I felt faintly sick when agreeing to copyright transfer, aka "Please accept this work that I have done for free, and make some massive profits off it, of which I will see nothing".
I felt amused, and surprised, when on submitting a one-page abstract of about 600 words, I was asked to provide a 200-word summary of it... it felt a tad recursive.
Now I have to try to get the research finished in time for the deadline for the full paper!
Like his mediocre lines
and the way he butchered the names of Thai food
had me shaking at the knees.
Like that was something worth noting.
I still wrote three poems about my last dinner date.
I live in a world where I am blessed to believe that
everything is something worth noting.
But people tell me that if I keep writing poetry
about every mouth I meet,
nobody’s going to want to kiss me anymore.
The first time that someone compared my poems
to Taylor Swift songs,
I didn’t know that it wasn’t supposed to be a compliment.
It turns out they weren’t saying: “thank you
for your honesty, your openness, your willingness
to make life into art even when it gets tough to pronounce”.
They were saying: “All you write are love poems.”
Like that wasn’t okay.
Like that was somehow discrediting or laughable.
They were saying: “You go on too many dates
and you can’t make them stay.”
And I don’t know how to shake that off.
I live in a world where I am blessed to believe that
everything is something worth noting,
even bad dinner dates.
I also live in a world where a 24 year old Taylor Swift
can’t write about bad dinner dates anymore.
A world where she has sworn off dating and written an album
with a curt nod to love instead of a wide smile,
because she’s sick of her love life being an American pastime,
a comedic punchline every time she leaves the house.
“Watch out: she might write a song about you!”
God forbid she tells the world that you’re a sloppy kisser.
God forbid she tells the world that it still hurts that you left.
She is a girl with a big heart and a bigger mouth
and she owns everything that ever happens to her.
I own everything that ever happens to me
and I refuse straddle the line between privacy and honesty
for the sake of someone else’s comfort level.
I will not be a Disney mermaid
willing to give up her own voice for love.
Choke on water, choke on ink.
I will not kiss another man who refuses to learn how to swim.”
- "Me vs. Taylor Swift vs. Ariel" Trista Mateer (via tristamateer) @taylorswift (via tristamateer)
Steve is off today, so I thought it would be a good idea to use this slot for a little shameless self-promotion (of Science-Based Medicine and the Society for Science-Based Medicine, of course).
The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism (April 9-12, 2015 in New York City) will be bigger than ever in 2015 with fabulous presenters, exciting panels, and engaging workshops.
We’re thrilled to announce that NECSS 2015 will be co-sponsored by the Society for Science-Based Medicine and will expand to include a third full day of programming! Friday’s schedule will be curated by the team at SfSBM and features content available exclusively at NECSS 2015. Saturday and Sunday schedules will once again feature the best of science and skepticism.
NECSS weekend also includes a special evening performance on Friday, two workshop tracks on Thursday for the early-birds, our popular “Drinking Skeptically” socializers, and more!
We have secured discounted room rates at the Hilton Fashion District, located one block from the main conference hall. These rates are available exclusively to NECSS attendees and we will be available shortly.
See you in April!
Todd Starnes is furious that a small library in Alaska won’t accept a donation of his book. Shelf space is limited so they have to be selective and Starnes’ book didn’t receive many professional reviews (the usual bar for a book’s inclusion in many libraries).
Also, you know, no one wants to read Todd Starnes’ book.
But Starnes knows this is really oppression!
I’m just glad the Cordova Public Library has ample room on their shelves for the works of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and President Obama. No wonder they don’t have room for the bad boy of the literary world.
See?! A liberal conspiracy!
Sorry. I wasn’t supposed to tell you that. It’s a liberal conspiracy!!!
Starnes is taking the news of his “rejection” well:
I can’t say I’m all that surprised that the public library refused to accept my book. A few years ago Amazon banned my second book, “Dispatches From Bitter America.” They said it contained offensive material.
You mean the book that Amazon has right here…?
Starnes has to know his audience is so dumb, they would never bother fact-checking his articles. And he’s right, given the nature of the comments on his site.
It doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t do it for him.
If the library does end up accepting his book, full of stories of Christian persecution like the kind he just experienced, let’s hope they file it in the fiction section where it belongs.
What I read
Finished Murder Strikes Pink, and not sure I shall chase J Pullein-Thompson's mysteries further. It was okay, but it had a pulled-out-of-the-air (or at least, rather flimsily planted) solution that was very similar to that in Gin and Murder.
Novella by JD Robb, Missing in Death - reliable.
Marcia Muller, The Night Searchers. I always enjoy the McCone mysteries, but I don't think I'd place this one very high up the list. A bit phoning it in.
Also, Sekkrit Projekt (#ifitoldyouidhavetokillyou) reading. Last week was horrible for any sort of reading because of Late Nights for Work Commitments but I did manage to get some of this knocked off.
On the go
Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, The Spiral Path (Night Calls Series, 3) (2014), which is lovely, at least in the light of what yr frazzled hedjog feels like reading at the moment, because we are in the mood for a young person with magical powers goes to Magic School, and this is nicely done of that trope. It's years since I read the earlier volumes, but have been looking out for sequels ever since..
Also ongoing, The Ready Made Family for trennels Marlowverse readathon.
Well, horrendous piles of SP reading, shall be taking a few things I might have read anyway off to Grayshott with me next week.
Not quite at the moment feeling the pull towards the Florine Stettheimer book.
After Sam and Dean Winchester die for the final time and actually stay dead, they don’t disappear.
Monsters and Demons tell each other stories for centuries of those two hunters from Kansas with their “ride like midnight” and “their gun that could kill anything! I saw it once, the Colt! One of them had it! Dean! He was terrifying!” They tell them to each other, boasting when they’d seen them and got away or recounting legends about them. The ones Dean tortured in Hell always have the best stories, always paint him as the real monster.
Monster parents tell the stories to their kids, threaten them with the idea that “the Winchesters will get you if you don’t finish your dinner right now!” The brothers still exist long after they’ve died because the monsters keep them alive with their stories.
In the end, Sam and Dean Winchester become tulpas because so many believe it’s impossible to kill them. And once they become tulpas and they start being seen again, the belief in them never dies.
So they never die.
And there’s no difference between them and the stories so they do exactly what they’re believed to do.
They hunt monsters.
Anyways, my comment is Here.
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
What are you currently reading?
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Slightly cheating, I've read the first three pages.
What did you recently finish reading?
A Civil Contract, Georgette Heyer. Are there other Heyer's with similar plots? Of course there are. Is it all glorious, yet refuses to stick too much to the inside of the brain? Yes, of course it is. Did I enjoy it, as I always go? Yep!
The FitzOsbornes in Exile (The Montmaray Journals, #2), Michelle Cooper. I think one of the things I have adored so much about The Montmaray Journals is how sensible a narrator Sophie is. She doesn't always act sensibly (Aunt Charlotte would probably say that none of them do) but her narratorial voice is all about self-reasoning and puzzling out what is happening, and as the narrator of a book about WWII she's a great choice. She doesn't know everything - her knowledge of certain current events is pieced together from conversations and newspaper headlines and Cooper does an excellent job of keeping future events from being something that in any way inflect Sophie's viewpoint - which, I know, sounds like a 'duh!' thing, but is really difficult in practice.
The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals, #3), Michelle Cooper. Everything is basically terrible all of the time through this one - it's the beginning of the war, Events happen, hearts are broken - I had to put the book down and walk away for a while because I was sniffling at the kitchen table. I loved this trilogy, and The Mother is currently racing through the third one.
The Oligarch's Wife, Anna Blundy. Umm, this was a sort of faintly readable novel about the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of capitalism and dangerous violent entrepeneurs. I think Blundy intended to write a novel that was basically about how Britain thought about Russian billionaires and the complicated political relationship of Britain and Russia, using a romance story to carry it through. It ... didn't really work. I got exasperated by Mo (the British romantic-interest and narrative voice) because she was just so dim at points, Katya (the Russian romantic-interest and narrative voice) was better drawn, but the ending was just ridiculously implausible and whilst the violent interludes were objectively horrifying that was all they ever were. So, I was reading them thinking 'oh God, this is dreadful, this is horrendous, please stop' and occasionally a character would express mild concern about a murder but never anything on the scale of how much they should have done - particularly Mo and Eli, who are the British voices. I can understand Katya being very disassociated (as a deliberate survival tactic) but Mo and Eli are implausible in their level of disassociation because of other things we read about them doing/thinking in the novel.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Some organisations are still worried that, if built, the lagoon could have a negative impact on wildlife.
Well, yes. Practically anything we do - certainly anything that we do that produces a useful amount of electricity - changes the environment. It has to, because that energy hasn't come from nowhere. Since the current wildlife has evolved to fit within the current environment, changing the environment will nearly always have a negative impact on the current wildlife.
We need to get out of this rut of "we can't do anything that affects the environment". We need to recognise that anything we do affects the environment - that nothing is free - and start deciding when that is a worthwhile tradeoff.
Because it cannot all be zap guns and despair.
As part of my hyperfocus, I have been avoiding the news entirely for about three months, listening almost exclusively to classical music. But when something like Ferguson happens, even the hyperfocused have to look up and pay attention. I am so sorry, for the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, for the Brown family, and for this country, and however remote I have been from everything, I cannot help but share in their grief and outrage at such an injustice. Some wise things will undoubtedly be said by people with much, much more brainpower to spare than I have right now. I hope that some good will come from the protests springing up all around the country.
(That's the best I can do right now.)
I think I could probably also do with getting some new trainers, as the ones I have now are about seven years old, and were pretty cheap and cheerful back then, but that strikes me as something that requires a bit more thought than gloves and leggings. People who run - any pointers on where I should get them, anything I should look out for, and how much should I be expecting to spend? FWIW, I expect to be running about 2-3 times/week, and usually no more than about 5km. Maybe with the occasional 10k run on weekends once I'm a lot fitter than I am now.
Also, in between vignettes about zombies I have music playing, and am really really bad/lazy about picking songs, so if anyone has any good exercise Spotify playlists to share/recommend, that would be fab.
I try to go with the decision I feel in my gut that I'll regret least, balancing being in character, interesting plot, not feeling gross (eg I am ALWAYS anti slavery, even if it makes sense in the universe, unless I KNOW that choice is actually worse for the slave(*)), and gameplay advantage. And I have tried REALLY HARD not to go back to previous saves and change my mind unless I genuinely misunderstood what the question was asking, reminding myself that a character who screws up and is left traumatised is an interesting character.
Marijn Cadash is turning out to be more and more interesting.
( SPOILERS )
(*)Yes the fact that I have had to make this choice multiple times does say something unfortunate about Bioware's writing decisions. See also: all the times I had to decide whether or not to commit genocide, and all the mercy killings of disabled people. Sigh.
- Doing, checking my doorhandles: because one of them had tried to unscrew itself again. PSA: time to recheck that your doorhandles are properly attached.
- Watching, film: Mr Turner is sumptuous historical biography seen through a filter of Dickensian exaggerations that result in a sympathetic portrayal of the Great Artist that doesn’t also falsely attempt to present him as a Great Man (because humanity rarely fits on a neat public pedastal). We also meet a Great Scientist, who happens to be a woman (Mary Somerville), in addition to a whole cast full of fleshed-out minor characters (I wonder how many people spotted that the woman Turner talked to about love at the dinner party was Effie Ruskin?). Unusually for a "period" film not specifically on the theme, slavery is given more than token acknowledgment, which is historically and biographically accurate (but is still part of the detail that most biographers prefer to excise, even in the rare cases when their subjects were on the side of the angels). Mike Leigh’s penetrating but humane view of humanity serves Mr Turner extremely well. The casting and acting, sets and cinematography are all well-suited to this project too. Recommended, especially to see on a large screen, with the caveat that typically for a Mike Leigh film this is more than sum of its parts and is confident enough to build up to the overall effect slowly. I couldn’t attend the silver cinema morning session so I saw this in company with a more average demographic and overheard a posh arse in the foyer afterwards making LOUD cruel comments about Hannah Danby’s psoriasis (because the rest of us are all merely here as a decorative backdrop for his life. ::coughARSEcough::).
- Reading, a quote for nanowrimo@s perhaps: Lewis Carroll on the meaning of his mini-epic The Hunting of the Snark, "As to the meaning of the Snark, I'm very much afraid I didn't mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I'm glad to accept as the meaning of the book. The best that I've seen is by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the search after happiness. I think this fits in beautifully in many ways — particularly about the bathing-machines: when the people get weary of life, and can't find happiness in towns or in books, then they rush off to the seaside, to see what bathing-machines will do for them."
- Watching a footpath waymarker with six different directional arrows.
- So, what are you doing, thinking, wondering about, reading, watching, making, or writing, that you don't usually post about?
What would Jesus do? Probably not this:
The daughter of 93-year-old Olivia Blair couldn’t believe it when Fourth Missionary Baptist Church pastor Walter Houston refused to bury her mother. “It was like the last insult in the world,” Barbara Day told KRIV in Houston. Day said her only wish was for her mother to be buried “in the church that she loved and worshiped all of her life, even as a little girl.” Day explained her mother was a church member for 50 years but had been sick for nearly a decade, and in a coma for the last 24 months.
The pastor matter-of-factly explained that he no longer considers Ms. Blair a member of the church,
… “because she had not supported it financially in the last 10 years.”
Day shook her head while saying, “all they care about is getting money money money money money!”
A third-party offer to reimburse the church for the funeral was turned down; pastor Houston is claimed to have quipped in response that “membership has its privileges.”
I gotta put it in the water!
Something I just noticed while rewatching the scene from Avengers for my essay was the fact that the second Coulson brings up the ice, Steve gets up and goes to the cockpit, to look out at the sea.
He’s standing at the cockpit, looking out over the water. In his mind, only 17 days ago, he was on the same mission: get the tesseract, save the world, stop a madman. Only 17 days ago, he was at those controls, tilting the nose of the plane down and heading into the water. Only 17 days ago, he thought he was succeeding.
Only two weeks ago, he woke up and found the world was saved. Only twenty-four hours ago, he found out that everything he did was for nothing: another madman, the same weapon, being called on to stop it.
“I hope I’m the man for the job,” he says, because he’s remembering the last time he went on the same mission, the last time he donned the uniform, the last time he sacrificed himself, seemingly for nothing.
He’s standing there, looking at the same view, as Phil squees on how awesome Captain America - not Steve Rogers - is. Coulson is basking in the hero. Steve, though, is standing there and remembering the moment he made the decision that cost him everything. And now, he has to do it all again.
Forgot to ever transfer this over here. Whoops.
Reader Jamie left this request in a comment:
Not sure if you’ve covered this in your posts before, but would you do a post on how to determine proper blazer fit? I have an expensive blazer I bought at Filine’s Basement over 10 years ago, but have NEVER worn it. It’s a navy blue wool Ralph Lauren made it Italy blazer, really nice, lined in silk. I’m struggling with the fit, it seems almost too long, almost covers my whole bum, even though the sleeves are the right length. And I have no idea what to wear it with.
SUCH a great question. I adore blazers and jackets, as I feel they can add structure and polish to virtually any outfit … but they can be tricky little beasts. Finding blazers that fit off the rack is challenging for most women, regardless of size or figure shape. I always recommend thrifting for blazers because they can be annoyingly expensive and are durable enough garments that they can typically last through several owners and still hold up. But thrifting for blazers exposes you to an even wider variety of lengths, styles, and fits from bygone eras, many of which will seem almost perfect. But not quite.
So let’s start with how to determine if a blazer fits YOU.
Again, very few women can waltz into Ann Taylor, grab a blazer off the rack, and have it fit perfectly in every way. And, in my experience, even women who can fit blazers relatively well often encounter shoulder fit issues. Blazers can be altered, and when you find one that fits almost-perfectly you should definitely consider getting it tailored. But shoulder alterations are complex and costly, so if you can find a style that fits your own shoulders and needs some tweaks elsewhere you’re in good shape.
The shoulder seam of the blazer should hit right about where your own shoulder ends. If it falls closer to your neck, it’s too small. If it juts out over where your shoulder begins to slope downward, it’s too big. Hug yourself while wearing the blazer. If it pulls a little, that’s fine. If it pulls a lot, it might not be your best bet. (Hug gently. You’ll be ever so cranky if you hug yourself and rip a seam. Plus you’ll be mad at me. So, ya know, go easy.)
Although full-on shoulder pads aren’t common now, a little padding or added structure in the shoulders isn’t unheard of. If you are self-conscious about your broad shoulder line, seek unpadded styles. If you wish your shoulders had a wider span, padded blazers can work wonders for ya.
Sleeve alterations are relatively simple, although they’ll be more expensive if your blazer is lined. Regardless, be sure to consider sleeve fit. 3/4-sleeve styles have considerably more leeway, but full-length sleeve fit is fairly specific. (I’ll admit to letting this one slide myself, but I mostly cover my tracks by cuffing.) A full-length blazer sleeve should hit just a little bit above the top joint of your thumb if you’re standing with your arms at your sides. Your wrist itself should be covered. Simple as that.
In most cases, if a blazer doesn’t fit you in the bust you will TOTALLY know it. In my case, there is often excess material that causes extremely amusing sagging. Like someone has tacked wet Ziploc baggies to my chest. For women with larger busts, you may experience pulling. A blazer that fits properly in the bust will cover about half of each breast (measured from vertical outside working in toward the navel) and skim over the covered area without bunching or wrinkling. Ideally, it should fit beautifully both buttoned and unbuttoned. However, a blazer that fits great buttoned but looks wonky unbuttoned won’t be as versatile as its opposite. In my opinion – and Angie’s got my back on this one – a blazer that fits properly in the shoulders, bust and torso but cannot be buttoned all the way without some pulling is just fine. Most of us wear our blazers unbuttoned most of the time anyway, so if it comes close but can’t quite button properly, you’re good.
And, of course, torso
Again, you’ll likely know, here. But generally speaking, you want the blazer to follow the natural curves of your body without pulling or sagging. If you’ve got wrinkles at the sides or across the back, the blazer is too small in the torso. If you’ve got gobs of extra fabric around your midsection, the blazer is too big in the torso.
Other resources on fitting blazers properly:
- How to Fit a Tailored Jacket from You Look Fab
- How to Find a Blazer Jacket that Fits from Alterations Needed
Now let’s talk blazer styles.
Pants blazer vs. skirt blazer
If you’re wearing a skirt and top, you want your top to be relatively short – between two and three fingers’ width below your navel. If you wearing pants and a top, you want your top to be longer – between two and three fingers’ width above your crotchpoint. This also applies to blazers. Let’s take a look:
Although the blazer on the left is being shown with pants, it’s actually more suited to being paired with a skirt or dress. It hits higher on the hip and is shorter overall. The blazer on the right will look slightly off if worn with a skirt, but is a good length for wearing with pants. So, shorter blazers with skirts/dresses, longer blazers with pants. This is NOT a hard and fast rule, of course, just a guideline. Much will depend on your figure and preferences, but in working with my clients I’ve found that most look best pairing short styles with skirts and long styles with pants.
Buttons and stance
“Stance” describes the highest point where the blazer buttons. Blazers with higher stances tend to have more buttons – at least two or three. Lower stances are frequently one-button jobs. Let’s look:
The blazer on the left fits beautifully … but that high stance can look a little dated and matronly. The blazer on the right also fits well, and the lower stance seems more modern. NOW. I realize that bust size and stance interact. Busty women may find that low stance, single-button blazer will open up awkwardly at the chest while higher styles sit a bit quieter. Other busty women may find high stance blazers intolerable due to where the bustline falls. It’s all extremely personal. Some three-button, high-stance blazers are gorgeous – I own a few myself! – and if that style works for your figure, then by all means wear it. But if you’ve got blazers in your closet that aren’t getting worn and you can’t figure out why they seem “off,” see if it’s high stance.
Overall length and shape
Length and shape are other factors that may make your thrifted or decades-old blazers seem dated or frumpy. Yes, it’s true, “boyfriend” EVERYTHING means that long, loose styles are everywhere we turn. But today’s long/boxy will look slightly different than 80s long/boxy. Well, most of the time. Let’s look:
I’m flabbergasted to report that the blazer on the left is current. Designer even, and expensive as hell. (Theory, if you’re curious.) To me, that super long, super boxy fit is very vintage, although most 80s styles have more buttons and a higher stance. The blazer on the right is also current and also long – appropriate for pants – but more fitted and contemporary looking. Now, again, you get to have taste. If you love the look of a oversized, loose blazer, embrace that look! But if, as Jamie did, you feel like your butt-covering blazer might date you, opt for shorter, more fitted styles moving forward.
Lapel width, button or closure type, and pocket design and placement can all affect how a blazer works with your shape. With lapels, consider scale: Petite women often favor smaller lapels or lapel-free designs which work with their smaller frames. Flap pockets can jut out awkwardly if placed wrong, but can define and complement your curves if placed correctly. And button and closure style and placement will impact the overall look and fit of any blazer.
And even though that post was impressively long, it is far from comprehensive. Definitely check Angie and Kelly’s posts for more details and information. As always, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.
So! What fit challenges do YOU face when shopping for blazers? Where are you willing to compromise? Anyone out there a stickler for stance? Lapel width? Let’s hear it all in the comments!
This post has been revived from the archive.
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* Had my job provider appointment today for centrelink. It went much better than I expected - centrelink had led me to fear they'd expect me to give up my degree in order to receive payment. As it turns out, my study has been counted in my activities, including my followthrough appointments. I only have to hunt for 5 jobs per fortnight (not that I know what I'm going to apply for yet...). Still, better than I expected by far.
* Had coffee with a new Melb person who's interested in poly and I'll aim to meet up with her at the poly social so that she's got an easy introduction link. She's lovely and there's heaps of lovely people at the social but fuck I don't want to see my ex who still nods and smiles like NOTHING ever happened, and he'll be there because the AGM is on and he's on the committee.
* Had a followthrough appointment out in Sunshine, went well! I got to do the examination which made me feel useful instead of just an onlooker. The other highlight of followthrough appointments this week was that a doctor on Tuesday asked me to do a blood pressure for them! (Such a simple thing, not actually any kind of big deal but doctors don't usually include midwifery students practically at all).
* I was in such a state of anxiety for my job provider appointment today, it was awful - I couldn't really present as well as I hoped but I was honest. Now that I understand how things are going to work I'm a LOT less anxious. I had the whole hangover after as well which sucked mightily - headache, general tiredness and tearyness and that wishing you could just go home instead of having to continue doing all the other things that need to happen that day.
* Ral made dinner - really delicious broccoli frittata, will definitely have this again, it was delicious and fed all four of us quite comfortably.
* Ajax is here tonight and for the first time I can remember I need to leave well before him - the bonus of not living alone though is that he can stay and leave when he ordinarily would because it's about the same time Fox leaves and Ral is still home so the house doesn't need to be locked. That said, I could just give him a key :P
Whilst Billy is over he'll be spending some time being attentive to the state election which is now into its final days. I have written a longer 'blog piece remembering the boorish and bumbling Ballieu/Napthine governments. As predicted in previous posts, the polls have been narrowing in the last week. Interestingly however, the conservative government is facing a last minute backlash from the Real Estate Institute and the Small Business Council; usually natural allies. As the head of the small business council said: Ever heard of a Liberal Government that had James Packer, Lloyd Williams, shopkeepers and real estate agents actively campaigning against it?.
The Deal of the Day gets you a ton of Fisher Price and Mattel toys for 50% off. There are 50+ choices here, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Thomas the Train, BOOMco, and more.
The new Kindle (regular e-ink version) is $99 (28% off), and Amazon's throwing in six months of Kindle Unlimited.
Speaking of the Kindle, cheap Kindle books include Andy Weir's The Martian for $3, Ernie Cline's Ready Player One for $3.99, and Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes for $3.75.
X-Men: First Class is down to $3.99 on Blu-Ray! Note that the Amazon price is backordered, so listed under "Other Sellers on Amazon" on the right. It'll probably go away soon, but it's an awesome deal.
The Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital editions of A Million Ways to Die in the West and Neighbors are $11.99 (60% off) each. If you want something with slightly better word-of-mouth, Monster High Double Feature - Friday Night Frights / Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love is $3.99 (73% off) on DVD.
You can get The Spy Who Loved Me on Blu-Ray for $3.99, and Casino Royale on DVD for $3.99. Both are over 73% off.
Oblivion is $7.99 (77% off) on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital.
In video games, Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition for the Xbox 360 is $9.99 (67% off).
And finally, in toys, the K'nex Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster Building Set is $29.99 (57% off).
Comment with Just One Thing that you've accomplished in the past 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.
Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling accomplished!
Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!
Nothing is too big, too small, too strange, or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.
You have probably heard it before: At the end of yet another melancholy rant about how bad things are in America, someone inevitably adds “… and then the dollar is so weak, too.” Well, lament no longer because the dollar recently reached a seven-year high.
How is the dollar measured?
The U.S. dollar is used to measure so many things. The gold price is quoted around the world as so many U.S. dollars per fine ounce. Oil, too, is quoted as yea-many American dollars per barrel. Many other countries establish the value of their currencies against the dollar. So what do you use when you want to measure the thing that measures seemingly everything else? How do you answer the seemingly simple question: What is a dollar worth?
Pretty much the only way to measure the value of a currency is by comparing it to another one, and that is how you know whether it is strong or weak. You can measure the dollar against the Japanese yen, but what if Japan goes into recession and the value of its currency declines? That will increase the value of the dollar as measured in yen; but if Europe doesn’t have that same weakness, the dollar won’t increase as against the euro.
To solve the dilemma, experts have evolved something like a basket of currencies, some kind of average as a means of comparison. Well, that’s nice, but which average do you use? What most observers use is what is called a “trade-weighted average” where they identify the countries with which the United States trades the most to understand the purchasing power of the dollar. In rough numbers, these are the main countries trading with the United States for the first nine months of 2014:
- Canada — 17 percent
- China — 14 percent
- Mexico — 14 percent
- Eurozone — 12 percent
- Japan — 5 percent
- S. Korea — 3 percent
- United Kingdom — 3 percent
(Total trade is being defined here as the sum of imports and exports, as opposed to a balance-of-payments view, which nets those out.)
The currency basket which is used to measure the dollar, then, becomes a fictional currency which consists of 17 percent Canadian dollar, 14 percent Chinese yuan, 14 percent Mexican peso, and so forth.
How is the U.S. dollar doing?
Here’s a recent chart supplied by the Federal Reserve:
You can see how sharply the dollar has risen in the last six months or so, and you may have heard people use the terms “strong dollar” or “weak dollar” before but not truly understood what it means. Usually, a strong dollar means the dollar value (measured by the trade-weighted bucket of currencies described above) is high and rising, whereas a weak dollar usually refers to a dollar value that is low and dropping.
You can also see that the dollar’s value moves in a cycle — it doesn’t always go up or always go down.
Using that terminology, we can say today that the dollar is strong. Although it is strong, its value is not as high as it was in 2006 (at the height of the booms in housing and collateralized mortgage obligations) or toward the end of the Great Recession, when the countries we trade with had their economies crash even harder than ours.
Why is the dollar so strong these days?
The value of the dollar is not set by our government, or by any other government or group of governments; it is set by the demand for U.S. dollars. When other countries buy American products or services, they need American dollars to pay for them. But that’s not all. There are trillions of euros, yen, pesos, riyal, renminbi and all other currencies under investment by the pension funds and other big investors. When those big-money investors think American investments will make them more money, they come here to buy American properties, bonds, stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. For that, they also need American dollars.
Comparing the first nine months of this year to 2013, the increase in American net imports of goods and services was negligible (stronger exports of corn and crude oil accounted for a good share of that increase). Therefore, the main reason people from other countries have been buying U.S. dollars is for investment purposes. When you look at the rising stock market and investment-driven real estate purchases, you can see why. Foreign investors are counting on the value of an investment in something American rising not only because of the investment itself, but also the increase in value because it is denominated in a currency that is rising compared to theirs.
The strong dollar will not last forever, of course — it never does. But, it is what it is, at least for now — which brings us to the most important question.
What does a strong dollar mean for you?
A friend of mine once told me that nothing is all good or all bad. And so it is with a strong dollar: It brings benefits and challenges.
The biggest challenge of having a strong dollar occurs at a macro level: a strong dollar makes our exports more expensive for buyers in other countries. When Quantas has to decide whether to buy 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners or Airbus A350s, it is easy to see how a strong dollar can persuade them to buy from Airbus. It is also easy to see how that can hurt American workers … right at a time when the country is desperate to recover quality jobs.
A stronger dollar also makes American travel more expensive for foreign tourists. In turn, that hurts workers and businesses connected to tourism.
With a strong dollar, those American companies which make most of their profits overseas now make less, simply because the money they make in Brazil, Italy or Japan add up to fewer American dollars.
On a personal level, if you are someone who believes investing in gold is a good thing, a strong dollar is bad news. You can see from the chart below that the gold price usually goes down when the dollar goes up, and vice versa. That explains in great measure the gold price decline of the past couple of years that is shown in this chart.
In contrast to the challenges of a strong dollar, which tend to be more nebulous, affecting other people, you personally reap several benefits from a strong dollar. Here’s how:
1. Imports: The biggest benefit, of course, is that imports are cheaper. (Well, they are cheaper in theory. at least.) That iPhone 6 no doubt is costing Apple a lot less to make, but someone in Cupertino conveniently forgot to notice that, because iPhone prices didn’t come down. At least they didn’t go up either, which could have happened if the dollar was weak. Christmas gifts made in China might turn out to be better this year, for example.
2. Gas prices: You have probably noticed that gas prices have been dropping these past few months. In part, that is due to Saudi Arabia putting on a bit of a power play, but a significant portion of that reduction also stems from a strong dollar.
3. Inflation: When the cost of so many imported things we buy goes down, particularly oil, that eases inflationary pressure considerably. While food prices have gone up, those increases get balanced by the decrease in the cost of the imported things we buy. The Fed would like to see inflation up around 2 percent per year, but the strong dollar has helped keep it down to around a percent and a half.
4. Investments: A strong dollar attracts foreign investors, as pointed out above, who push up the price of your investments.
5. Travel: If you have been saving for a trip overseas, this might very well be a good time to make those travel plans. The reason being, if you have been budgeting hard for travel, as Holly loves to do, you will still be spending some cash on vacation wherever you go, and that cash will go further when the dollar is strong.
Will this strong dollar bonanza last?
In a word, no. Nothing in the economy lasts forever. The charts above clearly show the ups and downs. It is hard to tell how long the dollar will remain strong because so much of it depends on expectations and other intangibles. The moment investors think somewhere else is “hot,” they will sell their dollars and buy whatever they think the next El Dorado will be. A few years ago it was the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), then it was the good old USA, and tomorrow it may be India — but who knows?
And when that happens, other benefits will emerge: In the late ’80s, a weak American dollar attracted billions of dollars in “hard investment,” i.e., factories — especially to make automobiles. Those investments created jobs, some of which we still have today.
What do you see as the benefits of a strong dollar? How can you use this information in your financial decisions?
It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means it’s a perfectly good time to start singing about Christmas.
Have yourself a merry little mythmas
c’mon don’t be shy
Do your part to help us propagate a lie.
Have yourself a merry little mythmas
make the Yuletide gay
If your son is please make sure he’s locked away!
Come to think of it, an atheist Christmas album might actually sell…
Well, house rules, Sammy. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole.
(Which ran from the beginning of when I started duo, with four skips that were covers by the streak protection thing you can "buy" to cover a single day of inactivity)
Went to bed last night and totally crashed. Couldn't keep my eyes open at all -- and this was at like 9pm, when I usually get to sleep more like 11 -- so I listened to an audiobook until I stopped tracking it, and then slept.
Woke up just now (1am) and realized that I hadn't done duo. Went ack, and went in to do an easy lesson -- I am a boy, the man eats an apple -- because the usual thing would take too much braining (plus I can't see the left half of the keyboard because blanket, and touch typing is less possible on a touchscreen keyboard, so I'm typoing like hell) and I figured doing it now would make sure the streak protection kicked in.
Except I apparently hadn't done it the day before either.
So I am now on a one day streak.
On the one hand, I knew I couldn't keep it up forever. And 455 is something to be damn proud of. And I know I should be seeing the long success instead of the two days of failure: know I should be saying "well I just have to go longer the next time."
On the other, some of what was keeping me doing it daily was the streak itself, and I don't have that, and I don't think I can do it again. Fifteen months is a long time. And every time I see the streak length now, it'll just be a reminder of how I fucked up. Again. Because it feels like I always do.
(ETA and the mom voice in my head is saying that the thing I picked out as my reward for surviving November (and doing so well at nano, but I promised myself something for just getting through the month regardless of what happened with the writing) is now forfeit because of this. That something to reward good behavior does not go to people who mess up this badly. I am fighting that voice but it is … hard. Because my brain is apparently a minefield.)
a) Who puts up a 7 hour video unedited? Complete with the lunch break?
b) Yes, that music is owned by someone (probably several someones). Feel free to lobby for the law to change, but you don't get to use someone else's recent music without their permission. I think copyright overreaches a lot, and would limit it severely, but "I put someone else's recently-made music in my video" is definitely something copyright should cover.
c) For God's sake, edit the lunch-break out of the video and put it back up. And while you're at it, chop it into sensible chunks and put them up as separate videos - how hard can that be???
Watch: Feminists fight back by reading the real, nasty tweets they’ve received (Mic Exclusive)
Ever wonder what it’s really like to be a feminist? We’re here to help.
Modeled after Jimmy Kimmel’s celebrities read angry tweets, this short video shows how women who challenge the status quo are treated online on a daily basis. If you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry, join the club.
While many have tried to describe what it’s like to be the target of constant, horrible abuse online, sometimes it’s easier to just show, not tell.
God, this angers me beyond words…..
Cops are worthless about this sort of shit. My sister had a boyfriend who took pictures of her while she was sleeping naked and sent them to her to bribe her. She called the cops about it and they said “prove you were sleeping”.
And in the comments, all this stuff is referred to as “valid criticism.” So many internet trashpile men use the word “criticism” but have literally no idea what it means.
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It also keeps making me sneeze, which is really annoying.
It was terribly frustrating because we had booked to go to Amsterdam for one night last week and both of us felt rotten. We had to go because we'd already paid for everything, but I fear it was not as wonderful as it could have been. The people were lovely, the museums were awesome, but we only managed to do a fraction of the Rijksmuseum that we wanted to do because we both flaked out.
I am way behind on my NaNo thanks to this cold as well because it seems to diminish brain capacity to half. All I've wanted to do is sleep. I've had all the creative drive of a small sack of potatoes! This week I am trying my best to catch up, but I'm not sure I'm going to make it. Today (once I have finished this) is going to be NaNo day only. I am going to turn off everything else and just try and get words on a page. Even if they are bad words! Wish me luck.
they will not write about us because darling
we’re not in love
and we both know that poems ought to be about lovers
not best friends halfway in the middle
god, i’d never kiss you
but our hands fit like puzzle pieces and your smile makes my heart sing and you cried when you said you love me
voice thick with fear and awe and i knew then i could break you and that terrifies me because you deserve better but i would die for you
when i was thirteen my bedroom window looked out on the big dipper every summer and it made me feel safe but if every star in that constellation went out i’d still have your hands smoothing a brush through my hair (your eyes shine brighter than those distant suns anyway)
we are not the stuff of legends in this world where it’s only love if you fuck the stories people want to hear end in a kiss not a high five or a fistbump but if i’ve got you i don’t need to make history
and while you do not kiss away my tears you let them seep into your shirt and to me, that is just as good”
- not every beautiful thing has to be a love story (g.c.r.)
It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong.
“It’s 2064,” Essie says. “You’re a simulation of yourself. I am your biographer.”
Ana: "Sleeper" by Jo Walton is a story that presents us not only with a technologicaly advanced world where it's possible to create a AI consciousness based on your understanding of a historical figure, but also a world where the stark economic inequalities we're familiar with today have been greatly magnified. The dystopian nature of this world becomes increasingly obvious as the story progresses, thanks to passages such as this:
She finds it hard to imagine the space Matthew had, the luxury. Only the rich live like that now. Essie is thirty-five, and has student debt that she may never pay off. She cannot imagine being able to buy a house, marry, have a child. She knows Matthew wasn’t considered rich, but it was a different world.
Later on, Essie tells the simulation of Matthew that,
“The class system needs to come down again. You didn’t bring it down far enough, and it went back up. The corporations and the rich own everything. We need all the things you had—unions, and free education, and paid holidays, and a health service. And very few people know about them and fewer care.”
This is not new territory for Jo Walton. Although at first glance this story is very different from the Small Change trilogy, they also have quite a few things in common. One looks towards the future and another towards an alternate past; one is science fiction and the other alternative history interlaced with crime — but all the same, the themes and political concerns at the heart of the two works are closely linked. I wanted to start by asking you what you thought of the world depicted in "Sleeper". Do you think that despite its brevity the story manages to set up a vivid picture of the threats of uncontrolled capitalism?
( Read more... )
You can read "Sleeper" for free at Tor.com.
Me: "Baby, what are you doing?"
Bloke: "Pops, on a scale of one to ten, how naughty are you being?"
Phone conversation, early morning of the second of my work days in London.
Me: "Oh, you're off early!"
Bloke: "Of course. We run a tighter ship when the Mama is away."
Me: "Oh really. What did you two have for breakfast this morning?"
Bloke: "....crumpets and mince pies."