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Rape in Art- Game of Thrones [Apr. 24th, 2014|11:08 am]

[Spoilers for Game of Thrones seasons 1 and 4/Song of Ice and Fire books 1 and 4]

I've long been of the opinion that what's problematic for children is not violence in movies, it's violence without consequences. In my world, showing guns firing without showing the bodies falling (as was done in the Matrix broadcast television cut) would get the more restrictive rating, because it emphasizes the badassery but not the grossness of death. When people complained about the rapes in Game of Thrones, I saw it as asking for gunfire without bullet holes. It's a violent, misogynistic world, and rape is one of the consequences of that.

Some people argue "but it has dragons, so realism cannot be a thing it aspires to." This is dumb and it should feel dumb. Speculative fiction, and to a lesser extent all fiction, is based on making some weird ass assumptions, and then drawing logical conclusions from them. Dragons are an assumption. Violence and misogyny are assumptions. Rape is a conclusion. If you would like to read a less violent book, I support your choice, but if it is going to be violent, it needs to have rape.

I'm especially bothered by people who want to have the same penetrative acts, but make them consensual. I consider Danny and Drogo's wedding night to be rape because a 13 year old sold to a warlord is not capable of giving enthusiastic consent as we define it now. Making it ugly to watch was a moral improvement over the books. I thought Jamie's rape of Cersei was artistically worthy: yes, this man risked his life to save a woman he didn't even like from being raped, but that's not going to stop him from raping a different woman when it was convenient for him. I saw it as symbolic of him being tired of being manipulated by Cersei, and is his own mind taking his power back from her very real manipulations. We the audience know it's deeply wrong to take power back in that way (and that the reason she's sexually manipulative is that the world has denied her any other form of power), but it's completely believable that Jamie doesn't, and this is the logical consequence of that.

Then this article pointed out that the other logical consequence of GoT's assumptions is men and boys being raped. Not as much as women and girls are raped, but more than zero, and certainly in places without women like the night's watch. The article came out before season 3, and Theon's prolonged torture is both a counter argument and a reinforcement- the torture is at times highly sexualized, but he's never penetrated. You could argue it's implied, but not as strongly as it is for the female rapes we've seen. And it doesn't address things like "really? we're terrified Gilly will be raped but that's never once come up as an issue for Sam himself?"

So Game of Thrones is showing gun fire, and showing the gore of bullets hitting flesh, but only for half the population. The other isn't hit, or shakes it off. That's not an okay compromise. GoT, you can either be more uncomfortable or less, but your current level is not justifiable.
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Finding good help these days [Apr. 24th, 2014|10:10 am]

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I recently saw a Stone Soup cartoon that caught my eye from both directions, as an employer and as an employee. I'd love to make their choice, to just sit back and ignore that pile of paper some nameless/faceless person thinks I'm doing for them.  Work is hard and annoying, and I far prefer drinking coffee with a friend.

. stonesoupsalarywomen

These days I'm the employer, but I hate being one. I can't stand the constant stress of trying to get my staff to focus on doing their jobs.  I want them to do it because the client needs it done.  I want them to do it because they take pride in their work product.  I want them to do it because they agreed to accept money to do it.  I want them to discomfort themselves to apply themselves to the task they contracted with free will and full disclosure to do.

It's a losing battle. Like Dagwood Bumstead before them, these workers have no glimmer of the customer they are supposed to be serving.  No sense that there's a reason they should put down their coffee cup and attend to their duty other than that the boss might walk by and make them.  Are they supposed to be processing veteran's benefit applications?  Working in the courthouse processing probate requests?  What clean stress-free job do they have that pays well without having output required?  I'm betting taxpayer-funded.

But not necessarily.  My understanding of what went on in the South Korean ferry accident is that they were a couple of hours behind and wanted to make up some time so they took a less familiar short-cut.  Now, why wouldn't it be the ALWAYS route if it's faster?  There must be some reason for this, and it probably involves the difficulty level of the passage.  I also understand that it was the Captain or even the second in command who was on the bridge during this 14 hour journey, but a third-level officer who was inexperienced.  Makes sense, people dislike doing their jobs so they foist them on others if they can.

I just saw a paid-for add in my Western MA newspaper in the most expensive place you can put an ad, asking for a "customer-oriented reliable" laborer with no college degree required, starting pay $15/hour.  Must be licensed to drive and able to pass a background check (it's a bathtub refinishing franchise, a very small local business.)  This is apparently a difficult position to fill so they have to pay extra to advertise it.

I have no doubt that this is true.  I have advertised several times in several forums without finding even inexperienced staff willing to show up on a regular basis.  The local department store told me that they advertised for deliverymen who could live up to 50 pound boxes and nearly none of the people who applied had valid driver's licenses - they'd all lost them to drunk driving offenses or never gotten them.

There's an article in the Portland newspaper about how difficult it is to find police recruits, that they weren't able to get people who wanted to work as hard as police newbies work.

A hundred years ago the ruling class started discovering how terribly hard it was to find good servants.  Universal education, combined with the industrial revolution, were giving the poor an option for work that they preferred over going into service with outrageous hours and poor work/family balance, even if the pay were okay.  This was a world-wide phenomenon, with articles about the trouble finding "Bridgets" in Boston (a term for housemaids assuming they'd be Irish) and the difficulty of getting native South Americans to work as servants in Brazil.  Education plus industrialization led to a lack of labor to work in the lowest cogs.

Now we've got universal health insurance and unlimited college loans so you can stay in college well into your mid-twenties and food stamps for hipsters.  I just saw a totally serious article decrying "food insecurity" amongst twenty-somethings.  Well, DUH!  That's WHY we worked, dude, because we wanted to earn money for food.  Without that insecurity why would we ever bother to do our jobs?  Work is hard and annoying and there's just NOTHING keeping us doing it once our food, shelter and medical care are provided for us.

And so, as an employer on the front lines, I am telling you that good help is hard to find.  I tell you this with full awareness than 90% of people think it's a wonderful thing that people are freed from a life of servitude, that I'm just a crankypants exploiter hoping I'll benefit from someone else's labor, that hurray the 10% are going DOWN and all will be well with the world.

Unless you want your taxes done, your bath refinished, your ferry steered, your streets policed, or waitresses that actually check to see if there are tree nuts in the dish before they bring it to you.  Then it sort of sucks that good help is so hard to find.

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Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia! [Apr. 24th, 2014|08:34 am]


Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
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App to help with color-blindness [Apr. 24th, 2014|06:14 am]


You can get a translation by clicking the CC at the lower right.

Kazunori Asada created Chromatic Glass, an app which makes colors that some people have trouble seeing show up better.

Asada's Brighter and Bigger app, which uses a smart phone for magnification, doesn't seem to be well known in English, but it's available in English. A fast check turned up other magnifying apps, and I don't know whether his is better. This review doesn't mention any apps which have magnification for distant objects, which is something Asada's app does. Asada's app also has optimization for different vision diseases.

A while ago, I noticed that Japanese color printing was unusually good, and wondered whether color blindness was less common there. It turns out that it is, but the difference is 1 in 20 Japanese men have color-blindness vs. 1 in 12 Americans men, which doesn't seem like enough to affect a culture.

The video has a world-wide map of color-blindness prevalence (doesn't specify type) at 2:52. It's color-coded.

Asada wrote the piece about van Gogh possibly being color blind.

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Happy vacation things [Apr. 23rd, 2014|10:27 pm]

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Brussels sprouts for breakfast

Went on my first road bike ride of the season

Cleaned up garden beds and took a load of leaves and brush to the transfer station; yard looks great

Planted lots of pansies - and kale

I am still in love with hunting rocks from the beach. Small Boy is in tune with what I am attracted to and we ooh and ah over the same ones.

I keep finding intifada rocks. I have way more than I know what to do with. But I love them so. (That's what I call the round ones that nestle in my hand that are perfect for throwing.) I mostly use them under drain spouts back home, figuring someday when Massachusetts is completely disarmed this will be all we have, may as well stock up. My husband hates it when I say crazy things like that. But I still bring them home. They are so beautiful, I try to give them a purpose but perhaps they don't need one.

Every day I hit my fitbit goals. A couple of days I have hit the 15,000 step goal. There is nothing like being on the island for walking everywhere.
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philosophy on fiction, feudalism, and railways [Apr. 23rd, 2014|09:53 pm]

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Once upon a time, my heroine got her orders from a royal official and got sent off to work her magic and fix a problem.

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Majesty and Magic in Shakespeare's Last Plays [Apr. 23rd, 2014|09:08 pm]

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Majesty and Magic in Shakespeare's Last Plays by Frances A. Yates

An analysis of the imagery and the political messages of Shakespeare's last plays, starting with Pericles.

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The Celestial Railroad [Apr. 23rd, 2014|07:40 pm]


The Celestial Railroad by Nathaniel Hawthorne

A descant on Pilgrim's Progress, where our highly modern (that is, from Hawthorne's day) narrator takes advantage of the excellent railway that provides a much more convenient pathway to the Celestial City than the dusty old road -- though they actually see two fool pilgrims setting out the old way.

We get neat little accounts along the way, such as the tunneling though the Hill of Difficulty, the gaslight that obviates the darkness in the Valley of Humiliation, the ministers and churches in Vanity Fair, and much more.

A sharp and ironic look at his day.
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Why aren't there honest payday loan organizations? [Apr. 23rd, 2014|12:11 pm]

Description of loan scams-- not just extremely high interest, but extorting money from people who either repaid loans, or who only applied for loans.

I've been wondering for a while why there aren't decent check-cashing and payday loan companies-- charging higher than average interest, but not outrageously so, and making the terms clear. This should especially be the case for check-cashing companies, because it seems like they're unlikely to lose money on the checks they cash.

This seems like something a non-profit or a not-for-profit could get into even if there are no for-profit corporations who want to do it (and why not?), and be a really valuable service.

What am I missing?

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Her Luck Ran Out [Apr. 24th, 2014|12:17 am]

[Current Location |Willsmere]
[mood |sad]

Lucky rat died today during surgery for a malignant tumor, aged 34.5 months (or around 85 in human years). Even if she had survived she had other tumors growing, so perhaps really it would be providing her but a scant few more months of quality living. It was a series of tragic events that led to her passing; her tumor went from the benign to malignant variety and grew quickly, but of course, she'd kept it hidden from us. Our usual vet was overseas, and the locum - unfamiliar with rodents - didn't feel confident enough to confident enough to attempt surgery and spaetlese, who provided us the rat in the first place, was interstate. When we made the booking for Lort Smith it was further delayed by another week during the Easter break.

Lucky was so named because she had been earmarked as snake food, was rescued from such an event by spaetlese. Before she made it to us she had escaped her cage and had spent a couple of nights in a house with non-rat friendly cats. Having cheated death twice, she did lose a tip of her tail to a cage accident, but made it through that fine. She had also already gone through one tumor operation. Ever lithe of form, gregarious and curious of nature (yes, even on the rodent scale of things), I like to think that we provided her a happy life. But my parting moment as she looked up at me whilst holding my finger with her front paws in burned into my memories forever. Farewell, Lucky.

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