. Even so I found this a tremendously revealing series. I recommend it very highly. Please find a way to watch—now, or in the many streaming and download alternatives they are making available.

***

As with any attempt to grapple with a topic this vast and complex, and of such emotional and historical consequence, the Burns/Novick series is bound to be controversial. For one example of an avenue of criticism, see this review by veteran Asia-hand correspondent Jim Laurie, who was on-scene in Vietnam and Cambodia during the war.

Here’s another: When I did an interview with Burns and Novick for the upcoming issue of Amtrak’s The National magazine, I asked them about one of the central themes of their press-tour presentation of the project, as opposed to the video itself. Both Burns and Novick have stressed the idea that the divisions generated by the Vietnam war prefigure the polarization of Trump-era America.

To me, that seems a little too pat. Even though I argued back at the time that the “class war” elements of Vietnam were a central reason the U.S. remained engaged for so many years, so much has happened between then and now that it’s hard to trace a sensible connection from those times to these. Since the height of the fighting in Vietnam, we’ve had: the end of the draft; the disappearance of the Soviet Union; the emergence of China; multiple dramatic shifts in political mood (the arrivals of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, later Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump, were each seen as the dawns of new political eras); the 9/11 attacks; multiple wars; multiple booms and busts; multiple grounds for hope and despair. Donald Trump was on one side of the Vietnam class-war divide, with his student deferments and mysterious physical disqualifications. Figures as politically diverse as John McCain, Al Gore, John Kerry, Jim Mattis, and Jim Webb were on the other. But it’s hard to make a neat match of that cleavage 50 years ago to the multiple axes of disagreement now. To me, it seems easier to trace a line of descent from the Civil War—subject of Ken Burns’s first national-phenomenon film series, back in 1990—to Trump-era divides than from the Vietnam war.

I lay out this disagreement on a specific point as a set-up for emphasizing  how valuable and informative I think the series is overall. It is remarkable in interleaving the accounts of participants from opposite sides of the same battle— the Americans and South Vietnamese, but also the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong—all describing what they were afraid of, what their plans were, how they reckoned victory and defeat in struggles for control of a particular hill or hamlet. It offers abundant evidence of battlefield bravery and sacrifice, on all sides—but precious few examples of political courage or foresight, especially in the United States. It’s hard to say whether Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon comes off worse for the combination of strategic misjudgment and flat-out dishonesty in management of the war. The White House recordings from both men are spell-binding.

Please watch. And since most of today’s Americans had not even been born by the time the last U.S. forces left Vietnam, it’s all the more valuable for generations who know nothing about that era first-hand.

***

Further on the theme of linkages between Vietnam and previous American engagements, a reader makes the evocative connection to the first war that troops of the newly formed United States ever fought.

Read On »

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:37 pm

Catching up on New Worlds

swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

My Patreon is trucking along, but I haven’t been good about linking to it here. So have a list of recent posts!

This week’s post (sneak preview!) will be on rites of passage, followed by a bonus post on the theory of worldbuilding, since that’s one of the funding goals we’ve reached. Remember, this is all funded by my lovely, lovely patrons — and if you join their ranks, you get weekly photos, plus (at higher levels) opportunities to request post topics or get feedback on your own worldbuilding!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:53 pm

non-binding poll

yhlee: heptagon and flame (mirrorweb) (hxx emblem Liozh)
[personal profile] yhlee
Because I realized there's no point in my writing prequel-to-hexarchate (or even prequel-to-heptarchate [1]) stories about all-new characters if nobody wants to read about all-new characters in the story collection. :]

[1] I had this great idea about the heptarchate's founding but.

NOTE: I make no guarantees.

Poll #18837 hexarchate story collection
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 37


What *existing* characters would you like to see more stories about?

View Answers

Shuos Jedao
25 (67.6%)

Kel Cheris
30 (81.1%)

Shuos Mikodez
21 (56.8%)

Kel Brezan
18 (48.6%)

Kel Khiruev
18 (48.6%)

Andan Niath
6 (16.2%)

Nirai Kujen
12 (32.4%)

mystery POV #1 from Revenant Gun that Yoon evilly refuses to divulge
13 (35.1%)

servitor POV #2 from Revenant Gun
18 (48.6%)

someone else that I will mention in comments
3 (8.1%)

ticky the tookie tocky
11 (29.7%)

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

This HaBO comes from Amanda, who isn’t me, I swear:

I’m sorry that I can’t remember anything about this book, but there are so many paranormal romances starring vampires that they all blur together – I can’t even be sure about the plot. All I recall is the start; the heroine worked at a hospital, and was in the morgue when a recently arrived body jumps up and attacks her. As she’s slumped against the wall dying, the last thing she sees is the hero who arrives too late and takes her away to a mansion filled with other vampires, so she’ll be able to learn about her new existence. The mansion vampires are good and the vampire that randomly attacked the heroine is rogue?

All I remember about the book is that it was a paperback from a decade or so ago, from when my sister was in a vamp-fanatic phase. It just niggles away at the back of my brain, because I know I’ve read it, but browsing the vamp romances on Amazon doesn’t ring any bells.

I fill like this is a Black Dagger Brotherhood book, but it’s been so long since I’ve read one.

Sep. 19th, 2017 09:56 am

(no subject)

rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I just spent several minutes trying to figure out where the hell the mysterious rustling noises were coming from.

One of my cats (Alex) was entirely hidden within the depths of a shoebox-size Priority Mail box. He has just now emerged, and his sister Erin has vanished inside.

No cat photos because I don't have an X-Ray camera.
Sep. 19th, 2017 03:30 pm

Contemporary Romances & YA Fantasy

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

The Girl with the Red Balloon

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke is $1.99! This is a pretty new release and I mentioned how excited I was about it in this month’s Hide Your Wallet. Reviewers on Goodreads recommend this title for fans of magical realism, but some felt the heroine was a bit boring.

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Kobo iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Truth or Beard

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid is 99c at Amazon! I know Reid is an auto-buy author for many of you and this one has an enemies to lovers feel to it, judging by the description. Readers say it has Reid’s trademark humor and quirkiness, but warn there’s a scene where the hero is with another woman. I know that’s an off button for some, but Reader Katie Lynn explained that it isn’t a form of cheating.

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

amazon

 

 

 

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is $1.99! This is a YA fantasy novel that was nominated for a RITA in 2012. Michelle wrote in her RITA Reader Challenge Review:

The biggest reason I picked up Grave Mercy originally was because of the assassin nuns. Because come on, how awesome does “assassin nuns” sound?

Then I saw it was first-person present tense, and almost held back from getting it. That particular style has been notoriously difficult for me to get into in the past, and I’ve been getting burnt out on it.

However, I went ahead and got the book anyway, and I’m thrilled I did. LaFevers uses language so well that I sank immediately into her style without the 5-10 pages of struggle that normally accompanies reading present tense.

Here, she’s created a fantastic medieval world of gods, saints, political intrigue, and romance that swept me away completely.

And yes, the assassin nuns were pretty much as great as they sounded.

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

All That Matters

All That Matters by Erin Nicholas is 99c! This is the third book in The Billionaire Bargains series, but it can be read as a standalone. Also, the heroine is the billionaire in this romance! Some readers felt the ending seemed a bit unresolved, while others thought this was a rather fun romance. It has a 4.1-star rating on Goodreads.

When billionaire Emily Steele breaks off her eight-year relationship with the only boy she’s ever dated, she quickly realizes she has a lot to learn. About the world. About herself. And men. Definitely men.

A friend’s bachelorette party in New Orleans is the perfect place to get in touch with her inner vixen. Trouble is, she’s never actually met her inner vixen. Worse, her overprotective uncle’s determination to keep her safe means she’s going to have a babysitter for the weekend. A tall, handsome babysitter who makes her tingle from head to toe.

Will Weston has always thought his boss’s niece was special, and now that she’s single, he’s even more acutely aware of her beauty and charm. Her uncle’s insistence that he accompany her to the world’s sexiest city has mistake written all over it—until she offers his best friend a million dollars to be her date.

Now there’s no way Will is staying behind, even though he knows something crazy is going to happen. Because falling in love in a weekend is definitely crazy.

Warning: Contains a woman with enough money to buy a date for a weekend in New Orleans, a guy who’s never going to let that happen, a bachelorette party on Bourbon Street, hot sex to slow jazz, and beignets… because there has to be beignets.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Sep. 19th, 2017 04:02 pm

Difference of Mind

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Posted by Editor

A Reading List of SF/F Books with Mentally Ill Characters

by Erica Satifka

According to the World Health Organization, one out of every four people will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. Considering this, it’s important that when characters with mental illness are featured in one’s writing, the subject is treated with sensitivity and accuracy. Novels that portray such disorders well can make a huge difference.

Em Kalberg, the protagonist of my debut novel Stay Crazy, has paranoid schizophrenia. As I researched the novel, I found that there were very few positive representations of people with schizophrenia, and not just in speculative fiction, but everywhere. The vast majority of the time, characters with psychotic disorders are monsters or killers. These negative depictions have real-world consequences for people with schizophrenia, leading to fear and marginalization. In Stay Crazy, Em deals with the horror of the dimension-eating alien creature that dwells underneath her workplace, which she can’t even be sure is real due to her condition. On top of this, she has the social stigma of being “crazy”, which is enhanced by living in a small town where everyone knows each other’s business. Em can’t rebuild her life until she can be sure of her own mind, and the pressure of the aliens and stereotypes nearly destroys her. While I’m pretty sure there aren’t any aliens, Em’s struggle against the stigma of mental illness is all too real, and I did my best to reflect that respectfully throughout the text.

Here are fourteen other novels, novellas, or short story collections that prominently feature characters with mental illnesses or trauma:

Borderline by Mishell Baker

In this debut urban fantasy novel, Baker mines her personal experience to provide the story of Millie Roper, a woman with borderline personality disorder who gets drafted into a secret organization. The Arcadia Project acts as liaisons between the Faerie world and the equally glittering land of Hollywood, and each member of the group has a mental illness. Baker deftly shows the ways Millie, who in addition to BPD is a double-leg amputee from a suicide attempt, finds that her mental illness both interferes with and enhances her work with the organization.

Bullettime by Nick Mamatas

Dave Holbrook, victim of school bullying and bad parenting, is headed down a dark path. Tempted by the idea of shooting up his school, he receives divine intervention in the form of Eris, the Greek goddess of discord. She shows him the various routes his life could take, and Dave must decide for himself whether or not mass murder is the solution to his problems. Mamatas’s intriguing novel explores the ramifications of abuse and neglect, but it is no Afterschool Special.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Reality blends with fantasy in this story of India Morgan Phelps, a young woman with schizophrenia. Through use of a non-linear timeline and stream-of-consciousness passages, Kiernan intimately shows the struggles going on through Imp’s mind as she tries to uncover the story behind a mysterious woman she encountered late one night. Imp’s circling thought patterns and hallucinations make this both an effective horror/fantasy novel and a fascinating glimpse into psychotic disorders.

Emissaries from the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro

After being branded as a child-murderer, detective Andrea Cort is drafted into investigating a homicide in an artificial ecosystem called One One One. Due to her trauma, Cort is brusque and unwilling to make friends, but she must work through her issues to uncover the culprit… and maybe get to the bottom of the incident that led to her case of PTSD. Castro paints a realistic picture of the effects major trauma can have on a person, and the ways in which they can use their mission to overcome it.

Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick

In an alternate 1994, Mars has been colonized, but corporations care more about the profit found in its land than the mysteries of the planet itself. Jack Bohlen is a handyman, who fled to Mars after a breakdown on Earth made living in its crowded cities intolerable. Jack meets up with a troubled little boy named Manfred, who forces him to reexamine his own demons. While many of Dick’s novels delve into the topic of mental illness, this one more than any other illustrates a neuroatypical character with stunning sensitivity and three-dimensionality. Much of the medical information in this book is outdated, but the themes still shine.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

John Wayne Cleaver, a teenage sociopath with a serial killer fixation, creates rules to keep himself on the straight and narrow. When a real killer emerges close to home, John uses his instincts to hunt down the culprit, with his therapist a much-needed stabilizing force. Wells’ supernatural crime novel explores the seemingly contradictory idea of a sympathetic sociopath, and explores how John’s mental differences keep him from connecting with other human beings.

An Oath of Dogs by Wendy N. Wagner

In this science fiction mystery, an agoraphobic corporate worker named Kate Standish travels with her service dog Hattie to the lush, fertile world of Huginn. But a murder has been committed in the colony right before her arrival, and Standish and her colleagues must get to the bottom of things. Wagner handles her protagonist’s agoraphobia with sensitivity, vividly describing the anxiety Standish feels in the open spaces of Huginn. Her service dog is also an integral part of the plot, showing how their bond allows Standish to function even in a tightly-wound situation.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

In a dystopian America, Lauren Olamina develops a new religion called Earthseed, its goal the evolution of humanity through space travel. Lauren also lives with a condition called hyper-empathy, which causes her to literally feel the pain of others, which is instrumental in her development of Earthseed. Lauren and a motley band of refugees travel from the ruins of Los Angeles, seeking safety, and Lauren becomes a leader despite – or maybe because of – her hyper-empathy.

Planetfall by Emma Newman

The newly born colony in which Ren Ghali has spent most of her adult life is thriving, but she isn’t. Unbeknownst to her fellow colonists, Ren suffers from hoarding, a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder. When a stranger enters the colony, everyone’s life is thrown into disarray, especially hers. As she tries to keep her secret, Ren is confronted with the secrets from her past that led her to start hoarding, and the fate of the colony itself hangs in the balance. Newman treats her character’s mental illness with sensitivity, and the anxiety Ren feels in her everyday life feels all too real.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

In a typical YA fantasy novel, a group of quirky teens battle monsters and save the day. But Ness’s clever inversion of this trope instead focuses on a group of “normal” high school seniors who have to deal with the fallout of the supernatural happenings around them, while helping each other get through the last days until graduation. Narrator Mikey Mitchell is one of them, but his final weeks are interrupted by a flare-up of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Funny and touching, this novel perfectly balances a realistic depiction of anxiety with a meta-take on genre literature itself.

Shelter by Susan Palwick

A sort of near-future family drama, this novel takes place in a world where altruism is medicalized, AI are demanding human rights, and much of the population has been wiped out by a devastating virus. One of the protagonists, Roberta, spends a lot of time in therapy to overcome her extreme altruism. The other major character, Meredith, has some “issues” of her own, largely stemming from her father being the first human to be uploaded into a computer. Palwick expertly shows the way these two troubled women’s lives intersect, and how people live in a uniquely structured futuristic world.

Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts edited by Susan Forest

This Canadian short story anthology features nineteen stories about neuroatypical characters, covering a wide range of mental differences. Though many stories are set in the far future or in a secondary world, their problems still ring true, and show a wide diversity of disabilities. While some of the stories focus more tightly on the theme of mental illness, others simply show the protagonist surviving in their world. No two stories in Strangers Among Us are too much alike, and the anthology features well-known authors such as Kelley Armstrong, A.M. Dellamonica, Gemma Files, and many others.

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

A group of troubled outcasts are brought together for group therapy – but their demons aren’t done with them yet. All five members of the group carry trauma from various brushes with the supernatural: cannibal killers, a creepy cult, and a serial killer who carves messages into his victim’s bones. Gregory explores the ways in which trauma can shape one’s present, such as drug addiction and an escape into virtual reality. The group therapy itself is also a focus of this novella, showing the ways in which these five survivors help one another to grow and change, and defeat the revived monsters of their respective pasts.

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

Connie Ramos, a Mexican-American woman in 1970s New York City, has been recently institutionalized and threatened with psychosurgery. But her hallucinations are actually visions of the year 2137, where racial and sexual equality have been achieved, and mankind lives in harmony with the Earth. Flipping back and forth from a utopic future and a painful present – and a third nightmare future – Connie must decide whether to take steps to make the paradise come to pass, while living with her own demons and avoiding the medical establishment that isn’t on her side.

Mental illness is a fact of life for millions of people in the United States alone, and it’s important that fiction reflects this reality. By reading books that show mentally ill characters in a sympathetic light, readers can expand their ideas of what these characters are capable of, and make the world more welcoming. Likewise, writers who wish to write about a disorder they don’t have (or even one they do) would do well to seek out both fiction and non-fiction about it, and remember that their characters aren’t just defined by their mental health. Happy reading!

•••

Erica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her British Fantasy Award-nominated debut novel Stay Crazy was released in August 2016 by Apex Publications, and her short fiction has appeared in ClarkesworldShimmerInterzone, and The Dark. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats. Visit her online at www.ericasatifka.com.

 

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:00 pm

Podcast: Creating Characters

[syndicated profile] alpennia_feed

Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 08:00

Sheena (our fearless leader at The Lesbian Talk Show) was chatting with me on facebook about how I write characters, after the review of Mother of Souls came out at The Lesbian Review (her other project), and it ended up turning into an interview for her series The Write Stuff. So here you can listen to me talking about my approach to creating three-dimensional characters and how I let the characters themselves shape their stories. Plus, you get the very very short version of "stapling the octopus to the wall".

Major category: 
Publications: 
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

This HaBO request is from Lynn, who is trying to find an older historical:

I’m trying to find a historical romance in paperback. My mom had it roughly around the 80’s-90’s. It was so excessive that I loved it.

The heroine was a mountain woman who lived alone. She saved the hero from a bear. The descriptions were awesome — I remember “bluer than a possum’s balls in a skiff of snow” and “colder than a witch’s tit”. The hero was a city feller, and I think she might have tried to make it in the city for him, but it’s been many years since I read this book.

I would love to find it, because it was crazy.

I am very interested in this heroine!

Sep. 19th, 2017 08:04 am

BookFest St Louis–this weekend!

ann_leckie: (AJ)
[personal profile] ann_leckie

So, here I am in St Louis and if you saw yesterday’s blog post you might have noticed there are no St Louis dates on the tour.

BUT.

Thanks to Left Bank Books, there’ll be an event in the Central West End called BookFest St. Louis. There will be lots of writers there, and the vast majority of panels and whatnot are free! (I think there are, like, two exceptions.)

There’s going to be a Science Fiction panel at 5pm on Saturday, September 23, with Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, Mark Tiedemann….and me!

If you are in St Louis this weekend, come to BookFest! Left Bank Books is a lovely store with a very nice SF section and worth visiting on its own, but just look at all the folks who are going to be here! Do come to the CWE this weekend if you can!

Mirrored from Ann Leckie.

[syndicated profile] ontd_political_feed

Posted by soleiltropiques

Australia offers to pay Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar

Exclusive: Rohingya sent to detention island in Papua New Guinea pressured to return to Myanmar, where thousands have fled ethnic persecution

a1
A protest inside the Manus Island detention centre in August. Australia has been trying to clear the camp, which the Papua New Guinea supreme court declared illegal.
-----------------------------

Australia is promising thousands of dollars to Rohingya refugees who agree to return to Myanmar, a country that has been accused of ethnic cleansing against the Muslim minority.


Asylum seekers in the Australian-run detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, have been pressured by officials to return to their home countries, even if they face violence.

Papua New Guinea’s supreme court last year ruled the centre for around 800 people breached human rights, was illegal and must close. Australia has since ratcheted up efforts to clear the centre, offering up to A$25,000 to refugees agreeing to go home.

Returning Rohingya to their country could put their lives at risk. Myanmar does not recognise the ethnic minority and has conducted military operations in Rohingya villages that the United Nations’ top human rights official branded “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Close to 400,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, many with bullet wounds and stories of mass killings, as their villages burn.

The Guardian understands up to seven Rohingya may be facing return from Manus Island and spoke to two refugees in PNG who said they were going back.

Yahya Tabani, a 32-year-old Rohingya man who arrived in Australia in 2013 but was sent to Manus Island, said he had no choice but to return.

“I don’t want to stay in PNG,” said Tabani, who used to sell mobile accessories. “I don’t want to die in PNG. I prefer to die in Myanmar. Probably Buddhist people are going to kill me as soon as I arrive in Myanmar … Australia doesn’t care if we live or we die.”

He said he had been promised A$25,000 by the Australian Border Force. He had not yet received any money and does not have a bank account into which it can be paid. Tabani was waiting in the PNG capital Port Moresby for his travel documents.

“I have no right to get citizenship and can’t go to school. I didn’t get any basic rights. Immigration [the Australian immigration department] said I have to live in PNG or go home.”

He said he had been attacked by locals in PNG, who he claims killed another detainee, an Iranian man. They were looking for money, he said. Physical and sexual abuse has been reported on Manus, one asylum seeker was murdered by guards, while others have died from medical neglect and local residents and soldiers have stormed the centre.

Another Rohingya refugee, currently held in Port Moresby ahead of a slated return to Myanmar, spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity for fear of recriminations against himself and his family.

“I am going back because my family are being persecuted by the Myanmar government. My family are in a violent place. I need to save them and look after them.”

He said he had been arrested in Myanmar previously, and feared further persecution upon return.

“But the reason why I leave PNG is there is too much torturing, they treat us as prisoners and they kill us mentally. That is more scary for me, that’s what I decided to go back. Better is leaving PNG, I can see my parents before Australia and PNG authorities make me a fool mentally, or killed physically.”

The Australian and PNG governments have vowed the Manus detention centre will be completely shut down by 31 October. Officials have been withdrawing basic services in different sections to force people out.

“It would be unthinkable to send any Rohingya back to Myanmar – in the midst of the military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against them,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “Sending them home right now would be a death sentence.”

She said the move “speaks volumes about the dangerous conditions and hopelessness that refugees on Manus have had to endure, that Rohingya refugees would even contemplate going back in ... the midst of an ethnic cleansing campaign”.

The Obama administration agreed to consider resettling in the US up 1,250 men, woman and children refugees sent by Australia to Manus Island and Nauru. But Donald Trump described the agreement as a “dumb deal” and in his first phone call with the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, asked: “Why have you not let them into your society?... Maybe you should let them out of prison.”

On the offshore detention islands, faith in the American agreement is fading. The US is not obliged to take a single refugee under the deal, only to consider them for resettlement, and 10 months after the deal was struck, no one has been accepted to go to the US.

In Canberra the Australian government has resolutely maintained no one detained on Manus or Nauru will ever be resettled in Australia. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection referred questions to the government of Papua New Guinea.

On Tuesday, when the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, was asked if Australia would consider taking any Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar, she said Australia wanted them to return to their country if possible.

Speaking from New York, where she has been attending United Nations meetings, she said Australia was providing a further $15m in humanitarian support to ease the crisis, particularly to Bangladesh.

“We want to see a ceasefire, an end to the violence, and then for the Rohingyas to be able to return to Rakhine state,” she told the ABC’s AM program.

“That was the collective view around the table of ministers, that we wanted to see the Rohingyas return to their homes.

“So I’m afraid there’s going to be considerable discussion here about the best way to achieve that. But nevertheless, the international community appeared to be united in its concerns to ensure that Rakhine state is stabilised and we can bring peace and security to it.”

SOURCE.

Additional links:
-On the genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar:
(1) Earlier post by me (has background on the Rohingya and the current crisis).
(2) Earlier post #2 by me (has additional background on this).
(3) Recent post by me (details recent events).
(4) Myanmar: new footage reveals scorched-earth campaign against Rohingyas.

-On Australia's truly horrible treatment of migrants:
(1) Earlier post #1 by me (has background on the Manus island and Nauru detention camps).
(2) Earlier post #2 by me (has more background on the camps).
(3) Manus Island Closure: refugees forced out of compound and threatened with arrest. Foxtrot residents told to leave 'immediately' as detainees fear Papua New Guinea government will resort to 'force and violence' as part of rolling closure.
(4) Manus Island: Judge approves $70m compensation for detainees. Lawyers hope to have sum paid before offshore detention centre closes next month in what is Australia’s largest human rights class action settlement.

OP: Yikes but this Australian government sucks. wtf...
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

This post is being sponsored by AdamandEve.com, and, while we have some amazing toy recommendations, here is the most important information:

AdamandEve.com is offering Smart Bitches readers 50% off a single item plus free standard shipping in the US and Canada with code SMART. Please note: certain exclusions apply, but the coupon covers most of the store.

Additionally, you also get a free gift with purchase: a pink vibrating egg, which is sure to give you some bang for your buck.

Previously, Sarah and I put together a list of personal recommendations and recommendations of popular products from the site. We also invited Reader Jaymzangel to send us some recs as well!

This time, I’m picking some items that I think would be great for the fall season – for yourself, or someone else, or both!

This post is extremely NSFW! You have been warned!

A&E Intimate Pleasures Kegel Set: Okay, this serious looks some awesome rose gold jewelry. I love how customizable this set is with two different silicone sleeves and four differently sized balls. Perfect for the classy, kinky goth!

A&E Intimate Pleasures Kegel SetKitty Playballs Set: If you prefer your Ben Wa balls more on the cutesy side, check out this set! Though it only comes with one sleeve, it still has four differently weighted balls. Plus, a pink carrying case with a lock!

Kitty Playballs Set

 

Fetish Fantasy Web Restraint: Looking to get freaky on Halloween? Or perhaps you want to roleplay Spider & the Fly with your partner? This restraint system fits any bed, comes with four cuffs, and has 24 different “web lines” the cuffs can attach to or slide along during play. The set also comes with a free satin mask as well. How much fun does that look?

Fetish Fantasy Web Restraint

The Rendezvous Gift Set: First off, this set of toys comes in a case that looks like a book. Hello!

Imagine putting in on your bookshelf and having company be none the wiser. The set also comes with nine items, which is a 40% savings if you had purchased everything separately. I’m a sucker for a bargain. There are toys, bondage tape, a mask, candle, and a variety of lube samples.

The Rendezvous Gift Set

Salted Caramel Intimate Earth Flavored Lubricant: One of fall’s signature flavors is salted caramel. Sorry, pumpkin spice fans – I couldn’t find any lube for you. This lube in particular is water-based and warms up. It’s also safe for vegans! This brand also comes in cherry and strawberry flavors that are more tart than the salted caramel one, according to reviews.

Salted Caramel Intimate Earth Flavored Lubricant

Wicked Aqua Salted Caramel Flavored Lube: I found not one, but two salted caramel flavored lubes! This one is also vegan-friendly and water-based, but I like the packaging of this one more. It looks like a fancy hand soap dispenser. It does not seem to be a warming lubricant, but it does have some other fall-ish flavors like Candy Apple and Mocha Java.

Wicked Aqua Salted Caramel Flavored Lube

Revitalize Pocket Vibrator Kit: This pocket vibrator comes in baby blue and pastel pink. It’s waterproof and features three different silicone attachments. So it’s pretty much like putting a costume on your vibrator. It only takes one AA battery and is waterproof, which is something I consider a “must have” when it comes to my sex toys.

Revitalize Pocket Vibrator Kit

Big thanks to Adam & Eve for sponsoring this post and for the coupon and free gift to our readers!

I so love doing these posts. Not only do I get to browse sex toys for “work,” but it gives me a chance to talk about them with all of you. As a side note, the romance genre and community have really helped me in terms of discussing my sexuality and my sexual needs with my partner. It’s reaffirming in the sense that sex isn’t something to be embarrassed about, though I’d definitely say I’m still in the learning process.

What do you think about the items recommended? Have any you’d love to suggest?

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:54 pm

Bees

sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
I was working away when the next door neighbor called, and said there were a zillion bees swarming around my pine tree on the patio. By the time I finished what I was typing, and went down to look out the kitchen window, I only saw four or five bees, and thought nothing of it.

Then, a few minutes ago, I took the dog out for a walk, and the neighbor came out, and said, look at the trunk of your pine. Whoa!

Here's from the side. click and embiggen, to see how far around the trunk they go.


Bees

And this below is from the sidewalk. Look in the upper portion of the trunk--that is a zillion bees tightly packed together.

Bees 2

That looks so . . . weird.

If they're still there in a couple of days, I'll have to find beekeepers to move them. My son's biological family on the female side has a deadly bee allergy running through them--his bio uncle has to carry an epipen everywhere, and my patio is about the size of two bedsheets put together. In fact, when I dry my laundry outside, I can only get one set of bedding out there at a time.

EDITED TO ADD: Between one check and the next ten minutes later, they suddenly vanished. I would have loved to see them swarm! But they are gone, and I hope they find a good, safe home.
Tags:
Sep. 18th, 2017 08:21 pm

Rats and Books

marthawells: (Reading)
[personal profile] marthawells
We've been hearing noises in the wall between our house and the garage for a while, and got confirmation today that it was rats. Apparently they chewed their way in through a hole at the end of a rain gutter and got in the garage attic, then got in and have been hanging out under the bathtub. So, not fun. But someone at the university recommended a wildlife removal company that specializes in rodents, and I think that's exactly what we need. (We're also infested with geckos, but that's actually a good thing.) Anyway, it's going to be expensive, but not nearly as bad as I thought.

***

Fireside Fiction has set up an ebook Hurricane Relief Bookstore. 100% of the profits go to hurricane relief funds in Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean. My book Wheel of the Infinite is available there, with lots of other cool SF/F novels, magazines, and anthologies:

http://www.hurricanebookstore.com/
Sep. 18th, 2017 05:16 pm

!!!

yhlee: Angel Investigations' card ("Hope lies to mortals": A.E. Housman). (AtS hope)
[personal profile] yhlee
Dear Generous Benefactor,

Thank you for the copy of All Systems Red, which I am really stoked about getting to read. (For the curious, my local bookstores didn't stock it.)

I have turned on anonymous comments for the moment, which are screened. If you'd like me to write you a thank-you flashfic, please feel free to leave a comment to this post. I'm probably going to turn off anonymous comments by week's end (sooner if I start having problems with spam comments).

Thank you!!!

Best,
YHL
Tags:
Sep. 18th, 2017 08:53 pm

Nazis and Skin Cream

[syndicated profile] peter_watts_feed

Posted by Peter Watts

I went out drinking the other night with someone who punches Nazis.

Certainly, ever since Charlottesville, there’s been no shortage of people who advocate Nazi-punching. For a while there, my Facebook feed was awash with the emissions of people jizzing all over their keyboards at the prospect of punching Nazis. People who argued— generally with more passion than eloquence— that the usual rules of engagement and free speech don’t apply when dealing with Nazis, because, well, they’re Nazis. People who, in fits of righteous anger, unfriended other people who didn’t believe that it was okay to punch Nazis.  I haven’t seen such a torrent of unfriending since all those die-hard supporters of frakking, omnipresent state surveillance, and extra-judicial assassination-by-drone rose up and unfriended everyone who hadn’t voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election. Even the ACLU has been bitch-slapped into “rethinking” its support for “Free speech“.

So, no shortage of Big Talk. But this was the first person I’d hung with who actually seemed to have walked the walk. She attributes it to her Mohawk heritage; not knowing any other Mohawks, I can’t speak to that. But I’ve known the lady for most of this century, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

I gotta say, I found it refreshing. So many of these self-proclaimed Nazi-punchers don’t seem to have a clue.

It’s not that I have anything against violence per se. I’m no principled pacifist: I’m the guy who openly muses about shooting heads of state and selecting random cops for assassination. If anything, I’m more into the healing power of cathartic violence than most. But even I had to roll my eyes when I saw so many of those same would-be Nazipunchers retweeting the most popular tweet of all time, courtesy of Barack Obama— a quote lifted from Martin Luther King Jr:

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

As far as I could tell, all the likers and retweeters weren’t even doing this ironically. They actually didn’t seem to grasp the contradiction.

It only got worse when a bunch of right-wing 4channers repurposed a handful of domestic-violence posters, hoaxing up a fake Antifa campaign that took the Punch-a-Nazi meme and ran with it. Servers across the globe are still smoking from the outrage engendered by that little prank.

And yet— once you get past the fact that those images originated not from the left, but from right-wing trolls impersonating them— the hoax does not, in fact, misrepresent the position it’s trolling. It would utterly fail as satire or parody; it doesn’t even exaggerate for effect. It pretty much just echoes what the whole Nazi-punching brigade has been going on about these past weeks, using female models instead of males for illustrative purposes. And yet, people got really pissed about it.

The main difference seems to be that the trolls have higher production values.

The main difference seems to be that the trolls have higher production values.

What’s the take-home message here? That it’s only okay to punch Nazis if they’re male, or unattractive?  (A couple weeks back I actually asked this on on of the Facebook threads that was spluttering indignantly about the whole thing; so far, no one’s answered.) Or is the take-home, rather, that what’s said doesn’t matter so much as who’s saying it? When you get right down to it, is this just a matter of skin cream vs. gun control?

I guess that last reference could use some context.

It relates to a 2013 study out of Yale by Dan Kahan et al, a study for which I conveniently happen to have some illustrative slides because I mentioned it in a recent talk at Concordia. Kahan et al  showed data to over a thousand people— some right-wingers, some left, some statistically savvy, others functionally innumerate. Sometimes these data showed that a particular skin cream helped cure a rash; sometimes they showed the cream made the rash worse. Sometimes the data showed clearly that gun control reduced crime rate; other times, it showed the exact opposite.

Here’s the trick: it was all exactly the same data. All Kahan et al did was switch the labels.

Turns out skin cream is not a hot-button topic.

Turns out skin cream is not a hot-button topic.

What they discovered was that your ability to correctly interpret these data comes down to how statistically smart you are, regardless of political leanings— but only when you think you’re dealing with rashes and skin creams. If you think you’re looking at gun control data, suddenly politics matter.  If you’re a numerically-smart conservative, you’ll have no trouble parsing the data so long as they show that gun control results in increased crime; but if they show that gun control reduces crime, suddenly your ability to read those numbers drops to the level of a complete innumerate. You’ll only be able to interpret the data correctly if they conform to your pre-existing biases.

Gun control? Little more testy.

Gun control? Little more testy.

Smart liberals are just as stupid as smart conservatives, but in the opposite direction.  Show a numerically-savvy left-winger that gun control reduces crime, they’ll be all over it; show them the opposite and, once again, their performance drops to the point where they might as well not have any statistical smarts at all.

You’ve seen this story a dozen times in a dozen guises. Fitting in with the tribe has more fitness value than independent thought. Conformers leave more genes behind than independent loners, so our brains evolved in service to conformity.  In fact,we’ll be lucky if reflexive conformity is as bad as the malfunction gets: recent machine-learning research out of Carnegie Melon hints that we may actually be wired for genocide (hat tip to Ray Nielson for that link, by the way).

Illo credit: Mother Jones

Illo credit: Mother Jones

Tribalism Trumps Truth. ‘Twas ever thus; a smaller, pettier iteration took place not so long ago in our own so-called community.

God knows I’ve no sympathy for Nazis. I have enough trouble keeping my lunch down when I reflect upon the Tea Party. I do have doubts about the effectiveness of Nazi-punching as a coherent strategy, but I’ve never been one to rule out violence as a tool in the box.  And as for my friend, she’s on firm footing. She’s not only punched Nazis, she’s punched female ones, and she  doesn’t compromise the integrity of her position by retweeting any love-is-the-answer pablum from Obama or anyone else. She’s cool, at least. She knows which side she’s on.

But all those other incoherent people ranting on facebook? I just can’t bring myself to line up with people so resistant to cognitive dissonance that they honestly don’t seem to realize they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time.

I swear to God. It makes me want to punch someone.

Sep. 18th, 2017 03:30 pm

Provenance Tour

ann_leckie: (AJ)
[personal profile] ann_leckie

So, starting next week I’ll be traveling! And here’s where I’ll be:

Tuesday September 26

Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA at 7 PM
(With Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace)
17171 Bothell Way NE, #A101
Lake Forest Park WA 98155


Wednesday September 27

Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA at 7:30 PM
5943 Balboa Ave. Suite #100
San Diego, CA 92111
858.268.4747


Thursday September 28

Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA at 7 PM
1520 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831-423-0900


Friday September 29

Borderlands Books, San Francisco, CA at 6 PM
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco CA 94110
415.824.8203


Saturday September 30

Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO at 7 PM
2526 East Colfax Avenue
Denver CO 80206
303-322-7727


Sunday October 1

BookPeople, Austin TX at 5pm
603 N. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
512-472-5050


Monday October 2

Uncle Hugo’s, Minneapolis MN at 4pm.
2864 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407


Tuesday October 3

A Room of One’s Own, Madison WI at 6pm
315 W. Gorham St.
Madison, WI 53703
608.257.7888


Wednesday October 4

Joseph-Beth, Lexington KY at 7pm
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
161 Lexington Green Circle
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 273-2911


Thursday October 5

Pandemonium Books and Games at 7pm
4 Pleasant Street
Cambridge MA 02139
Phone: 617-547-3721


Saturday October 7

New York ComicCon

Autographing at 4:00 (Autographing Table 24)
The New Classics of SF (With N.K. Jemisin) in 1A18 at 5:15


I’m looking forward to seeing everyone! Come say hi if you can!

Mirrored from Ann Leckie.

Sep. 18th, 2017 05:15 pm

Tea at Worldcon

[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

That Finnish Worldcon wasn't all vodka and beer. It was also tea!

Maybe you missed the fun in Helsinki. If so, you certainly missed my guest appearance on TEA & JEOPARDY, Emma and Peter Newman's Hugo (and Alfie) Award winning podcast.

But have no fear, it's on line now:

http://teaandjeopardy.geekplanetonline.com/podcast/bonus-episode-live-tea-and-jeopardy-show-worldcon-75/

Enjoy. I know I did.
Sep. 18th, 2017 04:31 pm

Sunday Blues

[syndicated profile] grrm_feed

Posted by George R.R. Martin

Football sucks. At least this season.

It is becoming clear that I am not going to get much joy from watching the NFL this year. The Jets lost again yesterday, 45-20, in humiliating fashion. They managed to hang with the Raiders for most of the first half, until muffing a punt in the last minute of the first half. It was all downhill from there. Oakland repeatedly ran the ball right up the gut of our D, through the zones where David Harris and Sheldon Richardson once patrolled. I think 0 - 16 is a real possibility.

I have more hope for the Giants, but judging by last week's loss to the Cowboys, it may be a false hope. We will see what happens tonight against the Lions.

And I can't even enjoy the pregame show any more, sad to say. For years... decades... I have been a devoted fan of ESPN's NFL COUNTDOWN show on Sunday. But last season the show lost Tom Jackson, and with it much of its appeal. And this season they have retired Chris Berman as well. After two weeks, I've had enough. I say it's spinach, and I say to hell with it.
Sep. 9th, 2017 06:56 pm

But How Exactly Have We Sinned?

[syndicated profile] alpennia_feed

Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Monday, September 18, 2017 - 08:00

When I was putting together my main podcast essay for this month, on details of lesbian sexual techniques as given in sources like penitential manuals, I realized that I already owned this book but had never blogged it. I was somewhat disappointed to discover how heavily excerpted it was, making it rather less useful for my purposes than I thought, particularly in relation to the podcast. That means that at some point I should track down the full texts of some of the penitential manuals that I know have relevant information. Still, it was on the list and now it's been done.

Penitential manuals were designed not only as guidance for acceptable behavior in monastic institutions and for the clergy, but later as guidelines for confessors to sort out exactly what was and was not considered a sin, and to standardize penances to some extent. Although my summary here is only concerned with same-sex sexual sins, I found some of the early Irish material fascinating in how it pointed out some of the social fractures of the time (especially between different branches of the church).

Penitentials are, of course, theoretical sources. They discuss what sorts of activities people are considered at risk for doing. And they only cover activitites that the church was actively concerned about. So while they aren't exactly useless as evidence for what women were doing together, neither are they a reliable guide to the details. And in the case of this publication, there's the further filter that we see only those sections of the books that the translators/editors considered to be of historical interest.

Major category: 
Full citation: 

McNeill, John T. & Helena M. Gamer. 1990. Medieval Handbooks of Penance: A Translation of the Principal Libri Poenitentiales.Columbia University Press, New York. ISBN 0-231-09629-1 (reprint of 1938 edition)

Publication summary: 

A collection of excerpts in translation from early medieval books of pennance. The significant editing means that the material is less useful for tracing the details of how penitential manuals handled same-sex sexual activity.

Penitential manuals began being produced in the early Christian era (at least by the 5th century) as a guide for confessors or those in charge of monastic institutions to, in some ways, standardize and regularize what actions were considered sins, and what the penance for different degrees of sin should be.  This focus can make them valuable for the discussion of matters that might otherwise not be discussed in historic sources. Although penitential manuals covered a wide range of behaviors and aspects of life, this blog is specifically interested in what they have to say about sexual relations between women. So mostly I’ll be extracting the specific passages that speak to this topic. For a more general discussion of penitential manuals, follow the related tags.

As this book and its translations were initially published in 1938, don’t expect a nuanced and broad-minded treatment of homosexuality. The inclusion or omission of activities from these manuals often reflects the degree of concern that the church had about them at the time, rather than the presence or absence of those activities in society. Note also that general references to “fornication” may have been understood to cover same-sex situations, but have not been included in these notes unless they explicitly do. Furthermore, this edition does not reproduce the penitential texts in full, and in some cases I know from other sources that material specifically addressing female homosexuality is present but hasn’t been included.

The following early medieval Irish material is meant for the guidance of male monastics and priests, therefore it is not surprising that women’s same-sex activity isn’t addressed as it doesn’t fall within the scope of interest.

  • Early Irish canons attributed to Saint Patrick (ca. 7th century, Ireland) - Does not address same-sex activity.
  • Penitential of Finnian (6th century, Ireland) - Does not address same-sex activity.
  • Penitential of Cummean (7th century, Ireland) - Addresses male homosexual acts (sodomy and femoral masturbation). There are separate guidelines for boys engaged in the same acts, with variants depending on age.
  • Penitential  and Laws of Adamnan (7th century, Ireland) - Does not address same-sex activity.

Misc. early Welsh penitentials (6th century) - A vague reference to “anyone who sins with a woman or with a man”. The assumed audience is male, but there is only an implication that the sin is sexual. Specific reference to “he who is guilty of sodomy in its various forms.”

  • [From a Book of David, 6th century] Reference to “those who commit fornication...with a male” but again the assumed audience is male.
  • [From Gildas’ book of penance, 6th century] Reference to a man who has taken a monastic vow who commits “natural fornication or sodomy”.

Penitential of Theodore (7th century, Anglo Saxon) - In contrast to the previous documents which primarily addressed an audience of male monastics, this one has a broader audience. The section on fornication has an elaborate set of distinctions for sexual acts between men, and addresses women’s same-sex activity  explicitly: "If a woman practices vice with a woman, she shall do penance for three years. If she practices solitary vice, she shall do penance for the same period.” That is, for women, masturbation and lesbian sex were considered equivalent in severity. The penance is less severe than for sex between men, though the proliferation of distinctions for male participants makes it hard to know which to compare to. But male masturbation appears to be treated much more lightly.

Penitential of Columban (7th century, St. Columban was Irish but this text was compiled on the continent where he founded monasteries) - A reference to monks committing sodomy, to laymen committing sodomy (in a context where the audience is clearly male). Even though women are covered by other sex-related penances, there is no reference to same-sex activity between women.

Judgment of Clement (8th century, Frankish) - The audience for these rules is general, not clerical. Nothing specifically addressing sexual activity is included.

Burgundian Penitential (8th century, Frankish) - The implied audience is male except in some very specific cases. There is reference to committing “fornication as the Sodomites did”.

Saint Hubert Penitential (9th century, Frankish) - There is a fascinating item on cross-dressing that seems to have to do more with prohibitions on pagan practices than gender transgression. “Of dancing -- Anyone who performs dances in front of the churches of saints or anyone who disguises his appearance in the guise of a woman or of beasts, or a woman [who appears] in the garb of a man--on promise of amendment he [or she] shall do penance for three years.” No references to same-sex fornication.

Penitential of Halitgar (9th century, Frankish) - The default audience, as usual, is male, in which context we have a reference to “if anyone commits fornication as the Sodomites”. There are no references to women’s same-sex relations.

The collection also covers a number of later documents but in much abridged form, generally quoting only discussions that don’t appear in earlier documents. There is no material relating to same-sex relations in these excerpts.

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Hamilton’s Battalion

Hamilton’s Battalion is available for preorder at Amazon for $4.99! This is a historical romance anthology from Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner, and Alyssa Cole and many of you were super interested in it after it was mentioned on the most recent podcast episode with Cole. I’m excited to see the cover once it’s been finalized.

Love in the time of Hamilton…

On October 14, 1781, Alexander Hamilton led a daring assault on Yorktown’s defenses and won a decisive victory in America’s fight for independence. Decades later, when Eliza Hamilton collected his soldiers’ stories, she discovered that while the war was won at Yorktown, the battle for love took place on many fronts…

PROMISED LAND by Rose Lerner

Donning men’s clothing, Rachel left her life behind to fight the British as Corporal Ezra Jacobs–but life catches up with a vengeance when she arrests an old love as a Loyalist spy.

At first she thinks Nathan Mendelson hasn’t changed one bit: he’s annoying, he talks too much, he sticks his handsome nose where it doesn’t belong, and he’s self-righteously indignant just because Rachel might have faked her own death a little. She’ll be lucky if he doesn’t spill her secret to the entire Continental Army.

Then Nathan shares a secret of his own, one that changes everything…

THE PURSUIT OF… by Courtney Milan

What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually.

* They attempted to kill each other the first time they met.
* They’re liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they’re inexplicably sharing.
* They are not falling in love with each other.
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THAT COULD BE ENOUGH by Alyssa Cole

Mercy Alston knows the best thing to do with pesky feelings like “love” and “hope”: avoid them at all cost. Serving as a maid to Eliza Hamilton, and an assistant in the woman’s stubborn desire to preserve her late husband’s legacy, has driven that point home for Mercy—as have her own previous heartbreaks.

When Andromeda Stiel shows up at Hamilton Grange for an interview in her grandfather’s stead, Mercy’s resolution to live a quiet, pain-free life is tested by the beautiful, flirtatious, and entirely overwhelming dressmaker.

Andromeda has staid Mercy reconsidering her worldview, but neither is prepared for love—or for what happens when it’s not enough.

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Shacking Up

Shacking Up by Helena Hunting is 99c! This is part of a huge Swerve sale going on and we’ll definitely feature more books this week. This book has a romantic comedy vibe and is actually pretty funny, but I’ll admit that it does take some suspension of disbelief, since it can be a bit zany at times.

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

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This book is on sale at:

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The Billionaire Beast

The Billionaire Beast by Jackie Ashenden is 99c! This is an erotic Beauty and the Beast retelling and, while this is the second book in the Billionaire Fairytales series, it can be read as a standalone. Readers really felt for the hero, but felt the heroine seemed like a doormat at times.

Dark, tortured, and intimidating, these dominant billionaires will steal their innocent heroines’ breath away. Overwhelmed by their desire to control their world, they push their heroines to explore their deepest desires. But even the most unworldly of heroines can unlock these billionaires’ secrets.

Nero de Santis: Damaged. Bastard. Beast.

Nero hasn’t left his house in ten years—he demands the world come to him, and the world is only too happy to bend to the strong-willed billionaire. Ruthless, cold, and selfish, Nero wants for nothing and takes care of no one but himself. His last handful of assistants have left his house in tears, but the prim redhead applying for the job looks up to the task. Nero has spent his life shut within the walls he built, with no care to have more than a window to the outside world. But the fiery passion he senses beneath his reserved assistant’s exterior makes him want to break down the barriers he lives behind, and unleash the beast within.

Phoebe Taylor: Uptight. Misunderstood. Engaged.

Phoebe needs the obscene amount of money that comes with being Nero’s personal assistant for one thing, and one thing only—to pay for the mounting hospital costs that her fiancee’s two-year coma continues to incur. She’s heard rumors that the de Santis beast is a force that cannot be tamed—but even she isn’t prepared to handle the smoldering intensity simmering beneath his hard shell of feral dominance. Nero is hiding something, something he is fighting with every step he takes. Yet he can’t help but stake his claim on this woman who has shaken up his life, and Phoebe can’t believe this animal of a man is the one person to ever look into her eyes and see her soul. Nero wants to keep her. He wants to devour her. And Phoebe just might let him.

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The SEAL’s Rebel Librarian

The SEAL’s Rebel Librarian by Anne Calhoun is 99c! Sarah read this novella and while she felt the ending was rushed (which is a common problem for me in novellas), it still earned a B grade:

I really enjoyed reading this novella, and recommend it for fans of hotter contemporary romance.

And really, I haven’t met many people who can resist that title. The story inside comes very, very close to living up to the promise of it.

The second in the Alpha Ops novella series that features an alpha Navy SEAL and the librarian who brings him to his knees.

Jack Powell never planned on leaving the Navy, but his final mission as a SEAL left him with a tremor and a bad case of nerves. He’s home, taking some college classes and trying to figure out what comes next when he meets Erin Kent, a divorced college librarian with an adventurous bucket list and a mission to get her ex-husband’s voice out of her head. Jack guides Erin through skydiving and buying the motorcycle of her dreams, blithely accepting Erin’s promise that their relationship is purely temporary. But when Jack gets the chance to go back into the shadowy world of security contracting, can he convince Erin to break her word and join him on the adventure of a lifetime?

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Sep. 18th, 2017 12:19 pm

I will follow this advice

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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
According to my brother, one should not bounce a chainsaw off one's knee as it is very hard on denim.

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There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away. ~Emily Dickinson

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