Hugos: Remaining finalists

Jul. 20th, 2017 12:30 pm
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[personal profile] jack
I voted in several more categories, but eg in long form dramatic presentation, I didn't have a lot to say so I'm not going to try to recap it here.

Novellas

Ballard of Black Tom was a very moving Lovecraft inspired story, from the perspective of a black new yorker, it paints a great portrait of his day to day life in 1920s (?) NY, and his initially minor dealings in mythos stuff. It was quite creepy once it started, but I've still to read the more lovecraftian ending of the story.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe was *also* a very good Lovecraft inspired story, set in the dreamlands, and the travels of a professor at the newest university college, the women's only college, through strange parts of dream, weird gods, and eventually maybe the waking world.

Penric and the Shaman is enjoyable in all the ways you'd expect it to be if you've read other Chalion stories by Bujold. It says a little about shaman/demon interactions which was only incidentally touched on before, and has slightly more of a role for a Father-worshipping figure. But it doesn't add a lot new.

A Taste of Honey, I still need to read, but the cover is *gorgeous* and there's some good male/male flirting on the first page. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out.

This Census-Taker. Interesting worldbuilding, I'm not sure where it's going, I still need to finish it.

Best Novelette

“The Art of Space Travel” about a small cast of characters living and working near Heathrow, against a backdrop of a second Mars colony mission, 30 years after the first tragic failed attempt. I loved the character stuff, and background matter-of-fact look at a possible mars mission, although I wished they'd tied together more closely: I wanted to know more about the disaster, and the next mission. The title refers to the name of a textbook.

“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon. All of her stories are pretty good, although I didn't love this as much as some of her others, despite being pretty good.

“Touring with the Alien”, an odd-job woman ends up with the role of taking reclusive alien visitors on a road trip to see some of earth. Interesting musings on free will etc even though I wasn't convinced where they ended up. Again, I loved the day-to-day interaction of the protagonist and the other characters.

“The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, interesting worldbuilding, but I need to see how this finishes up. Jewels were nobility of a hidden kingdom, who kept it secret safe and stable with various supernatural powers granted to them by gems, but could only be bestowed by Lapidary servants.

You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong. Something about a desert? It looked good but I couldn't get into it at all (sorry).

Thoughts on the term "Secondary"

Jul. 19th, 2017 09:25 pm
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[personal profile] jack
I've had several conversations about why "secondary" is such a loaded concept in poly relationships and feel like I'm slowly getting how people feel. But still, I feel there's a lot that's important to people I'm missing.

1. Not enough

It seems like many people are starting from the assumption that nobody *wants* to be a secondary, and the concept is basically synonymous with "I'll probably want more but I'll settle for what I can get". And yes, if that's how you feel, then that might be ok, but there is an inherent source of tension which is likely

I never had that assumption, only as I've met a wider variety of relationships have I started to understand it. It seemed to me, some people had many parallel relationships (either a small number of permanent partners who are equal priorities in organising your life whether or not they're different in other ways, or varied relationships each negotiated individually etc). Or they had one or two main partners, and other partners as well, usually people who themselves had many other partners, or had other major commitments, or otherwise were at a point in their life where a relationship *might* become much more, but they weren't looking for more, they were looking for something which fit their life right now, even if they had limited time and energy.

But if every relationship is "I fall deeply in love" then it makes sense that anything other than deep and permanent is really hard. Likewise, if you only have room for one relationship, it's a very painful choice to be with someone who wants to be with someone else more, if that's not what you want, and either "they need to have room for their relationship with you to grow" or "they need to realise that they may not be kind by having a relationship with you" may be issues.

With the benefit of hindsight, that looks to me like, "here's a form of relationship that suits some people but not others, don't choose it if it doesn't suit you". But if you have no experience of possible relationships, and the only model you have is "A and B are the love of each other's lives, and C is there too but is treated with absolutely zero respect", it's easy to fall into that model, and come out feeling like it should be burned to the ground.

2. Negotiating from a position of weakness

The other thing I had to say is, it's common for a relationship (not romantic, any form of association) to involve people with different amounts of power. Sometimes that's seriously unfair, as in a bad boss and an employee who needs the job: the boss has every opportunity to take advantage, to not just be unfair but to manipulate the interactions to their advantage by changing the rules all the time.

Sometimes it's completely fair, as in A wants to date B and B doesn't want to date A: then B deservedly has completely control over who they want to date, and they may reject A politely and compassionately (if A is not a jerk) or harshly (if A is a jerk, or if B is for that matter).

"Fair" doesn't mean "half and half". Although in most healthy ongoing relationships, jobs, romance, etc, both sides get comparable good things out of it.

A relationship can be unequal. Say, A has young children, another partner, and many other commitments. And they have a fortnightly date with B, whose commitments are a lot more flexible. That's just how their lives are, no-one is deliberately being unfair. But it does turn out, B has more flexibility than A, so they end up rearranging things more often.

Now here's the distinction. At the moment A doesn't really have the power to offer a lot more time to B. But they do have the power to make arrangements respectfully, by being clear in advance what commitments they can and can't make. By being honest about what time they have. By being upfront that occasionally emergencies will happen but that won't be a default. By not changing plans at short notice and expecting B to cope, can we emphasise that one.

Maybe B *could* cope with that if they had to, but if A forces them to for no reason, or for unfair reasons like, "My other partner is jealous if I spend ANY TIME WITH YOU AT ALL so rather than talking about it I'm just going to constantly jerk you around in the hope that eventually they're happy", then A is not treating B at all respectfully.

The reason I mention this particularly is that it seemed to be a common complaint from people familiar with certain sorts of history, that A had apparently logical reasons why they needed to constantly change stuff around. But it's possible for A to be unfront about what's not really changeable, while also being respectful and communicative about everything.

This is obvious in some relationships: most people with friends know that sometimes a friends' job or partner need them right now, and most friendships, if you move away your friend will usually stay with their job or family, not move with you. And that's just normal: almost all humans have many relationships and give different things to different ones. But it's also normal that friends are not jerks about it, and (a) don't constantly talk about how something else in their life is more important than you and (b) make time for you sometimes and don't just cancel all the time without telling you.

Postscript

Hopefully this is obvious, but this is, me trying to understand many thoughts I've heard from different places, and not about any particular relationships of anyone (especially not anyone I know). Hopefully that postscript isn't needed, but I know it's possible for me to post "thoughts on X" and people to worry "is this about me".

Inbox Nonzero

Jul. 18th, 2017 10:38 pm
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[personal profile] jack
Quite a long time ago now, I read about the concept of inbox zero. For a long time I struggled with various productivity techniques. I sometimes temporarily achieved inbox zero, and I made big inroads against the habit of having all the urgent emails muddled in with everything else I'd ever received. Although that never quite became permanent.

However, now there maybe has been a permanent sort of shift. I think a combination of receiving less urgent emails, and of having a regular non-email based per-week todo list, and of generally being less stressed by all urgent things, have led to a point where I no longer *need* inbox zero. I generally only have a few emails needing attention, and those are starred. And other recent-ish email sits around in my inbox to a certain extent not doing much harm, but being handy if I need it.

And I'm sufficiently non-stressed that it's not usually something I need to *set aside time for*, but something I can do when I'm checking my email anyway. Any longer time commitments get put in a separate todo.

Non-email email (social network notifications, mailing lists, confirmations, etc, etc) gmail helpfully puts into a separate tab. Social network stuff I star anything I want to reply to, and empty it out every so often. Everything else I just glance at, and if it needs any response move to my main inbox and star it.

This has bad effects as well. Because it *usually* just works, if I get an urgent email and then suddenly go away, it can fall through the cracks. But that's hopefully ok, it's mostly how most people deal with tasks: they usually do it fine but occasionally miss something, instead of needing to be always perfect else they fail forever.
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[personal profile] jack
Every Heart a Doorway tells the story of a school for the recovery of children who've been subject to portal fantasy stuff, specifically people wanted to stay but were cast out for some reason. It's pretty good; I felt it could have embraced the premise *better*, but it still did a pretty good job.

I have lots of different thoughts about this.

Returning from portal fantasy

One of the biggest is probably that, it's written as if people being cast out is a central feature of secondary worlds, whereas originally I think it's more like, the authors didn't think about it much either way, they just tacked on a happy ending even if it didn't really make sense in the book.

But as liv points out, many people found portal fantasies incredibly moving as children because they wanted to escape somewhere else from where they were, and returning was horrible, and this story serves very very well as an emphatic rejection of that trope.

Funnily enough that was never me. Lots of my friends overcame a lot of childhood problems, but though I was nerdy and bad at making friends, my parents were great, and I never wanted to get away from here, even if I was drawn to the idea of going somewhere where my strengths could blossom. I got some of that by going into maths and programming.

Flaws

I enjoyed this more than most of the other Seanan Mcguire I've read, even the Mira Grant. I think the strengths were similar, but the bits where "the characters go where the plot says, completely disregarding logic, common sense, emotion, characterisation, survival, or physical possibility" were much less prominent.

At least to me -- I know some people didn't find that a problem in any of her books, and some people were bothered by it in this one. But there are going to be *some* rants in the spoiler section.

I wasn't bothered by some things that bothered other people. To me, the variety of sexualities etc didn't feel shoehorned in, except occasionally (and I was pleased it was there). I wasn't bothered by shifts in narration from tight third to omniscient (I actually quite like little omniscient asides).

Strengths

The diversity of characters. The description of the secondary worlds: the harsh "high logic" faerielands; the "high nonsense" nonsense worlds; the ones with rhymes, the underworlds, etc etc. It is all very memorable.

Random thoughts

I know I can be too optimistic here, and it can be impossible to stop bullying, but I also just despair at how it's taken for granted in so many situations fictional and real. Here there's a fairly small group of children, with several adults present full time. Can't they at least TRY to prevent at least physical attacks? And ideally violent threats?

Spoilers )

Emojulution Match!

Jul. 17th, 2017 11:04 pm
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[personal profile] jack
The android game I wrote last month is available for download (see bottom of this post).

Gameplay

It's a variant on an augmented reality match three game. Physically walk around to change which square is highlighted with a light grey background. Click that square to place the next tile there. The next tile is shown at the bottom of the screen. Match three of the same type in a row, and they vanish forming a new type. Then try to match three of *those*. When you reach hearts, match three hearts of any colour and they vanish entirely (but give lots of score).

For instance, three fish next to each other in a line make an octopus, three octopuses make a whale, three whales make a blue heart, three hearts of any colour vanish entirely. And similarly for the three other starter animals.

Only vertical and horizontal. But if you make a line of four, or two crossing lines of three, they all vanish. They only give one new tile, but you get more points.

It would be trivial to play if you could just click on a square, but it's surprisingly addictive when you play it walking about.

Be careful not to walk into the middle of roads! It's surprisingly easy to make that mistake when you're concentrating on your location in the game.

The screen wraps round, so you can always keep walking in one direction rather than walk in the opposite direction. It's best to start by figuring out which compass direction corresponds to which direction on the grid :)

Tips: When you complete an octopus, think about where you're going to put the fish to make the next octopus next to the first one.

Details

If you open the .apk file on an android device, it should ask if you want to install it. You can only do so if you agree to install apps which come from me not the play store. I think that should work but I don't know for sure.

It is very early stages. It seems to work on one or two devices, but I haven't tested it more extensively than that. It will hopefully be ok, but I don't know for sure. I would appreciate knowing everyone who tried it, just whether it ran ok or not, and if the game itself seemed to work.

It still has some UI from the open source OpenSudoku game I based the code on. Don't pay any attention to the menus or help.

File:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/md5sjt25xe3eean/emojilution-debug.apk

(Let me know if the link doesn't work. You should *not* need a dropbox account to use it, but you may have to scroll to the bottom of the screen to continue to download without one.)

Feedback

I would appreciate knowing everyone who tried it, just whether it installed ok or not, and if the game itself seemed to work.

Lots of things are known to be unfinished, so don't waste energy enumerating what's missing in menus etc. Do let me know anything that seems to prevent me playing the game. Do ask if it doesn't run or it's not obvious what to do. Comments on what's fun and what isn't are very much appreciated!

Thank you!

Music meme

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:20 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
See here for explanation.

28.A song by an artist with a voice you love

Many options here, many of whom have already been featured. I could have gone back to Jenny O, or Vienna Teng (yet again), or CN Lester.... probably some male singers too, though none stand out in my mind right now. But in the interests of having somebody new, here's Camille.




Music meme

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:14 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
See here for explanation.

27.A song that breaks your heart




Music meme

Jul. 16th, 2017 10:56 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
See here for explanation.
I seem to have neglected this for a couple of weeks. Nearly at the end now...

26.A song that makes you want to fall in love

Not an easy one. I'll probably think of something far more profound as soon as I post this, but for now,
Yeah, I did. And this also avoids me having two consecutive tracks by the same singer. The only thing is... this is very newly out, and doesn't appear to be on youtube yet. So you get a Spotify link. I'm sorry if it doesn't work for you.

Thea Gilmore, "Here's to you".

Capitalism and housing

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:35 am
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[personal profile] mindstalk
In which I argue that the lack of affordable housing indicates something horribly wrong, and not with capitalism as such.

Have you heard of Walmart? Of course you have. What are they known for? Providing lots and lots of cheap shit. Also for bullying local governments and squeezing suppliers, but that's not the point here, which is: cheap shit. They have nicer competitors: Target, Kmart, Dollar Stores.

Plane seats are jammed and humiliating but also cheaper than they ever have been, modulo gas prices.

You can spend thousands of dollars on a fancy bicycle, or less than $100 on a cheap one.

Stores are full of cheap, if sometimes unhealthy, food.

You can spend under $13,000, or maybe $12,000 on a new car, or over $100,000 on a luxury sports car.

Many of us wear cheap clothes, "from Third World sweatshops"; others spend $thousands on elite designer clothing.

You can get a watch for $15, or $1500. They'll tell time about the same.

Our economy is full of selling cheap stuff to the masses and expensive stuff to the rich, and various things in between, (sometimes including selling cheap stuff for higher prices, if you can pull off price discrimination.) Because that's how you make the most profit, not by only making luxury stuff.

But in housing, particularly in some markets, it's said that developers are only building luxury housing. If true, why would that be? Why would housing be unlike every other part of the economy?

"Everyone needs housing, so they can extort you." Nope, that won't fly. Everyone needs food and clothing, and in the US lots of people need cars.

"They're just chasing profit." But the point of my examples is that there's tons of profit in non-luxury goods and services. Walmart is *huge*, with its founder's children inheriting $20 billion each of accumulated profit.

And in fact, if you look around the world, you do see cheap(er) housing options. Mobile and manufactured homes for the individual, pre-fab housing for soulless but cheap developer tracts, microapartments that cut living space to 100 square feet, SRO hotels that go further by making you share bathroom and kitchen (if any), granny apartments. In cheap land markets (prefab housing in surbuban developments) and expensive ones (microapartments in Tokyo and Hong Kong.)

But not in Boston, or San Francisco. Why not? Is there something about those places that makes developers spontaneously ignore non-luxury demand? Or is something, like zoning laws and permitting processes, preventing them from doing so?

If you know me, you probably know my answer: the latter. But if you don't like that answer, what's your alternative? Why don't we see Walmarts, Spirit Airlines, $15 watches, and $13,000 cars of modern urban housing?

Sciffy Chicks

Jul. 16th, 2017 04:15 pm

LJ account compromised?, deleted

Jul. 15th, 2017 06:03 pm
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[personal profile] damerell
Today, I got an email from LJ to the effect that my LJ account had been logged into from 212.129.2.227, which is J. Random IP Address in France. Mysteriously, although this was some hours ago, I don't seem to have embarked on a spree of Viagra posts/comments or anything. Hence I've ended the unknown login session, changed password, deleted account (weirdly, all of which I could do without agreeing to the evil new T&Cs).

I imagine this is a manifestation of the downfall of LJ, but:
worth checking yourself (www.livejournal.com/manage/logins.bml ) if you ain't already deleted your account?
let me know, please, if I suddenly go spammy anywhere else...

We is smart, we is!

Jul. 14th, 2017 10:38 am
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[personal profile] muninnhuginn
Ravens can plan for future as well as 4-year-old children can

Actually, don't bother reading the article (we already knew we were clever), just admire those glossy feathers.

Smart,... and smart, eh?

News recap

Jul. 13th, 2017 01:05 pm
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[personal profile] jack
Unfortunately, I often lose track of events when they're no longer headline news, even important ones.

I'd not realised how long the situation in eastern Ukraine had been :( But apparently, it's mostly in the same situation, with several large areas controlled by separatists backed by Russia, with continued fighting but not a lot of movement in lines of control.

Everyone condemned Russia and instituted sanctions, but it doesn't seem to have made much difference :( I guess eventually, the current situation will be formalised. Unless someone offers military aid to Ukraine which might even be worse, more proxy (or not proxy) wars :(

I think I sort of knew that, but I wasn't really sure.

I looked this up while checking what happened under NotPetya, the malware that used the same exploit as WannaCry, but also sought administrator privileges on networks to spread throughout organisations. It seems it didn't go globally apocalyptic as it temporarily seemed it might. But was pretty bad in Ukraine. It was initially spread when a commercial accounting package widely used in Ukraine was hacked to include it in a software update.

That's scary in two ways. One, it was targeted at Ukraine in several ways. It superficially presented itself as ransomware, but actually just did damage, the "accept money and decrypt" stuff was half-arsed.

Secondly, most people don't have a good defence against a legitimate software update. Image if chrome were hacked, or windows! That's hopefully not likely, but if it were possible, and someone used a new exploit to subvert their software updates directly instead of spreading indiscriminately first, it could infect *incredibly* widely.

Holiday

Jul. 13th, 2017 01:02 pm
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[personal profile] jack
Last week, Rachel and I had a couple of days away in Norwich and Great Yarmouth. It was really lovely. Norwich was great to explore, visiting the sea was blissful. We found some nice food, especially the little cafe 42 King Street in Norwich which did tapas-style... stuff, including fascinating vege stuff, incredible marinated halloumi and dip.

Then we went to Michelle and Mike's wedding, which was really nice. I loved their book cake, and geeky references, and games, and little lego-chocolate-dispenser gift bags! And the family has been through a lot, it was so, so lovely they got to this point.
[personal profile] swaldman
I saw this film a couple of weeks ago, and aside from intervening busyness, I've been trying to work out what to write about it.

It's not a war movie; rather, it's a movie set during a war. It's about the everyday life of an ordinary girl, then woman, growing up near Hiroshima through WW2. It's the first film I've ever seen that concentrates not on anybody who is active in the conflict, but on the effect on the civil populace at home. It also gives a good picture of normal life in Japan in that era; it shows the massive difference between rural and urban lives at the time, something that I suspect was even more pronounced than it was in Europe. The naval geek in me also enjoyed the namechecks, and renderings, of historic warships visible off the coast.

Throughout it all, of course, one knows what's coming... and the frequent use of dates on the screen to mark the passage of time also forms an inevitable countdown. It's very good. It's harrowing. I'm glad I watched it, but I probably wouldn't want to see it again.

The Mary Sue has a good article interviewing the director.

Non-hugo games and comics

Jul. 12th, 2017 10:36 pm
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[personal profile] jack
Subnautica

This falls into what I'm starting to recognise as a category, computer games that are incredibly beautiful in multiple ways, but I play for five minutes and decide I don't have time to play properly. You crashland on an ocean planet, and oh my gosh, the water is so WET it practically comes out of your monitor. And warm and clear and inviting, with tropical reefs stretching endlessly.

The actual game is a bit like minecraft, find the right materials to feed into an emergency fabber to make more complicated tools to get more useful materials and components, until you eventually repair a distress beacon. (I don't know if that's all or if there's also underwater aliens or whatever).

Avatar on Wii

Rachel bought some old-ish games and it's been lovely to have something fun but simple-ish we can play together occasionally. One person controlling and one person kibitzing works surprisingly well, a lot is "what now" where having the trigger finger isn't the important thing.

It looks great, very avatar-y. It's not set at any particular point in the chronology but has a feel of an avatar well-respected but also young and unpracticed well. And your abilities work like that too: you have quite powerful abilities but you have to unlock them by levelling up, and they have cooldowns, so you feel powerful, but also like you can only succeed by being skillful, which fits the tone very well.

I have a few quibbles. The wolves appear intelligent to manufacture, or at least habitually carry, headbands of +2 armor, and yet not intelligent enough to avoid spontaneously attacking the most powerful humanoid bender on the planet. The avatar indiscriminately slaughtering wolves and taking their stuff seems tonally inconsistent on multiple levels. But that's computer games.

Also, Zuko can jump down behind Kitara and grab her and she's suddenly unable to fight back? Why didn't he try that on all the OTHER waterbenders there?

Flintstones comic

So... there's a gritty flintstones reboot. Except it's not *very* gritty. Not like gratuitous gore. But it deals with consumerism. And colonialism. And PTSD. And so on. I've no idea how this came about, but it works really quite surprisingly well. A few panels are incredibly biting. I loved the animals-used-as-appliances talking to each other, and calling the pet dinosaur a traitor.

On other occasions, it does veer a bit puerile, making simplistic jokes and criticisms of modern life that aren't especially telling. But worth reading some of.

Irredeemable

About a superteam where the most powerful superman-like member goes rogue and starts killing people, and everyone else has to figure out what they can do from there.

The worldbuilding and characters are pretty good -- it feels really LIKE famous superteams, while all the individual members are not knock-offs of specific characters from a single team, but embodying the *sort* of iconic characters that usually exist.

It's mostly about the characters, and what they do and their relationships with each other. There are quite a lot of *further* story developments of one sort or another, it doesn't just dwell on the premise forever with nothing evolving.

I've some quibbles. Things would drag on a lot less if people stopped going back and forth on when to try to contain someone and when it was necessary to kill them. And it's not a *lot* of sexism, but there's some.

Hugos: Short stories

Jul. 12th, 2017 03:18 pm
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[personal profile] jack
“That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)

Chess, two countries slowly developing a peace after a long war, two people from opposite sides tentatively renewing a friendship formed during the war, and one side is entirely telepaths. Generally pretty interesting. More thoughts below.

“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)

Two sisters with magical abilities over the weather and alternate histories.

“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)

Two fairytale protagonists rebel against their allotted labours and help each other escape.

“The City Born Great”, by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)

A struggle to allow, or prevent, New York to become a living city. Really evocative, but I found it hard to get into.

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)

Likewise, doing something good but I find it hard to describe.

The john c wright one

In general, I'll vote any spam entries no award and not feel obliged to read them, but I checked some reviews. It talks about things I genuinely find interesting, like the relationships between asimovian robots and theology. But in rather horrible ways.

Some spoilers )

Hugo awards: graphic stories

Jul. 10th, 2017 05:31 pm
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[personal profile] jack
I've entered votes for everything apart from the novellas. There's quite a few I wish I had to spend more time on: ideally I'd read more by the Campbell authors, and some of the short stories I'd like to read again, and some other things.

But I'd also like to talk about what I enjoyed, and see what other people thought, so I'm working my way through some of the categories this week. The deadline for finishing voting is 8am Sunday morning BST (I think).

A few years ago I didn't follow any graphic novels at all, I only recognised entries which were webcomics I knew. But a combination of random drift, me following some authors online, reading some of the earlier graphic novels (especially Ms Marvel and Saga) and having other things recommended to me, and of just getting into the habit of reading comics on the tablet at all, have made me recognise enough of the ballot to have an opinion on the category and want to see the entries I didn't already know.

Most of them had enough in the hugo packet to make a good decision, a first issue or first collected volume, which is pretty good. Although I wouldn't have time to read them all.

Vision was really interesting. It's about the artificial magical humanoid from the avengers I only know from the recent avengers film, but enjoyed there. I don't usually read comics from large continuities even if I like the characters, because it feels like they're too constrained by stuff I don't know. But I really enjoyed this; Vision and family lose their memories (or the emotional component of their memories) and try to fit into human society again by living in a house in the suburbs and sending the teenagers to high school. It hits a lot of interesting "learning to understand human interaction" things. Although there looks to be a fair amount of gratuitous death coming up.

Black Panther is about the prince of Wakanda fighting... a bunch of mystical stuff. It covers lots of worthwhile themes, of power and racism and so on and is very well done. I got confused because I was trying to skim and that didn't really work, but I definitely want to read it more slowly, and rated it pretty highly

Monstress, I'd like help forming an opinion about. I read the first issue a while back without knowing much about it, but my impression was, it was absolutely gorgeous, both in visuals and in tone, all about some mystical battle of enslaved people and spirits against someone, and lots of people being captured and bravely escaping; but it felt very male-gazey and I assumed it was going to be "interesting, but not developing the interesting themes further and getting hard to read". But what everyone else said about it was gorgeous, amazing worldbuilding, feminist themes, so it sounded like my first impression did completely underestimated it, and it was all the things I'd love. But I've not actually read any more to be able to form my own opinion about. Has anyone else read it more (or even just read the first issue more slowly?)

I postponed the saga and ms marvel entries. I assume they're good, but about as good as the previous series was, so I will take the risk of voting on that basis. (If either was exceptionally more standout than the rest of the series, let me know). And I will vote most of the other entries first, because I'm more excited by *new* series, even as I want the ones I like to continue.

Papergirls is about three teenage girls who deliver newspapers discovering some alien invasion or something... the write-up sounded interesting, but I couldn't get into the first couple of pages. I expect it's fairly good, but I'll see if I go back to it or not.

Has anyone else read any of the ones I've partly read and have helpful opinions?

reclaiming neoliberalism?!

Jul. 9th, 2017 02:31 pm
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[personal profile] mindstalk
If you asked me what 'neoliberal' meant, I'd point to the austerity policies being imposed on Greece and other weak euro countries, Thatcher, Reagan, the World Bank and IMF before the IMF started being convinced by the evidence. Obsession with balanced budgets, cutting social programs and raising taxes to balance those budgets, free trade deals at the expense of environmental and labor protections, austerity policies (austerians). Overlapping a lot with 'fiscal conservative' because words are weird.

However, in 2016, it seemed lots of people used it differently, almost to the point of being a generic insult by leftists. A lot of my above view comes from Paul Krugman, who opposes all that, so when I saw some writer call him (and Christina Romer, who's done good work to debunk supply-side economics) neoliberals, because they supported Hillary and were dubious about Bernie's economic numbers, I knew something had gone horribly wrong.

For that matter, there's treating Hillary herself as an avatar of neoliberalism, despite supporting minimum wage increase (and indexing to inflation!), universal health care, and other basically liberal things, as well as voting against the only multilateral trade deal (CAFTA) that came before her as a Senator.

And just the other day I saw someone call "build more housing" the "neoliberal solution to gentrification". Which I guess is true, in that neoliberals would support it, but if that's distinctly neoliberal, then call me a neoliberal...

But while searching for some gun post, I ran across the /r/neoliberal reddit, and these related posts:
https://medium.com/@s8mb/im-a-neoliberal-maybe-you-are-too-b809a2a588d6#.vblgkqcsw
https://www.reddit.com/r/neoliberal/wiki/faq
https://bensouthwood.tumblr.com/post/68356441500/neoliberalism

which don't entirely agree -- the first is "trashing" the work of the third -- but paint a rather diffent picture than the austerians terrorizing Greece. The first is market friendly, but also liberal consequentialist, endorsing strong but not absolute property rights and endorsing redistribution. The third calls neoliberalism very similar to social democracy, maybe a bit more market-friendly, where I'd have called neoliberalism largely about dismantling social democracy.

The second, the reddit faq, calls it to the right of social democracy. Also, somewhat vaguely, as supporting capitalism and government interventions to fix the flaws of capitalism. Which, the way I grew up, is just liberalism, though maybe friendlier to free trade and to talking about markets. And:

"while we often share similar goals, social democrats tend to be significantly more skeptical of the merit of the free market on principle than neoliberals tend to be. In the same way that classical liberals might be seen as one step to the right of us, social democrats might be seen as one step to the left."

Though when it talks about rising income inequality (as a problem!) it 'blames' technology first, institutions second. I'd blame institutions more, and suggest that you can't educate everyone into having high income.

OTOH, if you look at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
the lead is basically what I described at first. Laissez-faire, privatization, austerity, etc. Ick! OTOH, in the 1930s it meant 'an attempt to trace a so-called "third" or "middle" way between the conflicting philosophies of classical liberalism and socialist planning... promoted instead a market economy under the guidance and rules of a strong state, a model which came to be known as the social market economy.' But it dropped out in the 1960s, and came back in the 1980s associated with Pinochet's reforms.

So, interesting. I *have* wished for a term that would unambiguously cover me, Krugman, and Yglesias -- fairly liberal, even lefty, people, who still like markets and want to fix them, not replace them or grudgingly put up with them. Social democrat and US liberal have a strong connotation of being suspicious of that, in understandable but excessive reaction to conservative/libertarian worship of markets. I think there are things that need deregulation (zoning, taxis), but it's not a general principle or anything, Some regulations good, some suck.

That said, unambiguous labels pretty much don't exist. I'll stick to 'liberal' or 'social democrat' for now, while getting called 'neoliberal' by lefties because I believe in supply and demand curves. But it'll be interesting to see if these reclaimers go anywhere.
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