Old and New

Oct. 22nd, 2014 07:57 am
[syndicated profile] rollingaroundinmyhed_feed

Posted by Dave Hingsburger

I am writing this from my hotel room in Edmonton. Clearly, then, I managed to get here. But I got here after a really good flight. I need to give a shout out to AIR CANADA and both their ground and on board crews. They were helpful, kind and generous with their time and their expertise. They really made the trip one that is memorable because of the service I got. From my arrival at the airport in Toronto to getting the rental car in Edmonton every single person I met from Air Canada was helpful. It almost felt like someone had done a course on exactly what my needs were and how to most effectively support me. I have found that Air Canada typically offers pretty good service (I won't fly another airline) but yesterdays trip was way more than pretty good.

I want to tell you of an incident though, that was, for me, surprising and funny. We were the last off the plane. I don't like people pushing me uphill and though I can't walk very far, very well, when there is an incline, I try to walk it. So, I did. I got about two thirds of the way when I turned a corner and found a steeper, longer ramp to the top. By then I knew I was over exerting myself and that I simply couldn't do this last bit of the trip without resting.

I asked for and was given my chair and I told them to give me a few minutes and then I'd tackle it again. The woman who had been sent to meet me at the gate to provide help with getting to baggage was talking to another woman behind me. They both were absolutely sure that they, together, could push me up the ramp. I began to protest saying that I don't want my weight or my disability to hurt anyone. They said that they would get speed up and let momentum take me up the ramp.

I put my feet on the footrests, I felt their hands take hold of the handle and then ... they began to run! We hit the incline and flew up it. We were at the top in seconds. They were both laughing and congratulating each other. One of them said that it was good that's she'd got a workout by 'bringing in the hay' the day before.

From there we needed no more assistance because Joe and I could do the rest by ourselves. We thanked them and they grinned and waved us on.

For the whole day, from the arrival at the airport in Toronto to the top of the ramp in Edmonton, I knew that they were providing help for me, juggling things to get it right, but never, not once, did I feel like a bother to them.

Not once.

At one time, years ago, the essence of customer service was that staff made you feel important, it has devolved in recent years to the point that good customer service is that the staff don't make you feel like a bother.

I got old and new yesterday. I felt like I mattered and I didn't feel like a bother.

That's remarkable, for anyone travelling in a wheelchair, that's just plain remarkable.

Daily Happiness

Oct. 21st, 2014 11:06 pm
torachan: a cartoon kitten with a surprised/happy expression (chii)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Day off tomorrow! I might go in to work for a couple hours, but I haven't decided for sure, and even if I do, it would be midday and I can still sleep in and have a lazy morning. :)

2. We got tasty burritos for dinner.

3. The other day Irene was watching Akira and it made me want to read the manga (I've never read it before, though I saw the movie several times back in the day). The only site I could find raws on uses a file hosting site that allows you to download one file every six hours, so it's been taking what feels like forever to get these, even though there are only six volumes, but I'm downloading the final volume right now, yay.

Go Giants!

Oct. 21st, 2014 10:09 pm
esteefee: (giants)
[personal profile] esteefee
Hunter Pence,  Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle
[Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle]

Giants took the first game of the World Series tonight, 7-1. It was a rout. :D Which is kind of a rare experience for a Giants fan.

I listened to my favorite guys announce the game on KNBR while I watched the game on a 20-second delay via the Internets on MLB.tv. Why? Why is sports broadcasting so effed up? I had to "borrow" my brother's girlfriend's cable login in order to authenticate my post-season subscription (I'd already paid for the regular season, so I didn't have to pay extra for post-season. I just couldn't *watch* it unless I had "cable." I kid you not.)

If this is any indication of what life will be like without Net Neutrality, we are seriously screwed.

Saw an episode of Flash

Oct. 22nd, 2014 12:49 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Were the writers worried that if evil gas man went after a cop the Flash didn't know, he wouldn't go rescue the guy? That's more a Guy Gardner move.

Dear Festividder!

Oct. 21st, 2014 10:04 pm
chaila: Rayna James, beautiful flowing mane glowing in the sun. (nashville - rayna)
[personal profile] chaila
Dearest Festividder,

Yay! Vids! I don't really have much general to say, for I love vids and these fandoms, and you are already making a vid for one of these fandoms! I am open to any kind of music so go with your heart. (Also don't be afraid of well-vidded songs or artists on my account, I totally love vids to oft-vidded songs). I am a very gen fan and a fan of awesome ladies and character studies, so you can never go wrong with that. I have requested some shows with a decent amount of canon, but am totally happy to get a vid limited to one season, etc.

Specific requests, in alphabetical order: Luther, Nashville, Nurse Jackie, RPF - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scott & Bailey, Twister, The Wire, Wonder Woman (2009) )
umadoshi: (hands full of books)
[personal profile] umadoshi
My pretty dream of getting fic posted before work today was, in retrospect, hilarious. (Instead, I was a good freelancer and put in some work on a script before heading to Casual Job.) And it's sure not getting done tonight, or tomorrow morning (tomorrow morning I'm due at the office around 9 AM, as opposed to today's 2 PM. In fact, I should already be in bed). But hopefully tomorrow evening. Yes.

(I realize this isn't a huge deal in general! *g* But [name redacted because I don't wanna spread other people's plans around]'s plans mean that getting it posted in the next few days would be convenient for them. So that's the goal.)

This morning I attempted to buy Maggie Stiefvater's Blue Lily, Lily Blue in the name of first-week sales and all, even though I haven't read the first two books of the Raven Cycle yet. As I mentioned to someone on Twitter, if this were the final book, I'd hold off until it's out in paperback so it'd match my copies of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, but it's the second-last book in the series, and I don't plan to take that long to start actually reading the books.

Alas, the key word in the previous paragraph is "attempted", because Amazon.ca and Chapters/Indigo both claim that the book isn't available until November 1. >.< And when Bakka-Phoenix posted their list of releases for the week, it wasn't listed there. But it's out in the US, and even more confusingly, it's available at the Kobo store...which belongs to Chapters/Indigo. (I didn't bother checking Kindle.) I am very confused, and also grumpier than is justified, given that heaven only knows when I'll actually read the book anyway.

Publishing is WEIRD. But this is not news.

At any rate, I did order vol. 3 of Hawkeye (which reminds me that I still haven't read vol. 2) and Beware the Wild, which is a debut novel about which I've heard good things. It will go on the to-read...bookcase. >.>

(Somehow when I stopped buying nearly as many manga titles--I think I'm now at about seven or eight, including Evangelion, which has only one more volume--I switched to buying many more novels. Which isn't a bad thing, but also wasn't exactly intentional, since I've always been a heavy library user.)

caught up on WtNV

Oct. 21st, 2014 10:07 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
And the only thing I have to say is that I haven't made tiramisu in a very long time and should maybe think about scaling that recipe down (since Chad is the only one who eats it) and giving it a go sometime.
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

#Gamergate

  • On Gamergate: a letter from the editor | Polygon (October 17): “Video games are capital “C” Culture now. There won’t be less attention, only more. There won’t be less scrutiny. There certainly won’t be less diversity, in the fiction of games themselves or in the demographics of their players. What we’re in control of is how we respond to that expansion, as journalists, as developers, as consumers. Step one has to be a complete rejection of the tools of harassment and fear — we can’t even begin to talk about the interesting stuff while people are literally scared for their lives. There can be no dialogue with a leaderless organization that both condemns and condones this behavior, depending on who’s using the hashtag.”
  • Gamergate threats: Why it’s so hard to prosecute the people targeting Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian | Slate (October 17): “The light penalties attached to many of these online crimes also deter officials from taking them seriously, because the punishment doesn’t justify the resources required to investigate and prosecute them”
  • Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage | The Daily Beast (October 16): “Our various “culture wars” tend to boil down to one specific culture war, the one about men wanting to feel like Real Men and lashing out at the women who won’t let them.”
  • Gamergate in Posterity | The Awl (October 15): “Maybe there will be some small measure of accountability in the far future, not just for public figures and writers and activists, but for all the people who could not or would not see their “trolling” for what it really was. Maybe, when their kids ask them what they were like when they were young, they will have no choice but to say: I was a piece of shit. I was part of a movement. I marched, in my sad way, against progress. Don’t take my word for it. You can Google it!”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Some Books What I Have Read Lately

Oct. 21st, 2014 05:30 pm
were_duck: Clint drinking coffee straight from the pot (Clint drinking coffee)
[personal profile] were_duck
I have read a few books recently! Wow. Who am I.

Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. This is less a history of Wonder Woman and much more a history of her creator and the nexus of influences that led to her creation. I really enjoyed this book--William Moulton Marston's secret poly family, kinkster influences, his work as a psychologist and inventor of the lie detector test, and heavy early feminist ideologies were fascinating. I appreciate that the author gives a lot of background and context to the women in Marston's life--his 'secret' wife Olive was the niece of Margaret Sanger, and Lepore devotes a lot of time to Sanger's life and influences on the Marston household. I was expecting more content recapping early Wonder Woman storylines, but found myself more fascinated by the women in Marston's life and the contexts of the comic itself. Very interesting portrait of not just a man, but a family and of a moment in history. I like that Lepore's prose was unsentimental about Marston, too. He may have been ahead of his time in terms of feminism but he was also possessed of an enormous ego and had a lot of lingering sexist ideas. That said, the work he did still fascinates us today, and Wonder Woman as an unabashed feminist icon has an even greater place in my current personal pantheon. I recommend this book--I found it fascinating and very engaging.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This book is getting all kinds of buzz and it ended up on the National Book Award shortlist. My favorite rep, one of our Random House ones, bugged me until I read this because he loves it so much. It's very literary--it takes a science fiction trope and gives it a literary treatment about fame and memory and things. Ultimately I didn't love this book as much as my rep does, perhaps because I've seen this trope a bunch of times before, but I did like it, and the writing was really lovely in a lot of places. Moments from it stick with me vividly. If you like dystopias with a strong dose of humanity, you may like this one.

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. I picked this up on its release date, wanting very much to love it. I didn't. Some spoilers... )

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. I actually read this a few months ago, but it just came out so people are talking about it now. On first reading I didn't have the same flush of excitement for this book as I did for its predecessor, but upon reflection I really like it. It does a better job than Justice of explaining what's going on and delving a bit more into Breq's personal identity. It also has a smaller focus, so it's a bit less sweeping, but I think that is a great choice for this second book--it grounds the story and lays down some much-needed character work in advance of the next installment, which promises to be much more intense.

**I am also halfway through these books, but knowing me I probably will be too flaky to write them up later and I have an opinion right now, so let's just go with it:

I'm about a third of the way into Ada's Algorithm by James Essinger. It's a biography of Ada Lovelace!!!! If I am understanding things right, this already came out in the UK a while back, but has been slightly re-titled and is out this month in the US. The writing is very pedestrian and straightforward, a disappointment especially coming off of the richness of the Wonder Woman book, but the subject is of direct importance to me as I enter the wonderful world of Being A Woman-Type Person In Tech, so I'll keep with it. (Speaking of which, if you haven't heard of The Ada Initiative yet... go check it out).

I did stop and look up Babbage's Difference Engine after reading about him in this book, and it was pretty cool to see in motion even though I am not mathy enough to fully understand polynomial equations. I'll embed the video here so you can watch, too, if you want. Oddly beautiful:



My major complaint with the Ada biography is that the first few chapters prominently describe her father, who, being Lord Byron, was certainly a colorful figure? But it got a bit tl;dr. I'm just at the part where she and her mother meet Babbage, so I expect to start enjoying it a bit more from here out.

I'm also about halfway through Geek Sublime by Vikram Chandra. This is a pop culture nonfiction book by a celebrated novelist who is also an accomplished programmer, seeking to address the connections between art and coding. It's a bit rambly and a bit partial in its perspective, but I don't really mind. As a non-white person Chandra's perspectives on tech are interesting, and the chapters on the history of coding and also the digression into the structure of Sanskrit were fascinating. I'm using this as occasional bedtime reading--thought-provoking and a bit wonderful.

I also just picked up Jacqueline Koyanagi's Ascension, which I'm enjoying more than I expected I would! This is largely down to me and my prejudice against self-publishing. However! It's queer (and, I think, eventually poly?) women of color in space! I'm a few chapters in and so far it's reading like a somewhat genderswapped and racebent version of Firefly, but in a good way. So far I'm enjoying this and intrigued to see where it will go. The writing isn't phenomenal but it's got plenty of heart to it.

No matter how bad things are...

Oct. 21st, 2014 11:24 pm
monanotlisa: (deep end)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
...I will always take pleasure in using this icon.

Greetings from Germany; I am alive. "Well" would be stretching it a little, but the visa interview could presumably have gone worse, because at the end the clerk told me I would receive my passport back "by Tuesday at the latest." Which would be excellent, for Wednesday just so happens to be the day scheduled for my flight back.

If this were Twitter, I would obviously hashtag this #phew.

Of course, then rode the ICE train to my home town, and the family situation is what it is. Cut to protect from terminal illness tales )

(no subject)

Oct. 21st, 2014 03:41 pm
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
[personal profile] owlectomy
My actual Free Will Astrology lololol:

Astronauts on the International Space Station never wash their underwear. They don't have enough water at their disposal to waste on a luxury like that. Instead, they fling the dirty laundry out into space. As it falls to Earth, it burns up in the atmosphere. I wish you had an amenity like that right now. In fact, I wish you had a host of amenities like that. If there was ever a time when you should be liberated from having to wash your underwear, make your bed, sweep the floor, and do the dishes, it would be now. Why? Because there are much better ways to spend your time. You've got sacred quests to embark on, heroic adventures to accomplish, historical turning points to initiate.
[syndicated profile] thisaintliving_feed

Posted by s.e. smith

‘Are you registered to vote?’ the young man asks me.

He’s one of the scores of canvassers that inundates the Bay Area, setting up shop on street corners, outside grocery stores, at farmers’ markets, anywhere they think they can find unwitting victims. Some like to go the progressive angle, seeking out people whom they think will be politically conscious and amenable to hearing them out. Others just go for bulk signature collection, choosing the most crowded areas possible in order to bring signatures back to the office by sheer force of will; pester enough people, and some percentage will have to give in and sign your petition.

‘Not in this county,’ I always reply, which is true — though I am a part time Bay Area resident, my primary residence is in Mendocino County and I vote there. This is also, usually, enough to dissuade the canvasser from harassing me, because many petitions are local and a signature from someone who isn’t a local voter could invalidate the whole page. But sometimes I get trailed down the street because it’s a state matter, and the canvasser sees an opportunity because I bothered to respond — my attempt at being polite and dismissive has failed.

California, like some other states, has an initiative and referendum system, theoretically part of the larger system of checks and balances that stretches across the state’s government. We directly elect a governor and state house, responsible for appointing officials and making laws, and they intertwine with the judiciary to create a network of legislation and caselaw that is intended to provide political guidance for the state. But if were not happy with the shape of things, we can take matters directly to the state with a petition: Get enough signatures, and you can force the state’s hand, with a proposition on the state or local ballot asking people to vote directly on a matter of interest.

One of the more interesting and internationally famous examples was the recall, in which we removed Gray Davis in 2003 for being a general waste of time and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps not the best choice for Governor, but certainly a colourful one. Proposition 8, in 2008, was another notorious example, in which the state collectively voted to ban marriage equality (and numerous prominent members of the gay movement made racist and horrible statements suggesting that the election of a Black President was somehow linked to this).

On the surface, initiative and referendum is a really cool system, especially for a country where individuals often feel so disenfranchised. Unhappy with something that’s happening? You have the power to change it, if you can muster enough people who share your point of view. On the ground, though, the system is failing, and the state needs to seriously reconsider whether it wants to continue allowing Californians to bring petitions to the ballot and force votes on them instead of encouraging people to seek alternative methods of political change.

Why isn’t it working? As Prop 8 illustrated, the state is putting civil rights issues and similar matters to the ballot. These issues should never be put to the vote, because in a society where discrimination and bigotry exist, such measures are often going to come down on the side of wrong. Furthermore, huge amounts of money are involved in lobbying for given propositions, which gives rather a lie to the idea that individual constituents can make a difference. That only holds true for those with deep pockets who can pay their way into power and desired outcomes.

Those canvassers are paid by the signature, and they’re not afraid to resort to extremely dirty tactics to get signatures. It’s commonplace for them to falsify signatures and collect illegal signatures, and to outright lie to people about what they are signing. When the petition for the Six Californias ballot measure was brought to Sacramento, for example, the sponsoring organization was accused of voter fraud because it was telling voters that they needed to sign the petition to prevent the state from being split apart. These kinds of tactics are in extremely common use, yet many people sign petitions without looking and don’t educate themselves about what they’re signing, including well-meaning individuals who would be shocked and upset by what they mistakenly endorsed.

Prop 8 provides another example of the complex problems with these initiatives: It was deliberately worded in a misleading and confusing way that led people to believe that a ‘yes’ vote was a ‘yes’ for marriage equality, when in fact, the opposite was true. An unknown number of voters proudly voted yes, thinking they were ushering California into a more progressive era, when in fact they were doing just the opposite. While the voter guide and other documentation clearly goes over the consequences of different votes, many voters don’t read this documentation, don’t read it closely, or are, again, misled by advertising campaigns with exploit confusing ballot language.

This is also a system in which legislators dodge responsibility for complicated decisions by kicking them to the vote, where citizens are expected to make decisions about subjects like the budget without the benefit of experience, briefs from policy experts, and other information that could help them make informed decisions. When the government is forced to make tough choices and it wants to avoid polarising voters for fear of risking elections, it responds by making voters make these decisions, so voters have only themselves to blame — which is a disgusting way of approaching the problem.

While the core premise behind initiative and referendum is sound, and even admirable, it’s time for the state to think about some more sensible alternatives that allow voters to have an actual voice without condemning the state to chaos.

Image: A big NO on Proposition 8, Justin Garland, Flickr.

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