rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
[personal profile] rivkat
Michael J. Yochim, Protecting Yellowstone: Details a series of conflicts about park management over the past few decades, including the reintroduction of wolves, the continued use of snowmobiles, gold mining, and allowing bison to roam beyond park boundaries. The bottom line is simple: politics always wins. But political coalitions can be built depending on the strength of the relevant science, as well as on the framing of issues as being about protecting nature, preserving access to the park, or promoting the economy of the surrounding areas.

Joan C. Williams, White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in AmericaRead more... )
labelleizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] labelleizzy
I tried something new on Thursday evening.

for some reason I've been reluctant to participate in events run by a group that several people I know are pretty enthusiastic about. The group is called the Human Awareness Institute. (abbreviated as HAI.)

my therapist has been encouraging me to give them a try, it seems that for the kind of touch and affection that I've been craving in my life, this group has good results for a bunch of people.

Long story short; I've recently decided to try more new things for the first time. And I do have to allow for there will be some new things that I'm not gonna like.

Fair enough.

Got to help a friend with a burning man project for a couple hours after therapy. Went to grab a burger and fries after that, and then lost myself in the internet while eating, enough that I had to bolt outta Five Guys and still showed up 15 minutes after the start time of the darn thing. Great.

I did manage to just BE, on arrival, which is a triumph considering how socially anxious I used to be. (I have done a LOT of therapy.) They've got a friendly looking dude (I liked his vibe) helping do sign-ins and the speaker is already in process. I join a circle of chairs.

She has a pretty mellow presentation style, comfortably but nicely dressed, like she could easily do yoga or go out to a midrange restaurant in the same outfit. She's barefoot, we all are, we left our shoes at the door on request. It's definitely that kind of house.

it's a mild digression from the main thrust of this post to describe the decorating style of the living room; but there's a ton of statues and structures with Asian elements, from what I could tell from a blend of cultures. Stylish, classy, pretty expensive by my guess, but... a bit in the Ordered All My Furniture From Pyramid Collection aesthetic. I don't know. It didn't *bother* me, but it left an impression.

Okay. so we're listening as she talks a bit about what HAI does, their goal being to sort of love yourself into wholeness or something. (yes, I started out a bit skeptical.)

I'm feeling actually, like I'm pretty darn whole, I've just struggled to find healthy and happy poly relationships with people who we have mutual levels of interest and similar kinds of dating goals. And I've been a witch for over twenty years now, I've done a LOT of work on my soul wounds and childhood stuff, relationship stuff. Basically I've worked on all the ways I've ever been hurt or have hurt myself. It was a lot. I had touch averse emotionally distant parents and I was the only nerd in a neighborhood full of jocks. I was lonely and grew up HUNGRY in ways I, as a child, couldn't feed myself.

This has been a longstanding research project for me. A *lifetime* of research unlearning the habits that made me miserable, finding teachers and teaching myself more about how to be happy, content, how to ameliorate the places of need and heal the soul pains of my life.

ok.
Gosh, I kind of want to name and shame them by describing the kind of techniques they used to force us into intimacy with complete strangers.

There were several activities we worked on during the 75 minutes I was in attendance; there was a cycle of hugging and another cycle with an uncomfortable kind of "make eye contact with each person before clasping hands at chest level and then each of you kissed the other's hand", there was a kind of confession time where you partnered up and the script was, "if you really knew me, you'd know..." and then you make a series of stream of consciousness shares with your partner while they listen with attention; then you switch and you listen with attention while they share. The last thing that I can remember is a kind of touching exercise; you each take about five minutes to cup and stroke the other person's face. IDK if they were expecting me to hold eye contact during that; I ran out of eye contact spoons about halfway through.

(do neurotypical people have zero problems holding eye contact with someone else for long periods of time, +/- 5 minutes? Unless I know and trust someone I have trouble holding long eye contact with them.)

at the end of the alotted time our hostess collected us back into a circle and talked some more about the longer, full weekend HAI workshops. I was feeling weirdly ungrounded but still mentally present, and in this case took note of the cost of the weekend as being cheaper than one night in some of the places Jeff and I have stayed (they were NICE rooms okay) but I was feeling like the cost was still prohibitive.

like, I know if I wanted to, I *could* afford that weekend, but my gut feeling was saying, "nope that's too much".

I'm glad I trusted my gut feeling. I definitely didn't want to sign up for anything based on this artificial feeling squashing together of people who didn't know each other.

and I mean, I KNOW THAT you have to meet people before they can become friends, but ... okay. Let me fast forward to on my way home, for a second.

Okay. Driving home. Reflecting on the evening, and why do I feel uncomfortable. Ungrounded, a little like I'm floating above my own head. I am literally operating on autopilot, and I've got the gps in my little Prius going, and somehow I *still* am so lost in my own mind that I miss the freeway turnoff for my house.
Which I *rarely do*, but okay.

I'm *exhausted* when I circle round and actually get my car parked in front of my house. exhausted and *starving* which usually a greasy burger and fries will hold me three hours EASY.

I check my internal resources and I try to *ground*
and I ... like, there's almost nothing *there* to ground *with.*

WTF??

There's *always* something there. It may be sluggish, or it may be stuck, but I've *always* got plenty of "juice".

It's a bit like you're used to a Las Vegas neon display, but suddenly you look and all that's there is a few tired glowsticks scattered around instead.

I'll be honest. It feels like someone(s) in that workshop are energy vampires and I got fuckin' DRAINED.

I've never spent (or not in YEARS) so much time being forced into proximity without having some kind of buffer; social chit chat, physical space, the ability to go introvert for a little while if I needed to.
I've always been able to either ground or shield, or both as needed.

I'm not some N00B witch, I can shield damn well if I need to, I know how to protect myself energetically, but I didn't, because the nature of the exercise was, I thought, to foster a chance at intimacy.
(with strangers)

... I think they're either playing with forces they don't understand, or someone's, consciously or unconsciously, harvesting personal energy from people. Or maybe it was just me? IDK...

Like I got a very fluffy "love and light and we have the power to /love the world to wholeness/!" vibe off them, maybe, MAYBE they have the best intentions running the thing, and as the folks who've been doing it for a long time, the hosts all feel well grounded themselves.

... just UGH. no.

Not my bag. I have communities I can work within and call on for comfort, acceptance, hugs, positive kinds of eye contact, I do not think I will be returning to that community.

Instead I will return to my ecstatic dance community, try out the Contact Improv dance classes locally for physical touch and flexibility and challenge, and join the political action group that some friends from my ecstatic dance (Open Floor) community have started.

I will make more lunch dates. More art dates with friends, more activities that feed me in MY WAYS.
I will do more of the Witchy Shit (tm) that I love and that feeds me.

because yeah. That shit wasn't fun for me at all and I don't wanna do that again.

[fic fic and more fic]

Aug. 19th, 2017 08:46 pm
tellitslant: (tos - uhura - smiiile!)
[personal profile] tellitslant
For the first time in a very long time I am writing fic outside of the constraints of a ficathon. In fact, I've written nearly ten thousand words in the last two weeks (which is a fair bit for me, and I think more than I wrote all of last year put together). So, hey! If any of you are also watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix, check out my ongoing run of pre-series ruminations, The Past Forty Years. It includes four stories thus far: The Undertow (Grace and Frankie early on, and the weight of all the things they don't know how to see about each other); The Difference (does it feel strange when Frankie looks at her, or is Grace imagining it?); The Space Between (how to reach out and touch someone, or, as the case may be, fail to connect); The Mark (Grace and the relationships she never quite expected to be so changed by).

And if you're not watching Grace and Frankie but you would like to know why I am, well. I'm more than happy to share. :)

Cats Against Nazis

Aug. 19th, 2017 01:58 pm
rachelmanija: (Heroes: support WGA)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
The rally was fine, though quite small. I imagine there would have been a much bigger turnout if the Nazis hadn't cancelled. One of my neighbors was there!

I went with [personal profile] hederahelix. We are now heading for Clementine.

Here I am with my sign and feline fellows in resistance.



Non-Cornish pasties

Aug. 19th, 2017 01:00 pm
azurelunatic: Chocolate dessert, captioned No Artificial Shortages  (no artificial shortages)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Belovedest has mentioned a few times that it's hard to get your hands on a nice meat pasty around these parts. I contemplated the matter and asked a few questions.

At length, it seemed like it was a good day to try.

My reliable source for understanding the principles behind what I'm cooking is Serious Eats. So I read through the pie crust stuff again. (Incidentally, the site is a clickbait hole for DELICIOUSNESS.)


Clickbait: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/03/science-of-pie-7-myths-that-need-to-go-away.html

Science: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/07/the-food-lab-the-science-of-pie-how-to-make-pie-crust-easy-recipe.html

Recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/07/easy-pie-dough-recipe.html
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces; 350 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces; 280 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
6 tablespoons (3 ounces; 85 milliliters) cold water

I looked at the amounts involved.

There was no way that I was going to be able to fit all that flour and butter into my food processor, which is an attachment to my stick blender. I looked closely at the amounts.

It so happens that the ratio of cups of flour to sticks of butter is 1:1. So I decided that I could make a test batch, one cup and one stick. The salt and sugar is less important, and in fact the sugar is kind of not what I wanted for a pasty dough.

I put 2/3 of the flour together with the butter and a bit of salt, then added a little water and more of the flour. (Probably not how I should have done it.) Then I mixed it in a larger bowl with a little more water. My hands are rather hot, so I tried to cool them down with ice.

I wrapped it up in cling wrap and let it cool off in the refrigerator. I pulled it out a few hours later, and quartered the dough. I saw that it had distinct stacked layers, like a good steel blade. I was thrilled.

I rolled it out in the best tradition of my mother, between two sheets of parchment paper. (There is no rolling pin in this kitchen. I used a glass.) I stuck it back in the refrigerator, still between the sheets, to wait while I prepared the filling. (Parchment paper and waxed paper are easier to handle than cling wrap, for this.)

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/01/cornish-pasty-british-meat-hand-pie-recipe.html

This was not a Cornish pasty. [personal profile] wohali said something about a chicken curry pasty, and I went "Oooo!" and she advised that you can use pretty much any chicken curry recipe, just dryer than usual.

I went for it.

My basic chicken curry is chicken plus a brick of golden curry sauce plus assorted vegetables, and oil as needed. This time I decided to cook the chicken thigh meat so it would be easy to separate from the bones in my multifunction fancy rice cooker, along with some spiced oil left over from a previous recipe, and some dry onions. I cooked the vegetables and the curry brick separately, only combining them all (and some potato flakes to sop up water and oil) at the end. My partner is much better at handling chicken meat in all its phases than I am, and stripped the meat from the bones before I mixed them together.

I did roll it too thin, and I let it get too hot when filling it.

Despite the holes, I stuck the crust together with egg wash, and egg washed the outside. (I used the leftover egg wash to make a little bit of curry scrambled egg, which my partner ate on top of their salad.)

I'd wisely said that if the food was not going to be ready by 10pm, we should eat something else. The pies came out of the oven just as we were finishing chicken nuggets, but we still had enough room to test half a pie each.


Mmmmmmmmm.

I will be making these again. And the dough process is relatively simple with the tools at hand, so my partner (who can follow a recipe, but isn't yet the cocky ass in the kitchen that I am) may wind up learning the process too.


I put together a bit of sweet pie dough just now, and it's chilling in a ball in the refrigerator. I'm thinking that some fruit pies might be in order...

Compliments: giving, receiving,a vow.

Aug. 19th, 2017 12:39 pm
labelleizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] labelleizzy
Words are my stock-in-trade. I use them to make things and to explore the world. I go to them to learn and be comforted and to figure life, or pain, or puzzles out.

I come from Livejournal/Dreamwidth, before Facebook, when words were always what you used to tell a writer you enjoyed, appreciated, or interacted with their work. This is well before the "like" functionality was implemented across the internet.

Complimenting artists on their art, writers on their stories, wasn't something I could do, growing up pre Internet as I did. And it's thrilling as hell to be able to, like, tag @dduane and say, "thank you, your books helped me through a painful, awkward childhood where I frequently felt lonely and unloved, and I remember them fondly thirty years later."

One of my favorite poets said she could live three weeks off a really good compliment and nothing else. :) Psychology has done studies on the need for praise and compliments in developing and maintaining a healthy emotional life.

We need them, compliments and praise, but we shy away from giving them. Why is that? I have theories, but this isn't the place and time for that right now. Let me tell you a very short story instead.

I dig tattoos, both in the same way that I love art generally, but in a deeper way too. I have several, am planning several more. Yesterday at the service center, the lovely young man who checked me in, very well mannered, had lovely forearm tattoos: greyscale roses twining around words. (I tried not to stare, I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable)

So I'm admiring his art but didn't have the right kind of courage in that moment to tell him his art was lovely. The shading, the composition, the ballsiness of being a Hispanic dude in maybe his middle 20's with visible floral tattoos, all of these impressed me.

I'm waiting for the shuttle to take me home while they work on my car, reading on Tumblr, and I run across the why-guys-send-dick-pics thread, why women don't, and don't like them, how men don't receive compliments so women complaining about compliments is like the women are speaking in ancient Greek, incomprehensible. One comment that just nailed it was, "one person who's dying of thirst is watching someone who is drowning"

(digression:. if you find that extended thread/conversation, please tag me so I can keep it, or throw a link in comments to this? TYVM!)

And I thought, REAL compliments feed us. And I don't have students anymore who I can lift up in that way, but I do that with friends, and I do that on Facebook and Instagram and my other social media. And I do that for authors whose work I like (I need to make a long appreciative list tagging a bunch of y'all) and maybe, like my beloved friend Janice was doing years ago at Renfaire, I can start making a point of doing this in meatspace interactions again. Giving heart felt compliments. Nothing hollow, nothing that's got a hook in it, nothing manipulative.

Just a gift.

I mean, this thought passed through me in a flash, feeling nothing like it does now to write it all down.

And then the young man with the roses came through with a clipboard. "Oh, you're Liz, aren't you?" I smiled and nodded. "The shuttle's ready to take you home, have a good day," and I half blurt "oh thank you, and I hope you don't mind me saying? (He turns back, slightly surprised) That I love the shading on your rose tattoos. They're really beautiful!"

Folks, the LOOK on his face... I could see what ten year old him looked like when he was really happy. He looked for a flash like kids do when they catch a ball in the stands hit by their favorite player on their home team. He looked SO HAPPY, his smile changed his face completely.

I'm so glad I said something, that I got a second chance to put a look like that on someone's face.

This is a thing I vow to do more of again.

Compliments keep the soul alive in a world that's trying it's best to kill our souls with dread, fear, and despair.

You know: They lie when they say kind words cost nothing: they cost effort, and courage, and willingness to take the risk, ability to let go of an expectation of return. But I have the energy and the commitment and this is something that I can look for opportunities to put out into the world.
rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
[personal profile] rivkat
Robert H. Lustig, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and BrainsRead more... )

Richard S. Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and VirginiaRead more... )
sporky_rat: Jars of orange fruit, backlit (food)
[personal profile] sporky_rat

It has been a week. It's been a busy week, but a week none-the-less.

We have Nico this weekend because Jenna's gone to Florida to go get her dude and drive with him back so they can get Nico registered for school. School started a week and a half ago, but he couldn't be registered because the school district can't accept the notarized paper stating that Jenna lives in the house that doesn't have her name on it.

Weird, I know, the utility folks accepted it.

My meds have given me back my ability to eat. It's distressing because it's hard to feed yourself with a minimum of effort. I see a lot of oatmeal in my future. (It's easy to cook. It's easy to eat, especially if I put a glug of maple syrup in it.)

I did cookie balls so they can baked off at will and did up the five ingredient biscuits from Budget Bytes that require heavy cream instead of butter. They usually work pretty well. I like them. They're tasty and easy.

I have grapes, kiwi, a cantaloupe of some sort (it's got a fancy name), we'll have corn on the cob tonight and I need to figure out something for these beets.

Literally as I was about to post

Aug. 18th, 2017 06:12 pm
rydra_wong: Doonesbury: Mark announcing into a microphone, "That's guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!!" (during the Watergate scandal) (guilty)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
to ask whether any kindly person was running www.hasstevebannonbeenfiredyet.com:

The Independent: Steve Bannon: Trump 'decides to remove chief strategist' from White House role
CBS live updates (warning: autoplays stuff)

"A person close to Bannon" said it was TOTALLY HIS IDEA Y'ALL, IT'S ALL PART OF HIS MASTER PLAN DON'T YOU SEE.

ETA: Recommended: http://plaidadder.tumblr.com/post/164338863264/goodbye-steve-bannon-you-were-fired-too-late
http://plaidadder.tumblr.com/post/164340936634/how-is-this-playing-in-breitbartville-not-well
rydra_wong: the illuminated Sarajevo haggadah (sarajevo haggadah)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Thanks to folks at [community profile] thisfinecrew for links, and links that led to other links among the following:

Solidarity Cville: Donate -- suggestions and links for local groups to support

Indivisble: Stand in Solidarity with Charlottesville - Find an Event

The Nation: Here’s What You Can Do After Charlottesville

Indivisible: Are Your Members of Congress Doing Enough to Respond to the Charlottesville Terrorist Attack? -- though this is several days old and therefore lacks a script for HOLY FUCK THE PRESIDENT IS DEFENDING NEO-NAZIS (EVEN MORE) WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

SPLC releases new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate guide after Charlottesville attack

Politico: GOP chairmen resist hearings on white supremacy

They don't want it. Demand it.

[tumblr.com profile] plaidadder: Three Democratic members of the House have introduced a censure resolution.

You can read the text here.

Censure is a formal reprimand. It is not legally binding, but it is rare, and Sends a Message. MoveOn.org originally organized around a campaign to get Congress to censure Clinton instead of impeaching him.

This may be an attempt to accomplish something less difficult than impeachment; or it may be a trial run to see how many Republicans are ready to jump from the Trump Train.


ETA: Politico: Pelosi endorses censure of Trump over Charlottesville response -- apparently at least 79 Democrats have signed.

Not directly Charlottesville-related, but interesting and could be worth asking your reps to support:

H.R.1987 - Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act

To steal Wikipedia's explanation: "This bill would replace the Cabinet as the body that, together with the Vice President, determines whether Section 4 should be invoked. Under the bill, an eleven-member commission would conduct an examination of the President when directed to do so by a concurrent resolution of the Congress."

(Which, basically, shifts the power to forcibly 25th-Amendment the President back towards Congress to a greater degree, as opposed to depending entirely on the Cabinet which that President apppointed.)

Vacation in 3-2-1

Aug. 18th, 2017 08:37 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
As of 5:00 pm Eastern Time, I will be on vacation for a week.

Last night, instead of gym, I did this week's laundry so when I come back with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, I will...have more laundry. But new laundry, not old laundry.

I think I'm finished packing, as well. My big suitcase has everything from my clothes to my laptop; hopefully, I can get it down all the stairs without trouble. I suppose I could move the laptop and such into a knapsack if I had to.

A break will be good.

Family.

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:28 pm
azurelunatic: A red apple with a bite out of it, captioned in Star Trek font "What no-win scenario?" (what no-win scenario)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
I am scared of my family right now.

My immediate family are largely good people who generally behave with kindness to all, and abhor the concepts of white supremacy and fascism like any decent person.

My aunts on my father's side are pretty awesome. Hippie Uncle is great, and Woodworking Uncle has good intentions and maybe a few distortions due to assorted experiences of privilege, but he does not appear to go out of his way to fuck other people over.

My aunt-by-marriage scares me. She's a doctor, and things she has said about transgender people, and gender in general, make me feel unsafe around her.

My uncle who is married to that aunt has good intentions, but does not appear to be in a position to temper his wife's attitudes.

"Racist Cousin Anna" has said some things about Mexicans that made me turn away from her. She's married to the older of that uncle's kids.

Both those cousins have posted things about guns and Muslims on Facebook that make me scared, like they wouldn't hesitate to support laws that would marginalize my friends, or might use one of those guns on someone.

I don't have the scariest family in the world. And I'm still skittish of saying anything that might prompt them to stop seeing me as their tame cousin and start seeing me as Other.

hoo chapter 6

Aug. 17th, 2017 10:45 am
solarbird: (Default)
[personal profile] solarbird
Super-nervous about chapter six (just posted).

I always worry about tearing it, you know? In the showbiz sense. Breaking credibility, within a context, even if that context is pretty incredible (in the sense of not credible) to begin with, like Overwatch. And I kind of feel like I'm dancing up to that line with that chapter, with Venom as a character.

If people make it through Terrifying in Flight, I think chapter seven ("Is It Good Enough For You, Still?") will clarify some things. Angela thought, in chapter six, "that's a lie," and she was correct. But I can't put that in front of chapter six, I can't say, "trust me here," because, well, y'can't do that, it doesn't make sense.

Questions of identity float around in Old Soldiers, and this is part of that arc, and and and and.

Scary.
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

[AO3 link]

"Letting us take the first shot, then?" Gabriel Reyes asked Venom, eyeing the new intel sent along on sideband. "We got Sombra's location reports - thank you."

The Talon assassin nodded. "Yeh. I..." she frowned. "Gabe, luv, I'm gonna get this out there. I voted no. But I lost, so I'll go along."

"I appreciate that." Reyes gave Oxton a considering look. "You sure, though? The way you stormed out..."

The assassin nodded. "I've got my reasons, and I've made my promises - to Amélie - and I keep 'em." Just ask G/C Henderson, she thought, Oh wait, you can't, he's dead. The memory made her smile, just a little. Small but lasting comforts.

"Glad to hear it. Thank you," replied the tactical advisor. Promises to the Widowmaker? That'd do it. "We collectively - all of us at Overwatch, Tracer possibly excepted - want to bring him to justice, intact. Not just have him disappear again."

Lena "Venom" Oxton snorted, a little. "Might be right about Tracer. But for us - well, it's better than nothing."

Reyes breathed out. Good. "I'm putting together some plans, based upon your intel - and ours." He brought his right hand to his chin, thoughtfully. "I just wish we had a sniper. Closest we've got is Mei, and she's good with that ice pistol of hers, but it's not the same thing."

Venom thought about the problem, and a solution. Would Amélie be okay with it? Yes, she thought so. With the right conditions attached. Maybe even... proud. Let's float it. "You might. Have a sniper, I mean."

Gabriel tilted his head and stared into the screen. "...Amélie's suddenly willing to work with me?"

"No," Venom said. "But I am."

"Since when are you a sniper?"

Another snort. "C'mon, mate, how long have I been with the world's best sniper? Like I've told Winston - she teaches me her tricks."

"I can't see how you have the patience for it. How good are you?"

"I'm good, mate. Not Amélie good, but... good. Very good."

Gabe looked dubiously at her, through the screen. "How very good?"

Venom thought about it. "I keep a list of better snipers than me, right? Amélie's on top, of course; Zhanna Orlov's below her, Shimada Hanzo a few steps down, all that."

She's good enough to keep that list? he thought. But aloud, he kept it to, "Sure."

"Everyone on that list keeps a list like it. Amélie's still on top, but theirs has a question mark, down... maybe below number ten? But on the list."

"And that's you?"

Venom smiled. "Can't confirm that, luv. But."

"You willing to demonstrate that at the embassy?"

"Maybe. There's conditions." She looked thoughtful, glancing down to the side. "I have to check with Amélie. She might veto this."

"Why?"

"Reasons."

Gabriel nodded. Talon secret tech, or something like it. Fair enough. "Let me know. It sure would be nice to have a sniper available."

"Aye aye."

-----

Two days later, Tracer appeared on the balcony outside Winston's office, in the usual tangerine and white. She waved towards the glass door, and Winston started to let her in, then stopped, blinked, and stepped back.

"Honest, luv, it's me," came her voice through the door speaker. "Horizon Angle Delta Vector Seventeen Nine Seven Nine Banana Clown."

"Pictograph?"

"Waves."

The gorilla opened the door, still wary, and Lena Oxton stepped inside out of the sunlight. In the office, she looked less blue around the edges, thanks to the warm lighting overhead, but the tint was still there, and her goggles had a fleet of extra red eyes, in mobile plates, along the sides and top. "I wanted to arrive dressed as Tracer, so's nobody'd notice, but..." She pressed buttons on her grapple, now equipped with familiar and frightening extras, and her suit changed to black and green. "Mockingbird reporting for sniper duty."

"Lena, what did you do?!"

She smiled in a broad way, most unlike her spider, and most like herself. It helped, a little. "Nothin' permanent. I swear. This is just what I look like when I'm a sniper."

Gabriel and Angela came up the stairs to the ambassador's office, and froze in their tracks at Winston and Lena. Angela shrieked a little, and Gabriel shuddered. "That... that is... deeply disturbing. Lena, are you still you?" asked the doctor.

Gold-tinted eyes - regular brown still visible underneath, if you looked closely - darted to Dr. Ziegler. "Guess I shoulda warned ya, huh? Yeh, it's still me in here." Her voice was the slightest bit slower and lower than usual, but clearly still hers.

"What have you done to yourself?!" Angela leaned forward, and Mockingbird stepped fluidly back, with an ah-ah-ah finger motion. "Sorry, doc, no scans. That's the rule if I'm gonna be here like this."

"I wasn't going to. Is it, is it..."

"Permanent? Nah. Nothin' to it, really. Some drugs, some other tricks."

That's a lie, thought the doctor. "Why?!"

"All the sniper traits. Night distance vision. Stability, in motion. Patience - well, for me, anyway. Stillness, too - I can stop my heart for three minutes in this mode and be just fine. But I keep my twitch reflex, and the energy I store up is barmy! I won't need to eat for four days. Which is good," she joked, "'cause don't ask me to read a menu in the dark right now."

Gabriel shook his head back and forth. "Your whole organisation is not right in the brain."

Mockingbird laughed, a very Tracer-like laugh, and that, too, helped. "When we're on the range, I'm gonna be even scarier. I'll ramp down my emotions s'more and turn the spider all the way up." She brought up her vizor's extensions, and her goggles' primary field went dark red.

Winston reached out to her, without words, and she took his hand. "Or maybe I won't." She reset the vizor to standard mode. "Didn't think you'd be this fruck out, big guy. It's okay, honest."

"You weren't here when Amélie killed Gérard, you don't..." He felt her hand. "You're cool to the touch," he said, quietly.

"Not that cool. Just enough to avoid bein' picked up on infrared. Won't fool the best models, but it helps."

"Please say you aren't turning into Amélie. I... I don't want you turning into Amélie."

Mockingbird snickered, saying, "Well, they do say married couples start to look alike," and activated the vizor again.

"Lena, no! Be serious! I don't want to lose you."

She smiled, waved the magnifiers away, and held her friend's hand against her face. "Aw, luv, no. I like who I am. This is fun, but not... as fun. It'll all go away later. But right now, you need a sniper." She lowered his hand, and patted his shoulder. "I can shed most of this in about an hour, if I really need to."

"That's all it takes?" asked the Swiss doctor.

"For me? Yeh, in an emergency. I can throw 'bout half of it off in under a minute, if I really gotta - but it hurts like the dickens."

Gabriel shook his head. Crazy people, Talon - all of 'em. "Where's your rifle?"

Mockingbird, it seemed, had Lena Oxton's famous half-grin, and she flashed it, and flipped her pistols. "Right here." She popped them together, they locked, and the barrel extended. From a pouch, she pulled out a surprisingly conventional-looking scope, which snapped right on top. "But: ground rules. One: no scans. Sorry, doc. Two: I'm not Tracer, I'm Mockingbird. Stick to it, I mean it. No "Lena," no "Tracer," not outside this office. Three: nobody, and I mean nobody, touches my tech but me. Anyone does, I walk away completely, and for good. No more Mockingbird, and" - she said this slowly, and clearly - "no. more. Tracer. either."

She waited a moment to make sure all that had sunk in. "These are the terms. Otherwise, I leave now, no harm done, and Tracer comes back tomorrow wondering if she missed anything. Agreed?"

"Le... Mockingbird, this cannot be good for you," said Angela. "I promise, just a circulatory..."

"No," the sniper said firmly. "None."

The doctor sighed. "You are not the only one here who experiments with her body in extreme ways. You are stressing it more than I think you know. I want to help."

"We do this before breakfast, luv. But, y'know, if you ever want to switch teams, you could do all the scans you..."

"I don't think so," the doctor interrupted. "But how am I going to know how to treat you in the field, if necessary?"

Mockingbird tipped her head, and smiled. "I'll give you this." She held up a small memory card. "Complete treatment protocols for anything that has to happen faster than a Talon extraction team can reach me. You can have it once everything's settled."

"I insist that I be allowed to practice these protocols. At least the physicality of them. In battle," she did not really have to say, "it matters."

"Ah, yeah! As long as your nanos aren't taking samples, that's fine."

"And may I please, at least, examine you later? When this is over? To be sure you've handled this well? Your own doctors may want that data."

Mockingbird thought about it. The compassion was genuine, she was pretty sure, but so was the desperate curiosity to know how all this worked. There would be things for her to find, later, but little she wouldn't've had a chance to see before, and she'd be looking in all the wrong places... good enough, she decided. "They'll already have it, but - deal."

"Thank you." The doctor looked a little bit relieved, if still more than a little concerned. "I accept."

"Winston? How 'bout it?"

"Gabriel, are you willing to work under these conditions?"

The former Blackwatch head nodded. "I've worked under way worse than this. I'm good. Uh, I... accept the terms?"

"Oh, right," said the assassin, "This has to be for the whole organisation." She switched to Tracer colours, and said, "On behalf of Overwatch, I, Lena "Tracer" Oxton, agree to the terms of Mockingbird's service," before switching back. "Sounds like a bloody software license, don't it? That just leaves you, Winston. And Mei, but she's not here yet."

"I don't like it," said the gorilla. "But... deal. No scans, no handling, no anything."

Mockingbird smiled. "Brilliant!" She tossed Angela the memory card. "Have fun with that. The rest of us - let's go shoot some wings off mosquitoes!"

-----

"You know, as a sniper, I'll be going for the head shot," Mockingbird said over Overwatch comms, launching herself high into the air with her grapple. They'd started at the indoor range, but she got bored with 50 metre shooting and started coming up with creative ways to undo target clips with bullets, and the army's outdoor range was much more interesting. Still carried by momentum on the way up, she twisted left, and took the head off the first target dummy.

"We've been over this," responded Gabriel, watching as she took the head off a second target on the way down, before even landing on her cliffside perch. "We want him alive." He took notes that started with 'Terrifying in flight.'

"And we want him dead," she retorted. "I want him dead. Don't get me wrong, Gabe, I'm here, I'm goin' along with your plan, but alive's not the sniper's job." From that upper perch, she hit three for four on moving ground targets. Two headshots, one ricochet shot that missed, a follow-up direct shot leaving a grazed neck. That last one would walk away, with medical aid. "Damn."

'Never really stops moving,' the new Overwatch tactics expert added to his notes. 'Highly mobile.' "We just want the tactical visor gone."

She spun around from her nest and ticked a faceplate off the sixth target dummy. "And that's a headshot."

"Tracer, just..."

"Tracer's not here, luv."

"Mockingbird."

"Hiya!" She triggered reload, and launched herself to the second perch. He noted she wasn't jinking at all, no teleports, no rewinds, just running, moving with the grapple, and nothing else. Still all about movement, though.

Bang, target down. "No additional shots after the visor's gone." He could almost feel her dirty look from the ground. Bang, another ricochet shot, target missed.

She landed, swore, and took a second shot on the second target, moving within her section's perch point for a direct shot, taking the dummy down. "Not even to save another agent?" She ran a strafe pattern against moving dummies, bang, bang, bang. Four for three, including a domino shot. All perfect.

Jesus, she's good, Gabriel thought. Maybe not Amari good, those ricochet shots aren't working, but... Aloud, he said, "Except to save another agent."

"Short day for me, then." Another reload, and she launched herself into the air, diving to the final shooting perch. Gabriel surprised her with three airborne targets. Bang, down, bang, down, bang, bang, down. "Seems a shame if I have to get all gussied up." She landed and rolled to the third sighting point.

"A short day would be very, very good indeed."

Three fast targets, running along the ground, zagging, all with faceplates - the most human of them all. Three shots, three faceplates off, all targets down. "My way would be even shorter."

"Mockingbird. Please. I know what you are. Don't make it harder."

Lena Oxton breathed in, carefully. She wondered, occasionally, how long she could make this Talon-Overwatch joint arrangement last, and this was one of those times. It's for the best, she reminded herself. If, occasionally, a right pain in the arse. "Sorry, Gabe. I'm workin' so hard to remind everyone it's me in here, maybe I overdid it a bit. Is that it for the first round?"

"Yeah, that's the first set. What'd you think?"

"I liked the surprise skeet, that was fun! But I was sloppy. I can do better, if I drop the banter. And nothin' returned fire!"

"This is a target range, not a combat simulator, what'd you expect?"

"Might fix that."

"If we had the money. You're supposed to know that."

"Maybe Tracer's supposed to know that - I'm not."

Right, he thought. "Mockingbird, secure weapon, and return to start. We'll reset the range for another round."

"Gotcha!"

rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
[personal profile] rivkat
Either my internet access is really bad or something is wrong with DW; either way, apologies for the lack of cuts.

Ron Formisano, American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class: This cri de coeur about corruption has a lot of outrage, but it’s short on definitions and thus on solutions. At times, Formisano suggests that anyone with a state, local, or federal government job is part of the oligarchy, as well as doctors, people in positions of authority at nonprofits, think tanks, and businesses. There is a lot of corruption in the US; the chapter about the abuses in Kentucky, where poverty, pollution, child mortality, and other indicators of suffering are extremely high, should make anyone angry. I understand getting mad at nonprofit CEOs who are compensated like for-profit CEOs—but the problem is not the parity (I don’t like the argument that “you chose a helping profession, you should accept less pay because of how good it feels to do good”; not only is it a trope usually used to justify paying female-dominated professions less, it positions doing good as something you ought to have to pay for, when really you ought to have to pay for acting solely in your own self-interest) but the fact that anybody can get paid as much as for-profit CEOs do, with so little tax. It is appalling that CEOs of nonprofit hospitals are paid hundreds of millions while the hospitals garnish the wages of poor patients who can’t pay—but that is true of for-profit hospitals too.

Formisano also points out that our federal legislators get perks that let them live like millionaires even when (as is increasingly unlikely) they aren’t; during the 2013 government shutdown, Congresspeople stopped National Airport from closing because it served them and also deemed their own gyms and pools “essential” enough to stay open, though the workers there still didn’t make very much. These privileges, he suggests, corrupt even the people who moved up in class, so that a visionary leader at Brown University speaks eloquently about admitting more students from poor backgrounds but also doesn’t want to interfere with alumni preferences because she has a granddaughter. The elites funnel money to themselves and their families by self-dealing, whether in government (remember Kim Davis?), nonprofits, or business. Disgrace, if exposure occurs, is ameliorated by a soft landing—a pension, positions on other boards, and soft words from one’s co-elites. Even nonprofits are in on the game, and they increasingly replace grassroots activism with palatable-to-elites causes that are organized from the top.

Formisano quotes Robert Borosage’s criticism of liberal focus on “opportunity” instead of equity or punishment for elite cheaters as “passive voice populism,” to good effect. Defunding tax collection is just another mechanism of harm—creating more loopholes for cheaters, who are subsidized by ordinary wage workers whose taxes are collected automatically. Though it’s relatively easy to cherry-pick from history, this John Adams quote seemed apposite: “civil, military, political and hierarchical Despotism, have all grown out of the natural Aristocracy of ‘Virtue and Talents.’ We, to be sure, are far remote from this. Many hundred years must roll away before We shall be corrupted.”

James Q. Whitman, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law: Repeatedly, Nazis looking for inspiration looked to the US system of racial discrimination, primarily in the treatment of immigration, the rights of those in non-state territories, and anti-miscegnation laws. Whitman emphasizes that the Nazis’ crimes were their own and that they also rejected liberal and democratic parts of American law. They also appealled to racist practices among other European colonial powers. Still, Whitman argues that, because the Nazis didn’t envision the Holocaust when they started out, they found compelling analogies in American discriminatory practices, even though these practices were often not aimed at Jews. As with everything about America, it was possible to be selective, and the Nazis had no problem claiming that New York City had “very little to do with ‘America’” because of all its race-mixing and Jews.

Hitler was able to see the US as a model of Nordic supremacy, and he wasn’t alone; a Nazi historian described the Founding, in what Whitman says was the received wistom of the time, as “a historic turning point in ‘the Aryan struggle for world domination.’” One detailed scholarly work, Race Law in the United States, had as heroes Jefferson and Lincoln—Jefferson because of his insistence that blacks and whites couldn’t live under the same government if both were free, and Lincoln because of his early calls for black resettlement outside the US. Similarly, “Nazi expansion eastward was accompanied by invocations of the American conquest of the West, with its accompanying wars on Native Americans…. Indeed as early as 1928 Hitler was speechifying admiringly about the way Americans had ‘gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, and now keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage’ ….”

Jim Crow segregation, Whitman contends, wasn’t all that important to the Nazis, but citizenship and sex/reproduction were, and it was there that they took lessons from the US. In fact, “Nazis almost never mentioned the American treatment of blacks without also mentioning the American treatment of other groups, in particular Asians and Native Americans.” American immigration and naturalization law was, almost uniquely, racist and race-based, and Hitler praised it for being so in Mein Kampf. And there were various forms of de jure and de facto second-class citizenship for African-Americans, Filipinos, and Chinese, to which the Nazis could look as they created second-class citizenship for Jews—drawing on, for example, the distinction between “political rights” and “civil rights” that American whites offered to excuse segregation. Indeed, some Nazis considered openly race-based laws to be more honest about keeping “alien races” from getting the upper hand; they had no need for grandfather clauses, and they devised the Nuremberg Laws in part to “institute official state persecution in order to displace street-level lynchings,” which offended the facist need for state centralization.

The US was also unique in anti-miscegnation laws, with careful rules about blood quantum—in fact, there were no other models for such laws for the Nazis to consult. And it mattered, Whitman suggests, that America was seen as a dynamic country—confirmation for the Nazis that the future was going in their direction. Among other things, American creativity on the definition of race showed that one didn’t need a purely scientific or theoretical definition of race, despite the leanings of German law; one could proceed with a political, pragmatic definition in enforcing anti-miscegenation and other discriminatory laws. Indeed, that’s ultimately what the Germans did when they defined Jews as including people with one Jewish parent if and only if they practiced Judaism or married Jews (rejecting, along the way, the even more aggressive American one-drop rule). Whitman concludes that we have to acknowledge that the Nazis practiced a particular kind of Legal Realism, whereby the law was supposed to assist in the process of social transformation, throwing formalism aside and recognizing reality—and reality, in both countries, was racist. “[T]o have a common-law system like that of America is to have a system in which the traditions of the law do indeed have little power to ride herd on the demands of the politicians, and when the politics is bad, the law can be very bad indeed.” Whitman finds the most prominent modern manifestation of this in the US in its harsh criminal justice system.

This is What Democracy Looks Like

Aug. 17th, 2017 09:06 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
The anti-racism march went well; a friend estimated maybe 3000 people attended (the news said 2200, but they based that on replies to the Facebook invite!). A kind soul had brought a pile of ACLU posters to hand out, so I got a "Black Lives Matter" one, which fit the occasion.

I skived off before the speakers, though, as I was pretty tired and had a long walk home. I'm counting that as exercise because my leg muscles certainly felt it.

I met a baby whose dad said this was her first protest outside of the womb. She was really cute. I saw another insanely cute toddler later on, who had disposed of one of her shoes...I didn't rat her out, though, she was giving me the sweet eyes. Also the mom was talking to the dad and I didn't want to interrupt.

Never did manage to meet up with Camille and Barbara, and didn't see Lionel and Shani and their kids, but did run into Amey from choir, Vash from the writing community, and C.'s cousin Grace.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK

Aug. 17th, 2017 09:57 am
rydra_wong: Doonesbury: Mark announcing into a microphone, "That's guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!!" (during the Watergate scandal) (guilty)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
I just woke up to find that somehow Steve Bannon accidentally(?) gave an interview to a left-wing political magazine and I can't cope with these things before multiple cups of coffee.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/17/steve-bannon-calls-far-right-losers-trump-warns-china-trade-war-american-prospect
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/us/politics/bannon-alt-right-trump-north-korea.html

I honestly have no clue if that's accidentally or "accidentally", and maybe he's trying to separate himself from the Charlottesville marchers by dismissing them as "losers" and positioning himself as more rational/reasonable than Trump on North Korea before he gets fired, or what the actual fuck. Especially given that he was reportedly delighted and "proud" about Trump's press conference statements.

seriously wtf

Dear FemslashEx Writer or Artist...

Aug. 16th, 2017 10:04 pm
rachelmanija: (Buffy: I kind of love you)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Full letter with prompts to come ASAP. The letter below is incomplete.

ETA: I changed my sign-up since I posted this, so if you looked early on, look again if you're interested - I added a fandom and switched out some of the Original Work ships.

Dear FemslashEx Writer or Artist,

Thank you so much for writing for me! This is my first time doing FemslashEx, so I'm really excited.

(I only requested art for one fandom; however, if anyone is moved to do an art treat for me in any of them, I would absolutely love that.)

Loves, DNWs, and notes/prompts for my fandoms (Aliens, Carrie, Original Work, Star Trek: Classic Timeline, X-Men comics (Marvel 616) and X/1999 below cut). Read more... )
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