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Here's an interesting post on convention panels about diversity. Now for some further discussion of particular points ...

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Disappointed by commercial offerings, more and more women are making clothes for girls that challenge gender stereotypes. Even better, now they're banding together.  :D  I love genderflexy clothes.
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Terri Windling has written a lovely essay on perfectionism and how it can destroy creative people.  Now consider that the educational system is less and less inclined to tolerate mistakes of any kind, ever, at all.  It raises the stakes from a very young age, which predictably results in more children getting suspended (they're doing that in preschools now) and vomiting from stress during standardized tests.  Imagine what that's doing to the creatives among them.  >_<
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
Today I discovered Raising Dion. It's about a single mother of color, who does not have superpowers, raising a son who does. Gorgeous art, adorable characterization, attentive ethics, really cool power use, positive family values -- all stuff I love. You can download a free PDF of the first issue, or buy a print-on-demand hardcopy here. Regrettably I could not find a plain donation button, but the hardcopy is only $4 so that should fit most budgets. If you want to support them more, you could always buy extras for some friends.

Read more... )
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 [personal profile] finch has written "Triage" based on my prompt in his Birdcage event.  I asked for a supervillain with a problem that can't be solved by hitting.  This definitely qualifies.  But Mary Sand is trying a supervillain approach anyhow.
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 Viridi is a game for people who don't like shooting, hitting, lots of blinking lights, nerve-wracking counters, or the other stuff typical of video games.  You grow succulent plants.  :D  It's meant to be a more relaxing, meditative experience than other games.
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Civilization is relatively new, and not as great a thing as most people think, only they've forgotten the other options
ysabetwordsmith: (muse)
Here is a wonderful article about what it really means to be Pagan, and indeed, what Paganism is for.  Some of the quotes are by people I know, like Anne Niven -- it's always fun to cross paths that way.  For my part ...

I do magic because it works.  I am a devout empiricist; I don't care what other people say, I care what I can observe.  What I observe is that I get better results from behaving as if magic works than as if it does not, as if there are divine beings than as if there are not, and so forth.  I'm always looking for the model that delivers the best results.

Hence Paganism, doing science to magic and magic to science, and often annoying people on both sides of the field.  But to me it's not a pair of pigeonholes.  It's a torc, bent so that the two ends face each other and sparks dance across the gap that holds things like quantum mechanics.

One thing I've noticed is that climate change is changing how magic works.  This is not actually new, same thing happened when the Ice Age conked out, and wow was changing the climate inside a human lifetime something I did not  need to see again.  But at least I know how fast Gaia can move when she feels like it: quite a lot faster than most humans think.  Anyhow, it used to be the case that weather was fairly amenable to human input, if one had the relevant talent, skills, and/or knowledge.  Moods, yes, but mercurial ones; the clouds might ignore a request sometimes, but most of the time would mind a good weatherworker.  Now, not so much.  Trying to talk to the weather spirits now is like trying to talk to someone on a rampage beating cars with a bat.  O. Kay. Then.  0_o  So I learned, partly with input from some Pagan friends, to nudge the weather in less psychotic directions by asking the land spirits to intervene.  "Hey, could you ask them to tone it down enough to avoid tearing loose the trees?"  It helps.  

Another thing is thinking about context.  I've landscaped the yard for wildlife and human benefit.  Much of it is modeled after ecosystems -- the prairie garden, the savannah, the forest.  So too the magic is built into it, layers of shields for protection, and one other thing.  I created a kind of large-scale deadman switch, so that if civilization collapses, it will pull the handle on what amounts to an ecological life-raft.  Energy comes up from the node, hits the tight package of biodiversity, and then spreads outward carrying the plants and animals with it into what is currently barren monoculture. Hopefully we won't need it, but it's there just in case. 

Even in its dormant form, that kind of magic has influence.  One day a storm snapped a tree about 20 feet up from the ground.  I did a little quick research, discovered that standing snags are useful, and decided to leave it.  But there was all the rest of the tree in the way.  So we had that cut into firewood and reduced to wood chips.  Yay, mulch pile!  And here's where it gets interesting.  The mulch pile came into existence, and then it rained for two days straight.  On the third day, I went out to look at the new mulch pile.  It was already fully inhabited.  I could see webs of fungus spread over it.  There were pillbugs, beetles, centipedes, and spiders crawling through it.  Curious, I poked the chips with my trowel, and out hopped a toad.  The detritus food chain here at Fieldhaven is three days to apex.  Three days,  mind you, not three weeks or three months.  That interfaces with the macro food chain through small vertebrates such as toads and birds.  The whole process worked in miniature as soon as a situation called for it.  Great job on the storm drill, folks.

A lot of what I do with magic just comes down to making things work better, faster, more focused.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 I was intrigued to see this article point out something that I have said for ages: Power doesn't corrupt, it reveals.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I am pleased to announced that my story "Love Is for Children" is available in podfic by RyukoAkari.  Chapters 1-4 can be downloaded in MP3 format now.  Updates will add more chapters, and when complete, the work will be reposted as a single file.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here is a clever first draft checklist.  I'm not sure I've ever written a story that simple, but it seems like a useful graphic.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's another good post about trigger warnings and why they are valuable.

When you include notes about content, and your policies, that helps people make more informed and mindful decisions about their lives.  When you include tools -- you may ask for an alternate assignment, here is the quiet room, this is a handout of coping skills because this class handles historic atrocities, if you are having lots of trouble please visit in my office so we can discuss it, etc. -- that teaches people how to handle challenges in effective ways that build resilience.  There are rocks, but you can climb over them.  Here is a rope.

When you do not include notes, you deny people the chance to select the classes that are the best fit for them and to cope with materials presented in progress.  There are rocks and people are dropped on their heads.  If you sustain a concussion it is because you are a pussy, not because the rocks are sharp.

When you include notes but not tools, and allow people to dodge material without compensating in any way, that  is coddling.  The rocks are taken out of the way.  Now nobody can learn how to climb rocks in a relatively safe environment.

The complaints about trigger warnings basically say: "It is okay to hurt people.  It is not okay if you want people NOT to hurt you.  Just get used to being hurt, you pussy."  Because really?  If you have triggers, there is no getting away from them.  The world whacks them all the time.  Especially if they are about sex or violence or both.  And pressuring people to remain silent about being hurt just gets more people hurt, which is also not okay.

When you put content notes or trigger warnings on a class, story, or other material it says: "I am choosing to deal with controversial topics.  I want to understand what happens in the world and hopefully that will help make it a better place.  I want to make it as accessible as possible so that more people can deal with these topics in a safe way."  You don't go into shop class and NOT have safety goggles, I hope.  If you're talking about things like rape or mass murder, and especially about some crackpot thinking those are jolly good ideas, then folks need to know that appropriate safety measures are in place.

Seriously, look around: If there are women, about a quarter of them have experienced sexual violence personally and the rest have at least fended off smarmy approaches. Probably at least one or two of the men are survivors too.  If there are Jews, they will be sensitive about the Holocaust and probably Israeli politics.  If there are black people, they will be sensitive about slavery and racism.  If there are poor people, they will probably be touchy about some money issues.  And if the group is a monoculture, that's likely to cause problems on its own and is not an ideal learning environment.  Explaining the parameters for handling challenges is just part of running a smooth class or other activity.  It is not fun for anybody if somebody has a panic attack because they got blindsided.  It is not effective if people blank out because the material is ghastly and no coping methods are available.

Of course, not everyone is equally good at listing triggers, and it does take time.  So if that's expected at college, you have to allow the extra time and make sure there's a backup person for teachers who aren't good at it.  (Inaccurate warnings are worse than useless.)  If you're doing it as a writer, you can just ask your audience to tell you if they think more warnings are advisable.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This series of closeup acrylic paintings is entitled "Man Cunt," by and about a transgender man and his testosterone-improved genitalia.  Utterly gorgeous, incredibly hawt, and of course NSFW.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
My partner Doug forwarded me a review of a novel from the perspective of an autistic man. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an essay that defends two of the greatest purposes in literature: to show the ugliness that humanity can manifest, and to make people think  about it.  This is true throughout art, whether it be genre literature or great paintings or whatever.  It's not supposed to come with a canned meaning.  It's supposed to provoke you, make you feel things, sometimes dark and sometimes light and quite often both at the same time.

I like exploring intense topics.  Some of them are bright, like building intimacy.  Some of them are dark, like when characters give in to base impulses and really hurt someone.  You can usually tell which things are good or bad ideas as you read them.  But the characters  don't always know that.  Sometimes what I write is disturbing precisely because it depicts something horrible through the perspective of someone who thinks is a grand idea.  Officer RAT, for instance, thinks that his prejudices make the world a better place by coming down hard on bad guys.  I rarely come right out and say something like, "Don't murder people; that is bad and wrong."  If you look at the action, however, you'll see that murder tends to have undesirable outcomes.  A lot of my characters are very mixed.  Look at, say, Steel and Dr. Infanta -- they can get incredibly violent if you trigger them.  But that happens because of how badly other people have torn them up in the past.  With people they care about, they're both quite protective.  That invites readers to think about where they draw the lines of what is justified or unjustified, who is a hero and who is a villain, and why.

Don't ever let anyone take that away from you.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Your location is intimate, sensitive information that can be used to hurt you.  But this app uses it to your advantage by relaying information about your planned route, progress along it, and safety level to designated companions.  This enables people to manage their own travel and safety more effectively, without tying them to a physical bodyguard.  It's a useful tool for some contexts.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] redsixwing has a thoughtful post about "impossible colors" and how they are not actually impossible but just places where our tools -- whether linguistic or mechanical -- break down.

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