Link: A New Meme, Please Get One

From the progressive feminist site, Shakesville, a link dump with commentary on the recent spate of blaming immigrants for swine flu.

In short, Media Matters and other conservatives have started blaming the epidemic on filthy Mexicans and other undesirables. I wish the tactic was novel or surprising, but as Shakesville points out, the United States has a long, ignominious history of exactly this thing.

It’s really not the same.

I knew editors made a difference. I really did. But I didn’t know how much difference on editor could make.

I’ve had a subscription to PC Gamer Magazine for years. Our house has enjoyed the magazines and bought our games largely according to their recommendations. We especially enjoyed the magazine during the tenure of Kristen Salvatore as editor-in-chief. We’d been about to quit, actually, when she took over as EIC. Within two issues we renewed our subscription and didn’t regret it.

Ms. Salvatore recently got a job doing something else — a promotion of sorts, I understand? Though I cannot for the life of me figure out where she’s working now. I tried to find out if it was another editorial position, because if so, I wanted to try whatever new magazine she ran, regardless of content. That’s how good I think she is. That’s how much PC Gamer has suffered since she left.

The magazine is a lifeless shell of what it once was. No character. No flavor to the reviews or writing. No bite to the editorials, no real industry insight. It’s a pallid imitation of the PC Gamer my household read and enjoyed.

Kudos to you, Ms. Salvatore. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

As for PC Gamer Magazine, well. I wish you, too, the best. You need it.

Key 2 Time: A Few Remarks

I’m working my way through the Big Finish “Key 2 Time” Doctor Who original audio productions. The first part is called “The Judgment of Isskar.” And I have to say, it’s not my favorite Doctor Who audio production.

There are too many funny aliens.

I mean, it’s an audio production. Full cast, special effects, music, etc. And I’ve noticed with all the proceeding audio productions that, if the character does not have a funny voice, I think they look human. Funny voices are the only way to indicate xenobiology. But the thing is, funny voices are also more difficult for me to listen to. Harder to comprehend. I can get by when one of the alien races is, say, Daleks, and the other is a sentient raindrop. Or one alien race has low voices, the other high, something like that. But in “The Judgment of Isskar,” one alien race has a rasping, insect-like voice, and the other has a buzzing, insect-like voice.


Rasping and buzzing are really, really close together. Especially when listening to the story in a ten-year-old rattling car moving at seventy miles per hour.

In addition, this story has two original female characters. Their voices sounded indistinguishable to me. I could tell them apart by their word choice, not their tone, which didn’t work so well if all they said was “yes” or “run!”

I’m onto the next part, “Destroyer of Delights,” and so far I’m finding the casting and production to be working a bit better.

Five-Inch Onagers

Onagers 09

My kids recently built onagers. It was cool.

Photos follow!

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Living in the future: a guest link

Wiredferret blogs about life here in the future.

Reading and Book meme

Courtesy of Caroline, aka Madmarvelgirl.

Reading and book meme

1. What author do you own the most books by?

Um. Tamora Pierce? Or maybe Stephen Ambrose? Or Anne Perry? Or maybe Lois Bujold? I’d have to look. I own very nearly everything Tamora Pierce has written. And I still own it. At various points in my life I have owned ninety percent of Stephen King’s ouvre, or Robert Heinlein’s works. But I’ve gotten rid of those. I own the first, I dunno, half-dozen or so of each of Anne Perry’s mystery series. Oh, and I own a swath of Dorothy Sayers. Hmm. Thinking on it, I guess I’d have to go with Pierce’s stuff. It’s all those sets of four books . . .

2. What book do you own the most copies of?

At most I own two copies of a handful of things, because I have the hardcover and a paperback copy. That happens a lot, when I can’t wait to read something but then, later, I want a copy that is comfortable to read in bed.

3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

I am not-at-ALL-secretly in love with Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan and Ekaterina Vorkosigan. I am more secretly in-something with Festina Ramos from James Alan Gardner’s League of Peoples books. Secretly because, well, Festina is not a good choice as an object of affection. She’s got a streak of self-loathing that runs through her, manifesting as a desire to prove something to somebody. She wouldn’t be an easy lover, let alone partner. Not to mention that overly-exciting things keep happening to her.

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Uncanny X-Men brings the gay

Contains SPOILERS for Uncanny X-Men #508! SPOILERS.

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Sunday afternoon

I get more done when I don’t check LiveJournal all day. Somebody tell me if I’m missing something important.

Also, I’ve skipped my Google Reader for two days. I expect I’ll be paying for this when I finally get to it.

Big Finish put up their April audio production, and it is a Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Hex story. :squee:!! God help me if I ever meet Sophie Aldred.

Has anyone else seen any Pre-Hayes-Code Hollywood movies? Which ones? What did you think of them?

It’s not about you.

My son is going through a phase.

When something happens — when the dog’s tail wags against his face, when his sister walks in front of him down the hallway, when I turn and unexpectedly find him behind me and bump into him — my son yells. “The dog hit me!” he cries out. “My sister is in my way!” Or, “you knocked me down and hurt me!” Factually, these things are all true. The dog’s tail did hit him, his sister is in his way, and I did knock him over.

But attitude is everything.

“Kiddo,” we reply in a mix of sympathy and exasperation. “Kiddo, these are accidents. These things aren’t attacks. They’re not about you.” The dog is a dog and has no idea where his tail is. The sister isn’t being malicious, she’s just walking and has no idea that you are trying to get past her. And I, I would not knock you over intentionally, and I am sorry. But no one feels like apologizing when they feel attacked.

My son’s approach to these setbacks is an instant presumption that the injuries caused to him are intentional, malicious, and that he is the center of a grand plan to thwart him at every turn. The only bad things that happen to him, in his personal worldview, are caused by the evil acts of others. The store is out of juice? The store is mean and wants to make him angry. The playground is too wet to play in nice clothes? The playground is making him be mad and we, his parents who do not let him play in mud in nice clothes, are mean and trying to provoke him. He trips and hurts himself? There’s gotta be someone to blame.

My partner and I are attempting to correct this misapprehension about the world while our son is young. He’s five and half as I write this. But aggrieved entitlement is not a pretty thing, and he doesn’t have much longer before the instant-attack mode will alienate potential friends.

Accidents happen. It’s not always malice. It’s not always about you. You may be hurt, but that doesn’t mean anyone was trying to hurt you. While it’s true that people are willfully careless, it happens less than you think. Attacking people doesn’t make them back down, it makes them stand up. These are the things we tell him. “Presume,” we tell him, “that people have good intentions. assume things are accidents or misunderstandings. Ask them to explain or apologize. Negotiate. Listen. Explain. Compromise. Then, if they still act badly, you may stop playing with them and go do something else.”


Hello, Internet.

While it is true that there are trollers, meta-trollers, and crazy people out here, they are not the rule. If someone disagrees with you, they are not injuring you. When someone writes a fanfic you don’t like, go play somewhere else. If someone says something incendiary, either they meant to start a fight — in which case, do you really want to give them the pleasure? — or they didn’t mean to start a fight. In which case, do you want to be the troll? When someone asks you to clarify your view, try presuming that they are not being mean. When someone engages you in a forum or comments with attacking language, think before you reply — is there a way that they could be under the impression that you attacked first? When you disagree with something you read, in a blog or an interview or a news piece, why do you disagree? Can you articulate it in a way that contributes to the conversation? Can you add to the understanding of all subsequent readers, expand their knowledge on the topic?

Yes, the internet has trolls. We know this. My kids know a couple kids who are mean, too. But the vast majority of people aren’t making their comments for the lulz, aren’t trying to piss off everyone. And those that are, those people who tease and tease and tease until some poor kid on the playground goes berserk and screams and cries and gets in trouble for starting a fight . . .

Do you really want to keep volunteering to be their victim?

Give a chance to find their way out of this. Something happened; we know that much. Either it was an accident, in which case give them a chance to fix it. Or it was a bad call, in which case give them a chance to fix it. Or they are the innocent party and someone is shooting spitballs at us all from across the room. In which case, look around for a culprit and calm down while Amazon gets their house in order.

In the interests of disclosure, I was taken in by this whole thing, too, and emailed a complaint to Should it come to light that they have been attacked, that this is a Bantown, I will email them to apologize. I don’t want to be a troll, so I am not going to attack Amazon for poor word choice in their press releases, for not being more on top of this yesterday (a major religious holiday for many U.S. citizens,) for not seeing this coming. Nor do I want to be a patsy for some internet bully, so I will not be tagging this or hashtagging it. Nor do I want to be a victim — so I will be reading further reports as they come out, trying to sift through the claims of authority and authorship along with the rest of you. Because this . . . thing, whatever it is, hurts and offends me. It strikes at some of my fears of being isolated and censored and banned for being who and what I am.

But being hurt is not the same as being attacked. And if you are being attacked, don’t you want to find out who really did it?

TMU 2K+9

This is a really nice overview of my job. It includes videos, even.

Every two weeks my whole facility gets a briefing on an item of facility interest. We only get them every two weeks because it takes that long to cycle 400 or so employees through the briefings. After all, we can’t all go at once. Not when we work shifts over twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. And we can’t clear out the control room floor and halt work to attend a meeting.

Today’s briefing was on TMU — Traffic Management Unit — and their revised plan for handling summer weather impacts.

There’s the video of where the planes go.
The middle of the country is tornado alley, from the gulf coast up to around Minneapolis, Minnesota. Severe thunderstorms occur along the path, north into Canada, as well as further east, in the Ohio River valley. Look where the planes fly, and ponder this: Planes don’t fly through thunderstorms. And the usually can’t fly over them. So, where do you put the planes when there’s a thunderstorm from Corpus Christie, TX, to Rochester, MN?

What Traffic Management does, on a national level, is devise a pre-arranged system of interlocking agreements with all the air traffic centers, approach controls, the airlines, and the general aviation pilots association. It makes a series of “plays,” based on historical traffic and weather data, to route planes around weather. Every two hours, beginning at 7:15 am Eastern time, every day all summer long, these groups have a teleconference and adjust the plays for the day.

The Minneapolis arrival-departure playbook for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport is a binder containing around twenty plays. The binder for all other plays pertinent to Minneapolis Center (where I work) has over four hundred plays in it. Four hundred crisis mitigation scenarios, ready and waiting to go.

On a given day — the example used in the briefing I attended this morning was June 6, 2008 — ZMP (Minneapolis Center) was running the CAN1, BADGER2, the TWOLF1 CDR, FCAA09, and the JVL2 ICR. Plus JFK, EWR, NORTH EWR, ORD MIT, and metering at MSP.

TMU often does not do their job perfectly, and we always tell them when they drop the ball. But their successes are invisible. When they do their job, absolutely nothing happens. When they do their job, no one can see it. It’s nice to get briefings like this and see the sheer amount of effort it takes to keep the skies moving.


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