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Posted by livius drusus

Sahl Church in the Northwest Jutland village of Sahl near Struer is a fine example of Romanesque architecture. Built around 1150 out of granite ashlars, it has several notable features: a rune stone built into the chapel’s west wall, 16th century frescos, a burgundy silk velvet chasuble embroidered with silver thread made from the wedding dress of Queen Anna Sophia that is still used today on special occasions. Its most spectacular feature is the Golden Altar, a gilded copper altarpiece made by a Danish master artisan from Ribe in around 1200. Embedded with crystals around the borders, the reliefs on the altarpiece panels depict figures and scenes from the Bible, particularly the childhood and suffering of Jesus, and Christian symbolism.

Popular devotional objects in the Middle Ages, only seven golden altars remain today in Denmark and only two of them in their original locations. (The rest are kept at the National Museum.) The bursts of iconoclastic zeal and the preference for plain church decor of the Reformation took a heavy toll on these objects. Many of them were destroyed and the ones that remain are not in the best of the condition. The altarpiece of Sahl Church is by far the best preserved of the seven, largely intact with no major missing parts. Most of the crystals were lost by the 1930s, but they were restored by National Museum experts in 1935.

In 1850, Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae, an archaeologist who was Denmark’s Inspector for the Conservation of Antiquarian Monument, surveyed the church as part of an inspection tour of the area. He warned in a letter that Sahl’s vicar was “adamant that the strange old altarpiece was to be removed” and when he wasn’t able to get rid of the priceless medieval gold and crystal altarpiece, he hired a local artist to paint over the wings. They weren’t original to the piece, thankfully, and they’re gone now but it lends some insight into why there are so few of these inestimable treasures left. Changes in fashion and taste can wreak havoc on historic artifacts, even ones whose value in sheer materials is blatantly obvious. This same vicar, by the way, also had the church’s medieval wooden coffer axed to pieces FOR FIREWOOD. Yet another page in the endless People Are Terrible ledger.

The altar has not been absolutely dated. What we know of their ages has been deduced from analysis of the design style and craftsmanship. When it was last restored more than 80 years ago, it was only spruced up. A new study of the Sahl Golden Altar by conservators at the National Museum of Denmark will give experts the opportunity to use modern methods of analysis to test the wood itself. Dendrochronology, if successful, can provide very precise dates. It will also be X-rayed and the gilding analyzed. They hope the study will reveal more information about the altar’s construction and materials.

While the altar is at the museum, visitors to Sahl Church will see a large-scale photograph of it draped over its usual location.

Within the last few years, the National Museum has conducted further studies on several of the golden altars. The results from this will be gathered in a publication about the unique cultural heritage of golden altars from the Middle Ages, which exists in Denmark.

It is the Carlsberg Foundation, which has granted the money for analyzes of the alhl from Sahl, and the experts hope that the results will be available at the end of the year.

In addition to a new study of the altar, the church itself will also be thoroughly reviewed. This appears in a publication published in the beginning of 2018, where the churches in Estvad, Rønbjerg and Vinderup will also be described.

The publication of the four Western Jutland churches is published as a volume in the National Museum’s great work of Danish Churches, which aims to publish descriptions of all the churches of the country. The project started in 1933, and today about two thirds of the Danish churches are described.

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Black Tie Optional Wedding

Sep. 22nd, 2017 07:23 pm
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Posted by PeaceBang

When I first meet with the wedding couple I am always sure to ask about the dress code right away. It gives me a sense of the scale of the event, and if I’m attending the reception, I have to actually think about not only the ceremony but the afterward, public ministry part.

I know.
No one who has been in ministry for twenty years thinks of a wedding reception as a grand old time, but we do it when we’re connected to the family. My practice is to give a nice, brief blessing over the meal if asked, eat something, try to make some friendly conversation at the inevitable “leftovers” table, keep the “I’m spiritual but not religious” or “I don’t believe in organized religion” or “Could you explain what a Unitarian Universalist is” conversation BRIEF, relax as best I can, and leave at cake cutting time.I like to sign the marriage license at dessert – it’s a nice, fun moment.

Doing weddings is tiring. We are at work. It is work. People don’t have any idea that it’s work, so protect yourself. You often have a full weekend of church ahead of you and may have even driven a significant distance to do the nuptials.

The worst dress code for clergy women, IMHO, is black tie or black tie optional. Men can, and should, wear their best suit and clericals. Robe for the ceremony and you’re all set. You should be really spiffed up and attend carefully to your grooming so that you’re not a disheveled embarrassment in photos with tuxedo’s and evening gown’d couples and their attendants.

WE ARE IN WEDDING PHOTOS FOR LIFE, FOLKS. WE NEED TO LOOK SPIFFED.

Women and femme people should, in theory, be able to add a bit of bling to a stunning black suit, but few of us own suits that are formal enough to do the job. Most of our suits are kind of frumpy. Mine are fine for professional appearances and funerals but they’re NOT semi-formal, which is a next level in cut, fit and fabric. So I always make sure I have one cocktail dress on hand for semi-formals, and although they’re not really dressy enough, they’re acceptable.

I am a minister. I don’t do sequins and shiny fabrics. Save those — clingy and cleavagey — for your own fancy nights out.

What I do to make sure I’m not going to frumpify wedding photos is to spend more time on my “head” — the fashion critic shorthand for hair and make-up. It is aesthetically jarring when I see photos of women all glammed up and the minister is bare faced and has floppy hair casually thrown back in a barrette or unstyled. Please make an effort!

This look took me twenty minutes. I’m wearing foundation, shimmer highlight, a smoky eye, eyebrows, blush and lipgloss (I’ll do a full lip later, closer to the ceremony). I worked dry shampoo through my hair and put it up in a French twist:

Photo on 9-22-17 at 3.08 PM #3
This is my “I’m honestly and truly super happy for you but it’s lousy out and I wish I could be home watching ‘Game of Thrones AND at your wedding” smile.

The earrings I’m wearing are a lot smaller and more low-key than I would pair with this outfit if I wasn’t doing a wedding, but statement earrings and robes look silly on me. I might switch them out for the reception.

Here’s my final outfit after having torn apart my dressing room trying on outfits and agonizing over what shoes to wear. I decided on boots. BOOTS ARE NOT appropriate for black tie but I’m working. My feet have been hurting this week. I don’t want to wear heels and the rest of my outfit is dark, seasonally appropriate and just fine. It’s raining like a maniac out there and I have a long drive. I put some bling around my neck so that I’ll look dressier for the inevitable reception table photo. So — boots. These boots. I shined them up, of course! I decided against my dressier pair because they keep ripping my panythose and I don’t want to wear opaque tights.

Click to enlarge
IMG_6432

Off I go. The bride is Albanian and I want to practice a few phrases before I get into the car.

New Books and ARCs, 9/22/17

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:52 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Just in time for the weekend, a new batch of books and ARCs at the Scalzi Compound for you to peruse. Which would you want to give a place in your own “to be read” stack? Tell us in the comments.


August 2017 Newsletter, Volume 116

Sep. 9th, 2017 01:08 am
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Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages

I. 2017 Election Success!

The 2017 Election went off without a hitch thanks to the Elections committee and their collaboration with the Communications, Development & Membership, Translation, Volunteers & Recruiting, and Webs committees! Elections would like to thank all of the members who sent in questions for the Q&A and everyone who voted in the election. They also thank all six phenomenal candidates, and send congratulations to Claire P. Baker, Danielle Strong, and Jessie Camboulives for becoming our newest Board members!

II. At the AO3

After the upgrade to Rails 4.2 in July, Accessibility, Design and Technology has begun testing upgrades to move AO3 to Rails 5.1 and Ruby 2.3. You can keep up with all the changes made to AO3 in our release notes.

Open Doors had a very productive August! They worked with Translation and Communications to announce the import of The Collators' Den and The Fandom Haven Story Archive to AO3. They completed three semi-automated imports: Daire's Fanfic Refuge, HL Raven's Nest, and StargateFan. They also finalized preparations and began manually importing works from the archives Hammer to Fall, Bang and Blame, and Least Expected.

In August, Abuse received over 600 tickets, and Support received over 1,300 tickets. As a reminder, all Abuse and Support reports must now include an e-mail address for the submitter.

III. Legal Advocacy and Fannish History

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was at the forefront of the Legal committee's August activities. They submitted a petition to the Copyright Office seeking to renew the vidders’ exemption to the DMCA, which allows people to rip DVDs, Blu-Rays, and digital files for the purpose of making make non-commercial fanvids.

Legal also submitted comments to the Canadian government suggesting what Canada’s copyright law priorities should be as it renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trilateral NAFTA talks between the governments of U.S., Canada, and Mexico began in August, and will be resuming in September.

Lastly, the Fanlore homepage has a new section that features articles that require expansion. Go check it out and see what you can contribute!

IV. It's All About the Peeps

As of the 28th of August, the OTW has 680 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Committee Staff: 1 AD&T, 1 Open Doors, 2 Communications
New Fanlore Gardener Volunteers: Syd and 2 other Fanlore Gardeners
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Chai, Canislupa, Andy D, Stephanie Godden, Windian, Relle, Miss_Chif, Annie Staats, leftmost, snowynight, kenzimone, Hannah Miro, Leo, Eliana, Evie D, Alex D., Dre, Lily_Haydee_Lohdisse, Reeby, Zed Jae, Nemesis, Koi W, Saoirse Adams-Kushin, englishsummerrain, RussianRadio, Amy Lynn, ElleM, and carboncopies.
New Translator Volunteers: 1

Departing Committee Staff: Asanté Simons (Volunteers & Recruiting), Amy Shimizu (Abuse), gracethebookworm (AO3 Documentation), 1 Abuse Staffer and 1 Communications Staffer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1 Tag Wrangling Volunteer
Departing Translation Volunteers: Maliceuse, Kyanite and 2 others

0.5 seconds in the Sun

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:24 pm
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Posted by Phil Plait

It’s funny — in astronomy, you wouldn’t think split-second timing would be all that critical for getting a good shot of some cosmic object. After all, the galaxies, stars, planets, and more have been around for billions of years. What’s the hurry?

But then, you have to remember that not everything is just sitting out there waiting for the shutter to snap. Some things are moving pretty rapidly, and if they’re close enough to us then the difference between getting a nice shot and a fantastic one can take less than a second.

Here, I can show you. Check this out!

ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

ISS transits the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

That is the Sun (duh), taken by Spanish astrophotographer Dani Caxete. He took this on September 5, 2017. At the time, those two big sunspots groups were visible (called Active Regions 12673 and 12674, the former of which flared several times just days later) — in fact, they were big enough to be spotted with no optical aid; I saw them myself using my eclipse glasses left over from August.

But that’s not all that’s in the shot. Look again: Between the active regions is a decidedly more artificial spot:

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

 

Yup, Caxete caught the International Space Station as it transited the Sun! The ISS is orbiting the Earth at about 8 kilometers per second at a height above ground of just over 400 km (about 500 km from Caxete, who was in Madrid when he took the shot due to his angle). At that speed and distance, it takes very roughly a half a second to cross the face of the Sun.

To capture it, you can’t rely on tripping the shutter at the right time; it’s better to take video, and then select the frames that show the ISS. This image shows one such frame. Caxete made a nice little video showing his travel across the city, the equipment-setting-up, and then getting the shot:

 

Coooool. I like his ‘scope, too; it’s a Long Perng 80 mm f/6.8 refractor with a Lunt Solar Systems Herschel wedge (which filters the sunlight down to acceptable levels), and a Nikon D610 camera. There’s no substitute for good optics!

As Dani told me, he has something of “an obsession with the ISS.” He took this shot as well:

ISS transits the Moon

ISS transits the Moon. Credit: Dani Caxete

 

Nice. And he has lots of other such images he’s taken (including one I featured on the blog back in 2011, though the ISS had a visitor that day), and I suggest you scroll through them, because they’re very pretty.

Getting a shot like this takes some planning, too. The sky is big, and you have to be at the right spot at the right time to catch the ISS moving across a target like the Sun or Moon. Happily, software packages like CalSky (which is what Caxete uses) make that a lot easier; you give it a location and it can calculate what’s visible in the sky and where, including the Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, and satellites (including potential transits near your location). It’s not too hard to use and fun to play with, so give it a try.

Not that getting a shot like this is easy. But with all this lovely tech we have handy, it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Still, it takes a lot of experience and perseverance … and a deep love of the chase. I don’t mind a chase myself, given the right circumstances (I traveled to Wyoming for the eclipse last month, after all), but in this case, I’m just glad experts like Caxete and others are willing to drop everything, even for just a short while, to provide the rest of us with such lovely images.

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Posted by John Scalzi

And being an “Audible Deal of the Day” means you get to spend very little to get the book — in this case something like $3. The deal as far as I know is limited to the US and maybe Canada, and it’s only for today. So if you want it at this price, you need to jump on it. It’s perfect for the folks who love audiobooks, or for the folks who have never tried audiobooks but would be willing to give them a chance at a low price point, or for the folks who simply want Wil Wheaton to read to them in those dulcet tones of his.

Here’s the link to the audiobook. Enjoy!


Another brief interlude

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:51 am
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Posted by livius drusus

I am internetless again, but again it should be a brief lapse. I’ll be up and running with a fresh story tomorrow, Liver of Piacenza willing.

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Posted by Phil Plait

On the morning of Friday, September 22, 2017, the Earth will experience a close encounter with a spaceborne object. But never fear! We’re perfectly safe. That’s because the space traveler is the NASA probe OSIRIS-REx, and it will pass more than 17,000 km above the Earth’s surface.

The flyby is designed so that the spacecraft will steal a little bit of the Earth’s orbital energy, using it to fling itself up, changing its own orbital plane to match that of its target, the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will pass closest over Earth’s south pole, and the Earth’s gravity will naturally bend the probe’s path up, up, and away.

This is the third event in the mission’s life in space, counting launch as the first. It launched a bit over a year ago and was placed into an orbit similar to that of Earth around the Sun. In January 2017 it performed a “deep space maneuver,” firing its engine enough to change its velocity by about 1600 kilometers per hour, putting it on the correct course for the flyby.

If you want the details of this flyby, then (as always) you should check in with my friend Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society, who has the info.

The spacecraft has already been spotted by Earthbound telescopes; the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona saw it on September 2:

Animation showing the movement of OSIRIS-REx on September 2, 2017, when it was still 12 million km away. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

Animation showing the movement of OSIRIS-REx on September 2, 2017, when it was still 12 million km away. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but c’mon: It was 12 million kilometers away and at a magnitude of 25. The faintest star you can see with your naked eye is 40 million times brighter! So this is actually pretty good.

If I’ve done the math right, it’ll be roughly magnitude 11 or so when it passes Earth on Friday. That’s still faint, though within reach of a good telescope. The mission web page has advice and links for trying to see it. Given how far south it’ll be, that means it’s easiest from southern locations; in Australia the Desert Fireball Network will use the flyby to test out their cameras. They’ll observe OSIRIS-REx from different locations and use that to get its 3D trajectory in space. They use the same technique to track material like meteors burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

I mentioned three events in the mission’s space life so far, but the fourth event is the big one: arrival. Approach starts in August 2018, when OSIRIS-REx is about 2 million km from Bennu. It’ll begin a series of engine burns to slow its approach relative to the asteroid until it goes into orbit. Starting on October it’ll begin surveying Bennu, and will continue to do so for a year.

The orbit of Bennu (blue) is similar to Earth's. This shows their relative positions on the day of the OSIRIS-REx flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL

The orbit of Bennu (blue) is similar to Earth's. This shows their relative positions on the day of the OSIRIS-REx flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL

Bennu is a pretty interesting asteroid (if it weren’t, then duh, we wouldn’t be sending a spacecraft to it). It was discovered only in 1991, and is on an orbit similar to Earth’s, though slightly bigger, more elliptical, and tilted to ours by about 6°. That’s a substantial inclination, taking a lot of energy to match, which is why the spacecraft is using Earth to whip it around. Bennu only approaches Earth about once every six years (its orbital period is about 1.2 years, so it takes a while for it and the Earth to sync up).

Bennu itself is about 500 meters across, a decent-sized chunk of rock (though it will be the smallest object NASA will have ever had a spacecraft orbit, an interesting statistic). It’s what’s called a B-type asteroid, meaning it’s rich in carbon as well as what are called volatiles: materials with low boiling points. Even though it’s small, it may have water inside it, trapped in materials like clays.

It’s shaped roughly like a top or a walnut, slightly wider than it is high. It rotates once every 4 hours or so. Its overall shape was determined from both radar mapping as well as how it changes brightness with time (for example, a very long object can get much brighter when it’s broadside to you, and fainter when it’s end-on). Interestingly, its mass is low; given its size it’s barely denser than water! It’s likely to be a rubble pile, a collection of loosely bound rocks held together by gravity and other forces. That can happen as an asteroid suffers low-speed impacts over billions of years, shattering it in place. Lots of voids form between the rubble, accounting for the low density.

Other than that, it’s thought that Bennu hasn’t undergone much change since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It’s hoped to be a time capsule dating back to the formation of the solar system itself!

NASA made this spiffy short video explaining more about Bennu, OSIRIS-REx, and the mission itself:

Oh, one more thing for now: OSIRIS-REx is loaded with instruments to examine the asteroid, including cameras, LIDAR, and a spectrometer. But it also has another package: a sample return capsule (SRC). While at Bennu, it will collect a sample of surface material, squirrel it away inside the capsule, then send it back to Earth! This has been done by a mission before (the Stardust mission to a comet), so it’s tested tech.

Scientists want to collect at least 60 grams of material, though they might get more. The mechanism to collect the sample will puff nitrogen gas onto the asteroid surface and then collect the material that floats off. They have enough gas to try this three times, so it seems likely they’ll get what they need.

Then the SRC will be sent on its way back to our planet, arriving as a fireball in the sky and then falling to Earth in July 2020. It’ll be collected and the samples brought to labs where this pristine asteroid material can be studied in much greater detail than is possible with a spacecraft.

But that’s all still far in the future. First things first! Let’s get the flyby done, and then we can start looking ahead to seeing Bennu up close and personal next year.

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Artwork showing OSIRIS-REx flying past Earth above Antarctica and South America. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

OTW Guest Post: Henry Jenkins

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:55 am
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From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Henry Jenkins is one of the best known media scholars studying fandom. His 1992 book Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture has been read all over the world, and is seen as one of the foundational texts of the fan studies field. When we asked if he'd do this month's guest post for our 10th anniversary, he replied "It's an honor to be asked to perform this role." Henry talks with us about fans, students, and fandom.

Textual Poachers continues to be widely read by students and those curious about fans and fandom, but you’ve written a dozen books since and many more articles. What do you think has changed the most about fandom from your early days as both a researcher and as a participant?

In terms of fandom, the impact of digital media has been decisive: expanding the scope of fandom, including greater connections between fans around the world; accelerating the speed of fan response in terms of being able to react in real time to our favorite programs; creating a space where fan works are much more visible to the culture at large (for better and for worse); allowing people to find their way into fandom at a much younger age; and increasing the impact of fan activists in seeking to assert their voice in response to canceled programs. (One has to look no further than the dramatic reversal of fortune for Timeless this past spring).

In terms of the academic study of fandom, we've seen the emergence of an entire subfield of research, which has its own conference and professional organization, its own journals (including Transformative Works and Cultures), its own publishing lines, its own courses, etc. In the next year or so, there will be at least four major academic anthologies devoted to mapping the field of fandom studies, reflecting the emergence of a new generation of researchers and representing innovations on so many fronts, but especially in terms of fandom studies finally coming to grips with race issues.

You have been involved in many projects focusing on fans and their interactions with texts and the entertainment industries. What perspectives have you drawn from those experiences that you would most like to share with fans?

Today's media consumers have expectations of meaningful participation, and the media industries also recognize that they have to create space and place value on the audience's active participation in the media landscape. But there are widespread disagreements about what we might call the terms of our participation, and those disputes are going to be some of the key battles over the first few decades of the 21st century.

The OTW is on the front lines of those struggles, representing fans as they struggle against the intellectual property regimes of major studios or as they confront various commercial strategies of incorporation. We collectively need to keep asking ourselves "What do we want?" and use our collective power to stand firm against compromises that might do violence to our traditions and practices. Fandom is worth fighting for.

You have also been an educator for decades. What have you found most intriguing about working with students interested in fandom?

When I started teaching about fandom, few if any of my students knew anything about fan fiction or other fan practices. Today, pretty much every entering undergraduate knows something about fandom, many have read fan fiction, most know someone who has written it.

When I teach my graduate seminar specifically on fandom, all of the students are "aca-fans," finding ways to reconcile their fan identities with their PhD research interests. This last time, the vast majority of my students came from outside the United States, especially from Asia, but also Europe and Latin America, and I love hearing their experiences coming of age as a fan and getting their perspective on core debates within the field.

How did you first hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?

News of the OTW bubbled up from many directions at once, most likely through my associations with Escapade, but also through an academic colleague whose partner at the time was involved. I was so excited to hear about the emergence of this fan advocacy network which brought together fannish lawyers willing to help protect our fair use rights as fans; fan scholars publishing their work through a peer-reviewed journal; fan programmers using their skills in support of the community; and of course, an archive where fans controlled what happened to their own works without the interference of web 2.0 interests. Each of these things is important on its own terms, but taken together, this organization has been a transformative force, in all senses of the words, for fans and their rights to participate.

You are on the editorial board of Transformative Works and Cultures and, along with Sangita Shresthova, guest edited its 10th issue. What was the most rewarding part to you of having edited that issue?

Transformative Works and Cultures has one of the most robust and yet supportive peer-review systems I have ever encountered at an academic journal. I tell my students that it is a great place to get their first publications because they will get so much constructive feedback and will receive so much help in refining their essays for publication. And I love the fact that it is open source and freely accessible to non-academics via the web.

Our work on the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and other forms of fan activism led us down a path towards investigating the political lives of American youth, which resulted in our most recent book, By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism. We write there about the HPA as a model of fan activism, but we also write about Invisible Children, Dreamers, and American Muslims, and found some similar themes across all of these groups. A key concept for us, "the civic imagination," was inspired early on by J.K. Rowling's phrase, "Imagine Better," which the HPA had picked up on and was using. My collaborators and I are now editing a casebook on popular culture and the civic imagination exploring how activist groups around the world are appropriating and remixing popular culture to help frame their messages. Some of these are fan groups, but many are not, yet I doubt I would have been as attentive of these developments if I was not following fandom as closely as I am.

What fandom things have inspired you the most, either currently or at different points in your life?

I never cease to be amazed by the way that fandom provides a learning space for so many people and in so many different ways. Early on, I had been interested in the ways fandom provided mentorship into writing, video editing, and other creative processes, with beta-reading and fan mentorship held up as a rich example of a peer-to-peer learning system.

Years ago, fandom played a key role in helping more women enter cyberspace, overcoming what policy makers were describing as a gendered digital divide. And fandom provided a safe space for people to work through shifts in gender and sexual politics across the 1980s and 1990s, helping women in particular to express their sexual fantasies and become open to alternatives otherwise closed to them. Fandom in this sense functions as something like a feminist consciousness raising group.

Fandom has also been a leadership academy, helping women to acquire entrepreneurial and activist skills which have expanded their voice and influence within the culture. And fandom is performing these functions at an earlier age as online fandom allows high school students to find their way into the larger community. Fandom doesn't fit everyone's needs, and these ideals are not always fully realized in practice, but through the years I've known so many people who have grown and learned through their fannish experiences. And for many of them, the OTW is giving them a chance to deploy these personal and professional skills to give something back to their community.


Catch up on earlier guest posts

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Posted by livius drusus

A rare painting of Benjamin Franklin striking a saucy pose as he signs the Declaration of Independence will be sold to the highest bidder at The Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Personal Property Auction to be held in Los Angeles on October 7th-9th. For the past seven years until Ms. Reynold’s recent death, the painting was on loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts which must be disconsolate by the loss of so important and unique a piece.

The painting is accomplished in oil on 37 x 28 in. canvas, capturing a full-length portrait of Benjamin Franklin with a quill pen in hand, prepared to sign The Declaration of Independence and leaning on a Federal-style desk with the Seal of the United States behind him. The platform base reads, “Sesqui * Centennial * Celebration * of * the * Signing * of * the Declaration * of * Independence”. This incredibly historic Rockwell work has been exhibited in twelve museums around the United States since 1972 and has been published in several books.

Rockwell painted the work for the cover of the May 29, 1926, edition of the Saturday Evening Post commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Post commissioned the subject and chose Benjamin Franklin for a specific reason: Franklin was the publisher of the influential Pennsylvania Gazette, the Philadelphia newspaper that the Saturday Evening Post claims as its historical ancestor, even though the Post didn’t exist until 1821 and the Gazette ceased publication in 1800.

The Post‘s reverence for Franklin continued to be expressed in its covers for decades. Between 1943 and 1961, every January the cover would feature a portrait of Benjamin Franklin (usually rather dry ones with a sadly unsaucy stone bust in the foreground) and a quote from his writings. Even today the revived magazine runs a “find Benjamin Franklin’s key” contest, named after his famed kite experiment first published anonymously in the Pennsylvania Gazette of October 19, 1752.

The pre-sale estimate for the oil-on-canvas original capturing the history of one of the United States’ most brilliant innovators, statesmen and printers and a magazine whose slice of Americana covers by Norman Rockwell have become iconic is $2,000,000 – $3,000,000. This is the first time the painting has been gone up for public auction, so the sky is probably the limit, pricewise.

Some of the proceeds from the auction will go to Debbie Reynolds’s most beloved charity The Thalians and The Jed Foundation, an anti-suicide organization chosen by Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd.

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Why I Had a Good Tuesday This Week

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:50 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Because yesterday I got to hang out a bit with Alison Moyet, who if you didn’t know is one of my absolute favorite singers, both in Yaz, and with her solo work. We’d become Twitter buddies in the last couple of years and when I mentioned to her Krissy and I would be at her Chicago show she suggested we have a real-life meet. And we did! And it was lovely! And brief, as she had to prepare to entertain a sold-out show (and she did; the concert was excellent), but long enough to confirm that she’s as fabulous in the flesh as she is in her music. Which was not surprising to me, but nice regardless.

(Alison has also blogged about our meet-up as part of her tour journal, which you can find here. Read the entire tour journal, as she’s funny as hell.)

I noted to some friends that I was likely to meet Alison this week and some of them wondered how it would go, on the principle that meeting one’s idols rarely goes as one expects (more bluntly, the saying is “never meet your idols.”) I certainly understand the concept, but I have to say I’ve had pretty good luck meeting people whom I have admired (or whose work I admired). I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that while I was working as a film critic, I met and interviewed literally hundreds of famous people, some of whose work was very important to me. In the experience I got to have the first-hand realization that famous and/or wonderfully creative people are also just people, and have the same range of personalities and quirks as anyone else.

If you remember that when you meet the people whose work or actions you admire, you give them space just to be themselves. And themselves are often lovely. And when they’re not, well, that’s fine too. Alison Moyet, it turns out, is fabulous, and I’m glad we got to meet.

(Which is not to say I didn’t geek out. Oh, my, I did. But I also kept that mostly inside. Krissy found it all amusing.)

Anyway: Great Tuesday. A+++, would Tuesday again.


[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
Baen's mass market paperback edition of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is coming up next week. Official launch date is next Tuesday, Sept. 26th. However, I don't think this one has a hard don't-sell-before date, so it will probably start trickling into brick-and-mortar bookstores whenever they get around to opening the boxes in the back room.

My box of author's copies arrived. Front looks like this, more or less -- Baen's shiny foil does not scan well.




The back looks like this:



They somehow got the first draft of the cover copy onto this one, and not the final one as it appears on the hardcover jacket flap. That last line was not supposed to be, misleadingly, All About Miles, but rather to put the focus on the book's actual protagonists and plot, and read, "...the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Oliver and Cordelia must work together to reconcile the past, the present, and the future."

Ah, well. Most readers (who bother to read the back at all) will figure it out, I expect. Those that don't will be no more confused than usual.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on September, 20
[syndicated profile] wrongquestions_feed

Posted by Abigail Nussbaum

I missed Twin Peaks the first time around.  Which is to say that I was aware of it--aware, even at the time, that it was considered a major event, and a shattering of the norms of what television could and should do.  But I was a little too young to watch it.  If my mother had watched the show I might have joined her, as I did with St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law, but as far as I know she wasn't

Matthew 20:1-16 [1]

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:47 pm
[syndicated profile] agnus_day_feed

Posted by James Wetzstein

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Oh wow, is it time for the end of the world again?

Apparently so. The latest in this incredibly long list of doomsday-prophecies-that-will-never-happen™ is that the Earth will somehow be destroyed on September 23.

This is terrible! Scheduling it on a Saturday keeps it out of the news cycle.

OK, snark aside — and I’ll admit that’s hard after you’ve debunked dozens of these kinds of claims — this particular cry of doomsday seems to be thriving where such things usually do: breathless YouTube videos and Facebook pages that carry a lot of dire warning but very little in the way of actual evidence.

I’m not sure where this one started, specifically; it may be from David Meade, someone who may best be described as a conspiracy theorist. He’s created a horrid combination of Biblical quotes and Nibiru claims (because, of course; more on that in a sec) and predicts the beginning calamity starting on September 23.

The key Bible passage is from Revelation 12:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

[Note: The exact phrasing of this changes depending on what version of the Bible you read; an interesting problem given that, in many cases on the web, the doomsday promulgators are also Bible literalists.]

Right off the bat, let me be clear: The language in many biblical passages, especially Revelation, is vague enough that interpretation is loose, and it’s not too hard to fit lots of different meanings to the words. If you look around hard enough, you’re bound to find something that kinda, sorta, sounds like it works.

In this case, the story goes, the woman in the passage is the constellation Virgo. “Clothed with the Sun” means the Sun is in the constellation, and “the moon under her feet” means the Moon is nearby, too. That part happens all the time; the Sun is in Virgo for about six weeks every year. The Moon is in Virgo for several days during that time, and even “under her feet” (as the constellation is classically depicted her feet are to the east and her head to the west) for a couple of days.

So, why September 23rd of 2017? The key part, as far as I can tell, is the position of Jupiter. The largest planet in the solar system, as seen from Earth, is also in Virgo, and is supposed to represent the child being born — it’s claimed Jupiter leaves Virgo on the 23rd.

Virgo

The constellation Virgo, the Sun, Moon, and various planets shown for September 23, 2017. The claim that she's giving birth to Jupiter myths the spot. Credit: Sky Safari 

 

There are several problems with this. The biggest is also the simplest: Jupiter doesn’t leave the constellation on the 23rd. If you want to be pedantic, the constellation boundaries are well defined officially, and Jupiter doesn’t cross into Libra (the next constellation down the line) until November. If you use the classical astrological boundaries for the zodiac constellations, Jupiter already left Virgo in early September. Either way, Jupiter leaving Virgo on the 23rd doesn’t make sense.

Now, you might say, “Well, Jupiter represents a baby being born, so maybe the 23rd is when Jupiter comes out of the part of Virgo where, y’know, babies are born from.”

That would be a nice try, except Jupiter is nowhere near Virgo’s lady parts. It’s way off to the side, and having had some experience here, I can be pretty sure that’s not where babies come from.

So, Bible aside, what’s the deal with Nibiru?

Well, nothing. I mean, literally. Nibiru doesn’t exist.

artwork of astronaut on Moon watching Earth destroyed

Well, crap. Credit: Dean Reeves, used by permisison

 

According to various conspiracy theorists, though, Nibiru is the name given to a purported giant planet in the outer solar system that sweeps by the Earth every 3600 years causing, well, Biblical disasters (not to be confused with Planet Nine, an as-yet  theoretical planet that could be in the outer solar system). This idea has a long history; it has its roots with the wild claims of Immanuel Velikovsky in the mid 20th century; he figured that Biblical catastrophes described in the Bible were real events, and tried to find astronomical ways to cause them. In the end, his lack of historical scholarship was only outstripped by his lack of astronomical understanding, and he abused astronomy trying to explain imagined historical events (the history of his ideas and how they were treated is fascinating; I dedicated a chapter in my first book, Bad Astronomy, to this).

Still, despite an utter lack of reality, his idea caught on and has been reshaped and reproposed over the years. Zechariah Sitchin used it to dream up a “12th planet” in the solar system, and wrote a series of badly researched books on the idea, and then it was picked up by Nancy Lieder,  who claimed in the 1990s that aliens from Zeta Reticuli were telepathically communicating with her to warn her of the impending destruction of Earth by Nibiru. She predicted very confidently it would come in May 2003.

Despite the lack of an Earth-shattering kaboom on that date, this myth lives on. People who cleave to this idea see evidence of this planet in every photo, every solar storm, everywhere. The fact that scientists (like me) debunk it is only more proof of the conspiracy to hide it from the public. This is what I call a cul-de-sac of logic; once you’re in it, you’ve cut yourself off from any sort of evidence against it. You’re lost.

So, the way Nibiru fits into this weekend’s notpocalypse is that, in the Bible passage, the dragon in the prophecy is Nibiru itself, its immense gravity (which up until now has had precisely zero observable effects on any solar system objects) will drop meteors and comets on us (“Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth”), and so on.

The thing is, Nibiru is supposed to be a giant planet. Jupiter, the actual biggest planet in the solar system, is easily visible even though it’s hundreds of millions of kilometers away; it’s one of the brightest natural objects in the sky. A bigger planet even closer would be far, far brighter. Yet, when you go outside, nothing like that can be seen.

Huh.

So, this end-of-the-world nonsense is just that: nonsense. It’s the usual stuff from this corner of the ‘net, and I can happily say, “Ho hum.” Nibiru has been the cause of predicted doom and gloom over and over again, and all these predictions have one thing in common: They never happen (remember the Mayan doomsday in 2012?). They can’t happen. As I’ve written many times, if Nibiru were really out there, it would leave an obvious swath of destruction and chaos, altering the planets’ orbits, the asteroids, moons, and everything so profoundly that you could see the effects by simply going outside at night and looking up. Put simply, the solar system as we see it now couldn’t exist in its present form if Nibiru were real.

Therefore, Nibiru isn’t real.

And so, therefore, neither is this next doomsday.

And I’ll admit, this kind of stuff makes me angry. There are people out there who don’t have the experience or astronomical knowledge (or who have mental health issues like anxiety and cosmophobia) to understand just how full of fertilizer so many of these self-proclaimed doomsday prophets are. And these people can get really scared, worrying about a disaster that will never come.

When I look around, I see plenty of very real things to be concerned with. Let’s try to fix the actual world, please, and not worry about ones that are made up out of nothing.

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