Thursday, June 30, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. One musician and motivational speaker has been tattooing names of kids who hand over their suicide notes to him, after they decide they won't need them onto his arm. 
2. The Supreme Court has ruled that as a pharmacist you have to fill prescriptions, regardless of your personal or religious objections. As a note, the pharmacists at the center of this case did have the option to refer certain prescriptions to other pharmacists, but felt that even that infringed on them.  The Supreme Court disagreed. 
3. If you've been watching the Brexit news, you might be interested to read about the first country to leave the EU - spoiler, it's Greenland. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Center Stage: On Pointe" Thoughts

I watched Lifetime's "Center Stage: On Pointe" Sunday and a have a variety of thoughts.  I am a sucker for a dance movie so it perhaps says something that many of my thoughts are about choices made behind the scenes and not the movie itself.  I recognize that marketing and production are not always on the same page, or sometimes go for things that grab people even if they are not the clearest representation of the product.  Nonetheless, Lifetime decided to air "Center Stage" (aka the original) prior to the airing of "On Pointe".  And sure, get folks who may have missed the memo sucked in as they find themselves unable not to stop and watch the original.  As someone who can tell you exactly how many "Bring it On"s there are, I am aware that not everyone pays attention to the sequels.  Particularly when the sequels are loosely connected. However as an apparent "Center Stage" completist, I had to go refresh my memory on "Center Stage: Turn it Up" because we are quickly introduced Tommy, who was in "Turn it Up" and once it becomes clear that the ballet company is dying (okay, in the red for four quarters) and is the last classical ballet company that has not introduced modern dance. So, the time has obviously come, despite resistance from the ballet instructor but with the full support of Tommy who has apparently been stifling his modern dance tendencies since the last movie.  He races out of the theater after Jonathan delivers this news and calls Kate, our heroine from "Turn it Up" and she tells him that she should of course call Bella, her sister who has apparently been waitressing while secretly wishing there was an outlet for her modern dancing self. And okay fine, it's not like having missed out on who Kate and Bella and Tommy were really makes it hard to follow this movie, because this is our modern dancers vs. ballet dancers forced to work together to get it to save the ballet company.  (Although the need to save the ballet company is left out of all the instructions and rules given to the new potential dancers. Shockingly.)  
Anyway the group of dancers goes off to a secret location in the woods to learn for a few weeks both modern dance and ballet, to snark at each other over lunch, and to be forced into pairs for their audition so that their fates are linked to each other (even though the pairs are not all modern vs. classic, they are only when it's convenient to the plot). 
Despite being a dance movie aficionado, I make no claims to be able to judge the technical aspects of either the modern or the classical ballet.  It looked pretty to me, even with the obvious slo-mos and trick cuts.  In typical movie fashion the modern dancers are all terribly free, able to improv and feel the music, but struggle in some of the classical ballet's technical pieces.  Many of the classical ballet students are exactingly technical, but struggle with the improv and freedom offered by the modern dance. Such that Bella's partner Damon will not even dance the improv parts, unable to dance freely, until of course, Bella helps him. 
I don't want to sound overly critical, the movie works within known tropes well. It's not necessarily going to have people clamoring for "Center Stage 4: Now We're Really Freaky" but neither does it drag down the franchise.  It's also clear that the writer Nisha Ganatra, who wrote neither of the others, has done her homework.  So when things happen like the cockiest classical student defying the stern ballet instructor to do a jump she has told him he's not ready for and he injures himself, you could call it referential, an homage even.  There are some quibbles, like, when, Bella, who has been keeping her relationship to now famous ballerina Kate a secret, discovers her secret is out and the teachers crack down on the students for spreading rumors, they tell them they have to work together, even though they have, of course, created the competition by bringing the students here and telling them only some will be selected. 
There are some subplots, including Bella's attraction to - you guessed it - her classical partner Damon.  There are a couple of references to characters from the prior movies, Cooper of course shows up to watch the goings on a time or two.  The jump cuts to commercial are a little clickbaity ("I know what we have to do guys...") but in the end if you enjoy sequels to dance movies, this will serve you well. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Thing About Democracy

The thing about democracy is that sometimes more people disagree with you than didn't.  Sometimes just a few more, which can be more maddening. But of course all of you have to live with the result.  And I want to make it clear, before I go forth, that yes, this post is inspired by the recent Brexit vote, but that isn't at all to say that I think people should or should not have voted a certain way.  I have opinions on this, sure, I expect to see the effects of this, sure, but I fully support the people of the United Kingdom making whatever choice they feel is best for them.  
We have access to so much data these days, that it's fascinating to see geographic breakdowns and age breakdowns.  It makes it tempting to blame or celebrate those people.  Now, it's super fun to joke of pun about Brexit, but in the end either choice has immediate effect.  Either choice has long term effects.  There will be shifts within the party in power.  There is discussion of what this means for rights that been established under EU treaties that now have to renegotiated under the UK.  This affects borders, travel, education, and the job market. 
But the thing about democracy is that if you get a result you like, you celebrate, but the work isn't done.  You keep advocating and working or even, quite honestly, writing your elected officials, to keep what you want going.  And if you get a result you don't like, um, well, actually you do the same.  You keep advocating and working and writing to your elected officials.  It is often tempting to think our work as non-elected officials is done once the vote is finished.  That is a choice you can make.  But trust me, other people are bugging your elected officials.  Other people are talking to them.  Elections are very good at reminding us that not all the people agree with us. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. Gabby Rivera wrote a letter to LGBTQ youth about how to respond to the Orlando Pulse shooting. 
2. Pulse is having another Latin Night
3. I found (and still do) the GMA tea lizard gaffe highly amusing (especially because GMA and Kermit are both Disney ABC properties) but it also speaks to the long tradition of people finding things in pop culture that they don't understand and this piece notes some of the really easy ways to rectify that, and respect those who start and support popular memes. (Normally I would be a little more understanding of people finding new things, but lizard? No.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

7 Reasons You Might Complain about the Pride Flag on Ravlery

We will start with the following caveats.  You (I use the general you, but any one of you) have the right to complain about whatever you want. You even have the right to offended or uncomfortable about things.  You have the right to suggest to businesses changes they could make that would make you a happier customer.  And you have the right, when you post your complaint on the internet, to have people disagree with you.  So here we are. 
Ravelry operates as several things.  It is a fabulous pattern and yarn database (often called IMDB for crafters), and it also contains friending and forums so it acts as social media.  It is also a sales point with many designers choosing to sell their designs directly through Ravelry.  It is easy to perceive it to be a template of sorts if you only use one portion of it or another, and forget that it is a business underneath all that. 
1. You might think it is a business and and as such it should be a neutral space that only contains yarn things. 
2. You might be new or have forgotten that Ravelry celebrates many holidays throughout the year, putting up silly things for April Fool's, allowing forums to be converted to pirate talk for Talk Like a Pirate Day, putting up Stars of David or Pine Trees in the winter, and in June putting up a Pride flag. Sure, you could object to the use of any iconography.  But when you single out just one I am suspicious to say the least. 
3. You might think that Pride flags are political. I'm not linking to the post in question, mostly because the poster* seems to be taking all disagreement as proof of premise (and I know I'm still falling for that trap by writing about it).  People's gender or sexuality is not political. 
4. Even if being LGBTQ+ was political - and it is not, I want to stress that over and over and over, who people are is not political - businesses are actually able to make political statements.  They do it a lot.  Even yarny ones.  I have seen yarn dyers dye colors for candidates, have seen local spaces here hold fundraisers for political candidates or political causes.  Businesses tend to be run by people.  Sometimes they choose to merge their personal beliefs with their businesses.  But, PS, being LGBTQ+ is not political.  
5. You might think that Ravelry should respect your religion.  There are people of all flavors - religious, areligious, unreligious - on Ravelry. I assume said objector feels that religious people of some stripe(s) are in agreement that being LGBTQ+ is wrong.  I am aware that there are people who feel this way. My religion, for example, does not feel this way.  So really this person is not saying religious people should be prioritized - they are saying some religious people should be prioritized.  You are asking for your religious beliefs to be prioritized over others.  
6. You might have thought that Ravelry was not an inclusive space.  Timing isn't the only reason objecting to this is problematic, but last week was an especially crappy week for you to essentially object to being reminded of people.  Because that's what this boils down to.  The Pride Flag says, these people are here.  They exist.  Ravelry posting the Pride flag says we see you, queer people of Ravelry.  Objecting to that in a week when queer people dancing were murdered requires a particular level of tone deafness.  
7. So, as I said, people can object to things, up to and including the very existence of people you dislike or disagree with.  But people, myself included, can tell you that you're wrong.  

*PS, yes I did attempt to reach out to the poster in question directly, I am not (only) sub-blogging. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. Camryn Garret wrote about how getting to see "Hamilton" changed her life, and in particular talked about how the musical speaks to those who struggle with mental illness.  
2. Matt Thompson wrote about how for some of the victims in the Orlando nightclub shooting, this may have been the first their family learned that they were gay.  It is a powerful piece about the first generation immigrant experience and how that can add layers to the process of telling your parents their hopes and dreams for you may turn out differently than planned. 
3. Justin Torres wrote about the importance of Latin Night at the Queer Club

Monday, June 13, 2016

14 Things - In Light of Orlando

1. I hate having to cry again, over more lives lost because someone new decided to murder a large group of people.
2. I hate that we are now essentially ranking shootings and massacres as if they are commonplace. I hate that, as several on Twitter have pointed out, this isn't quite the deadliest mass shooting - Wounded Knee is - and this ranking, this categorization, is I know a tactic to distract our brains from the horror.
3. I remember being abroad and having folks ask me to explain the US, explain how Americans made certain political choices. It was hard. It has only grown harder.
4. I hate that once again, the mentally ill will need to clarify that there is no such thing as mentally unstable, that as much as we wish to categorize deadly intent as abnormal, we can do so without further demonizing mental health.
5. I hate that our safe spaces, our places of refuge, be they places of worship, schools, nightclubs, movie theaters, or even work, are attacked.
6. I hate that my friends and followers lists on social media contain so many that have lived through various violent events, I have to think twice about posting things.
7. I hate that folks from Orlando will have to explain that most days you don't die there, after such a deadly weekend.
8. I vote tomorrow. I plan to keep this in mind as I do. And again in November. And to make my thought, concerns, and priorities known to my elected officials.
9. I will donate money, more money, to places working to make the world a better, happier, safer place.
10. I will remember that calling out other people's bigoted statements can be momentarily uncomfortable, it's important. It is better to make it known that I object to such things.  To let those who do not feel safe countering such things, that I am with them, and not just when it's easy.
11. I will remember that there are policies, even about something as simple as giving blood, that eliminate a lot of potential donors and be thankful for those who can and do.
12. I will remember that haters of all stripes rarely represent more than hate, no matter what other mantles they attempt to wrap their hate in.
13. I will remember it is Ramadan and Pride and other sacred and celebratory things. That many, many people gathered in love and kindness yesterday and will continue to do so.
14. I will remember that self care is important. Time with friends and loved ones provides strength and hope so I and others can keep working to make this a better place.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. This article talked about the resurgence of Hawaiian speakers once it was allowed back in schools. 
2. A monkey caused a power outage in Kenya.
3. I understand that there are people out there who do not adore every opportunity to see cast members singing songs, perhaps, I dunno a cappella, if so, then this video with a sample of "Wait for It" is not for you. (Links to Facebook video.)

Monday, June 06, 2016

Awesome Con

It was Awesome Con this past weekend and I was there.  Overall I had a great time, and I think the closer partnership with NASA and the Discovery/Science channel groups really helped highlight some of the things that the DC area has to offer.  I have been a little frustrated that their website only lists some of the panel members on some of the panels, so, if you are trying to find a guest who is not getting a Q&A, it's really tough to figure out what panel they are on. It also meant I semi-accidentally attended panels with similar guests, or with people who were mostly planning to talk about their new book because the vague description had been unclear.  Most of the panels I attended were good, but in cons one always feels one is making tough choices, I prefer when they are done with the best info available.
Friday I went to Using Comics to Teach STEM*, which was I think geared more towards how educators (there was a power point about growing STEM jobs) could convince their schools to do this and less focused on the actual doing of it. They did suggest using things like a certain infamous comics death via whiplash to discuss things falling at different rates and the various calculations involved in that.  It was also clear the panel members loved their comics.
The next panel was Alternative Careers at NASA and involved a number of folks who mostly loved science but had determined they research aspect was not for them.  So, they had become science educators, science writers, and video producers at NASA.  There was also a panelist who had a degree in Fine Arts, and now worked making thermal blankets for space items.  The panelists really loved their jobs, and were, apparently coincidentally, all female. 
After that I went to the, ahem, adult version of Super Art Fight. They use a Cards Against Humanity based wheel, to have two artists going at once creating an evolving mural.  In their family friendly version, there are topics they shy away from, in the adult version, they do not. 
Saturday, I went to the Outrageous Acts of Science panel, with various Science Channel folks, and they talked about shows where they get to demonstrate science.  And there was a small in person demonstration involving Alka Seltzer that some of the audience got to test out. 
We did some snack hunting and some wandering through the exhibition hall, and then back for the How Women in Nerd Media are Creating a Revolution.  The two main panelist are now collaborating on a series, but there was also some discussion about how for a while the assumption was that men were the ones who controlled the money and so a lot of entertainment was geared towards them, and then it became clear that that wasn't quite correct so there has been some shifting. 
The Nerd Nite DC panel had two speakers, one discussing the reactions of music, with the note that studies have shown that non-human primates aren't really interested in music, but birds and elephants do seem to show interest.  (We watched a clip of a dancing parrot.) The current thinking is that music is meaningful to animals who make use of vocal learning.
After a break for a Batman sound off bee, we had another speaker who talked about fairytales and the possible lessons encoded within.
Sunday, I came back and went to the Cartoonists Against the Holocaust,  which is the title of a book by a Holocaust historian and a cartoon historian that looks at the contemporary cartoons in the World War II era, in the US that referenced the Holocaust. 
Then there was Full Spectrum: Why Comics in Color Matters**, talking about increasing representation in comics, particularly those from independent producers.  They also talked about how - similar to other media - digital comics sales aren't counted in a lot of the numbers used (the money shows up) but it may mean that some stories are doing great with digital readers, but since the ways of counting that differ, it's not being captured in traditional sales.
And finally I attended the second Nerd Nite DC panel.  The first speaker talked about the theft of Albert Einstein's brain.  Which is a weird story that is especially so, because this guy apparently carried the brain around in a mason jar.  The second speaker talked about artificial intelligence, the kinds we have right now, and the rules people are using to train them
And since the rain moved south, I at least made it home before the rain, which made up for the drenching I got on my way there Friday.
I did also pick up some copies of "Princeless", so I can try to convert more folks to the wonder and the awesome. 

*Normally, I would reference the program to list panel members since my memory for this many people is not that great.  But...
**This one does list some panelists in the description, but there are three names in the description and there were five people on the dais, so I give up.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. Someone crunched the numbers on regular and recurring character death in TV this year.
2. Natalie Luhrs shared a post about her struggles with changes in her periods and the cultural tendency to brush that off.  It reminded me of some of the discussion the folks at Another Round had with Padma Lakshmi about her experience with endometriosis.
3. My feelings about curfews for teens as legislation (rather than parent/guardian determination) are fairly clear, this article takes a look at the work effort involved in one town's curfew enforcement.