My CPAP machine is insecure

Mar. 29th, 2017 02:51 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
So it sends me endless emails explaining how it makes my life easier. Today's was a claim that apnea sufferers who use their CPAP machines correctly halve their odds of experiencing a vehicular mishap, which is kind of funny because I almost got backed over by a car today.
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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

Stephen Colbert continues to bring the comedic fire to The Late Show, and last night, he roasted Trump’s executive order that rolls back President Obama’s environmental protections. We often use hyperbole about Trump destroying the world but this time he’s actively working to destroy the world. Luckily we have Stephen Colbert on our side.

In the segment, Colbert uses the old “girlfriend in Canada” lie to tackle Trump’s specious claims about “clean coal”:

Back in high school, I had a girlfriend in Canada who was a clean coal miner. She told me they mine the clean coal and put it on that silver-bullet train and then they send it to Narnia where the Keebler Elves use it to power the pump on the fountain of youth.

Bravo, sir. We are then visited by a very special guest, Woodsy Owl—the ’70s-era icon for the U.S. forest service, famed for his slogan “Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!”

Woodsy_Owl

Colbert and his crew imagine that these days, Woodsy would have a different message for the kids. I’m laughing through my tears for the dying planet.

(via Salon, Woodsy via WikiMedia Commons, top image via YouTube screengrab)

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

14620458365_b74b05586d_z

LGBTQ Americans face erasure on nearly every level of public life, and that’s become more apparent as the U.S. Census Bureau has pulled back a draft of the 2020 Census that included questions asking people about their sexual orientation and gender identity. The decision to pull the questions comes from the Census Bureau itself; several members of Congress asked that the questions be included in the first place.

But in a statement regarding the removal, a Bureau spokesperson said:

The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix. This topic is not being proposed to Congress for the 2020 Census or American Community Survey.

Democrats in Congress made the push for the additional identifiers as they believed it would help inform their decision making regarding laws that affect LGBTQ people. As of right now, the only way to assess how much of the population identifies as LGBTQ is through opinion polls, which aren’t nearly as regulated (and thus less trusted by politicians, because of course) as the census.

The decision to pull the questions may seem like a minor one, but the truth of the matter is that without such information, any decisions made that affect the LGBTQ population in America would be decisions made while effectively “shooting from the hip,” so to speak. How can one properly govern a population they know nothing about? (Because I know someone’s going to try to answer: that’s a rhetorical question, I know that this is exactly what the federal government does.)

Proponents of the removal argue that the census already has a question that asks about same sex households. The catch, though, is that those only reflect a portion of the LGBTQ community, and even then, it only reflects those who live in areas where it’s safe and legal to be a same sex household. So, again: not a fully accurate count of the LGBTQ population in this country.

This move comes hand-in-hand with an executive order signed by Trump that effectively nullifies a past order protecting LGBTQ federal employees. The “Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Order” (Executive Order 13673) required federally contracted companies to demonstrate that they followed 14 federal laws, most of which protected employees from discrimination based on their orientation and gender identity. Trump’s Order removes that requirement, signaling to contractors that they don’t care about whether they discriminate or not.

For many LGBTQ employees working under federal contractors, it’s an incredibly worrying move, and for everyone, it reflects the federal government’s growing disinterest in helping LGBTQ people. They don’t want to know we exist, that way they can justify taking away our rights and our humanity.

Dehumanization begins with erasure, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. Trump’s administration doesn’t have to pull back an old Executive Order or try to repeal an amendment regarding marriage; all he has to do is signal opposition to such stances, and the bureaus and offices working underneath him will follow suit. Make no mistake: there won’t be a climactic showdown to defend equal rights on Capitol Hill. It’ll be a slow bleed-out happening in the Oval Office.

(via Death and Taxes, image via Flickr/torbakhopper)

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Sudden possibilities

Mar. 29th, 2017 10:53 am
silailo: (cacti)
[personal profile] silailo
Ohhhhh!! So two apartments were just listed for Summer Town (code name for the place I'll be living this summer). One has really reasonable rent and is in the heart of the business area, possibly on the second floor of a building where there's a computer repair shop on the ground level. It's one of those older brick buildings, so I don't know what the quality might look like. Nothing was mentioned in the ad about a lease. My main concern about second level apartments is being hot in the summer. Most of these places don't have A/C despite temperatures often breaking 100+ degrees in the height of summer. I would rather be cold than hot. But I get that A/C takes a lot of electricity.

The other apartment is at the month-to-month place I've called before. The rent is higher but it's still in town and close to where I work (anywhere in town will be close to where I work, but this place is pretty darn close). Since I know most of the specifics about the place, and I've driven around it to get a good look at it's quality at least on the outside, I wouldn't mind living there.

The bunkhouse is still way, way cheaper, but I dread the idea of going back there. Not even the lure of cheap rent puts my mind at ease. I'm still open to it, and I would do it if I have no other options, and I can resign myself to it, but if I do live out there I'll be going home on the weekends often, which is what I don't want to do this summer. Having a place in town will make me want to stay in town on weekends. I'd like to volunteer at the local historical society to keep me busy.

As for getting internet in a place if I get one (which isn't an option at the bunkhouse), I'm still debating with myself about it. I could get a card at the local library or something and use their internet--if they have any. I don't want to have to use the WiFi at the ghetto grocery store, which is what one of my coworkers did the first season. He said he saw a few drug deals go down while he was there. I'm not sure where else I could get WiFi. I think it's sad how desperately I feel like I need to be connected to the internet when it's probably better for me to not always be constantly plugged in.

EDIT: Oh crap. I just forgot. I've been having trouble with my phone where I'll call someone and they can't hear me, even though I can hear them. I've been leaving messages. Oh my gosh, I hope they can hear me on those messages. I might end up calling these places again tomorrow if I don't hear back today.
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Posted by paris moon

I have a side business that has surprised me by doing really well these past couple years (yay!). I am also employed full time (yay!). I know I need to start filing estimated taxes quarterly this year, but what does that mean? Does that mean just for my side business, or for all of my income? I thought this would be easy to figure out on my own but I’m having a hard time teasing out a specific answer from all the info out there intended for people who are 100% self-employed or people who are considering a side business but haven’t made any (or much) money yet.

Here are some details -

Me:

Salaried, full-time employee of a company that issues me an annual W2. Federal taxes are deducted from each paycheck. My pre-tax income is about $90k from this job. I filed my 2016 taxes as single, head of household, and I have one dependent (my daughter, born in 2016). I owed about $4000 in taxes for 2016, almost entirely due to owing taxes on my side business’s earnings (that’s fine, and I expected it). I live in a state without a state tax.

My understanding was the business’s first year (2016) could be rolled into my personal taxes, but after that (2017 and beyond), I’d need to pay estimated taxes on it “quarterly” (I know they’re not equally sized quarters). I got this understanding from the intertubes, self-employed friends (for whom their self-employment is their only employment), and a CPA I hired last year who said I’d need to start paying quarterly in 2017.

My side business:

It went official in January 2016 - it’s legally registered as a business in my city and state. It’s a sole proprietorship. It has its own checking account and credit card to keep “business” money separate from “my” money. It earned about $20k in all of 2016 - its first year as an official business.

This year, I estimate it might earn around $35k. It does not earn consistently: nearly half of my side business income is earned in October, November, and December, and those payments land in January, February, and March of the following year. I run the business entirely online (it’s a blog), so there aren’t many deductions: I don’t have a home office, no employees, no inventory, don’t use my car for the business, etc. Honestly, it kind of surprises me each year. I always think “oh, it can’t possibly beat last Christmas” and then out of nowhere it does.

So far, in 2017, the payments I’ve received for my side business total up to $14,752.

My question:

When I make my first estimated payment this April, am I supposed to pay taxes on just the $14,752 minus expenses (I renewed my hosting, bought a new domain, etc), or do I need to include all of my day job salary income for Jan-March, too?

I thought it was the former, so I was happily filling out a 1040ES until I got to line 6, which says: “Enter your expected wages (if subject to social security tax or the 6.2% portion of tier 1 railroad retirement tax)”, which suggests I need to also include my day-job wages… right? I don’t pay myself a “wage” from my side business. In fact, all the money it has earned is still sitting in its own checking account (and I would very much like to roll it into my personal account).

What I’d like to do is keep paying personal taxes on an annual basis, and pay the estimates for the side business separately (on a “quarterly” basis). What happens when I go to file my personal taxes for 2017, though? Will the sole proprietorship side business still be rolled into my personal taxes, just with less owed because I paid taxes for it all year long?

Please hope me - I am apparently better at making money than I am at doing the taxes for it.

Thank you!

PS: I would also love your recommendations for online software/tools for paying these quarterly taxes. I use TurboTax's website for my personal taxes but I'm not sure if I need their actual software now or what.
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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_Ya Lun and Xi Lun_Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta’s Giant Panda twins, Ya Lun and Xi Lun, have reached yet another adorable milestone: exploring the great outdoors for the first time. On March 27, lucky visitors got a peek at the duo as they got a taste of their first Georgia spring in an outdoor habitat at Zoo Atlanta’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.

Ya Lun was quick to explore her new surroundings, while her sister Xi Lun was more reticent. According to the Zoo, Ya Lun is typically the more daring of the duo, and Xi Lun tends to be more cautious.

2_Ya Lun_Zoo Atlanta

3_Xi Lun_Zoo AtlantaPhoto Credits: Zoo Atlanta

It is not unusual for the cubs, who will be 7 months old on April 3, to be making their first trip into an outdoor space at this age. Giant Pandas are born exceptionally tiny, hairless, blind and entirely dependent. A mother will instinctively keep her offspring in a secluded and protected den area, away from predators and the elements. Lun Lun followed this instinct with Ya Lun and Xi Lun, remaining with the cubs in behind-the-scenes dens until late December, when she began exploring the option of taking the cubs into their dayroom habitat.

Since Ya Lun, Xi Lun and Lun Lun are still becoming comfortable in the outdoor habitat, the Zoo’s Animal Care Team began allowing the three to explore the space for brief times before Zoo opening hours on March 24, but March 27 was the first occasion when Zoo guests got a sneak-peek of the cubs outside. Ya Lun and Xi Lun will continue to check out the space on a gradual basis at limited times during the day, so there is not yet a guarantee of seeing the cubs in the outdoor habitat. However, the cubs have been visible in their dayroom space, full-time, since mid-March.

Born September 3, 2016, Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the sixth and seventh offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang. Their older brothers and sisters, Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.

Giant Pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant investment in wildlife conservation. Fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Of these, more than 1,200 live inside nature reserves, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta.

In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the Giant Panda’s status from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable.” The species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, and Giant Pandas face ongoing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.

I hate shopping

Mar. 29th, 2017 07:21 pm
hunningham: (Default)
[personal profile] hunningham

I am looking for a new hiking rucksack. My current one, although perfect in many ways, isn't quite large enough to hold ALL the backup layers I would like for winter walking, and there is no space for any extras such as the large first-aid kit or a coil of rope. (Also, it's starting to fray.)

So I'm in the market for a new one. Requirements:

  • 35 - 40 litres
    Rucksack size is a bit of a guessing game. The best way of finding out if a rucksack is the right size is to go to the shop with all your stuff and then load it into the new rucksack. And yes, I have found that sometimes all the items which come out of my 30L bag will not fit into a new 35L bag.
  • Fits me
    Rucksack designers, like clothes designers, assume that the standard human is either a supermodel or a long lean man. The standard rucksack shape is tall and narrow. I want a short rucksack (to fit my back). If the rucksack fits, it's usually too small (short and narrow). Ideally I want a rucksack which is short and WIDE.
  • Don't need special compartments
    A lot of people carry water in a plastic bladder with a tube so they can suck water as they walk. And a lot of rucksacks have a special bladder pocket at the front. Useless for me. I also want to avoid rucksacks with too many zips or double compartments. The waterproof trousers are always behind the other zip. No, the other other zip.
  • Pockets
    I want side pockets. Big side pockets which will hold a water bottle. Plenty of rucksacks have pockets, but they're usually big enough to hold a hanky and nothing else. And if you have a strap which goes OVER the pocket then that's broken design.
  • Colour
    Not pink. Or fuchsia. Or magenta. Please.
General mood = grumpy. I really haven't been having fun.

Mass Effect Andromeda

Mar. 30th, 2017 02:17 am
alias_sqbr: (up and down)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
My tl;dr review: this is a profoundly mediocre game that I mostly enjoyed. I wanted a mostly upbeat game where I got to play a queer woman exploring planets, shooting bad guys, and and kissing cute girl aliens, and that's what I got. If there were any other games that let me do all that I might have been more dissappointed with the quality of the experience, but there basically aren't, so. Also I had a health downswing so bad I'd normally have to lie in bed playing hidden object games for a week, which made the drawn out, simplistic nature of the game kind of a plus. My enjoyment fell pretty drastically once I got better haha.

No major spoilers )
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Posted by Vivian Kane

Roger Stone, Trump’s former top advisor who quit/was fired from the campaign last summer, is getting his own Netflix documentary this May. This is a man under investigation for colluding with Russia to put Trump in office, a man with an affinity for dressing like a ““low budget movie villain,” who has described himself as a “dirty trickster, and who has a tattoo of Richard Nixon’s face on his back (seriously). He is not a good man.

The trailer for the documentary, Get Me Roger Stone, makes it clear that that “not a good man” is one hell of an understatement. Here are a just a few of the trailer’s most bananas quotes about Stone:

  • “When people think of Washington corruption, they think of Roger Stone.”
  • “He really pioneered negative campaign advertising.”
  • “He created the modern sleazeball lobbyist.”

And in Stone’s own terrible words:

  • “Those who say I have no soul, those who say I have no principals, are losers. Those are bitter losers.”
  • “I revel in your hatred. Because if I weren’t effective, you wouldn’t hate me.

Sounds like a swell guy, right? And this man, for whom “It is better to be infamous than never be famous at all” is a personal rule, is the man who brought us Donald Trump. According to the trailer, Stone had been pushing him to consider public office for 30 years, and ultimately “created Donald Trump as a political figure.”

So if you were wondering who it was that set fire to the dumpster that is current politics, this is your guy.

The movie looks fascinating, but is it too soon for our still-open wounds? What do you all think?

 

(image via screengrab)

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Posted by Keisha Hatchett

If you really love The Mindy Project, I come bearing good and bad news. On the plus side, the Hulu series is getting renewed. Unfortunately, the sixth season will be its last.

The show first premiered in 2012 on Fox before moving over to the streaming platform after season three. The show centers on an OB/GYN named Mindy who dreams of becoming the perfect woman, finding the perfect guy and securing her perfect romcom ending. It stars Mindy Kaling in the titular role alongside Ed Weeks (Jeremy Reed), Ike Barinholtz (Morgan Tookers), Beth Grant (Beverly), Xosha Roquemore (Tamra Webb) and Fortune Feimster (Colette Kimball-Kinney).

The final season is set to premiere sometime in September. While we don’t have the exact date just yet, you might wanna get cracking on that series binge.

(image via screencap)

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Posted by Beth Elderkin

Disney Pixar has released a new short for its upcoming animated film Coco, introducing main character Miguel’s hairless dog, Dante. All he wants is a little snack, but as he learns the hard way, you shouldn’t rob the dead.

Read more...

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Posted by Beth Elderkin

Margaret Atwood’s iconic scifi novel The Handmaid’s Tale left things on a final, yet somewhat ambiguous, note. Now, ahead of the upcoming Hulu adaptation, Atwood has released a new audiobook chapter that tells more about what happened after that closing line: “Are there any questions?”

Read more...

Uranus Smells Like Farts

Mar. 29th, 2017 03:30 pm
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Posted by Ryan F. Mandelbaum on Gizmodo, shared by Cheryl Eddy to io9

Scientists have lots of questions about Uranus. Why does Uranus look the way it does, why did Uranus form the way it did, why does Uranus differ so much from other gas giants, like Jupiter and Saturn? But I had a more important question.

Read more...

reading wednesday

Mar. 29th, 2017 02:08 pm
watersword: An envelope with a lipstick kiss on it. (Stock: 14 Valentines)
[personal profile] watersword
The last days of magic / Mark Tompkins. Blechhhh, she explained. I suppose this could be worse but blechhhhh, I only made it like twenty pages in before I couldn't take it anymore, this is way overambitious and leaden and I duwanna. It reminds me of Grossman's The Magicians and Magician King, both of which I hated, so if you liked those, this may work for you?

The convenient marriage / Georgette Heyer. I'm very disappointed that the secretary didn't marry the remaining Winwood sister, and I wanted a lot more of the hero's sister and frankly a lot less of the heroine's brother. It's a nice change for a Heyer to be set so early -- I'm not sure of the exact date, but it's 1750's, i.e. George II, at the latest, I think.

Life after life / Kate Atkinson. A literary version of Jo Walton's Among Others, which I found much more interesting.

Textu / Fady Joudah. Had trouble connecting to this, and I'm not wholly sure I know what Joudah is trying to do.

Stoppard's theatre : finding order amid chaos / John Fleming. Although I adore Stoppard's work, I haven't read much of the academic criticism, and I'm literally aghast that this book quotes Stoppard extensively and apparently no one reads Arcadia's Gus as on the autism spectrum? Like, it didn't even come up? I'm so confused. Am I the only person who reads him like that?

The tombs of Atuan / Ursula K. Le Guin. This is pretty unrelentingly grim, and while LeGuin is always worth reading, I'm not planning on coming back to this one.
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Posted by Dolley

I have an FSA to which I contribute (for example) $10 per month for a total of $1200 for the year. FSA rules allow me to use the entire $1200 before the end of the year, and the ongoing deductions from my pay will eventually fully fund the account.

What happens if I use the entire $1200 before quitting my job on, say June 30? I will have paid in only $600. Am I responsible for the rest? There is an existing AskMe on this subject, but it’s from 2006 – the rules may not be the same now. In 2006, the answer was that I would not be responsible for fully funding the account.

Reading Wednesday

Mar. 29th, 2017 10:05 am
muccamukk: Lt Bush salutes ironically. (HH: Salute)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading
Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie (Great Discoveries Series) by Barbara Goldsmith
This series seems to be short summaries of people's achievements, but even given that I really liked this book. It didn't have room to get very technical or go into great detail on any given era, but was well written, interesting and didn't idolise its subject.


The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution by Deborah E. Harkness, narrated by Kate Reading
This is going to be one of those books that makes me annoyed at a lot of other books. I've read a fair bit about the scientific revolution, and this is all completely new to me to the extent that I'm now irritated at all the other books I've read for not including any of it.

It's a wonderful exploration of scientific culture in the late 16th-century, including pushes to increase mathematical literacy for national economic development, collecting-comparing-publishing findings from experiments, in fights over priority and credit, and government support of large-scale scientific projects, mostly focusing on how individual practitioners fit into all this. The idea that this was all going on, and that Francis Bacon (who the author dislikes!) was more or less whining because he didn't get to be in charge of it and gentlemen shouldn't get their hands dirty doing actual work, was frankly a little mind blowing.

Really good, very enjoyably read by Kate Reading, would recommend.


Desire Wears Diamonds (Jaded Gentleman #6) by Renee Bernard
So I haven't read anything else in this series, but clearly stumbled on the best one anyway. The author sets up the intro pretty well, and then I just spent the whole book drawing hearts around Michael and Grace, so who cares about the big arc plot (other than Michael is angst about it! Oh noes!) Michael just wants to atone by dying for his friends! But then he might have to die for his wife! And he can't do both at once! It's a challenge! Grace just wants a room of one's own.

I'm not sure if I'll back read, since idk if Michael will be in them enough, and I wasn't as invested in any of the others. Will keep an eye out for Bernard stuff though.


Four Wars of 1812 by D. Peter Macleod
I think this must have made a very fine museum exhibit, but in terms of trying to get a handle on the war, it just didn't have enough information in it. The art and pictures from the display were very interesting though, and I always appreciate an O'Brian reference.

(Speaking of [as the book also mentioned Forester], just watched Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN with Nenya, since I'd seen it ten years ago, and she hadn't at all. To conclude: "Ioan Gruffudd grew up to be Gregory Peck. Bush got less gay and slightly less hot. But it works amazingly well in continuity.")


Tropical Tiger Spy (Shifting Sands Resort #1) by Zoe Chant
Fun read. It was a bit slow to start, but once the action plot kicked off, I really enjoyed it. I liked how resourceful Amber was, though Tony's agency should seriously hire her, because she's way better at spy stuff. The action (and the "action") was very well written. Could have used a little more angst.

Tropical Wounded Wolf (Shifting Sands Resort #2) by Zoe Chant
Oh there we go. THAT one is angsty enough. Enjoyed it even more than the first one (because angst!), though the plot itself was a little slower. However, I appreciate trapped in peril plots, and both characters were very likeable. I'm curious what's going on with the resort though, so I hope Zoe writes more of these. Oh and the gazelle. Really great setting for a series.

(I was saying to Nenya, having just read Diamonds and Wounded Wolf back to back, is that the fantasy with heroes with massive self-esteem issues doesn't seem to be that you'll find someone who will tell you you're good, but that someone will tell you you're good, and you'll believe them.)


Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean by Adrian Tinniswood, narrated by Clive Chafer
Okay, look, I came into this researching English relations with pirates in the 1600s, which is what this book is about, and had the information I needed, and the Anglo-centrism STILL annoyed the crap out of me. I know that the author's area of study is England, but 100% of his sources are English, and he appears to have put zero effort into finding contemporary sources from any of the actual pirates or people who lived near them (unless they happened to be English), or anyone other than the odd note from the Venetian Ambassador to London , which leaves this book MASSIVELY one sided.

There's a lot of acknowledgement that okay, yeah, the English perspective is happening here, and that's not the whole story, and pointing out how the English were wrong about things, but very little quotes from primary sources from any other country. And we're talking Ottoman Empire here, so it's not like this stuff doesn't exist, they LOVED records.

So a lot of the information was interest, but the whole book was incredibly frustrating.


What I'm Reading Now
Audio: My Mother's Wars by Lillian Faderman about Faderman's mom living in NYC in the '20s to '40s. It's very engaging so far, though I just started it.

Library: Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer, which I'm about 100 pages into and the war hasn't started yet. It's well written but also super depressing because genocide.


What I'm Reading Next
I have the next Selection book as a library e-book, so I'll probably buzz through that. I'm not sure for audio. Maybe that new romance novel about US Civil War spies.

Look at me, reading shit and all

Mar. 29th, 2017 12:58 pm
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
[personal profile] lunabee34
Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New EroticismPleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this one. I knew a little bit about most of the people discussed in this book (you can't study Victorian literature without knowing bit about Richard Burton or Swinburne or the Rossettis, for example) but only the very superficial. This is a really interesting look at several loosely connected and intersecting groups of people (the pre-Raphaelites, the Cannibal Club, and the Aesthetes) and how their art and lives was focused on their sexual experiences. The book is written much more like creative non-fiction than the usual academic book, so it's incredibly readable. Every now and again, the author uses an awkward turn of phrase or says something in a confusing way or gets out her thesaurus just to remind us that we are reading the work of the erudite, but on the whole, the style is very readable and accessible and the subject matter is deeply interesting.



View all my reviews

Oronooko: The Royal SlaveOronooko: The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Not one I'll be rereading. I somehow missed reading this college and wouldn't have read it now except that I'm teaching it. I know it's an important text, and I'm glad I've read it, but I found it very underwhelming. Also, the almost complete lack of dialogue made reading it fairly tedious.



View all my reviews
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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

shutterstock_290998688

After the Senate voted recently to strike down President Obama-era FCC privacy rules for Internet service providers, the House of Representatives has now done the same, meaning Donald Trump will soon sign their bill, and your ISP will be able to do whatever it pleases with your data. I’m sure his armies of Internet trolls are thrilled.

To recap, the argument against the FCC’s privacy rules was that companies like Google and Facebook aren’t subject to them, so they were somehow unfair. It was a classic case of people turning something good (“net neutrality”) into a specious argument in favor of something bad. In this case, the argument ignores the very important fact that other companies don’t have access to nearly as much of your data as your ISP does—nor do many of them already charge you to use their service—which is why service providers are so excited to be able to sell that data without asking for your permission first. (Here’s a helpful explainer.)

On top of that, if the problem were truly that the privacy protections were uneven, Congress’s priority should’ve been to increase privacy restrictions on other companies rather than relax them on ISPs. We’ve gone from a system that Republicans claimed harmed users by giving them a false sense of privacy, with consumers supposedly believing privacy rules on ISPs kept them safe in general, to one where we have less privacy, but … at least we know it for sure now? Yikes. The rules that were struck down also contained mandates that ISPs reasonably protect customers from data breaches and notify us when they happen, which seems like something objectively good, but maybe that’s just another one of our harmful illusions.

So what do we do? To the chagrin and sometimes utter disbelief of Trump’s own Internet hordes, we’re all out of governmental options—and really, Trump’s own FCC chair supports this, so as usual, no one should have been surprised—so it’s up to tech and taking things into your own hands.

As we reported for no particular reason on the exact date of November 9, 2016, a VPN is a good way to go to keep your Internet usage to yourself, and encrypted messaging and anonymous browsing are also not a bad idea while you’re at it. Just make sure that your VPN isn’t using your data in the way you’re trying to avoid, and try to find one that isn’t blocked by services you want to use—a good one is probably going to cost you some money. (Take a look at our specific November privacy recommendations here.)

You could also try that oft-touted “free market” approach and try to go with an Internet provider that lets you opt out of the sale of your data and whatnot, but for many Americans, switching providers is either unfeasible or outright impossible, and there’s no reason for any of them to really do a great job with privacy on their own free will, since consumers have so little choice. You can also try to opt out of such things as much as you can, but again, allowing that option is now in your provider’s hands, and they have no real reason to help you out.

If you just want to be mad and maybe do something about this politically in the future—say, when the next election rolls around—here’s a fun (“fun”) list of all the members of congress who voted to strike down the privacy rules alongside the amount of money they’ve taken from the telecommunications industry. Spoiler: They’re all Republicans. (Democrats also take money from the telecom industry, but their votes certainly didn’t reflect that so obviously.)

(image via Shutterstock)

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

ghost

The first reviews are emerging for the controversial Scarlett Johansson-starring live action take on the anime classic, and while critics have been praising the look of the film, it seems like style is winning out over substance.

Empire Magazine:

So heavily derivative it doesn’t feel like anything new, and there’s little depth beneath that slick surface. But it’s solid and attractive, at least, with a retro appeal to its cyberpunk stylings …

… There’s also a blankness that the original Major lacked. Oshii’s version was well settled in her shell, an apparent volunteer rather than an unwitting guinea pig, with a zest for her work. The ’17 iteration’s exposition-heavy script (by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger) requires Johansson to do little more than furrow her brow while mostly either lying on a lab gurney or kicking some ass. There is a frustrating absence of personality which means, for all her physical presence, this Major’s just not very engaging.

The Wrap:

A here-and-now valentine to what design wizardry Hollywood can pull off in 2017. At the same time, it does so in service of a tired tale full of repurposed visual tricks, storytelling clichés and big-studio concessions. …

… There’s nothing wrong with introducing “Ghost in the Shell” into post-“Matrix,” post-“Westworld” territory; it’s just disappointing that the film doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

The Daily Mirror:

A hard working Scarlett Johansson stands at the centre of the spectacular visuals, but even the Avengers star can’t bring the soulless storytelling to boil. …

… A flat script fails to explore the idea of identity, and the dull dialogue suffers from a severe humour malfunction.

Stuff.co.nz:

All the stunning frames and gorgeous layers of soundtrack in the world aren’t going to conceal that director Rupert Sanders really hasn’t got much to offer except a bunch of updated ideas nicked from the Ridley Scott playbook. …

… impenetrable is not a word you’ll hear used to describe this movie. The plot is so obvious, expected and re-heated, I doubt there’s a single moment here that anyone over the age of 12 is going to not be able to see coming about half-an-hour before it arrives.

Still, things sure do look pretty!

I came away from the screening with a memory of some truly beautiful set-building, digital architecture, CGI and special effects, costuming and make-up design, but bugger all else.

As a feat of visual imagination, design and sheer film-making craft, Ghost In The Shell is a stunning achievement. It is one of the most visually and sonically spectacular films I’ve seen and heard in a year or more.

Um, Variety’s critic seemed to like it a lot? Also, I am taking his thesaurus away.

Spectacularly honoring the spirit and aesthetic of Mamoru Oshii’s beloved animated adaptations without resorting wholly to slavish cosplay, this is smart, hard-lacquered entertainment that may just trump the original films for galloping storytelling momentum and sheer, coruscating visual excitement — even if a measure of their eerie, melancholic spirit hasn’t quite carried over to the immaculate new carapace.

And finally, thanks to Tara Brady in The Irish Times, I will forever associate this film with underpants.

Irish Times:

 ‘Ghost in the Shell needs a soul, like Scarlett Johansson’s robot’

A Caucasian actor with an orientalised hairstyle – we’re not digging these mixed messages – Scarlett Johansson has virtually nothing to do as Major Motoko Kusanagi that isn’t covered by the job title Sexy Fighting Lady Robot. Was it intentionally ironic that, in an adaptation of a manga that ponders second-order simulacra, Johansson’s performance could easily have been copied, pasted and coloured in from her performances as Sexy Fighting Lady Assassin (The Avengers), Sexy Fighting Lady Limitless (Lucy), or Sexy Fighting Lady Alien (Under the Skin).

For good measure and even more déjà vu, one scene references her performance in Lost in Translation by way of underpants. Where Masamune Shirow’s 1989 manga and Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film of same grappled with the philosophies of Jean Baudrillard and Frederic Jameson, Rupert Sanders’ movie will make you think about underpants.

Why, given that Sexy Fighting Robot Lady, has a Barbie body, does she bother with underpants and clothes in some scenes but not in others? Do Donald Duck rules apply? As she has no other sexual characteristics, what’s the deal with the boobs?

I’ve now read dozens of GitS reviews and the primary takeaway is that the visuals are fantastic, Johansson does a fine job (even if there’s a lesson or two she can learn from the experience), and that the plot and dialogue leave much to be desired. What do you think? Have the reviews influenced your plans where the movie’s concerned?

 

(image via Paramount/screengrab)

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Posted by Cheryl Eddy

The first teaser trailer for Andy Muscietti’s It opens with the ultimate loss of innocence, when raincoat-clad Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) chases a paper boat right into the clutches of a certain sewer-dwelling clown. It only gets darker from there.

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Project 52

Mar. 29th, 2017 12:25 pm
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[personal profile] mrs_sweetpeach
Click here for Week 13 )
selenak: (Bilbo Baggins)
[personal profile] selenak
In which we travel from the South lIsland to the North Island and visit the capital.

And some movie magic )
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Posted by Keisha Hatchett

Not all zombies are soulless cadavers mindlessly stumbling around in search of brains. Some of them are just trying to make it through day-to-day life without hurting innocent people. That’s my wildly generic summary of the Netflix comedy Santa Clarita Diet, which just got renewed for a second season.

When Drew Barrymore’s Sheila finds herself rejecting regular food and craving human flesh, it’s apparent that something is very wrong. She then enlists the help of of husband Joel (played by Timothy Olyphant) to figure out what’s happening and possibly help her find a cure. That won’t be easy as they’ve got a teenage daughter to raise and a slew of suburban friends and acquaintances hovering about. Plus, there’s the risk of her completely losing herself and turning into one of the frenzied creatures you often see in horror films. Oh, and there’s that house they’ve been trying to sell.

Now that the show can officially continue the story, it will be interesting to see where it goes from there. We still don’t know how Sheila got turned or if there’s even a cure. Also, how many more zombies are out there?

Hopefully some of these questions will be answered in season 2. Will you watch?

(via Deadline, image via screencap)

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Game of Thrones Camp 2018

Mar. 29th, 2017 05:04 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
This year I organised my first every readthrough weekend (with [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist) of the first two seasons of Game of Thrones. It seemed to go reasonably well, so next year we'll be doing seasons three and four.

First dibs on places will go to people who came to the first one, but there'll be at least one more space, and maybe more if some people decide they can't make it. If you think it might be your kind of thing, there's a poll about interest and dates here.
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Posted by Beth Elderkin

The Jem and the Holograms comic is nearing the end of its 26 issue “Truly Outrageous” run, and Issue #24 shows it’s not afraid to go where the original TV series was afraid to go. Jerrica’s finally laying it all out on the table, for the one person who deserves the truth the most.

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Albacon, Upcoming

Mar. 29th, 2017 11:55 am
malkingrey: ((default))
[personal profile] malkingrey
Himself and I will be at Albacon in Albany NY this weekend -- it's at the western edge of our traveling periphery, and it's a small, low-key convention that we've always enjoyed when we've been able to make it. All too often, it used to coincide with the Viable Paradise workshop, but now it's moved back to the spring -- which is tougher on our pocketbook but easier on our schedule.

Right now -- such are the joys of the freelance life -- it's still up in the air whether we'll be doing the con in extreme shoestring mode or have at least a bit of leeway for nonessentials. (At least the hotel's complimentary full American breakfast takes care of two meals for the weekend, which helps to stretch out the shoestring.)

But if you're in Albany NY this weekend in a congoing mood, you could always drop by and listen to Himself do his presentation on "100 Years of Dead Magicians" on Saturday night.
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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

From the first moment I laid eyes on this brand new trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, I knew I was going to be treated to a pretty amazing visual feast. It also didn’t hurt that the opening shot of the trailer feels remarkably like the opening shot of the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer that came out around this time two years ago.

That aside, it looks like Luc Besson has a pretty intriguing film on his hands, and given the fact that it’s got such a rich pool of content to draw from, this may be a sci-fi flick to keep an eye on. Whereas much of the last teaser focused a lot on visuals and was fairly light on plot, this full-fledged trailer breaks down exactly what we can expect to see from Valerian and Laureline (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne, respectively), the two heroes at the center of this story.

According to the trailer, the “city of a thousand planets” is a hub for nearly all life in the universe, and is a bit of a utopia where (mostly) everyone lives in peace. But thanks to something, the city faces a grave threat from an “unknown force” who is seeking to destroy it. Utopias never really last, people. You’d think they’d learn in the distant future, but … nah.

I found myself completely absorbed by the trailer, and I honestly wasn’t really expecting much when I first started watching it. But I don’t know if it’s the striking visuals, the solid cast (hello, unabashed Clive Owen fan here), or the already amazingly built universe drawing me in. Though, I guess, if I’m being completely honest, it probably has something to do with the Mass Effect-like feel to everything: massive utopian hub space station where all forms of alien life live, looks a little like the Citadel, under threat by an unknown scourge, “agents” who are tasked with saving the universe, and hell, even space suits that are one N7 logo away from being Shepard-ready.

Yeah, that has to be it. I’ve still got a Mass Effect itch that needs to be scratched, and this is kind of hitting it for me. I’m okay with that.

(via ComicBookMovie.com, image via screengrab)

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

shutterstock_442153999

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned letter? Well, maybe the 48% percent of Brits who voted against leaving the European Union, plus countless EU citizens who work or live in the country. They probably wish that this particular mailcoach got derailed.

On Wednesday UK Prime Minister Teresa May’s government had the letter, which invokes Article 50, hand-delivered to EU headquarters in Brussels. Article 50 enables nations to leave the union, and Britain is the first to use it.

While Brexit has been somewhat in motion since the vote in June, the surprise result—it was widely expected that Britain would vote against leaving, just as it was widely tipped that Hillary Clinton would destroy Donald Trump—has sent ripples of concern across Europe. We’re living in interesting times for the prediction markets. And, you know, for the future of humanity.

You can read Britain’s notice of irreconcilable differences in its entirety here.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, where the population voted 62% to stay in the EU, the mood is not exactly bonny. Talk of another independence referendum has gained strength, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon continues to be a complete badass in life and social media.

I also enjoy her subtweets immensely.

*sips Scottish Breakfast tea*

(via The Washington Post, image via Lightspring / Shutterstock)

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Return of the Iron Fist

Mar. 29th, 2017 08:29 am
bjornwilde: (02: Danny Rand)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
And now I'm back to wanting to play with Danny a bit. I think it's now less deconstructing the Mighty Whitey and fixing canon's missteps, if I stick with playing him. I am going to stick with sandboxes.

I just love his innocent, I want to help the world because it's right. He's not doing this out of a sense of guilt or whatever. He's like the Flash/Super Girl of the MCU, though not quite so chipper.

Icon sources: finnjones.org, fyeahscreencaps
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Posted by James Whitbrook

By mentioning one of the most infamous moments in the comic book’s history, you can bring a grimace to any Spider-Man reader’s face in just three words: One More Day. Sore fans are still begging for the highly controversial storyline that removed Peter Parker’s marriage to longtime love Mary Jane Watson to be…

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Posted by Germain Lussier

A movie we’ve been looking forward to for some time is Alex Garland’s Annihilation, based on the crazy, critically acclaimed Jeff VanderMeer book of the same name. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is it won’t be out until 2018. The good news is the first footage was excellent.

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Posted by Germain Lussier

I feel like a bad reporter for admitting this, but when I heard Alexander Payne—the director of movies like Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, Nebraska and The Descendants—was making a new film, I just assumed Gizmodo/io9 wouldn’t cover it. I didn’t even look into it. I knew I’d see it, probably love it, and it would…

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Originally published at Alpennia.com. You can comment here or there.

In this period we see Abiel settling into what will be the pattern of his duties for much of the next year: escorting groups of men from one location to another, centered around the headquarters near Washington. He suffers from some physical complaints that may or may not be related to the dysentery that took him out of action. But all in all, he's living quite a pleasant life for a wartime soldier, including regular stops in Washington for cultural entertainments. At some point I really do intend to do a separate post summing up all the plays and other performances he sees, and the books he mentions. A bit harder would be drawing up a bibliography if random literary references. Abiel helps me out in often putting such references in quotation marks (other times I can identify them by the sudden shift in register, though he can be quite poetic on his own at times). But even with the aid of Google Books, there are some passages that I'm quite certain are quotes but where I can't track down the source or inspiration. In some cases, he may have paraphrased them enough to make the original hard to find. In other cases, it may simply be that even with vast store of data on the web doesn't contain the relevant text. But when I can track them down, it reminds me what a miraculous time we live in for research!


The Diary and Letters of Abiel Teple LaForge 1842-1878

July - September 1863

Transcribed, edited, and annotated by Phyllis G. Jones (his great-granddaughter)

Copyright © 1993, Phyllis G. Jones, All rights reserved

[PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING ARE COPIED FROM THE ORIGINALS. EDITORIAL COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD TYPE.]


1863 Contents


  • January 11, 1863

  • January 26, 1863

  • February 15, 1863 - The Wonderful "Care Package"

  • March 2, 1863

  • March 20, 1863

  • April 30, 1863

  • May 27, 1863

  • June 26, 1863

  • August 3, 1863

  • August 25, 1863

  • September 24, 1863 - A Night at Ford's Theater

  • October 20, 1863

  • October 30, 1863

  • December 10, 1863 - Transporting Prisoners to Washington and Some Sightseeing


[Battle at Gettysburg began July 1, 1863. Vicksburg and Port Hudson fell the same week.]

LETTER

Head Quarters - Convalescent Camp

August 3rd 1863

Dear Sister,

I must tell you before anything else that this letter will be poorly written, for I was sick all yesterday and last night, and feel weak and nervous but in good spirits. Perhaps my being unwell will save me from getting a scolding for not sooner answering your letter, which I should have done long ago if I had been a good boy, as you have often advised me to be.

I am glad you appear to be enjoying yourself so well. I really believe you have the secret of true enjoyment which is a contented mind, taking the world as it comes and being pleased with whatever providence sees fit to grant you. Any person who is possessed of such a mind will do well and be truly rich in any situation. But I don't want to go into a lecture on this point.

There been a great change in our situation since my last to you. Then the Rebs were making successful headway into Pennsylvania. Johnston showed every symptom of being able to raise the siege of obstinate Vicksburg. Port Hudson showed herself a "hard nut to crack." Now, how different! Lee has been beaten and his army driven South again with heavy loss. Vicksburg with thirty thousand and Port Hudson with seven thousand men have surrendered to our brave troops, and at last the "Mississippi" is open.

Morgan, the great thief and raider, with his four thousand cavalry has been captured. Bragg, with the boasted army of Tennessee, has been obliged to abandon the stronghold of the west Chattanooga and has started like all the rest for the South. To ruralize I suppose. [Note: A bit more of Abiel's wry humor, I think.] All this taken into consideration, I think that [at] no time since the war commenced has the cause of freedom looked so hopeful. All honor to the brave soldiers in the field! At this rate, the war will be over before my time is out.

Things go on here pretty much the same as usual. It is so confounded hot that one does not feel like doing anything. I was over to Washington every day but one last week. Tuesday I went over in command of one company of the Invalid Corps 87 men. [Note: the numeral is in quotes and I'm not certain whether this is a count of men or a company unit designation.] Wednesday, in command of two Companies Invalid Corps 157 men. [Same note as for the previous.] Thursday, Colonel Baker, Chief Detective of the U.S.Army, sent for me to ask what my opinion was in regard to certain matters and things, in regard to the manner in which this camp was organized and conducted. They evidently wanted to get some evidence against Colonel McKelvy, but they chose the wrong person for that. But I gave them some information which I rather think they did not want. [Note: It's clear throughout many entries that Abiel had a high opinion on Colonel McKelvy and that the sentiment was returned.]

You say Perry's family is nearly all unwell. How strange! They were so well when I was up there that I thought they were not going to be sick anymore. But it appears the hope was delusive. Is Perry so unwell that he cannot write to me? He has not informed [me] whether he received the $45.00 I sent him yet. I wish you will let me know in your next if he has.

Janey, you must have to make Mattie send her likeness to me before long, for I begin to want to see her again. She don't know what to make of pretty niece eh! Well, you must tell her it don't mean nees but a relationship. [Note: I'm trying to remember how old Mattie is--I believe fairly young.]

I wish you had some of our ripe peaches, apples, watermelons, mushmelons, plums, which are now becoming abundant. Oh you can't imagine how their blackberries have been here! A thousand men were out gathering them some days but they seemed inexhaustible. They were ripe July 15th, but there is still a abundance of them yet. There was also an abundance of huckleberries, but they are all gone now. We have been feasting since fruit has got ripe, I assure you. I have often wished I could exchange some of it to you for some of your pickles and milk. But that of course cannot be done. [Note: Passages like this always remind me of the rhythm of seasonal produce in older days. I'm imagining the soldiers gorging themselves on ripe fruit for as long as it's available, not having a way to preserve it as the folks back home would have.]

I am up now at 5 A.M. nearly every day. About as early as you get up, is it not? At five P.M., walk half a mile and take a bath. Doing pretty well ain't it? I expect to go down to Annapolis, Maryland this week some time with some men. I am not sure yet, however. I received a letter from John Clemence, informing me of the death of his mother, of whose kindness to your brother I have told you so much. God rest her spirit, for she was a good Christian.

James Liverman, Perry Wells, and Jerome Remington were here now. You see I have some old acquaintances, even in convalescent camp. The enclosed letter was written by Eliza Bubier to her brother, who refused to obey an order of Colonel McKelvy on the ground that it conflicted with his oath of Parole. He said he would write to his sister and abise of decision. [Note: I'm not entirely certain how to render "abise of" but the sense as seen below would seem to align with "abide by her".] She returned this patriotic reply, which I send for your perusal. Her name should be remembered long. An editor saw it and printed [it].

Give my love to all, and do not neglect waiting so long as I [did]

Your loving brother

A. T. LaForge

Chief Orderly


[ENCLOSED NEWSPAPER CLIPPING - The original text is left as transcribed]

CONVALESCENT CAMP NEAR THE CITY. We read almost daily of Camp Convalescent. The limited knowledge which the community generally have acquired of this necessary government appendage consequent upon the war, bears not the slightest analogy, as respects its extent and operations, to the reality of this very eligibly located and indispensable institution.

It is located across the Potomac, In Virginia, only a short distance from Fort Albany, and about three miles from Arlington, the estate of the Confederate general, Lee.

Being required to make a business call there a day or two since, we availed ourselves of a letter of introduction to Col. McKelvy, the very efficient and polite commander, to acquaint ourselves somewhat, superficially, with the extent, operations, and system inaugurated by those charged with the various supervisory functions.

Some idea of its extent may be inferred from the fact that there are now, comfortably and without any crowding, over eight thousand soldiers accommodated there, recuperating from wounds and diseases contracted in the arduous service of their country. Many more could find equally comfortable accommodations. Many towns and cities, possessing every form and attibute of a finished place, do not possess as large a population as is now temporarily located at Camp Convalescent. A post office is established, under the control of Captain Thomas H. Marston, where all the mail matter received and sent off receives due and proper attention.

About one hundred hospitals, each capable of accommodating about one hundred and twenty patients, are admirably and judiciously arranged; walks and shady groves surround the encampment, serving as a resort during the heat of the day for the very large number of convalescents seeking reinvigorating air.

The cooking appendages certainly present a perfect model of judicious arrangement and economy of operation. Though it may appear incredible, yet it is so, that the entire cooking for all the inmates can be done at one time with comparatively a small outlay of labor and fuel. The arrangements for roasting meats, baking bread, and all other requisities for the men, are as admirable as it is capable for the ingenuity of man to invent. The bread, of which we partook, will vie with any made in the city.

Two mammoth dining saloons, each capable of accommodating seventeen hundred, are an attractive feature of the whole arrangement.

The admirable order, system, and scrupulous cleanliness, everywhere marked, speak well for Col. McKelvy and those acting under him.

The knowledge on the part of the thousands of brave ones encountering the vicissitudes of the war campaign, that their Government is so provident for them in the event of wounds or sickness, must serve as a strong incentive to persevere in the path of duty.


ENCLOSED NEWSPAPER CLIPPING

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE

A TRUE FEMALE PATRIOT.- A convalescent paroled soldier, at Camp Convalescent, took exception to the orders emanating from the proper authority, requiring him to assist in some necessary work, on the ground that it would conflict with his oath of parole. He wrote to his sister, residing North, relating his grievances, and received from her the following response, which does credit both to her head and heart:

JUNE 2, 1863

MY DEAR BROTHER WILL: Your letter of the 26th of May was received by me to-night. I am most truly sorry that you are so unpleasantly situated, but while I grieve that you are in trouble, I must say that I think your refusal to obey orders puts you in a false position. If ordered to do that which you conscientiously think you ought not to do, it seems to me the proper way would be to obey the order under protest. But I certainly think you are mistaken in the construction you put upon your oath of parole. The officers of Government surely know the extent and linmitations of that oath better than one unversed in the law of nations can do, and you ought to be very clear on the point before you take such a stand, subversive as it must be of all discipline and efficiency in the army. You well know that your sister Eliza would be the last person to advise you to violate your conscience, but in this case I think that you are making a point where none is involved. All this I say with the kindest feelings of sympathy for your trouble, on the supposition that it is only the supposed violation of your oath which causes you to resist the orders. There are certain recognised principles of law which regulate this whole matter, and those in authority are supposed to be thoroughly conversant with those principles. If they violate them the blame rests on their shoulders, not on yours. It would be exceedingly impolitic for the Government to inaugurate such a course if it were really forbidden by the law of parole, and I cannot believe they would do so. I trust the next letter will tell me that all trouble is over, and that you are cheerfully embracing every opportunity to show your devotion to your country and her cause. Building fortifications is not pleasant work, I can well believe; yet it is necessary work, and if I could serve my country best by digging, I would dig with all my heart.

Your affectionate sister, ________ __________

[Note: An interesting conundrum. When a captured soldier gave his parole, he was released on the understanding that he would refrain from fighting. It seems a reasonable question whether digging fortifications would violate that parole, given that it was an activity that active duty soldiers performed regularly. From one standpoint, his sister's argument "your officers know the law better than you do; obey them" isn't entirely tenable. On the other hand, her suggestion that, having made his objection, he was absolved from the responsibility if he really was in violation of parole, is a useful face-saver all around.]


LETTER

Head Quarters Convalescent Camp August 25th 1863

Dear Sister,

I hope this letter will find you better than Sally Ann's of the 18th--which I just received--left you. It seems so strange to hear of your being sick who have always been so well that I can hardly believe it. Poor girl, you have over-worked yourself in your benevolent desire to aid others in distress. It is part of your kind nature, and I cannot scold for well I know how pleasant it is to have your thoughtful presence in a sick-room. How very light have you made moments when I have been sick that would otherwise have seemed as ages! And can I then deny to others the same blessing which I myself have enjoyed? fails.. I fear not. And I must say I very much doubt my ability to do so, even supposing I had the will. For I well remember to your other qualifications you add that of obstinacy, and that I may say very strongly developed, judging from the manner in which you have often resisted me in certain things which I will not mention. For fear you will make a mistake, I will state "it was not in eating pickles" when I was up there. [Note: I have no idea whether "not in eating pickles" is simply a private joke between them or has some conventional meaning.]

"O golly," you must not be sick because I am not up there to take care of you. I wish I was. I believe it would do you good to see me. Don't you think so? I would like to have it in my power to see if it would not. I would not be slow in trying the experiment. I guess you must kiss "Josey" a few times see if that won't do you good.

Then another reason why you should not be sick is because one sick person in a family is quite enough, and I have been sick nearly a month. My face is so thin that the boys make fun of me, but "good gracious," if you could see me eat now you would not think it could stay thin long. And I am determined it shan't be so long, for I have good backing in my appetite, which is good enough to eat dead things. I did not go to bed at all (only nights) during the whole time. The diarrhea was my disease. [Note: As Abiel isn't referring to this as dysentary, it isn't clear whether he's downplaying the severity or if it's a more ordinary complaint. One has to wonder about sanitary issues in the camp.]

I went down to Fortress Monroe last week. There was a small squad of men to go down, and as the doctor thought it would do me good, down I went with them, and it did do me good. I came back by the way of Baltimore and stayed part of a day at old McKims. Five or six of the old detailed men were there. That girl I used to flirt with is married, which is a great load off my mind. For you see it leaves me free to make proposals for my dear, good, kind-hearted, Janey. She is the best girl I have met in my travels anywhere. I could just kiss you now if I had a chance with a good will, and mother too, if she were present and was going to tell. [Note: As I discussed in a previous entry when I finally looked up that various relationships and dates, Janey (Joseph Potter's sister) is significantly older than Abiel, and one must believe that even as direct a flirtatious comment as this was probably intended entirely in fun. Though I sometimes wonder if Janey thought it quite as entertaining as Abiel did.]

I received a letter from father the other day. He is doing well--has taken up a quarter section of land with 120 acres of prairie [and] 40 acres of wood land. He has not money to enter it, although he is getting large wages, but cannot get his pay until his employer gets back from down the river, where he has been running lumber. It will cost him $12.00 to enter his land and I enclose an order for Perry to send him that amount in "Green backs." I would send him a hundred if I could only get him past so he could not move away by so doing. [Note: The first Homestead Act was established in 1862 and the Wikipedia entry suggests that a quarter section (160 acres) was the standard allotment. Abiel's father would need to file an application, improve the land, and reside on it for five years to receive permanent title. The $12 is presumably the application fee. I get the impression, across a number of references, that Abiel's father was not a particularly successful farmer and spent a lot of energy pursuing the "next sure thing" and being supported in various ways by his children.]

We have just had a most refreshing shower. It has been dreadful dusty before, and the change is so agreeable that I think if you could enjoy it, it would do you more good than all the doctor medicine in the world.

Sincerely hoping this will find you better than Sally's left you,

I remain,

your loving but anxious brother,

A. T. La Forge

Chief Orderly

P.S. Janey, if Susan is still sick, please write immediately, for I am most anxious to hear. If better, write also immediately, for I want to feel easy. Kiss all for me. Yours A.T. LaF--

Chief Orderly


LETTER

Headquarter Convalescent Camp, September 24th 1863

Dear Sister,

I believe we are laboring under the same misunderstanding. You think it is my turn to write, and I rather think it is yours, for you must have got my letter after I did yours. But of course [you? I?] don't know that. Such being the case, I think I will end the matter by taking the initiatory, for I want to hear from you, as you was quite unwell the last you wrote.

Your letter came just in time to prevent my taking a very gloomy journey. I was just starting for Fortress Monroe and feeling badly enough, as I had received Sally Ann's but a short time before informing me of your serious illness. (I don't think I ever appreciated all your kindness before. At least, I never knew you was so good, or had so many virtues. I assure you, sister Sally's letter made you almost a saint in my eyes.) And naturally [I] felt very much depressed. When your letter came--and I don't know--but I felt a good deal better. At any rate, I got ready to start off with a quiet [quite] better will than I had before. In fact, I rather think the men would have found me a poor commander if I had not heard from you before I started.

It was the third time I had been to "Old Point" with men. I had 260 convalescents and a sergeant with ten guards. I started from Alexandria on the steamer "Black Diamond." I being in command of the boat, of course, felt quite important, but believe I did nothing to be ashamed of--which is saying a good deal, for a person as vain as myself. Don't you think so?

I had to stop at Point Lookout, which is about half way. And when we arrived at 3 O.C. A.M. to take 38 of my men belonging to the 2nd and 12th New Hamshire Regiments ashore, I had to go about 1/3 of a mile to their camp, wake up the adjutant, and get a receipt for them (always when we deliver men anywhere, we have to get a receipt for them, like the one enclosed), and return to the boat.

Day was breaking when I went back, and you don't know how well I felt. The little birds were just beginning to sing. A stiff breeze was blowing in from the sea, causing the "waves to murmur gentle music on the sandy beach." I never saw so beautiful an awakening of nature or one that brought to my mind so forcibly the boundless love of God. [Note: the quotation marks suggest that Abiel has taken this phrase from somewhere, as he often sets off lyrics and such in this way. A quick Google search doesn't turn up any exact match, and it's hard to tell whether slight paraphrases point to some common source or simply to a natural similarity of expression. One item in Google Books quoted in "Honey from the Rock: Spiritual Refreshment from the Rock of Ages" edited by Ivor Powell has a similar phrase: "the gentle murmurs of waves falling upon a sandy beach" as an example of music found in nature. Although the various passages in this modern collection aren't attributed to sources, it may be that Powell is adapting some much earlier text that Abiel was also familiar with.]

Point Lookout is situated at the mouth of the Potomac [and] is in the district of Saint Mary's in Maryland, and before the war, was quite a noted "watering place", the conveniences being excellent for sea bathing. I believe none but Southrens [i.e., Southerners] came here. It is now used for a camp of rebel prisoners of war.

I got to the Fortress about 2-1/2 P.M. I had the alternative of getting rid of 222 men before 5 O.C. or staying there all night. The last I very much disliked to do, so I got rid of the men, got my transportation back, had my guards on board and everything ready to return just in time, when I remembered having left my overcoat and haversack at the provost marshall's. My overcoat cost $12--I could not leave that! So off I jumped, expecting to be left. Run up to the Provost, got my things, run back hard as I could tear, got on the boat, and it was fifteen long minutes before we started. I declare, I was almost mad!

We came back by the way of Baltimore--had a beautiful sail up the Chesapeake. I went to bed, but could not sleep it was so warm. My guard slept in the "forward cabin" while I slept in the "aft cabin". I had my meals on the boat (supper and breakfast) 50 cents per meal. Arrived in Baltimore about 7 A.M., went around through the city until 3:50 O.C. P.M., then came on to Washington where we arrived in time for me to go to Ford's theater and see the play of the "Naiad Queen". [Note: presumably the same play mentioned in this source in 1859, featuring John Wilkes Booth.] The scenery is most magnificent but the plot of the play is not much. The hero, a robber, spends all his money and, to get rid of his trouble, jumps into the Rhine to drown himself. Instead of drowning, he finds himself in beautiful castles under the water, surrounded by beautiful "nymphs". He falls in love with their mistress the "Naiad." She gives him lots of money to return to earth and ornament his palaces for their nuptials. He fulfills the first part of the agreement, but instead of going back to the Queen, he marries a being more of earth, earthy. Then the Queen is mad. She gets her female soldiers. They come out in beautiful uniform and train on the stage. When they get ready to make war on the faithless lover, she repents and gives his earthly true love to him, and "blessing them ascends to heaven." The gorgeousness of scenery makes up for the want of a good plot and is a beautiful play. I got back to camp safe next day and received the congratulations of Colonel McKelvy for doing my duty so well, which made me feel better than all the rest.

Tell William, when he gets another pair of new boots, to come down again, as there is plenty of new things to see and it wants new boots to see them, eh? How is Miss 'Melia? Is she the same kind-hearted, handsome, lively, piece as ever? Don't let her know I have written to ask you. It is getting so cold here now that a fire is comfortable.

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Dan Van Winkle

The @burnedyourtweet Twitter account is exactly what it sounds like. It burns people’s tweets—specifically Donald Trump’s tweets—after physically printing them out for that specific purpose. Why? Trump’s tweets, no matter how many people tell you to just ignore them, are awful and have real world consequences, unless you’re Donald Trump. They had this coming.

His tweets also just generally deserve about the same response, so automating it simply makes sense. Not only does the bot automatically print out the tweets and turn them from dumpster fire into actual fire, but it notifies Donald Trump that it’s done so. I doubt he’s the kind of person who actually reads things on Twitter rather than using it as a megaphone, but it feels good nonetheless and takes the onus off the rest of us.

Behold, here it is burning yet another one of his public statements stoking conspiratorial false equivalences to distract from the investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia:

What a fun and exciting time to be alive, as technology and politics come together like never before!

(image via screengrab)

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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Double sided HEMNES shoe storage

Mar. 29th, 2017 02:55 pm
[syndicated profile] ikeahacker_feed

Posted by Contributor

Double sided HEMNES shoe storage

Take 2 Hemnes shoe cabinet from IKEA.

HEMNES shoe cabinet

Photo: IKEA.com

Cut the feet. Place them back to back.

Remove the top.

Then replace the top with a piece of wood of your choice.

Cover the sides with a piece of wood.

Double sided HEMNES shoe storage

That’s it.

~ by Florent, FC Renovation.

The post Double sided HEMNES shoe storage appeared first on IKEA Hackers.

Arrrrgh

Mar. 30th, 2017 01:34 am
tyger: Axel, Roxas, and Xion, on the clocktower. (Default)
[personal profile] tyger
So, today I've been trying to set up my raspi as a Terraria server for me and Azy, because why the hell not.

Run into two major obstacles: 1. I can't remember the passwords for the raspi. Do thing I know where I wrote them down, but I can't find THAT, either. Ffffff.

2. The router is being an ABSOLUTE BUTTFACE and REFUSING TO SAVE CHANGES. >E >E >E >E >E I don't know why, either! I'm doing what it says - hitting save, then resetting the router - but yeah, it Really Doesn't Want to do the thing. May have to SSH in and do it manually rather than using the browser interface. Which is annoying because gdi router you have ONE JOB. (But hey, guess who's super fucking glad they're learning about this shit anyway! Because if I hadn't been taking the networking class this semester I would be SO CONFUSED, as well as grumpy. ^^;;;)

Still, even if it's filled with roadblocks, it's at least forward movement, so that's good. :D

Wednesday Reading

Mar. 29th, 2017 08:37 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
I'm slowly reading Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older - it's YA, but still set in the Bone Street Rumba universe. (There was a small crossover in Midnight Taxi Tango.)

Sierra, the main character, is a high school artist working on a mural in her Brooklyn neighborhood when she notices that a mural portrait of one of her grandfather's deceased friends has changed its expression, which, creepy and cool! I love this book. I love the rich details of setting and culture, and I love the range of characters, and I love the fast-paced dialogue. And I love Sierra, whose policy about boys is "ignore, ignore, ignore."

The best thing about it is the role older people play in Sierra's life. Her grandfather is disabled from a stroke, but she interacts with many of his contemporaries in the neighborhood, which to me gives a richness you don't find when the teenaged protagonist only hangs out with other teenagers.

There's a sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, out in September. Yay!

Amnesty International Lobbying Tools

Mar. 29th, 2017 10:34 am
executrix: (Default)
[personal profile] executrix posting in [community profile] thisfinecrew
http://act.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1839&ea.campaign.id=30673&ea.url.id=888400

You can sign up for Amnesty International to send you information about lobbying Congresscritters during the upcoming "spring lobby weeks" (April 10-21) about human rights issues.

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