Poem: "Boston Pride"

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:06 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Two smiling women; Kelly is blonde and Dale is brunette (walking the beat)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "lesbian" square in my 5-29-17 card for the Pride Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Walking the Beat.

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Moment of Silence: Maryam Mirzakhani

Jul. 23rd, 2017 11:28 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Famous mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has passed away.  She came from Iran and won her first medal in a
mathematics competition in 1994.

Call for Themes

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:48 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I've reached the end of scheduled themes for the Poetry Fishbowl project.  It's time to brainstorm some new themes!  These are a few that I've jotted down earlier, ones that I've thought up or people have suggested, to give you an idea what kind of stuff might be suitable:

* Help and Helpiness
* Otherkin
* Pirates and Brigands

What other themes would you like to see me write about?  Suggest them in a comment below this post. 

Later on I'll collect the suggestions and do some polling.  The most popular topics will be added to the schedule for future fishbowls.  Previously, I have just dumped all the proposed themes into a big poll.  The more themes people suggest, the less well this works.  I have an idea for fixing that problem.  This time, I'm going to run the first large poll with checkboxes so you can express interest in as many themes as you like.  I will then either pick from the most popular ones, or use that information to pull out the favorite themes for a smaller poll to select the ones which will appear in upcoming fishbowls.

You can also help by linking to this post so that more people will see it.  Everyone is welcome to suggest themes.  Everyone will also be able to vote for them later; prompters and donors will get extra votes.  If you link to the call for themes, you can reveal a verse in any open perk poem:
"Testing the Metal
"Dangerous Refuges
"The Marble and the Sculptor
"The Golden Peaches of Peace
"Leaves Upon the Water"
"The Quick Brown Fox"
"Lead Us in Peace"
"We Will Fade into You"

Poem: "Chipped"

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:23 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the July 4, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] bairnsidhe, [personal profile] readera, [personal profile] alexseanchai, and [livejournal.com profile] rix_scaedu. It also fills the "bisexual" square in my 5-29-17 card for the Pride Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some fractious content. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features crowds, frustration, floundering over cape identity, rude people, obnoxious language, sex/gender bigotry, bigot-baiting, questioning aspects of personal sexuality, and other challenges. But mostly it's fluff. It's also a humor-based choking hazard. Do not read with your mouth full! If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

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Read "The Order of Their Stars"

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:05 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Thanks to generous donations from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth[personal profile] across_space_and_time[personal profile] technoshaman, and [personal profile] alatefeline, you can now read the opening of "The Order of Their Stars."  Astin helps V with a shopping trip.

Effects of Father Loss

Jul. 22nd, 2017 07:10 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 ... are not just emotional, but biological.  It shortens a child's telomeres.  While death has the biggest impact, divorce or incarceration have similar effects.  Shortened telomeres correlate with shortened lifespan and worsened health.  Now consider that in light of policies from prison to foster care.  Losing a parent is the worst thing that can happen to a child.  If they are not literally in immediate risk of death, everything else does less damage.  That sucks, but it should be used to find other ways of solving family and social problems that do not butcher children's lifespan and health at a cellular level.

No mention was made of mothers.  Likely the effects parallel those of father loss.  I would not be surprised if they are worse.

A Star Has Fallen

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:52 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc"

Yesterday I was informed that an old friend and former housemate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Erica W., had died of a stroke. For those that knew her, this has been a terrible shock. She was relatively young, and seemed so alive, and seemed to have so much to contribute to this world. It is a harsh reminder that friends can be lost at any time with the randomness of life.

When I first met her she and her partner at the time, James, were in their mid-teens. Intelligent, attractive, highly alternative, and very fashionable, they were already living together and regularly visiting local nightclubs, where they were very well-regarded for the characteristics mentioned. There was an especially amusing moment when a local newspaper printed her in a vox-pop what her preferred nightclub was - and mentioned her age in the credit.

"Morphology, longevity, incept dates"

Whilst in Perth we shared two households at different times - the first was the famous "accelerated house", a dilapidated duplex pair with questionable plumbing. Part of the duplex was the home of the Accelerated Men, a goth band of some repute. The place was wired up a local area network with a AlphaMicro AM-100, and came with its own stray cat (Velocity) which I adopted. Several years later, at the final place where I lived in Perth, we were in more normal accommodation. I could help but chuckle a little at my highly fashion-conscious housemates who could spend hours in preparation on going out. I also remember showing them the Internet at the time; a text-based interface to usenet groups. "This", I implored sagaciously, "is going to change everything". I don't think they quite believed me at the time, so it was with great fondness catching up with James just a couple of years ago, and recalling that moment, he said: "And you were right!".

At the time Erica was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and despite being a witty conversationalist, was physically in the doldrums. A few years later however, and I suspect heavily because of the direction provided by our mutual friend Bruce T., there had been a complete change, as she had become quite a figure in the fashion industry and was running her own label and store, Alysian Empire. I still have some of their clothes to this day. Later she would go on to have another fashion label of even greater renown, ericaamerica.

In the post-Alysian Empire period we only caught up in person a couple of times, and more recently exchanged a few messages, courtesy of the 'borg of social media. Despite this we had the sort of friendship where years could literally go by and when we did get in contact our banter could continue as if no time had passed at all. It was a friendship built on mutual understanding and respect, of affirmation of each other, of strong and happy shared memories. The mention of her name in conversation would always brighten my day and bring me joy; but not this time.

"Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"

Spiritual victim blaming

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:52 am
fayanora: SK avatar (Default)
[personal profile] fayanora
"What To Do When The Power of Positive Thinking Fails,
And How To Avoid Blaming Yourself When It Does"
By = Tempest Alexandria Arts

If you're at all involved in the New Age or pagan movements, you probably know that there are a lot of books out there about the power of positive thinking. There's no shortage of gurus ready to teach you all about how the universe really loves you and wants you to get what you want, and for a price they will teach you how to think in order to tap into this power. Because, as they quickly inform you, if you're confused about what you want or need, the universe will be too, which tidily explains why you aren't already rich and happy.

The power of positive thinking is real, of course, insofar as it can do amazing things because the human Will can do amazing things, but there are a major problems with this philosophy, and there are limits to what it can do that most of these gurus fail to address. First, the assumption behind why positive thinking works (that the universe loves you) works as a great excuse for why you need to be taught how to think positively (by buying their books or taking their expensive classes), but ultimately sets you up for failure. Secondly, it's a lot more difficult than the gurus try to make it seem, because the money is in providing a seemingly simple yet ultimately difficult and complex solution, so that you keep buying their books for more insight, more help. Third, it is far too easy to fall into the trap of victim blaming (especially victim blaming yourself) when it fails, which can become a vicious cycle. And fourth, the process can be made more difficult if you have conditions like clinical depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder, and is not an easy process even without conditions like that. Hopefully, though, you will have a fair idea how to go about the process in a meaningful and realistic way, and be able to help yourself without expensive books or classes, after reading this article.

The central assumption behind the "power of positive thinking" in most New Age philosophy is that God/the universe/the Goddess loves you, and wants you to be happy, but that it can't do that if your thoughts are confused, or you aren't thinking the right way. The idea is that if you don't know what you want, the universe doesn't know what you want either. On the surface, it sounds reasonable and so innocuous, but there are real problems with it that don't really come to light until you've tried it for a decade or more and failed at it, and even then only if you realize there's a problem and stop to analyze it. Because ultimately, the philosophy as it is usually taught is doomed to failure, since the even deeper assumption is that the power of positive thinking can be learned by everyone, it just takes vigilance, and also because the way it is taught is full of flaws; flaws often left in on purpose or added in to begin with, since it makes selling more books easier.

The problem with that assumption that everyone can learn to wield the power of positive thinking is that it isn't true. Getting positive thinking to work for you as it should is one of those things that you can either figure out how to do or you can't, to various degrees. Take lucid dreaming as an example; some people can learn how to do it, and do it easily, others never figure out how to do it at all, still others only manage to lucid dream by accident, and reading books or taking classes doesn't really help much. Similarly, some people can learn to activate the full potential of positive thinking, others never manage it at all, and still others only ever do it by accident, or somewhere else along that spectrum. Books can help, at least in getting the process started, but they can only do so much, and most books on the subject are deeply flawed.

Furthermore, even if you do manage to change your thinking to be positive all the time, that alone may not be enough. The power of positive thinking is a kind of magick, and magick can only influence the odds of something happening, it is still up to other people to have opportunities available for you, and up to you to take said opportunities. After all, you can think as positively as you like in the middle of the Sahara desert, but that's not going to miraculously make water appear out of nowhere. And even if you find an oasis, you still have to walk towards it and drink from its waters; those waters will not come to you.

Now that's not to say the power of positive thinking isn't real, and can't do wonders. It can in fact work, but my stress here is on the can. It can work for you. But not because the universe loves you and wants you to be happy. That belief defies all the evidence. If the universe truly loved us and wanted us to be happy, we would all be immortal, eternally youthful, and eternally healthy, with either no need to eat, or with plenty of food readily available without the need for hard labor. There would be no more menstruation, and people would only be able to have kids if they really wanted to, and the planet would never get overcrowded.
Continues )

LGBT book

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:09 pm
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[personal profile] fayanora
I don't want to spoil anything, but for anyone looking for books with LGBT characters, one of the two primary protagonists of "Down Among The Sticks And Bones" by Seanan McGuire is a lesbian by chapter 9.

On a somewhat related note, the first four or five chapters of that book are an absolutely amazing and frankly horrifying depiction of how to royally mess up children. Without being malicious, the parents of Jacqueline and Jillian are worse than the Dursleys from Harry Potter!

Gender in Comics

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:23 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I found this analysis of gender in comics to be fascinating.  In many categories, I've written against the mainstream pattern, such as having females with super-strength and males with psychic powers.  In a few areas I may have replicated the pattern; with pheromone control and prehensile hair, I could only think of female characters, although I'm sure there are males with pheromones.

Hard Things

Jul. 19th, 2017 11:32 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Life is full of things which are hard or tedious or otherwise unpleasant that need doing anyhow. They help make the world go 'round, they improve skills, and they boost your sense of self-respect. But doing them still kinda sucks. It's all the more difficult to do those things when nobody appreciates it. Happily, blogging allows us to share our accomplishments and pat each other on the back.

What are some of the hard things you've done recently? What are some hard things you haven't gotten to yet, but need to do?

July 2017 Poetry Fishbowl, Session 2

Jul. 18th, 2017 12:43 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The July 2017 Poetry Fishbowl is once again open.  We're reusing the original post with its donation button and ticker. However, please place new prompts below THIS post, because the other one is already so full that comments are collapsing, which makes them harder to read or search.  You may prompt in this session IF 1) you did not prompt in the July 4 session OR 2) you donated to the July 4 session.

I will do the best I can to fill new prompts and pick up some from the previous session.  I have no idea how long it'll take.  My body is being kind of cranky after last week's adventures, and the internet is a bit iffy although nowhere near as bad as it was earlier this month.  Witch me luck, eh?

Medical Matters

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:38 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
It's been a curious past few days; I spent most of Saturday working on the course for the researchers at Orygen Youth Mental Health which I presented on Monday. It went extremely well; I provided an overview of high performance compute clusters, environment modules and job submission using their preferred applications (MRtrix, Matlab, Octave, R, and especially FSL and Freesurfer. They were a large and very switched on group, and it brought me great pleasure when I received some rather positive responses in person and in email.

On Sunday visited the Unitarians to hear a presentation by the president of Dying With Dignity to speak on the upcoming legistlation such matters. Last year to the state government committee I contributed two submissions from different organisations on the matter, and legislation is expected soon. In a less positive manner, an old friend of mine has just found his way into hospital and I suspect he's in the position that he might not be getting better. Three years ago he appointed me enduring power of medical attorney. To top it all off, [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya's mother has found herself in hospital as a complication arising from her continuing illness.

It surprises me that there are those who begrudge public revenue raising and expenditure on health, as if the wealthy have more of a right to live than the poor. Even using the criteria of the 'dismal science', economics, it is obvious that having people alive and well is not just a private benefit to the person in question, it is also a public benefit. The is equivalent matter here with education as well, and likewise the private-public benefit is a continuum which includes current and future productivity of the person in question. All of this, of course, on top of matter of being in a society that cares for its less fortunate.

Recent Trip

Jul. 17th, 2017 11:41 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
In case you're wondering what I did last week, my partner Doug went to the IBM/SAM magic convention in Louisville, Kentucky. We met up with friends, and I spent several days exploring the tourist attractions ...

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