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While Ptalking about Pterry Is Still Ptopical

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.14.15

(I mentioned this in a comment thread, but I think it's puzzling enough to be worth a post.) Pratchett, while broadly popular, was specifically very very popular in what you could call the hardcore nerd community (defining nerd almost in any way you like, I'd think that your odds of finding a Pratchett fan would be significantly higher among nerds than among the population at large.) And while I am the first to say #notallnerds are anti-feminist, there's certainly been a voluble, organized anti-feminist nerd constituency visible lately, Gamergate and so on.

And Pratchett's books were (while I'm absolutely sure they weren't perfect, and anyone who spends more time on feminist issues than I do can probably rattle off a list of problematic things about them) really very unusually feminist for light genre fiction. At least two of the Discworld books are what I'd call focused on feminist issues (Equal Rites and Monstrous Regiment), and lots of them are focused on women, in a way that is, as far as I recall, never or almost never annoyingly offkey on gender issues. Again, this is really, really unusual for goofy genre fiction.

The puzzling bit is that I've never heard a hint of negativity, marginalization, or backlash about the very high background (and sometimes foreground) feminism level in Discworld from the kind of nerds who are both likely to be Pratchett fans and are the sort of people who make up Gamergate -- e.g., the sentence "I don't read SJW's like Pratchett" isn't something I've run into. Are there people who had that reaction to Pratchett who I've just missed? But if not, how did Discworld not set off the kind of people who generally object to feminism? Were the books just appealingly funny enough that anti-feminists thought they were worth overlooking the feminism for (the way I read past gender roles in most of the genre fiction I read)? Anyway, this seems like something that needs explanation to me.


 

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Get offa my finite interval

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.14.15

From Facebook:

I'm not stressing over the time at which to celebrate that most famous irrational number because I have the Intermerdiate Value Theorem on my side. Bound that and keep moving.

Exactly right


 

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Guest Post - State Registry

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.13.15

Teo writes: Utah, which "appears to be a hotbed of financial fraud" (at least to the New York Times), is set to establish the first state registry for white-collar criminals. The legislature has passed the bill with overwhelming majorities in both houses, and the governor is in favor as well, so it looks like this is essentially a done deal.

As the article notes, not everyone agrees that the profusion of registries over the past few years for people convicted of various crimes is an unalloyed good, and I can certainly see merit in the concerns about this sort of thing making it difficult for people who have served their sentences to rebuild their lives, but white-collar criminals seem different in certain key ways that make me less concerned in this case. It will be interesting to see how this works out and if other states start to try it too.

Heebie's take: Wow, I didn't think there was enough anger to get something like this done. I have no idea if this will do any good, but I personally have enough anger to enjoy the shadenfreude.


 

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Oh, Of Course

Posted by Ogged
on 03.13.15

The two-year-old came up to me and kept saying something about "casa-lope." What? "Casa-lope." I don't know what you're saying. "Casa-lope." I'm sorry, I don't what that means. The four-year-old from the other room: "He's saying Constantinople!" Is that what you're saying? Yup.

This.


 

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Re-Ding

Posted by Ogged
on 03.12.15

As I might have mentioned, since I bought a Kindle, I'm reading books again, and recently read two I enjoyed a lot. Neither are obscure finds. Nevertheless.

--Whisky Tango Foxtrot. A lot of people hate it for what feels like a non-ending, but it seemed like a fine ending to me, and the writing is so fabulous--smart and funny--that I was always glad to have some time to spend with it.

--The Martian. Astronaut gets stranded on Mars, must find a way to survive. Serious MacGyver shit here; meticulously researched, so much fun to see what the next problem/solution might be. It maintains plausibility and a light tone throughout, and manages to build a lot of suspense by the end. So well done.


 

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Fitbit

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.12.15

I got a free Fitbit Zip to use for the month of March, through work, for one of these employee health gimmicks. It's...less fun than I expected. My steps are in the 4K-6K range during the week, and I have no plans to increase that. Also some mornings I do a whole bunch of burpees and it registers it as the most modestly light of exercise. (I complained about that at xfit and set off a bunch of gripes about fatbits (zing!) and so on.)

I have the option to buy it for cheap at the end of the month, but I'm not particularly inclined to.


 

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TOP FIVE EDIBLE FLOWERS

Posted by Ben
on 03.11.15

1. Arugula
2. Fava
3. Pea
4. Nasturtium
5. I dunno, zucchini I guess?


 

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Blurred Lines

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.11.15

Write a rapey song, get in trouble for not obtaining consent? I assume that there was no intentional plagiarism, and music seeps in your subconscious all the time, and you absorb it and spit it out when you write music. OTOH, obviously I'd rather cheer for Marvin.


 

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Guest Post - Recruiting

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.11.15

E. Messily writes: ISIS is recruiting disabled Muslims now. How inclusive of them.

They have a new recruitment video "using sign language", this article says, but it doesn't say which one. The actual video is here, with Arabic and English subtitles for at least some of it.

I still don't know what language it is. I can understand a few signs and guess at a few more, but it isn't any of the sign languages I know well enough to recognize (so, not British, French, Italian, Australian, or Rwandan. How surprising!). I'm guessing Levantine Arabic Sign Language? Just based on facts (political and demographical ones, not moral ones), not on anything about the language itself.

Anyway. I think this is interesting and weird! What do you think?

Heebie's take:

The video, cryptically titled "From Who Excused To Those Not Excused," comes with Arabic and English subtitles. It shows the two men directing traffic while heavily armed and includes the group's now-familiar threats of destruction against the U.S. and Europe.

Huh.


 

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I Have None

Posted by Ogged
on 03.11.15

Thoughts on the Clinton email story?


 

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Your Puny Stats

Posted by Ogged
on 03.10.15

You can tell people all day that crime is way down and stranger abductions are more rare than lightning strikes, or that the older kids here were actually helpful, but something like this makes the national news and you can practically hear the ratchet click.

(The little brother chasing while pushing the stroller--I better chase, but I can't leave the stroller behind--is heartbreaking. Luckily, it's a happy ending.)


 

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Guest Post: Habitual

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.10.15

Lurid Keyaki writes: Can we have a bragging thread about having broken bad habits? It can be anything from "sober for a decade" to "learned to maintain persistent knowledge of the location of my keys" to "finally quit saying 'retarded'" (I think Dan Savage once described that as "a bad habit," which is why it came to mind). I have nothing to brag about myself; I just want inspiration. And tips. Heavy on the tips, please, whether they're uselessly specific or general to the point of banality, or even helpful!

Heebie's take: Let's! I can't think of any personal examples - I can think of lots of bad habits, but I think I still have them all, or at most moved into circumstances where it comes up less. (Like picking zits - the lighting in this bathroom, coupled with my eyesight and older skin, means that there's just not so much fun to be had.) I'm hoping once you guys share some, I'll remember some of my own.

Adam Carolla had a funny story once about how every morning, he took a cup of coffee into the car and left the coffee mug in the car, and the car was generally disgusting and full of trash, and how he eventually learned to take the single mug back out of the car each day. (It's funnier when he tells it.) Anyway, it's a story that's stuck with me - sometimes it's just a matter of taking the damn coffee mug in from the car each day.


 

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Crickets

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.15

Whites of the blog, I'm still waiting for you to reject and denounce.

On the other hand, we can't know what's in their hearts.


 

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There's No Irony In This Post

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.15

Cast iron cookware just might be the perfect SWPL object. Let us count the SWPL points. The very best stuff was made long ago and isn't really made anymore (1). But you can buy new stuff made like the old stuff--by hand, to order (2) (using reclaimed metal in a furnace running on discarded vegetable oil (3)). Or you could get something foreign, beautiful and expensive (4). It's also fussy enough to completely geek out on (5) but tough enough to let you think it's simple and unfussy (6). You can't really go wrong, but you can go wrong just enough--by buying something new but not handmade--to make getting the other stuff a mark of distinction (7).

You could say I'm double-counting because the options are exclusive, but it's the whole field of SWPL possibility that sets cast iron apart. And what makes it truly perfect is that there's a lot of truth to the hype: it's great to cook with and it will last long enough for your kids (and maybe their kids) to use it (8).


 

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Office window.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.09.15

My colleague has an office in the biology building, on the ground floor right next to a small decorative pond and major thoroughfare. The entire exterior wall of her office is a glass window. I think the previous person made extensive use of venetian blinds, but the current colleague just has an entire unobscured window wall of her office, next to a thoroughfare with a ton of pedestrian traffic. It is so mind-boggling to me - apparently she doesn't feel like an art installation exhibit, sitting there in profile at her desk, day in and day out. Every inch of her office well-lit and easily visible. Somehow she apparently does not find this hellish.


 

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Local Politics

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.08.15

My very close friend is running for the local school board. Holy hell, this is the first time I've ever been inside a campaign. I cannot believe how much shmoozing and networking and greeting she is scheduled for, over the next few months. Or rather, I knew that running for office entailed all that, but I never really thought about squeezing it in to domestic life.

For about twenty minutes, driving into work one day, before she decided to run, I entertained the idea of running for the open slot myself, before I realized what a terrible, terrible idea it was. She really is perfect for it - truly channeling Tammy Taylor.

The thing I'm struck by, even though it's not news, is the utter divorce between what it takes to get elected and what it takes to be great, once you're in the office. I agree that these positions should be democratically elected, but I wish there was more structure to an election that decreased the need for candidates to be intensely charismatic and have such wild stamina for social interactions.


 

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