Weekend update

Copyright NBCI’m sorry that I’m not going to be as funny as the Saturday Night Live crew, but I had to share a few updates on some of the things I linked to just yesterday:

While Indiana and Arkansas have passed so-called Religious Freedom bills, a democratic legislator in Georgia may have successfully derailed the bill there simply by proposing an amendment to add language that the bill isn’t meant to condone discrimination. The amendment failed, but: How To Kill A Discriminatory ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill: Call The Bluff.

Several companies, conventions, and associations have gone on record that the passage of the license to discriminate bill may lead them to pull their business from states that pass them: 8 Entities Protesting Indiana’s New LGBT Discrimination Law and Apple CEO Tim Cook Warns Arkansas Not To Pass Anti-Gay Bill Like Indiana.

Blogger Amelia put the proposed initiative in California allowing private citizens to execute gay people into even starker perspective: A Man in California Wants to Kill My Son. And people are proposing changes to the state constitution to make such ridiculous bills less likely: Must Sadism Be Cleared to Gather Signatures?

Will ‘Religious Freedom’ Bills Backfire on Christians?:

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Friday Links (persecution substitution edition)

BettyBowers.com (Click to embiggen)

BettyBowers.com (Click to embiggen)

It’s Friday. We’re nearly through with March. Is it too early to comment on how fast the year is flying by?

Anyway, here is a collection of some of the things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared:

The improbable, 200-year-old story of one of America’s first same-sex ‘marriages’.

Let’s Get Some Things Straight About Aaron Schock.

An Open Letter to My Biggest High School Bully: My Teacher.

This is article is a couple of years old, but How Many American Men Are Gay? is still a difficult question to answer. “More than one quarter of gay men hide their sexuality from anonymous surveys. The evidence also suggests that a large number of gay men are married to women.”

It took until 2014, surprisingly, but music streaming services have finally outsold CDs.

Mystery of Darwin’s ‘strange animals’ solved.

New data on the changing face of religion in America.

The Worst Taboo In Urban Fantasy.

Women-led companies perform three times better than the S&P 500.

Emmy Noether revolutionized mathematics — and still faced sexism all her life.

35 Years After Saying Gay People Should Die, Bob Jones III Apologizes… While At Event Opposing LGBT Rights.

CA attorney general vows to halt ballot measure that would legalize killing gay people. I posted a link to a story about this when the lawyer first filed it, but now that the state Attorney General has determined that she is legally obligated to let this bill (which explicitly authorizes any citizen to murder someone they believe to be gay and forbids any state or local official from arresting, charging, or punishing said murderer) onto the ballot, the rest of the news world has noticed the story.

4 reasons I’m glad I came out as an atheist.

18 Science Facts You Might Have Believed In The ’90s That Are Wrong.

Wood Bison Roam the U.S. for First Time in a Century.

Indiana’s religious freedom law shows the new frontier in the battle over LGBT rights.

Religious Freedom? Nope, Just Plain Old Discrimination.

Blast From the Past: States Using ‘Religious Freedom’ to Justify Segregation.

A PROSECUTOR SEEKS REDEMPTION. CAN WE ALLOW PRISONERS THE SAME?

Richard III: ancient DNA solves a 500-year-old mystery.

It’s Not Easy Being Scientology: Since its founding in the 1950s, L. Ron Hubbard’s organization has put a premium on controlling the flow of information—an increasingly impossible enterprise in the Internet age.

NOM resorts to blatant lying in its 2015 #March4Marriage materials.

I wrote a long review of a book written by one of my favorite childhood/young adult writers: Book Review: Many Waters.

And Talent doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Plus The magic rule that will make you a writer.

THIS VIDEO MAKES A POWERFUL CASE FOR TRANSGENDER PRONOUNS:

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Bill Maher says fraternity culture is like a cult: Maher on Frat Culture: Get the F*ck Out:

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Sea Otter Pup Luna Meets a New Friend:

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Religious Freedom (Doesn’t Mean The Freedom To Discriminate) – funny song:

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Wait – The Music Business, Hollywood & Sleazy Manager Hijinks – Tom Goss (many musical styles):

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Municipal Violations (HBO):

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The magic rule that will make you a writer

A few months back, Max Kirin posted 7 Cardinal Rules in Writing Life on their blog, and lots of people have reblogged, so it keeps popping up again and again on my screen. I do not disagree with Max’s cardinal rules, though if I were to make a list of my seven I suspect mine would be very different. And if you check out the blog post, you will note that Max says they aren’t really rules, but rather advice.

I can’t help but notice that a lot of the people re-blogging Max’s 7 Cardinal Rules… only blog the image of those seven, brightly-colors nuggets of wisdom, without the accompanying text explaining that it is just advice. Nor do they include the links pointing to more detailed blog posts on related topics. Which is fine, of course. We all quote our favorite bits of things to make points from time to time. Read More…

Talent doesn’t mean what you think it means

My uncle Joe was a metal-smoothing wizard. Most of the men on Mom’s side of the family were car mechanics of one sort or another, and Joe was good at troubleshooting engines and fast at replacing various engine components, but where he really shined was body work. He took it as a personal affront if someone suggested filling in mangled, crumpled fender with Bond-o. Joe didn’t just believe in pounding a metal fender out, he wanted to take the time to smooth the metal back into the shape it had been. He rolled and tapped it until you couldn’t tell there had ever been anything amiss, before saying it was ready for primer and painting. Watching him work on a car’s quarter panel was like watching true magic.

Joe is my mom’s baby brother and only four years older than me. As a teen-ager working in a body shop, he did a better job coaxing the crumpled car body parts back into shape than men who had been doing the job for decades. But people outside the body shop didn’t seem to value it as a talent. It was something he had a knack for, they might say. Or it was a skill you could make a decent living at. But it wasn’t really talent.

A lot of those same people insisted that I had Talent, with a capital-t. Because I was clever with words. I could think quickly on my feet, recalls enormous amount of data, construct compelling arguments, and paint vivid pictures with words. They were certain that god had given me these gifts and intended me for great things.

I wasn’t so sure… Read More…

Book Review: Many Waters

Cover of Many Waters, by Madeleine L'Engle. Sometimes called Book 4 of the Time Quintet, sometimes Book 3 of the Time Quartet....

Cover of Many Waters, by Madeleine L’Engle. Sometimes called Book 4 of the Time Quintet, sometimes Book 3 of the Time Quartet….

I first met the twins, Sandy and Denys Murry, in third grade in the pages of A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I loved that book so much, that I convinced my Mom to buy me my own paperback copy, which I read again and again. The twins were supporting characters who only appear in a few scenes. The protagonist of the A Wrinkle in Time is their older, bookish sister, Meg. And most of the action of the book involves Meg, their youngest brother, Charles Wallace, and Meg’s new friend, Calvin O’Keefe. The three of them go an an adventure literally across the galaxy to rescue Dr. Murry—father of Meg, Sandy, Denys, and Charles Wallace—who has been missing for more than a year since he joined a mysterious government research project.

Many Waters is a sequel to that book, and it is the first one where Sandy and Denys take center stage.

Before I get into my review of Many Waters, I want to share one amusing personal incident: by the time I was in the fourth grade we had moved several times. For example, I had spent part of third grade not only in three different school districts, but each was in a different state. Part way through fourth grade we moved yet again. At the new school, we were assigned to read A Wrinkle in Time, and then give a book report. My report came back with a low grade in part because I had supposedly misspelled Murry, the last name of the family. I had to show the teacher in my own copy of the book (since the school copies had been taken back already and passed on to the other fourth grade classroom) that Murry is how it is spelled in the book. It didn’t occur to me until years later that this meant the teacher probably had never read the book himself. So on what basis was he grading everyone’s book reports?

So, what did I think of this book? … Read More…

Prepping to go camping

Camp-Participant-2015-Twitter-ProfileOnce again, I’m going to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. Camp is similar to the full-fledged National Novel Writing Month, except they’re much looser on the rules (not that the full rules are that restrictive). Camp Nanowrimo is for doing things such as editing/revising a novel (which you may have written during a previous NaNoWriMo, for instance), or working on a smaller project as perhaps a way to practice for trying to write a full 50,000+ word story in 30 days at a subsequent NaNoWriMo.

I’ve used it in the past to do editing, plotting, and revising. Currently, I’m planning to use it to try to finish splitting a big book that has two many subplots and characters into two less-huge books which I hope will be less confusing. I don’t want to merely cut the book in half and just stop in the middle. I’ve been frustrated at book series that did that. I think I’ve found a way to separate the plot lines so that the first book will come to a conclusion that feels like a conclusion to the plots I’m moving into this book.

I may change my mind. And tackle a different project altogether. It’s not as if I have a shortage of them, after all.

Why do this as part of Camp Nanowrimo, you may ask? It’s helpful to me to have a defined goal, with a clear end date and some mechanism for measuring progress. Or importantly, a mechanism for reporting progress so I have motivation not to goof off. In most of my previous Camps and Nanos, I’ve managed to remain focused and accomplish at least most of my goal more quickly than when I’m just trying to meet my own monthly tasks.

I enjoy bantering with my writing buddies, including cheering them on when they make progress, or racing with someone to see who can hit a higher word count on a particular day.

So, I’ve invited a bunch of my past writing buddies to be cabin mates (a cabin is a group of participants who share a private message forum and can easily keep track of each others’ progress on the cabin web page), and we’ve got a good crowd for this time around.

It’s going to be a fun April!

Sunday Funnies, part 11

Another in my series of posts recommending web comics that I think more people should read:

Police Reports Illustrated is an irregular feature of the local weekly alternative paper, the Stranger. There’s a new one up this week: Sweaty, Suspicious, and Running to “Catch a Bus”.

xkcd.com by Randall Munroe is one of those comics that I don’t ever have to refer to my bookmark, because at least once a week someone I know shares a recent comic on Twitter, or Facebook, or their blog, which leads me to click on the link, then use the Previous button to catch up on the two or three strips that have been posted since the last time someone linked to it. I’ve recommended it before, but last week he published one of the best tributes to Sir Terry Pratchett out there.

NsfwOglaf, by Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne is a Not Safe For Work web comic about… well, it’s sort a generic “medieval” high fantasy universe, but with adult themes, often sexual. At one point it centered on a shepherd named Oglaf whose semen started talking to him, telling him he was the Chosen One, though not explaining what that meant. Oglaf doesn’t appear in the comic named after him very often. There are a number of characters who return from time to time. Some of the characters even follow a multi-episode plot now and then. It’s funny, but definitely not for everyone.


Some of the comics I’ve previously recommended:

dm100x80I’m a big fan of “Deer Me,” by Sheryl Schopfer. This artist is also a friend. I have previously described this strip as: “Three roommates who couldn’t be more dissimilar while being surprisingly compatible.” Except in a recent story line Thomas has moved out! Eeek! Currently, the strip has traveled back in time to the high school days of one of the aforementioned roommates. In any case, if you enjoy Deer Me, you can support the artist by going to her Patreon Page!

mr_cow_logo
I’ve long been a fan of: “Mr. Cow,” by Chuck Melville… and not just because the artist is a friend! A clueless cow with Walter Cronkite dreams presides over a barnyard of a newsroom. If you like Mr. Cow, you can support the artist by going to his Patreon Page. Also, can I interest you in a Mr. Cow Mug?

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And I love this impish girl thief with a tail and her reluctant undead sorcerer/bodyguard: “Unsounded,” by Ashley Cope.

The_Young_Protectors_HALF_BANNER_OUTSIDE_234x601The Young Protectors by Alex Wolfson begins when a young, closeted teen-age superhero who has just snuck into a gay bar for the first time is seen exiting said bar by a not-so-young, very experienced, very powerful, super-villain. Trouble, of course, ensues.

3Tripping Over You by Suzana Harcum and Owen White is a strip about a pair of friends in school who just happen to fall in love… which eventually necessitates one of them coming out of the closet. Tripping Over You has several books, comics, and prints available for purchase.

12191040If you want to read a nice, long graphic-novel style story which recently published its conclusion, check-out the not quite accurately named, The Less Than Epic Adventures of T.J. and Amal by E.K. Weaver. I say inaccurate because I found their story quite epic (not to mention engaging, moving, surprising, fulfilling… I could go on). Some sections of the tale are Not Safe For Work, as they say, though she marks them clearly. The complete graphic novels are available for sale in both ebook and paper versions, by the way.

Friday Links (cellblock tango edition)

@CuteCatPictures

A baby lynx from @CuteCatPictures

It’s Friday. We’re three weeks into March and what weird week it has been.

Anyway, here is a collection of some of the things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared:

Neil Gaiman on Terry Pratchett: ‘He Did Something Huge and Noble’.

A second minor planet may possess Saturn-like rings: Features around Chiron may signal rings, jets, or a shell of dust.

Previously Unknown Region from Dawn of Solar System Gave Rise to Earth, Mars, Venus.

The right’s religion lie: Science, sex and the truth about God and politics.

Paleo isn’t a fad diet, it’s an ideology that selectively denies the modern world.

Alzheimer’s breakthrough uses ultrasound technology to break up neurotoxic amyloid plaques.

Who’s afraid of the Apple Watch?

Spanish caver finds 20,000 year-old drawings.

Cody Spafford found both solace and redemption in the kitchen of Seattle’s most celebrated restaurant. What turned a promising chef into a bank robber?

If you Own a Pitchfork, You Will Grab It When You See This Chart.

“Amazing” Bronze Mask of Pan Unearthed in Israel.

How Would Alien Astronomers from Andromeda Detect Life On Earth?

I Can Text You A Pile of Poo, But I Can’t Type My Name. We can’t ignore the composition of the Unicode Consortium’s members, directors, and officers — the people who define the everyday writing systems of all languages across the globe.

Rosetta makes first detection of molecular nitrogen at a comet.

Prehistoric stone tools bear 500,000-year-old animal residue.

With Just Six Delta Smelt Left, Controversial California Fish Species Faces Impending Extinction.

The Secret Lives of the Tiny People In Architectural Renderings.

Laws to Stop Marriage Equality Grow Increasingly Weird.

Florida Man Washes Sidewalk, Gets Attacked By Ants.

Oklahoma is banning atheists from getting married.

Queer As (Space) Folk: The rise and fall of sexual diversity in Who.

East Middle Earth: A Story Worth Telling?.

Five Geek Social Fallacies. An oldie, but still a goodie!

Why “Glee” Still Matters.

The ‘Vocal Minority’ And Artistic Integrity In Comics.

Internet Explorer is dead, but will continue as a work-focused zombie.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH GIVES APPROVAL FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN HISTORIC VOTE.

Gay and Mennonite: They vote on everything. They’re committed to peace. Can a church that defines itself by harmony survive dissonance over homosexuality?.

New feminist Thor is selling way more comic books than the old Thor.

Starbucks is a national joke: Why its #RaceTogether campaign is so “self-righteous”.

Gamer Gate’s Crusade Against Blocking.

Black Mississippi Man Hanged From Tree.

Cell Block Tango – Broadway Backwards 2015:

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Johnny Marr is set to mark 2015’s Record Store Day with a numbered limited edition 7” release of ‘I Feel You’ (Depeche Mode cover) on April 18th:

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Aaron Schock & the Closets of Downton Abbey:

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FREE – Alright Now (1970 UK TV Performance) ~ HIGH QUALITY HQ (Out bassist Andy Fraser died this week, age 62):

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Zachary Quinto Remembers Leonard Nimoy – CONAN on TBS:

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Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron – TV Spot 2:

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Irish fairy

I realized Monday night that none of the shirts I currently own that are appropriate for the office are green. And I when I tried to dig out the good jewelry box where my sterling silver shamrock earrings are, things kept falling down. We really need to go through things in that hutch and toss out stuff we never use.

I did find some nice, dark green rhinestones. But I forgot that the last time we cleaned out that section of the bedroom that I threw out a lot of the cheap earrings.

Still, it’s St. Patrick’s day, so when I found the silly plastic leprechaun earring, I figured that would have to do.

My recent ancestors on one side of the family were descended from Irish catholics who came to America after the potato famine. Some of my ancestors on the other side were protestants who came to America from Ireland, though they were descended from folks who came to Ireland from England along with King Henry’s army in the 15th century. (It’s not all Irish and English, there’s also some German, a lot of French, at least a bit of Norse, and supposedly some Native American, though statistically that’s more likely an old family myth than a genetic reality.)

Anyway, there are some who wonder why I, a gay taoist, makes at least a bit of a deal out of St. Patrick’s Day (since Patrick is a saint in the Catholic church which is far from gay-friendly, et cetera).

Well, looking back up two paragraphs, there are two ways to look at my heritage. One is to say I’m an Irish-Anglo-Franco-German-Norwegian-Native American, and the other is to just say I’m an American, a mutt, a mish mash, the genetic version of a ceasar salad—heck, a whole potluck!

Back in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is still mostly celebrated as a religious holiday. It’s not a day of drinking—no green beer or discount Irish whiskey shots at the local pubs there. Parades have been a very recent development, and at least according to one report I heard, mostly because American tourists kept asking for them.

But here, in America, it is a party day. We do the tacky green beer and wear the “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirts or “Everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day” shirts. Since it is only a few days before the Spring Equinox, it’s practically one of the spring mysteries. It’s a Bacchanal!

For me, it’s a day to put on at least one silly earring, to remember my Great-grandpa’s stories about his great-grandpa, to remember my Great-uncle Lyle’s story about my great-great-grandparents.

It’s a day to let out my inner leprechaun. I’m a fairy with at least some Irish ancestry, so that works, right? I may sing a silly song. I may dance a jig at the bus stop. I may cast a wily leprechaun spell that encourages people to give in to the silliness, at least a little. Because life is too short to be borrowing trouble. It’s too short not to have fun.

Never could get the hang of Thursdays

Surprised-Cat-Popped-BalloonJust as I try not to often post the what-I-had-for-breakfast type of entry on this blog, I also try to avoid let-me-tell-you-about-my-awful-day posts. Besides not wanting to chase readers away with whiny posts, I also feel as if my awful days are never as horrible as other people’s days. I can’t count the times that I have been feeling that I’ve just had a horrific day, when someone I follow on social media will report that a close relative has been diagnosed with a fatal disease, or that they have lost their job, or have been in a car wreck (and they are posting this news from a hospital bed), or any number of other much more serious calamities than my difficulty with a computer program at work. Which makes me feel like an ingrate who doesn’t realize how well I have it.

It’s like most of my bad days are first-world-problems, while many of my friends and associates are mired in real troubles.

But I really do think that last Thursday may have, cumulatively, just barely qualified as a bad day by those other standards… Read More…

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