ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, and fills the "leaders" square in my 8-1-16 Group Dynamics card for the Group Dynamics and Character-Building Bingo. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. This is the second in the voting triptych, after "The Expression of Our Commitment."


"Securing Progress"


Stan had diligently prepared materials
for Lawrence to read on the topics of
town meetings, voting, and civics.

Lawrence had to admit that not only
were these more interesting and
relevant than what he'd gotten in
Voter Education class, it was sweet
of Stan to put in so much work when
academic skills weren't his strong suit.

Also possibly Lawrence was an idiot
for not having asked Stan for help earlier.

"So what do you think?" Stan asked,
bouncing a little on his toes. "Is this
a meeting you might want to attend?"

Lawrence flicked through the pages,
thinking it over. He had agreed to go to
three town meetings, and this one debating
whether to upgrade internet coverage in
the Greater Omaha Area overlapped with
his interests more than other recent topics.

"Okay, I'll come with you," he said.

"Yay," Stan said, grinning at him.
"You know so much more about
computers than I do, I'm sure you'll
have an easier time convincing people
than I would. You can explain why
we really need this upgrade."

Stan could convince people
to staple themselves to the pavement
if he set his mind to it, but it was still
nice of him to encourage Lawrence.

So Lawrence did his homework,
studying the format of town meetings,
when citizens could or could not vote in them,
and how they worked in the Omaha area.

It was divided into seven districts,
each with its own town council and
high citizen participation. Then
one member from each of those
sat on the city council, which had
less citizen interaction to avoid
bogging down the process.

"See, this way we get the best
of both worlds," Stan said,
tracing the districts on the map.

"We'll see how it plays out," Lawrence said.

He also researched the details of
the problem at hand, which took awhile.

The law required internet access
in residential areas as well as
public buildings such as schools,
libraries, and courthouses. Businesses
weren't required to provide connection,
although many chose to do so.

The problem with the service was that
Omaha's aging infrastructure had not been
designed to withstand so much use. That
left them with a patchwork of lines and towers
that gave some areas low-speed, intermittent,
or no coverage at all. In more developed places,
tall buildings could block reception for cellphones,
vidwatches, and other wireless devices.

It was serviceable, but far from optimum.

The current debate focused on plans and
budgeting for the upgrade, which might include
laying cable or fiber-optic lines, building repeaters,
or raising several new wireless towers for
the smartphone and tablet support.

They had options for covering expenses
out of the city budget or putting a referendum
on the November ballot for an ISP tax to raise
more money for bigger improvements.

Fortunately Lawrence had some experience,
because he had tried debate club before
settling into chess, so he used that knowledge
to prepare for the upcoming town meeting.

Stan even coaxed him into wearing
a dress shirt and tie for the occasion,
although he admitted that many people
just wore jeans and a t-shirt there.

"I think it's more polite this way, and besides,
it helps people take us seriously," Stan said
as he straightened the knot on Lawrence's tie.

"It's your show," Lawrence agreed.
He tucked his laptop under his arm
and followed Stan to the bus stop.

The crowd in the meeting room made
Lawrence hesitate, but Stan urged him in.

Many of the seats were already full,
arranged in arcs facing the viewscreens
at the front of the room. More screens
hung from the ceiling overhead, along with
projectors, speakers, and other equipment.

Lawrence clung to Stan and wondered
what the fuck he was doing here.

"Don't worry, everything will be fine,"
Stan assured him as he led the way
through the crowded room.

The only two people Lawrence recognized
were Hefty and Mr. Marshall, both of whom
waved when they spotted the two boys.
There were no seats near them, though.

Soon the audience rustled its way to silence,
and Adriano Diaz stood to deliver the invocation.
The councilman's voice was strong and clear as
he spoke of making decisions for the community
and asked for judgment and neutrality.

At least it wasn't as bad as sitting
through church. Lawrence had tried
that a couple of times with Stan,
and it just hadn't clicked for him.

Another councilman, Jeremiah Jeck,
stood up to do the coin toss and determine
which side would get to speak first.

Those in favor of the expansion won.
Mr. Jeck grimaced but surrendered the floor.

The librarian Perry Winfield stepped up,
juggling an armload of books under
his whimsical bow tie. He talked about
how requiring internet access within
all publicly accessible buildings would
take some pressure off the ones
that already had such service.

He was right, as usual.

Mr. Marshall joined him to argue
in favor of more places for students
to study, and Lawrence made a note
because that was definitely useful.

"What are you doing?" Stan whispered.

"Taking notes," Lawrence said. "Don't you?
I thought this was your kind of thing."

Stan shook his head. "I just listen."

After each speaker, the opposing side
got a brief opportunity for rebuttal, but
Mr. Marshall handily trounced his opponent.

A black man named Demetrius Bronson
pitched the importance of upgrading service
to neighborhoods of color, many of which
had slow or unreliable access. He described
how faster speed and more reliable contact
would help both employees and students.

When Bernice Nielsen came up
with her left arm in a cast, it was clear
that she had a strong case. She told
a story about getting into a car crash
in an area with poor reception, and how
that delayed summoning an ambulance.

Hefty joined her at the podium to explain
how patchy coverage made it difficult for
first responders to do their jobs, because
so many people called in emergencies
with a smartphone, vidwatch, tablet, or
other mobile device instead of a landline.

"Could that be a problem for us too?"
Stan murmured. "We're not official,
but we do deal with emergencies ..."

"Oh yeah," Lawrence said as he
cross-referenced their work with others.

In the middle there was a period
for ambivalent speakers to express
reservations or requests for clarification.

Another teenager, Brynn Rheinschild,
came to the podium to present her call
for a survey of youth opinions on the issue,
since younger people used the internet
more than older people but adults
made all of the decisions.

It was a good idea, if there was
enough time and money for it.
Lawrence glanced at Mr. Marshall
and found him taking notes too.

An elderly man, Arnold Oldaker,
pitched an idea to seek state and
federal funding instead of trying
to use the current city budget
or raise taxes for the project.

"Good idea," Lawrence said.
"If we're going to do this right,
it's bound to get expensive."

"You don't think the small version
will work?" Stan asked him.

"Not even close," Lawrence said.

Sure enough, councilwoman Simonie Parriott
took the podium to argue about how Omaha
couldn't possibly afford the expansion. She
had some numbers to support her argument,
but several people following her did not.

Lawrence started taking notes about
the logical fallacies. His smartphone had
a fact-checking program that used icons
to tally how many times a given speaker
used each logical fallacy, with a feature
for attaching citations to refute them.

Then Franko Nixon took a turn
complaining about lazy bums and
handouts, and how hardworking citizens
shouldn't have to pay for moochers.

Lawrence opened his laptop and compiled
the bad arguments, then correlated them with
information about Omaha and the problems
caused by their inadequate services.

"Hey, you should be paying attention,"
Stan said, elbowing him in the side.

"Uh huh," Lawrence said, as he
started hacking out a program that
would pull everything into a visual display.

"Seriously, cut it out," Stan said,
and tried to shut the laptop.

"Busy," Lawrence said,
pushing his boyfriend away.

Franko droned on and on about
how society was wasting money
on people who never paid back
anything invested in their welfare.

"Besides, internet is a luxury,
not a necessity," he concluded.
"If people want it, then they should
pay for it themselves; and if they
don't care enough to do that,
then they don't deserve it."

"That's not true, and I can prove it,"
Lawrence said as he stood up.
"Could I borrow the screens
for a demonstration, please?"

"Go ahead," Mr. Jeck said,
waving him toward the computer
set up for citizens to use.

Lawrence simply thumbed a button
on his laptop and took over the system,
which was quicker than fiddling with
whatever dumbass interface they had.

"So this is us, the Greater Omaha Area,"
he said, flicking maps onto different screens.
"We have over 1.3 million souls on board.
Here's what the local area looks like within
a one-hour drive time, and here's a spread
of the counties surrounding Omaha itself."

"Oh, that's what you were doing," Stan said.
"I'm sorry that I tried to interrupt you."

Lawrence touched another button.
"These overlays show current infrastructure
for fiber optic, cable, and DSL lines," he said.
"Now add fixed wireless and mobile coverage."

"It kind of looks like one big blob,"
Stan whispered, poking him in the leg.
"You need to show the differences."

Lawrence used a highlighter function
to enhance the contrast between areas
of higher and lower coverage.

"The law requires towns to provide
public and residential internet services,"
he said, "but we're not at universal coverage
and that is costing us." He brought up a set of
green dots. "These are our twenty hospitals.
As you can see, they've got good access --
but not all the places around them do."

"Well, but what does that mean in terms
of the proposals?" Mrs. Parriott asked.

Now everyone was staring at him.
Lawrence did okay delivering data,
but when people started looking at him
for actual guidance he tended to freeze.

"You got this," Stan murmured.
"Just pretend you're explaining to me."

Lawrence pulled out his smartphone
and flicked on the Heartlines display.
"How many folks here have CPR training
and an app to alert you of emergencies?"
he asked, holding up his phone. Stan's card
had run out last month, and he'd coaxed
Lawrence into getting one, so they had
both gone to the full-length class.

Most of the people in the room
raised their hands or their phones.
Anyone active enough to attend
a town meeting tended to be
a citizen responder too.

"Suppose someone needs CPR,"
Lawrence went on, tweaking the display.
"Here's the cellphone coverage, and
here's mobile wireless for tablets."

Orange no-service zones splattered the map.

"Suppose they send a runner to go
bang on doors looking for a hardline,"
Lawrence said. "Better chance, but
not everyone still pays for those,
lots of people are all mobile now."

Another touch speckled the display
with red dots. "These are cardiac arrests
recorded during the last year," he said,
highlighting the ones with poor coverage.
"If you or someone you love goes down
in a big park, a not-so-great neighborhood,
between buildings tall enough to block signals,
or an industrial strip with no public buildings --
then you may very well run out of luck."

"How much of that would current plans
take care of?" Bernice asked.

"That depends on the plan,"
Lawrence said. He overlaid each
of the proposals onto different maps.
"Here's the smallest. Here's the largest.
We'd get the biggest bang for our buck
by laying fiber optics everywhere we can,
for the speed and the bandwidth, but we
really need those new towers too, because
that's what will plug the wireless gaps."

"But that's expensive," Franko whined.
"There no way it's worth that much."

"How much is your life worth?"
Lawrence said. "Or your wife's,
your brother's, your kid's? How much
time do you spend outside the areas
that have the best coverage?"

"We could save on laying the fiber optics,"
Stan added. "Digging trenches to bury them
is expensive, and we can't go under buildings or
roads without tearing them up. But you can hire
a soup with Phasing for a thousand bucks an hour,
who can lay lines faster in comparison, and go
right through existing pavement or structures."

Of course that sparked a big debate
over whether or not it was acceptable,
let alone affordable, to hire a blue plate
to do the construction with superpowers.

Lawrence flicked off his displays and
sat down. This wasn't his part of the fight.

He could tell, though, that his presentation
had made a big impact on the support.
Mrs. Parriott maintained her concern
about costs, but she did back the move
to put the tax referendum on the ballot.

After the meeting ended, Lawrence
scuttled out of the room, hoping
to avoid a majority of the people
who still wanted to talk to him.

Stan trotted alongside, smiling.

Lawrence let Mr. Marshall catch up
to them, though, and that gave Hefty
a chance to reach them as well.

"That was a brilliant presentation,
Lawrence," said Mr. Marshall. "Could I
get a copy of that for my youth outreach?"

"Sure," Lawrence said, and synched
their devices to make the transfer.

"I'm impressed too," said Hefty.
"How about you come over
to the station and give a talk?"

"I, uh ... would rather not,"
Lawrence hedged, trying
not to panic over the idea.

"Just give him a copy like you did
for Mr. Marshall," Stan suggested.

"Yeah, okay, that I can do,"
Lawrence said, and keyed in
the transfer command again.

Two councilmen made their way
toward the boys, and Lawrence
sidled back behind Stan.

"How the devil did you hack into
our system?" Mr. Jeck demanded.

Fortunately Mr. Diaz came to
his rescue. "Now, Jeremiah, the boy
asked for permission to use the screens
and got it," the councilman said. "He just
didn't do it quite like you expected."

"Uh, yeah," said Lawrence.
"The wireless signal is public."
He hadn't damaged anything, only
used the most efficient access route.

"Why don't you drop by here some time
during business hours, and my secretary
can show you how the conventional interface
works," Mr. Diaz offered. "I would love to see
you here again, and maybe we can avoid
rattling my colleague so much next time."

Just the thought of doing this again
nearly pushed Lawrence over the edge
into panic, but he clung to Stan and
managed, "I'll think about it."

"Critical thinking and discussions
are crucial tools for securing progress
in a democratic society," Stan said,
patting Lawrence on the shoulder.
"In the end, though, it takes unity and
participation to make things happen."

"Do you really think so?" Lawrence said
as he beat a hasty escape down the steps of
the building. Tonight's adventure had been
terrifying, but ... kind of exciting, too.

"You were amazing," Stan said.

"You were right," Lawrence said.
"Town meetings are important."

"I love you too," Stan said,
and kissed him.

Yeah, that was worth it.

* * *

Notes:

Antimatter -- Lawrence Cunningham is a high school student with a keen interest in science. He has a wiry build, pale skin, and pale blue eyes. He has just a hint of beard at the end of his chin. Born with straight black hair, it turned a radiant starlit silver after the accident. He used to dye it black, but now typically leaves it silver. It currently reaches his elbows. Lawrence lives with his mother in Omaha, Nebraska. His father has been removed from their home for domestic violence, and Lawrence still has very mixed feelings about that. They don't have much money.
Lawrence is comfortably gay, and growing closer to his boyfriend Stalwart Stan. A friendly acquaintance of his is Han Gordon from the chess club. Lawrence's handle on BlackSheep is Positron. Antimatter is shifting from supervillain to superhero, due to his association with Stalwart Stan, which is awkward.
Origin: Determined to win the science fair, Lawrence attempted to create a new universe inside a cola bottle. It blew up. The accident left him with superpowers, but no science fair entry, and everyone laughed at him.
Uniform: All white, including the hat, with a black lab coat thrown over the top and a black-and-white atom patch on the chest; and goggles to obscure his face.
Qualities: Master (+6) Intelligence, Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Captain of Chess Club, Good (+2) Gender Studies, Good (+2) Gizmology
Poor (-2) Such a Dork
Powers: Expert (+4) Manipulate Physics (Signature Stunts: Greater Than Equal Reaction, Immovable Object, Irresistible Force, Neutralize Mass, Remove Friction; Speed-Healing, Spin-Off Stunts: Energy Transfer, Thicken Air)
Motivation: Mind over matter.

Hefty (Gary Braddock) -- He has ruddy skin, light brown eyes, and brown hair in a buzz cut. His body is large and powerful. He is 6'7" tall, about 2' wide at the shoulders, weighing 395 pounds. His maximum deadlift weight is 980 pounds. Hefty is homosexual, active in Bear culture. Therefore he dislikes discriminaton of any kind, often sticking up for other minorities. He also resents police brutality because if another cop mishandles civilians, it makes everyone's job harder. His boyfriend is Roger Morrison.
Origin: His mother comes from a military family and his father from an activist family. Hefty decided to split the difference and become a policeman. He volunteered to take on the rookie Fiddlesticks when nobody else wanted to, and they are steadfast partners now.
Uniform: Omaha police uniform with solid black short-sleeved shirt and pants.
Qualities: Master (+6) Strength, Expert (+4) Cop, Expert (+4) Big and Tall, Good (+2) Battlesuit Pilot, Good (+2) Cornhusker, Good (+2) Nice Guy, Good (+2) Smarter Than He Looks
Poor (-2) Swimmer
Expert (+4) Battlesuit with Expert (+4) Armor, Good (+2) Zatzer Field, Average (0) Extraction Equipment, Average (0) Search & Rescue Sensors
Motivation: To protect and serve.
Model: Terry Hollands, strong man

Bruce Marshall -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy brown hair with a short beard. He wears large geeky glasses. He favors ties with geometric or scientific designs. Mr. Marshall teaches high school science in Omaha, Nebraska. He also sponsors the science team and the chess club. He has a good eye for which students can handle more responsibility or need extra help.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Science Teacher, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Negotiation, Good (+2) Patience, Good (+2) Teen Support Contacts
Poor (-2) Overworked and Underpaid

Adriano Diaz -- He has sorrel skin and brown eyes. His hair was black in youth, but is now white and receding. He has a mustache. He wears glasses. His heritage is Hispanic. Adriano serves on the town council in District 3 of Omaha, Nebraska. He's a good leader and enthusiastic about people, but optimistic to a fault. He favors expanding Omaha's electronic infrastructure.
Qualities: Good (+2) Encouraging, Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Informed, Good (+2) Protective, Good (+2) Town Councilman
Poor (-2) Can't See the Bad in People

Jeremiah Jeck -- He has ruddy skin, blue eyes, and brown hair going gray. He wears glasses. Jeremiah serves on the town council in District 3 of Omaha, Nebraska. He's an adequate leader with a real knack for keeping events orderly and people on track. He opposes expanding Omaha's electronic infrastructure.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Following Procedures, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Persistent, Good (+2) Psychology
Poor (-2) Sourpuss

Peregrin "Perry" Winfield -- He has fair skin and brown eyes. His hair is an odd mix of dark auburn and ludicrously bright ginger, very curly. He wears glasses. Perry is a librarian who usually dresses in a suit, and prefers bow ties. He knows most of the nerds and bookworms in Omaha, and they look up to him. He excels at spotting patterns and correlations across a wide field of information. Perry still feels awkward in social situations, though, and often fumbles things. He favors expanding internet to all publically accessible buildings to reduce the pressure on those that currently have internet.
Qualities: Master (+6) Smart, Expert (+4) Correlation, Expert (+4) Librarian, Good (+2) Ambidextrous, Good (+2) Helpful, Good (+2) Nerd Friends
Poor (-2) Awkward

Demetrius Bronson -- He has toffee skin, brown eyes, and short black hair starting to go gray. He teaches grade school in a poor neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska that houses primarily black people and a few Hispanics. Demetrius is a capable teacher, popular with his students, and devoted to his town. He's a soft touch on discipline, though, and hates to see anyone suffering. He favors expanding Omaha's electronic infrastructure, especially for neighborhoods of color with little or no connection.
Qualities: Good (+2) Black Culture, Good (+2) Grade School Teacher, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Physically Fit, Good (+2) Sophisticated
Poor (-2) Soft-Hearted

Bernice Nielsen -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy golden-brown hair that falls just past her shoulders. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Bernice got into a car accident and injured her left arm. Because it happened in an area with patchy reception, that delayed calling an ambulance, so Bernice has become an citizen advocate for upgrading Omaha's service for mobile devices. She is a social worker and sympathetic to poverty issues too. She concentrates on laying things out in advance, because she's not good at making them up on the fly. She favors expanding Omaha's electronic infrastructure for safety reasons; she suffered a car crash in an area with bad cell reception, which delayed getting an ambulance.
Qualities: Good (+2) Determined, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Planning Ahead, Good (+2) Social Worker, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Improvising

Brynn Rheinschild -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and straight brown hair past her shoulders. She attends the same high school as Stan and Lawrence in Omaha, Nebraska. Smart and passionate, Brynn is active both in her school and in the community. But she doesn't have the experience yet to distinguish between what is feasible or not. She wants a survey of youth opinions on internet expansion in Omaha.
Qualities: Good (+2) Activist, Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Passionate, Good (+2) Student Council
Poor (-2) Inexperienced

Arnold Oldaker -- He has fair skin with liver spots, brown eyes, and hair going from gray to white. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska and has an active community life. Age is slowing him down, but hasn't stopped him yet. Ambivalent about expanding Omaha's electronic infrastructure, he wants to push for state or federal funding instead of trying to do it all locally.
Qualities: Master (+6) Life Experience, Expert (+4) Citizen, Good (+2) Finding Alternatives, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Poor (-2) Slow

Simonie Parriott -- She has ruddy skin, blue eyes, and straight brown hair bleached to blonde. She serves on the town council in District 3 of Omaha, Nebraska. She's an adequate leader who concentrates on fiscal responsibility. A popular girl in school, Simonie has maintained many of those relationships. The downside is her susceptibility to peer pressure. She and several other folks on her block run an upcycling business out of one lady's garage. She opposes the expansion of Omaha's electronic infrastructure; she thinks the city can't afford it.
Qualities: Good (+2) Frugal, Good (+2) High Pain Tolerance, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Popular, Good (+2) Upcycling
Poor (-2) Susceptible to Peer Pressure

Franko Nixon -- He has pale skin, squinty brown eyes, and short brown hair going gray. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Franko works hard and believes everyone else should do the same, whether they actually can or not. He opposes the kind of social programs that most other people support. He opposes the expansion of electronic infrastructure in Omaha; he thinks that internet is a luxury which individuals should pay for themselves if they want it.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Good Old Boy, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Work Ethic
Poor (-2) Stingy

* * *

“Discourse and critical thinking are essential tools when it comes to securing progress in a democratic society. But in the end, unity and engaged participation are what make it happen.”
Aberjhani, Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays

It's important to vote, and town meetings can be very informative on the issues. These make up a significant part of civic life. Stan cares a lot more about this stuff than Lawrence does.

There are nearly 1.3 million residents within the Greater Omaha Area, comprising a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Downtown Omaha, the city's center. This map shows the area within a 60-minute drive time. There are 19 hospitals scattered around local-Omaha. Terramagne-Omaha has another, the Freeman Family Hospital, which has a little bit of support for people with superpowers.

L-Omaha has a city council whose members are divided among several districts. Chris Jerram serves Council District 3, shown in brown on this map. A calendar shows the meetings and agendas. In T-Omaha, the mayor holds one Town Meeting per month, rotating among the seven districts. Each of the districts has its own Town Council with local meetings; one member from each district sits on the City Council. There are tips for raising issues at public meetings and a guide to town hall meetings.

Universal internet access is a hot issue. Federal courts have acknowledged that internet is an essential utility, not a luxury. Learn how to improve coverage in your community.

This map shows the quality of internet service in America. Here's a look at broadband technology, so you can zoom in. It shows that L-Omaha has pretty good coverage ... but there are gaps. You do not want to have a problem in one of those gaps. Take a look at county-by-county coverage in L-Nebraska. Here is a survey of businesses and speeds. A look at cellphone service in L-Nebraska reveals that all the carriers suck.

Various technology is available to connect devices. Fiber optic is the best option, but currently it only covers about 25% of L-America. Cable is decent, and covers about 89% of L-America at present. DSL is okay, not the fastest, but widely available to 90% of L-America. Fixed wireless is not great, but better than dial-up, and available in 51% of L-America.

Boosters and repeaters can help fill the gaps, although they are vaguely described in L-America. In T-America the usage is more refined. A repeater specifically receives a wireless signal and rebroadcasts it; in a public network, these are most often used to turn corners or otherwise fill dead zones caused by obstacles that block signals. Boosters and extenders similarly improve coverage. Typically, booster refers to devices that increase signal strength at the source (more useful for cutting through interference), while extenders raise signal range from the source (more useful for going farther under less-obstructed conditions). There are various methods to achieve each. Backup batteries can store power and then disgorge it when extra is needed. Beams allow the source to concentrate its signal toward known receivers, such as sessile computers or repeaters.

A debate is a structured argument. Debate clubs give people a change to practice their arguments. Learn the basics of debating and how to prepare for debates. Here is a sample worksheet for preparation.

This is the meeting room.

Prayer before public meetings is a touchy topic. It pits people's right to practice their own religion against other people's right to avoid religions they don't practice. Some people really want divine support for social activities, and others really want a mile-high wall between church and state. T-America tends to lean toward interfaith or nondenominational prayers for public meetings.

There are various fact-checking apps and one for logical fallacies. Logical fallacies are flaws in an argument which invalidate it. This site provides amusing icons to represent some common fallacies.

Here are some tips for making an audiovisual presentation and making an iPhone app. Lawrence is smart enough to do this on the fly.

Pulsepoint is a local-American app which alerts CPR-trained bystanders to a cardiac arrest and provides the location of nearby automatic external defibrillators. Heartlines is among the most popular CPR support programs in T-America. It notifies current providers of a nearby cardiac emergency, and also shows the location of automatic external defibrillators, oxygen, other medical supplies, hospitals, and so forth. It includes customer support for the latest instructions on how to perform CPR. Check out some other emergency apps for medics and the general public.

Survival of cardiac arrest follows a complex formula. Some of these variables are under human control, others not. By improving those under our control, we can maximize the number of victims who survive and raise the quality of outcome for survivors. Bystander CPR training can triple the survival rates. Not everyone is good at this, or wants to be a citizen responder, and nobody should ever be forced into it or shamed for declining it; but everyone who wants such training should have it freely available, to everyone's benefit.

Installing fiber optic systems costs a lot. An intelligent transportation system is expensive too. But you get what you pay for. When private companies provide essential utilities, they have a tendency to bill customers for laying infrastructure that is properly the corporation's responsibility. An advantage of cooperatives or public utilities is that they are expected to service everyone, even if it is inconvenient or expensive, whereas private businesses are run for their own benefit not that of their customers. One solution to budget constraints is a public-private partnership, and most importantly, lay the fiber optic cable any time you have to dig trenches for some other project.

Clearly Lawrence feels uncomfortable once people start taking his presentation seriously.  Why is he so bothered by that, and what's really going on here?  Without knowing the answers to those questions, he's unlikely to solve the problem.

Lawrence isn't a fan of big crowds, but he can handle them in familiar situations like a chess tournament.  It's feeling out of place that rattles him. Social anxiety is, generally, a fear of interacting with people. Social phobia  is an irrational  fear of other people. But here's the catch: this completely ignores rational  fear of other people. Lawrence's anxiety is just a hair over how people actually treat him. He's gay. He's a supervillain, which isn't widely known; but the glowy hair that he no longer hides routinely does mark him as a soup. And he's a nerd. People therefore mistreat him fairly often, and it happens more in the general public than in like-minded space. Almost all the resources for overcoming social anxiety claim "it's all in your head, people don't really hate you." Well, where's the advice for when talking to someone in the park has a valid chance of being called a freak faggot? *crickets chirping* The only reference I could find on dealing with people who hate you is a mishmash of good and bad advice.

Public speaking is a common phobia.  Lawrence isn't upset by giving a presentation; he's just leery of people taking him seriously because they usually don't and he doesn't think of himself as a leader.  Toastmasters is an organization which teaches leadership through public speaking; like any large organization, local groups may vary in quality, so check yours mindfully.  There are other public speaking tips as well.

People often think of leadership as dazzling social skill. That's how Stan does it. That's not  how Lawrence does it, and he doesn't understand the difference or why people sometimes-but-not-always take him seriously. He has topical  leadership. The academic field offers an example in evidence-based subject leadership. It's important to consider technical experts as leaders. In order for this to work effectively, an expert moving into a position of authority must develop the leadership and people skills to fill that position fluently. Skipping this step is what left Lawrence scrabbling on unstable footing. The expert must also be willing  to accept that authority. Stan's mistake was failing to check whether Lawrence had all the skills (not just the information) necessary for the task, and Stan also assumed  that Lawrence would be willing just because Stan thinks everyone should be active in civics. You can't just grab an expert, plunk him behind a podium, and expect that to work. This actually highlights something T-American society needs to learn: building experts into leaders. How do you take an introverted, picked-on nerd with stupendous superpowers and convince him that it's a better idea to work with  society than against  it? Other than having his boyfriend sweet-talk him into it. This is all the more complicated because Lawrence sees himself more as a rebel or outcast than a leader, and is more accustomed to people resenting or ignoring his input than appreciating it.  Explore some ways of expanding topical expertise into leadership skills

Introverts can make good leaders by capitalizing on their own strengths. In particular, introverts make terrific leaders for proactive employees. Lawrence is exactly the kind of person to send in with a bunch of facts and seed ideas, to a group of people who can take that and turn it into action plans. Notably, pairing an extrovert with an introvert can make an exceptional leadership team -- which is something that Stan and Lawrence are just starting to learn, but has great potential for their future as a super duo. Here are some leadership tips for introverts, and how to overcome the obstacles.

Another problem lies with influence and consent.  Responsibility and authority must be in balance. Authority without responsibility is unethical; responsibility without authority is ineffective. How you apply them determines much about the quality of your leadership. What we're looking at here is basically a promotion, but less obvious than a formal one at work. It's important to consider whether you even want  greater authority or more responsibility, and Stan didn't ask Lawrence about that. If you do, pay attention to the transition so that you can handle new responsibilities and wear your authority confidently.

Stan needs to learn not to make the mistake of thinking everyone is like him, or the mistake SPOON makes of thinking everyone should be a superhero.

Lawrence needs to learn that just because he was  a supervillain for a while, doesn't mean that's all he can ever be.  And unlike Shiv, Lawrence is malleable enough to make that change.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-02 06:30 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Did I mention I love your supervillains? ;)

It occurs to me that you've got a number of people that are chaotic good, some that are lawful good, a couple of chaotic or neutral evils... do you have a lawful evil character? I just rewatched the very end of "A New Hope", and it got me wondering....

I'm generally opposed to prayer before public meetings - separation, and all - but a good UU minister can usually avoid stepping on toes too seriously... hell, *I* can do it in a pinch... *wry memory of being pounced to say grace over Mother's Day many moons ago...*

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-01-02 06:52 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Moment of silence before proceedings serves a similar purpose.

Thanks for reminding me; this is my favourite way of handling it. My school system growing up did that.

Another is for the non-Muslims to mind the cash register while the Muslims are praying, and then you don't have to close the shop!

Jews have done this for many moons. Among other workarounds... the term "shabbos goy" comes to mind.

Oh, that reminds me. Part of "Star Wars: Rogue One" was filmed in the Maldives. Thought you'd want to know....

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-03 05:20 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
If pressed to "say grace", my usual response is to just say, "Give thanks for [list of items]" and be mindful of those who are less fortunate," without referencing any specific deity; people will fill in the blanks as their religion leads them to expect, and in many cases if you were to ask them later they'd swear quite honestly that I mentioned their particular deity by name!

In a more hostile situation, I'd be sorely tempted to fall back on the very flip, "Good friends, good meat, good God, let's eat!" which is at least likely to get a laugh.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-03 01:02 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Nicely done.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-02 10:52 am (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of a deer and the definition of gentle. (E: Gentle)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
Go Lawrence! I'm surprised there don't seem to be links on social/speaking/presentation anxiety in the extras, though, since Lawrence reads like he's dealing with it. Poor him. It sucks a lot, so I'm glad he has Stan to steady him.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-02 05:57 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
"Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs." When I went to work for an international company at a location with over a thousand employees, I felt lost and isolated. I saw a sign for Toastmasters, which I'd never heard of before: there was a club at the site. I thought, "If I join the club, I'll meet a number of people who work here and feel less isolated, and almost anywhere I go in the building I'll have a chance of meeting somebody I'm already acquainted with." So I did, and it worked just as I had hoped. I also became more fluent & skillful and less scared of speaking before a group, which Toastmasters calls the commonest phobia.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-02 06:07 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: A photo of a sparrow with its head tilted and the text "headtilt". (E: headtilt)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
*tilts head* Did I just manage to completely read over that? Sounds like something Lawrence might find useful to look into if he wants to be more involved with council meetings! (And I'm so amused he's actively engaging by taking notes and even presenting his thoughts and Stan's all "I usually just listen". XD It's a lovely little character detail.)

Re: Well...

Date: 2017-01-03 11:49 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of two cats lying back-to-back with two black spots connecting to make a heart. (E: Heart)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
It wasn't there before. After reading comments about this, I expanded my notes, and I think I did that after you made this comment.

Aaaaaah, I see. ^_^ It'd have been entirely possible that I read over it and just missed it. I know I didn't read through the notes in detail like I normally do (can't remember why, though it was probably "too tired for nonfiction") and I'd have been looking for keywords only. I'd miss the reference to Toastmasters in the added sections too, but I'd spot the ones around it. So many new notes. <3 Thank you again!

It's actually a potential piece of common ground for our boys due to having both geeky and social aspects.

Oooh, nice. ^_^

LOL fast-forward a few years and they'll be doing exactly the same thing in SPOON meetings.

Hee! And they'll be that much more effective at meetings because of it! Because they'll be pooling their strengths by then and collating the information into something more useful. They won't have noticed the benefits of their different approaches in just this one meeting.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2017-01-03 03:18 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

Very good questions, about which I know nothing to speak of — either literally or idiomatically.

. http://X-Clacks-Overhead.dw/GNU-Terry_Pratchett . http://www.gnuterrypratchett.com/

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2017-01-03 03:34 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

Ahhhh... Damn, you are a really good teacher/communicator of people's possible issues and how to help them, and how (POV switch alert!) we can help ourselves with them.

. http://X-Clacks-Overhead.dw/GNU-Terry_Pratchett . http://www.gnuterrypratchett.com/

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-01-02 10:06 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of two cats lying back-to-back with two black spots connecting to make a heart. (E: Heart)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
So there might be some general social anxiety. I don't think what Lawrence feels is the same as performance anxiety or a fear of public speaking.

Hence why I included all three options as a possibility. ^_^ It reads most like social anxiety to me (too), but there's often overlap between how those anxieties manifest and how they're handled, though they actually take different solutions to handle well. (I'd imagine Terramagne is a lot better at differentiating them.)

I definitely agree that he'd not benefit from tips on stage fright. He doesn't read like that's the issue at all. Tips on how to deal with a fear of public speaking might have something useful in them, though, since those should include tips on how to deal with speaking in unfamiliar places and you've noted unfamiliarity as a trigger for him.

With the chess tournaments, he'd also have something other than his audience to focus on. I'd not be surprised if he focuses on the game to such an extent he forgets anyone is watching him. So it may (or may not) help him to learn how to focus on how he presents things rather than how the audience will take it.

Mmm... If the issue is "Lawrence is not used with people looking up to him" then... maybe he'd still benefit from looking at (advanced) information on low self-esteem or building self-confidence instead? He knows a lot already, but he's still so used to thinking of himself as a supervillain/bad guy that he may not have made a link between the two and needs someone to point it out to him. Preferably not Stan because that's easier to shrug off as "He sees good in everyone and I'm his boyfriend" bias. Possibly also just "How to be a (nary) hero" type information? It wouldn't touch on "I'm a supervillain, why do people look up to me?", but I'd imagine that it would cover something like "I don't have superpowers, why are people looking up to me and not the other people who have superhero powers that are also present?" and the tips for that might have enough overlap with his particular situation to be useful to him, no?

It's okay. I was just surprised they weren't there since it's a trait that was so strongly present for me. ^_^

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-01-03 11:42 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Picture of two cats lying back-to-back with two black spots connecting to make a heart. (E: Heart)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
True. One thing I immediately noticed when I looked up links was that almost all the social anxiety material assumes that you're wrong.

*just a tad bitter* Of course it does. Unless someone is a bigot and they can tell you're part of a group they hate, they're not likely to hate you on sight, so of course social anxiety is "all in your head" and all you need to do is ~get over it~ because no one else has a problem.

That's a completely different situation from someone who only imagines that people hate them and will be nasty if approached.

Admittedly, in my experience, people with social anxiety tend to have it because they've had bad social experiences, not because they're 'only imagining it'. They might not remember them, though.

Suppose you do the worksheet and you have 10 points of evidence supporting your thought and only 2 that refute it. Now what?

Well, with most other kind of points-of-evidence system, you go "This is a clear indication that you are right and something is up", so I'd actually assume that therapists (or possibly only the good ones) do similar. Plus, epecially when you're dealing with things like social anxiety or psychological things, sometimes it's not the number of points you hit, but the intensity of the ones you do hit.

It would probably be helpful to Lawrence if he could find a mentor who'd turned the cape before, but I don't know how feasible that is.

Asking's free if he wanted to do that. ^_^

I perceive that Stan needs to think about putting the bottom rungs on the ladder, and not just boosting poor Lawrence six feet into the air.

If he doesn't have the idea, I'd imagine their teacher might've picked up on it from watching Lawrence.

Not a good thing at all when you are in a crowd of people who don't know "don't touch people when they're zoned or they will freak."

Also not likely to be a problem if it happens when he's presenting, though. It's the moments before that that are potentially troublesome, and likely only because he's already in a crowd and not, say, in the wings where the only situational awareness he'd ideally need is his cue. (More is better, obviously.)

Reason being, he isn't the same kind of hero that Stan is, and shouldn't try to be. Lawrence needs to think of his own reasons and ways to be doing this stuff.

He should. And much as I love Stan, I think this is an instance where his ability to influence people is actually a bad thing. It's extremely tempting to want to be like Stan and quite possibly even more so for Lawrence precisely because Stan is so important to him. It's not just "This is a good person, a hero and a great role model. I want to be like him". It's got a lot of intimate emotional ties and wants as well. And we know Stan's not aware of his strength in that area because Lawrence keeps having to remind him. It's no wonder neither of them are noticing the effect on Lawrence.

When fans point out that I've missed something important, I'll fill it in if I can. So I did that.

<3 Thank you. And I'm happy to have noted something important too. ^_^

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-01-03 01:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] daisiesrockalot
>>But I haven't seen anything on how to deal with people looking to you for guidance. How to get their respect, yes; how to be a good leader, yes; but not "I am a supervillain, why are all looking at me like I'm the only one who knows where the emergency door is?"<<

I now have even more sympathy for Lawrence. I somehow seem to get that a lot: there's a group project and suddenly everyone is looking at me as a leader and I have no idea why. My solution is basically to just try to learn all the leadership skills that I can so that I don't lead a group to crash and burn, but it's never really a comfortable situation. For Lawrence, it might help to point out facts remain the same no matter which side of the cape he's on. Someone could also point out that people looking to him is sort of like him looking to Mr. Marshall; both of them are able to say something and back it up, and credible sources of information usually end up with some sort of authority.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-01-03 05:46 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
In other words, after he's done this 5-10 times, most of the apprehension should fade naturally just from familiarity.

The problem is going to be getting him to do it those first 7 times or so, after which the familiarity effect should start kicking in. But he's an introvert, and that's a lot of spoons to spend up-front on something that isn't showing much ROI.

BUT! Are there other similar situations that Stan would know about, where it took Lawrence a comparable amount of time and effort to start feeling comfortable? Pattern recognition is one of the things that reaches Lawrence really well; if Stan can point out that "it took you 5 or 6 times going to [other thing] before you were okay with it; try this for that long" it may help.

Potential downside: what you said in the notes about Lawrence's social anxiety being mostly rational. What if someone on the opposing side goes full-on ad hominem about either his sexuality or about being a soup -- or looks him up and discovers that he's still listed as a supervillain, and tries to use that as a lever to discredit him? That could be traumatic enough to send him into panic/hide mode even if Stan comes to the rescue.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-02 11:00 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
Excellently done. Go Lawrence!

In Medford MA the town meetings are quite contentious and show how very purple we are. I may include a link to our Facebook group in my next prompt.

As a redhead, I'm fascinated by our variations, and so your description of Perry caught my eye. My kids and I have different shades of red, even. (My daughter's hair is this deep yet vivid color with gold sparkles. Mine has always been slightly more orange than that, shading toward peach now. My son's is nearly brown in winter and nearly blond in summer. This also means he gets WAY too much sun for his skin type...)
Edited (Details ) Date: 2017-01-02 11:05 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-03 05:33 am (UTC)
thnidu: Red pen. Text: The red penis the editor's friend; editing mark "insert space" in "penis". from lj:stormsdotter (editor's friend)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
• discriminaton of any kind,
-> discrimination


DOUBLE, DOUBLE, WHERE'S THE TROUBLE?
DOUBLE, DOUBLE, WHERE'S THE TROUBLE?
• Bernice got into a car accident and injured her left arm. Because it happened in an area with patchy reception, that delayed calling an ambulance, so Bernice has become an citizen advocate for upgrading Omaha's service for mobile devices.
...
She favors expanding Omaha's electronic infrastructure for safety reasons; she suffered a car crash in an area with bad cell reception, which delayed getting an ambulance.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-03 06:02 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
"Oh, that's what you were doing," Stan said.
"I'm sorry that I tried to interrupt you."


Good recognition and apology, Stan. Now, next time, remember that even if Lawrence seems not to be paying attention, he probably is, and is doing something relevant!

"You got this," Stan murmured.
"Just pretend you're explaining to me."


Love this. That's exactly the right approach.

let alone affordable, to hire a blue plate
325 to do the construction with superpowers.


Line number that didn't get removed.

I think Jeck's hostility is mostly age-based -- he's looking at Lawrence and seeing "teenager" and that's where the "hacking" comment comes from.

I've heard very mixed reports about Toastmasters -- apparently there's considerable variation between the individual units, and some of them are more accepting than others, especially of introverts. Just a thing to keep in mind.

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