kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
So the conference I did the Mary Sue talk at a couple years ago has sent out another call for papers for May 1-2, 2015. It's at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, and it will be partnered with ITHACON40, a comic book convention. You can see the full CFP over at Google Drive, which includes some suggestions, but the topic is Women & Gender in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Children’s Literature and Comics. Abstracts are due January 15, 2015.

I'll be halfway through Vol. III of JS&MN by then, I wonder if that's something I could get a topic out of or if my shallow historical knowledge would make it dangerous. There's always the Bujold rant, but I'm not sure if there's any interesting generalizations or insights out of it. Discworld's too big a topic, and I'm not sure if anything there speaks to me more than anything else. Hmmm . . . *wanders off, contemplating procrastination opportunities*
sturgeonslawyer: (Art)
[personal profile] sturgeonslawyer
The death of Iain (M.) Banks last year was the loss of a Scottish national treasure, a truly amazing writer of both SF and bizarre mainstream novels. This is the first of his books I have read since he passed, and I have quite a few to go, I'm happy to say - though most of them are the Iain Banks, not-SF books.

This particular book is mooted as being of the Culture sequence, though you can (and I did) read the entire book and not know that; indeed, it could _almost_ be a medieval-ish fantasy novel.

Set on a backwards world, it tells two stories that never quite intertwine.

One is the story of DeWar, the bodyguard of the Protector. The Empire of this world recently fell, leaving a bunch of squabbling kings, dukes, claimants to the Imperial title, and UrLeyn the Protector, a warlord who refuses royal trappings. DeWar constantly seeks (and finds) threats to UrLeyn's life; he describes himself as "an assassin of assassins."

The other story tells of Vossil, the Doctor to the King of a not-quite-neighboring kingdom. Her tale is told by Oelph, her apprentice, who is also spying on her for a Master whose identity is kept secret until the end. She has the resentment of not only the male Doctors of the kingdom, but also the King's closest advisors, who feel she has too much of his ear.

Their tales have two things in common.

The first is that both of them are from Somewhere Else, somewhere far away enough that their _bona fides_ are hard to check on.

The second is that their tales are full of secrets, betrayals, and violence.

It isn't saying too much to say that, while their tales never meet, one tale has an influence on the outcome of the other.

As always with Banks, the stories are well-written, full of twists and surprises, and fun to read. The denouements are satisfying and fall naturally out of what has gone before. All in all, another Banks winner.

A difference between Fig and Ibid

Oct. 25th, 2014 11:59 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
If, when he tires of his food, I pick and place back down Fig's dish, he is aware it's the same food he didn't want 30 seconds ago.

Ibid, not so much.

Rather disappointing meal

Oct. 25th, 2014 05:39 pm
oursin: A globe artichoke (artichoke)
[personal profile] oursin

We thought we would go to one really upmarket eatery in Munich, and even having eliminated the ones that even by London standards were horrendously pricey, it still turned out to be Quite Expensive, especially given that the food was really Not All That.

It did do a lot of the fine dining ritual.

However, I didn't feel that winter vegetable salad, even with wee baby veggies, had anything much to say to the artichoke bottom in my starter.

I did feel that if you make a big deal about serving the salt-baked sea bass two different ways, they should be a bit more distinguishable, even contrasty, than than they were. (Plus, grouch, I think if you say, for 2, eurosxx, one does not anticipate that that is per person rather than for the dish.)

Were I to be feeling kind I might say they were deploying an extremely subtle palette of flavour. Or I might just say it was all rather on the bland side.

The bread was very good but I thought it rather odd to set butter-knives but then just supply a selection of olive oils and fancy salts for dipping.

In supposedly ruinously expensive London I have spent less for better nosh.

Ellora’s Cave: Distribution Issues

Oct. 25th, 2014 08:45 am
deirdre: (Default)
[personal profile] deirdre

Part of EC’s problem is, and has been, distribution.

I’ve done some spot checks on EC authors and found that they aren’t consistently in all possible stores. For many authors, there are enough titles that it can be difficult to demonstrate the issue, but in this case, I’ve picked very small cases that are easier to see.

When talking on twitter about Axl and Taylor, I happened to search the iBooks store instead of my library. My recollection was that I’d bought one of Taylor’s books back when I was taking notes and writing research questions for an ex-stripper character I wanted to write. I’d never read the book (as I’m working on a different book right now), so I was trying to find it in amongst the other billion books I’ve bought.

I found one book by Taylor in the store. My recollection was that he’d written two. I was wrong; he’s written three. Well, co-authored three. I filed that away, then thought I’d use his case as symptomatic of a larger problem that EC has with its book distribution.

  Take It Off! Take It Off! (Again) Top Guns
Ellora’s Cave site $5.20 $5.20 $5.95
All Romance Ebooks $6.50 $7.50 1
Amazon $5.39 $5.39 $5.78
Apple iBooks $5.99 $7.99 2
B&N Nook $5.99 $5.99 $6.99
Kobo $5.39 $5.39 $6.19


What’s really interesting about this is that Apple reports that the seller for Taylor’s book on iBooks is All Romance Ebooks, which does not list that title.

Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

twistedchick: watercolor painting of coffee cup on wood table (coffee)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Oatmeal, with freshly ground-up toasted flaxseed, walnuts and pecans, with cinnamon and good B-grade maple syrup.

Amazing. Luscious. Tasty.

(I so need to make new icons...)

[poem] Craftwork

Oct. 25th, 2014 11:39 am
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
[personal profile] kaberett
For all of you; and specifically for [personal profile] jelazakazone, a bit.

I am living a borrowed life on
borrowed time, in that
the theft thereof has not been noticed yet--
my other selves are paper-thin;
they echo in the corners of my eyes,
their futures circumscribed by our own hand
and thereby written out of history.
Egal: perhaps they would be better, but
it's me who's living this, who's
strong or weak enough to hold on tight.
I will make a patchwork of my fractured nights,
my scraps of grace: as ever bound together
with the brilliant shining thread that you,
unknowing, trace.

(no subject)

Oct. 25th, 2014 05:48 am
twistedchick: (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
It's 5:48 a.m., and I'm absolutely awake.

I've watched the sun come up for two weeks. My body seems to be trying to move back to the medieval version of sleep that is divided into two sleep periods with a waking one in between -- except that the second one is anywhere throughout the day.

The SU made a wonderful coffeecake for dessert last night, something with chocolate and cinnamon and just enough crunch. He doesn't bake anywhere near enough (though his baking is so good that it's probably a good thing for my waistline that he doesn't.)

fic snippet: undercover

Oct. 24th, 2014 11:12 pm
cofax7: Three women: Leia, Starbuck, Zoe (Three Women -- Body)
[personal profile] cofax7
What it is, is obvious. If you pay attention to various casting decisions...

They weren't going to find a body )

Yeah, so I don't read the comics, and I don't really know the character, but c'mon, you know I had to tell that story.
graycardinal: Yuletide warning flag (Yuletide Crossing)
[personal profile] graycardinal posting in [community profile] yuletide

DISCLAIMER: I Am Not A Mod™, so the following should not be construed as official advice; all opinions expressed are entirely my own. I posted the original version of this guide last year, and had meant to get this up a bit earlier this time around.  All comments and suggestions are very welcome, and will be considered when next year's iteration is drafted.

The first thing to remember is that the Signup Summary is mostly accurate, but not entirely accurate.  Specifically, the code that generates the Signup Summary doesn't see (and therefore doesn't tally) fandoms included in the Optional Tags section of a "bucket list" offer. It does see all requests, and sees all offers included in the main Fandom field of an offer slot, whether that slot is used for a "bucket list" or not.

[NOTE: A bucket list is an offer slot featuring multiple fandoms in which you've offered "Any" characters; you add the extra fandoms to the Optional Tags section. Details about this process are documented elsewhere.]

It's important to note that the "bucket list bug" is an AO3 code issue, and is not a matter over which the Yuletide mods have control. Any challenge or exchange that produces a Signup Summary will experience the same issue. It does NOT affect the actual matching process. The code that does the matching sees all and knows all; it recognizes and accounts for bucket list offers.

What this means, generally:

If a fandom is listed in the Signup Summary, its actual number of offers may be higher than that listed. Specifically, a fandom listed with 0 offers may in fact have 1 or more offers in bucket lists. OTOH, the listing may also be correct as reported.

Essentially, the result is that all those (x/0) fandoms that look unmatchable may actually have a potential match or matches lurking in the bucket lists, and many (x/1) fandoms may be more matchable than they look....but there's no way for most participants to tell for sure.

Suggestions for building or editing bucket lists:

Use a bucket list only if you're actually offering more than ten (10) fandoms.  This ensures that the lowest possible number of offered fandoms is affected by the bucket list bug.

If you have a choice as to which of several fandoms to include in a bucket list, consider choosing fandoms with the fewest characters nominated.  Fandoms with larger character sets may benefit more from being visible.

If you have a choice as to which of several fandoms to move into or out of a bucket list, check the Signup Summary first.  Fandoms with many other offers will suffer least from having one offer moved into a bucket list, while fandoms with few or no offers will benefit most from having an offer moved out of a bucket list.

If you made a bucket list offer:

With respect to the fandoms in your own signup, you have a slight advantage in reading the Signup Summary. For example:

If you offered Agents of H.Y.D.R.A. in your bucket list, and it's showing up as (3/0) -- that is, three requests, no offers -- in the Signup Summary, you know that there are requests out there for it and that you can be matched to at least two of them (or all three, if none of the requests is yours).

If Agents of H.Y.D.R.A.is sitting at (1/1) in the SS and you know (a) the request was yours, and (b) you made a bucket list offer for it, you are also slightly ahead of the game. Because you know that the offer reported in the SS isn't actually yours, you know it's a potential match.

By contrast, someone who requested and offered Agents of Y.U.L.E.T.I.D.E. -- but didn't use a bucket list -- will look at its (1/1) Signup Summary listing and think "unmatchable", not knowing that you also offered Agents of Y.U.L.E.T.I.D.E.in your bucket list.

Should you edit your signup as we approach the last-minute stage?

That depends.

Three things you should NOT do:

• Don't simply delete a bucket list offer. The matching process needs those offers.
• Don't delete a request you want desperately, just because it looks unmatchable in the SS.
• Don't blame the mods for this problem; as noted above, it's an AO3 coding issue.

Two things you probably should do:

If you made a bucket list offer, but still have available offer slots (remember, you have as many as 10), you should consider moving as many offers as you can out of the bucket list and into those available slots. This will make the Signup Summary more accurate.

If you have available offer slots, bucket or otherwise, take a few minutes to cruise the long list of (x/0) and (x/1) fandoms in the Signup Summary. Invisible bucket offers notwithstanding, many of those listings are most likely accurate, and if there's a fandom among them you can offer, making that offer will (a) help the matching process, and (b) give someone a better chance of receiving a story they really, really want.

Three things you might consider as the clock ticks toward the last minute:

If all of your fandoms look unmatchable on the Signup Summary as the signup deadline nears, you might want to modify your requests (and/or offers). Remember that you have as many as 6 requests and 10 offers, so you may be able to add one or two without deleting existing entries.

If you've made offers for fandoms not on the Signup Summary -- that is, for entirely unrequested fandoms -- you might consider deleting those offers. This is very much a judgment call. The mods have indicated that offers for unrequested fandoms tend to slow the matching process; OTOH, it's entirely possible for a last-minute signup to include unrequested fandoms, so that the offer you thought wasn't matchable might actually "go live" just as signups end.

If you have time and interest in doing so, consider sending a polite note to AO3's Support team, encouraging them to address the bucket list bug as they continue to improve the archive's underlying code engine.  (The squeakiest wheels are the ones that tend to be greased soonest...but the cyber-elves tend to do their best work for the customers that feed them cookies as opposed to the ones that just shout the loudest.)

This has been your Muppet News Reporter, now signing off....


Oct. 25th, 2014 12:36 am

Halloween at work

Oct. 24th, 2014 07:21 pm
azurelunatic: Azz and best friend grabbing each other's noses.  (Default)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Not allowed to peck Purple with my long, dagger-like loon beak.

(no subject)

Oct. 24th, 2014 08:15 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Sarah, sitting and putting labels on the 150-odd vials of BPAL I decanted today: "You know, I don't think it was an unreasonable request."

Me, opening 200-some vials that I bought secondhand to sniff them and determine if I like them or not: "What?"

Sarah: "'One of these days I should find a perfume I can wear to work', I said. And here we are, somehow that having turned into 'try everything BPAL has ever made'..."


(She is so very tolerant of the fact that "....that escalated quickly" is my life motto.)

Sometimes what comes next is the gym

Oct. 24th, 2014 04:27 pm
redbird: my head and chest, from in front (new gym icon)
[personal profile] redbird
The numbers from [profile] julian_tiger's most recent bloodwork are worse, and his weight is down; we aren't going to have him much longer. And I lost Velma less than a week ago. So, try to avoid making significant decisions, and I am doing quite a bit on habit. Things like having yogurt for breakfast, or timing on cups of tea.

One of those habits seems to be exercise, though that's not an everyday thing like the morning yogurt. I hadn't been to the fitness room since Monday, so I went this afternoon. I think it helped my mood, as well as being good for me on other levels. There were two other people in the exercise room, one telling the other what to do, setting the amounts of resistance on the machines, and so on. The one being instructed looked to be in his teens; it was weird realizing that I may have been doing this since before he was born. That's enough years to normalize it, and make it something to do when "normal" feels a bit out of reach.

numbers )
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

The National Association of Evangelicals has come out against predatory lending and payday loans. That’s good! Yay NAE!

The NAE is an umbrella group representing dozens of small Protestant denominations and more than 45,000 churches. These are white evangelical folk, so they tend to be very politically conservative. Or, rather, they tend to define their faith in terms that are politically conservative — their religious identity is both political and conservative. What that often means in practice is that they double-check their impulses and instincts to ensure they’re not getting out of line with orthodox conservative politics.

PaydayAs I often note here, most of these folks are Very Nice People — far more like Ned Flanders than like James Dobson (even though, inexplicably, they mostly like Dobson). And like most Very Nice People, when they begin to understand the facts of predatory lending — to see the outrageous interest rates and cascading fees forced upon the poor and defenseless — they think it seems wrong. As in, there ought to be a law against it wrong.

Yet when they double-check to see if this is an acceptable reaction, they find that this view has been framed as dangerously liberal. It’s something championed by Satanic baby-killers like Elizabeth Warren and Eric Holder, and agreeing with people like that can get you in a lot of trouble in the white evangelical world.

So the first Good Thing about the NAE’s resolution against predatory lending is that it gives members of the white evangelical tribe permission to be against predatory lending. It tells them that this is an issue on which they are allowed to view government action and legal regulation favorably, and that this is an issue on which they are permitted to agree with liberals without risking demerits on their permanent record.

The resolution itself is short and rather vague. That’s by design. Here’s the key part:

The NAE calls on lenders to design loan products that do not exploit poor and vulnerable borrowers. We call on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate predatory lending abuses and to establish just regulations that protect consumers, particularly the most poor and vulnerable among us, from exploitation.

That bit about the CFPB sounds a bit like it was written by someone who’s never heard of the agency and imagines they’re inventing the idea of it. It’s a bit like someone calling on NASA to begin exploring space with, like, rockets and telescopes and stuff.

But the vague generality of that makes this resolution more useful when it comes to its primary function. Most denominations and interdenominational associations have a resolutions process something like the NAE’s because these organizations also have a governmental affairs office. In other words, they have lobbyists — professional employees in Washington, DC, whose job it is to influence policy makers on behalf of the organization.

Those lobbyists are authorized to speak on behalf of the organization and on behalf of all of its members. As such, they’re only permitted to address “issues” that the organization and its members have taken an official position on.

That’s why, for example, the introduction of laws intended to stop human trafficking produced a volley of denominational resolutions putting those groups on record in support of legal efforts to oppose human trafficking. Without such resolutions, the lobbyists representing those groups and their members were not empowered to support such legislation.

So now the NAE’s executives have permission to speak out in support of the CFPB when it investigates predatory lending and now the NAE’s government relations people are authorized to support “just regulations that protect consumers, particularly the most poor and vulnerable among us, from exploitation.” And that’s all good.

NAE’s resolution also includes some language about what local congregations can do to address the problem of predatory lending:

Most families experience emergency needs from time to time. Churches, charities and employers can and do help with gifts or loans in times of personal crisis.

That’s good — such “gifts and loans” can, indeed, keep desperate people from having to turn to the legal loan sharks who might otherwise provide the $200 needed in an unforeseen emergency, but will claw back $2,000 for the privilege.

I also like that the NAE doesn’t just commend the practice of extending such gifts and loans to churches and charities. They also say this is something that employers should do to respond to people in need. I’d like to hear that preached in more pulpits.

But he NAE’s other piece of advice for local congregations is, alas, less helpful:

They can also offer financial literacy classes and model the virtues of disciplined saving, delayed gratification and investment for future needs.

It’s possible to promote financial literacy without descending into a cluelessly cruel form of victim-blaming. You can usually tell who’s getting that right because they don’t use the words “financial literacy.”

Poor people do not need to be taught anything about “delayed gratification.” Poor people know more about delayed gratification than any rich person will ever understand. The poor are not poor because they lack “virtues.” The poor are poor because they lack money.

This part of NAE’s resolution veers into nasty Dave Ramsey territory. Sure, predatory lending is bad, too, yesbutofcourse, but did you see what those poor people were wearing? They brought this on themselves. Sigh.

Fortunately, that odious little aside is tangential to the main purpose and function of the NAE’s resolution. That main purpose, again, is that the group’s executives and lobbyists and members have now given themselves permission to support “just regulations that protect consumers.”

Here’s hoping they will.


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