Games

Dec. 14th, 2014 02:16 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Some games I've played recently

FTL (Faster than Light)

Love it. It's hard, but the difficulty keeps me playing.

The player controls a Federation ship staffed by humans and aliens, jumping between FTL beacons to explore the region and fight rebels and pirates. Hostile ships can destroy you, as can boarders and environmental hazards such as asteroid fields. You gather weapons, fuel, and scrap (money), buy things at stores, and upgrade the ship to do better. Progressing through the regions (levels), things get a bit harder until you reach level 8, where you have to fight the Rebel flagship. I played this game a bit obsessively until I finally beat the flagship, on easy setting, using the Engi cruiser ship. I like that there are different ships and settings-- this rewards multiple play-throughs. I like that the game is relatively easy to learn and has a science fiction setting. You can name your ship and staff anything you like.

Long Live the Queen

A visual Novel that I bought off steam at the recommendation of [profile] ribbonknight. You play a princess that is preparing to take over her Kingdom. You control what classes she takes, building skills that impact available decisions. You can also influence her mood by choosing activities. This is fun, low stress and has death achievements. It rewards multiple play-throughs because there are a lot of different things to unlock. I used some guides on Steam to figure out how to get a couple of achievements, because it was not intuitive to me. I also appreciate that the princess can have relationships with both men and women in this game.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
[personal profile] boxofdelights asked: Is there a book you loved, as a kid, that you would still recommend to kids like you were?

Lots of them! I loved reading had access to lots of books. I'm focusing here on books I read in elementary school.

Some books are classic for a reason. Written in 1900, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a childhood favorite of mine. I also read the sequels. I enjoyed the fanciful characters and illustrations and the wildly imaginative world. There were quite a few girl characters besides Dorothy. Ozma, for instance, starts out life as a boy but a spell is broken (or something) and she is revealed as princess Ozma.

Marguerite Henry has many rather sentimental books about horses; I especially loved Born to Trot, which again had wonderful illustrations. King of the Wind, Brighty of the Grand Canyon, and San Domingo: the Medicine Hat Stallion were also favorites.

I read many of Roald Dahl's books, which are fun and clever, and sometimes have a bit of a dark side. Matilda was a favorite of mine, and there are many many more to choose from.

I was just discussing with Jesse how I loved reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, about a boy who survives alone in Alaska after the small plane he's in crashes into a lake. It's the details of living in the wilderness the were great to read about. I read some other Gary Paulsen books but they didn't stick in my mind the way this one did.

I have not gone back and re-read most of these; but I have very fond memories of them; some of them I read repeatedly. I use to enjoy taking all my books off the shelf and re-arranging them.
sasha_feather: Avatar Kyoshi from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Lady avatar)
Attempting to post more. Thinking about weight / size politics under the cut.

Read more... )
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
I don't want to schedule posts, but if you want to leave me prompts for the December posting meme, please do! I will do my best to answer them in what is left of December!
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
--I thought the moon was a planet.

--People seemed to pronounce wind chill as "windsheel", all blended together and soft, so I couldn't parse it and thought they were maybe saying "wind shield," even though that did not make sense.

--I thought that tourist meant someone who led tours (tour guide).

--I couldn't hear the difference between picture and pitcher.

--I didn't understand why "I" in the middle of a sentence should be capitalized.

--I didn't understand the subtle nuances that differentiated dinner and supper (this is still difficult because dinner means different things to different people).

What did you have a hard time understanding as a kid?
sasha_feather: Sherlock with his hand on glass (Sherlock glass)
I really liked The Hospital Suite by John Porcellino, a graphic memoir focusing on the author's experiences with illnesses. He has mysterious and severe gut pain, which turns out to be a tumor (non cancerous) requiring surgery. He loses a lot of weight and has trouble gaining it back. Eventually, though natural and alternative medicine, he starts to feel better physically, but then his old problems with anxiety and OCD act up, causing problems with his marriage. There are some intense descriptions in here including self-harm, thoughts of suicide, OCD symptoms, and food issues, which some readers will no doubt want to avoid or approach with caution.

I loved the no-nonsense honesty of this book. Porcellino doesn't have a lot of regard for his doctors, who misdiagnose him and don't show him much compassion. He furthers his studies with Buddhism and finds comfort in koans. Especially stark for me were panels depicting experiences of pain and mental illness, successfully using simple line drawings to show tension and pain.

What I continually admire from graphic memoirists is their ability to be so forthright about their experiences. Body, mind, soul, relationships are laid out on the page for all to see. I wonder if the simple cartoon format works as a distancing mechanism for the author.

Highly recommended.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k and I saw this together and we both really liked it.

Set at a Harvard stand in called Winchester, DWP focuses on 4 black students who are searching for their identities in a highly pressured environment. The houses that people live in feature prominently, as do the newspapers and satire publication. People's connections and activities have the inflated importance of the Ivy League environment. Race, class, and sexual orientation are addressed in a way that is natural to the characters and plot.

Samantha White, an activist and artist, runs for president of her house and wins unexpectedly. She becomes the de facto leader of the activist black students on campus, while struggling to find her own true voice and desires. She has a radio show called "Dear White People" and makes films.

Troy Fairbanks loses this election, to the disappointment of his father, the Dean of Students. Searching for something else to get involved in, he investigates the satirical publication Patische, (the not-Lampoon), which is run by the most entitled white boys on campus.

CoCo Conners wants to be a star and is willing to stir up trouble in order to catch the eye of a talent scout who is on campus. She is most definitely not an activist.

Lionel Higgins is a queer, geeky writer who doesn't fit in anywhere. He thinks about writing a story about Samantha, tries hanging out with the white journalism geeks, and ends up finding his place with the activists.

The villain of the piece is Kurt Fletcher, who heads up a fraternity and runs Pastiche. All of these people and threads come together when the fraternity throws a racist Halloween party.

There is a lot going on here but it's easy to follow, and easy to get drawn into these people's lives and dramas. They are realistic and sympathetic characters even when they sometimes make foolish choices. There are some very funny moments and some painful ones.

The experimentation and searching that people go through during college are familiar themes, and it's wonderful to see things like racism, homophobic bullying, etc, consciously explored through several characters' view points. Sure, everyone searches, but some people have more shit to deal with, and different people respond in different ways.

I hope this movie makes a ton of money and we get to see more like it.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
Flat Out Bolli (her racing name) hails from Mobile, Alabama originally. She is a small black Greyhound with some white on her. She has a cowlick on her neck that makes it seem like she has a mohawk. She will be 3 in December. She is super chill and is already napping on the rug on the living room floor. She is interested in toys.

I plan on changing her name; I don't really like "Bolli" as a nickname. Taking name suggestions in comments!

Photo Album at Flickr
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
Beginners (2010) R. Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent.

MacGregor plays Oliver, a 38-year-old graphic designer who has recently lost his father. In flashbacks and narration, we see his close relationship to his father, who came out publicly as gay at age 75. Now, in 2003, Oliver is struggling with grief, with the fact that his parents were never in love, and with his own relationships and feelings. Oliver falls for a woman named Anna. In flashbacks, his father falls for a younger man, played by Goran Visnjic, and gets involved with gay politics. The movie is engaging and told with sensitivity and emotional nuance. People at any age can be beginners at life and love.
sasha_feather: Avatar Kyoshi from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Lady avatar)
Not sure if I should post this locked or unlocked. I'm putting myself out there a lot with this post-- please don't link w/o permission.

Content note: discusses harassment/bullying and responses to it.

Learning to recognize harassment - general thoughts )

a wiscon story )
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
I read the long article in Buzzfeed about misogyny in the atheist and skeptic communities, written by Mark Oppenheimer:

Will misogyny bring down the atheist movement? (content note: harassment, rape, gas lighting, etc).

This is a pretty thorough article, although there are some odd writing and editing choices in it. For instance, blogger Watson has her appearance described, although no one else does. Male privilege is mentioned nowhere. A quote given by a man, in reference to hate male, is pictured next to a woman, making it look like she said it.

There are many good points, though, and a lot of good background, such as the fact that the skeptic movement attracts libertarians. Some of the community is there via magic debunking, while others are there via ivory-tower science, and people who come from social justice areas don't necessarily have a lot in common with those folks.

In talking about this on twitter, a friend pointed out that people in geeky, alternative communities are used to feeling embattled, so are resistant to attempts to change their behavior (a geek fallacy-type observation). Also, sometimes assholes make good activists because they focus on one goal to the exclusion of all else, and steamroll other concerns, which is sometimes a needed thing but also causes many problems.

Although the article covers many incidents and problems, the main reactions I've seen are to this one guy Shermer (who seems like a gross individual). I am apparently in an argument with a friend's spouse over on Facebook. UGH, people are fools.

After the Shermer article: what do you decide? A call out to the community.

The Shermer Allegations: some considerations for those to whom this is a nasty shock

I should say that I am not a member of these communities and have no idea who these people are; I am mostly interested in this because of the patterns of harassment and reactions are similar to what happened in my own community, and are happening everywhere it seems.
sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
I am very pleased by the cool weather and I finally slept well last night!

:D
:D
:D
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Pursuant to my post about conferences, I've been thinking about how making events affordable is an access issue.

Making your event affordable attracts people of different classes and backgrounds and locations. It also makes your event more welcoming to disabled folks / PWD. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor for structural, societal reasons. Being disabled can affect a person's earning potential due to discrimination and impairment-related reasons; it also is just plain expensive. For me, for example: There are co-pays on prescriptions and doctor appointments; health services that are not covered by insurance; supplements to buy; expensive shoes that don't hurt my feet; the list goes on and on. For people on special diets, food can be more expensive. A 2008 study found gluten-free products to be much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Worry about money is a near-constant source of stress for many people, and some studies link this stress to negative health effects.

If we are planning events, what can we do to help make them more affordable?

Here are some ideas:

Registration and Programming
Sliding scale registrations; day memberships
Member Assistance Fund or Scholarships
ConSuite (hospitality suite)
Free Childcare
Kid, Teen, Youth programming tracks at fan conventions so people can bring their kids
Rebates or refunds for volunteering or presenting

Lodging
List area hostels
Have a room share board on social media

Transportation
Provide cab vouchers and/or mass transit fees so people can get back to their lodging late at night
Have a ride share board
Choose a venue that is on bus or mass transit lines

Food
List local restaurants, grocery stores, and markets. Note if the markets accept food stamps. note if the grocery stores deliver.
Note if they hotel has fridges or microwaves in the rooms or lobby.

Miscellaneous
Look for grants and sponsorships to help off set costs.
Ask for donated items for prizes and gifts.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
Saving my tweets on this as I think it through.

The "Man of his time" argument assumes that everyone in that time period felt the same way. Erases nuance and difference.

It also erases experiences of dissents and marginalized people. Those people existed even if history has forgotten them. (For example: I learned from Rachel Maddow tonight that Vince Lombardi was pro-gay and had a gay brother. He was a famous football coach that lived from 1913-1970).

Me and my friends don't hold the prevailing views of mainstream society. I don't think of us as "products of our time."

This argument also assumes that society progresses forward thru time, that people in the past were worse. Which is not true. (History does not go forward in a upward line. It's more like a sine wave maybe.)

We are all influenced by our time and society, but we can all think critically and listen to our consciences re right and wrong.

Saying that someone was "a product of their time" is usually just apologism for their bad behaviors.

If something is wrong today, it was wrong 100 years ago. (Ethical behaviors, possibly, have some standards across societies and times, even if morals are relative. Have to think on this more.)

Just because people in power endorsed it, doesn't make it OK for everyone else in society to do so.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
In June I had the privilege of attending SDS2014, the Society for Disability Studies conference in Minneapolis. SDS did a lot of things right concerning accessibility for people with disabilities. It did not appear that the organizers had put as much thought into economic accessibility. For instance, the venue was an expensive downtown hotel. The nearby restaurants were mostly sit-down restaurants. The convenience shop in the hotel had some bottled beverages and foods at airport prices. Lunch time meetings at the conference felt inaccessible to me, because I didn't know where to grab a sandwich or take out food at a place that I could afford to eat, and get back in time for the session. So I skipped the lunch time sessions; I need to eat according to a set schedule, as I'm sure many folks do. (Note that SDS' discussion of anti-harassment policies occurred during a lunch time session.)

Many academic conferences are similarly expensive, and do not seem to care about being affordable. The registration prices alone can be close to a thousand dollars. This is before hotel, travel, food, and any incidentals for conference participants. Presenters many want to get new clothes or travel gear, for instance. Many people attending academic conferences have their institutions pay for these expenses, or get grants or scholarships to cover them.

Check out two price listings for conferences, just as examples:
An epidemiology conference in Spain
Grace Hopper Women in Computing

I attended SDS as a community member rather than as an academic-- ie, not affiliated with an institution. A friend paid for the reg fee and hotel, and we carpooled there and brought some of our own snacks. SDS does have a sliding scale for their reg fees. Disability studies, unlike many other academic disciplines, values the role of community members and lay people because your lived experience counts. Your embodiment and activism count. You don't necessarily need classes, degrees, and publications to contribute. (I do have some independent-of-the-academy publications.)

My main convention and social event of the year is WisCon, a fan convention, which prioritizes affordability. Many of our affordability issues intersect with other social justice issues, such as disability access and emotional access.

For instance, WisCon provides late-night cab vouchers to get people home from the convention. I imagine the original intent of this service was safety: prevent drunk driving and the like, since alcohol flows fairly free at convention parties. But it also provides an affordable means for people to get home without having to pay for a cab or rely on bus schedules or friends, and means that some people can stay other places than downtown hotels, such as on the outskirts of town at their own or friends' houses or cheaper hotels. It provides independence-- the means to leave the convention when you want (also a safety feature). The cab service we use is a co-op and a union, allowing us to support a local business with shared values. And cabs can be reserved online, which is another accessibility feature.

All of these things intersect. Feeling like your finances are stretched and you can barely afford to be somewhere is stressful and adds to cognitive and emotional load. It means you can't be as present and contribute as fully as you might like. Worrying about affording a meal when you want to go out with friends or colleagues can be embarrassing.

So why are academic conferences so expensive? Not having organized one, or even gone to many, I really have no idea. Looking around on the internet, people say that the fee covers venue, food, and keynote speakers, etc. Probably professional conference organizers plan these things, and take their cut. But conferences can leverage their power as clients to negotiate better deals with hotels and convention centers. They can use university or public venues which are sometimes cheaper. First and foremost, they can simply think about how to lower costs and reduce the economic burden on their participants, instead of assuming everyone who comes is able to blithely afford it.

I do know that charging so much money functions as a gate-keeping mechanism to keep people out. It creates a space where the conference itself is an in-club for people who can afford to be there: a country club effect. The privileged rub elbows and make connections with each other.

This affects the quality of academics. Science, my field of employ, has a myriad of problems with diversity. These things are connected.
sasha_feather: dog looking over a valley (dog and landscape)
Unexpectedly, I feel relieved, like there is a weight off my shoulders.

Read more... )
sasha_feather: ken watanbe with a horse and dog (ken wantanbe with pets)
Feeling like I'm on doggie death-watch. Sorcha was doing pretty well up until this weekend. in case you don't want to read this )

...and now she's eating some kibble, so who knows what tomorrow will bring?

previews

Aug. 24th, 2014 01:02 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Previews we saw yesterday before Guardians:

Interstellar:
This looks wonderful! An SF movie about a mission to find a habitable planet for humans to live on. Unfortunately it is directed by Christopher Nolan (man pain expert) and stars Matthew McC. The words "family" and "love" were used a lot in the preview. It will probably have a terrible, white dude story and great special effects.

Big Hero 6:
An animated film. Looks very cute. I look forward to reading meta about the inflatable robot and depictions of fat characters.

Dracula Untold:
Looks boring and gross. Again man pain central. Some medieval dude needs to protect his wife and kid so he becomes a vampire! snooze.

The Hobbit next chapter:
I'm not paying much attention to these tbh.

The Hunger games next chapter:
YAAAAAAY!

Into the Woods:
Has some cool actors and looks neat; the preview was minimal.

Night at the Museum sequel:
Looked cheesy to me and not funny? There was a joke about a monkey peeing on some miniaturized characters, which... I guess if you find that funny, you'll like this film. I never saw the first one. Has Robin Williams in it.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy tonight with my roommate. This was a fun movie with a lot of great effects, action sequences, and good music.
Read more... )

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