In a different vein, Lucy Worsley's programme on choral evensong - a gentle look at the history of the early Reformation, and how Henry VII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I each made their mark on the music of the Chapel Royal and more widely across the country. I'd have liked longer segments of music (and less talking over them), but it was still an hour well spent.
Finally, there was Chris Packham: Asperger's and Me, where the naturalist tells us a bit about how he finds living with Asperger's. I don't want to generalise, but he's very good at explaining how he relates to the world, and how his autism affects that - both its highs and its lows. It's very personal, and you can see he's describing very intimate details about himself; I think to try and get the more neurotypical of us to try and see the world a little as he does. He then goes to the US to see how they try and treat people with autism there, and it's obviously very painful - both to hear people describing autism as a disease that should be eradicated, and to see the impact of dealing with autism on the people he meets and their families. Chris is clear that now he wouldn't want his autism cured, but that equally he might have made a different decision in the past, and that he's been lucky to be able to find a career that lets him play to his strengths.
I am sick of having to suffer so a man can grow. What is this, every Hollywood movie ever made? I am tired of having to confess to someone else’s crimes. I am tired of showing up at the banquet dripping blood like Banquo’s ghost. This should be your ghost, not mine. I am not the one who should be ashamed that you have done these things. I am not here to make you see the error of your ways. I am here to get through my life every day without inhaling thick lungfuls of smoke.
Because that’s what this is. This is like getting people who have gotten cancer from secondhand smoke to come testify together as a way of solving the problem. But you are the one who needs to stop.
— Alexandra Petri, “Men of the world: You are not the weather”, The Washington Post
Mirrored from Under the Beret.
One day in the late 80s, I was back at my parents’ house, between semesters at University. “I think you look like my father,” my mother said, rather matter-of-factly, and somewhat out of the blue. She went off to another room of the house and came back with a cardboard stationery box that I had never seen before. Inside the box, she produced a large head shot photo of her father, Walter Dynes, for comparison purposes.
I’m pretty sure that I was in my early twenties. Until that moment, I had never her say a word about her father. I don’t think that she ever mentioned him again.
At some point in my life, I’d come to understand that her father had died quite a long time ago, and that the person I considered to be my grandfather was, in fact, her step-father. Certainly, by the time of the great grade 7 family tree homework assignment, the details provided by my grandfather clearly spelled out the three maternal grandparents. But my bio-grandad’s figure seemed to cast no shadow over my family: he wasn’t talked about, no photos were out, and no stories about him were ever told. When I refer to him, I often call him my “biological grandfather” — a term that feels distant and removed. But it also feels apt because he seems distant and removed.
My father’s father, Vidal Holmes, was also dead. He died shortly before I turned two. But I was aware of his absence in a way that I was never aware of Walter’s absence.
Mirrored from Under the Beret.
Haven't discovered any new casual games if you discount the rogue-likes. Finding good casual games that are not mobile ports and crawling with monetisation and gamification is HARD.
Overall, I don't think rogue-likes work for me as a genre, even though I'm enjoying this one tremendously right now: I do not like losing everything I've worked for/fought for/found. I had a lot of fun right now with a weapon with knockback, - so very, very satisfying - and I would have loved to keep it.
( Picoreviews )
( Valley, with spoiler )
( Cross of the Dutchman (with spoiler and youtube link; warning for advanced misogyny) )
Putting my cards on the table: the inherent sexism of Cross of the Dutchman means that while I may appreciate parts of it, I will never _like_ it. The game has burnt that bridge very thoroughly; but just because the game developers chose to build two sides - people for whom this game is meant to be (men) and people who are the butt of jokes (women) does not mean I cannot examine and learn from it. There are a lot of unusual choices in this game, which are worth studying, and worth considering how much they contribute to potential enjoyment (or not) of gameplay.
( Gameplay Observations. With major story spoiler (or you could just read Wikipedia) )
Bonus reviewlet: Dinosaur Hunt
This is a first-person shooter I picked up for 57p on Steam. I don't like the genre as such - I WILL NOT shoot at people - but, well, dinosaurs... it was worth trying out.
You get dumped in the darkness. Something glows slightly, it's another weapon. You can pick it up. I then spent several minutes positioning myself and pressing keys and trying to pick it up until I eventually found the right angle.
'You had enough time, here comes the dinosaur'
Right. I look left, right centre, around me, up and down. I get killed. I repeated this several times - each time I was savaged by an invisible enemy - and deleted. Not worth my time.
Also not playing: VanHelsing. I have redownloaded the game in the very slim hope that it might have been fixed - I *LOVE* it, but I've given up complaining to the developers since their responses have been 'this error has been fixed, you cannot experience it' and 'so what' when I told them the game would no longer run. As a last resort, I can try to get it to run in emulation, and I might just get fed up enough to try that.
AM Playing: Civilisation 5. caper_est has been putting a fair few hours into this, and is currently playing a Middle-Earth mod which looks just *so* much fun.
I'll do another full post on this another time - this has gotten quite long, but I will say that I needed help to get into this, and have now logged 35 hours for my first proper game, and feel a lot more comfortable with it. In fact, I've made use of the MacGamestore $10 sale to grab all of the DLC (offer will also work on Windows, it's a Steam Code), so I can play some more, including - eventually - Middle Earth.
Err, expect fewer new games to be tried and rejected in November.
Before I praise myself for the incredible staying power that led me to finish a video game (which I shall review, in detail, in another post), I have to admit that it was a short one: other players managed in two hours, it took me three; the moment of sticking it out came after around one hour. So the amount of willpower I would need was always fairly limited; we're not talking about the person who spent 93 hours learning to play Dota 2 (a brief venture into message boards brings up people who have played 800-1200 h and who still don't feel they're very good... that's one time-intensive hobby!)
I have, in the spirit of my previous post, invested half an hour into watching a beginner's introduction to Dota 2 and... no. Good luck to people who love this, but I will not even start.
This is a post where I try to get my thoughts in order in regard to sticking things out, giving up, and the things we invest time and willpower in.
( What I learnt from sticking it out, and why I won't do it again )
In my mind, at least, going back to a game I do not care about again and again just so I could beat it wasn't worth it. And rather than going 'see? I can overcome these hurdles and develop the skills necessary to do this thing' and going 'ok, I'm going to reinstall [games a, b, and c that I gave up on recently]' I'm going 'I'm grateful I didn't slip into that _super-determined, sticking-my-lower-jaw-out, must-do-this-or-die_ mode for any of the others; I totally give myself permission to bail from future games even earlier if I'm not feeling the love.'
Maybe we need a more nuanced vocabulary. Which we have, it's just all jumbled up inside my head, so maybe I should start by defining them, because 'in the future, I'm going to give up sooner' does not sound like a very positive statement, so the next thing I'm going to do in this post is look at how we talk about the cluster of things you invest a lot of time in, sticking with something, and walking out.
( An attempt at taxonomy )
I think most people - at least in theory/retrospect/from a distance - can tell the difference between these perfectly well: when something takes over your life (or all of your mental/physical energy), it becomes a negative force, even if it's a fun thing. Even if it's a selfless thing that helps others.
Which brings us to staying power and its opposite.
I found that when writing this post almost all of the terms - direct or metaphorical - I could come up with for continuing to invest time and energy into a situation were positive. I say this as the owner of a 'determination' icon which I often use to signify 'I will push through this, I will not give up, I will not let this beat me'.
But let's bring the last one back to gaming, for a moment, because that's bringing out the issue so very, very clearly: there is a school of video game design that tries to set players puzzles they cannot solve easily. You're pitching your skills against the guys (usually guys) who _created the bloody playing field_. As I see it, failing - or deciding that you don't want to play - is not anything to be ashamed of: if someone wants to beat you with a deck of their own construction, in a game of their own making, of course they can.
Over on captainawkward.com there are regular discussions about how to recognise that a situation isn't working for you - whether friendship, partnership, workplace - and moving on. (I really wish more people would divorce _while they still kind of liked each other_.)
Pulling the plug on a bad situation is a positive action, yet we have mainly negative words for it. Staying in a bad situation is, by definition, a bad action, yet English has plenty of ways to praise staying and very few negative terms for it.
I have twice in my life stuck things out when I should have walked away. Both times mildly abusive situations. At the end of the first, I walked away with the knowledge that I'd stuck things out and a borderline nervous breakdown; at the end of the second I walked away with nothing after all and a severe crash and having to rebuild my life from scratch over a very, very long time. Both times, quitting would have done me immense good - I would have been able to seek a better situation much, much sooner. There are a number of other situations I've walked away from, and came out slightly bruised but in much better fighting spirit; because knowing when you cannot change a situation and extracting yourself from it IS a positive action.
And yet. The only negative persistence term I could come up with is 'banging your head against a brick wall'; I'm still looking for a positive way to say 'I quit'.
The fact remains that persistence is not always a good trait: if you're in a bad (or even just meh) relationship, a dysfunctional workplace, or something that should give you joy makes you feel more stressed and less competent, then you should get out, cast off your shackles (which is not always easy), and start again.
Sometimes relationships need work (but that's another rant for another day), sometimes you cannot simply walk out of your job (then again, I've left a dysfunctional job, which led to me having to move out of my home and it was STILL the best decision I could have made!), sometimes work is boring and learning is hard or frustrating, but if you're trying to learn a complex skill and not feeling moments of success, you are probably not using the best method for you. Taking control over my learning in both programming and art has been the best thing I could have done; I was getting nowhere with 'how one should learn' or 'how everyone learns' and it would have been far too easy to give up and feel that I just had no talent at all... but I had to stop what I was doing in order to reflect and find something better to pour my energy into.
The sequel doesn't disappoint - the city-scape is very much from the same visual and audio space as the original, while the desert-scape of Las Vegas is a suitably post-apocalyptic wasteland. There's the same slow pacing (although at 2h40, this is substantially longer), and it's great to see Deckard back again, although I'm a little sad to see the ambiguity of his replicant-or-not nature from the original resolved. There are some great scenes, including a brawl in front of a holographic Elvis and some very creepy moments from Niander Wallace. And there's the continued theme of what it means to be human, and what sort of relationships we can or should have with those who are not.
There aren't really any new ideas, though, and the treatment of women is probably worse than in the original, which feels less forgiveable now than it might have been in 1982. And the bass was rather over-done to my ears, to the point of dragging you out of the scene sometimes. I'm sure I'm going to want to watch it again, though...
I am sitting under my aircon, it's on the 'dry' function which I like to imagine as a big set of squeezy rollers.
Also, it's only October but I already feel I've been overdoing things a bit go me and my list of things.
I need a few days of nothing.
Unfortunately I also feel a strong need to socialise more.
And also to fix that bathtub garden which is now home to several million mozzies in spite of both a water pump and fish. Once my homecarer has gone I'm going outside with a bucket. I'll be pulling the plug and catching goldfish as they appear. Then I'll be hosing out the whole thing and refilling.
22. Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy.
23. Tove Jansson, The True Deceiver/a> Guardian review. I don't think I would have known how to read this novel without the review. It was a peculiar journey, and I don't have the capacity to draw conclusions, I can only nod along with the reviewer and thank them for providing a context.
I did notice that I kept wondering if there was to be a tumultuous reckoning on the next page. But that's not what Tove Jansson is about, and that's where the book's power lies.
Some advice for survivors and those writing about them, Leigh Honeywell (2017-10-12). Some great advice on talking to journalists that applies to situations where you're exposing any kind of wrong-doing.
Donald Trump to become first president to speak at anti-LGBT hate group gathering, Benjamin Butterworth for PinkNews (2017-10-11). Remember when people were saying "at least Tr*mp is pro-LGBT"?
[CW: rape] On predators who won't accept that they are predators, E Price (2017-10-12). "It’s important for men to question whether there are rapists in their midsts. But good men, really feminist men, need to go even further: they need to question whether they have ever been rapists themselves."
Sister Outsider Headbanger: On Being a Black Feminist Metalhead, Keidra Chaney for Bitch (2000-11-30). Good stuff about being in intersecting outsider identities.
We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made, Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton (2017-10-12). "Rick was a very talented developer. Rick could solve complex business logic problems and create sophisticated architectures to support his lofty designs. Rick could not solve the problem of how to work effectively on a team." (Other people have rightly pointed out that the author doesn't place enough responsibility on the environment "Rick" was in for allowing him to escalate his toxic behaviors, but the fact remains that some people deal with pressure by seeking help and support from others, while others deal with it by harming others in an attempt to preserve themselves.)
We Warned You About Milo And You’re Still Not Listening, Katherine Cross for The Establishment (2017-10-09). 'The hypersensitivity that reels from “trigger warnings” but thrills to Yiannopoulos’ joyful transphobia, that likens workplace diversity trainings to “gulags,” is what fuels the outrage culture about “outrage culture,” an insatiable rage that can never be sated by giving it what it says it wants. It will merely demand we make ourselves smaller and smaller until nothing of us remains. Reactionary outrage about “PC” is not a philosophy as much as it is a burning sun that demands our compliance as its nuclear fuel, consuming it endlessly until it can feed no more and goes nova.'
America Loves Plausible Deniability, Lindy West for the New York Times (2017-10-14). "When faced with a choice between an incriminating truth or a flattering lie, America’s ruling class has been choosing the lie for 400 years."
A guide to modern Nazi dogwhistles from secretgamergrrl:
"Modern nazi dog whistles- Accusing people of "calling everyone a nazi." Specifically, doing this in contexts where it makes no sense. i.e. shouting "you call everyone a nazi!" when someone is talking about nazi book burnings in the 40s, or "everyone you don't like is a nazi!" in response to a statement like "this is a profoundly homophobic statement from this organization." The hope is that someone listening who has, in a more appropriate context, been at some point likened to a nazi will give some subtle gesture of approval, outing themselves as someone ripe for recruitment. A common variation is shouting "why do you hate Trump!?" when people discuss bigotry in contexts with no tie to Trump."
Cyrus Vance and the Myth of the Progressive Prosecutor, Josie Duffy Rice for the New York Times: "The progressive bombast is meaningless if prosecutors continue to promote the same harsh practices behind the scenes. Instead, voters must look closely at their policies and hold them to high and specific standards. We should ask: Are prosecutors opposing new mandatory minimum sentences during legislative debates? Have they declined to request cash bail in a vast majority of cases? Are they keeping children out of adult court and refusing to seek life-without-parole sentences for them?"
"Fun sexual assault fact: you only hear the stories we can bear to tell." -- sarahhartshorne
( links and personal observations about sexual violence against women )
I absolutely believe everybody else's experiences, people I know and strangers writing brave, brave columns and blog posts. I am just a total outlier, and I really shouldn't be. So I'm signal boosting others' accounts, because I know that I needed to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and perhaps some other people reading this could also use the information.
At both places, people said to me, "What are you doing here on the day after your wedding?"
I would have thought the answer was obvious: Doing what was important to me.
A song by a band you wish were still together. A band breaking up is like any relationship coming to an end: if the people involved don't want to be together any more, who am I to wish they stayed in a situation no longer good for them?
It's also partly another example where I don't have the relationship with music that the meme seems to assume. I don't really have any bands that I follow in the manner of eagerly anticipating a new release, therefore none that make me sad if they split up and there won't be any new material coming. The existing songs that I like are still there for me to listen to. I do occasionally go to live gigs performed by ageing rockers, and that's cool, but it's not something I wish for more of in my life.
So I'm going to pick Joy Division. I wish at least that Curtis had lived for the band to split up due to creative differences, rather than coming to an end with his death. He'd be 60 now, and it's hard to imagine what Joy Division might have done if he'd had even one more decade with them let alone four. A lot of other bands from that sort of era, if they have carried on, have tended to get more bleepy and less raw noise, and New Order certainly went in that direction, but Joy Division were something else, and I imagine that they might have continued to innovate musically, maybe not all the way through to the 2010s but through the 80s and 90s at least.
Here's something a bit more gentle and thinky than their big hits like Love will tear us apart: Passover, by Joy Division.
( video embed (audio only) )
- I'm not transgender as in "we need cis allies", I'm transsexual as in "fuck you".
- I'm not bisexual as in "here's my 5000-word thinkpiece on why that doesn't mean I'm not attracted to non-binary people", I'm pansexual as in "I don't eliminate potential partners based on their gender".
- I'm not "gay" as in happy, I'm queer as in "fuck you".
- I'm not liberal as in "universal acceptance and inclusion is possible while including fascists and white supremacists", but rather, anarcho-communist as in understanding what the Paradox of Tolerance means.
- I'm not poly and kinky as in "understand my bizarre tendencies", I'm poly and kinky as in "almost everyone's conceptions of family and sexuality would benefit from radical change."
- I'm not mentally ill as in "I need to be changed into a different person from who I am", I'm neuroatypical as in "other people need to accept the person who I am."
Go forward, do no harm, and take no shit.