beatrice_otter: Lex Luthor runs for his life (Run for your Life!)
I did not know that even "paranormal researchers" in today's world can get insurance for supernatural causes.  (Of course, what I want to know is, if you have an insurance policy against demonic possession and you live in a world in which no credible authority believes demons exist, or at least even the ones like some churches that believe in them can't prove them, if you are possessed, how do you file a claim and expect the insurer to actually pay out?)

Now I want a story about supernatural insurance in the world of, say, Teen Wolf.  Or any other modern fantasy series, really.

beatrice_otter: Hobbes says "God must have a funny sense of humor" (God's Humor)
"Interesting" things pastors get in the mail: offers to give my congregation free "voting guides" by someone who thinks that the national debt is the absolute most critical issue facing the nation (second only to the government "subsidizing" anything else he dislikes) and that anyone who disagrees is either a Calvinist or an "Islamist." And claiming that using his voting guide could result in a gift of $10,000 to my ministry.

This guy also wants me to show a DVD to my congregation about how "atheists, gaytheists, and lawless thugs have infiltrated the IRS for criminal harassment of churches." And assures me that anything I may have heard about churches losing IRS tax-exempt status for endorsing particular politicians is only "ridiculous misinformation" spread by "noisy atheist groups" to "gullible clerics."

It kinda has the feel of somebody taking a Nigerian scam email, diehard Tea Party frothing (not any of their actual serious discussion points, just the froth and slogans), and a Bible, throwing it all in a blender, and sprinkling cheerful glitter over the resulting incoherent mess. The smiley faces throughout add an ... interesting touch.

beatrice_otter: Yuletide (Yuletide)

This is a very long letter with lots of stuff, but DO NOT PANIC.  I'm actually fairly easy to please; I am very rarely disappointed with a ficathon story.  I write long and detailed Dear Author letters because I find such things helpful when I'm writing for other people; if you are like me, here you go!  If your style is different and a detailed letter makes you feel hemmed-in, feel free to do what works for you.

The most important thing for me in a fic is that the characters are well-written and recognizably themselves.  Even when I don't like a character, I don't go in for character-bashing.  If nothing else, if the rest of this letter is too much or my kinks just don't fit yours, just concentrate on writing a good story with everyone in character and good spelling and grammar and I will almost certainly love what you come up with.

One thing: I do have an embarrassment squick, which makes humor kind of hit-or-miss sometimes.  The kind of humor where someone does something embarrassing and the audience is laughing at them makes me uncomfortable because I identify too much with the person getting laughed at, so instead of being funny it is squicky.  On the other hand, the kind of humor where the audience is laughing with the characters I really enjoy.

My generic preferences )

Fandoms )

beatrice_otter: Grammar (Grammar)
I am a pedant and a grammar geek.  I'm normally the one who gets tweaked by apostrophes in the wrong place and always notices when someone uses the wrong word and it really tweaks me off.  (The large annoyance factor has to do with my Aspergers, I'm pretty sure.)  (Which is why I was so surprised that this weekend at the synod's youth gathering I wasn't the one to spot the repeating error in the devotion directions--it said "scared" instead of "sacred," so there was like a whole page talking about "scared space," and once somebody pointed it out to me it was pretty funny, especially considering it's October and I'm on the board of a group planning a small haunted house in town.)

But, anyway, in fic I can usually tell when someone has too much reliance on their spellchecker and not enough on an actual dictionary to make sure they're using the right word.

Today I spotted a perennial favorite: "rouge" instead of "rogue"

Rogue (the word they meant) means "a person who is dishonest or immoral; a man who causes trouble in a playful way."  "Rogue" is also the name of one of the X-Men, and the name of Luke Skywalker's squadron in Star Wars.

Rouge, on the other hand, is an old-fashioned word for red (well, in English it's old fashioned, in French it's the regular word for it), and also an old-fashioned name for certain types of makeup, usually what we now call "blush" (i.e. the red stuff you put on your cheeks to give you color).  The nightclub Moulin Rouge (the setting for the movie of the same name) means "The Red Mill," so named for the red windmill on top of the building.

Having your hard-bitten investigators sitting around a table talking about bringing in someone who  "went rouge" is, er, unexpectedly humorous and gives me a mental picture of someone being brought in under arrest for being a drag queen or something similar, or possibly turning into a can-can dancer.  Not quite the effect the author was going for ...

This is one reason why betas are a good thing, because they (hopefully) catch things like this.  And I don't care how good a writer you are, everyone does this sometimes (or has a computer do it for you when it autocorrects incorrectly and you don't notice ....)

What are your favorite (or least favorite) perennial typos/misspellings/homonym abuses/malapropisms?
beatrice_otter: WWII soldier holding a mug with the caption "How about a nice cup of RESEARCH?" (Research)
Is there anyone interesting on the Austin Bruins?  I ask because I brushed shoulders with the team coming back to the hotel after a game.  (And if any of you ant to know what junior league hockey players eat after games, the answer is apparently pizza judging by the boxes they were carrying.)
beatrice_otter: Miss Piggy in a superhero costume: Were you looking for flying pigs? (Were you looking for flying pigs?)
I've heard a lot of good things about Sleepy Hollow, so I decided to give it a try and am four eps in on Hulu.

There are, indeed, a lot of good things about it.  Each episode has been interesting and entertaining, and there is a diverse cast featuring a black woman as co-lead.

Alas, I my undergrad degree is in early American history and my grad degree is in theology, and that is a bad combo to watch this show.

I keep getting thrown out of it so hard.

The historical details aren't so much changed for dramatic purposes as a few pop-culture elements thrown into a blender on high.  And their interpretation of Revelation is just as bad.  I was hoping that once the first few episodes set the scene that there would at least be less historical references, so I would only have half the problems.

Alas, that does not seem like it is going to happen.

I don't know how many eps I can take before it gets to be too much.

beatrice_otter: Cover of Janelle Monae's Archandroid album (Janelle Monae)
For those of you who might not know, Janelle Monae is an awesomely talented Afrofuturist R&B singer whose first three albums tell the story of an android named Cindi Mayweather (played by Janelle). Cindi falls in love with a human and is thus to be hunted down and destroyed! But she eludes the hunters and goes on a journey through time and space, giving hope to her oppressed people. The songs are excellent, the story is great, the videos that go with it are awesome, if you're not already listening you should be. There are already some really good stories over at AO3, and the album arc has been nominated for [community profile] yuletide , so I am hopeful that there will be more coming soon.

Janelle Monae is awesome, and her Metropolis Suites albums are great SF and wonderful music. So I made some icons! Credit is love.

Total Icon Count: 26


She's the Electric Lady, Metropolis' Most Wanted )

Please credit and spread the word about how awesome she is! And remember, she's been nominated for [community profile] yuletide !  Request and write!
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
... an LCMS pastor is the religious leader coordinating and sending out emails for a local Christian Unity gathering.  [personal profile] quinfirefrorefiddle will know why I snicker each time I see one.

The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (aka LCMS or just "Missouri Synod") is much more conservative than the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Although they aren't the most conservative Lutheran church in America, they're the largest conservative Lutheran denomination.  And they have an institutional phobia about doing anything with people who don't hold and proclaim the "pure Gospel" like they do.  They couldn't possibly do anything that might imply that they endorse anything that isn't the ABSOLUTELY PURE LUTHERAN DOCTRINE (which they are the only arbiters of), and nobody can possibly be a true Lutheran without agreeing with them on every tiny point of doctrine (and some of them aren't too sure that people who disagree with them can even be called true Christians at all).  Most lay people in their church aren't bad about it, but some of their pastors can and do lead witch-hunts to root out impure doctrine and improper ecumenism.*   So when I see an LCMS pastor working on anything to do with Christian Unity, it's funny.  And I wonder what his superiors and fellow pastors think of him ...

*You may recall that after 9/11, an LCMS district president (their equivalent of a bishop) participated in a huge ecumenical prayer service in New York City.  (It might have been held at Yankee Stadium?  It was a really big deal, anyway, lots of religious leaders from lots of denominations.)  He had permission from the overall president of the LCMS to do it, but the ultra-conservative faction managed to get him brought up on charges anyway, hoping to use him to oust the president (who was, gasp, shock, horror, only a moderate conservative, not an ultra-conservative).  The District President resigned, instead.

For those of you interested in the history of it, internecine Lutheran strife, witch hunts, and propaganda )
tl;dr: the LCMS has been kinda screwed up since the late 1960s.

beatrice_otter: Yuletide (Yuletide)
Yuletide noms are open.

My Yuletide noms, sigh. I kept a list this year, of what I wanted to nominate or request ... except one fandom didn't make it on the list. So, when the nomination planning came around, I pulled out my list, picked three (two of which, Donovan's Reef and My Fair Lady were for sure, one of which (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress--I have seen one feminist critique-fic of it, and want more. And also more Mike, because I love him.) I was on the fence about. And when I posted my list to the nomination coordination post, I had several people squee about tMiaHM, and how they would love to read/write it and thank you for nominating it.

Then I realized yesterday that I HAD TOTALLY FORGOTTEN ABOUT JANELLE MONAE'S ARCHANDROID SERIES. If you don't know her, she's a phenomenally talented psychedelic soul and R&B artist whose first three albums tell the story of a robot named Cindi Mayweather in a dystopian future who falls in love with a human and is scheduled for termination because of it. There's time travel, and robots, and a sharp commentary on race and class and who matters and who doesn't and finding hope in dark times and all of it set to music that makes someone who doesn't tend to like modern pop music (and particularly not the R&B/Hip-Hop edge of it) go, yeah, okay, I see why people love this type of music.

I would rather get Janelle Monae fic than MiaHM fic. But nobody else has nommed Janelle Monae's albums, and other people want MiaHM and probably won't be nomming it themselves because they think I will be. And I would like MiaHM fic, it would be a worthy Yuletide present. So I nommed MiaHM, as I said I would. (But it hasn't been confirmed yet, so I may change my mind and edit it.)

If anyone has an open nomination slot, nominate Janelle Monae's work!  Here are the proper Yuletide tags for the fandom and characters:
Metropolis Suites - Janelle Monáe
Cindi Mayweather
Anthony Greendown
DJ Crash Crash
Maestra (Metropolis: the Chase Suite)

beatrice_otter: History will attend to itself.  It always does. (History will attend to itself)
I'm watching Rio Grande, one of the greatest Westerns ever made. But there is something really ironic that was not intended to be so. John Wayne's character's estranged wife, played by Maureen O'Hara, comes to visit because Reasons. She's a Southerner, John Wayne is a US Army colonel. Fifteen years ago, he was a captain during the Civil War, and in the march down the Shenendoah, he gave the order to torch his wife's family plantation. There is a lot of angsting about this from all sides (the general who sent him to do it and is now still his commander, the sergeant who was the one who actually held the torch, etc., etc.) At one point the general wonders what history will make of their actions in Shenendoah.

Well ... not much, actually. The destruction was fairly limited, and civilian casualties were low. Southerners gripe about it, but actual historians and everyone who isn't from the US South go meh.

What doesn't get a "meh", what people care about and shake their heads over, is the persecution and destruction of Native Americans who were forced from their homes and either killed or confined to reservations (i.e. the worst land available that nobody else even wanted). You know, the stuff that's the action plot in this movie, that everybody's taking for granted as the right thing to do.

(Also, I think it's hilarious that the movie takes place somewhere between 1877-1879 (depending on which Shenendoah campaign they're referencing), and at one point an Irish guy requests that old great song, Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men), which wasn't written until 1916 ...)

Still, it is a very good movie.  John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara are at their best, the supporting cast is excellent, the script has a lot of great bits, and the cinematography is gorgeous.
beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
A while back I got bit by a plot bunny (rabid critters, I know) about classic movie star Cyd Charisse being a Vulcan stranded on Earth.  Which plot bunny I am now writing in fits and starts.

And obviously, the background information we have on her will have to be massaged to fit.  But Wikipedia is lying to me.  It says she was born in 1922 and joined the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo at age 14.  Which would be 1936, for those of you who have basic arithmetic skills.

The problem is that Wikipedia also tells me that the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo was not formed until 1938.

I am choosing to believe that Cyd Charisse was 16 when she joined the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo the year it formed, as that fits better with the timeline of my story.

beatrice_otter: Jack O'Neill in an alien prison--one of those days. (One of Those Days)
Tonight I was struck by the SG-1 urge, and pulled out my DVDs.  Going through the early seasons, the episode to catch my fancy was A Matter Of Time, where the SGC accidentally connects to a Stargate on a planet being devoured by a black hole.  The Stargate won't disconnect because the temporal distortion of the black hole has a weird effect on the wormhole, which also causes disruption in the SGC as time slows down the closer you get to the Stargate.  Anyway, the solution is to focus a powerful explosion right at the Stargate to force the wormhole to "jump" to another Stargate, thus breaking the connection with the black hole planet.  Because of time differentials they can't just set the bomb remotely, someone has to go with it--and because of the black hole's gravity, by this point the Stargate is "down" in that it has much more gravity than the planet does.  So O'Neill and Random Redshirted Colonel get "lowered" from the control room on ropes to the middle of the gateroom, because with the wormholes gravity, they are "hanging" parallel to the ground.

This is the scene that, on the DVD menu, provides the picture for the episode.  Except that the picture is oriented so that O'Neill and Random Redshirted Colonel are oriented right-side-up, as if they are hanging down from the ceiling instead of sideways from the wall.

Think horses not zebras, I get it, when you see people dangling from ropes you expect gravity to be going up and down, not side-to-side.  But this is SF, so maybe they should have checked?  Or maybe had someone who actually knew the show work on such things?
beatrice_otter: Ginger Rogers--Dancing! (Dancing!)
Watching "There's No Business Like Show Business."  Donald O'Connor just took Marilyn Monroe out for a date and was pressing for a goodnight kiss, and she gave textbook "this is how to say no when a guy's making you uncomfortable and you don't want to actually firmly say "no" for one reason or another.  He ends up getting his kiss by grabbing her, basically.

Standard musical plotting, what does the hero do after a date?  He sings a song!  What song does he sing in this particular musical, after being pushy and icky?  "A man chases a girl until she catches him."  With Marilyn singing the occasional interjections.

beatrice_otter: Poirot: Little Grey Cells (Little Grey Cells)
So, [ profile] wiscon!  Which proudly bills itself as a feminist science fiction/fantasy con, and yet in the last couple of years has shown that they have issues actually acting like a feminist con.

Short version: Jim Frenkel, formerly an employee of Tor Books (one of the largest and best SF/F publishing houses in the US, is a serial harrasser.  As in, he's been behaving badly towards women for twenty years, but mostly what's been done is that women "in the know" warn other women to keep away from him.  In 2013, he harassed a woman who a) made a complaint, b) followed through on it, and c) called out [ profile] wiscon when they let her report fall through the cracks.  Lots of feminist SF/F bloggers take up the call.  You can read about it on the Geek Feminism Wiki.

Jim Frenkel lost his job over the incident, which shows that Tor Books took it seriously.  Not so, [ profile] wiscon, which allowed Frenkel to come to the 2014 con and even had him slated to moderate panels, on the original schedule.  Cue righteous wrath.  (They apologized pretty nicely for letting things slip through the cracks such that the 2013 concom knew about him and the 2014 concom didn't.  It was a pretty good apology, taking full responsibility for screwing up.  Pity it wasn't followed by a genuine turnaround on behavior.)

The final decision is that Frenkel is banned for four years for sure--and if, at the end of those four years, he can provide evidence that he has changed, he can come back.  Note that he can appeal, but it has been made quite clear that his victims can't.  Cue even more righteous wrath in the SF/F blogosphere, and as usual Radish Reviews has both good commentary and a good link roundup of other responses.  I particularly like Sigrid Ellis's post on procedure and how, you know, a con disciplinary committee is not a court of law and why the differences matter.

Which got me thinking.  I am a pastor.  Churches are also places that should be safe where trust has often been abused.  And our councils are also not courts of law.  So, here's what "best practices" are for churches for handling predators once they have been identified.  First, we have to protect their victims from further harm.  That's number one.  But we also, as churches have an obligation to everyone--including predators--to spread the Good News of God's love to all people.  When Jesus told his followers to visit the people in prison, he didn't say "but only the nice people who are falsely/wrongly accused."  So we can't just throw the predators out.  But at the same time, our first priority has to be protecting the victims and possible victims.  So here's the compromise when we know there's a serial predator: they can attend worship, but not any other event (Sunday School, picnic, work day, whatever) where the predator's target group will be present.  And they can only arrive ten minutes before worship and must leave immediately after it--they can't hang around.  And any time they are on the church property, the church has a couple of designated people to stay with the predator and make sure they behave themselves.  If they have already preyed on someone within the congregation, a church may well work with neighboring congregations to find someplace else the predator can attend where the predator will be watched to ensure no further harm is done but the victims don't have to deal with them.  The chances of the predator harming someone are minimized.  That's what you should do when you can't just throw the predator out.

But a con is not a church, and if there is a deep moral imperative to allow anyone (even predators) at a con, I've never heard it.  If there is a deep moral imperative for why it has to be one con in particular and not another, I've never heard it.  And if there's any procedure in place for what to do if Frenkel appeals after four years, gets a couple of character witnesses to swear he's reformed, and gets back in, and how to handle him to make sure he doesn't revert to type, I haven't heard that either.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
You know what I find really annoying in Pride and Prejudice fic?

All the stories where there's nothing wrong with Anne de Bourgh but her mother's fussing, and if she just got out and was active, she'd be just perfectly normal and as soon as her mother's out of the picture Anne is a lively and outspoken woman.  That's like, 95% of the fic where Anne appears.

And you know, it's possible that's the case.  But while they may not have had much medical knowledge in Austen's day, that makes it even more likely that she really has some kind of nasty ailment that won't kill her but will keep her from being able to do much.  Maybe something we'd find easily treatable, but that they wouldn't have a clue about.  And yes, upper-class girls were often cossetted, but not to the extent of being turned into invalids by it.

And as for Anne becoming lively and outspoken when her mother's not in the room, that's much worse.  There's a couple of possibilities.
  • she really is sick, in which case her mother's presence or absence may affect her comfort but she won't have much energy to speak whether or not Lady Catherine is in the room.
  • she does not have a physical illness beyond her mother's interference, but she's naturally shy and/or introverted, which won't change whether or not Lady Catherine is present or
  • she does not have a physical illness beyond her mother's interference, and she's not naturally shy and/or introverted, but her mother has bullied her into becoming so, which also will not change whether or not her mother is present.  Particularly since the amount of bullying/abuse necessary to make a healthy person physically weak is, er, pretty substantial even if (especially if) we're talking about chronic rather than acute mistreatment.
I highly doubt her illness is imaginary or made up or forced upon her by Lady Catherine's having decided that she is sickly and to be treated as such.  It's possible, but unlikely.  But if that's the case, she is going to be so psychologically damaged.  She would NOT be turning into a normal, social, outgoing woman the minute her mother's back is turned!
beatrice_otter: Delenn--Grey Council (Delenn--Grey Council)
Title: The Mountain Rose Before Me
Author: [personal profile] beatrice_otter 
Fandom: Star Trek
Rating: G
Characters: T'Lar, Sarek, Uhura
Word Count:  3,196
Warnings: none
Summary: The fal-tor-pan is an ancient and dangerous rite, unused for centuries. It is not done lightly. High Priestess T'Lar considers.

AN: This fic was inspired by Killabeez's excellent vid Dante's Prayer.
Thank you to the Vulcan Language Dictionary for certain words, particularly for help in verifying my spelling of ashv'cezh, revenge-worse-than-death.
As always, my idea of Vulcan culture is heavily influenced by Diane Duane's Star Trek novels, particularly Spock's World, which you should read if you haven't already. (Also by various other Star Trek novels of the 1980s, including The Vulcan Academy Murders, The IDIC Epidemic and Dwellers in the Crucible.)

At AO3

When T'Lar rose from her morning veneration to the gods of her ancestors, Madam T'Vas was standing just outside the shrine )
beatrice_otter: Talia Winters asks, what am I, a mind-reader? (mindreader)
Now, I hadn't ever heard of Janelle Monae because the only time I am introduced to music made in the last thirty years or so is when somebody does a vid of it and I go, huh, that's interesting, I like that.  And then my tastes run more to Regina Spektor.  But still: given that she's weaving an epic SF story involving robots and time travel across multiple albums and videos, why isn't more of the SF/F world talking about her?  I depend on you guys to learn about cool stuff that's happening!  You are falling down on the job!

Is there, like, a basic fannish primer out there?  So I know what to look for and what to get?  Because while the style of music in general leaves me feeling meh, she's good at it, and the overarching story has me feeling intrigued.  (This may be a new Yuletide fandom for me.)

beatrice_otter: Yuletide (Yuletide)
Somebody had the bright idea of having a [ profile] yuletide post for people to brainstorm what went well/what could be changed before we're coming up against the wire and the mods are having to make decisions on the fly.  If there's anything about the way Yuletide is run that you have strong opinions on, now would be a great time to check out the discussion.

If you're one of those who unfriends the com after December 25th so that your flist and Read page don't get swamped by rec lists, now might be a good time to add the com again.

(My personal favorite suggestion is that the current rules--ten years' worth of accretions and special cases--be discarded and re-written by someone who actually knows how to do documentation.)

beatrice_otter: Star Trek symbol--red background (Red Shirt)
Fair warning: I am not an economist.  The sum total of my formal economics training comes from a J-term college class called "The Economics of Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds" in which we read eight novels in a month and discussed the economic underpinnings of the worlds described therein.  My undergraduate degree is in history, however, and history is very much concerned with the economies of the past.

First, let's start with the Federation.  The Federation, we are told, has no money.  Nobody gets paid; nobody gets a bonus; things don't seem to work on a barter system, either.  There are credits, which appear but rarely, and are used as a unit of exchange; but we are repeatedly told that there is no money and credits aren't money even though we see them used as such.  Various Star Trek people, including Ron Moore, thought this was absurd, but Gene Rodenberry insisted it was so.

I always thought this was absurd, myself.  Look, resources have to be allocated.  Work has to be done, and people have to be compensated for their labor otherwise the dirty un-fun jobs won't get done.  If you don't need money to live on, I can see people having certain careers just for fun and for something to do.  Starfleet officer?  You  betcha, you would not need to pay me to be a Starfleet officer.  Musician, author, various forms of artist, sure.  Engineers and doctors and such, yes, I know people who would do those jobs without being paid (as long as their basic needs were taken care of.)  Construction, yes.  You might have a problem getting enough people to fill your society's need for those jobs, but you could get some and I'm willing to handwave that with automation and such you would need fewer of them than we need per capita today.  But plumbers?  Miners?  Bureaucrats?  You can replicate just about everything, but you still need to have people to make and maintain the replicators, and fabricate larger things.  Like houses.  You're telling me you have enough people who do that just out of the goodness of their hearts?  I thought, you don't have to run your economy the same way we do today; there have been lots of economies throughout history.  You don't have to use your money the same way, but there does have to be some form of exchange, whether money or barter.

Economic patterns from hunter-gatherer to the modern world: a history in five paragraphs. )
Future patterns with a Star Trek twist. )

So when I put all of this together, all of a sudden the Star Trek "no money in the future" schtick seems a lot more plausible than it used to.  I'm not convinced things will go this way, but I see how they could.

beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
... you should go check out the [ profile] wiscon safety chair's recent statement, WisCon Safety: Procedures, History, Explanations, and Apologies.  It is clear, concise, lays out what went wrong and why (and in the mode of "this is unacceptable and we'll do better next time" not "this is why it's not our fault"), apologizes without weasel-words, and lays out a concrete plan that is already being implemented to make sure the same problem (and others like it) do not reoccur.


I wish that other people who screw up would read this post and use it as a model.


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

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