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Wednesday August 23rd: Seattle Urban Book Expo Panel Discussion

See our Literary Event of the Week for more details. Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave., 386-4636, http://spl.org. Free. All ages. 7 p.m.

Thursday August 24th: The Singing Earth Reading

Seattle musician Barrett Martin (Skin Yard, Screaming Trees, Mad Season) is about to publish a new book titled The Singing Earth, which comes with an overstuffed CD. It’s about his time traveling the world and exploring “14 musical regions.” Today, he appears in conversation with Seattle treasure DJ Kevin Cole. KEXP Studios and Gathering Place, 421 1st Ave, 520-5800, http://kexp.org. Free. All ages. 6:30 p.m.

Friday August 25th: Gender Odyssey

Now that we’ve got an orange hate machine as president, it’s more important than ever for cisgender folks to ally themselves with the trans community. Maybe the best way to do that is by attending Gender Odyssey, a long-running (in its 16th year!) celebration of gender diversity. Authors and booksellers will be onhand to keep things nice and literary. Washington State Convention Center, 705 Pike St., 694-5000, http://www.genderodyssey.org/seattle/. $150. All ages. 9 a.m.

Saturday, August 26th: Seattle Urban Book Expo

See our Literary Event of the Week for more details. Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave, http://washingtonhall.org. Pay what you can. All ages. 1 p.m.

Sunday August 27th: Two Poets

Ana-Maurine Lara, Ph.D., is the author, most recently, of Kohnjehr Woman, a narrative poetry book about race and the South. She’s also working on setting her original poetry to music and visual art. Today, she appears with poet Claudia F. Savage, who you may know better as one-half of the poetry performance duo Thick in the Throat, Honey. Open Books, 2414 N. 45th St., 633-0811, http://openpoetrybooks.com. Free. All ages. 4:30 p.m.

Monday August 28th: Thrilling Tales

A couple times a month, librarians at the downtown library spend their lunchtimes reading a short story aloud to adults. Today’s reading is “The Great Pretender,” by Stanley Ellin. It’s about an old woman who is trying to protect her comely granddaughter from lascivious men who want to do terrible things to her. Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave., 386-4636, http://spl.org. Free. All ages. 12:05 p.m.

Tuesday August 29th: This Impossible Light Reading

Ravenna author Lily Myers celebrates the release of her newest book at her neighborhood bookstore. This Impossible Light is a young adult novel about a young woman struggling with an eating disorder. Perhaps the interesting thing about the book is that it’s written in verse, which is a trend in young adult books that I whole-heartedly endorse. Third Place Books Ravenna, 6504 20th Ave NE, 525-2347 http://thirdplacebooks.com. Free. All ages. 7 p.m.

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[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Steve Munro evaluates the next plans for Metrolinx for regional transit.

  • Evan Balgord at Torontoist looks back at the anti-Nazi Christie Pits riots of 1933.

  • Cheryl Thompson at Spacing looks at the extent to which gun violence in Scarborough is a symptom of deepening poverty.

  • Nikhil Sharma at Torontoist notes that private parkettes are an imperfect substitute for public parks.

icon request?

Aug. 23rd, 2017 01:56 pm
yhlee: Angel Investigations' card ("Hope lies to mortals": A.E. Housman). (AtS hope)
[personal profile] yhlee
I am finding that I would really like to have a sea/ocean icon. I like blues/teals and I am also fond of seahorses and sand dollars. Would anyone be willing to make me an icon from some public domain image in exchange for a flash fiction or simple cartoon/sketch or something?

ETA: While I'm at it, what's the difference besides animation style between Star Wars: Clone Wars (older, 2D animation) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (newer, 3D animation)? I am strongly biased aesthetically toward 2D animation but will watch the latter if the story/characters are good...

TFW illiteracy inspires hope

Aug. 23rd, 2017 11:35 am
elf: Animated image of planetoid Eris (Eris is a Planet)
[personal profile] elf
Trump could launch a nuclear attack in 4 minutes discusses how the launch code system works, and how few checks and balances it has - basically none.

The "nuclear football" is a briefcase carrying the codes; it goes with the president everywhere. The article mentions that, hypothetically, the aide who carries it could refuse to hand it over - but that would (1) be illegal and (2) get him fired. Full cooperation is legally required. So, ok, odds of the president saying, "That Kim guy just insulted me on Twitter; I'm gonna blast him to the stone age; hand me that briefcase" and being told, "no, Mr. President, I'm not going to do that" are thin.

However... full cooperation doesn't necessarily mean "offering the kind of help that a PA/exec assistant provides."
The Football is actually full of binders and plans for war, so that a President can flip through it and decide what kind of nuclear war he wants to launch -- then he communicates that order to the Pentagon or Raven Rock, where it's promptly executed. There's a visual guide as part of the Football that one military aide referred to as the "Denny's Menu" of nuclear war. But other aides have darkly joked there are really just three options: Rare, Medium and Well-Done.
(Emphasis added) So... it involves reading. It involves finding data in a binder, and deciding what to do with that data. And while that info is likely well-referenced and explained, maybe even with simple flowcharts... the president is borderline functionally illiterate. His ability to grab information out of text may basically not exist.

If the president wants to launch WWIII, it's possible that all his staff has to do to stop him is not agree to help.
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.It’s Links time! Here we show some cool stuff that’s been going around the internet and social media. We think it’s a nice Hump Day distraction when you need a bit of a work break.

The Ripped Bodice has started a Patreon for any romance readers who want to support the store, but can’t quite make it out to Culver City just yet. Reward perks include book recommendations and a video from Fitz!

Attention fantasy lovers! N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season has been picked up by TNT for a TV series:

N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning sci-fi fantasy novel The Fifth Season is getting the drama series treatment at TNT. The project is in early development at the cable network with Leigh Dana Jackson (24: Legacy, Sleepy Hollow) set to pen the adaptation and Imperative Entertainment’s (All the Money in the World) Dan Friedkin, Tim Kring and Justin Levy serving as executive producers.

No release date as of yet, but I’m sure we’ll all have plenty of time to read (or re-read) the book before the show comes out!

One of my favorite things from Twitter is the birth of Janet the superhero.

The twig is used to “smack jerks down.” And there’s been an awesome collection of Janet fanart circulating.

Battery chargers!

Every few months a bigger, better, and lighter weight battery charger comes out. At this point I have 3 in various sizes—lipstick sized, 6.5oz, and the 12.5oz, which lives in our travel bag. I can recharge my kids' DS, tablets, my phone, etc, before it runs out of charge. - SW

Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester has been adapted into a play by the Lifeline Theater in Chicago:

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, was born with wealth and good looks, but a life of privilege has rendered him unfeeling towards others. Phoebe Marlow was graced with a sparkling wit and independent spirit, but languishes under the thumb of her domineering stepmother. When this mismatched couple is thrust together by their meddling families, both rebel and their tidy little worlds spin into chaos. Midnight flights, desperate sea voyages, and scathing society hijinks ensue as these unlikely lovers labor to avoid their fate. Grab the reins and charge headlong into a topsy-turvy tale of madcap romance in this world premiere comedy based on the 1957 novel by Georgette Heyer. The production runs approximately two hours with one intermission. The novel will be on sale in the lobby.

Anyone in the Chicago area plan on seeing it?


Lastly, big thanks to all the readers who sent this article my way: Romance Novels, Generated by Artificial Intelligence:

I’ve always been fascinated with romance novels — the kind they sell at the drugstore for a couple of dollars, usually with some attractive, soft-lit couples on the cover. So when I started futzing around with text-generating neural networks a few weeks ago, I developed an urgent curiosity to discover what artificial intelligence could contribute to the ever-popular genre. Maybe one day there will be entire books written by computers. For now, let’s start with titles.</p?

I gathered over 20,000 Harlequin Romance novel titles and gave them to a neural network, a type of artificial intelligence that learns the structure of text. It’s powerful enough to string together words in a way that seems almost human. 90% human. The other 10% is all wackiness.

It’s hard to pick a favorite title. Sex BellsPregnant for the Rage, and Midwife Cowpoke are some top contenders.

Don’t forget to share what super cool things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way!

[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

The Hugo House just made their slate of fall classes available to non-members. There's a lot of great stuff there, but here are a couple of classes to keep in mind from people who have published here at the Seattle Review of Books.

Go find the whole catalog on Hugo House's site.

[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

Posted by Jonathan Hiskes

In March of 1979, Amitav Ghosh witnessed a bizarre storm in Delhi, India. The sky darkened, unseasonable rain squalls turned to hail, and a funnel-shaped whirlwind appeared. Ghosh ran for cover. He emerged to find buses overturned, scooters wedged in trees, and walls torn from buildings. The lethal event, which killed at least 30 people, was so rare that newspapers didn’t correctly identify it for two days — a tornado, the first in the region’s recorded history.

Ghosh became an accomplished, celebrated novelist, and he wondered why he never drew from the tornado in his fiction, which frequently incorporates significant weather events. He concluded that it was too improbable. Serious contemporary fiction, he realized, relies on a pact with readers that they can expect a “realistic” world.

The trouble is that reality no longer behaves in realistic ways. Our expectations haven’t kept pace with the increase of freak occurrences driven by climate change. Storms, droughts, floods, and heat waves occur with greater intensity and frequency than in the past. The supposedly rare events that we call thousand-year-floods now happen at a rate of five per year.

In The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Ghosh examines why contemporary fiction struggles so mightily to respond to climate change. The title phrase explains how future historians will regard writers and literary tastemakers of our current era, Ghosh says. The sort of fiction that wins prizes, appears in literary journals, and draws invitations from high-minded festivals acts as if climate warning signs don’t exist. Merely mentioning the subject risks being relegated to the lower-prestige world of science fiction, as if “climate change were somehow akin to extraterrestrials or interplanetary travel.”

The Great Derangement is a strange book, with multiple jarring leaps and an impressive breadth of ideas packed into 162 pages. (It was originally delivered as a series of lectures at the University of Chicago in 2015.) For long stretches it leaves the topic of literature entirely to delve into history, politics, and religion. The fragmented, disjointed structure is a bit frustrating, but it serves a purpose. Ghosh’s ambitious, globe-spanning argument embodies exactly the sort of expansiveness that mainstream literature needs to rediscover if it’s going to tackle a problem as massive as climate change. Jarring readers out of their comfort is part of the point.

Ghosh begins at the dawn of the modern novel in the 19th century, the same era that gave us industrialization and the notion of statistical probability. Earlier stories like Arabian Nights and The Odyssey had no trouble leaping from one fantastical event to another. But in 19th century Europe, novelists sought the trust of readers by embedding plot and characters into everyday material life. No more Calypsos and sea serpents.

Victorian novels created settings that were self-contained ecosystems, sometimes literal manses or estates. Ghosh compares the vast time and space conjured in the Chinese folk epic The Journey to the West, about the creation of the world, with the bounded worlds of contemporary fiction: “Within the mansion of serious fiction, no one will speak of how the continents were created; nor will they refer to the passage of thousands of years.”

As serious fiction became less fantastical and immense, it also became more human-centered. Non-human actors like Moby-Dick disappeared. Werewolves, zombies, and mutants made fewer appearances, even as Hollywood found an abiding hunger for them. The arts and sciences diverged as fields of knowledge, and writers who integrated both, like Goethe, Melville, Tolstoy, and Steinbeck, became a thing of the past. The novel’s inward turn continued in the 20th century, with the hero’s quest becoming an interior journey of self-discovery.

These conventions are especially ill-suited to the effects of climate change, which span continents and unfold over centuries. Quiet domestic fiction confined to, say, suburban Connecticut cannot reckon with the floodwaters troubling the Bengal Delta and Miami Beach, or the wildfires burning in both Australia and the Methow Valley. Stories confined to the human world cannot show how our lives depend on a biological web.

The book’s second section brings a sharp turn, to the history of colonial Asia. Ghosh describes surprisingly elaborate fossil-fuel systems that predate the English industrial revolution. In 18th century China, natural gas ran through bamboo tubing to power industrial uses and household lighting. Burma’s oil industry at the time was likely the largest in the world. England became the center of the industrial revolution not through technology but through violence — it suppressed development elsewhere and used Asia as a source of cheap raw materials.

The point is that climate change won’t be solved without dealing with problems of empire and the oppression on which it feeds. Ghosh argues that Asia is conceptually critical to climate change, for its sheer scale, for understanding how empire works, and for its future as a site of possible mobilization. Perversely, the people who have the strongest moral claim to gaining modern lifestyles — former colonial subjects in the developing world — cannot acquire air-conditioned homes, refrigerators, family cars, etc., without torching our hopes for preventing the worst of climate change. This dilemma is another dimension of the great derangement.

In the book’s third and final section, Ghosh laments the way that politics, like art, has become a forum of myopic self-expression. “Political energy has increasingly come to be focused on issues that relate, in one way or another, to questions of identity: religion, caste, ethnicity, language, gender rights, and so on,” he writes, “ ... the political is no longer about the commonweal or the ‘body politic.’” He’s referring to South Asian politics, but the critique travels well. A feeble sense of the common good lies at the root of much political division. This devolves into what Ghosh calls the “politics of the armed lifeboat,” in which the rich protect themselves from the poor through militarized borders, aggressive anti-immigrant policing, and the carceral state, a continuation of empire ideology.

There’s one last turn, in the final pages: a comparative reading of Pope Francis’ climate encyclical, Laudato si, and the text of the Paris Climate Treaty (both from 2015). Ghosh praises the Pope’s critique of greed, overconsumption, and economic injustice, while noting that the treaty involves no such challenge to the dominant “technocratic paradigm.” He contrasts the Pope’s simple, poetic language with the treaty’s dense jargon, which involves complex preambles, annexes, and a sentence that runs for 15 pages. In the Pope’s text, “the words poverty and justice keep close company with each other,” while the treaty contains no collective soul-searching.

The Pope makes no mention of divine intervention, but Ghosh accuses the treaty authors of magical thinking in their hopes of curbing greenhouse-gas pollution without confronting our ideology of wasteful consumption. The non-binding nature of the Paris treaty amounts to hoping for miracles, he says.

It’s an interesting comparison — but a mistaken one. First, the non-binding mechanism is more valuable than it sounds (see climate journalist David Roberts on the Paris treaty’s “conceptual breakthrough,” which may spur more action than 20 years of stalemate in pursuit of a binding treaty). Second, I don’t mind if international technocrats fail to write graceful prose: Their job is to produce good policy. We can go elsewhere for inspiring moral visions.

As far as the Pope’s message, it’s worth noting that his clarion call had little discernible effect on white American Catholics, who voted overwhelmingly for a climate-denying president in 2016. It’s not clear that religion transcends partisan or racial identity.

Ghosh nonetheless devotes his closing pages to the possibility that religion can provide a transformative force in the climate change fight. Religions, he says, span the boundaries of nation-states. They acknowledge inter-generational responsibilities. They can imagine non-linear change. They can accept limits and limitations through their faith in the sacred, however they define it. Ghosh’s ultimate hope is that “religious groupings around the world can join hands with popular movements ...,” creating a generation with a vision to “rediscover their kinship with other beings, and that this vision, at once new and ancient, will find expression in a transformed and renewed art and literature.”

This is a surprising ending, landing a long way from the literary questions that launched the book. It’s not very satisfying, though maybe that’s inevitable, given the scale of the problem. The sharp turn into politics and religion is a reminder that art should be about more than itself.

It also raises the question of why Ghosh has so little to say about science fiction, the literary form that’s grappled most successfully with climate change. Ghosh protests that science fiction is dismissed by literary tastemakers, yet he participates in this dismissiveness himself. He mentions Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick, and Ray Bradbury approvingly, but has little to say about their work. He notes the growing subgenre of climate fiction, but argues that it’s mainly concerned with dystopian stories. What we need is neither dystopian visions of the future nor inward journeys of self-realization, he says, but visions of a better future. The historian Jill Lepore makes the point even more forcefully in a recent New Yorker piece about this year’s bumper crop of dystopian fiction:

Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of fake news and infowars, the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn’t ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn’t call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. Its only admonition is: Despair more. It appeals to both the left and the right, because, in the end, it requires so little by way of literary, political, or moral imagination ...

The Great Derangement is gesturing toward the same problem, calling on writers to reclaim a sense of moral imagination, a sense of the sacred and the epic that bears light on a world both fantastical and stubbornly realistic. One of the few novels that Ghosh praises, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012), shows why this is so difficult. Kingsolver’s scenes of swarms of wayward tropical butterflies showing up in Appalachia provide a visceral, unsettling sense of the weirdness that climate change generates. I loved the way Dellarobia Turnbow rages against shitty dollar-store merchandise, remembering the furniture that her family used to make. Yet I cringed when Kingsolver explained why an atmospheric concentration of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is a crucial biomarker. She does her best to weave it gracefully into dialogue, but it still feels lifted from 350.org or another activist website.

But is that Kingsolver’s problem or mine? Ghosh argues that climate disasters are difficult to render in literature because they are “too powerful, too grotesque, too dangerous, and too accusatory to be written about in a lyrical, or elegiac, or romantic vein.” I like lyrical and elegiac writing! But it’s just one of the things that literature can do. It shouldn’t be the only thing. Re-unifying science and literature will require writers — and readers — to develop an expanded sense of the “literary,” one that has room for powerful, grotesque, accusatory writing — as well as visions of new ways of living.

Ghosh can’t prescribe exactly how to bring about these new kinds of storytelling, but that’s no fault of his. That’s not how stories work. They don’t arise from prescriptions. That’s the source of their mystery, which is also their power.

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[personal profile] danceswithgary
I'm still working on transferring photos and deleting entries on LJ, but I'm also obsessed with the news since Trump was elected. Result: My ulcers are back. Yay

The dogs are my best medicine so I'm sharing links to some recent photos that I posted on Twitter and hoped dog_rates might share. Although they liked them, no re-tweet, but you might like them.


If you'd like to follow me there, I'm https://twitter.com/The_Real_DWG

The biggest news I have is that we're finally fencing in the back yard so that rescue organizations will consider us for adopting another bonded pair of dogs. Although Molly and Tessa have been fine with the invisible fence, the orgs require a physical barrier, so we've been turned down several times. :-( With luck, we'll soon be adding to the borking and zooming around here.

Reading Wednesday

Aug. 23rd, 2017 12:26 pm
yuuago: (Small Trolls - Veeti - Skygazing)
[personal profile] yuuago
Last Finished: My Brother's Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. Absolutely lovely manga. The library only has the first volume right now, but hopefully they'll get the rest as it becomes available - I really want to read more of it.

Currently Reading: Forge by Jan Zwicky. Poetry collection, Canadian author. Lots of inspiration taken from classical music here. Also little sprinklings of winter imagery here and there, which is nice. Definitely one that I'll keep and read again.

Also currently reading: Still picking my way through With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz. I wish this came divided into two books; I'd probably be finished it by now if it were more portable.

Reading Next: I took Trans/Portraits by Jackson Wright Shultz out from the library, but... it seems a bit heavy for bus-reading. Might pick up something else first, depending on when I'm done with the poetry.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Kim LaCapria

ESPN did not 'fire' sportscaster Robert Lee because his name offends liberals, but they did opt to reassign him from calling a U Va. game after three deaths occurred during protests in Charlottesville.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Alex Kasprak

While it's true that Russia is developing the ability to hack GPS systems, experts doubt that GPS hacking caused the USS John McCain to crash.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

Aug. 23rd, 2017 01:37 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Antipope Charlie Stross takes a look at the parlous state of the world, and imagines what if the US and UK went differently.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait takes a look at Sirius, including white dwarf Sirius B.

  • Centauri Dreams considers Cassini's final function, as a probe of Saturn's atmosphere.

  • D-Brief notes the discovery that diamonds rain deep in Neptune (and Uranus).

  • Bruce Dorminey reports on a NASA scientist's argument that we need new interstellar probes, not unlike Voyager 1.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the way a course syllabus is like a Van Halen contract rider.

  • Language Hat takes a look at the palimpsests of St. Catherine's Monastery, deep in the Sinai.

  • Language Log looks at the etymology, and the history, of chow mein.

  • The LRB Blog recounts a visit to Mount Rushmore in the era of Trump.

  • Marginal Revolution takes a look at the question of why Mexico isn't enjoying higher rates of economic growth.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw considers the extent to which politics these days is just sound and fury, meaning nothing.

  • Mark Simpson links to an essay of his explaining why we should be glad the Smiths broke up in 1987.

  • Speed River Journal's Van Waffle considers the import, to him and the environment, of a spring near his cottage.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel looks at the abundance of black holes in our galaxy, more than one hundred million.

  • Unicorn Booty notes that smoking marijuana might--might--have sexual benefits.

  • Window on Eurasia shares an argument that ethnic Russians in Russia share issue in common with whites in America, and reports on an argument made by one man that ethnic Russians in republics need not learn local languages.

sovay: (Psholtii: in a bad mood)
[personal profile] sovay
I am behind on posting about politics, NecronomiCon, and movies, I am exhausted and I have to catch a bus for a doctor's appointment right now, but Brandeis University has had to close its campus because of bomb threats and I am not happy. That is my non-sectarian, quota-busting, Jewish-sponsored alma mater, with a school calendar that shifts each year to the Jewish holidays and Hebrew on its university seal. In this political climate, I have a hard time thinking it's a coincidental crank call. Please explain to me again why it won't work if I inscribe אמת on the forehead of the nine-foot bronze statue of Justice Louis D. Brandeis and ask it to lay down some old-school crusading social justice on this country.

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