July 2016

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 22:24
One of my favorite things about the game is getting to name my catches (though I only name the top two or three per type; the rest get Transferred for the candy payoff).

Do you name yours? Do you have a theme? Do they all get names, or only your favorites?

A few of my favorites )

What are some of yours?
Friday, July 29th, 2016 04:04

Posted by Surabhi Kanga

Even before the hype surrounding the recent cabinet reshuffle and expansion had died down, the spin had begun. Gossip in Lutyens’ Delhi played no small part in both, and, as is usual, it got things wrong on most important counts. The reshuffle was not, as it was bandied about, a sign of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo further asserting its control over the government. Rather, it was about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh laying down the law. The new cabinet appointments represent a midterm course correction meant to ensure that the Sangh Parivar’s ends are achieved—and, crucially, that they are achieved quietly.

The three most important changes—the end of Smriti Irani’s reign over the ministry of human resource development, Arun Jaitley losing charge of the ministry of information and broadcasting, and Jayant Sinha’s exit as a minister of state for finance—all point to the same conclusion. These three owed their earlier positions to their proximity to Modi and Shah, and have never been on great terms with the RSS. It is a perversion of logic to believe that Modi and Shah would assert their authority by diminishing the responsibilities of those closest to them.

With each of the three dismissals, the arguments used to posit a Modi-Shah ascendancy made little sense. Smriti Irani, various Lutyens’ commentators claimed, was punished for touting her closeness to Modi and embarrassing the government on various occasions. What this reasoning overlooked was that a word from Modi could have ensured that Irani changed her ways far earlier, and the fact that it did not come indicated that she had his full approval all along. The crucial thing Irani didn’t have, though, was the RSS’s backing. This became clear in the choice of her successor, Prakash Javadekar. An old Sangh favourite, Javadekar chose for his first public engagement in his new role a seminar on the government’s education policy, organised by the Bharat Shikshan Mandal, an RSS-linked outfit.

Jayant Sinha’s removal from the finance ministry has been projected as a signal to his father, the BJP old-timer Yashwant Sinha, who has been harshly critical of the Modi government. But Yashwant Sinha was critical of this government well before his son was inducted into the cabinet, in November 2014. Jayant Sinha’s exit can only be understood in light of the RSS’s dislike, given the swadeshi emphasis of its economics, of his background with multinational organisations such as McKinsey and Company and Omidyar Network.

Then there is Arun Jaitley. His loss of the information and broadcasting portfolio was perhaps the most significant move of the reshuffle, yet it was also the most underplayed—particularly when compared to the headlines dedicated to Irani and Sinha’s reassignments. Jaitley had done a highly competent job of promoting this government in the media, with mainstream news organisations forgoing even the most reasonable spirit of scepticism with regard to its agenda or achievements. He also stood behind Modi and Shah on every important occasion, giving them no reason to act against him. The only conceivable explanation for his reduced power is, here again, the Sangh’s aversion to him—which it has never made a secret of.

The only evidence put forward to suggest that the RSS lost out in the reshuffle was the removal of Ram Shankar Katheria, a former pracharak, or full-time RSS worker, from the ministry of human resource development. But with Javadekar taking over the ministry, there is no longer any need for someone like Katheria inside it to safeguard the Sangh’s interests. To further undermine any suggestion that the RSS has been sidelined, consider also that the only fresh face with a significant portfolio in the expanded cabinet is the new environment minister, Anil Dave—an RSS man who handled the 2003 election campaign in Madhya Pradesh for the BJP, which saw Uma Bharti oust the Congress’s Digvijaya Singh as the state’s chief minister.

Dave’s role in Madhya Pradesh extended far beyond that election, and he was among those who oversaw what happened in the state following it—which is very relevant to understanding the strategy underlying the government’s new appointments. Bharti, long a Sangh favourite, was forced to leave the post of chief minister within a year, following a warrant for her arrest in an old case. Her replacement was Babulal Gaur, a BJP veteran, but his tenure did not last long. The post eventually went to Shivraj Singh Chouhan, an RSS pick who has presided over the state ever since. There was little difference in ideological terms between Bharti and Chouhan, but the difference in their approaches to ruling was substantial. Bharti backed every one of her initiatives with loud rhetoric and theatrics—which attracted a great deal of public attention, but also, often, ridicule and opposition. Chouhan, by contrast, has implemented much the same agenda that Bharti pursued, but quietly, with little to no fuss. Today, the RSS’s power in Madhya Pradesh extends through the state administration and into the education system—and this has come about with hardly any negative publicity.

The RSS has learnt from this model of exercising power. Smriti Irani’s removal is a perfect example of this; she was to the centre what Bharti was to Madhya Pradesh. In this context, the removal of Katheria, notorious for his hate-filled rhetoric on Muslims, makes perfect sense. So too the newly diminished prominence of Mahesh Sharma and VK Singh, who have also invited controversy with their pronouncements. The RSS, above all, is interested in the practical implementation of its aims rather than in empty rhetoric, however in tune with its views that rhetoric may be.

The reshuffle suggests that the government will now hew more closely to the path of quietly implementing Sangh-approved policies. In a piece published in this magazine in March, titled ‘The New Mandarins,’ I argued that Amit Shah’s second term as president of the BJP—which began in January, soon after the party was decimated in a state election in Bihar under Shah’s direct watch—would see the increasing dominance of the party by the RSS. Subsequent events have borne this out. The BJP fought the recent Assam election without the oversize projection of Modi and Shah that it had banked on in Bihar, and the RSS had a substantially larger say in how the party’s campaign was conducted there than it had in any other election of recent years. The cabinet reshuffle is a logical continuation of the trend. This is not to suggest that there is a rift between the RSS on one hand and the Modi-Shah duo on the other. Rather, it is to clarify where the real power in this administration now lies.

In his short time with the ministry of human resource development, Javadekar has already signalled that he will pursue the RSS’s agenda more silently and effectively than Irani ever managed. The seminar on education policy mentioned above offered a case in point: Javadekar’s presence there went largely unnoticed, where Irani’s would have attracted widespread media attention. Going by his record in previous postings, including over his recent stint at the environment ministry, Javadekar is unlikely to let things get out of hand on campuses, as Irani did at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Hyderabad. Nor is he likely to be disrespectful to university officials in the ways Irani was. As far as the Sangh is concerned, this will make him more effective.

This is also true of Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley’s replacement at the ministry of information and broadcasting. Appointments through the ministry to institutions such as the Film and Television Institute of India and the Central Board of Film Certification, which were earlier largely exercises in cronyism directed by Jaitley, are now likely to be better thought out—and, for that reason, more effective than they have been so far at furthering the Sangh’s aims. The same applies to appointments to educational institutions controlled by the ministry of human resource development under Javadekar’s leadership.

Of course the Indian commentariat, much of it rooted in Lutyens’ Delhi, is given to finding hope where there is none. The columnist Pratap Bhanu Mehta argued of the reshuffle that “Many new faces are about signalling that the government is going to have to do that job of social mediation.” But only one new Muslim, MJ Akbar, was brought into the cabinet, while one, Najma Heptullah, was moved out. Moreover, Akbar has been assigned to the ministry of external affairs. It is difficult to see how this might achieve “social mediation” across the gaping communal fissures that the Modi administration has opened up at home.

Another columnist, Surjit Bhalla, assessing the government more generally in the aftermath of the reshuffle, and amid the BJP’s preparations for a crucial election in Uttar Pradesh next year, argued that “everything is falling in place for India. Good economic policies, solid growth, declining inflation and increasing foreign investment—the Modi administration has everything going for it except the belief that it is also capable of taking the moral high ground in its practice of conducting elections. Assam was one example—the nation awaits for the BJP to make it a trend.” Going by such assessments, it can seem that the only problem with this administration is its habit of occasionally lapsing into divisive rhetoric. While it is unlikely that the BJP will shy away from stoking communal tension in its campaign in Uttar Pradesh, where doing just that has served it well in the past, it is probable that the reshuffle will deliver some of what Bhalla and others like him want: less display of the kinds of crude views the likes of VK Singh and Katheria have been voicing in the recent past. But this will do nothing to correct the real danger that this government poses.

In July 2014, the right-wing intellectual Arun Shourie, before he fell out with the Modi administration, published a revised edition of his Eminent Historians: Their Techniques, Their Line, Their Fraud, a critique of the work of leftist historians. It included a new chapter, where Shourie noted his concern over recent moves by right-wing forces:

the sudden rush of seminars and colloquia being organised by governments of the Right; the swift rush of the mediocre to the new centres of power; the type of persons who were put into positions of control in academic institutions when the opportunity arose; the lawyers’ defence being advanced to explain away blemishes of their governments—all this bodes ill for the Right.

This process—of elevating mediocre academics in order to manipulate education policy and rewrite history to fit the views of the Sangh—is now going to accelerate. It is already underway in Madhya Pradesh—and in Rajasthan, its BJP-ruled neighbour. The central government is only furthering the same project. The Congress and the Left attempted something very similar to enshrine their respective views over past decades, but what is happening today is far better organised. Seeing what the Sangh’s views are, it is also far more mindless. To take just one example, whatever the merits of paying attention to Maharana Pratap, celebrated by the Sangh for his resistance to the Mughals, his impact on the subcontinent, both for better and worse, bears no comparison to that of Akbar, whom the Sangh would gladly write out of history altogether.

As has already happened in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, more people rooted in the Sangh are becoming part of the central administration. Whether in history books or in government, Muslims are being edged out of Indian public life—which is acquiring the majoritarian face that the Sangh has long been working towards. For those of us with a very different view of the Indian republic from the Sangh’s, a view rooted in the constitution, the dangers that this administration poses will only grow. Over the last two years, the attempts to change our public life have been crude and easy to spot. Now, the Sangh project is entering a quieter—and, for this very reason, more pernicious—phase.

The post Round Two appeared first on The Caravan.

Friday, July 29th, 2016 03:55

Posted by Books


2026_Excess_Credit_Promo
Audible has a new special offer for subscription members* with four or more credits**: Use Four Credits and Get $10. They’ve had this type of sale before, but this time it’s for members only and uses credits, rather than allowing straight out purchases of books that were on sale and had regular prices of $14.95 or more. I suspect many of us took advantage of those sales to load up on $0.99 Whispersync titles, then used the $10 to get more of the same. This time around, the cost per book is higher, but for any member that has been hoarding their credits, this is a good chance to look thru your wishlist and score ten bucks to use on Daily Deals or Whispersync titles.

The other big change is that we don’t get an entire month to make purchases; this deal ends July 29.

* Not an Audible member? Sign up for your Audible membership today and get two free audiobooks with a one-month free trial membership. Audible members receive 1 free audiobook per month, 30% off additional audiobook purchases, and access to special deals and sales like the one running right now!

** Don’t have enough credits to see the sale? Subscription members can usually buy 3 additional credits at a discount and can then shop Audible’s credit sales.

Note: Any Amazon links go to the post on the blog, rather than directly to Amazon. Just click the link from the blog post itself to go to Amazon from there.

             
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 22:57
At least one intelligence official refuses to be in the room when Trump is briefed, and the rest are freaked the fuck out and hope he decides he doesn't have time for it.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:53
I have posted my WIP Big Bang fic. It hasn’t been beta read, and I gave it only the most cursory read over because I only had an hour and a half before my drop dead deadline to post. Mainly, I made sure that the html was okay. If you spot typos or omitted words or whatever, please let me know. I haven’t posted it at my website yet, and I’m not sure when I will. Tomorrow, I have many other things I need to get done.

Title: Dark and Deep
Fandom: The Chronicles of Narnia
Rating: M
Tags: alternate universe - canon divergence, alternate universe - dark, villain pov, child abuse, physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, muteness, suicidal ideation
Pairing: None
Characters: Jadis, Susan, Peter, Tumnus
Summary: Tumnus delivers Lucy to the White Witch, and Aslan never comes. All four children end up in Jadis's hands, and she decides to see what she can mold them into.
Notes: This is the first story in an arc, but I’m not sure how many stories will come after it. I know the next one will deal with Edmund and Lucy and Susan.

Dark and Deep at AO3.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:40
Kid continues sick, though. *sigh*

I watched at the window for a chunk of time. Saw a car go down to the cul-dec-sac and back again, but it didn't sound like the vroom-vroom (I think that one might've been a stick shift? maybe...), and it didn't pause at our driveway. Might've well been a teen-with-parent, practicing their night-driving. (Local requirement.)

I spent much of that time reading the Mirable (J. Kagan... Kagen? Argh, I forget) ebook on iBooks, black-with-white-text so I wouldn't show much in my vantage window.

...Dickens has probably gotten Percy's nose-herpes, poor thing. O:(

Havva Quote
I've heard that feeling of release when everything goes to hell described with far more grace, Fat Bird.
--http://brokenforum.com/index.php?threads/hatoful-boyfriend-the-search-for-fat-birds-good-end.1028/page-8


INwatch+Bookwatch )


Dragons under fold )
Friday, July 29th, 2016 03:26

Posted by Books


It’s my favorite day of the week in the summer, when we get the week’s free audiobooks from Sync. I’ve linked in the info from the ebook or audiobook version of each title (Amazon has the best reviews), followed by the link to get your copies free, with directions to ensure you get the complete download. You’ll need the Overdrive Console loaded (directions are on Sync’s website) and I suggest you use the desktop app to ensure you download a copy for backup purposes.

Start off with Pennies For Hitler ($6.99 Kindle; $18.27/$3.49WS Audible), by Jackie French, narrated by Humphrey Bower [Bolinda].

Book Description
It’s 1939, and for Georg, son of an English academic living in Germany, life is full of cream cakes and loving parents. It is also a time when his teacher measures the pupils’ heads to see which of them have the most ‘Aryan’- shaped heads.

But when a university graduation ceremony turns into a pro-Nazi demonstration, Georg is smuggled out of Germany to war-torn London and then across enemy seas to Australia where he must forget his past and who he is in order to survive.

Hatred is contagious, but Georg finds that kindness can be, too. The companion piece to Hitler’s Daughter, Pennies for Hitler examines the life of a child during World War II, from a different perspective.

Juba! ($4.99 Kindle; $15.11/$9.99WS Audible), by Walter Dean Myers [Amistad / HarperCollins], narrated by Brandon Gill [HarperAudio], is the second selection for this week.

Book Description
New York City’s Five Points district in 1846 is a volatile mixture of poor blacks and immigrants from Europe. William Henry Lane is a teenager working odd jobs to make ends meet, but he really loves to dance. Watching the other dancers in Five Points and practicing when he can, he gets so good that he begins to call himself “Master Juba”.

Master Juba is just another entertainer, dancing in return for supper money, until he is brought to the attention of Charles Dickens, the great English novelist. Dickens writes about Juba and his dancing in his book American Notes, and it is as “Boz’s Juba” (Boz was Dickens’ nom de plume) that Juba performs in England with the Pell Serenaders. Juba quickly finds that in London, he’s turning heads and taking the city by storm with his dancing skills and sense of rhythm.

But what will Juba do when the Serenaders have to return to the United States? Slavery has been abolished in England; in the US it still exists in all its ugliness. Free black men and women are often captured in the North and sent down South as slaves. England offers freedoms that Juba could only dream of in the States, and returning home may prove a dangerous decision.

This novel is based on a true story, the intricacies of Juba’s meteoric rise as an explosive young black dancer brought to life by Walter Dean Myers through meticulous and intensive research.

Click HERE to get the free downloads. For each book, click on the audiobook cover, enter your name and an email address, then click on the Get your FREE download now button; on some systems, you’ll be prompted to save an ODM file (others will run it automatically) and, if so, save it to your desktop, then click it after it downloads, to start Overdrive. Don’t stop until you see the Overdrive software open up (there is a link at Sync, if you don’t already have Overdrive installed).

Once in Overdrive, you’ll need to tell it where to save the files (just click OK to use the default location, since Overdrive will keep track of them for you), then again to actually start the download. By default, all parts of the book are downloaded; I would suggest not changing this in the last dialog box, just click on OK to get the download started. Make sure your audiobook is fully downloaded before the end of the week, as once the promo period is over, you won’t be able to get these for free (you can double click any title in Overdrive and will get a message that either it entirely downloaded or you’ll get a list of the “parts” and can download the ones that you don’t have).

You can’t get any titles that have been missed, but once they are loaded into Overdrive (which you will need to install, if you are not already using it for library books), they are yours to keep (there is no expiration date).

Note: Any Amazon links go to the post on the blog, rather than directly to Amazon. Just click the link from the blog post itself to go to Amazon from there.

             
Friday, July 29th, 2016 02:50

Posted by Books


Discover a New Author: Robert Reginald is free direct from publisher Wildside Press. At Amazon, there are a number of short story collections and novels in his War of Two Worlds series availalble, as well.

Book Description
This series of free ebooks is designed to promote authors you may not have tried before. In this case, Robert Reginald.

“Robert Reginald” is actually the pseudonym used by Michael Burgess (1948-2013) for his fiction writing. (There was already another Michael Burgess who was publishing when he began to write, so he chose a pseudonym.) For most of his career, writing was a part-time sideline; he worked as a librarian (attaining the rank of Professor at California State University in 1984), ran Borgo Press (for many years a leading publisher of non-fiction works about science fiction writers — though it published fiction and much other non-fiction as well). His wife, Mary Wickizer Burgess, writes mysteries.

For this volume, we include 2 complete short stories plus sample chapters from two of Reginald’s most popular series — “Invasion, or Earth vs. the Aliens” and “Melanthrix the Mage,” which kicks off his long-running Nova Europa fantasy series.

Get the free ebook from Wildside.

Note: Any Amazon links go to the post on the blog, rather than directly to Amazon. Just click the link from the blog post itself to go to Amazon from there.

             
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:25
I just watched Hillary Clinton accept her party's nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention.

I would definitely prefer to live in that reality.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:08
LoE15ap_12

The Legends of Equestria server opens in less than an hour and will remain open for the next three days. Go here to download the client that will allow you to walk about in a virtual Equestria.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 21:30
It's four days of luminaries celebrating a woman. And at the end of it, she has to walk onto the stage and own it, functionally announcing "I deserve this." It's groundbreaking, in terms of what we allow women to do.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 18:17
I seem to have missed posting one at some point, so now here are 2:

"Ten-Date Rule," Roman Reigns/Finn Balor, explicit, 3700 words. Finn hesitates, grimacing. “I have, um—I should tell you upfront I have a ten-date rule. I know that’s a dealbreaker for a lot of guys so if you want to back out now, no hard feelings. But I don’t—I’ve learned I need to be really comfortable with someone or the sex is just awful. So you know—some kissing and stuff is fine, but no sex till the tenth date.”

"Promo class, Kevin/Rami RPF, 2000 words, established relationship. Early on in his time at NXT, Rami is having a crisis of confidence about his promo skills. Kevin thinks phone sex will be good practice.

3 more fics until WWE is in my top 5 fandoms on the AO3...
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Friday, July 29th, 2016 00:27

Posted by Rohin Guha

This is Priyanka Chopra, noted Queen of Perfection:

 

This is a Pikachu, an electric-type whimsical monster from the Pokémon video game franchise:

pikachujumping

 

And here is a Facebook post wherein noted Queen of Perfection Priyanka Chopra shares with her millions of fans that she has caught a Pikachu on Pokémon GO.

And in case you came here expecting news, the noted Queen of Perfection will also be one of many celebrities hosting the UN’s Global Citizen Festival. Here is a photo she shared, alongside fellow host Usher:
She also remains hard at work filming the second season of Quantico, which, tbqh, we stopped watching because we couldn’t keep track of all the twists and turns, but also, we’d rather she lead a Bollywood adaptation of Bridesmaids. Somewhere in there, she also made time to shoot this brilliant photo series for Flaunt, too.
priyanka chopra

Source: Flaunt


Rohin Guha is an editor at The Aerogram. Follow him @ohrohin. Follow The Aerogram @theaerogram.

The post Priyanka Chopra Just Caught A Pikachu In Pokémon Go appeared first on The Aerogram.

Friday, July 29th, 2016 00:09

Posted by Fred Clark

"Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love."
Friday, July 29th, 2016 02:25
...but it does not currently "archive" fanart (or anything besides text-based fanworks). You can embed and list other fanworks there in an index, but they are *not* preserved.

I want to headdesk every time I see some Tumblr post advising people to back up their "fanworks" to AO3 in the current round of freakouts over Tumblr's corporate overlords and their possible agendas, that pretends as if everything worked like fanfic.

I have fanart on AO3 that will be broken image links if Tumblr goes down, because I embedded some from Tumblr when my own website was particularly glitchy.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 19:13
I think I'm powering my block with the incandescence of my rage.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:00

Posted by mugumogu

 

新旧タライ対決。
Old and new tub confrontations.


まる:「迷わずこっち。最初からこっちを出しとけばいいものを。」
Maru:[I was not troubled at all.]


まる:「愛しのタライちゃん!」
Maru:[I love this tub!]

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 19:27
In February I went to visit my friend [personal profile] pharis and was very nearly twenty-four hours delayed on a three-day visit, because of weather shenanigans -- in the end I managed to get to an airport only two hours away from where I was supposed to be, and she gamely drove four hours after a full day of work to come get me that night.

Now today I was supposed to spend a day with [personal profile] pharis and [personal profile] tinzelda, on our way to Con.txt, but apparently I should just not plan on flying to meet up with pharis, like, ever. I got to the Montreal airport at eight this morning, and at six pm I'd only gotten as far as Toronto. My connecting flight was delayed, delayed, and finally canceled for weather shenanigans.

But it could be much worse! They auto-rebooked me on a flight to tinzelda's home city tomorrow night, which would have meant either that the two of them would have to miss a whole day of the con to meet me, or I'd have been stranded in her home city trying to figure out how to get to the con. But I called the airline and was very nice and very plaintive, and although absolutely nothing was available to anywhere in greater DC tonight, I managed to get re-rebooked on a flight to National at 7:30 am tomorrow. Which is perfect for getting to the con, though having to be back at the airport at 5:30 am tomorrow is not so great after having had only five hours of sleep last night (we had to get Geoff's mom to the airport at 6:30; then he and I went out for breakfast before dropping me off).

Because it was a weather delay, the airline didn't offer me a voucher or anything, so I did some online research in the terminal (what's close, cheap, has a 24-hour airport shuttle, and probably won't give me bedbugs?), and ended up at a perfectly suitable TraveLodge. And when I arrived I was nice about having to wait while the front desk guy dealt with an unrelated difficulty, and his manager took over checking me in and knocked twenty percent off the room price.

So now I am comfortably ensconced, planning to get takeout for dinner from either the hotel restaurant or the diner dive across the street, and then to take a long hot shower and climb into bed.

But, pharis? Next time, you come see me.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 18:00

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Instead of doing Questions of the Day during the conventions, I'm posting Convention Threads, since the big speeches happen in the evenings, and I thought we might all want a place to discuss.

Here is a partial schedule of speakers for this evening.

But the big speech tonight is, of course, HILLARY CLINTON!

I am aware, as I'm sure most of you are, too, that there are various disruptions planned for her speech. I certainly hope that doesn't happen. I hope that the people who care so much about social justice will consider that they would be disrupting a historic address by the first ever female nominee of a major party, and think about what a truly shitty and ugly and counterproductive thing that would be to do.


But just in case they fail to reconsider, here's a piece, for anyone who missed it, on shouting at the convention: "What's All That Shouting at the Democratic Convention?" Which I hope will make you feel a little better, if you're feeling bad about it.

If that doesn't work, maybe this tweet by one of my best friends about the "Fart In" will!


Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Let's get ready to CELEBRATE!!! WOO!
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 19:17
I’ve hit my minimum word count. Now I just have to find my way to an ending. I think I might know what the last line will be, but I might be wrong. I don’t see any chance that I’m getting this beta read before I post it because I’d like to post it before I go to bed this evening, and it’s 7 p.m. now. Even if I was completely done, I think things would be too tight for finding someone to look at something so potentially squicky/triggery.
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Friday, July 29th, 2016 01:02
 
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RULE UPDATE: Short Version USA Politics need to stick to one thread.

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:48
* Pierce Brown - Red Rising extract
Seems like competent post-apocalyptic YA writing, I may pick up more at some point.

* Brian Niemeyer - Strange Matter
A rather weak _Groundhog Day_ knock-off in which the protagonist gives up on saving the world in order to get laid (but he can always save it later, a break's probably not a bad idea. Not acknowledged by the story though!).

* Brian Niemeyer - Nethereal
Effortlessly dull fantasy of the type that feels like a perpetual memory test of made-up names. Didn't care, gave up.

* Alyssa Wong - Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers
* Alyssa Wong - The Fisher Queen
* Alyssa Wong - Sampos de Sanpaguitas
* Alyssa Wong - Scarecrow
Creepy supernatural stories told from the POV of someone who is a non-human being or is turning into one. Well-written and effective.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 21:54

Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Finished Tempest‘s first-50 crit; now, I think, cake. I love how many garden phlox there are here; I have some, but clearly, I need more. I would like a path swallowed up in phlox. And Craig and Sam wandering down it.

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 16:30

Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

I've got a new piece up at BNR about Donald Trump's condescending admonishment to NBC reporter Katy Tur to "be quiet" when she was trying to do her job by asking him serious questions about his calamitous comments on Russian government hackers, and then his absurd subsequent explanation that those comments were "sarcasm."
Congratulations and gratitude to Tur for her persistence in trying to do her job — and do it well.

Donald's response is, first of all, entirely typical of his hostility toward the press. And, as Politico reports, typical of his hostility toward Tur personally: He has previously called her "not a very good reporter" and "Little Katy, third-rate journalist," her cardinal sin being asking hardball questions in an attempt to hold him accountable.

That is, doing what she is supposed to be doing as a member of the press.
There is much more at the link, including a Bridesmaids clip, because why not!
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 23:30
It's not long ago at all that I went running almost regularly, but it's been two weeks and once I'm even a little out of the rhythm finding the necessary motivation is more difficult. Today I had to because I mentioned it to my dad and he made me commit. Fortunately it was fun again. I went without something to listen to for the first time in a while because a) I was too lazy to look for something and b) it's the ice hockey offseason. Which didn't stop me from using playoff memories for motivation – such a great run :)
The way back to my apartment has an upwards slope so I always hold back when I start, but this time I even did two short fast intervals on my way back. To motivate myself for that I found myself humming the "Love Hime" opening song, the motivational song of the main character from "Yowamushi Pedal", which I started watching a few days ago on a recommendation by [personal profile] naye. It worked *g* Even though I know exactly one word, oh well.

One of my roommates is moving out tomorrow, and to my surprise she just came home. I'm a bit worried it's going to be awkward, but it's only one day so it should be fine. (I often felt awkward around her: she's a few years older, she already worked for a few years and always gave off the impression that she had her shit together, and in comparison I often felt like I didn't measure up. I didn't like it.) There's also still financial details to be settled, hopefully it goes well. Fortunately it's about how much money she'll get back from me and not the other way around; less than she's probably hoping for, but that's not my problem, this is why I was so careful writing the lease.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 17:26

If my summer had gone a little more smoothly, I would have talked about this more. I’d hoped to even do an interview with some of the people involved to sharpen my semi-journalistic skills, but I just didn’t have the time and spoons to make that happen.

Anyway! Last year, Jack, Sarah, and I had the pleasure of attending GOLDBLUM, a quirky water ballet by Baltimore-area aquatic performance group Fluid Movement. I livetweeted the experience (scroll to the bottom, then read up.) I intend to do the same this year with their current show, SCIENCE FAIR!.

We’ll be attending the 5 P.M. show on Sunday, August 7th, at Patterson Park Pool. If you would like to join us, you can get your tickets online at fluidmovement.org. Don’t wait to long. They sold like hotcakes last year. I should be easy to recognize: look for the giant floppy sun hat and rainbow hair. I will also likely be one of the few people covered pretty much head to toe regardless of the weather. My skin does not stand up well to the sun.

If you’re a fan or follower of mine and going, please give us a holler at blueauthor@alexandraerin.com and also let us know if you’d be interested in some kind of offsite meet-up with me beforehand. We might go out early and hang out at a coffee shop or something, if so. I don’t get out to Baltimore very often, so this might be a good chance for that sort of thing. Otherwise, we’ll just see you at the show.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 15:30

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Hillary Clinton leaning against a wall backstage at the Democratic convention, she is watching Bill Clinton and Barack Obama standing and talking, and she is grinning
[Photo: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

I don't even know how to describe how much I love this photo. That is all.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 21:42
Next week I'm travelling to Hungary, a country I've never visited before. We (well, mostly [livejournal.com profile] ghoti) planned the essential bits, the travel and accommodation, months ago, but it's come up faster than I'd expected and I haven't had time to think about what we're actually going to do there. It doesn't really matter since we're a party of five adults and two children, so I'm sure other people will have ideas, but I thought I might ask for advice anyway.

I made you some ticky boxes )
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 19:57

Posted by /u/Mudfap

Saw them outside many spots on Ditmars, wearing plain clothes but tactical vests and guns on holsters. They were inside my favorite spot on 21st Ave off 31st Street. Closed the door and silently told me to move along.

submitted by /u/Mudfap
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 20:06

Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj

So far today, I’ve had my first-50-pages critiqued by the group (they mostly really liked it, yay!, though there’s a few things I can do to hopefully make it even better), critiqued Eric’s first-50, gone for a walk, and stuffed myself with Valya‘s tamales. So full. Kind of want to nap, but we’ll be starting another round of critiques shortly, so I’d better go make tea instead. Luckily, they have PG Tips on hand. 🙂

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 19:54

Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj

At the Wyrd Words novel workshop, and it’s going swimmingly. I arrived last night at this splendid house, to find Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen Segalhad everything all ready for us. I was joining workshoppers Sam J. MillerK Tempest BradfordScott WoodsCraig L. Gidney, and Eric San Juan. On arrival, Valya served us a delicious chili, followed by birthday cake for me (so sweet!) and cheesecake. We just spent time getting to know each other last night, preparatory to four days of intensive workshopping. That’s the room I’m sleeping in; very comfy and lovely.

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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 19:25

Posted by admin

Writing three books last year was an exercise in grind. While there may be many people happy to write 4, 6, 12 books a year, I am not one of them. A big part of my process is the research involved in worldbuilding and the deft untangling of what makes character relationships compelling, and that takes a lot of time and a lot of brain space. The more brain space I put into other things: worrying over my sick dog, puzzling out a day job problem, considering the world descent into fascism, noodling over whether or not we are well-positioned for climate change, head-desking over ancillary projects, the less brain space I have for building worlds and stories.

Spending too much head space in the The Dark Teatime of the Soul isn’t good for anyone, and I’ve been opening up Twitter less and staying on it for shorter periods, in addition to pretty much muting every Dark Keyword and many Negative Pity-Party-Wallowing accounts that feel they must vomit their misery into the ether. I am there with you, friends, but I am full up on that brand of dark. My goal is to get my news/social check-in on Twitter down to about 20 minutes a day. I’ve already removed TV and radio from my life, so I only hear the constant fear-mongering now when I go to waiting rooms that have TVs on (and what is it with places that do that? I don’t need to listen to screaming heads on CNN prophesying our doom while waiting at the doctor’s office).

Doing this helps me get back the head space that I was giving over to stuff I don’t have any control over. And yes, there’s been studies done that show that it is being put into situations in which we feel we have no control that cause the most stress and depression. This explains the four years of my life that I spent at a day job that laid people off every 4-6 months. I hung on for a long time, but the stress was constant, and I dealt with it in unhealthy ways. I jumped right from that job into another, even crazier one, where eveyrthing was constantly in flux. Where I’m at now is much more secure and stable, but wow, I had five years of awful stress there for awhile, and I’m still figuring out how to come down from it.

Paired with my crazy day job history was (and is) my crazy publishing history. Talk about an industry where you feel you don’t have a lot of control… as I’ve noted before, sure, writing a good book and marketing it well can keep you in the midlist, but breakout books take something more, and as yet no one has figured out how to actually manufacture bestsellers from unknown writers yet. Though they keep trying.

And then outside of all that, of course, is the uncontrollable world. And while each of us individually and together are working hard to enact change, the way it’s reported (if at all) isn’t under our control. It’s in the media’s best interest to serve us the most vile and hate-mongering stories, because those get the clicks. They show us a world that’s rampaging out of control, a world we can’t change. Even knowing, intellectually, that that’s wrong, the crazy outside world can contribute to that feeling of overwhelming, ongoing stress and depression that keeps you soaking up tears in your cornflakes.

I make note of these outside factors because I’ve had a rough time getting control over – or feeling that I have control over – a good many things lately. I’ve spent the last five years at a hard grind, pushing for a breakout book that was always the next book or the next book or the next book… and though there are certainly plenty of successes I can point to (coming back from the implosion of my first publisher was a huge win in and of itself. Not many of us who debuted there were able to do so, and many have disappeared completely from the field), I am always aiming for more, and bigger, and better. At this point my reasonable goal is to be able to write and freelance full time by the time I’m forty. That’s very reasonable! But I can see the hard grind ahead of me, and I admit that some days I do not have the gumption to look it in the face.

My focus continues to be on becoming a stronger writer. Not just at the prose level, but at the all-important story level, too. That involves sitting down and doing some research, too, and breaking down existing stories. Me sitting around writing the same book over and over doesn’t help me level up as a writer. Note the full depth and breadth of Le Guin’s work. She didn’t get to be a great writer by writing one endless fantasy saga. And while I would love to be able to write an endless fantasy saga that paid the bills, what I want more than that is to be an excellent writer. When your work is selling all right, but hasn’t broken out yet, you just gotta keep banging on story. But yeah, it’s not always fun. And yes, I realize that Le Guin didn’t have to make a living via her writing, which did probably free her up to write a lot more of what she wanted to write. But there are writers like Gene Wolfe who had day jobs their entire careers and wrote plenty of transformative work, so there’s no hard and fast rule here.

Lately I’ve been in one of those rough periods where I just want to quit for six months or a year and travel around the world and refill my creative bucket. Cause right now all I can see down there are beer dregs. The truth is that every profession will try and squeeze out of you as much as it can get. While I’d like to be mindful of how much I give it, I also recognize that in order to get to where I want to be, I’m going to have to give it everything. This is a marathon, yeah, but I don’t indeed to have anything left for the way back. This is it. The older I get, the rougher than knowledge is, though: knowing I have saved nothing for the way back. There is only forward.

When it gets dark like this as I sweat over the next book and start putting together ideas for pitching a new series, I remind myself that sometimes it’s the very bleakest right before a major breakthrough. These are the long plateaus in skill and ability that we have to push through to level up. Once you get to the pro level at anything, your effort/skill ratio flips. You no longer see huge gains with minimal effort. There’s a reason you can get 2 years of skill leveling up out of 6 weeks of Clarion. You tend to be newer to the craft. You’ve got more to learn.

My next big level up is taking a lot longer to get to – several books, many stories. While I have recently seen some rise in my short story skill level due to all the grind I’ve been doing on Patreon, and all the study I’ve done on story, I’m not seeing it as clearly in my novels. Creating interwoven storylines with multiple characters is difficult for any writer, but I have the added bonus of insisting on portraying weird, weird worlds as I do it. It’s a grind.

Oh, the grind.

Nothing in life or business is fair, but even when you know that, it can be difficult to accept it when the fairness doesn’t seem to be on your side. When things get especially bad I will mutter aloud, “Life is pain, princess,” and push on. I once read that to the ancient Greeks “happiness” meant being free from pain – physical and emotional. If you think about it, you were spending a whole lot more of your life sick or mourning friends and family than you do in many parts of the world now. We run around thinking that there’s something wrong with us for not being “happy” but if you aren’t currently grieving or suffering from an illness, well, you’re doing pretty well by ancient Greek standards. Ok, well, I DO have a chronic illness, but it’s not generally painful… So I have that going for me.

Which brings me back to expectations. I often think I should lower or adjust mine, but I’m not convinced this would change my drive to be the absolute best at what I do. What concerns me is that the path I’ve laid down to get there – the writing grind – is incomplete. With debts and day jobs came a lack of head space to do anything at all but writing outside of those things I need to do to live. While this sounds great – read any book about grit and active practice and it will remind you you need to work harder than other people if you want to compete – the trouble is that I keep pretending like I’m everyone else. I pretend like I don’t have a chronic illness. I pretend like I can get by without significant amounts of exercise. Hell, there are days when I think I can eat carbs without regretting it. But none of those things are true, and I have to build a life around who I am and what I need instead of what I wish were still true.

While I have survived stressful day jobs and publishing implosions and career death several times over here at the ripe olde middle-age of 36, I’d like to hope there’s another 30 years in me still to go. It’s tempting not to be able to see that when you’re this deep in the dark grind, but I know it’s there. I know it’s always darkest before everything breaks open. The hope is that you can survive the darkness long enough to get there.

We fall down seven times. We get up eight.

We get up.

We get up.

We get up.

 

 

 

The post The Wisdom of the Grind: It’s Always Darkest Before a Breakthrough appeared first on Kameron Hurley.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 14:59
Got the results of Nefer's culture back: she has, basically, two UTIs, i.e. two different sets of bacteria present in abnormally high numbers. The good news: the antibiotic injection she got is effective for one of them. The bad news: the other one needs an antibiotic that only comes in pills or liquid.

However! We had made the discovery last week that we can give Nefer a (very tiny, very crumbly) anti-nausea pill wrapped up in bread, and she will eat it. So I picked pills, and Toby dropped by the vet on the way home to pick them up. And yes: Nefer will eat an antibiotic pill if it is encapsulated in a squishy bread pill.

So we now have a loaf of bread bought solely for the cat, of the squishiest bread we could find that we could also tolerate if, for example, one of us needed to make a sandwich in an emergency. (i.e., generic wheat balloon bread, but not quite as fluffy and insubstantial as Wonder Bread.)

Nefer is happy that we have started this habit of randomly giving her pieces of bread. Sora is convinced that we are somehow giving her treats and not him, even though we let him sniff the bread and he does not recognize it as food. So he occasionally gets an empty Pill Pocket, because we don't want him to associate Pill Pockets with vets or medicine.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2016 14:31

Posted by Aphra Behn

Dear White Lefty Friends Who Are Too Cool For School And Keep Sniffing About The Democratic Convention on Facebook:

I get it. Political Parties are Corrupt, We Need Alternatives, Holding Your Nose for Hillary, Yadda. Yadda.

But can you please stop pretending that there is no significant difference between the rhetoric of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party?

Can you please stop with the nonsense that the Democratic National Convention is full of GOP-style “American Exceptionalism”? Because it is not.

Look, stuff like "greatest country in the world" bugs me too. Because I grew up living in two different countries, and even as a child I had a finely tuned nose for the bullshit of “America is the only free country in the woooorld!” and other sentiments fit mainly for Lee Greenwood songs or the garbage bin. (In retrospect, I think it must have been pretty shocking for adults to be asked “What would you call Canada then?” by an 11 year old. Sorry, grade four teachers!)

But let’s talk context here. We are talking about the diversity of the modern Democratic party. These aren’t people who say the Founders are gods, the 1950s were perfect, and we have to “get back” to that perfection.

When someone like Michelle Obama puts it in context [CN: video autoplays at link] that the White House was built by SLAVES and now there is an African-American First Family living in it, that’s not GOP rhetoric. That is acknowledging the racism that literally built our country. While also celebrating that we have come pretty far.

When I see something like Meryl Streep’s speech, and the video that followed [CN: autoplays at link], the one that included explicit references to segregated busing, to the oppression of queer folk…I am seeing something that would emphatically not be found at a GOP convention. It celebrates activists and activism who struggled and sacrificed for greater justice. The rhetoric in that video explicitly acknowledges the US has become a more perfect union, but is not a perfect union yet. It challenges the listener to pick up the legacy of activists and do more…to expect more.

This is not Republican stuff.

Let’s just quote Tim Kaine (and yes, yes, I know how you feel about him, but seriously just think about this):

Thomas declared all men equal, and Abigail remembered the women. Woodrow brokered peace, and Eleanor broke down barriers. Jack told us what to ask, and Lyndon answered the call. Martin had a dream, Cesar y Dolores said si se puede, and Harvey gave his life. Bill bridged a century, and Barack gave us hope.

Do you really think you are going to find that at a GOP convention? None of those people are above criticism, and Kaine isn’t saying that. He’s saying they all contributed something, and, importantly, they’re not ranked. Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King get equal weight. So do Eleanor Roosevelt and Cesar Chavez. And he trusts that his audience doesn’t even have to know their last names, that “Harvey” and “Dolores” will be as familiar as “Bill and “Barack.”

If that’s Lee Greenwood –level GOP arglebargle, then I am Abe Lincoln’s tall stovepipe hat.

Look, party conventions aren't academic conferences. Yes, we should be critical, and think critically. Yes, we should be alert to the dangers of nationalism and hyper patriotism. But there is also a time and place for celebration and rousing the troops. And in the end, that’s a big part of what a party convention is all about.

The Democratic Party of the United States is not perfect. It contains people you fundamentally disagree with, it contains people I fundamentally disagree with, above all it is a political party that exists to get shit done. That means it will always have to be less pure than you and I in our ivory towers.

But when you look at the party convention floor and there’s an ocean of faces of so many different colors, and when you hear references to the freedom to love as a fundamental right, and you see the women crying at Hillary Clinton’s nomination, then maybe, just maybe, you could stop complaining for a minute about how both parties are basically alike and how the Democrats “sound just like Republicans.”

Because the Democratic National Convention is evidence that there has been a sea change in where the voting power is in the United States. And that? That is something worth celebrating.