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Nov. 18th, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Why I am so heartbroken over Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi.

Sure, I can shorthand and say: because I loved them as a kid.

But more specifically, I mean: as a 10-year old girl with undiagnosed Asperger's, I memorized Bill Cosby's comedy routines and repeated them word for word. To anyone who would listen. Bill Cosby made me laugh uproariously, and he made people I admired laugh, too. Sharing laughter is a profound moment of human connection, and I wanted desperately to be the kind of person who could make others connect like that.

Same with Moxy Fruvous when I was in my late teens and early twenties. By then I was more social, less obviously Aspie. By then I was more worried about how desperately uncool I was. The cool kids (the counter-culture non-bullying ones I could admire) AND my band geek friends AND my engineering nerd school friends all loved Moxy Fruvous. Instead of just me and my little brother memorizing their every word, it was us and all of our friends, singing in the car together. We carpooled all over the Great Lakes to go to their shows; we ate Buffalo chicken pizza and piled ourselves two dozen deep at my parents' house in a colossal college-kid sleepover. I used Moxy Fruvous shows to convince my second boyfriend to go out with me (at age 21). They were so damned much fun. Like Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi and his band brought people together.

As a late-blooming girl with Asperger's, Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby taught me so much about communication, and humor, and humanity.

And oh, by the way, they are both monsters who rape women.

cross-posted to dreamwidth. comment count unavailable

Oct. 17th, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

What I Did This Summer

For folks who are involved in the Wiscon community and who don't know what's been going on: the Wiscon concom had close to a dozen people resign in the aftermath of the Frenkel harassment ban. Many of them were volunteers in critical jobs, who had been working the con for several decades without any clear understudies or apprentices, doing the work of five or six regular volunteers at what was easily a part-time job level.

The good news is, we've had close to two dozen new people volunteer to join the concom, and they're rapidly filling the vacuum. Wiscon is changing into a more intersectional national/international con that is a lot more community-oriented. And hopefully, safer for everyone.

But there's a lot of institutional knowledge that's at risk for being lost, and several wheels that are going to need re-inventing. And all this during the summer and fall months when the concom is usually on "hiatus". We've still got a long way to go before we can have a Wiscon 39.

EDIT: It's come to my attention that the phrase "aftermath of the Frenkel decision" is being perceived as "people left the concom as a direct result of the permanent ban." Which isn't what happened: The vast majority of people left as a result of the arduous process of rewriting our harassment policy when we discovered it was severely flawed. This process took an extraordinary level of effort on the part of many members of the concom, well in excess of the normal amount of work involved in simply putting on the convention, and several people left as a result of the months-long discussions that happened well in advance of the ban.

I can't state for certain that nobody left as a direct result of the original decision for a conditional ban being overturned in favor of a permanent ban. But most of the people who resigned did so well in advance of the vote, or in the months afterwards. The most common reasons cited were that people found the months of heated and sometimes emotional arguments draining, and they badly needed a break. The people who left the concom included people who originally tried to defend Jim Frenkel and people who argued for the perma-ban.

Oct. 14th, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Time Burglary

Time burglar (n, slang, idiomatic) - Someone who responds to an ad with multiple requests for information, borderline-insulting counter-offers, and requests for time-consuming changes, only to disappear into thin air and never contact you again.

Usage: "I've had that ad posted online for a day and half, and I've already had two assholes burgle my time."

Jackie's quick guide to IDing probable time burglars:

a.) male
b.) makes multiple requests for information, none of which are the all-important "Do you take paypal?"
c.) believes that "r u willing to drop pric? how much duz it weight?" is an appropriate style of communication for business correspondence

Depressing fact about humanity: I was talking specifically about classified ads, but I've been informed that this is apparently super-common on dating sites. Yuck.

Jul. 28th, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

A Modest Proposal

Anonymous Friend: Reading the comments on Scalzi's blog, I would like to propose an informal standard for measuring a harassment policy.

Me: What, that reporting harassment should not be far worse than being harassed?

AF: "If Neil Gaiman were accused of sexual harassment, would this policy work?"

Me: Hahahah
Me: Okay, honestly, I'm not sure which is more idealistic and naive.

AF: Oh yeah I know ::weeps::

Jul. 21st, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

A reaction from a Wiscon concom member

Originally posted as a comment to: Comments on Wiscon, the Frenkel Decision, and Harassment, by Antarcticlust

I'm on the Wiscon concom, and I'd like to say a few words about how this post by Antarcticlust and the discussion in the comments has dramatically changed what's going on in the concom right now. The concom was initially presented with the Frenkel subcommittee's decision on July 15, with the following preface:

"This statement has been sent to Elise Matthesen and Lauren Jankowski, per their request. We are also circulating it to the concom for your information and advance notice; while we welcome your comments, this is the final document and it will not be changed at this point."

The concom has basically been schisming all weekend over the decision. Concom members have been asking repeatedly for clarification on the timeline of the provisional ban and on the subcommittee process which led to it. Why was such a large emphasis put on rehabilitating known serial harasser, and such a small emphasis on protecting the community from him?

As the clarifications seemed to only increase the confusion, a large number of the concom found ourselves unable to stand by the decision and questioning the motives of the subcommittee in making it. Some number of us have started drafting an open letter demanding the decision be revisited, we don't care how "final" it is supposed to be.

Wiscon itself was and is in danger this weekend, both as a concept and in practice. Various individuals from both sides are contemplating quitting the concom in sheer frustration, when the concom is already badly understaffed. A few of us are starting to think "burn it all down" makes sense. What's the point of a "feminist" convention if it can't listen to its own community and protect that community from harm?

This post by Antarcticlust and the comments on it have dramatically changed the concom discussion. While the information provided here has raised as many questions as it has answered, it has made clear to the rest of the concom how the subcommittee could have arrived at the decision it did: by consciously omitting most of the relevant information about Jim Frenkel's history in the SFF community, and by (apparently?) failing to discuss much of the information that was requested from Wiscon members for the purpose of making this decision.

Because Antarcticlust believes in and prioritzes transparency, and stuck her neck out and exposed her own and the subcommittee's ignorance to the scorching light of day, we now know some of how this happened. The discussion on the Wiscon concom has changed dramatically overnight. Several members of the Frenkel subcommittee (not all! -Ed.) have stopped angrily defending their decision, and are now considering the possibility that they made a very bad mistake. People are calling for a vote to throw out the current decision.

We still need to come up with a new decision. The current policy is still obviously flawed. I'm pretty sure we're still going to lose several critical concom members in short order. The concom still doesn't have an adequate mechanism for giving enough weight to the community before it rams itself angrily down our twitter feed. Wiscon is still in danger, both as an abstract concept and as an event that continues to happen in future years.

But I'm a lot more optimistic today that Friday's decision will be thrown out, and that we'll find our way to one that prioritizes the safety of the community. What the hell else is a harassment policy for?

Answers to a few questions I've seen here and elsewhere:

How is it possible for the members of the Frenkel decision subcommittee to be so ignorant of his history? Guys, I've been active in the SFF community since 2006, and on the Wiscon concom since 2010, and until two years ago, I didn't know about him as anything other than "an editor at Tor". This is what a missing stair is: a problematic individual in the community that is never discussed publicly, only via grapevine warnings. But the grapevine took 6 years to reach me, and I'm decently networked-in. Classic serial harassers rely on this lag time and lack of public disclosure to both maintain credibility within the community (with colleagues who have never had bad experiences with them, and dismiss the rumors if and when they do hear them) and to have access steady supply of unwitting victims (who haven't been in the community long enough to connect to the grapevine).

That is how much of the subcommittee could have been that ignorant. And that is also why a decision which prioritizes rehabilitating an accused serial harasser over community safety is no damn good, and needs to be thrown out.

How is it possible for someone so ignorant of the harassment events at Readercon to be the head of the Wiscon Harassment Policy Committee? Antarcticlust was the right person for the job because she understood the need for someone to do it, and she had a plan, and she was willing to spar with reluctant and established concom members to get it in place before W38. Antarcticlust is a career academic, and the plan was based on the well-established academic model for dealing with harassment cases. Of course, this model has known flaws, and (in hindsight) I think the subcommittee system failed in a pretty typical fashion.

I'm not sure why she says she was unfamiliar with the Readercon events--the Wiscon concom did pass around the new Readercon policy early this spring, and we did discuss it. I think what Antarcticlust means is that she wasn't familiar with the incident that led to Readercon revising its policy, and so she didn't pay close enough attention or understand the context of it.

Nonetheless, prior to W38, what Wiscon had was a decent code of conduct, and no system whatsoever for dealing with reports once they were filed. Antarcticlust understood this was a problem months before we started uncovering missing reports. Antarcticlust made sure we had a real policy in place before W38, that we had positions with continuity and redundancy so that reports couldn't continue to be lost, and that the work didn't get shoved under the table during the rush to actually put on the convention.

She's willing to be proven wrong and admit ignorance, and she prioritizes transparency. She's currently reading through the Readercon history; by tomorrow, she's likely to be our leading expert.

If she has to step down as head of the Harassment Policy Committee, I kind of hope there will be a way for her to stay on the committee. She gets shit done.

-Jackie M.
Wiscon Concom, Readings Dept. W35-W38
Harassment Policy Committee W38

DISCLAIMERS: I am not speaking for the Wiscon concom here, only my own experience on it. I am not even speaking for The Radical Splinter Group That Opposes the Frenkel Decision. This is all my own opinion and personal perspective.

Also, I have mild dysgraphia, and will fix typos when I see them. Sorry. I am a full-time student, and will respond when I can (likely before I fix the typos).

Apr. 19th, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

The rest of the 2014 Hugo Ballot.

What does it actually signify that Vox Day made it onto the 2014 Hugo ballot? Among other things, it that means running a PR campaign as the poster child for misogyny and white surpremacy will actually get you more visibility as a writer than quietly toiling through a life of literary mediocrity.

Is that shameful? Yes, of course it is. Forty years from now, the SF community will look back at that ballot and shake its head in horror and embarrassment. They will be grateful that they've (hopefully!) moved beyond racist misogynist homophobes having such a large voice in the community.

But it's also accurate. The Hugo ballot is supposed to reflect the "best in the field", but like every other award in every other field it is more accurately a reflection of the cultural zeitgeist. All you need to do is search for "racism", "sexism", or "political correctness" on YouTube or reddit if you want to see how perfectly that ballot reflects the attitudes of the early 21st century. This is not just a genre problem; this is a cultural problem. And it most certainly is shameful.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that the 2014 Hugo ballot looks very different than it did even a handful of years ago. The rest of the ballot is packed full of the very people Vox Day hates and fears. The rest of the ballot reflects the sheer number of people actively, visibly campaigning against the attitudes he espouses. In many cases they are campaigning by exactly the same means that Vox Day employed to get that nomination. And they are winning.

Vox Day and his allies won a tiny insignificant little battle, but they're losing the war.

And that is actually a pretty awesome Hugo ballot.

Jan. 6th, 2014

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Papaya Manifesto

Dear everybody,

I love you, but "detox" isn't really a thing. Yes, you can survive on nothing but homemade papaya juice or whatever for a week, but it's not actually going to miraculously flush all the heavy metals/toxins/oxidants out of your system. Or do anything much, really, unless you're diabetic; in which case I'm sure it'll be a fun ride for your blood sugar. I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you that, but you're evidently not going to shut up about it. So I'm just going to get that off my chest now.

Nov. 3rd, 2013

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Free horoscope from the Astronomer Who Makes You Cry!

This week Mercury is in Retrograde. I haven't actually bothered to verify this fact, mind, I'm just reporting what everyone on my feed is complaining about. So if you are having a bad day, I'm very sorry to hear it, and I sympathize utterly. And so does Mercury. Though Mercury would like to mention that he'd appreciate some sympathy, too, because due to his proximity to the Sun and the speed of his orbit, he's in retrograde APPROXIMATELY ONE QUARTER OF THE DAMN YEAR. And he's tired of getting blamed for tiny human problems and quarrels on a planet 60 million miles or more distant, when the plain facts of the matter are that he empirically, demonstrably has nothing whatsoever to do with them. Retrograde is hard on him, too, and he'd like a hug.

...which is surprising to this astronomer, given that Mercury is fundamentally a non-sentient ball of iron and rock with no personality or capability for emotion. But as long as everyone is engaging in magical thinking this month ANYWAY, hey, what's a little anthropomorphism between friends?

Dec. 27th, 2012

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

False Dichotomy

So I finally picked up Woman on the Edge of Time, which I think Susan sent me a year or two ago. I settled down to read it, and I promptly bounced off the blurb at the back:
"...the fascinating story of Connie Ramos, a Chicana woman in her mid-thirties, living in New York and labeled insane, committed to a mental institution. But the truth is that Connie is overwhelmingly sane, heroically sane, and tuned into the future.

Connie is able to communicate with the year 2137. Two totally different ways of living are competing. One is beautiful---communal, nonsexist, environmentally pure, open to ritual and magic. The other is a horror---totalitarian, exploitive, rigidly technological..."

Now, I realize this book was written in 1976. But I'm so tired of this, of feminists equating "positive female values" with "ritual and magic" and "negative male values" with "technology". That was 1976, true, but I walk around the Gathering at Wiscon year after year, and it's Palm Reading, Tea Leaves, hair braiding. These things are all meant to be fun. But where are the tables of legos? Where is the table of Woman Skeptics? And I can't even think of a panel to propose to discuss this that doesn't reek of internalized sexism, that won't just start a stupid fight.

I will read this book, I promise. But I also want feminists, particularly SF feminists, to start identifying with "technology". If we claim it as Our own, we can remake it in Our image.

May. 9th, 2012

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz


This is what I want: A Couch to 10k program. With lots of advice about interval training.

Because I can already jog a 5k, see? It's just grindingly, embarrassingly slow. My power walker friends can keep up with my 14 minute mile. And I want to be able to do the Saguaro East 8 miler one day, so I badly need a game plan for gaining distance.

(Also, everyone is spanking me in Fitocracy because it seems to award points for running largely based on pace. Christ, I've only been on Fitocracy for 23 hours! How can everyone be spanking me already?)

Mar. 19th, 2012

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Just another beautiful, sweet kid, on the cusp of adulthood

I look at this kid, and it breaks my heart.

I read articles like this and what I feel is shame. And every day that goes by---every day that I read furious and cynical and oh-so-weary tweets about how nobody cares about black kids and how white justice is only for white people---every day that the Sanford Police Department sits on its heels and proves the cynics right, I feel more shame.

Can white America get justice for the family of a young black boy killed in his own neighborhood? We can't even get the killer arrested. Never mind convicted.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has requested more "light (as opposed to heat)". I appreciate the sentiment, but I disagree. I think there will be no light without heat. And what the light has revealed so far has very much justified the rising temperature.

What can we do for this boy and for his grieving family, white America? I think we can raise some hell. Just a little hell; there are a lot of us after all. We can write some letters. We can send empty bags of skittles. At the very bare minimum, we can sign his mother's online petition. That takes 30 seconds, right? When I signed, there were only 20,000 signatures; now there are close to half a million. What is the population of America right now, 310 million? Do you think we can find 1 million decent white Americans like ourselves who are willing to listen to our black neighbors, hear their grief and their fear for their own sons and daughters? And then spend 30 seconds working to make America a little better?

Sometimes I wonder.

Feb. 20th, 2012


Yoda Oreos at Con or Bust

I adore the idea behind the Con or Bust auction, even if every item I ever want to bid on rapidly exceeds my graduate-student-income budget.

My contribution to this year's auction are Yoda Oreos. I guinea-pigged them at Astro Coffee Club two weeks ago, and they were a terrific hit.

Bidding for all auction items ends this, Saturday, February 25, 2012, at 11:59 EST.

The auction is currently providing assistance for fans/writers of color looking for financial assistance for SF/F conventions during April, May, and June. Deadline for applications for this quarter is also February 25.

Feb. 7th, 2012

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Looking at America with one eye shut

I don't seem to be able to keep track of the links I post on Facebook and twitter, and I don't want to lose these. Apologies to those of you who are seeing them for the second or third or forty-fourth time:

Writing American Empire

The above is largely a reaction to this longer essay by Kamila Shamsie:

The Storytellers of Empire

The Hilary Plum is originally via Matthew Cheney.

EDIT: Might as well throw Truth, Lies, and Afghanistan in there as well, since the above is to intimately tied to it.

Nov. 22nd, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Because changing times call for changing language.

Infravehiculation def.: (n) literally: to place under a carriage or vehicle. Colloquially: to scapegoat someone, preferably an underling, in order to save oneself from repercussions. See also: "throwing someone under the bus."

Etymology: Precise combination of latin roots suggested by David.

Verb (used with object): to infravehiculate

Usage: Similar to defenestrate/defenestration.

"Wow, the UC Davis Chancellor sure was quick to infravehiculate her chief of police!"

Sep. 5th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

On the National Anthem sung in the Native tongue.

I ran in my very first 5k race today, though it was actually only the "fun run" component. The traditional 8-miler is a beautiful, brutal race around Saguaro National Park and one day I'd very much like to be able to complete the full route. In the mean time, you may admire my pitiful performance in the 5k. That's right: there are people who walked a faster pace than I ran.

(But yes, I really ran the entire 5k, except for 100 meters near the end of a steep hill between the 2nd and 3rd mile. Luckily there was a cheerleading section strategically placed at the top, and they managed to get me running again all the way to the finish line sprint. I didn't catch anybody with my final sprint, but at least I put on a good show, with my chubby pounding legs and my red apple face.)

The most interesting thing, though, was the Navajo singer who sang the National Anthem in her native tongue. (The singer was Kryshell, and I'm having difficulty finding more info on her.) There was a weird, uncomfortable moment, when all the runners at attention realized they didn't recognize the words; for a moment it reminded me of Moxy Fruvous singing O Canada in French at a hockey game in Edmonton, and getting booed for it. But these were people running in part to celebrate the lives of lost friends, including Gabrielle Giffords' aide Gabe Zimmerman, and altogether they were hardly the booing sort.

But then there was another weird moment after the end of the race, when the anthem came up in conversation, and my spidey sense suggested that someone was about to say something to raise my blood pressure. I interjected: "It was a brave thing to do, singing the anthem in your Native tongue rather than English."

After a moment, the other person nodded. "Brave. Yes, she was."


So yeah, I feel bad running over somebody in conversation like that. But can we talk about how sad it is that even in 2011 a Navajo singing the Stars and Stripes in her native tongue is doing something brave? God, what would have happened if she'd sung it in Spanish? Arizona in 2011 isn't philosophically so far from
Alberta in the 1990s.

EDIT: A Note on the National Anthem (from the post-race e-mail):

"I was remiss in introducing the singer of the National Anthem: Krishel Augustine is a junior at Santa Rita High School, and the 2010-2011 Miss Ramah Navajo Princess. This is her second year of singing the National Anthem in Navajo, a beautiful reminder of the spirit of that anthem as a call to our nation for togetherness -- especially poignant this year so near to 9/11."

--Randy Accetta, Race Director, Southern Arizona Roadrunners

Aug. 15th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

There are two types of people:

This snake is cute


People who voted N: would you care to elaborate?


Well, technically, that might be three types of people. But you meh people, you hardly count.

Jun. 30th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Imaginary evil is easier

Having read this article on the phenomenon of pregnant American women being charged with murder when the miscarry or have a stillbirth, I feel---strongly---that I ought to use my new-found petition writing superpower to do something about it. Because I'm sick with horror. And there are other things that horrify me, such as:

1.) the sheer quantity of brain space and effort and time it takes me to frame and then write one of these things

2.) the fact that I can't seem to muster the energy to overcome the first without a group of friends egging me on.

Which returns me right back to last week's doubts: Why was I able to write such an excellent petition for a fake Amina, when I can't produce one for a real person, in real danger?

...okay, one thing I didn't talk about in that entry was neatness vs. messiness specifically from a petitioning stand point. Real people, real situations are messy. Real situations involve women using drugs, women who are already the at the bottom of the American social order and completely out of options. Real situations involve these women being charged with "chemical endangerment of a fetus", because it's assumed that the average American will already have written these mothers off anyway---that we will be too busy equating them with drug dealers and meth labs, too busy calling them trash to notice or care about the abject cruelty towards the already-grieving mothers.

Real situations involve average Americans like us actually believing these women had some control over their lives, believing they were at least partially to blame. So let's move on, let's find another "neat" case.

"Amina's" situation was very neat: she was purportedly an American citizen, therefore we can ask the State Dept. to intervene. Here, well, I'm not sure who I'm asking, and what I'm asking of them? And I've lost my sounding board, the group of people who---in addition to egging me on, in addition to me wanting to impress them---helped me think through my demands, and figure out who it was precisely that I wanted to petition.

So: help me? Who am I addressing this petition to? I think I've settled on the Rennie Gibbs case---it's the most recent, she's only 15 years old, and there are already campaigns for Amanda Kimbrough and Bei Bei Shuai. And I know what I want long term: I want to raise awareness. Ideally, I need to set a goal for this petition that is both specific achievable, and use that to get into a position where I can write something on behalf of the other 40+ grieving women who have been charged with losing their babies on purpose.

Please? Egg me on.

EDIT: related

MORE EDIT: via David

Jun. 21st, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

oh, obviously.

So now "A Gay Girl in Damascus" has been taken down and Tom MacMaster has suddenly started e-mailing the publicists of people he sent copies of his manuscript, threatening to sue them for sharing bits of said manuscript online. And that can only mean one thing:

... MacMaster thinks he's made SUCH a big splash with the kidnapping hoax that he can now sell the manuscript and comfortably retire. He really was selling us a product; he really was causing misery and exploiting other people's narrative for his own financial gain.

So, I think this is officially the point where I also finally transition from cynicism to rage. This is the point where I suggest we all download the crappy manuscript now, make it publicly available as widely as possible, and let the lawyers and the courts spend years arguing over "intellectual" property while MacMaster doesn't make a penny.

Jun. 20th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

The question that haunts me.

delux_vivens asks:
"can someone explain: why is so much easier to listen to fake white people pretending to people of color when there are persons of color speaking for themselves?"

So, after writing this petition and this apology (click on "About This Petition"), I gotta tell you: of all the comments people are making about Tom MacMaster/"Amina", @deluxviven's is the one that's sticking with me, that's causing me to stay up at night.

And having had a week to think about why---why was I paying so much more attention to the journal of the fake queer Syrian, not any of the real ones?---this is the best I've been able to do:

  1. Because Tom MacMaster was fundamentally a white English-speaker, writing in English, primarily targeting a predominantly white, English-speaking audience.Collapse )

  2. He was writing to sell a product, and targeting Western readers in particular as his consumers.Collapse )

  3. As a Western rather than a Syrian, he had access to Western contacts.Collapse )

  4. He wasn"t actually writing from Syria.Collapse )

I still do hope that some good will come out of this, though I'm increasingly uncertain sure how. MacMaster certainly raised awareness of the plight of Syrian bloggers and activists in the wake of the Arab Spring crackdowns, but---as 'Amina' herself often asserted---Western awareness is a double-edged sword. Syria, like many countries in the region, has suffered considerably from the long-term effects of 19th and 20th-century Western imperialism. Many Syrians strongly prefer to move towards democracy without Western interference or "help".

What is certain? Is that by raising their international profile, Tom MacMaster has done measurable and very considerable harm to Syrian pro-gay and pro-democracy bloggers and activists.

I'd like to mitigate my own ignorance. As penance; as an investment in the future. I'm seeking out better sources for information on the Arab Spring, on GLBT issues in the region, and on the political situation in particular. If you have any links or even basic reading you'd like to recommend: please. Please share?

Jun. 19th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

echtes ostfrisen teehaus

Oh, and this is my new favorite place in the entire world: It's a beer garden/tea house. So if it's sunny you can sit out and drink beer; if it's rainy you can sit inside and drink tea. (Or Gluhwein, or spiked coffee.) Genius!

Jun. 12th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

postcard from Juist

For a variety of reasons, I could have picked a better weekend to strand myself on an island in the North sea. But at least the on-again, off-again weather means the place is not completely overrun with retired folks and holidaying families and drunken footballers.

As far as I can tell, I'm the only non-native German speaker on the island.

Send more beer.


May. 31st, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

At last:

A blood test for depression. Almost instantaneous, even.

I sure hope this is real, people, because holy shit. I want to find those nice Japanese researchers and HUG THEM FOREVER.

May. 27th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

NoWiscon solidarity roll call!

Who else isn't at Wiscon even though they much rather would be?
danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Hell is other people.

via stephanieburgis, cross-posted to Facebook.

May. 25th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Ladies, teaching is hard. Let's go drill some oil for the boys!

Average salary of a primary school education major: $36,000. Average salary of a petroleum engineer: $120,000. By the way, the 2011 poverty threshold for a 4-person family is $22,350.

My personal favorite section, though, is the outcome report on physical science majors, from which we obtain the following numbers:

The median income for a female holding a physics bachelor's degree = $40,000.

The median income for a male holding a physics bachelor's degree = $75,000.

Boy howdy. When I say that those numbers depress me, I mean depressing in a very clinical, where-did-I-put-the-bottle-of-SSRIs sense.

(cross-posted to facebook)

May. 22nd, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Dear All of Continental Europe,

Window screens. You could solve your hideous summer evening mosquitos-in-the-house problem very neatly by the simple usage of window screens.

(Seriously, anyone got any investment capital? Some entrepreneurial soul could make an absolute fortune selling these crazy American contraptions.)

May. 15th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Dear world,

I love the pharmacy at the Walgreens at Mill & Broadway in Tempe. It's like some kinda backwards throwback to the neighborhood pharmacies of my childhood, where the pharmacist knew your parents by name and actually took the time to make sure everything was alright. (Also they ooh and ahh at my dogs and give them treats whenever I pick up meds at the pharmacy drive-thru window on my way back from the dog park.)

And I especially love Vidya, the late-shift pharmacist at the Walgreens, who took the time to contact my insurance and convinced them to paying for two months worth of migraine meds in advance of my trip to Europe, so that I wouldn't have to ask my husband mail a bottle of sumatriptan to Germany in the middle of June. Thank you, Vidya, you wonderful person.

May. 14th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

A truly awesome sight.

Oh, fine, I suppose I really do have to link to this:

Darth Vader announces Obi-Wan KIA.

The comment thread. My god, the comment thread.

I hate having my faith in humanity restored. Especially Star Wars fan humanity.

via Dave S.

May. 4th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

The Best Damn Thing I've Read All Week.

The Longest War, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
"For if they will not take as legitimate a magna cum laude from their highest institutions, if they will not accept a man who tells black kids to cut off the video games and study, who accedes to their absurd requests one week, and slays their demons the next, who will they accept? Who among us would they ever believe?"

...Ouch. (via Kameron)

EDIT: The Michelle Obama dancing to Beyonce video is well worth watching if you need cheering up.

Apr. 17th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz


Huh, so that's what 175 lb. women look like when they're not the one in my mirror, wearing my size 14 clothes? That... explains a lot of random compliments from a few years back.

Mar. 6th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Con or Bust

Today is the last chance to bid on items at Con or Bust:

Help send SF fans of color to Wiscon! (The big news: next year con or bust will be operating again, but will be expanding to help fans attend the SF con of their choice.)

This is also the last chance to bid on my awesome hats:

$40! That's crazy. If it gets much crazier I will be forced to knit TWO hats, and give one each to the two top highest bidders.

Jan. 24th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Theory: People are Sheep

Status: Confirmed.

You know how Starbucks always has a little chalkboard in front of the cash register advertising some seasonal beverage or another? In October and November it's pumpkin-flavored drinks; in December it's peppermint and gingerbread lattes. At the moment the Starbuckses on campus are all advertising caramel macchiatos (hot or cold). (Don't forget you can order it "skinny"! Only 140 calories!)

I went to two separate campus Starbucks today: once at the business school to acquire a large unsweetened iced tea to keep me awake through the lunch seminar; and then later at the bookstore on my way back to my car, to cash in on my $.60 refill. Of the 11 other people who stood in line with me during those two occasions, 6 walked away with caramel macchiatos (3 "skinny", one with extra caramel).

I figure I can hold out for a week--tops--before I break down and join the rest of the herd.

Jan. 23rd, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

The Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed Experiment.

Wow. I had never heard of Jane Elliott or the two-day lesson on discrimination that she gave her 3rd graders starting in 1968, on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The online Frontline episode is originally from 1985, I guess? If you actaully have an hour, it's worth watching all the way to end--the 2nd and 3rd segments show how surprising quickly stereotype threat can kick in. And when Elliott extends the exercise to adults, the result can only be described as intense.

Frontline: A Class Divided

...I feel like Jane Elliott's lesson is the missing key to every attempted discussion of white privilege---and privilege blindness in particular--- from the last four decades.

(via the Brilliant Professor Lady)

Jan. 13th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Ever wonder the real reason we demoted Pluto?


Edit: Not only have we known about it all along, but we've been actively working to hide the information from you. (please observe how even back then Pluto was making a giant nuisance of itself)

Jan. 8th, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz


Two years ago I stood in line outside a supermarket in Tucson, deciding the best way to use my 60 seconds of direct contact with my congressperson, while trapped in a conversation with a nice retired lady who wanted me to understand that the Tea Party was not about party politics.

I wish I'd spent my 60 seconds telling Gabrielle Giffords that she was amazing and brave and that I supported her every inch of the way.

Details on the Candlelight Vigil:
Saturday, January 8 · 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Location: University Medical Center, East sidewalks (on Campbell).

More info: Join together to celebrate Gabrielle Giffords tonight at UMC, where she is presently undergoing surgery. We will remember the family members of the others who passed this afternoon. Until further notice, bring your own candles.

We will meet on the East side of the hospital on the sidewalks (we cannot block the entrances to the hospital). Please alert your friends!


EDIT: First confirmed death is apparently a 9 year-old child.

EDIT(2): Christina Taylor-Green, 9; Gabe Zimmerman, 30; John Roll, 63; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwan Stoddard, 76; Phyllis Scheck, 79

Jan. 3rd, 2011

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

A couple of sobering links

First: A really excellent explanation of how editorial bias (and basic statistics) contribute to so many initially-exciting scientific and medical results quietly vanishing after a few years of follow-up.

Study vs. Study: The Decline Effect and Why Scientific "Truth" So Often Turns out to be Wrong.

Second: The story of how one devoutly Christian young man serving in Iraq lost sight of his life-long dream of serving his country, and became a Conscientious Objector.

My Country Right or Wrong

This story is amazing on several levels. For starters, the divide between what he thought he was setting out to do in Iraq, and what he actually did (and was in fact trained to do) is... startling.

I sincerely hope he writes that book.

Nov. 30th, 2010

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

How to reduce or even eliminate gender gaps, racial gaps,

and the effects of "stereotype threat" in your math and science classes.

And it takes 15 minutes.

Wow, people.


Nov. 24th, 2010

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

My house smells like holidays

Oddly, because Chris is making pate. I guess he makes pate every holiday season? Because somehow thyme and bay and allspice and celery and onions and CHICKEN LIVER smells like Christmas and/or Thanksgiving to me. (My nasal passageways apparently have difficulty distinguishing the two. I guess they both just smell like cold weather and thyme and cooking meat of some sort.)

So, what are the rest of you Americans doing for Thanksgiving?

Nov. 19th, 2010

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

Dear Sarah Prineas,

Not only was your Magic Thief trilogy so good that I stayed up until 2am reading all of them, but I finally convinced my Dad to try Book One by claiming "I haven't had so much fun since Harry Potter". (My Dad has problems reading the way I have problems writing, and the Harry Potter series is the only fiction he's read in the last three? four? decades.)

So after spending the last two weeks slowly picking his way through the first 100 pages, today he e-mailed me to let me know that he'd stayed up until 4am finishing the rest of it. Mom will probably complain this is bad for his heart... but now I have two guaranteed Christmas presents for him. in addition to word-working tools

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know: WE HAVEN'T HAD SO MUCH FUN SINCE HARRY POTTER.

Thank you! (and happy birthday!)

Nov. 4th, 2010

danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

An Open Offer to Everyone.

Everyone has seen this George Takei video?

I posted that video on Facebook. A friend of mine found Takei's "Jr. High School-esque name-calling" so offensive that it invalidated the point that was being made. Just to review: Takei's point is calling out a man who was a SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER who said he was GLAD that gay kids were COMMITTING SUICIDE DUE TO ANTI-GAY BULLYING. The school board member went on to add that it made him happy when gay kids gave each other AIDS and died from that. Got that? The gentleman in question is an educator, and an adult, and it makes him happy when the kids he supposedly looks out for kill themselves. Because they are gay. This is, in my book, pretty much the dictionary definition of the word "douchebag".

I made this point, and asked my friend if he happened to agree with the school board member?

I've known this friend since high school. He was a member of the small, tight group of geeks who constituted my first real friends. We were all bullied a lot--and he was small and skinny, and often got an extra helping when we weren't around. We were in drama club together, played D&D together, stayed out until dawn drinking coffee at the diner together. I had a fleeting crush on him my junior year, when he was a senior. Now he's married, and a father. He's a Christian, and he's in the military. Sometimes, he leaves comments on my Facebook posts that make me sick to my stomach that THIS is what he believes now, that THIS is what passes for Christian morals in some non-trivial number of churches in this country.

I don't know how he's going to respond to my question. But I suggested that if he did agree with the school board member being verbally maligned in the above video, then perhaps we were better off not being friends anymore.

.... and as long as I am making one painful offer to an old, dear friend this week, I might as well just go ahead and make it a universal one. So: if you find yourself disagreeing strongly with George Takei, and in sympathy with the sentiments originally expressed by former Arkansas school board member Clint McCance, then please? Let us reconsider our friendship?

Perhaps we would both be better of without one another.

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danaus plexiglas var. monkeywitz

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