Totality!

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:10 pm
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I'm in Tennessee at the moment. Two friends and I sat out and viewed the entirety of the solar eclipse. The totality was so beautiful; so awesome in the original sense of the word.

It took us about four hours to return when it had taken us maybe an hour to get to our viewing spot, but we had plenty of snacks and the new Kesha album to keep us happy. We ate peach pie for dinner, because we are grownups.
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Victor Mair

The theme of today's post:  MSM chǎomiàn / Cant. caau2min6  trad. 炒麵 / simpl. 炒面 ("fried noodles").

When I was a wee lad growing up in East Canton (formerly Osnaburg; population about a thousand), Ohio, all that I knew of Chinese food came out of cans, and it was branded either as La Choy or Chun King.  The noodles were short, brown, hard, and crunchy, the vegetables were rather tasteless (with mung bean sprouts predominating and plenty of somewhat rubbery sliced mushrooms), all in a mucilaginous matrix of thick, starchy sauce.  But it was a lot of fun to prepare and eat because of the way it came in three cans and was so very exotic — not like the daily fare of meat, potatoes, peas, beans, and bread favored by Midwesterners.  Oh, and the watery, caramel colored soy sauce was so cloyingly salty.

The only exception was that once a year our Mom would alternate taking one of the seven siblings to the big city of Canton (population about eighty thousand) five miles to the west and would treat us to a Chinese restaurant meal.  I think the owners were the only Chinese in the city.  The two things that impressed me most were how dark and mysterious the room was in the unmarked, old house where the restaurant was located and how the egg foo young (and I just loved the sound of that name!), which was so much better than the canned chicken chow mein we ate at home, was served to us on a fancy, footed platter with a silver cover.  It was always a very special moment when the waiter uncovered the egg foo young and I smelled its extraordinary aroma.

Here's a description of an intrepid foodie preparing and eating today's version of La Choy's Chicken Chow Mein, which is still apparently "available at supermarkets everywhere":

La Choy’s chow mein dinner comes in three separate cans. Following the instructions faithfully I first heated the chicken and gravy mixture from one can in the microwave for two minutes, stirring in between. Right off the bat, the gelatinous concoction began making popping sounds, like it was exploding. While that was going on, I opened the can of vegetables—carrots, water chestnuts, etc.—drained them in a colander, then mixed them in with the chicken and gravy once they were done. This combo gets heated for three minutes, or until hot. Then you sprinkle on the dry noodles, which come in a can of their own.

Digging in, I found the dish unbelievably bland. The vegetables, such as they were, were indistinguishable from each other. The chicken was fairly unrecognizable as chicken, too. The noodles were the best part by far: dark, even burned-looking, deliciously crispy. An hour or so later, alas, I “had to go to the bathroom.” Badly. And, I can’t help thinking it was mainly because of the chow mein feast. Either my constitution is much more delicate than when I was a kid—or La Choy just ain’t no Chun King.

That's from "Bygone Bites: A Review of La Choy’s Chow Mein:  Glenn and Carol do a side-by-side critique of these canned fake-Asian noodles. Cue the nostalgia." Carol Shih [and Glenn Hunter], D Magazine (3/4/14)

Here are some interesting facts about La Choy:

The company was founded in 1922 by Dr. Ilhan New (유일한), later founder of Yuhan Corporation in South Korea; and Wally Smith from the University of Michigan. The first product, canned mung bean sprouts, was originally sold in Smith's Detroit, Michigan, grocery store.

New left the company for personal reasons in 1930. Smith was killed by lightning in 1937.

And Chun King:

Chun King was an American line of canned Chinese food products founded in the 1940s by Jeno Paulucci, who also developed Jeno's Pizza Rolls and frozen pizza, and the Michelina's brand of frozen food products, among many others. By 1962, Chun King was bringing in $30 million in annual revenue and accounted for half of all U.S. sales of prepared Chinese food. Chun King was sold to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, in 1966 for $63 million.

l won't go into the history of how the two companies competed and merged, nor how they were both bought by large food conglomerates.  What's remarkable is that, in one or another guise, they survived for so long even after authentic Chinese food became widely available in America.

What prompted this post in the first place was the following photograph, sent to me by fintano:

IMG_3195

The name of the restaurant is Chóngqìng xiǎomiàn 重慶小面 ("Chongqing / Chungking noodles" [lit., "small noodles"]).

Maidhc comments on the feelings evoked by the photograph:

I have a vague recollection from my youth that Stan Freberg made commercials for Chun King (which was founded by an Italian), and even as a child I loved Stan Freberg, and more so as an adult.

See Stan Freberg Presents the Chun King Chow Mein Hour in this Wikipedia article.  This was during the advertising part of his career, which was later than most of his recordings.

At any rate this sign made me think of the old Chun King Chow Mein commercials and I believe they sponsored a pavilion at the Seattle World's Fair. I hate to think what kind of food they served there. Thankfully at least on the west coast we can now get some more authentic Chinese food.

I never actually ate Chun King Chow Mein, because my mother knew how to cook fairly authentic basic Chinese food, and that's what I had growing up. I was eating with chopsticks from age 7 or so.

I don't know if the people who run this restaurant chain know of the ancient memories they are stirring.

I was just looking through the Yelp reviews and I found this:

"some dishes may be hella ma la hot"

Is this the most SF Bay Area sentence ever?

Chow mein from a can ≠ chǎomiàn / caau2min6 from a wok ≠ Chóngqìng xiǎomiàn 重慶小面 ("Chongqing / Chungking noodles") in a San Francisco Sichuanese restaurant, though they all have their own charms.

Don't @ me

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:52 pm
jadelennox: Westing Game: the bulletin board says "braided kicking tortoise 'si a brat" (chlit: westing game: turtle)
[personal profile] jadelennox
There are two types of people in the world:

People who think Abbey Road is the best Beatles album, sorry Sergeant Pepper,
And people who are wrong.

(Sergeant Pepper is second. Obviously.)

Art in the (State) Park

Aug. 21st, 2017 06:30 am
[syndicated profile] book_view_cafe_feed

Posted by Kristine Smith

Well, maybe not art in the sense of a mural, statue, or even graffiti. But there is so much stray stuff–stones, branches, bits of garbage–scattered around the trails and lakeshore, and sometimes people mess about with it, then leave it for other people to find.

 

 

X marks the spot–such a simple thing. For all I know, this might’ve even been an accident. But whenever I see crossed sticks of any type, I think of the short story by Karl Edward Wagner. You know, “Sticks,” the one that brings to mind aspects of The Blair Witch Project.

 

 

 

 

 

A plastic bottle, a cap, and some weathered branches, and it’s Clint Driftwood.

 

 

(“The Ecstasy of Gold” from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly plays in the background)

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day you have an altar…

 

 

 

 

 

 

..and the next day, the altar is no more. Only a smiling face atop a tiny gateway.

Tiny critters that walk beneath are never seen again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there are those times when Mother Nature gets into the act and puts human efforts to shame. The most striking examples are usually driftwood: sticks, branches, or occasionally large sections of trunk. I don’t know what caused the curlicue designs on this log–possibly a disease or infestation of some sort? They remind me of ancient writing or drawings.

 

This log’s gnarled surface reminded me of a roiling sky painted by van Gogh.

 

 

 

 

 

All this, in just the last few weeks.

I love my morning walks. I never know what I’ll find.

Share

Well, it could've gone better

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:56 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I wanted to be there right when the museum opened - missed that by about an hour.

DID get the glasses. Boy, those were something. They seemed completely opaque until you looked up at the tiny, orange, dim sun. (The kids sold theirs to people even later than we were!)

Missed the lecture due to some miscommunication. Didn't see other exhibits, same reason.

But we did enjoy looking at the sun through the (shared) glasses, and the kids really loved making pinhole projectors on index cards. I'd expected they would - they wrote their names and all!

One thing that was not explained to me in the documentation, but in retrospect should've been obvious: The dimmer the light got, the closer the index cards had to be to make a clear image. At the beginning, having one on the ground and one in your hand was good enough. By the midpoint, when it was 70% covered and dark (and when we were done) they had to be right next to each other.

Several people, hearing me launch into another spiel on how "our eyes work the same way" and "the image is backwards and upside down - look, compare it! - but when it happens in our eyes our brains automatically flip it" asked if I was a teacher or a scientist! LOL. Only the former in a very *literal* sense, but this is something I've known since I was six or so. I had a book on the structure of the eye. (I didn't say that. I just said I homeschool and I made the kids listen to me talk to them about it.)

And then on the way back we talked about the Statue of Liberty and all. I heard a tour guide the other day say that the original model for the face was the sculptor's girlfriend, not his mother as in the finished version, but I don't know if that's correct. Still, "she looked too sexy" is obviously a story that's hard to give up!

Happy Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:35 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[Fic] Candles Lit at the Doors

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:26 pm
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)
[personal profile] branchandroot

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Jingrui/Yujin, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Meng Zhi, Xiao Jingrui, Yan Yujin
Summary: Jingrui is finding himself drawn back toward a military position, after fighting at the northern border, and Yujin follows along, as he always has, despite his own reservations. Along the way, the two of them get into trouble, politics, and eventually a deeper understanding.
Meta: Drama with Politics and Romance, and also a Sprinkle of Porn, I-4
Wordcount: 18777

Very few of Yujin's reservations had ever held up in face of Jingrui's smile. Not when they were little and stealing sweets off Aunt Jing's table (with her amused connivance, Yujin had realized years later); not when they were a little older and Jingrui had dragged Yujin everywhere after their glamorous, if also sometimes alarming, older cousins; not when they'd come of age and Jingrui hauled Yujin out onto the roads to wander the country with that very same smile. He could barely imagine leaving Jingrui's side, at this point. So there was really nothing else to do but elbow him back until they managed to shove each other into the shallows, laughing.

Candles Lit at the Doors )

Time to start thinking about it

Aug. 21st, 2017 03:53 pm
elf: Petalwing in snow, saying "Yuletide!" (Yuletide)
[personal profile] elf
Yuletide nominations start in under 3 weeks. Time to start thinking about what to nominate, and if I want to cajole any friends into extra nominations.

Yuletide 2017 schedule - Link with updated schedule
Nominations Friday Sept 8 - Saturday Sept 16

I keep a locked post on my journal where I throw notes, over the course of the year, of fandoms I'm considering for Yuletide. This year's options include:

* Midnight Cinderella, an otome game
* Sunstone, a lesbian BDSM comic book
* 21st Century Political RPF, because I'd love to read fic of the non-mirrorverse USA
* They Might Be Giants (1971 movie), which would make some hilarious Sherlock fusion material
* Season of the Witch (book) by James Leo Herlihy, a hippie adventure novel
* Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I would love to see considered through today's fannish tropes

Fandoms I've nominated in the past and might try again:
* Liquid Sky (Movie)
* Never Promised you a Rose Garden (book)
* Schoolhouse Rock
* Elfquest, for specific characters
* Ghost Soup Infidel Blue (or some variation thereof; maybe I'll nominate the book series)

The Yuletide comm might have a "promote your fandom" post, but since the bulk of the discussion happens on LJ, I don't usually bother.

Looks like I need... *squints* one dentist and two assistants, at the most.

Firefox Triage Report 2017-08-21

Aug. 21st, 2017 04:04 pm
emceeaich: A woman in glasses with grey hair, from the eyes up, wearing a hairband with 'insect antenna' deelie-boppers (bugmaster)
[personal profile] emceeaich

It's the weekly report on the state of triage in Firefox-related components. I apologize for missing last week’s report. I was travelling and did not have a chance to sit down and focus on this.

Hotspots

The components with the most untriaged bugs remain the JavaScript Engine and Build Config.

I discussed the JavaScript bugs with Naveed. What will happen is that the JavaScript bugs which have not been marked as a priority for Quantum Flow (the ‘\[qf:p[1:3]\]’ whiteboard tags) or existing work (the ‘\[js:p[1:3]\]’ whiteboard tags) will be moved to the backlog (P3) for review after the Firefox 57 release. See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1392436.

**Rank**   **Component**                  **2017-08-07**   **This Week**
---------- ------------------------------ ---------------- ---------------
1          Core: JavaScript Engine        449              471
2          Core: Build Config             429              450
3          Firefox for Android: General   411              406
4          Firefox: General               242              246
5          Core: General                  234              235
6          Core: XPCOM                    176              178
7          Core: JavaScript: GC           —                168
8          Core: Networking               —                161
           All Components                 8,373            8,703

Please make sure you’ve made it clear what, if anything will happen with these bugs.

Not sure how to triage? Read https://wiki.mozilla.org/Bugmasters/Process/Triage.

Next Release

**Version**                               56      56      56      56      57    57     57         
----------------------------------------- ------- ------- ------- ------- ----- ------ -------
**Date**                                  7/10    7/17    7/24    7/31    8/7   8/14   8/14       
**Untriaged this Cycle**                  4,525   4,451   4,317   4,479   479   835    1,196      
**Unassigned Untriaged this Cycle**       3,742   3,682   3,517   3,674   356   634    968        
**Affected this Upcoming Release (56)**           111     126     139     125   123    119        
**Enhancements**                          102     107     91      103     3     5      11         
**Orphaned P1s**                          199     193     183     192     196   191    183        
**Stalled P1s**                           195     173     159     179     157   152    155        

What should we do with these bugs? Bulk close them? Make them into P3s? Bugs without decisions add noise to our system, cause despair in those trying to triage bugs, and leaves the community wondering if we listen to them.

Methods and Definitions

In this report I talk about bugs in Core, Firefox, Firefox for Android, Firefox for IOs, and Toolkit which are unresolved, not filed from treeherder using the intermittent-bug-filer account*, and have no pending needinfos.

By triaged, I mean a bug has been marked as P1 (work on now), P2 (work on next), P3 (backlog), or P5 (will not work on but will accept a patch).

A triage decision is not the same as a release decision (status and tracking flags.)

https://mozilla.github.io/triage-report/#report

Age of Untriaged Bugs

The average age of a bug filed since June 1st of 2016 which has gone without triage.

https://mozilla.github.io/triage-report/#date-report

Untriaged Bugs in Current Cycle

Bugs filed since the start of the Firefox 55 release cycle (March 6th, 2017) which do not have a triage decision.

https://mzl.la/2u1R7gA

Recommendation: review bugs you are responsible for (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/page.cgi?id=triage_owners.html) and make triage decision, or RESOLVE.

Untriaged Bugs in Current Cycle Affecting Next Release

Bugs marked status_firefox56 = affected and untriaged.

https://mzl.la/2u2GCcG

Enhancements in Release Cycle

Bugs filed in the release cycle which are enhancement requests, severity = enhancement, and untriaged.

​Recommendation: ​product managers should review and mark as P3, P5, or RESOLVE as WONTFIX.

High Priority Bugs without Owners

Bugs with a priority of P1, which do not have an assignee, have not been modified in the past two weeks, and do not have pending needinfos.

https://mzl.la/2u1VLem

Recommendation: review priorities and assign bugs, re-prioritize to P2, P3, P5, or RESOLVE.

Stalled High Priority Bugs

There 159 bugs with a priority of P1, which have an assignee, but have not been modified in the past two weeks.

https://mzl.la/2u2poMJ

Recommendation: review assignments, determine if the priority should be changed to P2, P3, P5 or RESOLVE.

* New intermittents are filed as P5s, and we are still cleaning up bugs after this change, See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1381587, https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1381960, and https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1383923

If you have questions or enhancements you want to see in this report, please reply to me here, on IRC, or Slack and thank you for reading.

Eclipsepocalypse 2017

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:24 am
runpunkrun: jamie hyneman holding a radio transmitter, adam savage standing behind him with his arms in the air, triumphant (science: it works)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
As promised, I've got a slight limp from slamming my knee into the table last night while making my pinhole viewer.

9:03 — Go out to test my magic box before the eclipse starts at 9:06 am, and it works; there's a full circle of light inside my box, though the circle is more of a...square? I attempt to round out the pinhole with the tip of a pen, and now it's larger and more of an octagon. It's okay, I have time to fix it if necessary. It's a bright sunny day with no clouds.

9:10 — Already hearing sirens in the distance. Have to assume it's eclipse related.

9:18 — Try again. Light from pinhole now rounder. No visible slice of sun missing. Do I have it aimed in the correct direction? I can't turn around to look or I'll burn my eyes out.

9:23 — The internet goes down.

9:30 — Two neighbors stop in front of my house to stare directly at the sun through their cardboard eclipse glasses. I hope they don't go blind.

9:31 — Refresh the router. Go back to browsing Tumblr.

9:49 — Try the magic box again. Now seeing two round dots of light, one full, one with a chunk out of it. Science, or just a random hole in the corner of my box? No one knows. Still bright outside, but with a grey tone.

9:52 — Dad borrows a look through neighbor's eclipse glasses. Says there's a dark thing going across the sun, covering about a third.

9:59 — Box totally has two spots of light in, but one is definitely science. Now occluded by more than half. Still bright and greyish out, but flat. I get that silver nitrate feeling that Annie Dillard talked about.

10:11 — Getting dim out. Not a lot of confidence in my magic box. Too many holes. Who knows what I'm looking at.

10:15 — Ditch my pinhole viewer for a piece of stiff paper with a hole punched in it with a pen. Works much better, can see the crescent of the sun projected on the driveway in front of me. Weird waves of shadow buffet the asphalt, like water vapor, or wind made visible. I feel a chill, and get goosebumps on my legs. The light shining through the trees acts like hundreds of pinholes, projecting nested crescents of light on the house and garage. My dad has a pasta colander and achieves the same effect, hundreds of little crescent suns shining on a white piece of paper held at arm's length. The cat is staring at us through the window. The neighbors introduce themselves in the street. It gets darker as it nears 10:18, a few crickets start up, the streetlights come on. It's dim, muted, shadowy, but not dark.

10:20 — Starts to brighten.

10:21 — Assholes setting off fireworks.

10:30 — Still limping. Blame the eclipse for my injury.

{also posted to Tumblr}

Eclipse first, the rest nowhere

Aug. 21st, 2017 02:18 pm
sovay: (Cho Hakkai: intelligence)
[personal profile] sovay
The cloud cover comes and goes and we may not be able to see any of the broken rings of leaf-light that I remember so fondly from the annular eclipse of 1994, but through the (carefully purchased from the NASA-recommended manufacturer) glasses I can see that a shadow has already bitten the sun. I am off to see how much more it devours before we drive it away into the swinging dance of planetary bodies again. I am wearing my Miskatonic University T-shirt. It seems appropriate to this brush with the cosmos.

[edit] No leaf-rings, but I saw the crescent sun: through eclipse glasses it looked like a hunter's moon. I didn't expect much effect on the afternoon so far out of the path of totality, but it was strange light to walk around in, slightly thickened, slightly smoked, the wrong angle and the wrong color for plain overcast or sunset. [personal profile] spatch said it was like someone had dropped a filter over the sun and of course someone had: the moon. We walked to the library and back and intermittently looked up at the sky until the crescent began to widen again and then the real overcast thoughtfully rolled in.

Eclipse is underwhelming

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:07 am
elf: Smiling South Park-style witch with big blue floppy hat and inverted pentacle (Witchy)
[personal profile] elf
I'm in a partial eclipse zone; wouldn't see the full one anyway. But still...

It's overcast. Solid pale grey sky. Which means any eclipsing is probably resulting in a slight dimming of the already dim day.

This is exactly the same weather as 38 years ago, when I got to "see" the full eclipse. I had a small sheet of treated glass to look through to see it. So I technically got to see the eclipse, because the glass let me see it without the clouds, but... no darkening in the sky (dim solid grey overcast), no watching any changes, just "here, look through this; look around until you see the sun!"

So I looked through this dark hand-sized sheet of glass, and sure enough, there's a darker glowing spot in one place in the sky. And today, I don't even have special polarized glass; I was planning on doing one of the pinhole projector things, but there doesn't seem to be much point.

I don't get to watch the Moon Lord cover the glowing body of the Sun Lady. I haz a sad.

Don't let the clouds fool you, though; it's still the best time to take down Fire Nation.

Bygones

Aug. 21st, 2017 04:27 pm
[syndicated profile] cal_montgomery_feed

Posted by montgomerycal

Dear Jerry Lewis fans,

 

Some of you seem not to understand why some disabled people can’t let bygones be bygones.

 

Here’s why.

 

Lewis started with charity.  The number one rule of charity is, you do what it takes to get money.  And he was all about the money.  Pity works.  So he tapped into his pity.  And you have to give it to the man:  he was good at pity.

 

“Half a person,” “steel imprisonment” — he was good at pity.

 

He ladled pity over the heads of children too young to understand what he was doing to them.  You can still see it dripping off some of them today.

 

Pity is corrosive, like acid.  It burns everything it touches.  It destroys the self-respect of the pitied, eats away at the empathy of the pitier, and makes mutual respect impossible.  It eliminates the possibility of understanding, friendship and love.  Once a year, Jerry Lewis sabotaged the relationships between disabled and nondisabled people, undermined “the kids'” sense of themselves as the capable, confident people they were born to be, and shoved disabled people out of the community of the nondisabled.

 

And you loved him for it.

 

Because throwing money at the object of your pity feels damn good.  Getting a roll of nickels in the face isn’t quite as much fun.

 

From charity Lewis moved to self-adulation.  He focused on himself and expected everyone to do the same.  What a great guy!  After all, who produced more cash than he?  Who cast disabled people as helpless, useless, worthless, any better?  He never looked at where the money went or what the pity did.  He just preened.  Of course, this is just a magnification of the way it feels to be charitable.  Everyone who donated felt this way a little.  Lewis was merely outsized and outspoken.

 

“Hero,” all that bragging about how much money he raised — he wasn’t too bad at self-beatification either.

 

We looked at him and saw the self-congratulations over all those damaged lives — not even just people with MD, but all those beautiful vibrant disabled people, disrespected, devalued, demeaned, degraded, dismissed, dehumanized.  The lives limited by the attitudes he cultivated.  The naked pain.  He bragged about what he was doing.  That never seemed too heroic to us.

 

And people began to fight back.  They said, “When you claim to be speaking for us, be respectful.”

 

Well, Lewis didn’t like that.  The charitable never do like it when the objects of their charity assert themselves.  So he moved on from pity to contempt.

 

“Morons,” “fag” — he was skilled at contempt, too.

 

At this point, I admit, some of his fans became a little uncomfortable.  Dehumanization with a smile is one thing, but dehumanization with a sneer doesn’t play as well.  But still, that sense of innate superiority his telethon reinforced felt awfully good, didn’t it?

 

And every year he mixed his pity and contempt and drowned our children in it to the applause of millions.  Every year he painted our lives as something to be feared, making the transition so many make from nondisabled to disabled that much harder.  Every year, as we fought for basic rights, he fought back to keep us objects of charity, dependent for our very lives on the corrosive handouts of others.

 

And he — and many of you — expected gratitude for it.

 

Still, people with self-respect demanded to be treated as human beings.

 

Well, Lewis wasn’t having that.  He moved on to threats and retaliation.

 

Some of it was subtle, commenting on having provided people with wheelchairs and other things they needed.  In a just society, you have a right to get your basic needs met;  you are not required to appease monsters just to get by.  But when you are ruled by charity, the monsters can demand their tribute.

 

There was more.  Lawsuits.  Blaming  people for having the gall to say, “Do not teach people to disrespect us while claiming to speak on our behalf.”  The man was not bad at retribution, either.

 

And then he got vicious.  “Fag,” “living waterbed” — he was talented at vicious.  Give him that much:  he had his talents, all right.

 

All of this was documented, not just in our press, but in yours, too.

 

So they gave him a humanitarian award.  They gave him a humanitarian award.

 

And still, people — who had better things to be doing, frankly, than fighting this battle, because disabled people still do not have enforceable basic rights — needed to go out every year and say, “We deserve to be treated like human beings.”

 

Every year, he did it again.  Every year he taught a new group of children that to get their basic needs met they had to be cute and smiley as people made it clear that they were subhuman, and he told them their lives would never amount to anything because of who they were.

 

And year after year his victims grew up, pliant and despairing.  Some of them found self-respect but by no means all.

 

Finally, finally, the money started to slow down, and Lewis was ushered off the stage.

 

We are still picking up the pieces.

 

“Are they whole?” he asked.  Yes!  Whole — but not unscarred.

 

I am sorry when any human being dies.  I am sad for those who knew and loved him and who are grieving today.  But for those who want to say, “It’s all in the past,” it’s not.

 

It’s in the postures of former poster children and those who identified with them.  It’s in the tears of those newly disabled in rehab centers and skilled nursing facilities.  It’s in the rights not won, the lives still mutilated, because activists were distracted with a fight over their very value as human beings.  It’s in the Republican suggestion that we abandon disability rights and turn again to charity.  It’s in the barely-healed wounds that opened spontaneously again when Lewis’ name hit social media.  And it’s in the faces of children still learning today that they have no meaningful future.

 

That, Jerry Lewis fans, is why while some people are starting to grieve the man’s death, others are still grieving his life and work.

 

Bygones may take awhile.


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Posted by Nina Allan

 

A Tale of Two Changelings

Who can say why a particular theme or narrative trope might suddenly find favour with writers, how similar stories appear to proliferate at a particular time? The beginning of the decade saw a spate of books about circuses, with Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Kim Lakin Smith’s Cyber Circus, and Genevieve Valentine’s Tales of the Circus Tresaulti all being published in the same year. More recently there has been a resurgence of writerly interest in fairy lore, with recent fairy-themed novels including Graham Joyce’s Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child, Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song, and Victor LaValle’s The Changeling. These past twelve months have seen the release of Alison Littlewood’s The Hidden People and Hannah Kent’s The Good People, with the publication of two such thematically similar novels so close together making it all but impossible not to consider them as a pair.

Both novels are inspired by the idea of an invisible realm separate from yet analogous with the human world, and specifically by a belief in fairy changelings. We should also note that their stories are based around true events: The Hidden People on the case of Bridget Cleary, who was burned to death by her husband in Tipperary in 1896, and The Good People on the case of Anne Roche, who together with Nora Leahy was put on trial for the murder of Leahy’s grandson Micheál Kelliher in Tralee in 1826. That Hannah Kent knew of the Cleary case cannot be in doubt as she references it in her author’s Afterword. Whether Littlewood knew of the Roche case is not made explicit, though given the mysterious coincidences that seem in play here I would not be surprised.

In Littlewood’s The Hidden People, Albie Mirralls meets his “northern cousin” Lizzie Thurlston when her father brings her south to London to see the Great Exhibition. In just a couple of hours, Albie finds himself smitten with the young woman, who is spontaneous and curious-minded and unlike the other girls he has so far encountered. Above all, he falls in love with her voice, which is of exceptional beauty and for which he gives her the nickname Linnet. Albie’s father makes no secret of his displeasure at the idea of a match, though—Lizzie is poor and uneducated—and the two cousins part without any likelihood of seeing each other again.

A decade later, Albie learns that Lizzie has been murdered, burned alive under suspicion of being a changeling. The murderer is her own husband, Jeremy Higgs, currently residing in gaol and facing a death sentence. Albie is recently married, committed to a life in London, but the news of his cousin’s death fills him with such horror that he feels compelled to travel north to Yorkshire, to discover the truth behind Lizzie’s murder and to see justice done.

What Albie finds is part idyll, part nightmare. Halfoak—tellingly, when Lizzie first tells him the name of her home village, Albie mishears it as “our folk”—seems lost in time, primitive even by the standards of the day. Half the villagers are eager to confirm that the real Lizzie has indeed been abducted by fairies, the other half seem unwilling to tell Albie anything at all. A Mrs Gomersal seems particularly knowledgeable on the subject of changelings. She arranges for Albie to view the horrifically charred body of his cousin and later takes him to see Mother Draycross, a local wise woman who is purported to have “the sight,” and who may even be part fairy herself.

The story becomes further complicated when Albie’s wife, Helena, arrives in the village, determined to stand at her husband’s side as he makes his enquiries. Helena is unimpressed by the basic living conditions at the Three Horseshoes Inn and insists they find alternative accommodation. Where else is there to go, other than the cottage on Pudding Pye Hill where Lizzie met her gruesome end? Pudding Pye Hill, as the local constable reminds them, has “a somewhat evil reputation,” and is where the fairies are said to dance on Midsummer Eve.

For Albie, such legends are nothing but superstition, nonsense put about by the ignorant and uneducated. As the days pass though, and Helena’s behaviour veers between stark depression and mocking jealousy, Albie finds himself becoming seduced by these ancient mythologies. He begins increasingly to wonder if the villagers’ talk of fairy enchantment is more than just talk.

Littlewood builds her narrative with care, with the landscape writing in particular granting an insight into the author’s personal feelings of connectedness to isolated places. Littlewood is equally concerned with the historical context of the tale she is telling. The Hidden People is not just a horror story, or even a fairy story, but is underpinned by a strong feminist subtext. In her journal, Lizzie shows herself to be more resilient and resourceful than Albie would have us believe. In her private pages, we see a woman under siege, a woman isolated by her own perceptiveness, a woman with a sense of humour in matters that some in the village do not find funny:

Things that make you a fairy. There’s plenty of them, round here, if you believe them all. Not making the butter come right. Burning the joint and spilling milk and not clearing it up right. Having your chickens die. Not being what they want you to be. Not having a baby. They say changelings are barren, as if it’s a fact and they know them personal. Having the wrong baby. Don’t make me laugh, I said to Jem when he told us that. Half the village would be fairies at that. (p. 189)

The way in which both Lizzie and Helena are seen by their husbands as “sensible females” whose sudden defiance is so inexplicable it can only be explained as supernatural is a comment upon the position of women of all classes in Victorian society: women should be pliable, pleasant, unobtrusive. They should look to their husbands and other male kinsfolk for guidance and support. Albie’s confiscation of Helena’s chosen reading material—Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, which he deems “unsuitable”—comes as a key moment in the disintegration of relations between them. On catching sight of some words in Lizzie’s journal that seem to refer to him, Albie finds himself overwhelmed with nostalgia and the sense that “at least here had been one who had looked up to me.” Albie’s longtime crush on Lizzie is thus revealed for what it is: a sense of superiority in the presence of one who happened to see him as he desired to be seen.

The novel also makes a knowing nod towards classic Victorian gothic novels in having its supernatural goings-on finally unmasked as human mischief. This plot line is skilfully worked, with the coda leaving The Hidden People’s ultimate resolution satisfyingly open-ended.


In Hannah Kent’s The Good People, Honora Leahy is an honest country woman beset by misfortune. When her only daughter, Johanna, dies, Nóra and her husband Martin are left to care for her infant son, Micheál, brought back to the village in an open basket by Johanna’s grieving husband, Talgh. Micheál is four years old but seems poorly developed. In contrast with the lively, curious little boy Nóra encountered when she visited her daughter two years before, this Micheál can neither stand nor speak and appears to have little understanding of what is going on around him. The couple do their best for the boy, even going to the considerable expense of calling in a doctor, but when Martin dies suddenly and without warning, Nóra finds the burden of Micheál’s care becoming too much for her. She engages the services of a pauper girl, Mary Clifford, to help with the yard work and to have charge of the boy. As a tide of minor misfortunes envelops the valley, Nóra becomes ever more convinced that Micheál is not a human child, but a fairy changeling:

Nóra saw the boy as Nance saw him then. A wild, crabbed child no heavier than the weight of snow upon a branch. A clutch of bones rippling with the movement of wind on water. Thistle-headed. Fierce-chinned. Small fingers clutching in front of him as though the air were filled with wonders and not the smoke of the fire and their own stale breath. (p. 153)

Unable to afford a second consultation with the doctor, she turns instead to Nance Roche, an elderly “handy woman” who is said to have knowledge of the fair folk and their contrary ways. Condemned by the new priest for paganism and witchery, Nance has not only become ostracised from the community but also cut off from her usual means of making a living. Lonely and desperate, Nance believes that if she can only banish the fairy and restore the true Micheál Kelliher to his grandmother, then the villagers’ faith in her will likewise be renewed.

What follows is a distressing tale of hardship, misfortune, and escalating cruelty as the unfortunate Micheál is subjected to ever more dangerous “cures,” culminating in his forced immersion in a freezing river. When their crime is inevitably discovered, Nance and Nóra are taken in chains to the Tralee assizes to stand trial for murder. Fourteen-year-old Mary Clifford is offered her life and her freedom in exchange for bearing witness. The priest believes her testimony will see the two women hanged.

In its unsentimental portrayal of the landscape of rural Ireland, the harsh texture of daily life among the villagers, The Good People evokes the social inequalities experienced by rural families as a daily reality. In an act of almost miraculous imagining, Kent ties the belief systems and mythologies that govern the lives of the valley’s inhabitants to the land they live on, the often precarious balance between the mysterious and the known:

No one would come for her today, Nance knew. The valley folk would be swarming the house of the Leahys to pay their respects to the dead, and besides, people did not often come to her at a time like this. She reminded them too much of their own mortality.

The keener. The handy woman. Nance opened her mouth and people thought of the way things went wrong, the way one thing became another. They looked at her white hair and saw twilight. She was both the woman who brought babies to safe harbour in the world, and the siren that cut boats free of their anchors, and sent them into the dark.

Nance knew the only reason they allowed her this damp cabin between mountain and wood and river for twenty-odd years was because she stood in for that which was not and could not be understood. She was the gatekeeper at the edge of the world. The final human hymn before all fell to wind and shadow and the strange creaking of stars. She was a pagan chorus, the older song. (p. 28)

Through the power of Kent’s writing, Nance, Nóra, and Mary are brought to life in a way that feels true for the time, and yet that also has weight and resonance for a modern audience. Indeed it is in its incipient modernity that The Good People has its greatest impact. As we read of the ignorance that surrounds Micheál’s condition, the lack of understanding or help offered to the family by those in authority—the doctor, the priest—we cannot help thinking of the cases of abuse and mistreatment of disabled children in social care that continue to come to light on a weekly basis. As Nóra and Nance languish in gaol, we remember the more recent deaths of women in prison who should not even be there.

If The Good People has a fault, it lies in its tendency to repeat itself—I lost count of the number of times we are reminded that Micheál seemed well when he was younger, or that Nance Roche has been denounced as a pagan by the officious new broom of a priest. The book could have been fifty pages lighter just by editing out these unnecessary reiterations and would have become a tighter, more propulsive narrative as a result. On balance though, this is a minor flaw in a novel of genuine power and considerable ambition.

The Hidden People’s problems at a textual level are more insidious, having mainly to do with an overly strong attachment to generic convention. Though Littlewood frequently deploys genre elements to great effect—the passages dealing with Albie’s unveiling of Lizzie’s burned body are not easily forgettable and for all the right reasons—the overall tone tends towards the formulaic, with characters never entirely earning independence from their preordained story arcs. Like many an unwary horror protagonist before him, Albie is told on more than one occasion to “go home, before it is too late,” just as the pubs fall predictably silent as soon as he enters. By contrast with the sensitively characterised Nance Roche in The Good People, Littlewood’s cunning woman Mother Draycross seems straight out of central casting: with her baleful pronouncements and stinking rags she is a parody of knowingness, the wise woman from Blackadder. Similarly, rather than the subtly textured evocation of a rural environment that forms the outstanding feature of Kent’s narrative, Littlewood too often finds herself falling back upon the over-familiar “enlightened city folk versus superstitious yokels” trope beloved of so many indifferent horror movies:

I looked down at the smuts that had irreversibly smeared my coat. Such was the province of the city. I could smell the taint of coal smoke even now entering my lungs. But here, all was rational. The people about me were engaged in the solid and practical requirements of business. Here, men believed only in what was true; what they could see and touch and prove; and as the church bells chimed the hour, I felt glad to be standing within it … Everything was ordered and in its place, and it acted as a salve upon my heart. (p. 218)

Had Littlewood played up her narrative’s inherent ironies to greater effect—notice how Albie is standing outside a church when he makes his pronouncement about city people living industriously by the light of reason—we might have had a much meatier text on our hands. Again and again, the easier, more expected narrative road is taken, and an opportunity is missed.

In the end, all historical fictions are necessarily a compromise between what we know and what we are accustomed to imagine. As with any form of speculative literature, the key to effective storytelling lies in a writer’s skill in suspending a reader’s disbelief. Such a suspension must begin with the most ordinary of miracles: speech that comes across as believable rather than costume-drama pastiche, emotions and thought processes that mirror our own rather than seeming to belong to a simpler, more credulous time. There is no such thing as a simpler time, and for a reader to believe in the fair folk, a writer must write as if they—very possibly—might believe in them, too.


monanotlisa: (spock profile - st:tos)
[personal profile] monanotlisa
1. Every day, there is sunshine. (Okay, 256 days out of 365, but still. Come at me, sis.)

2. When I open the front garden blinds, there's hummingbirds fluttering away. HUMMINGBIRDS! They're the fairies of the bird world. Magical.

2. When I walk outside in my -- low-key wealthy -- neighborhood in what is esseeeeeentially pajamas, no one comments, or even spares me a second glance. This is brought to you by the girl who for the one short outside stint planned did not bother putting anything on beyond house-pants and a Nevertheless She Persisted shirt.

4. When I walk outside in the City on a workday, however, people throw me appreciative glances. European-style attire isn't common on the West Coast, and even if people wouldn't wear it they seem to agree it's interesting, or maybe even daring ("How is she going to explain that to her startup CEO in his ratty, IRONIC Status Quo band t-shirt?")

5. People are nice. I do mean that in an occasional nice-guy kind of way, but for 99% of interactions that suits me perfectly well. Germans are forthright, and you will know where you stand with them. Just, in 75% of interactions, you won't LIKE knowing where you stand with them.
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Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

It’s been two years since my diagnosis with a very aggressive form of breast cancer, and eighteen months since my double mastectomy. The type of cancer (IBC) ruled out immediate reconstruction with implants (which I would have declined anyway, because not for me).

It used to be that women with IBC didn’t get reconstruction, because TBH we usually didn’t live all that long. Nowadays after a waiting period of two years or so one can have a DIEP flap where skin, fat and blood vessels are taken from the stomach and grafted onto one’s chest.

I’ve completed treatment, there’s currently no sign of cancer, and I’m doing well. I’m trying to move forward and get on with my life as much as possible.

But here’s my problem: medical folk keep pestering me to get reconstruction and don’t seem to understand that I DON’T WANT IT.

I’ve made a list of the pros and cons and–while it’s fine for others, it’s not fine for me, right now, under these particular circumstances.
I’m a smart person with a supportive partner, friends and family. Yes, the things surgeons can do are amazing. I know all about my options. If I want more information I know how to get it.

But..the continual unasked-for conversations from presumedly well-meaning medical providers are irritating at best and at worst can send me into a days-long depressive spiral.

Because I was trained to be a people-pleaser and discount my own ideas and opinions, and when I hear, “Have you considered reconstruction? We can do amazing things and by the way, you basically get a free tummy tuck..”

..my brain translates it into, “You are not okay the way you are, and your choice is not a valid one and your appearance is not acceptable. You are BROKEN. Let us fix you.”

What none of my medical providers seem to understand is that I want to maximize my physical activities and minimize my time spent in hospitals to the greatest extent possible, and for the most part I don’t give a rat’s behind whether I meet society’s expectations of how a female should look.

I’ve always been large-breasted and very self-conscious about it, and at the same time considered myself a bit of a “tomboy”.

It turns out I’m more at home in my body without breasts, have less back and neck pain, don’t miss bras or boob sweat, and enjoy wearing button-down shirts I buy from the men’s department.

My sex life is just fine.

I identify with others in the “flattie” community far more than anyone else in Breast Cancer Land.

But when doctors start pushing reconstruction, I feel as if my choice to remain flat is being questioned, and it affects my mental health when my efforts to explain and/or justify my choice seemingly fall on deaf ears.

Is there a script to politely shut this down? I’d be grateful for any suggestions.

Her/She pronouns, and just sign me “Flat and (Mostly) Happy”

Dear Flat and Mostly Happy,

I think your medical providers need a letter (email, fax, whatever works) spelling out what you told me. Something like:

“Dear Doctor,

Thank you for your excellent care so far.

There is some information I would like you to put in my chart & medical records in a way that it is clear to all the providers & staff I work with at your practice: I am not interested in discussing breast reconstructive surgery at this time. If that ever changes, I will bring it up. 

I know you and your staff are just trying to make sure I know my options. I’m very happy to be cancer-free, I’m happily adjusting to my new body, but I’m feeling pressured and distressed by these discussions and the prospect of more surgery in a way I’m sure you don’t intend. I’d appreciate it it can just become a non-issue during our visits, and if that changes, I will be sure to let you know.

Thanks for all you do.”

If you know of articles that might explain this well and help the doctor or clinical staff do better with other patients, include links or mentions of those resources. Then send it to every one of your current providers where this has been a problem before your next visit.

It’s not a 100% foolproof solution, but it will make you feel like you are more in control and you can remind yourself that hey, you told them how to take care of you as clearly and politely as you could. If someone brings it up (maybe they haven’t seen it, maybe they forgot), here are some scripts:

  • I’ve said many times that I’m not interested. Can I ask why you are trying so hard to sell me on this when you know that I don’t want it?

I suspect (but do not know for sure) that the answer has to do with insurance & money, like, there is a limited window where insurance will pay for reconstruction so they are trying to make sure that you get in inside the window and worried that you’ll regret it later. People had to fight hard to get insurance companies to pay for any reconstruction and the benefit is probably a “use it or lose it” deal.

That’s an understandable reason, if that is the reason, so, make them spell it out for you, and then give your informed consent to skip that part, like, “Okay, I appreciate it – I know you are trying to make sure I am financially taken care of as well as medically, thanks for helping me make an informed choice. I choose to opt out of reconstructive surgery at this time. If I change my mind down the road and it becomes an insurance or financial issue, I’ll cross that bridge then. In the meantime, can we agree to put this to bed? It really stresses me out to talk about it in a way I’m sure you don’t intend. Thank you.

See also:

  • I’m not interested in talking about reconstructive surgery. I’ll let you know if that changes.
  • I put something in writing about this – did it not make it into my chart?” Ask the person the best way to make sure that this information is visible to anyone who treats you.

Repeat this stuff like a broken record. If the person won’t stop, you have permission to stop being polite. You probably won’t stop being polite because you are a polite person but knowing that you’ve communicated your needs very directly and clearly can sometimes be helpful, like, “I’m 100% sure I’m not the one making this weird right now.

I hope this gets easier for you, Letter Writer. Readers, do you have any tactics that have worked to set boundaries with medical professionals?


It is now time for the summer Captain Awkward Dot Com pledge drive, where I shake the tip jar in the general direction of all of you kind readers. If you like what I do here and are able to support the work, please visit my Patreon page or make a donation via PayPal or Cash.me. Thanks to your support, we’ve made the blog ad-free. My next goal is to take a sabbatical from teaching in 2018 and work on a CaptainAwkward book and other writing projects. Every little bit counts, and I’m grateful for it.

 

 

 

 


FIC: lest ye be judged

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:30 am
nilchance: original artist terry moore; blonde staring at canvas with nude male and black handprint (fandom)
[personal profile] nilchance
Title: lest ye be judged
Fandom: Undertale
Rating: Gen
Warnings: Child Neglect, Implied Childhood Sexual Abuse
Summary: Fifteen years before the resets, Asgore stumbles across two strange children. Beta by the excellent [personal profile] poisontaster

lest ye be judged

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jesse_the_k: mirror reflection of 1/3 of my head, creating a central third eye, a heart shaped face, and a super-pucker mouth (Default)
Jesse the K

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