If Trump finds a way to pardon Manafort, NY State prosecutors will hit him with more charges. And Roger Stone should've kept his mouth shut and his fingers off the keyboard.
Mueller's report is expected very soon.
The Vatican's summit on clergy sexual abuse has begun.
Republicans are trying to undo progressive measures approved by the electorate.
"Every spacefaring race ever has science fiction, of some form or another, among their cultural works. It is, after all, impossible to get into space without dreaming about it, and then writing those dreams so other people can dream them too." -- Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary (in which there are multiple spacefaring species), note under the 2019-01-15 strip
What 'Peanuts' taught me about queer identity.
A judge in the Commonwealth (not state) of Virginia has no sense of history, equal rights or humor.
In Hawaii, the art of bark cloth making.
In New York City, persecution of people wearing black hairstyles is legally banned as racial discrimination. I hope the rest of the country follows in this.
A different kind of theory of everything.
Vanishing flights of monarch butterflies/
Lorena Bobbitt Gallo on domestic violence.
Endangered in India: WhatsApp, free speech, encryption.
Clarence Thomas goes to war against the rights of non-citizens.
The Supreme Court *unanimously* decided against civil forfeitures and policing for profit.
Brexit and the loss of citizenship.
It is the one at aginc.net. Do not use it!
If you need to get hold of me, use the email that is my real first and last name as one word, and gmail.com.
Anything sent to aginc.net will not reach me. I assume that the creatures that lurk in the interwebs are snacking on it.
So, without the repeat, the most scientific (in certain lights) story I ever wrote:
IV. Any Friend of True Thomas is a Friend of Mine (48704 words) by twistedchick
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Helen Cutter/Nick Cutter, Helen Cutter/Stephen Hart, Helen Cutter/Nick Cutter/Stephen Hart, Abby Maitland/Connor Temple, alternative universe characters of the same names in various combinations.
Characters: Helen Cutter, Nick Cutter, Stephen Hart, Abby Maitland, Connor Temple, Jenny Lewis, James Lester, Oliver Leek
Additional Tags: Alternate History, Dinosaurs, Multiple Universe, alternate interpretation of canon, anomaly travel, British folklore
Series: Part 4 of Life, Refracted
One morning Nick Cutter woke up in the universe in which he was born, went through an anomaly to the past, went through another to where he thought he had started, and found himself in an alternate Britain, facing people whose names and faces he knew but who were not the same as the ones he'd left. Can he make them believe that he is not the same man as the one they know? And can their shared knowledge -- from his world and their own -- prevent Helen's insane malice from causing disaster and death?
This story is the last in a four-part series, Life Refracted, which is all in the Primeval universe, in which "anomalies" opened between modern Britain and very ancient times and people and creatures from the past encounter one another in all sorts of ways. My notes on the series:
Helen Cutter went exploring one day and discovered she could travel to the Permian Era, and back, and to other times and places. She wants to change history. But suppose that she discovers that she can also travel to alternate Britains, in alternate universes, with different (or no) versions of everyone she knows? Not everyone she knows agrees with this-- particularly her husband Nick, and his staff, who must deal with the side effect of this break in space/time: invasions of ancient animals. This is the premise behind Life, Refracted, a series of stories told by a variety of characters in (and from) more than one universe within Primeval.
The primary universes here are birth-world (the universe of Season One), and ARC-universe (the universe of Season Two and Three). There are others, as well. There may be more than one person moving between them.
When time travel can alter lives, when movement from one place to another can change history, life is refracted, the way light refracts in a prism. Who knows where anyone or anything will end up?
I am choosing not to use archive warnings here -- be aware that this series contains canon-level violence and events, though not always the same ones.
These stories have their basis in the episodes of seasons 1-3. The changes in plot and character arc are mine, reinterpreting canon into something... with a few fewer plot holes. And all the stories are dedicated to the actors who have created such remarkable characters in this show.
Another drive-by. I worked from home today (snow/sleet closed things), then got into a computer graphics project, made dinner, cleaned up from dinner, and now it's nearly bedtime. (The Mr. cleaned up from breakfast/lunch, served me lunch, and made banana bread.)
I finished Circe: yeah, there was a slight twist to the ending. I saw half of it from about 50 pages out. I'm not 100% sure I believe in the other half. Not likely to be on my Hugo short list.
Then I digressed from my Hugo reading and re-read Andre Norton's Catseye, which I had bought some little while ago as a Kindle deal. I remembered some bits of it from my teen years but not others, and I'm definitely much more aware of her writing flaws now. (Um, you can call him "Troy" more than once, really you can; you don't have to keep alternating it with his surname and various epithets. Also, it's from his POV, so some of the editorializing about him comes off oddly.) But it was fun.
I'm now reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. She has finally written a book that I think I really like, although we'll see how the ending goes. Sadly, I was never better than lukewarm on her Napoleonic dragons series, and Uprooted was somehow not really my thing. I felt like Uprooted was dutiful. somehow? But this one is really drawing me in so that I can immerse myself in the story.
Rep. Ilhan Omar shuts down the war criminal that Trump wanted as a special envoy.
Scientists are rethinking how animals think.
Is America becoming a four-party country?
"Firefall" is glowing at Yosemite National Park.
I was supposed to be at a doctor's office this morning, but I rescheduled yesterday when I got the notice that even my dentist's office was closing in the face of the storm. I woke up to 4" of snow, untreated roads (the first plow went past 3 blocks away in front of the hospital 10 minutes ago) and more coming down. Good reason not to have to be on the roads. Even the Beltway is relatively quiet (1/2 mile away, normally heard unavoidably 24 hours a day.)
Meredith Russo (@Mer_Squared), 2019-02-09:
Person A: What would you do if you woke up in a body with a different hormonal/genital situation than you have now.
Person B: Haha pee standing up! Touch my boobs!
Me, Without Looking Up From My Phone: Dissociate. You would dissociate. Enjoy staring at the wall above your TV.
Responses from pre-transition trans people were along the lines of "Offer up a prayer of thanks," and from post-transition trans people things like, "Be really angry about all the progress of my transition being undone," but this is mostly about cis people in another thread greatly underestimating the effects of having a body that doesn't fit one's gender. There are people whose sense of gender is so faint that it wouldn't matter much, but AFAICT they're relatively rare (I know a few). Most people would have trouble with it. Some cis actors who have lived cross gender for a while to prepare for a trans or cross-cast role have described pretty severe psychological effects from just the effect of just doing that, and IIRC one who wore a binder and a packer to play a male role found doing so just for a day of shooting at a time wound up pretty distressing.
Another difference folks noticed about trans responses was the request for more details: "Is my proprioception pre-adjusted or do I have to learn that?" "Are my ID documents, transcripts, etc., and everyone else's memories magically altered at the same time, or is this a shock to everyone else too?"
The thing is, it is an interesting question, can be a fun fantasy, is easy to joke about ... but some of us already know what such a mismatch is like, only without the "suddenly you wake up..." part.
The British-Irish dialect quiz.
Researchers create first evidence-based map of elephant populations in Asia.
How a trans soldier took on the jail that denied her medication -- and won.
Media silence as gang-rape survivor from northern Iraq wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Introverts don't hate people -- they hate shallow socializing.
Kenn Burrows of San Francisco State University returns to the program to talk about SFSU’s annual Gandhi-King Season of Nonviolence. Then Neal Gorenflo of Shareable.net explains how his website aims to facilitate cooperative problem-solving around the world. Finally, historian Michael Morey introduces his new biography of David Fagen, the buffalo soldier who in 1898 switched sides and joined
the Philippine war for independence.
Kenn Burrows leads the Holistic Health Center at San Francisco State University, and organizes the annual Gandhi-King Season of Nonviolence. Neal Gorenflo is the co-founder of Shareable.net, as well as an author and consultant. Michael Morey is the author of “Fagen: An African American Renegade in the Philippine-American War,” just published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is registering as a sex offender, after finishing his term in prison.
A movie about Lorena Bobbitt brings up the media circus about that case. And why wasn't more said about how John Bobbitt beat her and mistreated her and less about her own action?
Manafort lied to Mueller - so now his vaunted plea deal is off the table and he will get whatever's coming to him.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn't going to retire -- but is Clarence Thomas? That would give Trump another Republican on the court.
Does naming the shooter in news stories lead to more mass violence, as others want their names in the news?
16 states are suing to stop the emergency powers being used to build the border wall -- because Congress has the right to determine how money is spent, not the president. And Stephen Colbert says Trump contradicted himself on there being an emergency.
In the Roman Catholic church one priest is exposing the sexual sins that are shoved under the rugs. And the Vatican has acknowledged that there are separate rules for priests who father children. As for why there is nothing in canon law dealing with this: much of the canon law was codified in the mid-1800s, during Vatican Council I -- but the council, which was supposed to deal with every aspect of the church, was interrupted by the Italian wars, and the pope fled the Vatican for his own safety. The only part of the agenda that had been completed was some parts of canon law. I do not know how much was done in Vatican II, but I suspect this was still so well hidden under the Vatican I laws that it didn't make it onto the agenda. The Vatican hopes that the meeting on protecting children against sexual abuse, which starts Thursday, will be a turning point toward more transparency and better accountability.
In the midst of all of this, closeted Catholic priests who are gay speak out -- "it's not a closet, it's a cage". One of the things they must contend with is being unjustly blamed for child abuse, when statistically the hetero priests who abuse children and others are in very vast majority of cases.
And the Southern Baptists are about to address sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention -- not the same as Catholics, because every Baptist church is independent and the structure is not hierarchic.
How China censors thoughts. And why Chinese officially disapproves of one or more of its most popular television shows.
In North Carolina, election fraud.
The lovely Flapper-era cartoons of Barbara Shermund.
Jane Curtin is playing it straight.
Switzerland is figuring out what to do with its many melting glaciers.
Farewell, Lee Radziwill.
What it's like to be the *only* black mathematician.
The secret history of women in coding.
"One reason why Opportunity and Spirit were so loved - the unrestricted online posting of all their images made peopl
e feel they were part of the mission. I really hope the @ExoMarsPanCam team follow the same path and share their images freely so we can all feel the same way." -- mars_stu (@mars_stu), 2019-02-14
"I always said the best part of MER wasn't driving my space robot around, it was that I got to take the entire planet along in the back seat. Sharing the images freely is what did that. Future missions would do well to heed this lesson." -- Scott Maxwell (@marsroverdriver), 2019-02-14
One further Catholic note: the definition of The Church is not the guy at the altar and his bosses, but the people in the pews as well as the guy at the altar and his bosses. It's everyone who is Catholic -- the descriptive phrase since Vatican II is the People of God. So when I see people uniformly condemning the Catholic Church for the behavior of some of the hierarchy, I tend to write it off because it's clear to me that the person speaking is committing a logical fallacy: the few =/= the whole. If you are complaining about the actions of a particular person or persons in a particular place, what you complain about is not necessarily the case with other persons in other cases who are part of the same whole. In short: get as mad as you want about specific cases, but total condemnation reads as bigotry. I would say the same thing if you were to complain about a specific instance where someone of a different ethnic group did something you consider nasty and then attributed it to that person's ethnic group as a whole. I don't see a difference.
This deserves more than just a headline link.
Francis has done something here that hasn't happened in history -- he has laicized a cardinal archbishop for committing sexual abuse, and not just any cardinal archbishop but one of the three most powerful in the country. This is the man who ran the Diocese of Washington, D.C., which includes Georgetown University and Catholic University -- you can't tell me that the guy at the top of the hierarchy has no input on decisionmaking at Catholic universities. (The other two most powerful dioceses are New York and Chicago; sometimes Boston get in there too.) Also, quoting the article:
Mr. McCarrick was long a prominent Catholic voice on international and public policy issues, and a champion for progressive Catholics active in social justice causes.
Which means he had a voice in what happened on the Hill.
What does it mean to laicize someone? Let me provide a comparison to the military, since in many ways the Catholic hierarchy is based on the Roman hierarchy at the time of Constantine.
Suppose you have a general who screws up really badly. Whoever's above him can bust him down a few ranks, remove him from power -- but he's still in the military. He's still subject to its rules. But if it's bad enough, and more is discovered, he might get kicked out all the way -- dishonorable discharge, not entitled to anything more in terms of military benefits, and possibly barred from some other jobs.
In McCarrick's case, the Pope removed him from ministry in June (took him away from the ordinary contact with people and the rights and privileges of being a cardinal archbishop). A month later McCarrick resigned from the Council of Cardinals (there goes his power and influence over the powerful) and suspended him from all priestly duties (can't celebrate the Mass, can't hear confessions, can't marry people, etc.) But being suspended doesn't mean he was out of the picture. He was still there, he just couldn't do anything. Now, by defrocking him, laicizing him, the Pope has taken away his identity and given him a new one: a known malefactor who has been punished after the accusations against him were proven true.
There is a financial side as well: a defrocked cleric at any level loses church-provided housing and financial benefits. McCarrick is 88; I suspect he lives in a church-sponsored residence. If so, not for long. Any stipend he received as retirement pay is gone. He might end up having to pay his own way in a small apartment with his Social Security, if he wasn't good at investing.
Some take-aways from this:
-- If the Pope will kick out a cardinal archbishop, a "prince of the church", those who have been abusers are due for their own reckoning.
-- I have not heard anything at all about the possibility of Church-backed (as in paying, not influencing) counseling for victims of abuse and their families. This should happen.
-- This should make it a little easier for people who have been abused and mistreated to come forward.
-- Abuse of power will now come at a high price.
Do I think this is the end of it all? No. This is the beginning, only the tip of it. More will come. The house needs cleaning; this is only beginning to clean one shelf in one closet, even if it's the top one.
Emma Gonzalez, a year after Parkland.
Africa's black panthers are vanishingly rare -- one has been seen recently for the first time in a century, near where Wakanda should be.
For Valentine's day -- hey, every day -- have a little compassion for yourself.
What's in your cosmetics?
Cooking without a recipe.
The two codes kids need to know: computer skills and the US Constitution.
Annie Leibovitz revisits her early work in a LA exhibition.
The tiny Swiss company that thinks it can slow climate change.
Two older New Yorker portraits: Nora Ephron and Edna Buchanan, the reporter who covered the Miami cops and wrote crime novels as well.
What will win Best Picture? (with a gorgeous shot of Black Panther.
TED: Be your best mess. And 3 questions to weed out jerks.
All sorts of stuff to download and remix from the Cleveland Museum of Art.
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2019-01-07:
"Sometimes the ultimate pointlessness of a line of work is so obvious that few involved make much effort to deny it. Most universities in the United Kingdom now have public relations offices with staffs several times larger than would be typical for, say, a bank or an auto manufacturer of roughly the same size. Does Oxford really need to employ a dozen-plus PR specialists to convince the public it's a top-notch university? I'd imagine it would take at least that many PR agents quite a number of years to convince the public Oxford was not a top-notch university, and even then, I suspect the task would prove impossible. Obviously, I am being slightly facetious here: this is not the only thing a PR department does. I'm sure in the case of Oxford much of its day-to-day concerns involve more practical matters such as attracting to the university the children of oil magnates or corrupt politicians from foreign lands who might otherwise have gone to Cambridge." -- David Graeber, from his book Bullshit Jobs.
(submitted to the mailing list by Terry Labach)
As Haruar and the yeti came over the hill, they could see the raging of the river, engulfing the small stream with its broken bridge and a third of the way up the valleyside. The waters were nowhere near the outcropping sheltering Rrua, though. Rrua was half covered in the four-legs loose fur, lying so loose-limbed that Haruar stared hard to make sure she was still breathing. Criaor lay next to Rrua on the downhill side; little Ahtahtaht lay next to Rrua's head, backed into the rock face away from her teeth, in case she woke disoriented, and was licking Rrua's sore ear. The other four-legs had moved further uphill and were cropping grass and small plants, as if all were well, though it was apparent that one was keeping an eye on the river's movement, another was standing guard, of sorts, over Rrua and Criaor, and the third was watching the crest of the hillside. As soon as they were visible to one another, the four-legs on watch ran up to greet them.
"Yoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuu caaaaaaaaaammmmmmmeeeeeeee baaaaaaaaaaaaccccccckkkkk!" Beeta exclaimed. "Weeeeeeeeeeeee aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrreeee sssssssssstiiiiiiiiiilllllllllllll heeeeeeerrreeeeeee."
"And Rrua?" Haruar asked. She had to drop the food she carried in order to speak.
Ahtahtaht wriggled carefully backward, out from between Rrua and the rock face, and trotted up to them. "Heeeeeerrrrrrr eeeeeeeeaaaaaaarrrrrrr hhhhhhooooootttttt."
The yeti looked down at them with no expression, and walked down to sit in the space near Rrua's head. Criaor, who had been napping, awoke and watched as the yeti reached over to put its forepaw, with its long clawless toes, on Rrua's ear and head and simply leave it there for a long moment. The hard spot on her ear broke open, draining out blood and yellow goo... and then that spot was gone, as if it had never been except for the bare patch where there was no fur. Rrua shuddered once, and then began breathing more deeply, as if she were only sleeping. The yeti gathered her onto his lap and held her as she breathed, and the color came back into her nose, and the tip of her tail twitched -- it had not moved since the wolf attack.
Criaor said in a low voice, "Thank you." He got up, nosed at Rrua, and then held still while the yeti ran its paws over his sides, and the shallow slash at the edge of his ribs where the wolf had caught him in the fight was gone, as if it had never been. He could not help it; he bowed to the yeti, the full-on forelegs-out bow that was properly owed only to Haiirao, First Brother.
The yeti regarded him calmly, reached out to put that cold paw on his head for an instant, and Criaor rose, hungry but whole. He ran up to where Haraur stood. "I'm so glad you're back!" he said, and rubbed himself along her entire side as he would have done as a kitten.
"Let me guess: you're hungry." Haraur felt she had to make a joke; she was seeing miracles and it was almost too much to deal with, though she would not have wanted the miracles to stop because of any limitation of her own. "Take half; the other half is for Rrua."
Criaor nodded and pulled off a back leg and haunch, and took it aside up the hill to eat it. "I left some for you both."
Haraur dragged the rest of the food down near where Rrua still lay on the yeti's lap, but not so near that it would alarm the small four-legs, who had gathered around the yeti and Rrua. They stepped aside so that she could walk up to the yeti and see for herself that Rrua was better, breathing easily. The yeti, who had been smoothing down the fur on Rrua's side, looked over at Haraur, who took a deep breath and stepped forward.
It didn't hurt. That was her first thought, as the yeti moved its hands over her. It didn't hurt, and it didn't feel too cold. It felt ... it felt like the way air moved high up on a mountain, fresh and clear and just moist enough to numb briefly, not to harm. She wondered if that was what the four-legs felt, or if they would even think of their experience in the same way, with their narrow little hard toes and their thick fluffy fur. Maybe different bodies and different languages did not share the same ideas, along with the same words.
Pirate Jenny gazed out the window nearby, where a bird was singing on a branch. "You hear that? It's a declaration of war against any other bird-of-that-kind that comes near. But even I cannot understand all the words."
Haruar closed her eyes and breathed slowly, deeply, until the yeti's forepaw stopped touching her. When she opened them, Rrua had shifted on the yeti's lap and was opening her eyes. "Where am I? Oh, there you are. Is everyone all right? I'm so hungry."
[End of Part the Eleventh]
"'Our community has some of the most marginalized in our society, so doing things that could potentially harm the livelihood of sex workers doesn't really matter to folks because we are seen as disposable,' Santos muses. 'But we are actively seeing how attacks on sex workers quickly becomes an attack on all women. How are people going to be able to differentiate between a sex trafficked victim and a woman traveling alone or eating dinner alone or just having a glass of wine alone? We are just the entrance to something that can and will get bigger if we allow it.'" -- Sandra Song, "When Anti-Sex Trafficking Policies Like the Marriott's Do More Harm Than Good", 2019-01-30
"Kindness in women, not their beauteous looks, shall win my love." -- Washington Irving (b. 1783-04-03, d. 1859-11-28)
[Happy St.Valentine's Day to all who celebrate it! And FWIW, a good balance of kindness and really clever snark works well too, in my book. ;-) Just sayin'.]
Driveby: I'm having a tiring week, and need to go to bed ASAP.
I finished The Calculating Stars, and it ends well enough for me to look forward to reading the sequel, The Fated Sky. It was also pubished in 2018, so I'm not sure what the rules are re Hugo Award.
I'm now reading Circe, by Madeline Miller. People seem to be excited by this book, including recommending it for Hugo nominations. I am about 70% of the way through, and it is grim, sad, grim. Man, the Titans are disgusting, and the gods are nasty. A seemingly "you are there" inside Circe's head re-telling does not help these facts. I'm also not sure I want to call it fantasy. It's well written, though?