A decent British man, learning that his friend has fallen under the influence of a goddess of ancient myth, does what any man of his sort would under those circumstances and desecrates her temple. He does feel a bit sad, especially when the goddess begins pleading for her life.
Interesting detail that being part Jewish makes Lawson more vulnerable to the goddess than the narrator is. The Scot who appears in the story seems almost immune.
The original story is old enough to be public domain and online. Interesting detail that caught my eye:
It was a little conical tower, ancient and lichened, but, so far as I could judge, quite flawless. You know the famous Conical Temple at Zimbabwe, of which prints are in every guidebook. This was of the same type, but a thousandfold more perfect. It stood about thirty feet high, of solid masonry, without door or window or cranny, as shapely as when it first came from the hands of the old builders. Again I had the sense of breaking in on a sanctuary. What right had I, a common vulgar modern, to be looking at this fair thing, among these delicate trees, which some white goddess had once taken for her shrine?
Speculations about the origins of the ruins have been imaginative and wild ranging.
How Love Came to Professor Guildea V2 (Robert Hichens)
A well-regarded but misanthropic scientist finds himself stalked by the most horrific thing he can imagine, someone or something that is in love with him.
Vanishing Point also did this and I still think the professor may well have misinterpreted signals his own body was sending him.
Read by Kate Baker.
Three idealists work to restore Beijing's lost neighborhoods. The arrest of their mentor inspires them to stage a rescue attempt and in the process open the public's eyes to what is really around them.
Weird. The text is not so bad but when I heard Baker read the bits with the girlfriend, I had the impression the protagonist was going to end up single a lot sooner than he expected.
Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist; pp. 200-208
Back in the second book of this series, Tribulation Force, readers were subjected to the scene of an “inner circle” prayer meeting in Pastor Bruce Barnes’ office. Maybe you remember that scene. Or maybe you’ve suppressed that memory in the hopes that you’d never be forced to live through such extreme discomfort again.
If the latter is true, you’ll probably also want to skip these pages in Nicolae, because here again we encounter the same doubly awkward, cringe-inducing attempt to present the authors’ idea of worshipful ecstasy.
Buck and Michael beach their riverboat on the eastern shore of the Jordan River and set off, “through the underbrush,” to the secret hideout where the messianic underground has hidden renegade ex-rabbit Tsion Ben-Judah:
Buck had forgotten how long five kilometers could be. The ground was uneven and moist. The overgrowth slapped him in the face. He switched his bag from shoulder to shoulder, never fully comfortable. He was in good shape, but this was hard. This was not jogging or cycling or running on a treadmill. This was working your way through sandy shoreline to who knew where?
In our world, the eastern shore of the Jordan River is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the world of Left Behind, the nation of Jordan does not exist and its nearly 7 million residents have mysteriously vanished. Not, like, Rapture-vanished — they’re simply absent from this world, displaced from their homes without a trace and with no mention of where they have gone or what happened to them. That was established in a parenthetical flashback-within-a-flashback in the first chapter of the first book. Here we learn that, apparently, after the Jordanians were peacefully ethnically cleansed and their country was absorbed into the Greater Israel of Tim LaHaye’s prophesied Middle East, the former nation of Jordan reverted to a scrubby, post-human wilderness. (Or, maybe, LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins just vaguely remember reading that John the Baptist ministered along the Jordan, and since he was described as “a voice crying in the wilderness,” they figure this is what the area must be like today.)
Anyway, this long hike gives Buck a chance to prepare for his first meeting with Tsion Ben-Judah since his friend’s wife and children were slaughtered in the streets:
He dreaded seeing Dr. Ben-Judah. He wanted to be reunited with his friend and brother in Christ, but what does one say to one who has lost his family? No platitudes, no words would make it better. The man had paid one of the steepest prices that anyone could pay, and nothing short of heaven could make it better.
It’s not meant to be foreshadowing, I don’t think, but after reading those words — “No platitudes” — here in the conclusion of Chapter 10, can you guess what we’ll find when Buck is reunited with his friend in the beginning of Chapter 11?
Buck enters Michael’s “underground shelter invisible to anyone who hadn’t come there on purpose” and the very first thing he noticed is “that there were no real beds and no pillows” — just as the Bible prophesied 2,000 years ago!
Three other gaunt and desperate-looking young men, who could have been Michael’s brothers, huddled in the dugout, where there was barely room to stand. … He was introduced all around, but only Michael, of the four, understood English.
And only Michael, of the four, gets a name. Think of the others as henchmen or redshirts or just set-dressing extras. What strikes me most about this whole bunch is how depressed and depressing they all seem. This isn’t a merry band of outlaws, burning with zeal to reach the whole world with the glorious good news of their joyful message of salvation. It’s just a bunch of sad, hungry men hiding in a hole.
Buck squinted, looking for Tsion. He could hear him, but he could not see him. Finally, a dim, electric lantern was illuminated. There, sitting in the corner, his back to the wall, was one of the first and surely the most famous of what would become the 144,000 witnesses prophesied of in the Bible.
At some point we’ll need to step back and discuss this whole “144,000″ business. Tim LaHaye has a slight variation to the usual premillennial dispensationalist take on the passages from Revelation that give us that number, and we should talk about the way he and other “Bible prophecy scholars” regard the 144,000 as opposed to the way actual biblical scholars treat those passages. For now, let’s just say this: When you read a number like that which do you think is likelier: That this is a precise figure denoting a precise whole-number amount greater than 143,999 and lesser than 144,001? Or that this big round number — a dozen dozen thousands — may be a figure of speech suggesting something other than such a precise quantification?
Buck whispered that he would like a moment alone with Tsion. Michael and the others climbed through the opening and stood idly in the underbrush, weapons at the ready. Buck crouched next to Dr. Ben-Judah.
“Tsion,” Buck said, “God loves you.” The words had surprised even Buck. Could it possibly seem to Tsion that God loved him now? And what kind of a platitude was that? Was it now his place to speak for God?
Jenkins reach exceeds his grasp here, but I won’t judge this bit too harshly because at least he’s reaching for something ambitious. Better writers have also struggled, and failed, with how to discuss the inadequacy of words — even of truthful words — in the context of suffering. Jenkins is grappling with something difficult and meaningful here, and that’s to be encouraged, so I don’t want to come down too hard on him for the way this particular attempt fails.
But still, it fails. After half-acknowledging there that anything Buck says is going to sound here like empty, pious platitudes, Jenkins and Buck plow ahead with a litany of empty, pious platitudes:
“What do you know for sure?” Buck asked, wondering himself what in the world he was talking about.
Tsion’s reply, in his barely understandable Israeli accent, squeaked from a constricted throat: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
“What else do you know?” Buck said, listening as much as speaking.
“I know that He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.”
Praise God! Buck thought.
And then Tsion’s voice transformed into a deep, Paul-Robeson baritone, and he began to sing “When peace like a river atten-en-deth my waaayyyy …”
I imagine we caught a glimpse there of meta-Tsion trying to surface in protest of this whole scene and it’s attempt to mine his suffering for uplift. Buck hears that first answer — “I know that my Redeemer lives” — as an inspirational affirmation of Tsion’s unshakable faith, and that’s how Jenkins frames it here. But it’s also imaginable that Tsion’s throat is constricted with anger and that he’s citing the book of Job there as a warning — “Back off, Bildad! The last thing I need right now is a recitation of the theodicy of half-wits.”
Alas, though, Buck isn’t done yet. And neither is Jenkins, who wants to be sure he hasn’t been too subtle in clubbing readers with his message here:
Buck slumped to the ground and sat next to Ben-Judah, his back against the wall. He had come to rescue this man, to minister to him. Now he had been ministered to. Only God could provide such assurance and confidence at a time of such grief.
“Your wife and your children were believers –”
“Today, they see God,” Tsion finished for him.
Tsion asks Buck if he brought his Bible with him. “Not in book form, sir,” Buck says. “I have the entire Scripture on my computer.”
And thus we embark on a two-page tangent in which Buck ponders the cutting-edge Bible software of 1997 while still not quite getting it right. As he digs out his computer, Tsion asks if he would “happen to have the Old Testament in Hebrew?” (Because rabbis always refer to the Old Testament as “the Old Testament” — just as they’re more likely to quote Philippians or James, in the King James, than anything from that Old Testament.)
“No, but those programs are widely available.”
“At least they are now,” Tsion said, a sob still in his throat. “My most recent studies have led me to believe that our religious freedoms will soon become scarce at an alarming pace.”
It took this guy “study” to figure out that the Antichrist might be hostile to religious freedom? Wait until he continues his “studies” and finds out that “the 144,000 witnesses prophesied of in the Bible” are actually described in Revelation as 144,000 martyrs.
“I sometimes find the Psalms comforting,” Buck said.
Tsion nodded, now covering his mouth with his hand. The man’s chest heaved and he could hold back the sobs no longer. He leaned over onto Buck and collapsed in tears. “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” he moaned over and over. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Joy, Buck thought. What a concept in this place, at this time. The name of the game now was survival. Certainly joy took on a different meaning than ever before in Buck’s life. He used to equate joy with happiness. Clearly Tsion Ben-Judah was not implying that he was happy. He might never be happy again. This joy was a deep, abiding peace, an assurance that God was sovereign. They didn’t have to like what was happening. They merely had to trust that God knew what he was doing.
In retrospect, that “No platitudes” bit at the end of the last chapter was far more ominous than I realized.
“Ask the others to join us for prayer,” Tsion says to Buck, and the reader’s eyes involuntarily scan ahead to see an unbroken block of text that continues for the next two pages. Oh no. No, not that, not again. They’re going to pray and we’re going to have to watch.
What follows is, like that earlier scene in Bruce Barnes’ office, wincingly awkward in two ways. First because of what Jenkins is attempting to portray, and secondly because of the failure of that attempt. This prayer is meant to be a time of transcendent spiritual ecstasy, but witnessing the ecstasy of others without being a participant in it is either mortifying or, for a certain kind of voyeur, titillating. Either way, it seems cheapened, which is why storytellers who are not pornographers know when it is wisest to fade to black.
Jerry Jenkins does not fade to black. He makes us watch:
A few minutes later, the six men knelt in a circle, Tsion spoke to them briefly in Hebrew, Michael quietly whispering the interpretation into Buck’s ear. “My friends and brothers in Christ, though I am deeply wounded, yet I must pray. I pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I praise you because you are the one and only true God, the God above all other gods. You sit high above the heavens. There is none other like you. In you there is no variation or shadow of turning.” With that, Tsion broke down again and asked that the others pray for him.
Buck had never heard people praying together aloud in a foreign language. Hearing the fervency of these witness-evangelists made him fall prostrate. He felt the cold mud on the backs of his hands as he buried his face in his palms. He didn’t know about Tsion but felt as if he were being borne along on clouds of peace. Suddenly Tsion’s voice could be heard above the rest. Michael bent down and whispered in Buck’s ear, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Buck did not know how long he lay on the floor. Eventually the prayers became groanings and what sounded like Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs. Buck rose to his knees and felt stiff and sore. Tsion looked at him, his face still wet but seemingly finished crying for now. “I believe I can finally sleep,” the rabbi said.
I got to Andi's (current) apartment a little before ten, and we talked in between her taking necessary phone calls. It turns out the sudoku app I downloaded a few days ago is handy for that sort of situation, because it's distracting and 100% interruptable: unlike a book, I'm not tempted to finish my paragraph, or worried about losing the thread. So we talked, about the move and the rest of our lives and random other stuff, and eventually I realized that I was overdue for lunch. Around then, Andi's friend Astrid called, and Andi said yes, please come over, we're having a lot of fun here but not actually getting anything done. So the two of us went to a pho place for lunch, and Astrid met us afterward, and proceeded to demonstrate her packing and carrying skills. I did some useful stuff, wrapping some tchotchkes and putting books in boxes and stuff, and Andi put things into categories: what to keep and what to sell or donate, and then the "keep" is classified by whether it will be needed the night she moves in, sometime relatively soon, or enough into the future that it can go into a storage unit.
Andi and I both ran out of steam a little after four, and I headed for the bus. The trip home was pretty straightforward, but also another example of my suspicion that a lot of people in this area don't know how to ride a bus. Specifically, they won't move to the back to make room as more people board, even if the driver asks. (This means that I have a good chance of a seat on a crowded 358 because people are too busy clumping in front to notice that the space in back includes available seats.)
I will call that a productive day, though I suspect not much practical would have happened without Astrid's involvement.
If one wishes to promote the life of language, one must promote the life of the community---a discipline many times more trying, difficult, and long than that of linguistics, but having at least the virtue of hopefulness. It escapes the despair always implicit in specializations: the cultivation of discrete parts without respect or responsibility for the whole.Programmers, of all people, ought to understand the power of language. The desktop, laptop or mobile computer you are using to read this blog post would be useless without software, which -- uniquely among the various types of things engineers build -- is constructed solely from language. The magical thing about programming, the thing that drew me to it 18 years ago, is that it turns ideas into reality.
-- Wendell Berry, "Standing By Words"
Yet a lot of programmers seem to have a selective lack of understanding of how ideas, as expressed through language (particularly gendered language), construct reality. I find that somewhat curious, given how much time programmers can spend arguing over whether a certain programming language should use a semicolon or a comma for a particular language construct.
When the news about the libuv gendered pronouns patch dispute broke last week, I was going to write a blog post about it. It was going to be a lengthy one, as is my style. But because reasons, I kept putting off actually writing that post. I also avoided reading others' posts about it, because I had some specific things in mind to say and I didn't want to confuse myself.
Today, though, I read Bryan Cantrill's post "The Power of a Pronoun". Bryan is the VP of Engineering at Joyent, the company that sponsors libuv. As Bryan points out, Ben Noordhuis -- the libuv contributor who reverted the patch -- was a volunteer, and thus can't be fired. (At least not straightforwardly.) And, in fact, Ben ended up leaving the project voluntarily after all of this went down. But, Bryan says
In this post, Bryan Cantrill shows he understands something that's woven into the fabric of daily life for many of us: the little things matter, and as I've written before, the little offenses lay the groundwork for the big ones. (Thanks to Valerie Aurora and Leigh Honeywell for their insights in the posts that my own blog posts just elaborate on.) Assuming that Bryan's attitude displayed here is consistent and is part of the culture at Joyent, that means Joyent is a company I would be happy to work at someday.
But while Isaac is a Joyent employee, Ben is not—and if he had been, he wouldn't be as of this morning: to reject a pull request that eliminates a gendered pronoun on the principle that pronouns should in fact be gendered would constitute a fireable offense for me and for Joyent. On the one hand, it seems ridiculous (absurd, perhaps) to fire someone over a pronoun -- but to characterize it that way would be a gross oversimplification: it's not the use of the gendered pronoun that's at issue (that's just sloppy), but rather the insistence that pronouns should in fact be gendered. To me, that insistence can only come from one place: that gender—specifically, masculinity—is inextricably linked to software, and that's not an attitude that Joyent tolerates. This isn't merely a legalistic concern (though that too, certainly), but also a technical one: we believe that empathy is a core engineering value—and that an engineer that has so little empathy as to not understand why the use of gendered pronouns is a concern almost certainly makes poor technical decisions as well.
Contrast this with my most recent former employer, Mozilla. While there are many individuals at Mozilla I could name who share a commitment to inclusion, I'm sorry to say that the company as a whole lacks any such commitment -- and I mean a commitment that is expressed through actions and not just aspirations. I wrote about one such example at great length. But a more recent one happened after I told one of the other members of the Rust team that I was considering leaving Mozilla.
I asked this person (who will remain nameless, since it isn't my intent here to single out individuals or to invite accusations that I'm starting a witch hunt, rallying a pitchfork-wielding feminist mob, or any of the hyperbolic cliches that people terrified of losing privilege use to shame people like me into silence) if there was anything he thought I should know before making up my mind over whether to accept my offer from another company. We spent some time first talking about issues that were (at least superficially) unrelated to the topic of this post. But then he told me that he thought I should know that other people on the team were "uncomfortable" with my "offputting" views about gender. He said that everybody on the team agreed with my views on feminism, it was just that some of them disagreed with how I expressed them. (This is a common derailing tactic.) I can't know whether he was speaking only for himself or whether several other people on the team truly do agree with him, since he didn't name any of the other people who he was citing to back up this statement. In any case, the sole concrete example that my now-former colleague gave of just what was "off-putting" about my views was that several times, I had asked people on the #rust IRC channel not to use "guys" to refer to the members of the channel collectively (as in, "Hey, guys, I have a question..."), since there are people of various genders who spend time on the IRC channel. He said that he felt this was hurting the community because it made people "uncomfortable".
This, by the way, happened not long after Lindsey Kuper, a long-time Rust contributor, wrote about her experience with harassment on #rust, as well as another woman who is a regular in #rust reported that she had received a sexual advance via private /msg from someone who was, presumably, scrolling through the list of users in #rust and looking for the first female-coded name to target for harassment. And so it was clear to me that when my former colleague said he was worried that asking people to use inclusive language would make them "uncomfortable", he was not speaking out of concern for the comfort of either Lindsey, or the woman who another #rust member hit on via private message, or for any other women who contribute to Rust, or for any women who might want to. Rather, he was speaking out of concern for the comfort of people who have male privilege and are so very sensitive about it that a request to think about how other people feel about the language they use would affect their desire to use a programming language.
On the one hand, Mozilla's stated mission is to "keep the Internet alive and accessible, so people worldwide can be informed contributors and creators of the Web". On the other, if we look at actions and not at aspirations, Mozilla's enforcement -- and lack of enforcement -- regarding appropriate professional conduct seems tailor-made for protecting wealth and privilege, for ensuring that even if anyone can contribute to the Web, a privileged few (those who are mostly white, mostly North American and Western European, mostly male, and mostly heterosexual) will retain control over it. I left. I couldn't manage the cognitive dissonance anymore.
In the world of open-source companies, are more of them like Joyent -- asserting empathy as a core value -- or are more of them like Mozilla -- too concerned with privileged programmers' comfort to carry out justice? (Note that if you're too afraid to ask for non-sexist conduct because of who you are afraid you'll alienate, you are implicitly saying that you believe your project cannot survive without the contributions of sexist and willfully ignorant men.) I really don't know the answer. But I do know that empathy won't spread by itself, and that social change takes sustained and diligent effort.
So, for a third time: it's my 33rd birthday in twelve days. If you have more than $1 to spare, you can make it a good one by donating to the Ada Initiative. I already wrote about why I think TAI has had an effect and will continue to have one -- with your support. You can join the ranks of those who have donated so far if you just let me know!
Thanks so far are due to the following awesome folks:
Content Note: This post deals with the École Polytechnique massacre and violence against women.
24 years ago today, 14 women were killed in an act of sickening violence at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Targeted for being women and for being engineers, we must never forget their names.
- Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
- Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
- Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
- Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
- Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
- Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
- Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
- Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
- Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
- Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
For those of us who grew up in Canada, the white ribbons of December were a reminder not just of the work left to do in stopping gender violence, but of the links between that violence, deeply held notions of gender roles and “women’s place”, and the importance of pioneering women’s work in science and engineering. While Montreal stands out in our timeline as one of the few acts of outright violence documented there, we must remember that the “tits or GTFO”s of the world exist on a spectrum of micro- and macro-aggressions, oppression, and violence that we must be vigilant for in our communities, online and offline.
Fellow blogger Lukas writes:
This event was a catalyst for action in Canada, spawning a monument for the deceased, a national Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, and a White Ribbon Campaign (started by and targeted at men in order to address and confront male violence against women). For me, Dec 6th marked the beginning of my independent feminist organizing. It happened when I was just starting high school and shortly afterward a few classmates and I started a feminist club at our school. We attended local vigils for women who died at the hands of their male partners. We educated ourselves about issues facing women beyond just our small city and we organized gatherings to share this information with others. In the years that followed Dec 6th was a touchstone for doing actions that both drew attention to women and domestic violence but in recent years since moving into the tech world it’s developed a whole other layer of relevance to me.
When this date rolls around I am reminded that the outreach I do in the tech community matters, to be proud of being feminist, taking space in engineering, and also being someone who works diligently to make space for more women and underrepresented groups to join me. It may not always be through a directly violent act but there are many ways women and minority groups are being told they do not belong here and there are some of us are proving ‘them’ wrong. We are designers, engineers, problem solvers, big thinkers, dreamers, creators, makers, and people who can help make worlds both big and small better for others. We can be a pipeline for new arrivals, be mentors, be allies. On this day I am grateful for my allies both within the geek feminism community and without who work side by side with me to work on improving equality, seeking justice, and calling for the end of violence and discrimination in the technology space.
Never forget their names.
Christine Fox, Top Gun Inspiration, Appointed #2 at Pentagon: “Simpson and Bruckheimer were inspired by a very intelligent woman able to command respect in a predominantly male, macho work force.”
Twitter Adds a Real, Live Woman to It’s Board: On December 5th, Twitter announced Marjorie Scardino as their newest–and first female–board member.
The Power of a Pronoun | Joyent: “On the one hand, it seems ridiculous (absurd, perhaps) to fire someone over a pronoun — but to characterize it that way would be a gross oversimplification: it’s not the use of the gendered pronoun that’s at issue (that’s just sloppy), but rather the insistence that pronouns should in fact be gendered. To me, that insistence can only come from one place: that gender?specifically, masculinity?is inextricably linked to software, and that’s not an attitude that Joyent tolerates.”
A Theory on Tech Community Drama | Garann Means: “Which is to say: because open source is so non-diverse, and presents itself as hostile and obsessed with meritocracy to the point that it drives people who might add to its diversity away, it will always be cleaning up the artifacts of that imbalance after the fact, once people have noticed and drawn conclusions, and once those privileged enough to succeed under the meritocratic system have gotten all fucking defensive about it.”
Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Learning How to Code: “Knowing how to code is mostly about building things, and the path is a lot clearer when you have a sense of the end goal. If your goal is “learn to code,” without a clear idea of the kinds of programs you will write and how they will make your life better, you will probably find it a frustrating exercise.”
Science Reporter Emily Graslie Reads Her Mail ? And It’s Not So Nice | NPR: “In her new video, Emily (with help from director and video editor Michael Aranda) gives us samples from her mailbox, She’s not mad, not exactly. Instead, she just explains why these matter-of-fact little letter bombs make it harder for her to work, and how they hurt ? every single day. And, being Emily, she explains it very well.”
Hyperemployed or Feminized Labor? | CUNY Academic Commons and Femininity as Technology: Some Thoughts on Hyperemployment | The Society Pages: Two pieces reflecting on Ian Bogost’s Atlantic piece on hyperemployment.
No Girls Allowed | Polygon: “A few aisles over, in the video game section, there is a similar marketing story that Maida has yet to learn. Unlike in the toy aisles, she won’t find an expansive selection of video games for boys and an equally expansive selection for girls. Most “girls’ sections,” if they exist, are lined with fitness titles and Ubisoft’s simplified career simulation series, Imagine, which lets players pretend they’re doctors, teachers, gymnasts and babysitters. As for the boys section — there isn’t one. Everything else is for boys.”
Let Us Speak: “On a personal note, what has most defined my career and my experiences in tech above anything else is the struggle and drama to be seen, heard, recognized, acknowledged, promoted, respected and paid equally despite the overwhelming dominance of men, the deep implicit and explicit sexism, the blatant misogyny, and the profound boredom and antipathy that comes with being surrounded on all sides by a largely homogeneous community with little to no social consciousness.”
All Technology is Assistive Technology: “Undoing the distinctions between design for disability and design in general yields a couple of goods: It brings new attention to technologies that are profound in their use and impact on physical and political accessibility. The advanced replacement limbs, all-terrain wheelchairs, and exoskeletons you can find now are evidence of this new attention.”
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Barbara Reynolds, Dorothy L. Sayers
Since Harriet Vane is so obviously an authorial stand-in, I thought I ought to know a bit more about the author herself, and this biography didn't disappoint. I wouldn't call it exceptional (I have high standards for biographies) but it was very readable. Particularly enjoyed the discussion of her childhood as the home-educated daughter of a country vicar, and of course all the detail about her chequered personal life, which by no means ended as happily as Harriet's. I'd had no idea that she had an illegitimate child for one thing.
Norman Longmate, How We Lived Then: A History of Everyday Life During the Second World War
Excellent, lengthy, exceedingly anecdotal history of the British home front. Because anecdotal, it is actually far more evocative of the texture and detail of ordinary life than other, more academic treatments. Highly recommended for writers researching the period. (And I paid a pound fifty for it at Oxfam, so double win.)
Never so sure about this one. More Denton Welch perhaps? Some Mary Renault historicals? Or perhaps this is the month that whoever has had Alan Bray's The Friend for (apparently) the whole year will finally decide to return it to the library.
At least this way I can get started. I'm told I can change my theme later, which I probably will do as soon as someone takes me by the hand and says, "this is a really good theme -- it's easy to use, will do what you want it to, and looks like it ought to belong to someone who writes historical fiction." Because 2013 looks really generic, even with my header photo. My handcoded pages look better at this point. Honestly.
I have a single static page so far, after an afternoon's work (most of which was spent trying to get the header the right size and shape with the type on it in the right place and color, most of which I ended up doing with InDesign rather than WordPress's tools, because I couldn't get WP's tools to do what I wanted -- I'm sure they would if used properly, but I couldn't figure out how to use them properly). At least the page has my header photo and text now, so that's got to be something. And the page has text, and an image of Cross-Country's book cover, and even a few links.
I'm going to keep my old websites (http://mmjustus.com and http://carbonriverpress.com) as the 'live' versions until I've got all the new pages created and all of the widgets and plugins (gods help me) that I need installed. That is, once I figure out what it is I need [sigh].
This is going to take some time, I suspect. I hope it's worth it in the long run.
In place I also offer random not very useful observation, which is that I once had a pressure lock (I forget what they're called) demonstrated on me at kung fu self-defense night. The idea is that it hits a pressure point in the upper arm and the pain disables the lockee so that they drop. I was assured that this was pretty much foolproof by multiple people.
Rory Miller in at least one of his books talks about how pain is really not reliable as a deterrent--if you want to assure that someone can't keep stabbing you or shooting you or chasing you or whatever the hell, you pretty much have to physically remove capability, because people are all wired different and some people just don't feel pain the same or whatever.
Anyway, I have no pain tolerance worth mentioning. Migraines will shut me down from the time they start, ditto anything but the mildest nausea, I'm pretty useless under even regular headaches and cramps as well. (Admittedly I have been known to get cramps bad enough that onlookers call the ambulance.) But I also believe the bit about people just being wired up differently because when that pressure point was demonstrated on me, the demonstrator (a green belt, I think?) started with very light pressure because this was supposed to be super-painful once you felt it. He slowly increased the pressure. Then he started hunting around looking for the point. I didn't ever feel anything more than, well, mild discomfort from pressure being applied. I certainly didn't feel any kind of disabling pain. I finally faked it just to avoid mutual embarrassment (and I'm not sure I convinced him I felt anything but a "twinge," but whatever).
All this just to say I now believe Rory Miller over the kung fu school, at least on this particular point.
(The throw they demonstrated on me, OTOH? That worked just fine. At higher-than-baby-steps-speed I can't even tell what the hell happened to me WHOOMPF I'm on the floor with the breath knocked out of me, ha.)
While Montreal stands out in our timeline as one of the few acts of outright violence documented there, we must remember that the “tits or GTFO”s of the world exist on a spectrum of micro- and macro-aggressions, oppression, and violence that we must be vigilant for in our communities, online and offline.Every active refusal to use language that includes women; every rape apologist who continues to be a respected leader in the open-source community; every time that men terrorize a company into firing a woman for protesting sexist conduct makes it harder for women to feel safe working in technology, in a way that is more complicated but no less real than the way in which a man with a gun did so in 1989 in Montreal. Every one of these instances is about men defending their turf and protecting the high status of their field from women whose presence might make it less comfortable and lucrative for gender-normative men with traditional attitudes about gender roles.
If you want to help make technology a safer industry to work in for everyone who isn't a white heterosexual abled cis man, then please consider making a donation to the Ada Initiative and letting me know that you did so!