Wednesday Reading

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:27 am
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[personal profile] oracne
I did a fair amount of reading over the weekend, and early this week.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott was too nerve-wracking and painful for me to read right now; I finished it, but the sequels will definitely have to wait. The race and class issues were very well-depicted, I thought, and the suspense was excellent. I am just too stressed about the world to handle this sort of thing in fiction right now.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch was, alas, much shorter than I had hoped. Abigail was so great! I want all the Abigail stories!!!

I was happily surprised that Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb, 43rd in the series, was much better than several of the previous volumes. There were a lot of twists and barriers to solving the mystery, capturing the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice, and remarkably little checking in with the huge recurring cast, which can become tedious. I read this partly because mysteries are comforting (justice wins!) and partly for purposes of analysis. I need to write down notes on its structure and character types and things like that.

Catching Up

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:06 am
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[personal profile] marthawells
I went on vacation last week, first actual vacation in a long time. Me, my husband, and two friends went to Galveston Island, which is about a three hour drive away and stayed on the east beach: https://marthawells.tumblr.com/post/163287314212/yesterday-we-got-back-from-three-days-in

We swam everyday, and stood on a sandbar over a hundred yards out in the water and looked at rainstorms out in the gulf. The water was warm in the afternoon, like a giant saltwater spa. We ate a lot of seafood and had margaritas and went out in the harbor in a little boat. It was awesome.

Then yesterday I had jury duty for traffic court, got picked, and everyone there got to tell a mean, angry, scary old white guy clearly used to controlling everything around him that yes, he did have to pay his fine just like everyone else. I don't even know how someone could be this confident in his belief that he can get away with anything, but watching him change his story and lie, and have the woman DA point out the body cam and dash cam video showing he was lying, and Judge Navarro being completely fair yet also bored and unimpressed, and effortlessly cutting off the guy's attempt to rant and swear on the stand. The Judge also made the DA skip over what was probably 20 minutes of video that didn't show anything except that the guy was a terrible person, but believe me, the jury already knew that.

I'm going to try to catch up on book rec posts, and I need to do another Raksura story for my Patreon this month. (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2458567)

Mid-week uncluttering

Jul. 26th, 2017 09:15 pm
fred_mouse: drawing of mouse settling in for the night in a tin, with a bandana for a blanket (cleaning)
[personal profile] fred_mouse posting in [community profile] unclutter
How has everyone's uncluttering been going this week?

As previously advertised, I took the box (and some other bits and pieces) out of the front hall, and donated it. Not quite as virtuous as I might have been, because I took it to the op-shop that has the really good second-hand book section (bigger than the whole area of some op-shops) and came home with 11 new books (at least two are ones I already have, which are for a friend who I know was looking for this hard-to-find, probably out of print author).

As to yesterday and today, I can't actually point at anything. I've been doing *something* because the house is much tidier than it was (oh, and I cleared some of the things out of the fridge), but nothing that feels like having picked things to rehome. I do keep looking at a shelf in the lounge, but there is too much on it that I'd have to find homes for at present. But, oh, it would be nice to have that bit of wall back.

(no subject)

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:35 am
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[personal profile] the_rck
Something Scott ate yesterday has given him an allergic reaction. He and I had lentil soup for dinner last night. I used chicken broth, water, and lemon juice which should all have been fine, so I suspect that the culprit is the sauce packet I added-- That looked safe when I read the ingredients, but either 'flavoring' or 'spice' must include something that's a problem as all of the known ingredients were things Scott eats normally. The thing was explicitly to go with chicken and mostly contained chicken derived stuff.

Maybe he ate something while he was out at his doctor appointments yesterday? We only talked for about two minutes this morning between me and Cordelia getting up and him going to bed. He said he didn't know what was causing the problem, and I didn't want to keep him just to ask more questions.

Cordelia decided to stay home today in order to see her grandparents and uncle who will be arriving around 11:30 to take us to lunch. The main complication of this is that I now don't have anywhere to put the junk that I need to move out of the living room so that people can sit down. Scott's asleep in our room, and Cordelia's asleep in her room. That pretty much leaves the basement.

Scott won't join us for lunch. We decided that it made more sense for him to keep sleeping. We have our biweekly game session tonight, and he's supposed to GM. I kind of think it might be better for us to play board games, but I guess it will depend on he's doing at 7 tonight. We'll also need to stop a bit early because he needs to leave shortly after 10 in order to get to work by 10:45.

I got a lot of chores done yesterday-- Five loads of laundry; filling, running, and emptying the dishwasher; making dinner; cooking two packages of breakfast sausages; breaking down some boxes for recycling; getting the recycling and trash to the curb for pick up; changing the sheets on our bed; rearranging and dusting my bedroom bookshelves; and moving two shopping bags of books from our bedroom down to the basement plus shelving about a third of them.

Oh, and I sprayed a set of clothing for Cordelia to wear at camp. We bought some prometherin (sp?) which is a spray on tick repellent that's specifically for clothing. She's only wearing a t-shirt and long shorts plus underwear and footie socks, so it only helps a very little bit, but a little bit is better than nothing. We're not spraying her underwear or socks (footie socks don't come up past the top of the shoe). The spray bottle doesn't work very well. The only way to get anything out is to hold it sideways, and the stuff is very bad to breathe, so the spraying has to be done outside and then the clothes left hanging outside to dry for a few hours (how long depends on the humidity).

Needless to say, I was ready to sleep pretty early. I didn't end up doing so, but I should have, could have. Part of not going to bed early was that I had trouble making myself stand up to deal with getting ready to sleep.

Scott sleeping during the day really disrupts my routine because I can't really listen to music or watch anything due to noise. I dug up some earbuds, but they turned out not to work well because one gave no sound at all. We'd had them for years without ever opening the package, so either they were defective when we bought them or they deteriorated in storage. I can watch things with the sound off if there's captioning, but I like to be able to hear the dialogue, too.

I also have to be sure that I have all of the things I need out of the bedroom before Scott goes to bed. If I go in there for something, it will wake him. Tomorrow, when the cleaning lady comes, will be interesting.

I'm thinking that I might move the bags of stuff we want to get rid of to the garage. If that stuff gets stolen, well, at that point, we wouldn't have to haul it anywhere to donate it. But I kind of think that someone looking for quick cash isn't going to dig through garbage bags full of old clothing, not when there are things like the snowblower and Cordelia's bike. I'll shut the door, but Scott tends to forget, and he's the one who mostly opens the door (lawn mowing, grilling, etc.).

Fic announcement

Jul. 26th, 2017 08:34 am
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[personal profile] the_rck
I have posted updates to At the Edge of Centuries (chapter 6 is new), an Amber AU story in my House of Sulfur and Mercury series, and to Auguries of Innocence (chapter 7 is new), a Harry Potter AU.

Both links go to the first chapter of the story in question. Neither story is anywhere near complete.

And I've gotten a comment on Auguries of Innocence that labels is as (good) crackfic. Are long, plotty darkfic AUs generally considered crackfic? I've always found the term a bit slippery in that I know when I read something that I would call crackfic but couldn't define the term apart from pointing at examples. I usually expect short and humorous, though.

The Big Idea: Vivian Shaw

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:18 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Monsters are monsters, but do they always have to be so… monstrous? Vivian Shaw considers the fundamental nature of these terrible creatures in Strange Practice, and how she came to look at them from another angle entirely.

VIVIAN SHAW:

What’s my big idea?

The facile answer is, of course, sensible monsters. An idea which doesn’t seem to have found a great deal of traction thus far in any genre, classic or contemporary, and so offers a wide-open opportunity to play with readers’ expectations — but the real underlying answer goes back a lot further than that. It has to do with the contrast between ordinary and extraordinary, and what that means in terms of storytelling.

I’ve been writing novellas and novels of varying quality since I was about ten or eleven, but I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time in 2004, right after spending a lot of time on urbex websites, and the big idea behind that first NaNo was how many characters from classic vampire lit can I get into one story while exploring the weird and wonderful subterranean world of London? The answer turned out to be between five and eight. That first draft featured not only Lord Ruthven and Sir Francis Varney, but also Dracula and Carmilla (only spelling herself Mircalla, because vampires and spelling are such a thing). On the human side I had Greta, descended from Van Helsing, and August Cranswell, descended from the family that put paid to the vampire of Croglin Grange.

I decided to put vampires in the NaNo novel because I’ve always been fond of them — even as a kid I loved reading the classics, even if I had to stop every now and then to look up the words. The way in which the Western vampire mythos evolved from age to age, gathering often-contradictory detail with each well-known story added to its canon, fascinated me. But in all the stories, all the retellings, I couldn’t get away from the fact that most of the vampires did really stupid things. Their behavior was practically designed to attract the attention of the pitchfork-and-flaming-torch brigade, and just for once I wanted to read about vampires who just got on with it — vampires who were monsters, yes, but also people. Vampires who didn’t have to have geographically unplaceable accents and go swanning around in evening dress all the time for no reason. Vampires who didn’t need to be hypersexualized edgelords in leather trousers, or spend all their time moping about their cursed eternal fate, woe. Vampires who’d rather write nasty letters to the Times than tear throats out (unless the latter was really necessary), and who used their powers to watch over the city and stop other monsters ruining everything. Vampires who were sensible.

And because I wanted to read it, I had to write it first.

That book was called The Underglow, and it sat around on various hard drives for a decade while I borrowed characters from it and played with them, letting them evolve into much more nuanced and interesting individuals. In 2014 I dusted the book off again, looked at it properly, and determined it would need to be stripped to the skeleton and rewritten almost from scratch.

And this time the big idea wasn’t about cramming in as many recognizable characters as I could shoehorn into a plot, nor was it limited to vampires alone. This time it was about the individuals themselves — a more diverse cast, given more opportunity to shine — and what it actually meant to them to be what they were, extraordinary creatures in an ordinary world. I didn’t just have sensible vampires. I had sensible were-creatures, and mummies, and ghouls, banshees, bogeymen, a whole spectrum of monsters to play with, a richer world to explore.

It was this second iteration of the book that would end up becoming a series starring Greta as the central character, set in this peculiarly overlapping supernatural-adjacent world. With my editor’s help, I continued to refine the text into something that explored that particular aspect of storytelling: both the contrast between the ancient monsters and the modern day, and the fascinating difficulties encountered by people who necessarily spent their time in the liminal space of that boundary between natural and supernatural. What their experience would be, as creatures who had to coexist either covertly or overtly with ordinary humans, keeping their natures as quiet as possible — and what it might be like as a human to witness that experience, and to take on the responsibility of offering care across species boundaries. What kind of person would you have to be, to do a job like that?

Without really intending to, all those years ago in the throes of NaNo, I’d done myself an extraordinary favor in inventing the character of Greta Helsing. In the previous version, Greta was much less important a character; in this one, I could take much more advantage of her highly specialized role to portray those monsters as her patients, people she cared for, whatever sort of creature they might be, and what that meant to her. As a human physician to the supernatural, she necessarily encounters an enormous variety of complaints, and so I get to write about so many fascinating problems seen both from the human and the clinical standpoint. It gives me endless pleasure to apply scientific protocol to the realms of the unreal — there’s the contrast thing again, ordinary and extraordinary balancing each other — and I love writing about listserv arguments over the relative merits of different embalming fluids in zombie tissue stabilization, or the practice of creating perfect bone replacements for mummies via 3-D printing from a laser scan.

So it’s contrast, and it’s the experience of that contrast, of being a stranger in a strange land, that really drives the book (and, in fact, the series). The concept of found family echoes throughout, as well — it’s a natural consequence of the transposition of individual and environment, and one of my favorites.

But if, in the end, all you take away from Strange Practice is sensible monsters…I’m gonna be well-pleased with the work of my hands.

—-

Strange Practice: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

As I mentioned last month ("My summer", 6/22/2017), I'm spending six weeks in Pittsburgh at the at the 2017 Jelinek Summer Workshop on Speech and Language Technology (JSALT) , as part of a group whose theme is "Enhancement and Analysis of Conversational Speech".

One of the things that I've been exploring is simple models of who talks when — a sort of Biggish Data reprise of Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson "A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation", Language 1974. A simple place to start is just the distribution of speech segment durations. And my first explorations of this first issue turned up a case that's relevant to yesterday's discussion of "significance".

In Neville Ryant and Mark Liberman, "Automatic Analysis of Speech Style Dimensions", InterSpeech 2016, we found systematic differences among individuals and contexts.

In that paper, we found that speech segments generally tend to be shorter in spontaneous/conversational speech than in fluent reading. The graph below compares density plots for speech-segment duration in three sources of read text and three sources of conversational speech. The largest read collection is  LibriSpeech, 1,571 hours of text reading by 2,484 speakers. The distributions for Bush and Obama are from their weekly addresses, about 14 hours in total. From spontaneous/conversational speech, we have  8.5 hours of the interview program Fresh Air, with the data for the guests and the host (Terry Gross) plotted separately; and 14 hours from YouthPoint, a radio program produced by students at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1970s.

This should not be a surprise — there are several sources of shorter speech segments specific to spontaneous/conversational speech, including backchannels and evaluations ("mm-hmm", "yeah", "right", "I know", "no kidding", "OK", "maybe", …), and pauses that reflect the process of composition, often with repetition or self-correction across the gap.

If we look more closely at individual conversations, we see some where the participants' distributions of speech-segment durations are pretty much the same, and others with significant differences. Here are the distributions for two two-party conversations from the Fisher (English) collection:

In the second case, Speaker A is doing most of the talking: 412.5 seconds in 200 segments, compared with 269.9 seconds in 213 segments for Speaker B.

This reflects an asymmetry in conversational roles — much of the dialogue is like this:

103.70 110.54 A: (( )) here and we have i think it's more healthy too you know the fat and more veggies greens
110.99 111.52 B: yeah
111.65 112.52 B: yes yeah
113.07 115.40 B: certainly more so than like the fast food
116.02 119.18 A: yeah i mean i i gained here uh
119.47 125.98 A: how many like thirty poun- uh pounds or so but then i started on this diet eating
123.29 123.62 B: yeah
126.33 127.96 A: in a at home and
128.39 129.89 A: lost lots of weight even i'm
130.02 130.76 A: thinner than
131.08 132.65 A: than when i came here you know
132.77 133.08 B: yeah

This naturally raises the question of how to quantify such differences, and how to relate them to individual characteristics and social or conversational roles. The Fisher collection is fairly large (23398 conversational sides) and relatively uniform in interactional context (short telephone conversations between strangers on assigned topics). There's no variation in interactional role, and our information about individual characteristics is limited (sex, age, years of education, region), but some of those characteristics are stereotypically related to speech styles.

The simplest way to parameterize the distributions of speech-segment durations is just to look at their means or medians. And if we look at the median length of speech segments by sex in the Fisher dataset, we see something interesting.

The mean value of the median speech-segment durations of women talking with women is longer than the comparable value of men talking with men. This difference is highly significant (in statistical terms), p-value = 6.734e-05 according to Welch's t-test, or less than one chance in ten thousand that the difference is due to sampling error. But the speech-segment durations of women talking with men and men talking with women are essentially the same by this measure (p-value = 0.2211):

And the differences between the Same Sex and Cross Sex conditions are also "significant". At this point we could wave our hands at various gender stereotypes and talk about accommodation theory.

But if you've looked at the numbers on the y-axis, you'll realize that this is an excellent object lesson in the difference between "(statistically) significant" and "meaningful", as discussed a couple of days ago. The differences, although unlikely to be the result of sampling error, are tiny — and also are small relative to within-group variance.

If we re-plot everything with a y-axis that starts at 0, this become clearer:

There's plenty of interesting and meaningful structure in conversational dynamics — but the effect of speaker and interlocutor sex on the distribution of speech segment durations is not a good example.

 

sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
[personal profile] sovay
So, yes, we got home tonight and saw that John McCain waited to take life-saving advantage of the ACA before he voted, along with fifty other Republican senators whose careers I hope will be even shorter-lived than it seems they want their constituents to be, to proceed with killing it and quite a lot of other people. These are highlights of the day I had before that.

1. [personal profile] spatch met me after my doctor's appointment this afternoon; we walked up the Esplanade to Back Bay (willows, cormorants, a blue reflected hollow in the overcast rippling in the river's wind-waves; I climbed a tree and developed a hole in my sock) and had dinner at the Cornish Pasty Co., where the chicken tikka masala pasty was approximately half the size of a human head and the toffee pudding with crème anglais arrived in a crucible. These are both endorsements. We had not planned on a book-gathering trip, but first there were the book sale carts at the West End Branch of the BPL and then there was Rodney's. I now appear to own Jack Weatherford's The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire (2010), Jean Potts' Home Is the Prisoner (1960), Derek Jarman: A Portrait (1996) edited by Roger Wollen, and Cicely Mary Barker's The Lord of the Rushie River (1938), which I freely admit I bought because "Traveller's Joy" appears in the text as a folk song. The clouds had broken up by the time we were walking back over the Harvard Bridge and the Charles was full of white and pink sails, including a small flotilla circling one another and then crocodiling back to the MIT boathouse. Rob took a couple of pictures of me on the Esplanade. I am not all right with photographs of myself right now, so I am trying to make a point of them.

And the gunner we had was apparently mad. )

2. [personal profile] yhlee and [personal profile] telophase have developed a hexarchate Tarot. Specifically, a jeng-zai deck of the era of Machineries of Empire. You can ask it things. There are no illustrations as yet, but I ran two spreads from different factions and even allowing for the pattern-making capacity of the human brain it gave me scarily decent readings both times. Fair warning: it comes from a dystopia. I'm not sure it knows how to advise on light matters.

3. Courtesy of Michael Matheson: from the archives of Robot Hugs, Gender Rolls. I'm not sure why we don't seem to own any dice, but fortunately the internet provides. I got non-binary femme-type dandy. I . . . can really live with that, actually.

We bought food for the cats. We bought ice cream for ourselves. I guess tomorrow I make a lot more calls.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
At Readercon, I said that my Twitter usage was basically "open, see if Ursula Vernon has live-tweeted more of reading Swiss Family Robinson, close," and that remains true. But I promised to provide links to various people, and having opened tonight to see that a reading is in progress, I should follow through.

So:

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/855253438623625217 (April 20)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/855601923155689472 (April 21)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/855972038800023552 (April 22)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/857428575955419136 (April 26)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/861402977675902977 (May 7)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/861776626996129793 or https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/861805896590143488 and scroll up, it isn't threading properly) (May 8)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/864320654379798530 (May 25)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/868292932406784000 (May 26)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/871216625730674688 (June 4)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/872294427045318656 (June 6)

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/878827410568990720 (June 24)

and, now in progress:

https://twitter.com/UrsulaV/status/890028466393010177

Enjoy. (I will update this post as needed, to have everything in one place.)

Health Care Is Not a Consumer Good

Jul. 25th, 2017 08:48 pm
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[personal profile] lydy
I have a known history of PVCs.  PVCs are "premature ventricular contractions" which basically means that the ventricles of my heart get a little over-excited and jump the gun.  Hence the "premature."  It is usually a benign heart arrhythmia.  They were noted on my sleep study, which was done three to five years ago.  Known history.

For Reasons, I got rather drunk Saturday night at Fourth Street.  While I was trying to fall asleep, I felt just plain weird, and I thought to feel my pulse.  I was missing every eighth beat.  That's...a lot of PVCs.  Since then, I've been noticing occasional tightness in my chest, a very slight something that one might call shortness of breath, and a lot of missed beats.  Now, at least some of the weird feeling in my chest is almost certainly muscular.  I don't wear a bra, I am old, and the muscles attaching to my rib cage are a bit stressed.  And some of the shortness of breath may or may not be related to asthma.

One night at work, with entirely too much time on my hands, as my patient was coming in late, I hooked myself up to the amplifier, just running the EKG.  (This cost my work exactly two disposable snap electrodes, one alcohol wipe, and one sani-wipe.)  Yep, my heart was throwing PVCs.  One morning, I was throwing between six and twelve a minute. 

Possible triggers:  alcohol, caffeine, and Allegra.  So, I've stopped taking Allegra, stopped having a nightcap after work, and reduced the caffeine.  I tried eliminating the caffeine, but that caused me to become depressed, and there's literally no future in that.  I switched to Claritin, which doesn't work as well, but man I need to not claw my eyes out.

I repeat: PVCs are almost always a benign arrhythmia.  There are tests.  I should probably have them done.  Possibly a Holter monitor, probably a (shudder) stress test.  Ick.  Probably expensive.  Sigh.  After a month of monitoring my pulse for missed beats, messing about with my chemical profile, and whinging and moaning about not liking doctors, I sent an email to my doctor through the automated system, describing my symptoms, providing the above information, and asking for an appointment.

And now we get to how health care is really not a consumer good.

I get back an email stating that they cannot schedule me an appointment based on my reported symptoms, and I need to talk to a nurse, first.  I roll my eyes.  I call the clinic's Nurseline, and go through all the above information.  I assume she can also see my email to my doc, but who knows.  She asks me a series of questions, the answer to most of them is "no."  Am I in pain?  Does the pain radiate? Am I dizzy?  Do I feel nauseous?  No, no, no, no.  She then says, "You should go to the Emergency Room."  I explain that I will not do so.  I point out that PVCs are almost always benign.  (When they aren't benign, they still aren't a terminal rhythm.  They're a symptom of cardiomyopathy or some other serious damn thing, but not instantly fatal.)  I am still paying off my last visit to the ER, eight months ago.  The nurse tries to insist.  I tell her that I will, under no circumstances, do any such thing.  We get rather cross with each other.  She states that their guidelines do not permit them to schedule an appointment for these symptoms, the guidelines require that I be seen on an emergent basis.  I point out that this is health care, and I can refuse any damn thing I want. 

Eventually, she says that she will have to talk to my provider, and will call me back.  I point out that I evidently have a condition so dire that I must be seen on an emergent basis, but if I refuse, they will not permit me to see my own damn doctor, and how does that even make sense.  We became even crosser with one another. 

I wake up to a voice mail stating that I can call my clinic and schedule an appointment.  By this time, of course, the clinic is closed, and after hours people cannot schedule. 

So, this morning, I call the clinic.  And am offered an appointment at 9:40 a.m.  I explain that this simply doesn't work, as I have to go to work tonight, which means I need to be in bed by 11:00 a.m.  The nurse asks why that doesn't work.  I point out that even if I get in and out in an hour, I'm still not home before 11:00 a.m., and that means probably not in bed until 11:30 or noon, and that assumes that they don't decide to do a bunch of stuff, and what's the chance of that?   She allows as to the justice of my remarks, and offers me...Urgent Care.  Yeah, no.  While not as expensive as the ER, it a) doesn't solve my problem with needing to be in bed, and b) IT'S NOT AN EMERGENCY, FFS.  She says that the guidelines are that I be seen same day.

Quick note:  You know how I know that this isn't an emergency?  Because every time the nurse attempts to make me go to the emergency room, they say, "guidelines."  If it really were an emergency, they'd be talking about, you know, death.  (I did have a nurse say that to me once, in reference to a possible case of tetanus.)  The fact that the nurses sound vaguely unhappy about the guidelines is also a tell.

We go a couple more rounds.  My normal provider doesn't work on Thursdays, is full on Wednesday, and is also completely booked on Friday.  It is suggested that perhaps I call back on Wednesday morning and see if anything has opened up.  I point out that the system is completely broken.  The nurse agrees.  Eventually, she asks, "Do you have to see your usual provider?"  No, I don't.  I mean, I like my doctor, but I'm willing to go to someone else.  So she schedules me for 7:40 (oh god) a.m. on Thursday with some guy I've never seen.

I am a price sensitive and informed consumer of health care.  And at every turn, the system is trying, desperately, to shunt me into a high cost alternative, for no good reason.  Additionally, I already know that there is no point in asking what any of this will cost.  The provider has no idea what my insurance will cover.  The insurance company typically will not answer these questions.  Moreover, once I surrender myself to the professionals, they will run whatever tests they think wise, and I will have almost no say over them.  I will certainly not be given enough information about the test, the cost, the possible results, and the potential treatment to make an informed decision about whether or not the test is a cost-effective choice.  I have less control over my own health care, and less information, than I have about my cat's health, where they will cheerfully lay out exactly what the tests cost, what they might reveal, what the treatment path would be based on various scenarios, etc.  The other thing I have very little control over is my insurance.  I get insurance through work, and it is both expensive and not very good.  I have a $3500 deductible, and the things it covers at only 80% (after deductible) is long and irritating.  Nor can I, as an individual, shop around for a better deal. 

Health Care is not a consumer good.  A consumer good responds to market forces if the consumer is informed, if there is information available, if there are alternatives, and if the primary driving force behind the consumption is rational rather than emotional.  Most importantly, the consumer needs to have some control.  None of this is true about health care. 


 


yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
"All the Colors You Thought Were Kings" by Arkady Martine [Shimmer]. Heart-stoppingly gorgeous space opera, stars as sharp as knives. I wish I wrote half so well.

This was exactly what I needed to read tonight.

Tomorrow there’ll be ceremonies and presentations, and then your nanite horde will be calibrated for shipside on live broadcast for the entire Fleet to see – another cohort of kids full up with starshine micromechanics, bound to service and obedience, gone off into the stars. You’ve been dreaming about it since you could read. You want it so much you’ve spent the last three months feeling like your chest is going to burn out from longing.

The night after tomorrow, though. You can’t let yourself dream about that.

Under the drape of your overjacket, snugged up to your spine like you’re its best lovecrush, are the disassembled pieces of a sniper rifle. Nestled right at the small of your back is the lead-shielded explosive heart of an electromagnetic pulse bomb.
[syndicated profile] aichildlit_feed

Posted by Debbie Reese

A few days ago, I was invited to join USBBY's page on Facebook. I accepted the invitation and saw posts there about its 2017 conference. Because it will take place in Seattle, I decided to take a look and see what they had planned.

I was--quite frankly--furious to see Nancy Bo Flood's name on the "Indigenous Experience in Children's Literature" panel. As regular readers of AICL know, I've been studying the ways Native peoples are depicted in children's literature for decades. In that time, I've come to know the work of many people who--like Flood--are not Native, but write books about Native peoples. Amongst that body of White writers, there are many instances in which the writer has done particularly egregious things.

Undermining Native identity and nations is one of those egregious violations.

That happens in Flood's book, Soldier Sister, Fly Home. When that book came out, I wrote two posts about it. One was about the Hopi content, the other was about the Navajo content.

The main character is Tess, a thirteen year old girl. Her father is white. A theme of the book is Tess trying to understand her mixed identity. Her Navajo grandmother has a key role in Tess's efforts to understand who she is.

As a child, this Navajo grandmother went to boarding school. U.S. government boarding schools (residential schools in Canada) were created in the 1880s by Richard Pratt. The goal was to 'kill the Indian and save the man.' Tess's grandmother didn't like what they did to her there, and so, she ran away.

She tells Tess about running away part way through Flood's story when Tess pulls a book of Emily Dickinson's poems off her grandmother's shelf and turns to a marked page. Her grandma asks her to read it aloud. Before she reaches the end, her grandmother joins her, reading the last stanza aloud together. She tells Tess that it is a good poem and says:
When I was in school, I thought, I am Navajo. I should not read that poem. It was written by a white woman. She could speak of death. We could not. But I read and reread that poem.
There are several ways to interpret that passage. The goal of the boarding schools was to "kill the Indian and save the man." I guess it worked on Tess's grandmother. She no longer observes Navajo teachings about speaking about death.

And now--as a grandmother--she's asking her granddaughter to read that poem aloud. Essentially, she's continuing the "kill the Indian" goal.

My guess is that most readers think that Tess's grandmother is really nice, kind, and helpful. But is she, really?

Is Flood -- the White writer who created that character -- a modern day Richard Pratt?

One of the other people on the Indigenous Experience panel is Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. With her daughter-in-law (who is White), she's written three stories from her childhood in boarding school. The stories are wrenching.

Do you see why having THIS particular White writer (Nancy Bo Flood) who created that kind of grandmother, sitting beside Margaret Pokiak-Fenton is just plain wrong?

***

I strongly urge Nancy Bo Flood to step down from the panel. This is not her place. I understand why she accepted the invitation but she should not have done so. In the conversation on the USBBY Facebook page, I asked for details as to why she is on the panel. Did they deliberately create a seat for a White writer was my specific question. Ed Sullivan, Chair of the planning committee, answered my question:
"The answer to that is no. I invited Nancy Bo Flood long after the other panelists were invited. She was already registered for the conference and presenting a breakout session on another topic, so I asked her if she would be willing to participate. Since cultural appropriation will be a topic of discussion for the panel, having someone who has been criticized for that can offer an interesting perspective to the conversation. When I invited Nancy, she stressed she was not Native American, and I am sure she will be quite clear about that on the panel when she speaks, too. I hope that answers your questions."
His answer prompted other questions. There is also a panel on Asian American Experience (both session titles use the singular "experience" which is also an error). It has one moderator and three Asian American writers. Why, I wonder, did Sullivan decide that the Indigenous panel needed a fourth person--a White writer--on it?

This is one of many similar confrontational conversations I've had with people in children's literature. Dominated by White people, they work pretty hard at defending the right to write whatever anyone wants to write. In the abstract, I support that concept, but on the ground, things are very different.

Our lived realities as Native people today, and those of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors, is one where White people were intent on taking and destroying our land, our lives, our languages, our ways of worship, and... our stories. The initial invasion has been followed by wave after wave of invasion.

With this panel, USBBY is continuing that invasion.

_____
See Naomi Bishop's Open Letter Regarding the "Indigenous Experience" Panel at USBBY's 2017 Regional Conference. 

 

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders

Jul. 25th, 2017 09:05 pm
flemmings: (Default)
[personal profile] flemmings
Have been hoping for the last five years that Kate Griffin would do something that came up to the mark of the Midnight Mayor series, but she hasn't, either before (Horace Lyle) or since (Stray Souls). Kitty Peck is also something very different and, either because it's July or just because, I found it too Hannibal-ish Grand Guignol for my taste. Someone on someone else's FL said her sticking point was violence against women and rape, and I think I agree. Is why I can't read that staple of the mystery genre, the serial killer of young women. Yes it happens; no it is not entertaining.

(Jack the Ripper has much to answer for. Before that, I seem to recall that mysterious mass murders were of families. But that lacks the necessary sexual thrill.)

Which said, I might have gone on to volume two if the library had it in anything but e-form on its clunky incomprehensible e-form platform. Even with a tablet or (unlikely) an e-reader I can't see me going for it. Pity because it does have its points.

Otherwise, my acupuncture studio has had another flood that will close it down, hopefully *not* for a month as in 2015, because at the end of that month I was a cripple with ramifications that went on for the next two years. With exquisite timing, I rescheduled Thursday's cortisone shot/ knee assessment for two weeks from now, thinking I wouldn't be sufficiently recovered from the current internal shenanigans to make it. Ah well, keep exercising and stretching...
neotoma: My Glitch Avatar, with brown skin, purple hair, and cat ears (Glitch)
[personal profile] neotoma
I got my hair color touched up and my ends trimmed after work today. I should not find the student hairdressers as cute as a basket of kittens, but they are -- mainly because of how enthusiastic they get.

For example, the woman who was working on my hair kept exclaiming about how much I have -- it's both long and dense -- and how far it extends down my nape, which she noticed because I maintain a severe undercut. She also called my hairline 'crazy', but in an affectionate way; it definitely make it a challenge to overdye my temples, which are almost completely silver now if I don't dye my hair. Also, she's probably the first student there who didn't blink when I said I wanted my undercut at zero. It'll be back by Friday, and shaving it to the skin only makes sense in our near-100F weather. It was nice to meet someone who trusted that I knew my own hair.

I do wish I had a job where I had no chance of encountering clients -- I really want to dye my hair burgundy again. It was an awesome color on me.

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