The Big Idea: Desirina Boskovich

Jun. 27th, 2017 01:18 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Memory and language: Two concepts that Desirinia Boskovich had in mind for her novella Never Now Always. And now, here she is, to remember to you, in words, why they were important to her story.

DESIRINA BOSKOVICH:

There are key moments and motifs in fiction that we latch onto as readers, and as writers. Symbolic scenes that loom large for us because they connect in some deeper way with our own buried nightmares and past traumas.

For me one of those moments is in C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, where every single day, bound to that chair, the prince remembers how much he’s forgotten. Fleetingly, he understands he’s a prisoner and also that he can do nothing about it, imprisoned equally by his own enchanted brain.

I was just six or seven when I read this and the horror of it simply overwhelmed me and then infiltrated me: that moment when you know, and simultaneously know the knowledge won’t last.

I think it terrifies me because the vulnerability and powerlessness of that moment is so crushing and absolute.

In Never Now Always, I set out to explore the terror of that moment. And also to face it and conquer it, putting my characters in the same predicament, yet giving them tools to fight.

So the story centers on Lolo, a child who finds herself trapped in a mysterious labyrinth under the supervision of a horde of voiceless alien Caretakers. She is surrounded by many other children, but none of them know how they ended up there, or what happened before. And as the Caretakers subject the children to psychological experiments focused on trauma and memory, their ability to form short-term memories is limited, too. Everything they learn, or think they learn, just slips between their fingers like water.

Then Lolo hits on the concept of writing — scrawling drawings and pictographs as simply as possible, designed to represent these fleeting pieces of story to her future self. Hoping that she stays the same, that her perception persists enough from day to day that when she sees those scribblings later, she’ll still know what they mean.

For me, as the writer of the novella, it was more complicated. The deeper I got into the story, the more I realized how truly challenging it would be to tell a story where the mechanics of narrative are broken, where one thing doesn’t always lead to another and pieces of story don’t necessarily add up.

In some ways every scene felt like a first scene. There are gaps in this story, and continuity errors.

But I also realized that while I wanted my reader to feel somewhat disoriented, I could not let them remain as disoriented as the characters, because that would really not be an enjoyable story to read.

So I also ended up depending heavily on language to do the work — I tried to anchor everything in touch and taste and feelings, always in the present tense, a language reinvented for children whose sense of time is confined to a narrow slice of perpetual now. Everything that’s happening to them is happening in the immediate, and the present is the only moment that matters.

And in that perpetual now is where I think my characters — and I, myself — find redemption and solace. Because love is deeper than language. Because my dog doesn’t need to remember all the days of his life with me to know that with me he’s loved and safe and home; “yesterday” and “tomorrow” don’t actually mean anything. As always, my dog is wiser than I am. So I gave Lolo a dog, too, to help her figure it out.

In the end, the story returns to the one idea I find most comforting: that in this world and the next, life after life, we always make our way back to protect those who’ve protected us, and to be reunited with the souls we’ve loved.

I hope it’s true.

—-

Never Now Always: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.


[syndicated profile] maryrobinettekowal_feed

Posted by Beth Bernier

Favorite Bit iconCurtis C. Chen is joining us today to talk about his novel Kangaroo Too. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Set in the same world as Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis C. Chen’s Kangaroo Too is bursting with adrenaline and intrigue in this unique outer space adventure.

On the way home from his latest mission, secret agent Kangaroo’s spacecraft is wrecked by a rogue mining robot. The agency tracks the bot back to the Moon, where a retired asteroid miner?code named “Clementine” ?might have information about who’s behind the sabotage.

Clementine will only deal with Jessica Chu, Kangaroo’s personal physician and a former military doctor once deployed in the asteroid belt. Kangaroo accompanies Jessica as a courier, smuggling Clementine’s payment of solid gold in the pocket universe that only he can use.

What should be a simple infiltration is hindered by the nearly one million tourists celebrating the anniversary of the first Moon landing. And before Kangaroo and Jessica can make contact, Lunar authorities arrest Jessica for the murder of a local worker.

Jessica won’t explain why she met the victim in secret or erased security footage that could exonerate her. To make things worse, a sudden terror attack puts the whole Moon under lockdown. Now Kangaroo alone has to get Clementine to talk, clear Jessica’s name, and stop a crooked scheme which threatens to ruin approximately one million vacations.

But old secrets are buried on the Moon, and digging up the past will make Kangaroo’s future very complicated…

What’s Curtis’s favorite bit?

KANGAROO TOO cover image

CURTIS C. CHEN

My favorite bit in Kangaroo Too is the Planned Parenthood health center on the Moon.

(To forestall nitpickers: yes, I know Kangaroo calls it a “free clinic” in the book, but he’s speaking colloquially.)

At one point in the story, Kangaroo needs to meet with an extralegal contact, and the contact chooses a Planned Parenthood facility that he has after-hours access to through family connections. When I first plotted this out, it wasn’t important exactly what kind of location they met in, as long as it was private and unofficial. And I had a lot of leeway with the contact’s backstory.

I had thematic reasons specific to this story for choosing Planned Parenthood to be their meeting location, but I also had personal motivations. The future depicted in the Kangaroo-verse is not a dystopia; humans are still dealing with a lot of the problems we have today, plus a few new conundrums, but science and technology have continued to improve our lives. And I wanted that future to include Planned Parenthood.

As I’m writing this, Republicans in the US Congress are trying to roll back a lot of progressive government health care initiatives. Part of the latest proposed legislation would defund Planned Parenthood, which receives roughly $500 million in federal funding every year–more than half of its annual revenue. I hope that doesn’t happen, because we need Planned Parenthood.

Founded in 1916, Planned Parenthood provides health education, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment, contraception, and, yes, abortions to people who may not have access to compassionate care elsewhere. Planned Parenthood health centers saw 2.4 million patients in 2015. I know people who received essential health services from Planned Parenthood when they were too poor or too scared to go anywhere else. I know people who are alive today because of Planned Parenthood. And a civilized society ought to provide for all its people, not just the most privileged.

Finally, for the record, this is not just about interrupting pregnancies. None of the federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives is used for abortion services. This is about providing reasonable access to reproductive health services for the half of the human race that, you know, actually makes the babies. And if you’re against that, well, I imagine we disagree on a great number of things, and I’ve got better things to do than argue with you. I’m working to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

Back to the novel: once I had picked Planned Parenthood for the secret rendezvous, I revised an earlier scene in which Kangaroo gets pulled into a conversation at a hotel bar while following a target. The original draft of that talk was pretty inconsequential, both plot-wise and character-wise, but now that the topic of reproduction was on the table, I had an opportunity to raise the stakes in a few different ways.

The other barfly wants to talk about the difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship; how much is Kangaroo willing to reveal about his own personal life? The topic of children comes up; does Kangaroo want kids? What are his own–wait for it–plans for parenthood? You’ll have to read the book to find out. And I apologize for nothing.

LINKS:

KANGAROO TOO web site

Planned Parenthood

This teen is the new face of Planned Parenthood. ‘I wanted all the chances everyone else had.’

Services like Planned Parenthood important as syphilis cases on the rise

Trump Wants to Slash All Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood

14 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Abortion

Someone you love has had an abortion: It’s time to end the silence

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s Books

Amazon.com

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Newsletter

Blog

BIO:

Once a Silicon Valley software engineer, Curtis C. Chen (陳致宇) now writes speculative fiction and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. His debut novel Waypoint Kangaroo (a 2017 Locus Awards Finalist) is a science fiction thriller about a superpowered spy facing his toughest mission yet: vacation. The sequel, Kangaroo Too, lands the titular secret agent on the Moon to confront old secrets.

Curtis’ short stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Mission: Tomorrow, and Oregon Reads Aloud. He is a graduate of the Clarion West and Viable Paradise writers’ workshops.

You can find Curtis at Puzzled Pint Portland on the second Tuesday of most every month. And yes, there is a puzzle hidden in each of the Kangaroo book covers! Finding the respective rabbit holes is left as an exercise for the reader.

Visit him online at: http://curtiscchen.com

 

The post My Favorite Bit: Curtis C. Chen talks about KANGAROO TOO appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Dear Senator Johnson:

Yesterday, you compared me, not favorably, to a car: "We’ve done something with our health care system that you would never think about doing, for example, with auto insurance, where you would require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crash their car."

I cannot tell you how furious I am.

First of all, in comparing health insurance to car insurance, you are implying that:

(1) we can avoid illness, cancer, strokes, etc., the same way a driver, hypothetically, can avoid accidents (although accidents can't always be avoided, either);
(2) human beings are nothing but machines;
3) if we are not useful--as, say, children or elderly people no longer able to work are not useful--we are not worth taking care of;
(4) we decrease in value when we are damaged.

All of these implications are wrong. Frankly, they are all reprehensible. Also, a car accident is in no way, shape, or form like a "pre-existing condition." "Pre-existing conditions" are chronic. You can't deal with them once and then move on, the way you can buy a new car if yours is totaled. You have to deal with a "pre-existing condition" for the rest of your life; it goes on being expensive, eating up energy, and making your daily life harder long after the crisis point (the accident, in your analogy), if there even was one. Many people's "pre-existing conditions" start before they're even born. It is a false and pernicious analogy which you should never have permitted yourself to make.

Moreover, my "pre-existing conditions" are not things that I did, or things caused by my bad choices. The same is true of my friends who are bipolar. The same is true of any child who has cancer. Illness, whether mental or physical, is not a moral judgment, and a person's value, which is inestimable, is neither measured nor affected by the health care they need. And no one can predict the health care they're going to need--in much the same way no one can predict a drunk driver crossing the median and colliding head-on with their car.

Frankly, I have never expected you to oppose TrumpCare, whether it's called the AHCA or the BCRA, and I was angry enough about that. But the contempt this analogy shows for your constituents and for their need to have effective and affordable health care--a need that does not correlate with either their socio-economic status or their moral rectitude and that should never be thought of in terms of free-market capitalism--is appalling, especially from someone who claims to consider it "an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Wisconsin." I sincerely hope that this analogy is not a reflection of your true opinion of your constituents.

Senator Johnson, I AM NOT A CAR. I am a person, created equal with yourself, and I deserve to have my elected representatives respect my humanity and treat me with dignity.
[syndicated profile] gr8r_gr8r_wash_feed

Posted by Arego Mitchell (Contributor)

Metro says it needs more time to fix the safety chains on 7000-series cars

After a visually impaired rider accidentally walked into a gap between cars of a new 7000-series train, Metro promised it would retrofit safety chains and ensure new cars were fixed by the end of 2017. Now, changes won't come until mid-2018.  (Martin Di Caro / WAMU)

The first quarter of 2017 was a good period for Capital Bikeshare

Capital Bikeshare's quarterly data dump is here, and it's as interesting as ever. Mobility Lab's awesome bike trip visualization tool shows that the second and third most popular routes are from Union State to F St and 8th St NE, respectively.  (Adam Russell / Mobility Lab)

DC is gaining residents at a slower rate, while the surrounds are losing them

Though people are still migrating into DC faster than residents are leaving, the suburbs are experiencing a net loss of residents. This is counter to the national trend of population flowing from urban to suburban areas.  (Mike Maciag / DC Policy Center)

Metro police pepper sprayed a restrained man

After Metro police noticed a man trying to skip fare at Gallery Place, witnesses say the officers pepper sprayed the man while they had him pinned to the ground. Part of the interaction was captured on video by one of the many witnesses.

DC offers two programs that help employers find new employees

The Department of Employment Services and American Job Centers are vital but often underused DC services that employers can take advantage of to find candidates for jobs. The DC Policy Center offers four ways that employers can use these systems.  (Brian Holland / DC Policy Center)

The driver who hit three people in Adams Morgan is still in jail pending trial

The man accused of hitting two bicycle officers and a utility worker will remain in jail as he awaits trial. The prosecution alleges that he intentionally hit the victims, while the defense suggests his actions were due to a bad reaction to marijuana.  (Keith L. Alexander / Post)

Violent crime in DC is down significantly from last year

Violent crime for the first half of 2017 is down 26% from the same time last year, including a 33% drop in robberies and a 15% drop in homicides. District officials are optimistic, but say that summers are more difficult to police.  (Peter Hermann / Post)

Comment on this article

Fighting Leakers at Apple

Jun. 27th, 2017 11:25 am
[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

Apple is fighting its own battle against leakers, using people and tactics from the NSA.

According to the hour-long presentation, Apple's Global Security team employs an undisclosed number of investigators around the world to prevent information from reaching competitors, counterfeiters, and the press, as well as hunt down the source when leaks do occur. Some of these investigators have previously worked at U.S. intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA), law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, and in the U.S. military.

The information is from an internal briefing, which was leaked.

[syndicated profile] charlie_stross_diary_feed

The Delirium Brief The Delirium Brief

So The Delirium Brief is imminent! It officially goes on sale on July 13th in the UK and (in a different binding, from a different publisher) on July 11th in the USA.

I'll be doing my usual launch reading/signing event in Edinburgh at Blackwell's Bookshop on Wednesday July 12th — it's a ticketed event but tickets are free.

You can order signed copies of The Delirium Brief both from Blackwell's (see the bottom of the linked event page for details) and from my favourite local specialist SF bookstore, Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh. (Transreal takes Paypal and can ship overseas; Mike can also provide signed copies of many of my other books upon request.)

Oh, God will save her, fear you not

Jun. 27th, 2017 04:42 am
sovay: (I Claudius)
[personal profile] sovay
I enjoyed this review of a new biography of A.E. Housman, but I got to the last paragraph and disagreed so violently that I spent my shower fuming about it:

But that sweetness, verging on sentimentality, is also Housman's limitation: the lads and lasses slumbering under the grass, never growing old or sick or worrying about how to find a job. Sadness in Housman is a one-size-fits-all emotion, not one rooted in particulars. It puddles up automatically. And reading "A Shropshire Lad" you can find yourself becoming narcotized against feelings that are deeper and more complicated. That may be the real secret of the book's enduring popularity, the way it substitutes for a feeling of genuine loss the almost pleasant pain of nostalgia.

The reviewer claims earlier that "one reason 'A Shropshire Lad' has been so successful is that readers find there what they want to find," so perhaps I am merely following this well-worn tack, but I don't see how you can read Housman and miss the irony, the wryness, the sometimes bitterness and often ambiguity that never prevents the pleasure of a line that turns perfectly on itself. Some of his best poems seem to take themselves apart as they go. Some of them are hair-raising. Some of them are really funny. (It is impossible for me to take "When I was one-and-twenty" as a serious lament. In the same vein, it wasn't until tonight in the shower that I finally noticed that "Is my team ploughing" owes a cynical debt to "The Twa Corbies.") That is much more complicated than a haze of romantic angst and the vague sweet pain of lost content, especially seeing how much of Housman's language is vividly, specifically physical for all its doomed youth and fleeting time, not dreamy at all. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale. I am not sure why the reviewer knocks Housman's Shropshire for not being "particular," either. Of course it's not actual Shropshire, where the poet himself acknowledged he never even spent much time. It's Housman's Arcadia, et ego and all. I finished the review and found myself thinking of Catullus—again, I had to have my hair full of soap before I realized why. I don't understand why anyone looks for the undiluted Housman in A Shropshire Lad any more than the Lesbia poems should be assumed to contain the authentic Catullus. Pieces of both of them, sure. But my grandmother didn't need the identity of the addressee of "Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over" pinned down in order to copy out the poem and save it after a college relationship broke up badly. (I thought it was hers for years.) Who cares if its second person was Moses Jackson or fictional? It spoke to a real loss. I don't think there is anything anesthetizing in that. I doubt Housman would have wanted the particulars known, anyway. I have to figure out a way to stop fuming and start being asleep.

Local news

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:34 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll


Mosque approved despite pleas to think of the little turtles and an odd assertion that the mosque would produce more sewage than "normal " spiritual use.

The exgf's cats meet Fig

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:42 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ibid has a ... troubled history with Nigel so we're holding off on that.

No histrionics but somehow Rufus established himself as a cat Fig needs not to annoy, whereas Nigel is someone Fig will happily follow around.

Also, Fig made himself sick eating daisies, then tried to eat one again.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I finally found out where I misshelved this.

(no idea what review series I can fit it into)


HOUSE

Jun. 26th, 2017 03:21 pm
[personal profile] miladygrey
We are moved and we are alive and have not murdered each other. No, not even after the Incident of the Bar Glasses, where he could not find the box where he'd packed the bar glasses and stomped and raged and swore vengeance on the movers for a solid hour, only to find them safely buried in a larger box of clothes three hours later. The bedroom is sleepable and has lovely new light-blocking curtains, because we like sunlight, but not at 5:30am in the summer. The basement is a wonderful cool den lined with bookshelves, and I have maybe 90% of the books unpacked. The kitchen is still magnificent, and Yeats made celebratory pasta carbonara in it last night. And we wielded our new gardening tools yesterday and did battle with the Triffid Rosebush (don't laugh, the thorns on that thing are vicious) and the Dandelions that Ate Manhattan and the Unidentifiable Six Foot Tall Weed, and emerged victorious. And the cats are back, and Hector loves his new house, and Westley hates it, but has graduated from hiding under the bed and sulking to following us around the house loudly telling us how much he hates it.

I'm still exhausted. But a happy exhausted.

Reading Log (what little time I've had): A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge; To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey; Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire; A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor
[syndicated profile] gr8r_gr8r_wash_feed

Posted by Bryan Rodda (Contributor)

A new trail across Rock Creek Park opened on Saturday, restoring public access to a part of the park that has been closed for a generation. The car-free walking and biking path connects to the Rock Creek multi-use trail and links the neighborhoods of Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, and Mount Pleasant.

This trail was 25 years in the making

The new Klingle Valley Trail is a 0.7 mile multi-use path across Rock Creek Park connecting Cortland Place NW to Porter Street NW, passing under Connecticut Avenue just north of the National Zoo. The path bisects the Klingle Valley, running parallel with Klingle Creek. It follows the alignment of a section of Klingle Road NW that was severely damaged by floods in 1991 and has been barricaded off to prohibit access ever since.

Project area map, with the new trail location in red. Image by DDOT.

Putting up barricades resolved the immediate public safety issue, but left open questions about the ultimate fate of the damaged roadway. Vociferous community advocates arose on all sides of the issue: some argued Klingle Road should be fully reopened to all traffic, others wanted a permanent closure, others a conversion to a trail, and various positions in-between.

After numerous twists and turns, the road's fate was finally resolved in 2008 with DC Council legislation that required this section of Klingle Road to remain closed to cars and reopen as a multi-use trail. With that clarity, DDOT was able to advance project development through the design and engineering phases, and construction started in July 2015.

For the past 25 years, this has been the view of Klingle Road at Cortland Place, NW. Image by DDOT.

The trail project repairs years of neglect for the Klingle Valley

The site’s degraded conditions mean that this trail is about much more than installing and a path and putting in benches, lighting, and signage.  

The additional features include a restoration of Klingle Creek to resize and realign its channel and stabilize its eroded banks. Without this restoration, the new trail would quickly be undermined by water runoff from the creek just like the previous roadway. The restoration features elements designed to mimic natural stream characteristics, using rocks, boulders and logs to stabilize its banks, and carefully engineered “step-pools” to control the stream gradient and water flow.

Other elements include cleanup and removal of the old road surface, repair of sanitary sewers, rehabilitation and installation of drainage and stormwater management infrastructure, and new retention walls to stabilize the valley’s steep slopes.  The trail surface also uses porous asphalt to minimize water runoff.

Old: eroded, broken-up concrete sections of Klingle Road. Image by DDOT.

New: the trail, with a bioswale trench to help manage stormwater. Image by Caesar Hatami licensed under Creative Commons.

Klingle Valley is open to the community again

With the trail’s reopening last Saturday, bicyclists and pedestrians alike have a new, car-free way to cross Rock Creek Park that also avoids the busy, and often stressful, crossing of Connecticut Avenue that other park access routes require.

Lighting and the link to the Rock Creek Trail will ensure the trail’s utility as a commuter route, as well.

Nature lovers will appreciate that the trail connects to the the Tregaron Conservancy paths and trail network.

The expanded access to Rock Creek, and reopening of the Klingle Valley, should provide years of future enjoyment for residents and visitors seeking calm from a bustling city in one of the city’s premier parks.

Top image: The new trail in action. Image by Caesar Hatami licensed under Creative Commons.

Comment on this article

Dumb Calibre/Kobo question

Jun. 26th, 2017 03:20 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I can see my Kobo has about 300 more titles on it than my laptop Calibre does (because I got the Kobo well before the laptop). How do I move the titles that are on the Kobo to Calibre?
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
One issue: I really suck at giving people their free reviews. Would appreciate pointers on how to suck less.
[syndicated profile] gr8r_gr8r_wash_feed

Posted by Claire Jaffe (Contributor)

Let’s ring in the summer with the next Greater Greater happy hour! Join us at Highline RxR in Crystal City on Tuesday, July 11 from 6 to 8 pm.

Hang out with GGWash contributors and readers over drinks, snacks, and conversation at Highline RxR, located at 2010 Crystal Drive in Arlington. This bar's second-floor patio has a great view of the adjacent train tracks, where you can see VRE, Amtrak, and freight trains. 

To get there, you can take the Blue or Yellow lines to the Crystal City Metro station, which is two blocks away, or the Metroway BRT to 18th Street and Crystal Drive, one block away. Metrobus routes 10A, 13Y, 23A/B and ART routes 43 and 92 all stop at the Metro station. There’s also a Capital Bikeshare station at 20th and Crystal.

If you plan to come, please RSVP here!

This year, we've held happy hours in White Flint, Shaw, on U Street, and in Edgewood. Later this summer, we’ll head back to Maryland. We’re always looking for new, Metro-accessible locations for future happy hours. Where would you like us to go next?

Also, check out these other great events:

Monday, June 26: Fairfax County is working on a study to improve the Braddock Road corridor, between Guinea Road and I-495. Changes could include additional travel lanes, HOV lanes, and safer intersections for biking and walking. Share your thoughts on the project at a community meeting at 6:30 pm in the cafeteria of Lake Braddock Secondary School (9200 Burke Lake Road) in Burke. 

Tuesday, June 27: The Virginia Railway Express currently uses the Ivy City Coach Yard for storage but is looking for a replacement. Head over to the public meeting on Tuesday from 7 pm to 9 pm at 1917 Bladensburg Road NE to discuss the project to plan, design, and construct a permanent midday storage facility for VRE trains that travel to the District.

Thursday, June 29: The District Department of Transportation is working to make New York Avenue NE a safer place for walking, biking, and driving. Weigh in on the final ideas for the project at the third public meeting on Thursday from 6 pm to 8 pm at the REI at 201 M Street NE. 

Thursday, June 29: Head over to the Phillips Collection (1600 21st Street NW) on Thursday to hear from Derek Hyra, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University and recent author of Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City, a look at the redevelopment of DC's Shaw/U Street neighborhood. Hyra will talk about his findings on the causes, consequences, and larger implications of gentrification in American cities like DC, with a discussion on parallel issues in Berlin, Germany. The talk begins at 6:30 pm. 

Thursday, June 29: Fairfax County is looking options for a shared-use path on the north side of the future site of the Innovation Station on the Silver Line. Share your thoughts on the project at a community meeting on Thursday at 6:30 pm. in the cafeteria of Herndon Middle School (901 Locust Street).

Saturday, July 8: Get your bike fixed at the Anacostia Library! On a handful of Saturdays throughout the summer, DC Public Library is partnering with volunteers from bike shops from around the area to offer free repairs there. The library is at 1800 Good Hope Road SE and the event runs from noon to 2:30 pm.

Top image: Friends of GGWash at our birthday party in March. Come hang out at our July happy hour! Image by Corey Nichols used with permission.

Comment on this article

[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

The first time I personally encountered Harry Potter was not long after the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, came out. I was 30 and my daughter was an infant, so in neither case were these particular Scalzis the target demographic for the books, but by that time the buzz (and sales) of the series were pretty significant. So one day in the airport, while I was browsing in a bookstore, I picked up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and opened it up near the end, to the part where Dobby the House Elf is given a sock.

I read it for a few pages to get the sense of Rowling’s style, and then put the book back on the shelf and thought, “well, okay, that’s not for me.” Why not for me? In this case, it was something about the writing of that particular scene. I could see how all the pieces fit together, and I could see how it was working, and I could also see that all of it seemed pitched to someone who wasn’t me, 30-year-old John Scalzi. This didn’t mean it wasn’t a good book or the right book for someone else; by the age of thirty I had gathered enough wisdom (and, dare I say it, humility) to recognize that “not for me” was not the same as “not for anyone.” But I didn’t feel the click that made me want to keep reading. Evidently, Harry Potter was not for me.

And that was okay! There is a lot of stuff in the common culture that is not for me, particularly when it’s pitched to people who are younger or older than I am. Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries are not for me, just like My Three Sons or Dark Shadows were not for me. Emerson Lake and Palmer was not for me, nor was N*Sync, nor is Ariana Grande. Doctor Who’s first iteration was not for me and I have to admit I’m only passably interested in the current version. I could be here for days with a list of all the things that are not for me. Again, which is fine! There are lots of things that I decided are for me. I was happy with them.

And so with Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, whose niche in my mind I pretty much figured had been occupied by Will Stanton and Meg Murry, and Susan Cooper and Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t worry too much about whether Kids These Days were reading The Dark is Rising or the Wrinkle in Time series, for the same reason I didn’t worry too much if today’s kids were really into Tears for Fears or the Go-Gos, to name but two bands whose discographies were pertinent to my teenage years. Every generation finds their storytellers, in literature and music and art in general. I was okay letting J.K. Rowling and her stories belong to the generation of young people after mine. Yes, I know, very gracious of me.

But as it turns out neither Harry Potter nor J.K. Rowling were done with me. First, of course, it turned out that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley (and Rowling) weren’t Tears for Fears; they were the Beatles. And like the Beatles they weren’t just popular. They materially changed common culture — for a start, because they also changed the industry that they came out of, and the work of everyone in their field, who either responded to them or were influenced by them. Now, one may, like me, decide a phenomenon like that isn’t for you, but when literally(!) the world is changing to deal with and make room for that phenomenon, you still have to acknowledge that it’s there and work with it, or at least around it. Particularly when and if, like me, it comes out of the fields (in this case publishing and writing) you hope to be in, and in my case were eventually part of.

Second, I found another way in to Rowling’s wizarding world: through the movies, which were for me in a way that I, from that snippet of the second book, assumed the books were not. In retrospect this is not at all surprising — I was a professional film critic for several years, and I’ve written two books on film, and, as anyone who has ever read my novels can tell you, the storytelling structure of film is a huge influence on my storytelling in prose. My professional and creative interest in film helped that version of Harry Potter’s story speak to me.

(And in point of fact this is not the first time I had found the film/TV version of a story working better for me. I’ve written in detail about how I think the Peter Jackson’s take on The Lord of the Rings is better — or at least better for me, in terms of story presentation — than the Tolkien books; likewise I am deeper into the Game of Thrones universe through the TV series than I was through the books. In all these cases, I’m not suggesting the prose version has failed in some way and the films “fix” them. They obviously work for millions of people. More to the point, different media allow creators to do different things, and reach different people. As was the case here.)

Having gotten through the door with the series via film was a good thing, because as it turned out Harry Potter is for me — which is to say that I find the world that Rowling created to be deep and thoughtful and interesting in ways I didn’t expect. And because it’s interesting and engaging to me as someone who approached it as an adult, I understand better why it’s so very deeply affecting for the readers who literally grew up in tandem with Harry and Hermione and Ron and all the rest of the students at Hogwarts. They aren’t just characters to them, any more than Will Stanton or Meg Murry were just characters to me. They were and are contemporaries and friends. Harry Potter’s Hogwarts year had several million students in it. It’s a miracle they all fit in the dining hall.

One way or another, lightly or deeply, it’s turned out Harry Potter is for more people than I would have expected, all those years ago. This is one reason why 20 years after the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we’re getting the sort of retrospectives on the series that Sgt. Pepper’s got 20 years down the road from its release, and why, just like everyone knew which Beatle was their favorite, now everyone knows which Hogwarts house they’d personally be sorted into, or would want to be.

(Personal moment here: I assumed I was a Ravenclaw, because come on, but then went to the Pottermore site and was sorted into Gryffindor, which annoyed me but on reflection I realized was correct, damn it. Also, re: the Beatles, John is Slytherin, Paul is Gryffindor, George is Ravenclaw and Ringo is so very Hufflepuff. Fight me on this).

This is not to say the Potterverse is perfect or that J.K. Rowling is infallable as a writer or human. It’s not and she’s not. But then again, none of the universes I’ve written are perfect, and I sure as hell am not infallible, either. Fictional universes don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be a space people want to explore and keep exploring, year after year. I can’t say that I know Rowling to any great extent — we’ve exchanged pleasantries on Twitter, which I try not to let her know I’ve geeked out about — but I do admire her, as a writer and a worldbuilder, and as someone who has decided that she needs to be engaged in our world and time. From her public persona at least, it’s no great surprise that Harry and Hermione and Ron came out of her brain, or that she created such great antagonists for them. I think she sees what the world can run downhill toward, and how quickly that can happen, and that people need to stand against that, and stand with each other as they do so.

Which is another reason I’m glad that I found Harry Potter is for me, and for millions of other people. We need that now in 2017. I need it now. There’s very little chance J.K. Rowling knew, 20 years ago, that her books and her characters would be needed like this today. But I hope she knows it now, today and every day.


[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

Sad story of someone whose computer became owned by a griefer:

The trouble began last year when he noticed strange things happening: files went missing from his computer; his Facebook picture was changed; and texts from his daughter didn't reach him or arrived changed.

"Nobody believed me," says Gary. "My wife and my brother thought I had lost my mind. They scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist for me."

But he built up a body of evidence and called in a professional cybersecurity firm. It found that his email addresses had been compromised, his phone records hacked and altered, and an entire virtual internet interface created.

"All my communications were going through a man-in-the-middle unauthorised server," he explains.

It's the "psychiatrist" quote that got me. I regularly get e-mails from people explaining in graphic detail how their whole lives have been hacked. Most of them are just paranoid. But a few of them are probably legitimate. And I have no way of telling them apart.

This problem isn't going away. As computers permeate even more aspects of our lives, it's going to get even more debilitating. And we don't have any way, other than hiring a "professional cybersecurity firm," of telling the paranoids from the victims.

Profile

ashnistrike: (Default)
ashnistrike

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910 111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jun. 27th, 2017 01:56 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios