zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
I haven't been in the position of begging for food money (I've busked, but that was for pocket money, so and also it's not the same) so these reasons are from my imagination, not experience. As such, they likely lack nuance and I'm probably missing piles more.
  1. They don't know where that hamburger's been.
  2. They're vegetarian.
  3. They're gluten-free.
  4. Or lactose-intolerant.
  5. Or have other allergies.
  6. Or other medical conditions.
  7. Or just want to eat healthily to prevent future medical conditions which they won't be able to afford to treat.
  8. They've actually just eaten. It's just that they'd like to eat tomorrow too, but it's forecast for rain: miserable and unprofitable weather for begging, and a dollar keeps better than your hamburger.
  9. They've actually just eaten. It's just that they'd like to feed their kid too, and a hamburger is a poor substitute for formula.
  10. They lied. They don't need money for food. It's just that they don't have a card that says "Need money for toothpaste and toilet paper".
  11. They lied. They don't need money for food. It's just that begging for food money gets more money than begging for shoes-that-don't-leak money.
  12. Let alone for condom money.
  13. They'd love a hamburger right now. But begging for charity is soul-destroying enough at the best of times, let alone when someone implies they're a drunken gambling-addicted drug addict not to be trusted with bit of spare change. Honestly they'd rather starve for another day than accept your right to judge their sincerity.
  14. Bugger the burger. They've had a shitty week and they deserve a beer, dammit.
Not that I'm saying one should always give money to beggars. There's plenty of reasons one might choose not to, or not be able to. (Sometimes I choose not to because it's a nuisance wrestling my purse out of my bag. No claims of sainthood from this corner.)

I'm not even saying one should never offer a hamburger to beggars. Just, if they refuse it, that isn't evidence that they don't need the money.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
So Swan Tower has linked and analysed the key bits of "Say Yes to Gay YA", which is worth reading if you haven't already.

This basically matches my own analysis, which also includes: when people of privilege play the "They're playing the Oppressed Card!" card, it's always the people of privilege who win. So it'd be really foolish for someone to falsely play the Oppressed Card in an attempt to win; the only sensible reason for someone to 'play' it is if they actually, y'know, value the truth and the cause over their own personal success. Even if I ever had reason to think Rachel and/or Sherwood were dishonest, I definitely wouldn't have reason to think they're so foolishly naive.

But more importantly, Joanna from the agency eventually gets around to admitting:
There are not enough mainstream books that depict characters of diverse race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and physical and/or mental disabilities.

Changing this starts with the readers. Scott Tracy has a great post about this on his blog. If more people buy books with these elements, then publishers will want to publish more of them. Sounds simple... yet, it’s not so simple.

How do we reach the readers who are looking for these types of books? And more importantly, how do we reach the readers who aren't specifically looking for them?

And this - specifically "Changing this starts with the readers" - is bullpucky and hogwash and is exactly what the problem is. Agents passing the buck to editors passing the buck to bookstores passing the buck to readers. "They won't buy it so I can't." I say again, bull.

Yes, readers should read what we can, but not everyone likes every book, and it's unfair to demand readers read a book they don't otherwise like just because it's got gay content. If readers are to read more, we need more books to choose from. How are readers supposed to buy it if the bookstore doesn't stock it, if the publisher doesn't publish it, if the editor doesn't accept it, if the agent doesn't represent it, if the writer doesn't write it?

Rachel and Sherwood wrote it; plenty of other authors have been writing it. The next step for an agent who wants things to change is to represent it. If you want to "reach the readers" then take that step. Because you're not going to get anywhere by standing still.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
It's been a while since we had much aftershock activity -- the unprecedented pair of snowstorms we had three weeks apart seems to have insulated against them or something, which was one good thing about the snow. (I also enjoyed playing in it and having time off work; otoh I didn't like being cut off from being able to feed my cat, twice; and it made life harder for people who didn't need life being made harder in the slightest.)

But we did get a 4.2mag. aftershock at 5am-ish today, which seems to have ruined a lot of people's mornings. My own reaction was a groggy, "Bah, I'm not letting a piddly - hmm, feels like a low 4 - stop me sleeping in." And went back to sleep. From evidence, the cat's reaction was similar, which is gratifying progress.

In other recent EQ news, I got my letter from EQC listing all the damage the inspectors noticed while they were around here. It takes a page and a half, each line being one wall or ceiling or window or other feature, notated with a super-brief "Collapsed chimney" / "Structural damage" / "Floor has moved less than 100mm" / "Impact damage" etc. I also get a "Broken glass" and "Broken power fittings" and "Cracks to ring foundation", but the vast majority is "Cosmetic damage".

There's also a new Red Cross grant which was called the Alternatives to Sewerage Systems grant until someone noticed the acronym and changed it to something I can't remember because it's nowhere near as fun. Anyway it's NZ$500 for anyone who went without city sewerage for more than 90 days, and after a few days of being vaguely aware of the grant, it suddenly occurred to me that that included me again.

This perfectly solves my voucher-from-work dilemma: I can pass said voucher on to Women's Refuge and never have to think about it again, and use the grant money to buy myself something nice without any unpleasant aftertaste about where it came from (plus not limited to shopping at the single mall).

On the subject of Red Cross grants, there are three broad philosophies:

1) the Red Cross is making it too easy for people to get money;
2) the Red Cross is making it too hard for people to get money;
3) the Red Cross is doing pretty well actually, as evidenced by the fact that the Letters to the Editor display a perfect balance between philosophy #1 and philosophy #2.

My uncle, it turned out at my Mum's sixtieth birthday dinner, holds philosophy #1, believing that the Red Cross should investigate more exactly which people need exactly how much money. My sisters pointed out that investigating would cost money and delay people getting anything, and corrected him on some points of fact, all the while referring to the Red Cross as "we" (with admirably faint emphasis) until it clicked for him and there was this brief pause and he said, slightly horrified, "You mean you both work for the Red Cross?"

This is how my family celebrates our sixtieth birthdays, people! --Actually it was all good, and we stuffed ourselves full of mains and dessert and cake and then went to Scared Scriptless (a theatre sports show which is a Christchurch institutions -- their normal venue has been red-zoned so they've been bouncing around, at the moment performing in an intermediate school's auditorium) which was brilliant as usual. (I mean there was the game that's funny because foreign people have silly accents, and the game that's funny because date rape's hilarious, and the games that are funny because homophobia and transphobia; but y'know, it was my Mum's birthday so I'm just going to give in to the kyriarchy this once.) The brilliantest thing was that one of my family managed to get a note slipped to their coordinator about Mum's birthday, and so he asked her some questions and then got the guys in the team (yes, they're all guys, this may have something to do with the kyriarchy both cause and effect; see also the demographics of QI and the predictable "Women just must not be as funny as men" that you get when you point this out to fans on their fan-forum, but that's a story for another day) -- anyway, he got them to improvise a song for her which really was utterly fantastic.

Oh oh! And apparently my bus, my normal bus, my dear #23, is now running out my way again! I saw it! This means I could catch it straight from here straight to the door of my work again! --If that building is ever my workplace again, anyway, which to our rage and dismay is sounding increasingly unlikely, but that's a rant for another day. In the meantime the #21 gets me almost-straight from here straight to my current workplace, just takes a bit longer.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
I speak not of sunburn, although that's slowly fading from scarlet to something that might almost accurately be called pink. No, I speak of course of advertising for women and its necessary precursor: sexing products to determine whether men or women should be allowed to buy it.

I went shopping today for a new umbrella, my current one being broken, and my real current one being stuck in my out-of-bounds office. I wandered through Farmers until I stumbled across some umbrellas next to the handbags. They were those tiny fold-up ones that aren't that big even unfolded, and they fall apart since making things collapsible makes them flimsy. But that's all there was so I took one of the non-pink ones to the cash register and said, "I suppose you keep all your umbrellas in the one spot?"

"You could look in the men's section," she said.

Sure enough, in the men's section are the nice big umbrellas, the ones which actually shelter you from actual rain, and which don't break as easily, and which for all these extra features are about 2/3rds the price of the crappy women's umbrellas.

Of course. Of course the men get the good umbrellas.

This evening I got home and discovered that 1-day is selling packages for "Chicks", "Blokes" and "Random". "Random" is illustrated with an image of Georgina Beyer. Since all the cool kids were writing them emails, I also wrote to them and told them my umbrella story (and said don't even get me started on shoes) and suggested as an alternative to sexing their products they could divide them into interest categories like "Sports" and "Entertainment" and "Tools" so people can get things that interest them regardless of whether they (the people, not the things) are male, female, or genderqueer.

I also reminded them that Georgina Beyer is in fact female, not "random". I probably could have emphasised this more but I got the feeling that other people already had, so I thought I'd jump in to answer the inevitable "Wah, but how else can we possibly categorise our merchandise???" lamentations.

On reflection, I think I'll write to Farmers too. [ETA: I did.]
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Twitter is divided between those who want to knock down all the buildings and those who are afraid that Civil Defense will knock down all the buildings. Twitter is also divided between those outraged that we're paying for Prince William to visit, those grateful that he's asking for donations to charity including #eqnz in lieu of wedding gifts, and those just squeeing that he's here and hasn't brought Kate with him to ruin their fantasies.

On The Press's site:

Water may be drinkable by the end of the month. Scared Scriptless (local improv group) will be resuming next week, starting in the Big Top tent at uni. (Have I mentioned most of the uni classes that are a) being held and b) not off-site are being held in tents? Never fear, they plan to have pre-fabs ready before winter kicks in.)

In "Earthquakes are weird" news, "Ground accelerations in Christchurch [...] were as much as four times higher than the highest accelerations measured in last Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Japan." [from Christchurch bounced during deadly earthquake] Despite what someone on Twitter thought, this doesn't mean our earthquake was bigger than theirs, nor that Mercalli is a better measure than magnitude. Personally I think Mercalli is pretty useless for the purpose most people want a measure for, ie to attach a single number to the event. Mercalli effectively gives a different number to every level in every building.

In "Let's pay attention to the important things" news, Nation's Guinness supplies saved in time for St Patrick's Day.

In "OIC what your word choice did there" news, compare and contrast these articles from the same newspaper on the same day about the exact same event:
Big change for Shirley boys
An army of Shirley Boys' High School pupils boarded buses yesterday, ready for their new school site.
and
Girls giggle as school site-sharing takes off
Teachers yesterday ushered Papanui High pupils off the school grounds as Shirley Boys' High pupils waited to start their school day.
Some girls giggled and chatted as the Shirley boys gathered for their first afternoon at their new school site.
Further reading of both articles suggests to me that on the whole both boys and girls have the same ranges of reactions.

And an awesome opinion column. Don't read the comments unless you enjoy "I don't live in Christchurch but I don't see why you can't be more positive" nitwitery.
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (christianity)
I'm wearing my favourite skirt, which is red and goes right to the floor and swirls and has pretty swirls embroidered. It's possibly fading a bit and has a stubborn stain but I can generally hide that, and the hem is a bit battered but what do you expect, and anyway it's awesome. With it I normally wear a white blouse that ties in a bow at the front and has its own embroidery on the breasts, the main disadvantage of which is that it's sufficiently short that it shows a bit of waist.

When I say "disadvantage" I don't mean that I care, just that when I'm considering my wardrobe in the morning I always have this vague idea that someone sometime might be all, "Ooo-er, Zeborah's showing a bit of waist!" which would be mildly embarrassing. Then I defy this hypothetical person and put it on anyway.

So the other day I was reading Guys on Immodesty, Lust, and the Violence of Women’s Bodies, a survey in which a bunch of Christian guys say that it's immodest when a woman shows skin, has embroidery drawing attention to an area, bends over so her bum is more prominent, stretches so her chest is more prominent, moves other than sedately so her breasts jiggle, or just dresses in any way that's designed to draw a guy's attention to her body or which he thinks is so designed because he's horny. And women shouldn't do this because it makes it haaaaaard for guys to think pure thoughts.

Sigh.

The thing is, I guess they're coming from that line of Paul's where, in a completely different context (talking about eating food sacrificed to idols), he says doing this isn't sinful in itself but some people think it is so when they're around don't do it because it could weaken their faith. Basically avoid it for their sake. (Note that I'm pretty sure he didn't say that it was a sin to not avoid it for their sake. He just said that avoiding it for their sake was a kindness and a virtue. In fact I think something can only be such a virtue if it's not totally obligatory.) And within the specific historical context where the issue was being hotly debated and was genuinely controversial I think that's a decent compromise and I rather like it, and also I think it can be applicable elsewhere sometimes maybe, if you're careful.

Not here. Not when it boils down to "You're immodest if I say you're immodest, now stop being immodest."

This is my theory on women's clothes and guys trying to think pure thoughts:
Dear Christian guys,

If you really have no control over your physiological/mental response to a woman's beauty then God's not going to send you to hell for it. OTOH, if you do have control over it then quit with the "It's all her fault" excuse. That didn't work in the Garden of Eden and it's not going to work on the Day of Judgement either.

Love,

Zeborah

PS You do have total control over your physical actions. Just so we're clear on that part.
zeborah: Vuvuzela concert: This is serious art. (art)
Yesterday afternoon I met up with someone I know from the online librarian world who was in town for the day on the way to a conference. We had this fantastic six-hour conversation which consisted of these amazing nested tangents about work, travel, politics (USan, Australian, NZan), sf (books, TV), family, home repairs, home invasions, and so forth. Every now and then one of us would say, "Oh yes, I was [half an hour ago] going to tell you about X," and then within about half a minute we'd be off on exciting new tangents.

So for example there must have been about an hour between the time I introduced the topic of my fanfic-in-progress and the time I actually started talking about it. But then I also talked about where I'm at with writing in general and it brought together some threads of things I've been thinking about why I'm in a bit of a lull at the moment, which are:
  • Partly it's that it's taking me a while to adjust to working full-time and being a houseowner and having to do all my own cooking and housework. (I think I'm never going to manage the "cooking every night" thing. I'm slowly resigning myself to the fact that it's not a crime to go for a walk from time to time and buy some ready-made food from one of the healthy takeaway places around here.)
     
  • Partly it's that the last novel I completed was horridly demoralising in the swimming-upstream way it took to write -- and that I'm not really happy with the result: there's a lot of parts of it I like, but as a whole, I'm not sure it's really a coherent story.
     
  • Partly it's that this year at work has been a year of ridiculuncous stress what with merging and construction and restructuring and farewelling people and more construction. The earthquake on top of this Did Not Help -- I couldn't write for a month or two after -- but that really was the icing on the cake; even without it I was really struggling.
     
  • And the other thing, which I've had to face more as I recover from the earthquake and which clicked a bit better in my head as I mentioned it last night, is that over the last couple/few(?) years, through all the "Fail" conversations and from trying to educate myself about various related issues, I've learned a lot. And it's made me increasingly aware that a lot of things I've written, and a lot of things I've wanted to write, are to various degrees problematic.
This is not a whine that it's all just too hard. (Though it is hard enough that I have at moments felt/understood the temptation to do that.) Of course it's hard; it's learning. When you learn more about characterisation or plot or anything else then you likewise begin to recognise your own failings at it, sometimes before you have any idea how to actually improve.

But and also it's that I'm trying to change what I want to write. (Because I want to write fun things, and I want to write non-problematic things, so I want problematic things to feel less fun and non-problematic things to feel more fun.) And changing what you want or believe or anything like that is doable if you know enough about how you think, which I think I do, but hard work nonetheless. (I'm suddenly thinking of Cyteen.)

So I think for most of this year, if not more, I've been on a "Argh, my stories are problematic and my writing sucks" plateau and going around in circles. And last night as I was talking I just magically recontextualised this as, "I've learned enough to recognise those problematic things; now I can learn how to fix them through the obscure methodology of: practice, practice, practice." (I ought to have known this beforehand. If anyone else had been struggling with the same thing this is what I'd have told them. But I just didn't really internalise it until last night.) I don't think the plateau was wasted time, because it was also time I was continuing to learn and process. And I'm not likely to suddenly burst into perfect productivity as of today either, so this learning and processing will continue. But I have some more confidence now that I can get myself back into the actual writing thing and will be capable of improving what I write.

I still need to learn how to plot actual stories, though.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
You know the joke: Someone says, "So-and-so is such a pig!" and someone else says, "Hey, that's offensive to pigs!" and everyone laughs.

The reason people laugh is that no-one really cares whether or not pigs are in fact offended. Most people care a certain amount that they're treated humanely, and good numbers would like them to be killed humanely or better yet, not killed at all. But I think you'd be hard-pressed to find many who care about the pigs' self-esteem, least of all among the pigs.

So in reality, the only one an epithet of "pig" is likely to offend is the person it's used against.

When, however, the derogatory epithet used is the name of a human, or a group of humans, or otherwise refers to a human or group of humans, the effect is quite different. Because now we're not disrespecting pigs, but humans. So saying "That's offensive to ____" isn't a joke anymore. It's a (very frequently painful) reality. It offends humans. It hurts humans. It makes it clear that the speaker doesn't care whether or not they offend these humans, and more than if they were barnyard omnivores. It reflects society's disrespect for humans, and it strengthens society's disrespect for humans.

Cut for examples )

Two things:

1. Sometimes a member of a group thus maligned won't care. That's cool. But they can't speak for the whole group. Just because 1%, or 10%, or 50%, or 99% of a group doesn't care, doesn't stop it hurting the remainder of the group. And even if that remainder is only 1%, they're still human and deserve not to be hurt.

(Plus and moreover, I don't believe it's good for people to get in the habit of disrespecting a group of humans. It makes it harder to prevent oneself disrespecting other groups of humans, and one ends up in a constant struggle to prove that one is in the one true group of humans that deserves respect. Far better to just concede from the start the shocking notion that all humans are deserving of respect.)

2. To the inevitable woeful cry of, "But where will all this terrible politeness end?" I say: It ends where humanity ends. Women? Human. People of colour? Human. Gay people? Human. Insane people? Human. And you just don't get to use humans as weapons in your personal war of words unless you've secured their unanimous consent to be so used.

You can, however, malign pigs and snakes and weasels to your heart's content, and slow coaches, and sticks in the mud. Hey, I'll even give you arses: at least then you're maligning all humans equally.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
The other day I heard about a survey run by an organisation that shall remain anonymous. It was about the use of mobile devices, and one of the questions was about which devices if any the participant used. For ease of analysis, the devices were coded to numbers, eg:
  1. iPhone
  2. Blackberry
  3. Android
etc.

Then, wanting to get the most information possible out of their data, the analysers calculated the standard deviation of these numbers.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
(All of us who have decent internet access and read English have a good amount of privilege thereby anyway, so US-centrism on the internet is, in the greater scheme of things, nothing more than a minor background irritation. But, you know, sometimes it's worth noting minor background irritations, if only for the record.)

On the internet, USans have the advantage that generally:

Financial
  • E-commerce sites will list prices in their currency;
  • and accept their credit cards;
  • and ship to their address. [There may be some exceptions for Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, etc; but not as many exceptions as there are for other countries.]
  • They don't have to pay currency conversion charges.
  • Shipping charges are cheaper and sometimes free.
  • Charity donations are tax deductible in their country.
Content and services
  • The streaming sites they want to visit won't withhold services based on their country;
  • nor will new web technologies such as Google Voice or Foursquare;
  • nor will ebook providers such as the Kindle;
  • nor will competitions exclude them from entry. [See the note on exceptions above.]
  • Libraries in their country are allowed to negotiate access to the fulltext on Google Books.
  • If a helpline exists, it won't be an international call and it will be open when they're awake.
  • Search results will be relevant to their country.
  • Services in general will be designed for maximum convenience for people from their country: map sites will default to showing their country, drop-down menus will default to having their country at the top, etc.
Temporal
  • Online chats and conferences they're interested in, for either business or pleasure, will be arranged to coincide with feasible hours for them (as opposed to 4am).
  • They'll receive updates from lists, feeds, memes etc on the date that they're meant to receive them, instead of most of a day later. (Ie Caturday won't occur on Sunday and FlyLady's Monday assignment won't arrive in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.)
  • Similarly, they don't have to choose between participating in memes at the same time as everyone else vs on the same date as everyone else.
Legal
  • They can agree to Terms and Conditions adjudicated in their own country.
  • They can conduct regular life on the internet without having to surrender their personal data to be governed by the laws of another country.
  • They don't have to choose between watching a TV show or movie now in order to talk about it with other fans and thus becoming a criminal, vs waiting for weeks, months or years to watch it legally but have no-one left to talk to about it.
Social
  • When they join a community, there'll be other people there from their own country.
  • Conversations will be about topics that are relevant to their country, and they can assume that people from other countries will know what they're talking about.
  • If the conversation is about a topic that is not relevant to their country, they have the option, should they choose, to change the topic by force of numbers;
  • or, alternatively, they can ask to be educated about the topic without fear that anyone will think their ignorance of it is unusual;
  • assuming, of course, that the topic hasn't already been explained for their convenience by someone foreseeing the inevitable.
Linguistic
  • They can expect to be understood when writing in the standard dialect of their country.
  • They can expect others to write to them in the standard dialect of their own country.
  • They can expect spellcheck systems not to complain about the standard dialect of their country.
---

Just so you know, I reserve the right to mercilessly mock comments about how:
  • there are worse things in the world to worry about (seeing as how this was the first thing I said);
  • population numbers may be relevant (seeing as how this is neither unobvious nor very much comfort); or
  • this one time, or this one site, or this one community, you as a USan were briefly disadvantaged (seeing as how the fact that this sort of experience is exceptional for USans is kind of my point).
I have an icon ready and everything, so you can't say you weren't warned.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
The joys of classical conditioning means I now appear to associate lying-in-bed-for-sleep with being-jolted-awake-by-earthquakes, and thus going to bed increases my body's anxiety to a level rather higher than allows sleep. Rigorous relaxation techniques (beginning with a good fit of sobbing) and therapeutic daydreaming got me there eventually but I did keep getting woken so am now just a little tired and weepy.

By "just a little" I mean, if there's anyone on the internet who deserves yelling at, give me the heads-up and I'll give them a good yelling. I may start with everyone in New Zealand who thinks that we need a deep explanation for why Haiti's earthquake killed way more people than ours did. There's an explanation but it's not that complicated:
The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just's umbrella.
--Charles Bowen
When the earthquake struck, we had an excellent umbrella. Haiti didn't.

In the meantime, has anyone got some good jokes? Laughing helps too.

Am going to spend the day with family watching movies and then tonight I might try sleeping in the spare room and see if that makes a difference. Never fear, I'll probably be back cluttering up your friends' list again anyway.

--Argh, just saw a photo gallery of the uni's cleanup - the library-based pictures there are my library and I wanted to pick up those bazillion books. Seriously, I've been looking forward to that heavy labour since Saturday morning. Now we'll get the tedium of shelf-reading (putting books back in order) without any decent stress-relief. So annoyed. I mean, obviously it's good that it's been done. But. Argh!

In "my country is awesome" news:
  • We can drink the water again! Tested free of disease three days in a row. No more boiling water, whee!
  • Also, my Earthquake Commission claim got processed at 1am. That's some hardass business hours.
zeborah: Fezzes are cool.  Amy and River blow it up. (cool)
First off, Amy Pond's eyes. I mean. I've come across someone who actually doesn't like that thing where her eyes steal the entire scene, so obviously going "OMG her eyes!" is not a universal trait, but nevertheless I think it's a fairly common one.

But today I was watching the first episode of Covert Affairs (thanks to discussion here) which may be my new post-"Oh Leverage no" love. This is mostly because, in the pilot episode two of the three main characters are women and the third is blind. (Sadly unsurprisingly he's played by a sighted actor.) And there's Tropes there, particularly around Our Heroine's motivations for joining the CIA, but mostly it's pretty awesome fun and maybe in episode 2 she'll have got over First Day on the Job syndrome and won't have to be saved by a man. Anyway, about halfway through the episode we get a good look at Our Heroine's boss's eyes and they are really startlingly green.

In retrospect, I always had a huge fascination with the constantly changing eye-colours of Due South's Fraser and ST: Voyager's Kes.

--Moving on, or rather back to casting, because Wikipedia notes that in episode 2 of Covert Affairs, we start to get Sendhil Ramamurthy as Jai Wilcox (replacing a rather whiter character). And I remember when I first went back to watch the pilot of Criminal Minds I noticed that JJ wasn't in it - she only appeared in episode 2. Which makes me wonder which is happening:
  • are producers saying, "Okay, good pilot, now you can have your series but, um, maybe a tad diversity, huh?" or
  • are directors/writers saying, "Whew, now we've got the conservatives to greenlight us we can slip in some non-WASPs"?
Given recent casting developments on Criminal Minds I'm kind of suspecting the latter.

Also I like the title because, haha, it's a pun, see? I'm easily amused by puns. But I hope they don't expect me to be surprised when it's revealed what Our Heroine's boss's husband is really up to because that's kind of obvious, narratively, and fun as the show is I don't expect any really subtle twists per se.

(ETA: One problem with the show is that the music's too loud and at times obscures what's actually being said. If I keep getting the feeling that I need closed captioning then... well I sure hope it gets closed captioning when it screens live.)
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
Today, season 5 episode 16. And the final scene struck me. (No serious spoilers.)

JJ, Prentiss and Garcia are tidying up after a case. And the awesome mother of one of the victims comes in and they talk briefly about the case and their job; and then JJ narrates the final voiceover quote by Emily Dickinson.

5 women in one scene, and the first time I watched it I saw nothing remarkable about it, because Criminal Minds has been awesome about having women just be people. Yes, the victims are mostly women, but they still have agency, whether they're being kept in a cage, a car boot, or a paralytic state. Women also take their turns as perpetrator, cop-of-the-week, key witness, key expert, strong friend-or-family, the-one-who-got-away, and the-one-who-stabbed-the-perp-before-Our-Heroes-could-get-there.

And Garcia is the tech genius. And Prentiss is a geeky polyglot who's ready any day to strap on the kevlar, shove her hair into a ponytail, and kick in a door -- or to let herself be beaten up to protect her male colleague. And JJ is quiet and sweet and can flutter her eyelashes with the best of them, twist the media (or Hotch) around her little finger -- or alternatively kill three attacking dogs with three shots in the dark while standing in the blood of their last victim.

Season 5 episode 16 - okay, here are spoilers after all - (skip) we find out that every time there's a missing child case, JJ has to deal with the mother of a boy taken 8 years ago, who thinks the cases are related. And then JJ realises that this time the cases are related. And when Morgan thinks maybe JJ's just being a mother (Morgan is always a doubter. Also did I mention JJ's a working mother? Her partner's the stay-at-home dad) Prentiss steps in to back her up, and they take the case. And the mother of the first victim has done a pile of research for them. And it turns out that the dominant unsub is a woman. And... you get the picture. Basically, without the women, there'd be no story. And this wasn't that unusual of a storyline.

So of course CBS wants to get rid of JJ and reduce Prentiss from regular character to some kind of guest appearance arrangement. The male characters can stay, they've got no problem with the male characters.

Someone's done a rejigged version of the opening credits which says it all:


There's a petition going around -- I signed it when it was about 170 signatures, and now it's about 32,000. There's Twitter and Facebook campaigns, and people phoning the CBS folk and sending "Missing" posters and lipsticks and all of that.

But, y'know? It's not like the CBS folk are trying to be sexist. It's just that all of Hollywood and all of society is sexist -- no matter how well-written Prentiss and JJ and Garcia have been, the male characters still got all the *really* meaty plots, and/because/so guess who the fans' favourite characters are? -- and if CBS thinks they can save money by collaborating with that then by golly they'll collaborate. So I don't know if I should bother hoping at all.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
So my sisters and I were discussing the various someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet discussions we've been in this week, and I was monopolising the conversation with my stories of arguing with an atheist
(short and obviously biased version: she posted a distinction she makes between secular faith and religious faith; I said that her description of secular faith sounds like my personal religious faith and her description of religious faith sounds like certain libertarians I know; she said I was just proving her point which apparently had something to do with various philosophical concepts she proceeded to introduce; I said that her actual original post remained false; she and someone else tried to argue that the fact that my religion makes me happy is a bad reason to believe and I tried to argue that I care a lot more about being happy than about being right and also? her original post remains false; and so forth until I finally managed to narrow the discussion back to the point where we could agree to stop arguing)
and of a discussion on the QI forum about racism and sexism
(short version, skipping over a whole other bunch of Fail: I mentioned that it'd be awesome if we could have more than 20% women in Series A-F or 23% women in Series G, and more than 4 People of Colour in Series A-F [actually I said 3 but someone mentioned one I hadn't known about] and 0 in Series G; a whole bunch of people said "OMG, you want to choose who gets on based on their gender and skin colour!"; I pointed out that if we eg make a non-sexist assumption that men and women are equally funny, then a show trying to be the funniest but having 77% men suggests that we're missing out on a bunch of women who are funnier than some of the men who get on, and I want a funnier show; then my interlocutors make it really clear, some of them saying it in so many words, that they believe that men are in fact inherently funnier than women and that I'm sexist for suggesting otherwise.)
At which point in the conversation my sister says:
Obviously women are funnier than men. Otherwise why would we call jokes "hysterical"?
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I'm writing this as I explore Buzz's privacy issues, so what I write at the start is amended by what I discover further on. I note ETAs briefly after I've finished exploring. This got bloody long; if you don't have all that time, scroll down to my conclusion or to the TL;DR.

If you have a GMail account, Buzz is enabled. [ETA: This turns out to be not as scary as it sounds. But still.]

The splash screen where it asks if you want to check it out or not? That doesn't mean "Do you want the function or not?" It means "You have the function. Do you want to know more about it or not?" Even if you click no, you'll see the Buzz logo in your side nav-bar under the Inbox.

Click on the logo and it'll show you you're automatically following some people and some people are automatically following you. It also tells you that "Your Google Reader shared items, Picasa Web public albums, and Google Chat status messages will automatically appear as posts in Buzz." [ETA: It turns out that this sentence is a lie. It means "If you connect them, they'll automatically appear".]

[Sidebar: This is an example of why automatically sharing things is a bad thing to do [ETA: or even to threaten to do]. It's also a great example of privilege at work, in that Google engineers apparently have the privilege of not fearing for their lives.

So. There's a line that says "Zeborah (Edit) - 0 connected sites - 5 followers". I click on that "5 followers". The top follower is someone I don't even know. I don't know his name, and though he has a public profile it only consists of his name and avatar - I can't tell anything about him from it. I click on "Block". [ETA: I just thought to check my gmail contacts. It turns out to be someone I emailed once to give something away on Freecycle. Once. I don't know why he's following me; maybe he really likes Buzz; maybe he's got very few contacts so Gmail randomly decided he should follow me.]

The next 4 followers are all people I know. They don't have public profiles, so no-one else will see that they're following me. (This is what Google was talking about as one of its privacy improvements.) But they're still following me even though I've never said that I even want to be followable. Of course they probably don't realise that they're following me, just like I didn't realise I was following 12 people.

I go back to the main Buzz screen and click on the list of the 12 people I'm following. One of those people is actually a pseudonym for myself. It's like "Superman" to Clark Kent: it's the name I use to fight crime. (Specifically, 419 scammers.) When I'm fighting crime, I'd really rather that the criminals I'm emailing not know who I am in real life. I'm really open in sharing about myself on the internet; I'd forgotten that even I have reasons to be careful of privacy. Mental note: go onto the 419 crime-fighters forum and write a tutorial about Buzz.

So at this point I open my librarian-persona gmail in another browser. Librarian follows Zeborah and unfollows everyone else. Zeborah shares an item in Google Reader and... Huh, actually it doesn't turn up in Librarian's Buzz. Why is that?

Zeborah doesn't have a Google profile; so let's create one. I go back to the "Zeborah (Edit) - 1 connected site - 5 followers" line and click on "Edit". I leave everything blank and untick things so that I'm not automatically sharing anything, then at the bottom click "Create Profile".

Now Librarian is able to see Zeborah's profile, but still can't see who Zeborah is following or what Zeborah has shared in Google Reader.

Zeborah follows Librarian. Zeborah can now see all Librarian's items. Librarian still can't see who Zeborah is following or what Zeborah has shared.

Going back to the "Zeborah (Edit) - 0 connected sites - 5 followers" line I click on "0 connected sites". I leave the first page alone and click "Next"; now it asks me to create a profile. This is apparently different from a regular Google profile which I've already created? [ETA: Not different exactly, but it adds fields into the regular Google profile which weren't there before.] Anyway, it lets me opt out of showing off who I'm following and who's following me, so I untick that box and create the profile. (Even if I tick that box, Librarian can only see that I'm following "1 other person without a public profile", so it does protect that person's privacy as long as they don't create a profile.)

Librarian still can't see Zeborah's previously created shared post.

Zeborah creates a second shared post - now Librarian can see that.

If Zeborah unfollows Librarian, Librarian can still see Zeborah's shared posts (including new ones).

If Zeborah blocks Librarian (when Librarian was previously able to see Zeborah's shared posts) Librarian can still see Zeborah's old shared posts, but not new ones.




Tentative conclusion (because this much exploring fades my brain)
I think that people can't see who you're following or who's following you unless you've opted to create a Buzz profile and left the option ticked, and even then they can't see the names of anyone who hasn't created their own profile. I think that people can't in fact see your shared items unless you opt in by adding connected sites, and I think that even then they can't see items you've shared in the past, only what you share from now on. However if someone can see your stuff and then you block them, they can still see your old stuff.

I think that "Librarian is following you" actually means "Librarian would like to follow you if/when you create a Buzz profile and add connected sites".

I think that all of this could have been a lot clearer. This just took me an hour and a half to figure out, which is unacceptable.

And I think that when you block someone, it should remove all your past items from their view.

TL;DR
If you've done nothing with Buzz, you're probably fine.
If you have done stuff with Buzz and are concerned about privacy, you probably want to:
  • Check your connected sites - you want that to be 0. If it's not 0, click on it then for each site listed, click "Edit" -> "Remove site". Save your changes.
  • Check your profile - click "Edit" next to your name. Delete all the information you want deleted and untick all the boxes. Save your changes.
You'll still see that people are 'following' you, but as far as I can tell they won't be able to actually see anything.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Rainbow)
Back in December I wrote about how LJ planned to make the gender field mandatory and binary. They backed down on that and kept the male/female/unspecified split.

But yesterday I heard that LJ has now (without announcement or discussion) renamed "unspecified" to "it's personal", though they've been told that for a whole lot of people it's not some great secret, it's just that it's neither male-not-female nor female-not-male.

They say that our feedback is valuable to them and it sounds like they're discussing options to fix it, but I'm kind of not so hopeful that even if they fix it this time they won't break it again in another month or two.

So I'm taking my hitherto very slow transition towards Dreamwidth a step further, thus:
  • I've imported all my LJ entries and comments into Dreamwidth;
  • tweaking of my awesome zebra-stripe Dreamwidth theme/CSS continues;
  • from now on I'll be posting in Dreamwidth with (if I've configured this right) an automatic crosspost into LJ;
  • I'd mildly prefer people to comment in Dreamwidth (if you don't have an account you can use the OpenID option with yourusername.livejournal.com, or the anonymous option if you find it easier) and keep all the conversation together there, but I don't really mind that much so just comment wherever you prefer;
  • I'll hang around in LJ to read and comment;
  • I'll slowly pull together my Dreamwidth access list and reading circle over time. If you've got a DW account, I'll find you quicker if you tell/remind me of your username but otherwise I'm sure I'll find you anyway.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Rainbow)
I got some bookvouchers for Christmas (which, to jump to the end of the story, the bookshop hesitated over accepting because the issuing bookshop had neglected to write the date of issue on them. I think they eventually decided to write the date of Christmas on them themselves) so I went to the local bookstore to browse their sf.

Having in mind the controversy over the latest whitewashed Bloomsbury cover (I guess it's progress that they seem to have responded more quickly this time than last? Also it's nice that that's an actual apology. Maybe next time they'll have the sense to think before they publish.) I thought I'd pay attention to the covers.

So, the fantasy and science-fiction section of Scorpio books is about 6 bays of 6 shelves each, plus special displays. Call it about 500 titles give or take? (I didn't include franchise, horror, or manga.) Around about half the covers (give or take) showed people or parts of people. As far as I could tell, these people were:

white;
a silhouette;
white;
slightly tanned;
white;
a skeleton;
honest-to-goodness alabaster;
a shadow in a hood;
white;
a white guy surrounded by black-skinned aliens with guns;
white;
a white mask;
seriously #ffffff white;
a dark-skinned elf attacking two white humans;
white;
a few books with crowd scenes of white people, about half of which scenes thought to include one or two black guys;
white;
white;
and oh yes: white.

No surprises there, then.

But! In those 36 shelves of books - call it about 500 books - I did find 6 whose covers featured a PoC! These were:By this time I was fairly tired so I didn't really look at the YA.

(I ended up buying Ragamuffin as well as The Sharing Knife: Passage (which I like to pretend isn't set in the USA, because when I read the first two books I never had a clue it was meant to be anything other than generic pseudo-Euro-fantasyland) and a volume including Lady Susan and the beginnings of The Watsons and Sanditon.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Rainbow)
It turns out that I never bothered to specify it anyway. But after reading that gender will be a mandatory field at LJ account creation I sent the following note to the LJ feedback folk:

I've read that LJ plans to make the gender field mandatory when people create new accounts, and that "unspecified" will no longer be an option, so that people must choose "male" or "female".

This would have the effect of either excluding people from becoming LiveJournal members or forcing them to violate your Terms of Service just to register: your Terms of Service state that "During registration, all users are required to provide accurate, complete and current information about themselves in all required fields," but how can intersex, transsexual, and genderqueer people provide accurate information about themselves when the drop-down menu has no option for the truth?

Please therefore reconsider this decision and include options for "other" and/or "unspecified".

Thank you for your time.

Regards,

Zeborah (gender unspecified)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Rainbow)
Warning: this post almost certainly involves Fail related to mental-health issues and, specifically, the word "crazy". I'll do my best not to be a jerk about it, but I expect it'll still be there.

Warning on the other side of things: I reserve the right to be dictatorial over comments. That is, over comments who think I'm being overly "PC" or whatever. Comments calling me on ablism will have free range.

So. In various places I've seen people point out that using "crazy", "going crazy", etc, in various figurative/non-literal ways is ablist language. (If this is hopelessly vague I can try to find examples, but I think people likely to know what I mean will know what I mean?)

And. I don't want to use ablist language. It's relatively easy to avoid derogatory language based on specific conditions - eg "retard", "schizo", and my personal un-favourite "psycho" - and it's very clear why avoiding them is a good thing. Likewise I aim to avoid casually using words like "insane" which have a clear clinical meaning.

"Crazy", to me, feels much less clinical, much less targeted, and much more vernacular. And...

Hmm, let me back out a bit. What I'm having trouble with is, I regularly need to be able to describe:

a) the way one's feelings/emotions get when one is all confused/stressy/turmoil-y/all mixed up, and

b) the way people sometimes act either:
i) apparently-from-my-POV irrationally (which may not be actually-from-their-POV irrationally), or
ii) hyper'rationally' without apparent-to-me regard to ethics, morals, empathy, etc

And "crazy" in current vernacular covers those, and I haven't been able to think of other words/terms that cover any and/or all of them. (NB: I am totally open to suggestions here!)

[Fun story time from my teens! So sixth form (aka Year <counts> 12) was super-stressful. At one point I commented to my best friend that it felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown, and she was annoyed because I shouldn't joke about such things. (My point of view was that joking about it was one of the few things keeping it from actually happening; seriously I was super-stressed.) Not overly long later we were up on the balcony outside out maths class and she made some comment about jumping off, then was annoyed that I took her seriously and told a teacher, when it was 'obviously' just a joke. (My point of view was that, given that she was super-stressed too and various other things I knew about how she was coping with said stress, actually it wasn't anywhere near that obvious that it was a joke.) --Okay, look, I had a point when I started writing this parenthetical. I think it's that, at least for myself, I wasn't clinically depressed or clinically insane or clinically anything except a teenager dealing with stuff that was hard to cope with. But there need to be words that someone can use to express the nggh, the head-inside-outy, the argh!!! kind of feelings that just go along, sometimes, with being human. Because if you can't express what you're feeling then you just feel worse and that's not good for anyone.]

So I would like to be able to draw a dividing line and say, "Look, world! I'm using "crazy" to cover non-clinical craziness only, because the word seems appropriate for someone with good mental health who is nevertheless feeling/acting crazily/in ways that promote evil despite their good intention pavingstones; whereas it doesn't seem appropriate for someone who has schizophrenia who is being a sensible and decent human being."

At the same time I recognise that my personal definitions don't actually mitigate any hurt or harm that my use of the word may cause.

So.

??? <flounder> <flail> Thoughts, suggestions?

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