kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Who gets to read "Riddles in the Dark" when reading The Hobbit out loud. =>

(I thought I was all set to read it to the Pip, since Chad got to read it to SteelyKid! But, foolishly, since chapter 3 is pretty short, I let the Pip talk me into just a little of chapter four last night . . . without checking how much of chapter 4 was left, or asking Chad to save chapter 5 for me.)

(Last time I read even-numbered chapters through chapter 12, then Chad read chapters 13 & 14 together, so I did odd-numbered from fifteen on; which, to be fair, now that we're back on me doing even-numbered, means I get to do the spiders and Smaug again, which were great fun. Still! "Riddles in the Dark"!)

Also -

17 August 2017 17:23
quirkytizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] quirkytizzy
it is sad to watch The Defenders trailer (I KNOW WHAT I AM DOING TOMORROW, WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF YA'LL MOTHERFUCKERS) and see so many Youtube comments asking who did the original song....

At the behest of my therapist -

17 August 2017 16:18
quirkytizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] quirkytizzy
Nightmare Week has rolled well into a second week. The trigger this time....I can't write about it directly, because what more is there to write about it after so many years??? So we will do what writers are best at - we will circle the issue, fortify it with words, drown it with words, and see if it helps.

The question isn't "Do you want to write about this?" The question is "How deep do you want to go?"

And the truth is...not very deep. How many more years can I write about the same thing, saying the same things? Decades, paragraphs, prose and badly writ days, rolling over into nights and weeks where I wake up screaming, again. And again. And again.

For over 25 years now.

I am tired of writing about them. How many more times can I say they are insane? How many more ways can I tell myself that I am strong for having escaped, how many more words can others use to say that I am strong for it? How many more nightmares from just hearing about it do I have to log before the Universe deems I am done with it?

How long do I have to be strong before it is finally over? How long do I have to be separated from it, away from it, before it finally, finally assimilates and my mind no longer finds significance enough to dream about it?

When will I stop being afraid of them, even if that fear is buried so deep that it only comes out in my dreams? When will my terror be considered paid in full?

When will it be enough?

The answer is "When it is enough." And that is not now. As I woke up twice screaming last night, it is not now. I spill nightmares that were shoved into my chest by other hands for 25 years now and it is still not enough.

Vindication is so hollow. I didn't want this, no matter how much I thought I wanted it in my youth. This entry is hollow - I write about how tired I am of it rather than writing the words that sparked the nightmares, hoping it will be enough.

It won't be. But maybe it will be enough to let me sleep tonight. That's all I want.

5 more things we want right now

17 August 2017 21:34
[syndicated profile] gadgette_feed

Posted by Holly Brockwell

It’s that time again: we share the things we want to buy to try and relieve the urge to splurge. It never works. But at least we can all be poor together.

Here’s what we’re lusting after at the moment.

1. Game of Thrones Iron Throne t-shirt

We thought we were already peak obsessed with Game of Thrones, but this season has made slack-jawed wights of all of us. The only way to respond is with merch, so here’s a beautiful GoT t-shirt from EMP (them again. Just take my salary why don’t you) that I love because it’s so hard to find nice t-shirts that are appropriately shaped for women.

This one is nicely long so you won’t get builder’s bum even in your lowest-slung jeans, it has a wide neckline to show off your R+L=J choker, and it comes in a fetching shade of rust/blood red (delete as appropriate, depending on whether Stark or Lannister).

It’s £19.99 here and comes in a pleasing range of sizes from S to 4XL.

2. RØDE smartphone mic

I keep telling myself I don’t need this, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen anyway. As part of Gadgette 2.0, we’re hoping to get back into video, and while I love my lavalier mic it’s just not that practical being tethered by the cable. Everything I’ve ever had from RØDE has been exceptional quality, and this just plugs right into the headphone port of your smartphone — though you’ll need a phone that a) still HAS a 3.5mm headphone port and B) has it on the bottom, so the mic doesn’t get in the way of the selfie cam.

As a directional mic with windshield it should be ideal for video, livestreaming, conferences and all that exciting stuff.

It’s £50 from Amazon.

3. A Keyport

OK, so keyrings aren’t the most exciting thing on earth, but bear with me here. This one is the Swiss Army Knife of keyrings, and lets you slide out not only your keys but also a tonne of customisable accessories like the over-prepared former-Brownie you are.

There are a few types of Keyport, but we’re after the Pivot because it works with your existing keys – the Slide requires you to send them off for modification, and that sounds like effort.

You can put up to 9 doodads on the Pivot, including keys, pens, actual knives (not recommended), torches and a Bluetooth locator for when you inevitably lose it. Heads up, though: it’s only useful for Yale-style keys, it’ll be no use for hefty Chubb ones.

From US$19.99 at Keyport.

4. Nanoleaf Aurora

There’s smart lighting, and then there’s this. Hnrgh, it’s so beautiful. The Nanoleaf Aurora is a set of modular lighting panels that you arrange on your wall however you fancy. The panels snap together and you can change how they look from the app – colours, light shows, the works. Did we mention Aurora is compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple Homekit and others so you can talk to it as well?

Argh, just take our money.

From US$59.99 for 9 panels – see the website for various configuration and shipping options.

5. The Ordinary Coverage foundation

I only recently got into skincare (as you can tell from my super-sexy acne scars) and I’m already completely obsessed with Deciem, ‘The abnormal beauty company.’ They’re pretty much the antithesis to all the pseudoscience on modern beauty product packaging (the new Herbal Essences shampoo says “gluten free,” FFS), with honest and sometimes slightly snarky descriptions of what they actually are.

The Ordinary is Deciem’s lowest-cost brand, selling fancypants ingredients at really affordable prices. I have about half the range and love pretty much all of it, but the foundation keeps selling out. They finally have my colour in stock for both the serum foundation and the coverage foundation, and at just £5.90, I think I’m going to have to pull the trigger.

Tweet us if you have any of these things, ideally to say they’re amazing and we should definitely buy them. Thanks.


All images © their respective vendors

The post 5 more things we want right now appeared first on Gadgette.

Family.

17 August 2017 14:28
azurelunatic: A red apple with a bite out of it, captioned in Star Trek font "What no-win scenario?" (what no-win scenario)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
I am scared of my family right now.

My immediate family are largely good people who generally behave with kindness to all, and abhor the concepts of white supremacy and fascism like any decent person.

My aunts on my father's side are pretty awesome. Hippie Uncle is great, and Woodworking Uncle has good intentions and maybe a few distortions due to assorted experiences of privilege, but he does not appear to go out of his way to fuck other people over.

My aunt-by-marriage scares me. She's a doctor, and things she has said about transgender people, and gender in general, make me feel unsafe around her.

My uncle who is married to that aunt has good intentions, but does not appear to be in a position to temper his wife's attitudes.

"Racist Cousin Anna" has said some things about Mexicans that made me turn away from her. She's married to the older of that uncle's kids.

Both those cousins have posted things about guns and Muslims on Facebook that make me scared, like they wouldn't hesitate to support laws that would marginalize my friends, or might use one of those guns on someone.

I don't have the scariest family in the world. And I'm still skittish of saying anything that might prompt them to stop seeing me as their tame cousin and start seeing me as Other.

Getting stuff done

17 August 2017 21:17
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I've had a better week this week anyway, but it's also been a busier one.

Monday and Tuesday I got a lot of stuff done around the house: caught up with everything that I let slide over the weekend while I was away and the week or so before when my mental health had been too bad. We're at only normal levels of disorganized and cluttered now, and while it's kind of sad that feels like an achievement, at least it's an achievement.

Tuesday I got a key and directions for feeding a friend's cats while she was away for a couple of days. She kindly paid me very generously for this, which was completely unexpected but so nice. I was worried I'd forget but I didn't! Even managed to feed them at about their usual times, except it was a bit later this morning because I slept badly last night.

Yesterday I had a meeting of the VI steering group I'm no longer running. The team manager who gets paid for it is sorting out the meeting dates and telling everyone about them, which honestly I think works better anyway. I feel bad I'm not doing it, especially since I'm interested in other volunteering things -- at this meeting I met someone from the Disabled People's Access Group who says I'd be good to join in some other stuff she does that did sound interesting to me.

On my bus ride there, I got to hear the finished product of a great fanfic audio story that I did one of the voices for. I wasn't too cringeworthy and the story turned out great. I really hope there are more stories in the series, partly because it'd be fun to play my one again, partly just because I want to see what happens.

Yesterday Andrew also got further in applying me for this university course; he actually talked to the clearing people. They asked for a scan of my high school diploma, which since it's at my parents' I was worried would be quite a challenge, but my dad's e-mailed it over this evening and said it was easy. Well done, clever parents!

This morning I had another meeting about a totally different volunteer thing. It's at Manchester Museum, involves some really cool technology and senior people who are very keen to get the expertise of visually impaired people. I am super excited. That probably won't start for a month at least, so at exactly the same time as Lib Dem Conf and this uni course if I get on it and so I am sure that will be fine. No really, I will make it all work.

And this afternoon my friend Mary was in town, which I hadn't known about until a couple of days ago. She's usually near Norwich so this is quite remarkable. I hadn't seen her in more than a year, since the weekend of falling in the river in Oxford (sadly you can't see the pictures right now; I still need to figure out how to get them off Photobucket and to somewhere useful). A train derailment (not hers!) meant she got in a bit later than planned but we still had time to rush around finding somewhere still open where she could buy euros for her trip to Ireland tomorrow and have dinner in a pub. Battered halloumi and chips for both of us (but I swapped my chips for sweet potato fries because sweet potatoes are great and regular potatoes are not). She'd never had halloumi like that before! We bitched about politics and she taught me some Irish words (I will probably forget them again, like I did last time, except not the one for "penis" because it has a joke as a mneomic device).

Saturday is the "Bi Takeover for Pride" event at the LGBT Foundation, which honestly I am treating like another bit of BiCon, down to going along to see people I know who are going as much as I'm there for any of the workshops. So that should be nice.

So yeah. Good week. Glad to know they're still possible.
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
This is factually untrue - I just finished a new book yesterday - but it does feel that way.

Recommend something to me! Especially nonfiction - I really don't read much of that, so I can promise that I'll never have read whatever you recommend! (Whereas if you recommend anything kidlit or YA there's better than even odds that I've read it.)

Later I'll post up my own list of random recommendations for everybody, but right now I really must dash.
dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
[personal profile] dancefloorlandmine
On Saturday 12th, I loaded the car and set course for Leeds, as I'd volunteered to do a DJ set for BiCon 2017. Arrival, loadout, help set up the venue, shower, change, back down in time for the ball (with thanks for Fred for feeding me, as I'd missed a step in my plans!), enjoy sets by Katy and Lucy of DJ Frabjous, and then onto the decks. The venue was, to say the least, quite warm. OK, it was baking up there on the stage, and I was dripping by about half an hour into my set. Although that may also have had something to do with the stage being large enough to dance properly behind the decks.

The ball's theme was 'A Beach Ball', resulting in some varied decorations (and some remote-controlled helium fish), and some inspired costumes (which included the first time I'd seen a beach hut waltz to 'The Impossible Dream').

With the planned end of my set coming up, the organiser re-arranged the schedule so I could keep going for another half hour. And then the bar staff announced that they'd be open for longer than we'd thought they would be, and I could add another half hour (which explains the slight false stop and the sudden grab for any CD to keep things going).

So, what did I play for two, no, two-and-a-half, no, three hours? (Some of the tracks were drawn from, or in other cases, vaguely influenced by, the extensive crowd-sourced Spotify request list that attendees had added to in advance - although quite a few of those might have got played anyway. Others were entirely my fault.)

2200-0100 )

And thank you to the dancefloor, for trusting their DJ, and keeping going to tracks they'd probably not encountered before, like Heartsrevolution or Ferocious Dog.

hoo chapter 6

17 August 2017 10:45
solarbird: (Default)
[personal profile] solarbird
Super-nervous about chapter six (just posted).

I always worry about tearing it, you know? In the showbiz sense. Breaking credibility, within a context, even if that context is pretty incredible (in the sense of not credible) to begin with, like Overwatch. And I kind of feel like I'm dancing up to that line with that chapter, with Venom as a character.

If people make it through Terrifying in Flight, I think chapter seven ("Is It Good Enough For You, Still?") will clarify some things. Angela thought, in chapter six, "that's a lie," and she was correct. But I can't put that in front of chapter six, I can't say, "trust me here," because, well, y'can't do that, it doesn't make sense.

Questions of identity float around in Old Soldiers, and this is part of that arc, and and and and.

Scary.
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

[AO3 link]

"Letting us take the first shot, then?" Gabriel Reyes asked Venom, eyeing the new intel sent along on sideband. "We got Sombra's location reports - thank you."

The Talon assassin nodded. "Yeh. I..." she frowned. "Gabe, luv, I'm gonna get this out there. I voted no. But I lost, so I'll go along."

"I appreciate that." Reyes gave Oxton a considering look. "You sure, though? The way you stormed out..."

The assassin nodded. "I've got my reasons, and I've made my promises - to Amélie - and I keep 'em." Just ask G/C Henderson, she thought, Oh wait, you can't, he's dead. The memory made her smile, just a little. Small but lasting comforts.

"Glad to hear it. Thank you," replied the tactical advisor. Promises to the Widowmaker? That'd do it. "We collectively - all of us at Overwatch, Tracer possibly excepted - want to bring him to justice, intact. Not just have him disappear again."

Lena "Venom" Oxton snorted, a little. "Might be right about Tracer. But for us - well, it's better than nothing."

Reyes breathed out. Good. "I'm putting together some plans, based upon your intel - and ours." He brought his right hand to his chin, thoughtfully. "I just wish we had a sniper. Closest we've got is Mei, and she's good with that ice pistol of hers, but it's not the same thing."

Venom thought about the problem, and a solution. Would Amélie be okay with it? Yes, she thought so. With the right conditions attached. Maybe even... proud. Let's float it. "You might. Have a sniper, I mean."

Gabriel tilted his head and stared into the screen. "...Amélie's suddenly willing to work with me?"

"No," Venom said. "But I am."

"Since when are you a sniper?"

Another snort. "C'mon, mate, how long have I been with the world's best sniper? Like I've told Winston - she teaches me her tricks."

"I can't see how you have the patience for it. How good are you?"

"I'm good, mate. Not Amélie good, but... good. Very good."

Gabe looked dubiously at her, through the screen. "How very good?"

Venom thought about it. "I keep a list of better snipers than me, right? Amélie's on top, of course; Zhanna Orlov's below her, Shimada Hanzo a few steps down, all that."

She's good enough to keep that list? he thought. But aloud, he kept it to, "Sure."

"Everyone on that list keeps a list like it. Amélie's still on top, but theirs has a question mark, down... maybe below number ten? But on the list."

"And that's you?"

Venom smiled. "Can't confirm that, luv. But."

"You willing to demonstrate that at the embassy?"

"Maybe. There's conditions." She looked thoughtful, glancing down to the side. "I have to check with Amélie. She might veto this."

"Why?"

"Reasons."

Gabriel nodded. Talon secret tech, or something like it. Fair enough. "Let me know. It sure would be nice to have a sniper available."

"Aye aye."

-----

Two days later, Tracer appeared on the balcony outside Winston's office, in the usual tangerine and white. She waved towards the glass door, and Winston started to let her in, then stopped, blinked, and stepped back.

"Honest, luv, it's me," came her voice through the door speaker. "Horizon Angle Delta Vector Seventeen Nine Seven Nine Banana Clown."

"Pictograph?"

"Waves."

The gorilla opened the door, still wary, and Lena Oxton stepped inside out of the sunlight. In the office, she looked less blue around the edges, thanks to the warm lighting overhead, but the tint was still there, and her goggles had a fleet of extra red eyes, in mobile plates, along the sides and top. "I wanted to arrive dressed as Tracer, so's nobody'd notice, but..." She pressed buttons on her grapple, now equipped with familiar and frightening extras, and her suit changed to black and green. "Mockingbird reporting for sniper duty."

"Lena, what did you do?!"

She smiled in a broad way, most unlike her spider, and most like herself. It helped, a little. "Nothin' permanent. I swear. This is just what I look like when I'm a sniper."

Gabriel and Angela came up the stairs to the ambassador's office, and froze in their tracks at Winston and Lena. Angela shrieked a little, and Gabriel shuddered. "That... that is... deeply disturbing. Lena, are you still you?" asked the doctor.

Gold-tinted eyes - regular brown still visible underneath, if you looked closely - darted to Dr. Ziegler. "Guess I shoulda warned ya, huh? Yeh, it's still me in here." Her voice was the slightest bit slower and lower than usual, but clearly still hers.

"What have you done to yourself?!" Angela leaned forward, and Mockingbird stepped fluidly back, with an ah-ah-ah finger motion. "Sorry, doc, no scans. That's the rule if I'm gonna be here like this."

"I wasn't going to. Is it, is it..."

"Permanent? Nah. Nothin' to it, really. Some drugs, some other tricks."

That's a lie, thought the doctor. "Why?!"

"All the sniper traits. Night distance vision. Stability, in motion. Patience - well, for me, anyway. Stillness, too - I can stop my heart for three minutes in this mode and be just fine. But I keep my twitch reflex, and the energy I store up is barmy! I won't need to eat for four days. Which is good," she joked, "'cause don't ask me to read a menu in the dark right now."

Gabriel shook his head back and forth. "Your whole organisation is not right in the brain."

Mockingbird laughed, a very Tracer-like laugh, and that, too, helped. "When we're on the range, I'm gonna be even scarier. I'll ramp down my emotions s'more and turn the spider all the way up." She brought up her vizor's extensions, and her goggles' primary field went dark red.

Winston reached out to her, without words, and she took his hand. "Or maybe I won't." She reset the vizor to standard mode. "Didn't think you'd be this fruck out, big guy. It's okay, honest."

"You weren't here when Amélie killed Gérard, you don't..." He felt her hand. "You're cool to the touch," he said, quietly.

"Not that cool. Just enough to avoid bein' picked up on infrared. Won't fool the best models, but it helps."

"Please say you aren't turning into Amélie. I... I don't want you turning into Amélie."

Mockingbird snickered, saying, "Well, they do say married couples start to look alike," and activated the vizor again.

"Lena, no! Be serious! I don't want to lose you."

She smiled, waved the magnifiers away, and held her friend's hand against her face. "Aw, luv, no. I like who I am. This is fun, but not... as fun. It'll all go away later. But right now, you need a sniper." She lowered his hand, and patted his shoulder. "I can shed most of this in about an hour, if I really need to."

"That's all it takes?" asked the Swiss doctor.

"For me? Yeh, in an emergency. I can throw 'bout half of it off in under a minute, if I really gotta - but it hurts like the dickens."

Gabriel shook his head. Crazy people, Talon - all of 'em. "Where's your rifle?"

Mockingbird, it seemed, had Lena Oxton's famous half-grin, and she flashed it, and flipped her pistols. "Right here." She popped them together, they locked, and the barrel extended. From a pouch, she pulled out a surprisingly conventional-looking scope, which snapped right on top. "But: ground rules. One: no scans. Sorry, doc. Two: I'm not Tracer, I'm Mockingbird. Stick to it, I mean it. No "Lena," no "Tracer," not outside this office. Three: nobody, and I mean nobody, touches my tech but me. Anyone does, I walk away completely, and for good. No more Mockingbird, and" - she said this slowly, and clearly - "no. more. Tracer. either."

She waited a moment to make sure all that had sunk in. "These are the terms. Otherwise, I leave now, no harm done, and Tracer comes back tomorrow wondering if she missed anything. Agreed?"

"Le... Mockingbird, this cannot be good for you," said Angela. "I promise, just a circulatory..."

"No," the sniper said firmly. "None."

The doctor sighed. "You are not the only one here who experiments with her body in extreme ways. You are stressing it more than I think you know. I want to help."

"We do this before breakfast, luv. But, y'know, if you ever want to switch teams, you could do all the scans you..."

"I don't think so," the doctor interrupted. "But how am I going to know how to treat you in the field, if necessary?"

Mockingbird tipped her head, and smiled. "I'll give you this." She held up a small memory card. "Complete treatment protocols for anything that has to happen faster than a Talon extraction team can reach me. You can have it once everything's settled."

"I insist that I be allowed to practice these protocols. At least the physicality of them. In battle," she did not really have to say, "it matters."

"Ah, yeah! As long as your nanos aren't taking samples, that's fine."

"And may I please, at least, examine you later? When this is over? To be sure you've handled this well? Your own doctors may want that data."

Mockingbird thought about it. The compassion was genuine, she was pretty sure, but so was the desperate curiosity to know how all this worked. There would be things for her to find, later, but little she wouldn't've had a chance to see before, and she'd be looking in all the wrong places... good enough, she decided. "They'll already have it, but - deal."

"Thank you." The doctor looked a little bit relieved, if still more than a little concerned. "I accept."

"Winston? How 'bout it?"

"Gabriel, are you willing to work under these conditions?"

The former Blackwatch head nodded. "I've worked under way worse than this. I'm good. Uh, I... accept the terms?"

"Oh, right," said the assassin, "This has to be for the whole organisation." She switched to Tracer colours, and said, "On behalf of Overwatch, I, Lena "Tracer" Oxton, agree to the terms of Mockingbird's service," before switching back. "Sounds like a bloody software license, don't it? That just leaves you, Winston. And Mei, but she's not here yet."

"I don't like it," said the gorilla. "But... deal. No scans, no handling, no anything."

Mockingbird smiled. "Brilliant!" She tossed Angela the memory card. "Have fun with that. The rest of us - let's go shoot some wings off mosquitoes!"

-----

"You know, as a sniper, I'll be going for the head shot," Mockingbird said over Overwatch comms, launching herself high into the air with her grapple. They'd started at the indoor range, but she got bored with 50 metre shooting and started coming up with creative ways to undo target clips with bullets, and the army's outdoor range was much more interesting. Still carried by momentum on the way up, she twisted left, and took the head off the first target dummy.

"We've been over this," responded Gabriel, watching as she took the head off a second target on the way down, before even landing on her cliffside perch. "We want him alive." He took notes that started with 'Terrifying in flight.'

"And we want him dead," she retorted. "I want him dead. Don't get me wrong, Gabe, I'm here, I'm goin' along with your plan, but alive's not the sniper's job." From that upper perch, she hit three for four on moving ground targets. Two headshots, one ricochet shot that missed, a follow-up direct shot leaving a grazed neck. That last one would walk away, with medical aid. "Damn."

'Never really stops moving,' the new Overwatch tactics expert added to his notes. 'Highly mobile.' "We just want the tactical visor gone."

She spun around from her nest and ticked a faceplate off the sixth target dummy. "And that's a headshot."

"Tracer, just..."

"Tracer's not here, luv."

"Mockingbird."

"Hiya!" She triggered reload, and launched herself to the second perch. He noted she wasn't jinking at all, no teleports, no rewinds, just running, moving with the grapple, and nothing else. Still all about movement, though.

Bang, target down. "No additional shots after the visor's gone." He could almost feel her dirty look from the ground. Bang, another ricochet shot, target missed.

She landed, swore, and took a second shot on the second target, moving within her section's perch point for a direct shot, taking the dummy down. "Not even to save another agent?" She ran a strafe pattern against moving dummies, bang, bang, bang. Four for three, including a domino shot. All perfect.

Jesus, she's good, Gabriel thought. Maybe not Amari good, those ricochet shots aren't working, but... Aloud, he said, "Except to save another agent."

"Short day for me, then." Another reload, and she launched herself into the air, diving to the final shooting perch. Gabriel surprised her with three airborne targets. Bang, down, bang, down, bang, bang, down. "Seems a shame if I have to get all gussied up." She landed and rolled to the third sighting point.

"A short day would be very, very good indeed."

Three fast targets, running along the ground, zagging, all with faceplates - the most human of them all. Three shots, three faceplates off, all targets down. "My way would be even shorter."

"Mockingbird. Please. I know what you are. Don't make it harder."

Lena Oxton breathed in, carefully. She wondered, occasionally, how long she could make this Talon-Overwatch joint arrangement last, and this was one of those times. It's for the best, she reminded herself. If, occasionally, a right pain in the arse. "Sorry, Gabe. I'm workin' so hard to remind everyone it's me in here, maybe I overdid it a bit. Is that it for the first round?"

"Yeah, that's the first set. What'd you think?"

"I liked the surprise skeet, that was fun! But I was sloppy. I can do better, if I drop the banter. And nothin' returned fire!"

"This is a target range, not a combat simulator, what'd you expect?"

"Might fix that."

"If we had the money. You're supposed to know that."

"Maybe Tracer's supposed to know that - I'm not."

Right, he thought. "Mockingbird, secure weapon, and return to start. We'll reset the range for another round."

"Gotcha!"

[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

I need to read more fiction that isn’t by white males, but it’s very difficult to find stuff I’d love, and I wonder if anyone here can help with that?

You see, I have fairly specific tastes for fiction, and the stuff that really appeals to me is… well, it’s pretty much exclusively written by white men. But it’s not *only* written by white men, and I think I have an absolute responsibility to read more of the stuff that isn’t.

Of course, I read anything I get recommended, and I read all the Hugo nominees most years (I didn’t get to all the novels this year as the surprise election got in the way), and I find plenty of good stuff by women and BAME people that way — but “good” isn’t the same as what I love. Something like The Long Way To A Small, Angry, Planet by Becky Chambers is definitely a very good, enjoyable, book, but it’s not one that satisfies the particular itch I have. I’d put it in the same category as, say, Ben Aaronovitch’s books, or Agatha Christie’s, or Stephen King’s — all authors who I can happily read and enjoy (I’ve read all of Aaronovitch’s stuff, and the bulk of the other two), but whose works don’t stay with me and cause me to think about them for weeks, months, or years afterward.

(Actually, a couple of Christie’s books do — The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None).

What I’m after, ideally, are idea-based novels, with a multiplicity of narratorial voices. Metafiction is always good, as is time travel. I like self-aware narrators, stories in which multiple layers of reality collide, and books which posit wildly different ways of organising society. I like plots based around solving a puzzle — whether a murder mystery, a puzzle about the nature of the world, or a problem in politics. I like books to be thematically dense, and to have plots and structures that reflect the thematic concerns.

I tend not to read for character — I can appreciate a well-drawn character as well as anyone, but it’s not why I read — and I strongly dislike long descriptions of the physical environment (because I’m aphantasic) but I also don’t like the kind of “clear prose” that reads like it was written to be adapted into a film without any changes.

Now, I’ve asked for recommendations like this before, and what I’ve done then is describe the kind of book I want, usually by reference to white male authors, because so little of what I’ve read in the style I like is by anyone else — up until last year I could name a handful of short stories in City of the Saved and Faction Paradox anthologies and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and that was more or less it. But since the start of last year I’ve read three novels by women (or co-written by a woman in one case) which are absolutely the sort of thing I’m after, and so I thought I’d talk about them, and ask for recommendations *of books like them*.

The first of those is one I already wrote about, The Lathe of Heaven. I won’t rehash everything I said there, but will just say that it’s *exactly* the kind of thing I’m after reading more of.

Second, there’s The Just City by Jo Walton. This is the first book of a trilogy, and I intend to read the second and third volumes (I bought the second a year or so ago, but bounced off it because I tried reading it in a period when my mental health was wrecking my concentration. I’ll be trying it again). I was sure I’d reviewed it here before, but apparently not — and when I’ve finished the trilogy, assuming the other two books in the series are anything like as good, I *will* be posting a long review, because this is frankly one of the best SFF novels I’ve ever read. It’s a book I’d recommend to literally anyone — with the important caveat that one of its major themes is bodily autonomy and consent, and so there are several rape scenes, fairly graphically depicted, in which the rapist is someone previously portrayed as a sympathetic character or friend of his victim. These scenes are *not* gratuitous, and are *absolutely* necessary for the themes the book is working through, and at no point does the narrative treat them as excusable, but they may be all the more distressing for that, so people with triggers around that may want to avoid the book or only read it when they’re in an appropriate state of preparedness. Those scenes distressed *me*, and I’m (thankfully) someone who has never experienced anything like that.

The novel has Athena and Apollo set up a colony, in the past, to which they bring everyone throughout history who has ever read Plato’s Republic and prayed to Athena to live in that state (including a number of prominent historical figures, as well as people from our own future). Aided by robots (whose sentience or otherwise is a major theme of the book) they build the Republic, precisely as described by Plato, and the novel describes the problems they face. It takes Plato’s ideas utterly seriously, and as such is an incredibly strong critique of them. It’s told from multiple first-person perspectives — a child slave brought to the Republic, a nineteenth-century woman who wanted to live in the Republic because it treated women as equals, and the god Apollo, incarnated as a human to try to understand humans. It’s an utterly fascinating work, and *precisely* my kind of thing.

And finally there’s The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. I read this because of Stephenson, who’s a favourite writer of mine, but my guess is that here the plot and ideas came from Stephenson, but most (not all) of the actual prose came from Galland, just judging from the prose styles. This is another story that sits on the border of science fiction and fantasy — there’s a science-fictional handwave explanation for magic having existed in the past but no longer existing in the present day, and for time travel which allows a government agency to try to rectify that, and so various characters go back in time to liaise with witches in pre-revolutionary America, Elizabethan and Victorian London, and earlier time periods. But they find that changes to the past have some unpredictable effects on the present, and that not everyone is working towards the same goals…

It’s an epistolary novel, and has some wonderful pastiches of different writing styles and genre collisions — there’s a lovely bit, “The Lay of Wal-Mart”, which is a Viking saga about a gang of marauding Vikings who get a witch to send them to 21st century America and invade a supermarket:

The West-march of the Walmart
Held all the food in the world,
Bottled beer by the boatload,
Frost-kept food, milk and meat.
Setting up for a siege behind barricades
The Norsemen fetched food, collected clothing,
Turkish trousers with flies in the front
Kept closed with clever contraptions,
Tiny teeth, meshing like millipedes’ legs,
Gnashing, knitting, concealing the naked.
Zipper the Fatlanders called it.
Cock-catcher it was to Hunfast, the hapless.

The best analogy I’ve come up with to describe the book is that it’s clearly the same kind of thing as Stephenson’s earlier Anathem, but is to that book as the Doctor Who story City of Death is to Logopolis — a time-travel comedy romp, even involving a subplot very like the multiple Mona Lisas from City of Death, and getting by on wit and a general sense of joy and playfulness, but almost exactly as clever as it thinks it is.

All three of those books get as high a recommendation as I can give (with the caveat that D.O.D.O ends on a cliffhanger and leaves a ton of plot threads hanging), and I want more of this. So, where can I find it?

(Incidentally, no need to recommend Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, which I’m told ticks all these boxes — I have it downloaded and it’s on the digital TBR pile already).

This blog post was brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?


[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Ian Stotesbury

It’s been over a year since the EU referendum and months since the snap General Election. The Remain/Leave debate trundles on and the constant repetition of key messages from each side of the debate now largely falls on deaf ears. On most topics each campaign and their primary spokespersons still maintain positions in absolute opposition with minimal evidence of concession. There is little to no debate, simply rhetoric. In my experience it’s often been an impersonal, fear based, economic argument for Remain or an emotional but limited argument for Leave. We deserve better from both. Why should we, as the British people, settle for absolutes on both sides that so greatly lack imagination? 

Our different forms of patriotism need to find common ground and I believe it’s possible to do so. Our Government and their opposition have both given up on their belief in the benefits of European Single Market membership so we need centrists to hold them to account. At the same time we must acknowledge that there are issues with accountability and sovereignty in the EU that need to be discussed and addressed in detail. Above all we should loudly refute the idea that there isn’t a common ground for most people across the Brexit debate.

It strikes me that we demand so little of our Government. Perhaps this is because of a lack of faith in politics. Given recent developments it feels that Brexit lacks any real ambition and has become a face-saving exercise for the Government. What’s worse is that Brexit has become a distraction from other important work the Government needs to focus on.  The general election highlighted the public’s desire for other substantive reforms – reforms to address the inequality in our nation and demands to ease austerity. Also, crucially, I think it helped highlight a lack of direction. We’re one of the financial centres of the globe, a trade, industrial, and tech giant – but what’s our goal? What are we driving towards? It is this lack of direction and purpose that I feel helped fuel the Leave campaign, opening the door for a damaging nationalist sentiment.

In Watford we have a motto, Be Bold. Let’s do that as a nation. I continue to believe our goal should be to take a leading role in EU reforms – If there is so much political clout going spare, why not use it to make the EU better for Britain? Let’s listen to the concerns of the vast majority of both the 52% and the 48% and tackle the bureaucratic behemoth of the EU. We should use the migration powers we already have access to keep our freedoms and our trade. We should commit to changes to accountability within the EU and steer our public services back on course with renewed investment. Above all we must again start using Government and politics for what it’s meant to be for – let’s start dreaming again. That’s far easier said than done but Britain can, and should, meet the challenge of leading reforms with a little of that historic stoicism.

Now more than ever let’s really have a conversation about what we want society to strive for. Through that conversation let’s heal divisions that seem to me to be based on arbitrary absolutes rather than reality. Let’s pick and tackle big projects – a Britain that’s reaching for the stars or solving the housing and energy/climate crises – that’s what the conversation should be about. Why? Because Britain can and we deserve better than arbitrary, damaging, Brexit.

* Ian Stotesbury was the Liberal Democrats candidate for Watford in 2017

conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
It's not my favorite ballad - if I wanted to sing The Murdered Brother I would and often do. Floaters are a thing, sure, but I still think it's cheating to basically steal 90% of the verses from one song and tack on a different framing story.

But it does have one advantage over The Murdered Brother, and that's that the framing story makes sense. I can see how you might chop your sister up after you've knocked her up. I mean, I wouldn't do it, but I wouldn't do half the things people do in ballads. If I had no moral compass, though, then I might well look at murder as the solution to everyday social problems like an inconvenient pregnancy. Even in a ballad, though, killing your brother because he cut down a withy wand that might've been a tree is just strange.

(And their mother doesn't give a damn, it seems, no matter who killed whom and why. There's some seriously messed up family dynamics here. Sometimes you really have to wonder about the people who wrote these things.)

************


Silver Composition in Coins Confirms the Story of the Rise of Rome

How Edmond Halley Kicked Off the Golden Age of Eclipse Mapping

Probiotic Bacteria Could Protect Newborns From Deadly Infection

Nobody Knows What Lies Beneath New York City

Pretty sure I've seen this exact premise in, like, a thousand Harry Potter fics. Because how else are you gonna get Draco and Hermione to hook up?

Female Inmates In Federal Prisons Will Now Have More Access To Tampons & Pads

The next time somebody tells me that they or anybody else can't be a bigot because they have one $GROUP friend, I'm going to point them to this article about Eduard Bloch, who was personally exempted from anti-Semitic persecution by... Adolf Hitler. Yes, really. Yes, my jaw dropped too.

Solving a Murder Mystery With Ancestry Websites

Justice Department at odds with DEA on marijuana research, MS-13

Severe Housing Needs May Return to Foreclosure-Crisis Levels

This Is Why Taking Fish Medicine Is Truly a Bad Idea (This may be a sign that things in this country are really, really bad.)

They Got Hurt At Work — Then They Got Deported

White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests — but many don't like their results

Steve Bannon once said Breitbart was the platform for the alt-right. Its current editors disagree. Is the incendiary media company at the nerve center of Donald Trump’s America simply provocative — or dangerous?

Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right supporters. The results are unsettling.

Trump Knows Exactly What He’s Doing

In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking

Philippine police kill 32 in bloodiest night of Duterte’s war on drugs

A licence to kill bear cubs?

16 August 2017 23:05
[syndicated profile] bbc_science_news_feed
Trump is once again allowing hunters in Alaska to shoot bear cubs and hibernating bears, but is this as bad as it sounds?

Face Off through 1.5

16 August 2017 23:47
yhlee: hexarchate Andan blue rose (hxx Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Note: I've been spoiled for the winner of S1 because I started with 2.1-2.2, both of which I rewatched tonight because the Dragon wanted to watch the show with me, and she wanted to skip S1 because she couldn't stand the backbiting. The Dragon loves art (she's in Talented Art in school) and I think it's really good for her to be exposed to this show since she's enjoying it, and I hope she finds the discussion of aesthetics inspiring. But mostly we're watching it for fun. =)

Read more... )

Meanwhile, in happier news, guess which household's preordered hardcopy of Starfinder RPG arrived today?! =D =D =D I'm not convinced by most of the class/character artwork (some of the gun designs are atrocious--why the fuck would you make a scope design that undulates?!) but the environment/matte painting is gorgeous. I oohed and ahhed over the illustrations for the different homeworlds in particular.

ah, I forgot

16 August 2017 21:46
solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird
There is a kind of shot - a trick shot, really - called a domino shot. It's where you hit two targets with a single bullet.

I'd noticed in Annabots that I seemed to be getting some double-kills with single shots, and poking around, I'm under the impression that domino shots are actually a thing in-game.

I think I got one yesterday. Temple of Anubus, on offence, second point, I'm hanging out on my favourite perch, shooting onto the point, really kind of waiting for my team to get back out there as we'd captured part of the point but then got stomped.

I see some movement on the point, and I fire one shot in - Double kill.

I think maybe I got my first domino shot in quickplay.

i have missed weightlifting

16 August 2017 21:19
solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird
I haven't realised how much I've been missing weightlifting. I mean, sure, it's nice enough while you're doing it, but for just hours after you just feel like unf. Or at least I do. Love it.

A couple of days ago, I was talking offline about how I'm improving as a Widowmaker, but I'm not able to shift a game the way I can by showing up as Tracer or D.va? Today I did it.

Dorado, on attack, started as Tracer. They weren't ready for a Tracer at my grade, and we charged pretty well for the first 95% of the first leg, 'till they figured out I was the problem, then we still managed to nudge it to the first objective before we totally got shut down.

So I switched to D.va, and they weren't expecting a D.va of that grade either, but once again, figured out who to focus on, and we charged for 95% and then had to struggle for the last bit, and I brought it home nudge and boop at a time.

But that was it, right? They brought out a Bastion, and D.va's not a good counter to Bastion, and I think they must've swapped another hero, because they were seriously pushing us back to the third spawn point, and I'm thinking, "...I... I really feel like I need to bring out Widowmaker here. I really do."

And so I said fukkit, I did. And started knocking out the Bastion over and over and an eight-person kill-streak later, we're 95% of the way to the third and final point.

Which is, again, when they figure out where I went and started hardcore targeting me and we lost. Plus, indoors on the third stage of Dorado is a terrible, terrible place for Widowmaker, so what did you expect, really? But while we were outside, I was an unstoppable killing machine as Widowmaker, and for the third time, shifted a match from "hopeless" to "edge of victory."

I have no illusions about being able to do it regularly - yet - with Widowmaker. My aim is still super-spotty (tho' the time I'm putting in on Annabots is clearly helping across all heroes) and I don't know all the places to be and not be. But I have now done it, once.

Progress.

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missdiane

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