I am a fannish butterfly, and my favorite changes regularly! Currently it's Katsuki Yuuri from YURI!!! ON ICE. Before that it was Asuna from SWORD ARTS ONLINE, before that it was Shindou Hikaru from HIKARU NO GO, and before that, probably Duo Maxwell from GUNDAM WING. That's as far back as I go in anime fandom.
(Looking over the short list here, and wow, do these four have anything in common?)
7:20 AM: If you use southbound Highway 509, be aware that SFD is on the freeway at Cloverdale – we don’t know whether it’s north or south of the entrance from the end of the Roxbury corridor – fighting a car fire.
Also, if you use 1st Avenue S. from/to the West Seattle Bridge and see/saw police, it’s a shooting investigation. (The original dispatch was at 4:39 am.)
That’s it for alerts so far.
The Complete List of Racists by Michael Harriot at the Root:
If the alt-right were a family, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and skinheads would be the grandparents, aunts and uncles who get their plates fixed first, while the anti-globalists, anti-feminists and “racialists” would sit at the kids’ table and have to drink out of paper cups.
Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language by Liam Stack at the New York Times:
Both phrases are part of a broad lexicon of far-right terminology that has become important to understanding American politics during the Trump administration. Many of these terms have their roots in movements that are racist, anti-Semitic and sexist.
How to describe extremists who rallied in Charlottesville by John Daniszewski at the AP blog:
"alt-right" A political grouping or tendency mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism; a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States.
Alt Right: A Primer about the New White Supremacy at the Anti-Defamation League:
Though not every person who identifies with the Alt Right is a white supremacist, most are and “white identity” is central to people in this milieu. In fact, Alt Righters reject modern conservatism explicitly because they believe that mainstream conservatives are not advocating for the interests of white people as a group.
A Deconstruction Of The Alt-Right Movement by Rachel Toalson at Huffington Post:
The problem, see, is that while Spencer appears to be an intelligent human being, he also appears to be well practiced in manipulation and rhetoric — which, unfortunately, those who are unpracticed in the art of writing and the training of rhetorical composition, will be unable to recognize. So this is my humble attempt to do it for them.
It is time to stop using the term ‘alt right’
In recent years, American racists have taken pains to come up with new terminology to self-identify with—such as the so-called “alt-right,” a phrase credited to avowed racist Richard Spencer, who famously celebrated Trump’s victory with Nazi salutes.
**** ( A few thoughts inside )
William C. Tracy is joining us today to talk about his novel The Seeds of Dissolution. Here’s the book’s description:
On a bright August day, the sun disappears.
Sam van Oen barely escapes freezing to death in his house, as his watch stops and fire ceases to burn. He is pulled into the Nether—a nexus between ten alien cultures—where he meets Rilan and Origon, two maji who can control the musical foundation of the universe. While coping with anxiety attacks prompted by his new surroundings, Sam must learn to hear and change the Symphony, and thus reality, in order to discover what happened to his home.
But more freezing voids like the one that started his journey are appearing, and Sam’s chances of getting back are fading. The Assembly of Species is threatening to dissolve and the maji are being attacked by those they protect, while rumors grow of an ancient, shape-changing species of assassins, returning to wage war.
The Dissolution is coming.
What’s William’s favorite bit?
WILLIAM C. TRACY
First off: the sales pitch. I’m funding The Seeds of Dissolution through a Kickstarter project, not to help write the story, but in order to bring more art, maps, and other extras into the printed book. I love finding illustrations in the novels I read, and I wanted to do the same with what I write. So please check it out and help me bring this story to life!
Now, my real favorite bit. The more I write, the more I appreciate putting diverse people and philosophies into my stories. This will be my first full novel in the Dissolutionverse, though it’s also one of the oldest stories I’ve written. When rewriting this novel to bring it up to date with my novellas, I was struck by how much it was a “white boy becomes the chosen one” story. It still is, to some extent, but I’ve made an effort to diversify my stories, in order to learn about the different sorts of people I’ve encountered. I’ve written about this before, in the Favorite Bit posts for my previous novellas, Tuning the Symphony and Merchants and Maji.
In The Seeds of Dissolution, Sam (the aforementioned white boy protagonist) now has fairly strong panic attacks based on social situations and new environments. I have not had panic attacks myself, which meant I needed to do a lot of research and talk with people who do have social anxiety. I didn’t want to make it something superficial that was cured by magic. It’s a part of Sam and he has to cope with it. In the process, I was able to recognize those times when I was afraid to speak in front of others, or go to new places. We all have anxiety at some point, and talking to those people who have to deal with it all the time taught me a great deal. Even though he has anxiety issues, Sam is still very loyal to close friends. He wants to connect with others, even if he is prevented at times by his mental state.
This leads to the other change for this character. Sam is bi/pansexual. This, I think, has actually been a long time coming. His attraction(s) in this book were originally one person, then female, then male, then two people. I could never get the dynamic right between Sam and the love interest until I realized Sam is not constrained by the person’s gender, and once this happened, the relation between the three characters started to come together. There are of course still some pitfalls and surprises in their relationship, but I’ll let you read about it, as it’s pretty central to the main story!
Working with people who don’t identify as male or female helped me to make the species of the Great Assembly more diverse. When designing an alien species, there’s no real reason for having two genders rather than more or less, and a lot of people on Earth already don’t fit into those parameters. One of my beta readers is non-binary, and helped me to flesh out the ten species of the Dissolutionverse considerably. One species now has three genders, another has four, and another reproduces asexually. Every addition has only made me more interested in writing these stories and learning about these people.
One of my favorite characters is named Hand Dancer, who is a member of the Lobhl, a species who communicates only with their hands. In-universe, bringing them into the Great Assembly of species caused many to balk at the changes needed to ease communication, and even 50 cycles later, the species is rarely seen. The species is also gender fluid by nature, conforming to a gender by need and mental state rather than biology. I love describing Hand Dancer’s communication, especially since the story takes place in a giant crystal that translates between species! Here’s a few short excerpt to show what I mean:
<Forgive our intrusion, Councilor,> Hand Dancer signed. Origon watched the large and expressive hands twirl through the sentence. The six fingers and two thumbs on each hand curved and twisted in a different direction, and both hands were heavily tattooed. It was disconcerting talking to a Lobhl. Most of the time, Origon could ignore how the Nether changed speech so others’ words were in his native language in his head, but the Lobhl communicated almost entirely with their hands. There were no facial expressions, and the bald creatures didn’t even have a crest to signal with. The meaning appeared directly in Origon’s mind, as if Hand Dancer had said the words a moment before and Origon was remembering them. It made him want to itch something, though he didn’t know what.
<As I seem to be included, may I ask what is going on?> Origon started, and saw the others do the same. How they could hear the signing when they weren’t looking at the Lobhl, like a cough in an echoing building, was beyond him. He would never fully understand the Nether.
Hand Dancer listened for a moment as well, in him, a stretching of thumbs. Then his hands moved again. <I must be female during this task, for concentration.>
I’ve had a lot of fun while writing The Seeds of Dissolution because I’ve gotten to talk to people from different backgrounds, genders and sexualities, and different mental states. I hope it has added more realism into my world, and made my characters more interesting.
Please take a look at the Kickstarter for The Seeds of Dissolution. There are a lot of great backer rewards, with chances to buy original artwork, be tuckerized in the story, get maps, buttons, and pins, and get an extra short story, just for backers. See you around the Dissolutionverse!
William C. Tracy is a North Carolina native and a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy. He has two self-published novellas available: Tuning the Symphony, and Merchants and Maji, both set in his Dissolutionverse. The Kickstarter for the first novel, The Seeds of Dissolution, will run in August/September 2017.
He also has a masters in mechanical engineering, and has both designed and operated heavy construction machinery. He has trained in Wado-Ryu karate since 2003, and runs his own dojo in Raleigh. He is an avid video and board gamer, a reader, and of course, a writer. He and his wife also cosplay, and he has appeared as Tenzin, Jafar, and in several steampunk outfits.
In his spare time, he wrangles three cats and a bald guinea pig, and his wife wrangles him (not an easy task). They both enjoy putting their pets in cute little costumes and making them cosplay for the annual Christmas card.
The post My Favorite Bit: William C. Tracy talks about THE SEEDS OF DISSOLUTION appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.
So I do that today, and get no response. I shrug and settle in to putter around the house because no response means the boss has overslept and we'll be leaving at 6:40.
....and then it was 6:30. And then 6:40. No boss.
So finally, at 6:45, I walk over to his house. His truck is there, no lights on in the house. So I text him a few more times, then call him, then call his wife, knock on the door, call him again... finally he answers.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Did you oversleep? It's 6:50."
"Yeah, it's okay, it's only 5:50."
"No, it's 6:50."
".....oh shit, it's 6:50!"
*facepalm* So we caught the latest train in to work, which is fine, and I can razz him about this for awhile. XD
On the downside, I took my meds at 5am, then we didn't get to work until 9:30 instead of the usual 8am. Since I usually eat breakfast as soon as I get to work, this pushed back the addition of food to my med cocktail far enough that my stomach was in cramps by the time we got here. Application of toast and eggs seems to have pacified it.
Bliss, by the way, is charging up my old iPad mini, emptying everything off of it except my favorite ebook reader (Marvin), and then downloading all 4700+ books in the CatDragon shared Calibre library. Ecstasy will be when I successfully sort all 4700+ books into sensible categories. (I did just realize Marvin has something called smart categories, which means I can pull up everything that is NOT in a category, and as I sort them into categories they disappear off the list. Woooo!)
None of the plants in Addergoole’s grotto were, technically, toxic. That is, they might cause you to have convulsions, visions, insomnia, narcolepsy, or possibly just a warm and fuzzy feeling, but they would not kill you — or, at least, they wouldn’t kill an ordinary human or Ellehemaei child. Some of the Changes, normal air would kill them, and Valentina could not speak for her plant life in those cases.
She enjoyed encouraging experimentation and enjoyed more watching the results of the experimentation. After all, every plant in the grotto was the result of“hey, what happens if…?” — Hers and Laurel Valerian’s, mostly, although students other staff had put in their ideas from time to time. Isabella Even-hand in the kitchen had the most brilliant ideas. Most of her plants lived up in the orchard or the sunlight gardens, but there were a couple, including the Angry Peach, that deserved their place in the grotto — and made the most aggressive desserts.
“Hey.” One spikey-haired first-year student flopped down on the soft moss next to another first-year, lanky and dark-clad and serious-looking. “Have you tried chewing on the purple leaves? They make sort of a tingling feeling, and then you just don’t feel anything at all for a while.”
Emotional numbness, Valentina wrote, in her unseen perch up in a prickly-pear tree. She’d been growing the purple-leafed plant for its bark and the bast fibers in its stem.
“Don’t feel anything at all? Sounds better than those yellow berries. Give it here.”
Long-term effects? She’d have to keep an eye on these two.
I think he missed the point. (Next bit won't make much sense unless you've read the article.)
( Read more... )
I'm glad I sprung for the hardcopy of this for two reasons: one, I like to mark up my nonfiction, and two, its formatting! The left-hand page in every two-page spread is text; the right-hand page has an illustration related to the material on the left-hand page. While the illustrations are not technically the most accomplished, they are generally extremely effective communicative cartoons or diagrams.
This book comes with a ton of blurbs, and Cory Doctorow's--"Does for games what Understanding Comics [by Scott McCloud] did for sequential art"--pretty much sums up how I feel. I've read other game design books that were insightful, or thorough, but the Koster is accessible and very interesting in its approach to what makes games games, and how to make them fun (in the instances where that's a thing--cf. Brenda Romero's Train).
One of Koster's arguments is that "with games, learning is the drug" (40)--a game that interests us is one that strikes the necessary balance of not too easy (Tic-Tac-Toe, for most adults) and not too hard (multiple failure modes possible, depending on the individual--witness me and chess or go ). He suggests that games (and play, which is common in a lot of young animals!) are an artifact of how we try to learn survival skills, and moves forward into making suggestions as to how to move the form forward into values/skills more suitable for the modern era than "kill things" or "jump over things" or "search for all the things."
 Joe gave up on teaching me go when I told him I have severe difficulty with visual patterns. In fact, I am starting to wonder if aphantasia just screws me over for this kind of game in general. :p
There's also a particularly interesting chapter on ethics and entertainment where he discusses the difference between the game system and the flavor/dressing:
The bare mechanics of a game may indeed carry semantic freighting, but odds are that it will be fairly abstract. A game about aiming is a game about aiming, and there's no getting around that. It's hard to conceive of a game about aiming that isn't about shooting, but it has been done--there are several gmaes where instead of shooting bullets with a gun, you are instead shooting pictures with a camera. (170)
The bare mechanics of the game do not determine its meaning. Let's try a thought experiment. Let's picture a mass murder game wherein there is a gas chamber shaped like a well. You the player are dropping innocent victims down into the gas chamber, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are old ones and young ones, fat ones and tall ones. As they fall to the bottom, they grab onto each other and try to form human pyramids to get to the top of the well. Should they manage to get out, the game is over and you die. But if you pack them in tightly enough, the ones on the bottom succumb to the gas and die.
I do not want to play this game. Do you? Yet it is Tetris. (172)
In general, Koster has a background in game design AND writing AND music, and he draws on all three in his analysis of games, as well as other disciplines (e.g. psychology). It makes the book a scintillating read. I can't believe I waited so long to read this--but it was exactly what I wanted to read last week, so hey. Highly recommended.
Back in '99 when I was taking enough trains around Europe that it was worth it to have a rail pass, I was regularly gobsmacked at how (at least on the Continent) they ran to-the-minute per the published schedule. Yesterday, pretty much every train I was on was delayed...which was a good thing because otherwise I would have missed a couple of connections. In one case, I ran up and over an overpass (carrying a heavy suitcase) to a train already standing at the correct platform, barely glanced at the monitor and only confirmed it was the correct train when I was on board (and had managed to catch my breath). Which brings up another observation: the British rail system must be hell on people with physical disabilities. I can't count the number of occasions where I couldn't see any obvious option for getting from point A to point B that didn't involve stairs. (Even on the spiral ramp up to the pedestrian bridge to the Durham station, the ramp had periodic steps. Not quite enough to daunt the roll-away, but certainly enough to preclude wheelchair use.) I'm still spry enough that I can break out the backpack straps on my suitcase and hike up to my 3rd floor walk-up room here at Trinity College (see picture) but I can feel the bones aching on occasion and it makes me ponder.
But on the up side, I saw lots of lovely train-side scenery yesterday, cutting accross the Pennines and then traveling along the northern edge of Wales, across the Menai Strait, and on to Holyhead where I took the ferry to Dublin. I took a bunch of "atmosphere" notes on the trip for when I return some day to my 10th century historic romance that involves Dublin and Vikings.
If you ever plan to visit Dublin in the summer and want easy access to everything downtown (and you have good knees) I can highly recommend taking advantage of the Trinity College on-campus accommodations. (I found them through Hotels.com) It's a dorm style room (there are a few with en suite facilities, which I got) and comes with a complimentary continental breakfast at The Buttery (full breakfast available if you pay more). And now I'm going to walk out of my room, across the quad, and take a campus tour that ends up putting me in front of the Book of Kells. But more on that in tomorrow's post.
I hate hangnails. Mostly they're just annoying, but on the occasion when they catch on something as you move your hand and riiiiip the skin off... Ayeeesh. Did you just get that "fingernails on blackboard" chill down your neck like I did?
Dear Mr Derringe
Your direction has been conveyed to me by way of Lady Bexbury, whose offices in the matter had been requested by Mrs Lowndes, sister of Miss Netherne – though I doubt not she is now Mrs Carter? – that so very kindly conveyed news of you.
I am entirely glad to learn that you and Mr Perry did not die of a fever in the South Seas, nor were eaten by cannibals, as some have rumoured, though I mind that you told me that the stories of man-eating were an entire figment, or at least exceeding exaggeration. I hope that you are entire recovered from the fever that brought you under Mr Carter’s care, and that your plans for a school prosper.
Dear Mr Derringe, pray do not distress yourself concerning our marriage that never came to pass: I confide that I too am by no means suited for the matrimonial state. But I assure you, I am now in quite the happiest way of life. Your very fine remarks about David and Jonathan brought to my mind that other remarkable tale of devotion in the Old Testament, that of Ruth and Naomi.
You will recall that my cousin Hester is Countess of Nuttenford – now Dowager Countess of Nuttenford, the late Earl having been fatally savaged by a bear whilst on a botanical expedition in Virginia. I became companion-chaperone to her middle daughter, Lady Emily Merrett, a very fine young woman with no inclination to marriage, while she was keeping house for her brothers, the Countess having been an invalid these many years and gone to reside with her eldest daughter, that had but lately married the Marquess of Offgrange.
The present Earl is now married to a very fine young woman, and has given over to our use one of his smaller estates, Attervale, an exceeding pretty little place if somewhat quaintly old-fashioned. There is a dovecote of considerable antiquity and I have taken to the keeping of these birds. Meanwhile,
dear Em Lady Emily takes to the keeping of hawks, for there is a mews that we suppose originally intended to that purpose - as she also practices archery we might almost be took for some household of the Middle Ages.
There is a very fine orchard and we brew our own cider:
dear Lady Emily’s stepfather, Sir Charles Fairleigh, was most helpful in instructing us in the matter, his own apples and their brewing being highly renowned.
Are you now acquainted with the Thornes and the Carters I confide that you are in a very good antipodean set. The Thornes’ fine humane endeavours for the unhappy convicts are very widely admired in our circles and Lady Bexbury, as I daresay they will have told you, is their benevolent patroness raising interest for them. Their scientific observations are ever attended with the greatest eagerness by savants. I like to think that you will have the opportunity of many fine games of chess with them: I ever regretted that I was by no means up to your mark in the matter.
Is there any service I may do you, I hope that you will always consider me your friend. Please convey my kindest regards to Mr Perry.
In great regard and esteem
Whimsical Cosmic Creations Fit For a Mermaid by Martina Gutfreund
Canadian artist Martina Gutfreund’s obsession with creating art lead her design to evil into stunning mystical and cosmic pieces with a life of their own. Gutfreund artistically showcases minerals and crystals through whimsical and quirky jewellery pieces. Inspired by magic, from fairies to mermaids to even witchcraft, her work is a reflection of her creativity and fascination with minerals. Find her collection in her Etsy shop, The Spirit Nectar.
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Madras is in eastern Oregon, in the desert, and the sunset on Sunday night was incredible. ( Click here for 2 images of Madras sunset, and 7 of the eclipse )