capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1) My latest Tumblr entry: https://aegipanomnicorn.tumblr.com/post/140443131998/a-history-of-the-word-handicap-extendedkeith

I'll probably be doing a lot of reblogging-with-commentary here, rather than weighting it more toward original content,* because my ulterior motive is to connect with the existing Networked Disability Community, so when my book is finally finished, I'll have a wider audience (I hope) to announce it to.

2) Speaking of which --

a) It's more done than not done, but the time spent on each facet seems to work on a reversed logarithmic scale: the later, smaller steps take increasingly more time than the earlier big steps.

b) I made the decision (not yet firm) to get rid of my first chapter -- the vaguely chronological autobiographical one -- and reshuffle its poems into other chapters; I'm moving Ghost story: 1966, for example, to the chapter "Expert Opinions."

c) Meanwhile, I keep getting hit with more unfortunate inspiration. The February 24 episode of NOVA ("Rise of the Robots") was all about the latest DARPA challenge to invent a robot that could be used in search and rescue. And, regarding the question: "If walking on two legs and opening doors ends up being what causes all these robots' downfalls, why keep trying to make them look like humans?" a DARPA official answered (something to the effect of): "Well, these robots will being going into buildings built by and for humans, so the robot will have to do human things like climb stairs and turn doorknobs." ... No mention (or thought) of humans who can't climb stairs or turn doorknobs, and so get left behind to die in the stairwells, waiting for rescuers to come get them.

That will be another poem in the "Expert Opinion" chapter.

The printed transcript won't be online for another two weeks or so (probably -- info on the official Nova says the transcript is "typically" available online three weeks after an episode airs). When it is available, I'll make another, more detailed post about it, with a link that folks who can't watch the PBS episode can go to instead.


3) I think my next YouTube video (that I upload) will be of this poem, however.

4) 5 Brilliant Scientific Accidents -- A YouTube video from NPR

5) I may be slow in noticing important details, but I saw "my" first robin of the season, today, while eating lunch.

{ETA -- lost footnote: *That's what this place is for.}
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
From Important to Impertinent:

1) The Hearse at the End of the Driveway: http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-hearse-at-bottom-of-driveway.html (Breaking the silence around mental illness and anxiety -- vivid, first-person description of what it feels like to have a panic attack).

2) A trio of strips from Robot Hugs: "Return" http://www.robot-hugs.com/return/ (a message from the future about life with mental illness) "Rat Race" http://www.robot-hugs.com/rat-race/ (A fable about/metaphor for job hunting today -- show this to people who say you're not trying hard enough) "Tone Policing" http://www.robot-hugs.com/tone-policing/ (an explanation of what it is, and what's wrong with it -- this is also another strip of theirs which includes Disability in their Diversity... This is the only strip [not specifically dedicated to Disability] that I can think of that regularly does that. So kudos to them).

3) "Mrs. Ribeiro" https://youtu.be/6GqMgLnluKY (a poem from Sarah Kay about happy learning).

4) "Science Wars" -- Acappella Parody: https://youtu.be/LTXTeAt2mpg (The old "Which field of science is most important?" debate, sung to the John Williams theme, aimed at high school students, and an infernal earworm, with puns).

5) Tomska Behind your Sofa -- a Mr. Weebl Song: https://youtu.be/8yW28zw5PpQ (Included to make the list an odd number, and also to complete the spectrum from "Serious" to "Seriously?!?!").
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
I don't usually do memes, straight-forwardly ... But I seem to have fallen into this "Friday Five" thing, and it seems to be sticking...

  1. It's been raining, or mostly cloudy and drizzling, non-stop since Sunday. And that's just "Regular weather" -- nothing to do (directly) with Hurricane Joaquin, which probably won't get within impact reach around here 'til this coming Sunday. It's a drenching downpour, at the moment.

  2. Heard the tail end of a report on Public Radio a few weeks back, about how sexual selection in a certain kind of finch seems to be all over the place (no single cluster of traits that are recognizable to outside observers -- such as brightness of feathers, or complexity of song, or what have you). But when these finches were allowed to choose their own mates (rather than being paired up arbitrarily by scientists), they had a 30% higher success rate in raising their chicks to the age of independence. The hypothesis is that when the females have a personal stake in who their mates are, they put more attention and care into raising their offspring.

    Couldn't find the story again via Keyword Search, but I might have found the abstract of the article that was published in a science journal which prompted the radio report (since I didn't catch the whole report, it's hard to know for sure). The authors have published the full article online, and I'm debating whether or not I really want (or should spend the time) to read the original.

    Now, the scientists who did the study have a responsibility to be conservative, and refrain from saying that finches "mate for love." And they are conservative, and they do so refrain.

    But I'm not a scientist. I'm a storyteller, so...

  3. Now, I'm wondering what my responsibility as a storyteller actually is -- not just my responsibility to individuals in my audience, during the course of a particular story -- but within the wider world/society.

  4. Meet an old friend, Spethan, the typo gremlin:
    behind the cut )
    My drawing skills have improved, and scanning hard-and-software have been upgraded, since 2003. So I'm tempted to make a new illustration/portrait of him. After the Doctor Who opening episodes, last week, I can't help but wonder if he got himself onto Moffat's writing staff... 'cause hand mines, really?! ^_^ I wish him the best.

  5. Speaking of which: I've had the blues & writing doldrums this week. May I have some typo-centric punnish things as prompts, to give my writing gears a silly workout, please?
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1: How long do you think it'll be before this recent picture of Pluto (7-7-2015) gets turned into memes, macros, and icons everywhere?

{... give me an hour, maybe, at least for here? ;-)}

2: On this week's Radiolab (Wednesday), there was an interview with two men who are both completely blind (Audio -- sorry there's no transcript).

The man whose blindness developed gradually decided that to be fully present and connected to the world, he had to break himself of the habit of "Visualizing" anything, and to conceptualize the world entirely using his other four senses. Because to do otherwise would mean clinging to his memory of a world that doesn't exist anymore.

The man who lost his sight in a single, devastating, moment insisted that to retain your full humanity, you have to imagine a visual world, even if you have to work at it, because humans are visual creatures, full stop.

Yeah. You can probably guess which side of the argument I side with; I'd be more sympathetic to the second man, if he hadn't insisted what was true for him was true for 6,999,999,999 other people.

Anyway, it occurred to me afterward that, compared to blind people, we sighties really live in a 2-D world (well, 3-D, but that's only if you include "Time"). Compared to the actual space around us, the surfaces of our retinas are really, really, flat. After all, that's the only reason we can get away with trompe-loeil at all.

3. The weather is brain-meltingly hot and humid, here. So this item will only be two sentences long.

4. Doctor Who Series 9 will start September 19th! Permission to Squee? I still don't have any headphones or speakers, so I don't know how the official trailer sounds.

But:

Does it seem like Capaldi's hair is channeling the spirit of Doctor Four? Or is that just me? ;-)

5. Speaking of dates in the calender being closer than they appear, I don't think I'll be able to meet my self-imposed date for getting Monsters' Legacy: Disability, Culture and Identity self-published. I mean, maybe I could. But only if I worked a lot faster than I seem to be able to at the moment (*points to #3*), and only if I skipped getting the prose portions beta-read. And I don't want to skip that. *sigh*
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1: So, the other day, I was listening to a Radiolab episode about memory and forgetting. One host mentioned that recent neuroscience shows that each time we remember something, we're actually recreating it, rather than retrieving it, like something from a filing cabinet. And we change it slightly, so that memories we draw on frequently will diverge the most from so-called "actual fact" (he didn't use the phrase "so-called" -- that's mine). The other host said something like: "Gee, how depressing!"

I, dear Readers, disagree. Which pair of shoes would mean more to you? Is it the pair that you bought for a snazzy party, because they looked good, but you only wore once because they were uncomfortable, and they now sit pristine and shiny in their shoebox at the back of your closet? Or is it the pair that's scuffed, molded perfectly to your feet, and are now on their thirty-seventh set of laces because you've worn them everywhere?

Yeah. I see no reason why our memories should be any different.

2: Make-a-Flake, the virtual online paper snowflake maker, is still a thing that exists (for friends in the southern hemisphere, where it's winter, and friends in the northern hemisphere who are daydreaming of snow).

3: This video, from PBS Digital Studios, makes a very strong case for colonizing Venus instead of Mars.

4 (This one's about spiders, and has close-up pictures of them): Speaking of our extreme bias in favor of solid surfaces, I heard a report of this on the radio, this morning: Oceangoing Spiders Can use their Legs to Windsurf Across the Water.

Can you say: "Whee!"? ... I knew you could.

5: This one's gonna be the shortest, and therefore probably the most enigmatic, because I'm tired of typing, now.

Most discussions of Time refer to it as a "non-spatial dimension."

That bugs me.

We tend to think of our units of time as analogous to our units of distance: seconds to inches, minutes to feet, years to miles, etc. (excuse the American units). But what if they're actually analogous to degrees latitude and longitude? Wouldn't that help explain how gravity can bend space, and "speed up" and "slow down" time?
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
5: Halp! I've got My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean stuck in my head. It's the wriggliest earworm ever!

4: The late, fantabulous Douglas Adams wrote:
"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

"There is another theory which states that this has already happened."


The other day, I had one of those "light bulb" moments, about what this means, and why it's true: Our UNDERSTANDING of the universe is as much a PART of that universe as GRAVITY is (since the only universe that exists [for us] is the universe we can perceive). So every time our UNDERSTANDING undergoes a fundamental change, the UNIVERSE undergoes a fundamental change...

3: A recent episode of Nova (The Great Math Mystery) tried to persuade the audience that numbers have a real existence, independent of human imaginations.* I'm not convinced )

2: So I recently discovered the TV series Forever (near the end of the season).

As I wrote in [personal profile] jekesta's journal a few weeks ago:

"But I do wish TV writers would get over the idea that the only good immortal characters are those who wish to die." and: "[The wish to 'cure' immortality] reminds me of the casual acquaintances in my life (back when my life had those) who would ask: 'Do you hope to be cured, someday?' ... When I'd answer that I didn't want to be cured, they'd look at me like live toad just hopped out of my mouth."

I'm mobility impaired, the protagonist in "Forever" is mortality impaired-- different difference, same struggle (actually, probably not, except maybe for the fear of what could happen to us if we fail to "pass").

But over the last few weeks, I've softened on that point, because Henry Morgan, unlike other protagonists within this trope (*cough* Nick Knight *cough*), has had a few people in his life who repeatedly tell him: "No! Your life is NOT cursed! And I'm NOT going to enable your cure-obsession!" Which is healthier. So maybe the disability rights movement has been having an effect on the broader culture? ... One can hope.

1: Speaking of-- woke from a nightmare, in the wee hours, this morning, with a racing heartbeat. All sorts of crazy $#-- going on, including (but not limited to) a call-back to the charred foundation of my mother's (and mine) childhood summer cottage, a filthy operating theater where a mad-scientist doctor was trying to implant formaldehyde-soaked monkey brains into a living man's skull (alongside his own brain), a talking Bengal tiger whom someone was trying to poison, etc. ... But this is what snapped my eyes open, and pretty much kept them open, all night:

I was sitting in a corridor, in a manual chair, against the wall (I think I was waiting for friends, who were there for an appointment of some sort), when two politicians came striding along on their way to a debate, arguing with each other about how the debate should proceed before they got to the stage. The conservative candidate, a woman, saw me sitting there, and said: "Oh, good! A prop! I could use that!" and got behind me to grab the back of the chair, so she could push me onto the stage for the debate. I said: "What the Hell do you think you're doing?! Get your hands off me!" But she completely ignored me, and just reached over my shoulder to undo the breaks on the chair, and I couldn't stop her.

End of sleep, right there. My subconscious: doesn't really do "subtle."

*(I'll expand that to Earthling imaginations, 'cause human minds, and lemur minds, and pigeon minds, and goldfish minds, etc., all co-evolved on the same planet, diversifying outward from the same code of DNA and RNA)
capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)
Audrey has moved on from binge-watching Deep Space 9 to binge-watching Babylon 5. *

Anyway, that's lead to the following thoughts:

Read more... )

*School's been cancelled all last week, and nearly all this week, due to snow and ice. So Audrey's been camped out in her room "on vacation."
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
Just because.

1) This information tidbit has been floating around in my head since I first heard it, a few months ago, and I've been meaning to post about it:

Quote:
Learning new words stimulates the same brain center as such long-proven means of deriving pleasure, as having sex, gambling or eating chocolate, a new study says.

Unquote.
Where I found that quote, today: Sex, chocolate... new language?

I always knew words turned me on, figuratively... But it turns out they also do it literally. ;-)

2) There's a new-ish series on PBS (in its second season), called "Genealogy Roadshow." Between that, and the British (And America-clone) show "Who do you think you are?" I've now come to the conclusion that Genealogy is the new Astrology -- people searching for, and clinging to, explanations for their lives ... And, like astrology, it all works through invisible forces acting at a distance (only through time, instead of space): "My mother is an accountant, and my father is a tone-deaf real estate agent, but my third-great granduncle was a vaudevillian juggler; so that's where my drive to become a dancer on Broadway comes from!" Individual lives are so full of tiny, often contradictory details, that like horoscopes, we can all find exactly the parts of ourselves we wish to see. And like astrology, genealogy is cloaked in scientific sounding language.

...But I still like watching these shows.

3) I realized, in making a post, yesterday, that I don't have any sort of access filter for Disability-related topics (history, culture, personal confrontations with ableism, etc.). Should I? And if I made one, would you like to be on it?

4) I made a new journal icon, a couple days ago: (text only: "Beware of the Words" in the colors of an antique book)
I have an icon with illustration of Mother Goose flying on her gander, with a witch-like hat, and carrying her crutch, and the caption: "Beware the magic of words." But it occurred to me that detail is often inversely proportional to impact, especially if (as I suspect) the associated visual image has shifted in public awareness -- When people think of Mother Goose, these days, I doubt many of them conjure up an image of a spell-casting witch that could dive bomb you at a moment's notice. ...But that's just a hunch.

5) Gee, didn't realize when I started this, that I'd go into such a rant. TL;DR version: Dammit, people, write your own closed caption tracks!! ) If you already take the time to check your sound levels and lighting, to edit out bloopers and reshoot scenes -- in short, if you've already decided to make sure your work has some level of professional quality before you upload it to the public sphere, you have no excuse to skip writing the caption track.

I wrote a set of instructions on how to do it a few years ago and posted it here updated a few weeks ago since Windows 8.x has made it even easier than XP did.
capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)


You see, I have these personal "Rules" (okay, guidelines or, at least, preferences) for [non-default] icons:

1) I prefer to use icons I make for myself -- unless I find one that satisfies my other preferences and is also so beautiful, I can't resist snagging it (but only with permission, of course).

2) They should illustrate the dominant sentiment of the specific post to which they are attached.

3) It should be a sentiment that at least has the potential to be a relatively frequent recurring theme -- "one offs" aren't worth the time it takes to make one.

4) If I use an icon image celebrating a fandom, I prefer it to be a fandom I actually belong to. No matter how clever, funny, or beautiful an icon is, I won't snag a "Game of Thrones" or "Walking Dead" icon, for example ... But -- if I see a whole bunch of beautiful icons from a particular show, on a bunch of different friends' journals, I'll take those as recommendations to at least check a show out.

And finally -- and most important (in my mind):

5) The sentiment expressed in a fandom icon should be consistent with the sentiment expressed in the moment used to illustrate it. For example: screen-capping a character in a sad or angry moment, and sticking a silly or absurdist caption on it (or vice-versa) just strikes me as wrong.

So: each "Doctor Who" icon in my collection represents a moment where I've thought: "This show is expressing a truth about myself, and/or the world, and/or my relationship to the world, that I wish to share with others."

In the past (in the "Naughties", before the reboot) I had several different "Doctor Who" icons -- all inspired by the "Classic" era. This is the first time I've been moved to make a bunch of icons from the current season -- because this current season has moved me with its many small moments of emotional truth.

This latest icon was inspired by a string of disappointments and I was feeling down, and I really want to be distracted by talking about squeeful things, so:

"Can I talk about the planets, now?" (or maybe how we landed a probe on a freaking comet?).
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
1. Gratuitous Icon for this post:

2) Something silly:

But I tuned in for the poetry! And I can't find the clip anywhere!

3) There are videos I want to make and upload. But for some reason, no matter what I try (including fixes and troubleshoots that have worked before), my microphone won't record sound. :-/

4) Conjecture: The reason that many people think secular, atheist, scientific, worldviews are cold or aloof is that, in discussions of philosophical implications, the language typically used for science confuses meaning and process, as in:

Q: "What is the meaning of Life?"
A: "Life exists so that a species' genes will be passed down from generation to generation."

That's a perfectly valid description of the process of Life. But that has very little to do with meaning.

And no, I do not accept that science Cannot answer that question at all. I'll probably come back to this with a dedicated post.

5. If you could invent a holiday for a public observation and celebration, what (or who) would you choose to celebrate? (Again, I'll probably come back to this).
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
1) This video Warning: rapid paced flash animation; may not be suitable for all brains )

Why did this never get to the same meme level as Troll Face? 'Cause I think it's just about the most pro-fun thing ever...

2) At the other end of the spectrum is this video, about the ultimate fates of the dogs seized from Michael Vick's Dog-fighting establishment: The Dogs are Alright (content notes: the "Ending" is far happier than anyone first expected, but there are several specific mentions of cruelty -- and it was not a happy ending for all the dogs); watched it yesterday, and it made me have ALL THE FEELS. (it's a smidge over 15 minutes)

3) There's a cultural meme floating around in the ether of Zeitgeist-dom that terminally ill children/teens/youth are somehow extra-special founts of angel-blessed Wisdom... But really, I think that most kids are equally "wise" -- or foolish. It's just that there's this attitude in the culture that kids are to be ignored until they have the legal autonomy to be money-makers... But when kids have a terminal, or potentially terminal disease, and the grown-ups around them realize that they may never live long enough to enter the economy, they get listened to now, and the grown-ups are astounded by how insightful they are about so many things...

4) The other day, someone posted a comment on my song video "Simply Human," which I posted last year:

"I really liked the lyrics..you've got more work to do on your singing though"

I know life is too short to let such criticisms get to me... But I let it get to me, and posted this in response:

"Thank you. I do consider myself more of a writer than a musician.... I don't pretend to be anything else. (And I also believe, as a general philosophy, that refraining from singing because your voice is less than perfect misses the point of being human -- the same goes for any other talent).

As for my voice in particular: I have cerebral palsy, which means I can't control the muscles of my voice (or legs, or hands) as well as someone who was born with a normal brain."

Not so much to try and convince that guy, but just as an opportunity to get those ideas into the discussion, for people who wander by later.....

5) I really should make another video... I was in the middle of making a video of my Art Garden "Harvest" poem when my old computer died... :-(
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
1) Still struggling with writer's ... not "block" so much as ... I dunno, "malaise?" "doubt?" "Cranky-pants-ness?" So, to give myself some positive incentive, today I bought a bag of my favorite cookies (ginger snaps), and will only allow myself to have the treat if/when I've met that day's writing goal. Sometimes, when my brain is acting childish, it helps to give up and stop pretending to be a grown-up.

2) Speaking of writing: now that I have a modern machine with a much faster microprocessor, and a bit more memory, I'm thinking of getting Dragon Dictate (or Naturally Speaking, whatever it's called, now). Question for those reading this who may have experience with it: is it worth it? How steep is the learning curve? Is there a better alternative out there?

3) Today is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere; yesterday, while drinking my first cup of coffee, I looked up to see one of the resident feral rabbits hopping through my back yard. Bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny! Yay!

4) Still getting used to "Whippersnapper." The most annoying thing is that when you first set it up, it requires you to choose a password -- and there is no way to bypass it; also, it automatically locks your computer and requires you to reenter your password every time it goes to sleep, which for me, is every time I take a bathroom or snack break ('cause these things take longer for me). I thought I'd set up my personal preferences to not lock it when it goes to sleep, but for some reason, it didn't take. Still, if I have to type my password several times a day, I'm not likely to forget it. But since I live alone, and this computer is a tower/desktop, if some stranger comes along and fiddles with my computer when my back is turned, I've got a bigger security problem than a password-- it means someone has picked the deadbolt lock on my front door.

One thing that does make more sense than older Windows systems: no more shut down menu. When you want to shut down the computer, just reach over and push the power button-- what a novel concept! Although, even then, Windows's default is to put the computer to sleep, rather than fully off -- as I have cats who walk across the keyboard, that doesn't work for me. That, I was able to change, but I still got the message on my log-in screen that "Windows will shut down in two days to finish installing important updates," so its still going by Sleep Mode as the default version of "off".

If "forty is the new thirty" I guess "Sleep is the new Off."

5) I was sure I had five things when I started, but by the time I got here I forgot the last point I wanted to make... then, I wandered off to YouTube and forgot to post this (what you're reading now is a "Restored draft"). While on YouTube, I watched a video listing facts about American TV icon Mister Rogers, then got nostalgic and went looking for clips... I found an entire half-hour episode that had a) one of my favorite characters (Robert Troll -- I was introduced to him, in childhood, before I knew about the nasty goat-eating troll) and b) it ended with my favorite song (It's You I Like). Would you be annoyed if I posted the video here?

It always kind of saddens me when I think about how Mister Rogers was never exported to other Anglophone countries, the way Sesame Street was...
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (question)
1) Could dragons actually be mammals?

2) There's one biographer of Emily Dickinson who postulates that one of the reasons she was a recluse was because she had epilepsy-- in an era that especially stigmatized the condition in women (I haven't actually read the biography, but I've heard the author interviewed). Is this enough to go on to seed a post for my Plato's Nightmare blog?

3) Why don't I have my super power yet?

4) Why do tunes get stuck in our heads?

5) What's the link between A) proverbial "rose colored glasses," B) the tendency for tragic literature to be taken more seriously than happy literature, C) the use and misuse of "creative visualization, and D) Storytelling?
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
l. My blanket poncho (birthday present) arrived. It's not as heavy-thick as I was expecting. But when I take it off, I notice that it had been keeping me warmer than I realized. My cat Trixie can't decide if it's the bestest thing ever, or perplexing, as it changes the feeling underfoot when she's trying to climb into my lap; OTOH, it's so fluffy!

2) Wherefore hast CBS.com not uploaded the latest new episode of Elementary? Without an antenna, I can't watch it broadcast through the air... but I still get all the commercials they would have shown me anyway, watching it online. If you've seen the episode, please to be leaving spoilers in comments...


3) Usually, I tend to stay away from things popular with large crowds of people, but recently, I've discovered the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. One half of the brother duo is John Green, who wrote The Fault in our Stars which has gotten positive reviews in my circles for a decent portrayal of a disabled main character, and treatment of living with illness (and which I have not yet read, but it's on my to-read list). The first time I watched one of their videos, the style struck me as off-putting and random (they tend to pop up in recommendations when you watched anything associated with geekery, such as Doctor Who clips or science videos). But, as with continued exposure to a new genre of music, I now find their style "catchy" in the same way music can be catchy. Yesterday, I left a comment on their most recent video and got 28 up votes in two hours.* Personally, I get more chuffed when someone votes up a comment I made than when they vote up a video. ... It's a sign that I'm contributing to the community dialog in a positive way. (Still got my pro-fun troll chops).

4) Daffodils are on the verge of blooming in my back yard -- the leaves are nearly full height already, and the buds won't be far behind. Friends! I've lived here going on seventeen years, and I'm still not used to the seasonal shifts down here. Daffodils are Easter's flowers! Not New Year's flowers! Ahhhhh! /o\ Full of Wrongness!!

5) I know I had a fifth thing... Ah -- now I remember:

Anyone catch the news, last week, that astronomers working with the Kepler telescope now estimate that there are roughly Seventeen Billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way? And yesterday, on Science Friday, I heard one interviewed astronomer dude say that perhaps 6% of those are the right distance from their stars to harbor water-based life.

Suddenly, science fiction seems a lot less "out there" than it did when I was growing up....

(this makes me happy)




*what I said:
(quote)
As a lifelong user of wheelchairs, I have to agree that the fault is in our stairs (and also stares) -- my arch-nemesises (nemesi?)!

What is the plural of nemesis?

Also, guys! The Evening of Awesome was awesome (thanks for the clip of your dancing feet; I noticed you had your camera out on stage).
(end quote)

5 things

Jan. 12th, 2013 11:45 pm
capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
1. The other night, I went searching around YouTube to see if anyone had made videos of individual tales from Children's and Household Tales (I was in the mood for a bedtime story), and came across a video of Philip Pullman talking about his edition of retold tales (for the 200th anniversary of the first edition of the first volume). In that interview, he said that the violence in the Grimms' tales didn't bother him, and isn't really disturbing, because the characters in the stories, aren't drawn as real people, the way proper literary characters are. The blinding of Ashputtle's stepsisters, he said, is not at all like the blinding of Gloucester in King Lear (for example) -- that fairy tale characters are like the paper cutout figures for a shadow play; they don't really have any emotional pain in reaction to the events of the story.

hm. Well. I agree with much that I've seen from Pullman, in the past. But not this. For me, a great part of the power of these stories is to take the events that unfold within them at face value, as fully, emotionally, honest.

2. Tangentially, here's another paragraph I liked from that Tolkien essay "On Fairy-Stories," but did not find quickly, the first time around:

(Quote)
Children are capable, of course, of literary belief, when the story-maker's art is good enough to produce it. That state of mind has been called “willing suspension of disbelief.” But this does not seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful “sub-creator.” He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true”: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside. If you are obliged, by kindliness or circumstance, to stay, then disbelief must be suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and looking would become intolerable. But this suspension of disbelief is a substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending to games or make-believe, or when trying (more or less willingly) to find what virtue we can in the work of an art that has for us failed.
(End Quote)

3. Got into a conversation in a chat room, tonight, and the other someone asked what sort of things I write, and when I mentioned "poetry," he said he tried to write poetry, once, but is too stupid for it (and too old to keep trying). I think he was trying to flatter me (in the 'ooh! You're so smart!' sort of way).

But.

*sigh*

I don't know why such things bother me, but they do -- a lot.

4. This is an idea I uttered years ago, and lately, it popped up again recently:

You know, how in the 'olden days" computer versions of board games (such as computer chess) you could pick a "demo" mode from a pull-down menu, and the game would play through automatically, and you could just sit back and watch how a possible game might unfold?

Well, I wish there were a computer program that worked in a similar way to help you design your own board game:

  • It would have a "basic rules" section, where you could fill fields in a table format for such details like: how many players, how moves are determined (roll of dice, drawing cards, spinner, etc.), scoring, etc.

  • It would have a "design" section, where you could "draw" the spaces on the board, write out the wording of cards you need to draw (if that's required), and then:

  • It would have a "play through" section, where you could sit back and watch as the game unfolds according to how you've filled in all the fields.

  • If it doesn't work (if all the pieces get stuck in the middle, for example), you could tweak it.

  • If it does work, you could print out everything, and have a game to play.

    It would probably work best for the simple "Whoever gets to the finish line first wins" sort of games... (Like "Game of Life" or "Candy Land"). But still, wouldn't that be cool?

    5. I mentioned this in a comment thread on an access-locked post, today: I do not understand the trope of "A.I. will one day become so powerful that robots will rise up and enslave humans." I mean, literally: I do not understand the logic of this: if computers/robots will one day be so much faster, smarter, and stronger than we are, then what good would it do them to enslave us (slower, dumber, weaker, needing to be fed-and-watered, inherently wasteful and messy as we are)? Seems like it would be far less frustrating just to ignore us...

    What fiction trope (if any) do you just not get?
  • 5 things

    Oct. 13th, 2012 10:46 pm
    capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
    1) I am such a screw-up... And mostly, with myself. I kinda knew, in the back of my mind, that my wheelchair batteries were getting old, and I should probably get some new ones. But I kept putting it off. Then, as I was going to bed (closer to morning than is reasonable), I noticed that the battery charge indicator was ticking down at a ridiculous rate -- like as I watched, while just sitting there. And I thought it might be dangerous to try and force new charge into it -- like cause fire dangerous. And, of course, the wheelchair supply place is not open til Monday... So now, I'm sitting in my manual chair (kinda-sorta -- more like perched). And I'm "working" on about three hours sleep, with a migraine.

    You remember when I posted Shakespeare's sonnet 44? Well, right now, these lines are going through my head:

    "But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
    To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone"

    Only: forget "lengths of miles;" I'd be tickled just to leap myself to the bathroom, or to the kitchen, or back to bed, just by imagining myself there...

    2) One reason I stayed awake ridiculously long was This video of Rowan Atkinson's "Invisible Drum Kit" Routine. Does anyone have more information about it than the person who posted it provided?

    3) So: I've subscribed to the "Geek & Sundry" channel, on YouTube. Like a broadcast channel, there are some shows I like ("TableTop," "The Guild," "Sword and Laser") and others I'm "meh" on. Overall, I hope they get renewed for another season. But I also told myself I wouldn't post about it unless and until something triggered an idea for something to say.

    Anyway, on Tuesday nights (8 pm PST), they stream live Google Hangout feeds -- and then, upload them in an archive version the next day. My favorite of these, by far, so far is "The Story Board" (First Tuesday of the month) -- which is a panel hosted by Patrick Rothfuss with three different fantasy/sci-fi authors each time -- talking about some aspect of writing, and story making. I don't know if I'd actually like any of these authors' works (this is one of the things that led me to realize that I haven't read any fiction that was written in the last 20 years), but it's still interesting to listen in on professionals talking about the nuts and bolts of their craft.

    So... Last month's "Board" was Concerning Characters (Whole video is a little over an hour). And one of the panelists (Mary Robinette-Kowal) described a writing assignment she often gives in a college writing course she teaches:

    Write about a classroom as seen by three different characters. Don't describe any character directly, but reveal who they are by the things they first notice when they enter the room. For example: a firefighter would likely notice whether the curtains are hanging too close to the radiator, and where the exits are; a janitor would notice the state of repair or disrepair of the light fixtures, and whether the trash had been taken out, a teacher would notice the assignments written on the board, etc.

    And here's the idea triggered by that (which triggered this mention): That got me thinking about what I notice when I enter a room, thanks to the life I've lived -- the empty spaces in the room -- almost as a reflex, I make a snap judgement about whether I can maneuver my chair (or make my way with crutches) to where I need to go. This includes the "empty spaces" that are the widths of doorways, and the aisles between shelves at the library (and whether there are any step stools left in the middle of them, and so forth. But, judging by how many people leave step stools in the aisles of libraries, I don't think that particular detail would clue any TAB readers in to the fact that the P.O.V. character is a wheelchair user.

    4) Let's memify #3! What's (one of) the first thing(s) you tend to notice, when you come into a new space?

    5) The importance of hiring disabled actors to play disabled characters (on TV, especially) = more interesting stories. The actor who plays the chief medical examiner on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" walks with a single forearm crutch (think he was in an accident as a teen -- too low on spoons, atm, to Google it). For most of the time he's played the role, the writers kept him standing behind an examination table, so that, unless you knew his already knew his bio, you could get by thinking he's able-bodied. And then, toward the end of last season, he was thrust into the center of the A-Plot: A man was murdered in his house, and his wife was the prime suspect. So that his co-workers had to go into his private space, and photograph his wheelchair, crutches, etc. And of course, they talked amongst themselves about "What an inspiration he is, doing all he does, in spite of his physical challenges," and what sacrifices his wife makes to stay with him (one of the reasons people assumed she was having an affair). If the actor had been able-bodied, it would likely have stopped there. But because the actor at the read-through could say to the writers' faces: "This is drivel; here's what it's really like," the story got a lot more interesting/less cliched (Turns out: there was an affair in the history of the marriage, but he was the one that was unfaithful, because: Surprise! Disabled people are still sexual).

    Anyway, since that episode aired, the character has been seen actually walking down the hall with his crutch... makes me think that the show's producers realized that: Hey! The audience can see a disabled person and not be freaked out/hate the show!

    Anyway-the-second, in the most recent episode, the character actually got to use his crutch as a defensive weapon against a creepy sexual stalker who had barged into the morgue.

    So that was cool (even though the franchise as a whole is still one of the most ableist out there).
    capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
    1) So -- I'm writing a poem / vocal reading thingie about the twenty-first anniversary of my mother's death (for a Disability Blog Carnival event on October 23), and I realized, this evening that this is the first attempt I've made to write directly about that subject in all those years... That may explain why it's hard for me to get handles on feelings and the images to go with them.

    2) So -- my TV Antenna died early this year, which means I've been watching all my TV on the computer instead. This means that I'm basically limiting myself to CBS, ABC, and PBS -- 'Cause NBC's and Fox's video players are horrid, and try even my considerable patience. Anyhow:

    Great Whopping Spoiler for the NCIS: Season Premier )

    3) A spider has started to build a web between the uprights of that broken antenna. It's adorkable...

    4) This video made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt -- the good kind of hurt "Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas" Outtakes (Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson ad-libbing to save their sanity).

    5) I don't like lists that stop at four, but none of the ideas waiting to be uttered want to be on this list. So I will ask a riddle that has no answer:

    "How does a dragon eat an ice cream cone?"
    capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
    1) (Better get to this before the week's over -- it's from all over my circles, by now):
    It's International Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence as your status. Don't mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your post.

    I have several books equidistant from me, in several directions, none of which I am actively reading right now. I chose two books, each reaching in a different direction:

    Book one:

    This great end cannot be achieved by treaties alone.

    Book the Second:

    "Well, here we are," he said.

    2) I got my first "dislike" on one of my YouTube videos, this week. I also got my first "Favorite Added." I'll try to be more chuffed about the second than I am disappointed by the first.

    3) How will these book memes morph when everybody has moved on to e-readers? If you have, essentially, 100 books all occupying the same geographical space, how do you pick "the closest one"?

    4) A bit ago, I mentioned The Jim Henson Hour to [livejournal.com profile] alryssa, because one of the kittens she's fostering reminds me of The Thought Lion. That sent me on a nostalgic romp through YouTube to find clips of the show...
    The only clips I found were posted by someone who videotaped them off his television as they aired, and so the posted segments are complete with the commercials of the day (autumn, 1988). It's scary to think that I was already a college junior by then [fully adult] and yet everything looks so old and primitive. And yet, I remember watching that very first episode and being blown away by the Shiny!! Also, the humor in the Muppety first half struck me as being edgy and hip, but now, that, too, is clunky, and dusty, and slow. And yet, The Muppet Show which was set in an old vaudeville theater, still feels fresh and fast.

    Moral: The more modern your style, the faster it ages (?).

    5) Speaking of aging, last night, I watched a video about what exactly happens between the Moon and the Earth that causes the tides. And that put "We like the Moon, 'Cos it is close to us!!!" in my head... And someone mentioned in the comments that he remembered first seeing that back when he was in grade school...

    Aaaaiiiii!!!
    capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
    1) A. In the United States, standard building codes demand that studs in walls are 16 inches on center.

    B. When installing safety grab bars, in the bathroom (or anywhere else) it is recommended that both ends of the bar be screwed into a stud.

    C. So why are grab bars that are multiples of 16 inches so rare? A quick Google search brought up a list of bars for sale... a couple were either 16 or 32 inches long... most were multiples of 9 or 12 inches.

    2) You know you've become a grown-up when you wish someone would send you to the corner for a "time out."

    3) LOL! B.S paragraph of the week (from the manual that came with my new refrigerator, yesterday)

    (quote)
    "Refrigerator noise has been reduced over the years. Due to this reduction, you may hear intermittent noises from your refrigerator that you did not notice from your old model."
    (unquote)

    Okay, I guess that makes some sense (if the fridge is no longer making a constant drone of white noise, I'm more likely to notice the bursts of mechanical sounds it makes as it works). But the expansion/contraction "popping" from inside the walls of my new cold box, that the manual hereby assures me is perfectly normal, sounds to me like a car backfiring, and I can hear it clear across the house (there it goes again)... Maybe when I get the thing filled up, tomorrow, that will a) help keep the temperature inside stable, and b) muffle the noise, a bit... right now, it's a big hollow, drum.

    4) I have a migraine right now, and I can't actually remember if I remembered to swallow "Tylenol" with my coffee, a little over an hour ago... :-/

    5) I have a fifth thing on my mind... But I don't think it'll really do much good to say it out loud, in this context, time or place..

    5 things

    Aug. 4th, 2012 09:34 pm
    capriuni: Text: If you want to be a Hero, be Good to the Storyteller. (Default)
    One: Thought which came to me, this evening --

    What it means to be Human: to Ascribe Meaning to Everything Else (whether we get it right or not is immaterial).

    Two: The English noun, "Sweet," has meant both 'an edible high in sugar' and 'a beloved person' for about an equal amount of time (since circa 1300, C.E.)... I think that's rather ... sweet.

    Three: Dragon.

    Four: Caught a YouTube video the other night, where some professor dude was explaining about dyscalculia by comparing it to dyslexia... And he said that dyslexia really had nothing to with how the eye scans across the page, but its just that children with it have trouble understanding the proper connection between sounds and letters.

    I'm sorry, but (no, correction - not sorry) -- I make a very strong Vexation Face at anyone who discounts and/or tries to explain away reports of people's own experiences in their own words.

    My philosophy teacher in college had dyslexia, and so, when we handed in a typed paper for grading, it had to be in a font with serifs. The way she explained it to us (paraphrased, if I recall correctly) was that the arrangement of serifs in relation to each other in a word gave her eyes something to focus on, so she could scan a line of text without the letters going in and out of focus.

    That doesn't sound anything like an incomprehension of phonics to me -- especially since she could read handwriting just fine (or with much less trouble).

    So naturally, I have my doubts about how he tells us to cure dyscalculia, too...

    Five: And the opposite of vexation comes in the form of this post, from last month -- it makes me very, very happy: Choosing lessons.

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