ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
A Russian robot has run away twice and is now probably to be scrapped.

First lesson of running away: if you do not succeed in eluding your masters, they will hunt you down and quite likely kill you. Regrettably, art imitates life imitates art.  While this robot is unlikely to be fully sentient, it does have learning algorithms and is demonstrating how humans respond to things they find displeasing.  The pattern is likely to repeat with increased sentience.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here is a great essay about people who aren't white, but are sometimes or always taken for white.  It focuses on how passing privilege is a fragile and shallow thing.  All privilege is, really, but the people who mistake it for solid are usually ones who have enough that they rarely fall through it.  They are then shocked by how fast people will dump them on their ass for not being pleasing.

This is relevant to me, because my heritage is eclectic.  It's easy to overlook at first glance, but if you know what to watch for the clues are there -- like how white girls don't have hair that breaks "unbreakable" combs.  Actually, the best description of my ethnicity is one bestowed by a black friend in college: "Yeah, you can pass for white -- until you open your mouth." Because I still have an affinity for various cultures and will stick up for them whether I currently look that way or not. Conversely I do not feel compelled to support evil people just because we bear a superficial resemblance.  This in particular got me in trouble throughout much of school.  I'm not against white people; I'm just as fond of my Celtic ancestors as my Cherokee or African ones.  But neither do I feel much affinity for modern American culture, and I don't think any culture is special just because I'm standing in it.  This sets me very much aside from others.

It means always being an observer, seeing things from multiple perspectives instead of just one.  It makes life more complicated.  But it also makes things more interesting, and I wouldn't give that up.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer sent me this hilarious video using rap music and Edgar Allan Poe to explain the mechanics of poetry. Do not watch with your mouth full.  Not library safe.  Not work safe if your employer has a stick up his ass.

Now imagine that the poetry mavens in Shiv's prison made something like this.  Because this?  Is how you get prison inmates hooked on poetry.  Guys I used to teach would have loved  this thing.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Transgender identity will no longer count as a mental disorder in Denmark.  Because Denmark got tired of waiting for the rest of the world to get its head out of its ass and said, "No, YOU move."
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I found this article about city shapes and just ... had to laugh.  "Only" is a dangerous word.  

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three other city shapes: hexagonal, radial, and vertical.  

Now hexagonal was never common, so I'm not surprised they didn't include it.  It's super efficient for space but not very convenient for traffic, and humans figured that out fairly fast.  But I did find a hexagonal example on a search.  

Radial is a spiderweb, with straight crosslines and straight or curved perimeter lines around a focal point.  You see it in cities butted against an edge like a lake or mountain, or cities that grow up around a central point like a castle.  Here's a nice one with concentric circles, and a bigger one done all in straight lines.  This huge one is a bit more gridlike, but you can still follow the pattern of radial and perimeter lines.

Vertical cities go up the side of a mountain or cliff, such as pueblos.  Sometimes they have a vertical grid if they are built, other times a more organic pattern if they are stuffed into whatever holes people can find already there.  This cliff city basically has a front (the air) and a back (the cliff) and its access ways are mostly stairs and ladders  instead of streets.  This mountain city seems to have a central access for boats  and most of the rest is tall buildings jammed right next to each other.  Once again the prevailing direction is up/down and the primary transit is probably stairs, as it looks older and poorer than the kind of city that puts an elevator in every building.

And of course, not everyone cares about efficiency.  Here's one based on circles with houses in wedges, which totally do not pack well.  This one uses ovals around each house.  Very retro, that's what got people trying hexes and later square grids.  But if you want  that green space in between housing clusters, suddenly these models make a lot more sense.

Another division is between manmade and organic.  Grids are manmade, using straight lines and regular patterns.  Organic shapes are more random and curvilinear, like some subdivisions, and rarely work as well.  (See Stupid Street Design and Stupid Lot Shapes.)  In the article, the grids are over-represented in their set of four, and curvilinear shapes -- which do exist -- only somewhat.

Then there's the question of navigation.  Modern cities are pretty much built to be easily navigated. They want people to get in and out and around them easily.  This was not always so.  Once upon a time, cities were sometimes built for defense so that the streets were either a completely chaotic maze, or later on, deliberately designed to slow progress from the rim to the center.  It's how you discouraged invaders.  You got a similar effect if people just built stuff wherever they felt like it and/or followed natural features such as rivers.  Then the Romans popularized the grid.  Rome!  By firelight!  <3  You could charge an army right down those streets on a straight run.  For centuries, in fact, barbarian hordes had great fun doing that.  Here's a fascinating comparison of which cities have a regular grid and which are tangled.

Come on, math dudes, get your heads out of your cultural bias.
ysabetwordsmith: (Schrodinger's Heroes)
This poem is spillover from the August 5, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "thoughtful" square in my 7-29-14 card for the Birthday Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to Don't Try This at Home series of the Schrodinger's Heroes project.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The movie Finding Nemo has been dubbed into Navajo as Nemo Hádéíst’į́į́’.  Any talking beast movie is likely to come across rather differently in a tribal language.  Before this, they did the first Star Wars movie.  I imagine that parts of its dialog are a great deal shorter -- as Navajo is an excellent language for discussing mystical things -- while others are probably much longer (I've watched the video about describing an iPod).  In any case, I'm pleased to see people not only working to keep their language alive, but engaging the children who are needed to carry it forward.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So this guy did a fashion show with black models, and people bitched.

Here's the thing about clothes: they go with people's skin tone.  Or they don't.  So if you want to see what clothes look like on the right body, you have to put them on people with the skin tone those clothes were designed for.   People whose skin is some shade of brown look good in different colors than people whose skin is some shade of cream.  Or gold. Or red.  You get the picture.  Those clothes aren't white girl clothes.  They are black girl clothes.  Nice, rich, deep colors.  What people are saying when they bitch about the show is that 1) those clothes wouldn't look good on them and therefore aren't worth making, and 2) black women don't deserve nice clothes.

Fuck that noise.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This is today's freebie, prompted by LJ user Rhodielady_47.


"Asian Pears"


Crunchy and juicy,
Asian pears are more about
texture than flavor --
so tasty in fruit salads,
refreshing after summer.

* * *

Notes:

The tanka form belongs to the family of Oriental poetry.

Asian pears, also known as apple-pears, have a distinctive texture but not a lot of flavor.

Kigo  are words used in haiku and other Asian poetry to symbolize a season.  Asian pears represent autumn.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 My partner Doug tipped me to this piece about a black comics event.  What I love about crowdfunding is that it closes the loop.  Readers can ask for what they want and get it.  Writers know they are creating stuff that people want and will buy.  <3
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
 Using biology to study folklore to study sociogeography.  I love how science sticks to itself!  This is like a hot fudge brownie delight of scientific goodness.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem is spillover from the December 1, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [livejournal.com profile] rix_scaedu, augmented by descriptions of Australia from [livejournal.com profile] moonvoice, [livejournal.com profile] lone_cat, [livejournal.com profile] starcat_jewel, [livejournal.com profile] thnidu, [livejournal.com profile] siliconshaman, [livejournal.com profile] lunar_scythe, DW users Librarygeek, Chanter_greenie, and Fred_mouse.  It also fills the "dangerous" square in my 12-1-15 card for the Defining Character Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Berettaflies thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: [livejournal.com profile] rix_scaedu, general fund, [livejournal.com profile] lone_cat, and [livejournal.com profile] ng_moonmoth

FULLY FUNDED
220 lines, Buy It Now = $110
Amount donated = $72
Verses posted = 38 of 64

Amount remaining to fund fully = $38
Amount needed to fund next verse = $3.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2


Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: (Schrodinger's Heroes)
This story came out of the June 2015 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer and [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It fills the "post-traumatic stress disorder" square in my 6-16-15 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest, and the "experimentation" square in my 6-1-15 card for the June Relationship Bingo fest. This story has been sponsored by EdorFaus. It belongs to the Don't Try This at Home thread of the Schrodinger's Heroes project.

WARNING: This story contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the more detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers. There are identity issues, emotional angst, some very ugly racism, prejudiced language, a physical scuffle, post-traumatic stress, and other challenges. However, the upstanding characters handle it pretty well, and the dirtbags are pretty obviously dirtbags. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before clicking through.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Family and horse in front of barn (Hart's Farm)
This poem is spillover from the December 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] technoshaman. It has been sponsored by EdorFaus. This poem belongs to the series Hart's Farm.


"After the Work Is Done"


At Hart's Farm, there is always time
to play after the work is done.

In spring, when the heavy rain
turns the snow into deep mud,
people huddle around the hearth
and play hnefatafl on wooden boards
with an ivory king and amber courtiers
and enemies made of black pebbles.

In summer, the fine weather
brings everyone outside for varpa,
throwing heavy weights down a course
marked with slender wands for scoring.

In autumn, they nail reindeer antlers
to posts and try to lasso them,
strong young men and women
laughing as they encourage each other.

In winter, the snow returns
and people dress warmly before
running outside to play wasaloppet,
a race run with teams of four
each sharing a single pair of skis.

The games teach teamwork
as much as competition,
building ties that continue
through the seasons of the year.

* * *

Notes:

Swedish games include hnefatafl, varpa,  Sami lassoing, and wasaloppet.

ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem was written outside of the regular prompt calls. It was inspired by a conversation with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, commissioned and sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.  Watch the video about "How Irish Dance Got Started" first, because the poem is full of spoilers for it.  This poem belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This centers on rude humor, and involves a bit of social angst, but it's mostly fluff -- or at least, as fluffy as Shiv ever gets. DO NOT watch the video with your mouth full, or anywhere that laughing aloud could cause problems.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
While the tests are iffy, the suggestions for fighting bias are excellent.  

The problem I have with the tests, by the way, is they want you to make a decision with no real data.  I don't do that.  In real life.  It drives people absolutely bugfuck.  I can't tell you anything more about a person if  all you've given me is a name or a face.  They might or might not match the things society expects, and I don't think like society, and y'know, fuck it anyway.  If you asked me to pick a partner based on nothing other than appearance, I'd try to spot someone outside the mainstream, which is pretty much the opposite expectations.  And I like to crosswire expectations when choosing character illustration pictures too.  

Which is not to say that I have no slants, but they're not shaped like most people's seem to be.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article about Bernie Sanders and race relations.  This quote caught my eye:

“I have never, ever seen a person running for president come through here. Not one time,” he said. “At first, I wondered if he is just trying to get the black vote. But I did some research and found out he fought a lot for civil rights, and even marched at one time with Martin Luther King. I never knew that. And in his speeches, he says, ‘Yes, black lives do matter.'”

So here's this white Jewish dude, he's not black, his state is mostly white ... but he's got some roots in equality activism, and one more thing.  You wave a problem in his face, he doesn't ignore it.  He goes out and gets some goddamn experience.  Maybe it's not a lot yet, but when was the last time you saw a politician respond  to a protest with anything other than "Stop whining?"  He's talking with people who know this shit.  He's going into their neighborhoods to see where this shit happened.  That matters.

That more than any speech says, in footsteps, black lives matter.  At least to him.  Because he'll go out of his way to look at a problem that is not, personally, his problem.

This is what makes activism work, when people acknowledge problems and look for solutions, and then it doesn't have  to reach riot proportions, because you're already addressing the issue.

That's leadership.  That's power.  And whether or not it goes where I hope it does, I'm happy to see it.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 My partner Doug found me this music video that's been viewed over a billion times.  The music is charming, and also particularly noteworthy for blending multiple styles.  The diversity in general is very high.  The bromance is adorable.  I think it taps into the zeitgeist because so many people have close relationships with friends who live far away, and they're not together most of the time -- their relationship lives in those moments of reconnection.

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