tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
The MIT Mystery Hunt was this weekend. I solved from home with IIF, and had a great time. The hunt ran super long, though, which means that not only is there lots to say, there's also a lot to still recover from.

I'm going to collect my thoughts (probably after the puzzles are back online), but in the meantime I really hope that this comment isn't going to set the tone for responses from this year's creators, Manic Sages.
On the other hand, walking around and seeing different teams and contrasting their approaches to the Hunt was quite interesting. Even other top teams like Death From Above (in the lead through most of the Hunt) and the eventual winners John Galt (second up till Sunday before establishing a convincing lead) were all smiles and obviously enjoying themselves when I visited. Then I got to Luck, and some of you (not all) seemed to be locked into a grim death march, desperate to get to the end.

I know Luck really wants to win, and we probably made it impossible for a mid-sized team this year. But keeping morale up should help your odds of being the victor in future years... :)
I'm too punchy (as in, wanting to punch that commenter) to adequately explain why, so I'm just leaving it here, because it's my blog.

I think IIF had a fantastic showing this year (waiting to see more when stats come out), and I hope that next year I can finally make it back to Boston (and complain about how cold it is).
tablesaw: The Maple Street streetlight blinks on and off and on. (Monsters Are Due)
Lots of new shows. Here's what I've been thinking . . .
  • The Playboy Club: A show about the Playboy Club. Gone and goner, and good riddance. It wanted to be Mad Men so hard, mostly so that it could be horrible to its women characters while trying to say that they were totally equal. Disgusting, and I'm glad it's gone. (See also, "Final Insult to Injury: Before Cancellation Playboy Club Rewrites Steinem History.")
  • Revenge: The Count of Monte Cristo with a female protagonist. I was only able to watch about ten minutes before I got the same "my eyes glaze over" feeling of rich white people I can't tell apart that I got from Gossip Girl. Though I do see [ profile] mswyrr covering it. Recommended?
  • Hart of Dixie: City doctor goes south to learn humility from "real folks." I think I lasted about three minutes before clawing my eyes out.
  • Terra Nova: People in the future travel to dinosaur world because the future sucks; also kill dinosaurs. It looks pretty, but it really has no idea what there is to the show other than people looking at dinosaurs. Somebody apparently decided it should be focused on a family, but the family dynamic is really uninteresting and generates no drama. So the plots are all about dinosaurs being dinosaurs.
  • Ringer: Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a former drug addict who takes over the twin's high-society life when the twin dies except the actually faked her own death. This show is terrible, but moves into the perfect place for a trainwreck by virtue of a decent cast and absurdly melodramatic story.
  • Unforgettable: A cop with perfect recall solves crimes. Forgettable.
  • Person of Interest: A computer genius, who built a near-omniscient Orwellian nightmare of a computer for the government, hires a hitman to be Batman on the side. This is a very slick show, but the political aspects just squick me out more than usual. Add to that the main characters are deliberately ciphers, and the whole thing feels hollow.
  • The Secret Circle: A retread of The Craft where the children of a secret witch circle form their own secret witch circle in a small town full of mysteries and secrets. This from the same team as one of my current favorites, The Vampire Diaries, so I'm going to give the show a little time to get up to speed. They seem to have the style and the components in place, but it hasn't quite gotten a story going yet. <Smallville>Start challenging your relationships, PCs!</Smallville>
  • Prime Suspect: A New York cop solves crimes while dealing with sexism from coworkers and others. Supposedly based on the original BBC series, though it doesn't show much relation other than a general concept. It doesn't hold a candle to the original, but it still holds its own as a solid U.S. cop drama. I think it's nailing its concept square on the head that other shows like like The Closer have shied away from, except in the margins.
  • A Gifted Man: A high-powered, narcissistic neurosurgeon becomes a Ghost Whisperer. Didn't make it through the pilot of this one, either.
  • Pan Am: A Pan-American Airlines flight crew experience the upheavals of the '60s from both sides of the Atlantic. This one definitely benefited from being watched after trying to watch The Playboy Club. While the show oversells the empowerment of women working at Pan-Am, it does understand that the way to show empowerment is to show women actually doing things. In the teaser of the pilot, we see our various heroines dealing with newfound fame from the cover of Life magazine, working as an activist in Greenwich Village, discussing romantic encounters with different men, and receiving instructions for an espionage mission. I don't know if I'll stick with it, because it lacks an edge at the moment, but it has a lot of promise.
  • American Horror Story: A dysfunctional family moves into a haunted house. Not really a great show for synopsis, since it's a all about the horror. I watched the pilot on Hulu while working, and realized I needed to watch it again. It's very much a show about the filming and presentation. I hope it can keep the pace set by the pilot, since it was my favorite pilot this year.

To sum up:

Eagerly watching: American Horror Story
Watching: Ringer, The Secret Circle, Prime Suspect
Mostly Watching: Terra Nova, Pan Am
Not Watching: Unforgettable, Person of Interest
Didn't finish one episode: Revenge, Hart of Dixie, A Gifted Man
Canceled: The Playboy Club

I'll do returning series in a separate post, soon.
tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
Hey, Alyssa Bereznak, to paraphrase Ellen Ripstein, "What are you the best in the world at?"
tablesaw: Benito Juarez holds up a neon sign that says "GET OUTTA MY COUNTRY ARCHDICK" (Archdick)
So, yeah, I axed my profile on Saturday. I hadn't intended to. I was going to see if I could get an NPL photo ID to submit, to see if that helped. And I was, actually, considering changing my name to something more culturally restrictive, though I wanted some actual guidance before I did so. (Tab LeSaw seemed the most likely.) But then I saw this:

An image of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The text reads: 'LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. Google+ is an *identity service*, not a social network. The internet would be better if we knew you were a *real person* rather than a *dog* or a *fake person*. Some people are just *evil* and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.'

The source is this post from NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin. Over the weekend and today, there have been follow-ups on this revelation, like this one at Forbes, or Gawker's wonderfully named "Watch Google Describe How It Could Exploit Your Name.

I really couldn't take it any more.

See, I and others have been pushing Google, asking why I couldn't be let into their social-networking site with my name. Apparently that was never going to happen because there was never a social-networking site to begin with. Just an identity-verification service with lots of flashy bait.

And with such a massive Trojan-horse/bait-and-switch campaign, I think it's time to directly interrogate that whole evilness thing. Because tying the social-network inextricably to the identification platform is pretty much essentially why people call Facebook evil. It's certainly the reason I didn't use Facebook until recently, and prefer not to use it at all. But, from my perspective, Google's generally been upfront about what it was doing when it rolled out a service.

When I deleted my profile, I also deleted "associate social content." I think it's pretty clear that for Google, "social" and "legally identified" are synonymous. So, you know, keep that in mind as you reconsider whether you want to use the social legally identified network Google Plus. Or whether you want to use the social legally identified RSS service Google Reader. Or whether you want to comment on a picture using the social legally identified aspects of Picasa. Remember it when Google reminds you that it wants to make it easier for you to be social legally identified on the internet.
tablesaw: One machete is raised, a host more rise to meet it. (From the "Machete" trailer in "Grindhouse".) (Brown Power)
In previous rounds, people banned from Google Plus for having names that were not namey enough for Google got an extended run-around that included being asked for government ID that did not seem appropriate to their request. Well, apparently the improvements that have been made to the process mean that it takes Google much less time to unilaterally declare that your name is not good enough for them:

Thank you for contacting us with regard to our review of the name you are
trying to use in your Google Profile. After review of your appeal, we have
determined that the name you want to use violates our Community Standards.
You can review our name guidelines at

If you edit your name to comply with our policies in the future, please
respond to this email so that we can re-review your profile.


The Google Profiles Support Team
Also, the "personal touch" of names like Ricky is gone. My response:
Hello, unnamed form-letter sender.

It is not clear to me how my name violates any of the guidelines
listed by Google in the documents that have been provided to me.

Tablesaw is a name that my friends and family know me by (though not
co-workers, because I need to be certain that my professional life is
not linked to my personal life). It is also, incidentally, the name by
which Google has known me since 2004 (see ).

The name used, "Tablesaw Tablesawsen," contains two names that can be
entered into separate fields. Though I usually go by only "Tablesaw,"
I added a second name in 2004 to help ease Google's code when entering
the Gmail Beta.

It contains no "unusual" characters in that it contains only
characters in the Latin alphabet.

My profile and name represent one person, and I cannot see any reason
why it would appear otherwise.

I am not using the name of another individual and would certainly be
interested in meeting someone with the same name.

Since starting the Gmail Beta in 2004, I have *never* changed my name
on my Gmail Account, which carried over to my Google Account, which
carried over to my Google Profile. It has been the outgoing
information on my e-mail headers to friends, family, and businesses
with whom I am a customer for the past seven years. For various
reasons reasons, including personal and financial security, I am not
interested in publicly linking the name by which my coworkers know me
and can find me to the Google Account that I have been using under
this name.

I am willing to modify my online name to something that will both
allow my friends and family to identify me online and meet with your
guidelines. But because I cannot see anything about my name, as it
stands, that does so, I am unwilling to go through an extended
trial-and-error game in which I submit other names that meet your
guidelines that are still banned.

Please note that responding to this letter, which took me no small
amount of time to draft, with another form letter will result in round

Best wishes,

(It's the saw of the table!)
tablesaw: One machete is raised, a host more rise to meet it. (From the "Machete" trailer in "Grindhouse".) (Brown Power)
Here's a timeline of this morning with Google. Please note that although the times look precise, they are estimates; it's just that some events are packed close together, so I had to guesstimate some things with odd specificity.
  • 9:30 a.m. I have trouble posting to a friend's post on Google Plus. I send feedback for the issue, thinking it to be a bug.
  • 9:40 a.m. After reloading the page, and trying to add a comment in my stream and on the psot page, I only vaguely recall, from following this issue very closely, that this is the first symptom of profile suspension. I check my profile page, and my account has been suspended.
  • 10:02 a.m. I take a screencap and upload it to my Picasa.
  • 10:04 a.m. I post a screencap of my suspension to my Dreamwidth.
  • 10:05 a.m. I submit my profile for appeal.
  • 10:10 a.m. [personal profile] yomikoma posts my suspension on Google Plus. I receive a Google Plus notification of having it shared with me. I'm not sure how exactly this happened, since it shouldn't be strictly possible to "mention" a suspended user in a post. Regardless, feel free to share his post if you have it, or repost this on your own. ETA: Actually, if you want to share something on Google, share my earlier post, since it has my statement about my name, as well as my "Banned from Google" filk, which is now even more apropos.
So, some notes.

Earlier speculation suggested that Picasa would go down with a suspended Google Profile, now that the two were linked. If this was the case earlier in the field test, it does not appear to be true now, as my Picasa seems to be entirely intact and accessible. (There's some weirdness with photos that were shared on Google Plus first, but that's to be expected, and I'm going to look at that a bit more.)

(I know that Google Reader has been reported to go down, but I don't use it, so I can't verify. Same with Google Buzz.)

ETA: Also, basic functions like Gmail and Google Talk and all that are intact. I knew that they would be, based on previous reports of suspended accounts, but I realize that not everyone will have been keeping up with that.

On the other hand, in the wake of bad publicity on this issue, Google has said that they will be making changes to the way they suspend profiles:
We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing. So we’re currently making a number of improvements to this process - specifically regarding how we notify these users that they’re not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them.

These include:

- Giving these users a warning and a chance to correct their name in advance of any suspension. (Of course whenever we review a profile, if we determine that the account is violating other policies like spam or abuse we’ll suspend the account immediately.)
- At time of this notice, a clear indication of how the user can edit their name to conform to our community standards (​en&answer=1228271)
- Better expectation setting as to next steps and timeframes for users that are engaged in this process.
Please note that this post was made last week; given Google's timescale of betas and other testing, "currently making" could simply be Google weasel words for "it might happen someday probably." One week after this statement, my profile was suspended without warning, or even notification.

Moreover, I am not in violation of the policy as set out by Google in that:
  • I use a first and last name in a single language (though, seriously, there are some really, really fucked up, and frankly racist assumptions behind that "single language" clause).
  • My name contains no unusual characters (it never occurred to me to use a period to represent the generally mononymic "Tablesaw" as "Tablesaw .", which got users like Sai and Skud in trouble).
  • My profile and name represent one person (especially so, since "Tablesaw Tablesawsen" is unique while the name that my coworkers call me is not).
  • And I do not use the name of another individual (though, as above, if I used the namey name my coworkers call me, I would be doing so; I don't even need to run any type of search to verify this because I WAS NAMED AFTER MY FATHER)
So I'll keep y'all updated on what happens, but if you want a preview, you can check out these posts by [personal profile] skud (suspended twelve days and counting).
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
Made some posts today on Google+, in that they are contained in an about the service.

If you haven't been keeping track of Google Plus's rampant suspension of profiles that don't conform to mainstream Western standards, there are some good comprehensive links to check out. Google+ user Sai, whose account has been suspended multiple times because of his (legally documented) single name, posted a massive, collaboratively written account of the whole situation, including suggested policy changes.

In sharing it, I added:
"You're one of the very first people to use Gmail. Your input will help determine how it evolves, so we encourage you to send your feedback, suggestions and questions to us. But mostly, we hope you'll enjoy experimenting with Google's approach to email."

That's what Google e-mailed to me on June 11, 2004. The name on my account then was "Tablesaw Tablesawsen." It remained the name on my Gmail Account when my Gmail Account became a Google Account, and it was the name on my Google Account when my Google Account added a Google Profile. And when that Google Profile became a part of Google Plus (yes I activated it slightly in advance), Tablesaw Tablesawsen it remained.

Every e-mail since then--whether to friends, family, or businesses--has started with a "To" field of "Tablesaw Tablesawsen" and ended with the even more memorable .sig of "Tablesaw (It's the saw of the table!)." It's been the name on my Google Documents and my Picasa pictures.

Notwithstanding the fact that I'd been using the name Tablesaw since about the time that I started hearing about this "Google" thing that was so much better than AltaVista, these seven years of using this Google Account almost exclusively is what establishes it as a real name (one of a few, but no less real). Google should know that Tablesaw Tablesawsen is a real name since they've been sending mail to, and harvesting information from, this name for over seven years.

+Sai and others have written a detailed summary of this issue within Google Plus, including several links and policy suggestions. Per +Sai's request, this share is also being linked to +Natalie Villalobos, whom I'll be counting on to remember this testimonial, should my profile be friviolously suspended.
The other posts come from [personal profile] skud, a longstanding advocate for the benefits of pseudonymity, whose profile was suspended on Friday. (A second post with further notes was posted today.) In the comments to the first, Aahz said, "For anyone who knows Leslie Fish, just think 'Banned From Google' (sorry, haven't gotten any farther)..."

Well, I couldn't help myself:
When we signed up for Google Plus, the network of our dreams,
We all set out investigating circles, sparks, and streams.
We had high expectations for our pseudonymity,
But found too late it wasn't geared for users such as we.

And we're banned from Google; it's not just.
Banned from Google, you could say that we're nonplussed.
We'd love to give more feedback on a field test we adore,
But Google doesn’t want us any more

The ToS is simple, but the policy opaque
Behind how mods consider some names real and some names fake.
The Name Police keep coming for +aestetix, +Sai, and +Skud.
So please, folks, make some changes before Google’s name is Mud.

Since we're banned from Google, all of us.
Banned from Google, and we're kicking up a fuss.
We used to be evangelizers; now we're pretty sore.
We don't know if we'll Google any more.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I wrote something about games and art, inspired by (lashing back at) Brian Moriarty's "An Apology for Roger Ebert," presented at last month's Game Developers' Conference. And then it got eaten. So instead of an argument, you get the bullet-point takeaway:
  • Scopenhauer's artistic aesthetics were dumb, and Moriarty and Ebert are dumb for adopting them.
  • The player of a game is not the audience of a game, just as an actor is not the audience of a playscript, and a musician is not the audience of a score.
  • The player of a game is an artistic collaborator, who works with the intermediate product provided by the game's "creators," to produce art which has no audience.
  • Games lack an audience not in the traditionally understood manner (nobody is desires to or is able to observe the art), but in a profound and fundamental way, in that they cannot be understood except through entering collaboration. Any product produced by the
  • The traditional definition of art requires an audience, and that is a flaw in the current conception of art.
  • It is possible that the role of the player is not as a collaborator, but as a medium for the creators (albeit a medium that leads to oblivion, rather than an audience, as a destination).
There. Now you figure it out.
tablesaw: Machete reveals his personal armory. "They just fucked with the wrong Mexican." (Wrong Mexican)
My ire was raised today reading [personal profile] kate_nepveu's writeup of her Arisia experience, specifically being on the panel of "Idols with Feet of Clay."

But specifically, I want to address one particular argumentative tack, seen in Ian Randal Strock's own recounting of the con and the panel:
On the programming side, I was on five panels (I was scheduled for two more, but missed them due to traffic). The most lively was the first, "Idols with Feet of Clay". It was a discussion of the question: "Can you still read the works of someone with whom you are on opposite sides politically?" The panel write-up specifically mentioned James P. Hogan's Holocaust denial and Orson Scott Card's opposition to homosexuality. Of the five panelists, I was the only one who said one ought to be able to divorce the art from the artist, and read the fiction regardless of one's view of the writer.
(Emphasis mine.) The phrase "divorce [or separate] the art from the artist [or vice versa]" is pretty key in these debates, and it is singled out on both sides of the debate. For example, [personal profile] nojojojo responds
Naturally he would be shocked, shocked I tell you, that people who are harmed by bigotry might not be able to divorce art from its artist, or "artistic" bigotry from its real, dangerous effect on the zeitgeist and law.
Nojojojo also links to an old post by [personal profile] catvalente which sarcastically says:
Oh, but it should be about the art, shouldn't it? We should separate the art from the artist.
But here's the thing: I think the phrase is a smokescreen.

I mean, when I think of "The Death of the Author," I'm thinking of an outlook that is designed to fundamentally empower readers over authors. So when it comes to, as Yuki_Onna calls it, fuckmuppetry, why is this pulled out as a defense of authors?

Clearly, these writers aren't referencing the same theory I'm thinking of. In fact, they're calling back to New Criticism. New Criticism also plays with the idea of the Intentional Fallacy, but it couples this with the Affective Fallacy, which says that an individual's reader's impressions have no place in interpreting art. Thus interpretation of art is decoupled from both the author and the reader (and history and a whole host of other things) so that it can just be capital-A Art.

And thus the sleight of hand. When writers like Strock call for everyone to divorce the art from the artist, they're actually calling for everyone to divorce the reader from the art.

Now, one can argue that this is appropriate when constructing formal criticism (though, be careful if you do so here, because there are some pretty heavey hitters reading). But the real problem is that the context of all of these previous statements—and of various other discussions regarding social justice issues and author fuckmuppetry—is not of criticism but of reading. The actual physical act of reading, and of the concommitant decisions of what books to buy or request. Reading is not a context from which one can divorce the reader.

And so this is why I'm officially calling bullshit on the "separate the art from the artist" line in these discussions. And I call for others who agree with me to not buy into the framing of our opponents, and call this tactic what it really is: separating the reader from reading.

Am I being unfair to Strock in particular in this analysis? I don't think so. From later in Kate Nepveu's report:
And then—well, I'm pretty sure I didn't actually shout this time. But Strock said something about sensitivity training and how it's supposed to keep people from saying offensive things, and he thinks that maybe we should having training in how not to be offended at things people say, because it just gives the speaker the power to upset you, so why not just ignore it, why get upset.
I mean, this is just the logical extension of divorcing the reader from the reading—divorcing the listener from the listening. I mean, surely, there must be some sort of instruction that may be given such that, in communication, one may receive the communication without reacting to it. That's how the brain works, after all.
tablesaw: A trial sign ("This trail is OPEN") against a blue sky in Los Angeles's Griffith Park. (Hiking (Open Trails))
I spent the weekend with many wonderful people. But I spent it in Boston, a city that hates me and wants me to die cold and alone.

So before I talk about the Hunt and all the other noteworthy things from this weekend, I would like to alert Boston to a few things.
  • I just walked out to get a salad made of locally-grown organic vegetables. Also, I was wearing sandals.
  • In fact, it's so warm, I need to open up my windows to make sure the house cools down a little.
  • Southland is fliming outside my house tomorrow. Literally right outside my window.
Yeah, fuck you, Boston.

(P.S. Boston People I still love, mkay?)
tablesaw: Paul, who is a ghost, declares this to be "Booooring!" (Booooring)
I think that the wisdom-tooth pulling drama is over. The last time I posted, I'd popped the suture. Well, the next morning, I called to see if it would be a problem, and they said it wasn't—it was normal and it would be fine if I waited two days until my scheduled appointment to have them removed. So I agreed to that.

Five hours later, my entire mouth hurt. It was the stress of constantly moving my tongue and my mouth around to avoid and accomodate the string hanging down from the top of my mouth. I couldn't focus, I could barely stand it. For a moment, I considered taking vicodin, not for the pain (which was mostly gone by then), but for the constant stress of that damned silk.

I called the dentist's office, confirmed that someone would be there in an hour, and ran out of my office as fast as I could notify my supervisor. Metro to my house, drive to the office, then five minutes in the chair and my mouth felt ten times better.

(Unfortunately, starting an hour later, and continuing until I went to sleep that night, I had the sensation of a phantom thread in my mouth.)

For a little while I was worried that I might have gotten something stuck over there, but the healing process ejected it last night, and all is nice and smoothish in upper-left-rear-gum-land.

It looks like our gaming group will finally all be together to take on out Smallville campaign of Shercroft Academy. I smell Fall finale on this one.
tablesaw: Close crop on Brock Samson's I'm-gonna-kill-you face. (Brock Samson)
Dear The Closer,

You like to point out that you're the most watched drama on cable. Please act like people are watching.

For example, if you need to have a closeup on a missing person's photo on top of what is presumably some sort of official document, please remember that you are filming in HD, and that even if people do not freeze-frame, a number of words will jump out at the casual reader.

I don't expect you to fabricate files for any such situation, but in choosing a preexisting document, you should try to find something that generally matches.

The manifesto of the Unabomber is not a document that blends well in situations like this. Especially when the section you choose to put up front is the Unabombers ravings on "feelings of inferiority" among "Leftists," which includes lines like "Those who are most sensitive about "politically incorrect" terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any "oppressed" group but come from privileged strata of society."

In summary, please take a hard look at your art department.

tablesaw: Close crop on Brock Samson's I'm-gonna-kill-you face. (Brock Samson)
"Be a man: act like a child."

(This message is constantly being brought to you by: Advertisers.)
tablesaw: A sketch of me talking and smiling. (Personable)
Title Context

My firm has a thing. On Fridays, around closing time, they invite everyone up to the dining room and serve appetizers and drinks, including an open bar.

I've never really gone to one, because I've never been working at a time anywhere near Friday afternoons. While on the graveyard shift, it would have meant waking up god-awful early. And now, it means going in on my day off.

So, no office party.

Now, this used to be a weekly thing. But as the economy tanked, it shrank down to biweekly. It might even be every three or four weeks now. Like I said, I don't much pay attention because of the Friday thing.

But also along with the economy, the holiday party has shrunk. Two years ago, they hired Berlin to play at the House of Blues. Now, they've got new hires doing a skit before they fire up a karaoke machine in the dining room. Also, it's on a Wednesday.

Now, [personal profile] ojouchan and I were already planning to go out tonight (Princess and the Frog at the Arclight), and we weren't entirely inspired by the office party idea, so we were mostly going to skip it.

But today was a rough day. Really rough. I barely scraped out a lunch, and two horrible things happened during it that I then had to deal with.

My plan, then, was to make a quick stop into the party on my way out. I would say hi to the one person that I really like, then head home. And since I'm going home on the subway, I can get a drink too.

Dear reader, my overlords have many flaws, but they are generous with the booze.

I didn't do anything at the party except go to the bar (where my friend already was, which tells you something) and get a drink. I ordered a rum and coke and said something that I'd only ever heard said: "Make it a double."

This seemed appropriate. Normally, I prefer strong mixers, but I'd be leaving forthwith; no time for a second glass.

The bartender looked at the bottle of Bacardi and decided that the best thing to do was just dump everything into a plastic cup. The result was something of a triple and a half.

Hooray for not driving to work.

On the ride home, because I am a true geek, I took out a large easy crossword and recklessly speedsolved it.

But now I really see why the firm does it; why they probably wish they could still do it weekly. I had a really crappy day. Normally, I'd be home fuming. But instead, they paid for an artificial state of happiness. And lord help me, I am feeling really good about the place I work because of it. My instinct now is to think, "Well, it all balanced out."

It doesn't balance out. It was still a crappy day; I had to deal with impossible requests with impossible deadlines. The stress left me angry and unable to focus during my lunch break. And an employer shouldn't rely on mood-altering substances to make its employees feel better.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't goddamn work to some degree. I can imagine what it would be like if this happened after the end of every hard week of work. It'd probably work most of the time.

But now I'm off to eat Peruvian food and watch a movie with the woman that I love. A large glass of decent alcohol can do nothing but blanch at the thought of being compared to that.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
I'm still grappling with gender issues that do not conform to a male/female or masculine/feminine binary. I have a lot of cisgender privilege. No, that's an understatement. For all the reading and thinking I've done on ths subject, when dealing with transgender people in non-virtual situations, I am actively fighting transphobic thoughts. It's easier for me online, but knowing how little practice I have usually makes me doubt my critical thinking when it comes to these issues.

Still, in the wake of transphobia in a fandom-related dustup (link addresses the transphobia issues; if you don't know what the underlying wank is, it's not worth it to find out), I had these things in my mind today when I started watching the new episode of The Closer.

The plot features a retired detective who returns to give testimony after an old case is overturned on an unrelated issue. But upon his return to Los Angeles, it is revealed that although the detective had been known to collegues as a man, she is now living as a woman, to the naked disgust of her former partner.

Now, I know that a lot of people can't watch cringe television, like Arrested Development or The Office, but I can, and I often enjoy it. But even still, the casual abuse heaped onto Georgette from all corners, often ostensibly for humor, really sickened me. I had to turn it off before the end of act 2. There's probably a very valuable lesson at the end, but I doubt it will be worth it.

And then I come back to find some disturbing things about LiveJournal. [personal profile] synecdochic has been reading the upcoming changes to LiveJournal's code. The result of these changes (which, as of writing, are committed to go live the next time LiveJournal updates) is:
  • Gender will be a mandatory field at account creation, and it will be able to appear public on one's profile. (I can't tell if people with existing gender specification will be defaulted to "nobody can see it" or "everybody can see it".) (Subsequent changelog reading indicates that the public specificity has since been removed. It is unknown whether this is to require public specificity in the future or if it will remain private.)
  • >LiveJournal is removing the Unspecified option for the gender field. That's right: you get to be male or female. Period. That's it. (Source.)
(Full post.) If this is something that matters to you, you may want to set your gender to unspecified now. It appears that LJ will preserve current settings as unspecified, but it's not clear whether it'll ever be possible to unselect a gender if you don't do it now. (Source). [personal profile] synecdochic also suggests, "go to and politely register your displeasure."

Update: LJ has rolled back the code, and will not be making the change. Synecdochic's entry has details and a response from LiveJournal's general manager in the United States. The response that the LJ Response Team has sent out int response to inquiries is reproduced in the comments here.
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An explanation of 'Full Inventory' )
When fans are confronted with the problematic and uncomfortable aspects of their favorite things, they often reflectively say, "Well, you're just looking for things to be offended by." This is not generally the case ("Pilot" and "Elements" were pretty offensive on their face), but with this episode, I have come to realize that I am in the place where I'm looking for things to be offended by, as evidenced by the fifteen minutes I spent freeze-framing my DVR to copy the list of possible artifacts on a blackboard in the background.

Yeah, I'm looking for things. In my defense, the show seems to waver between wanting to reward viewers for knowing history and expecting viewers to know fuck all about history. I never know when I'm going to be pleasantly surprised and when I'm going to be pleasantly disgusted. The board was mostly fun, the MainGuffin made me yell at the screen.

'Saracen' Does Not Mean What You Think It Means )

Next week: a Samurai sword.
tablesaw: Weremerican! (Weremerican)
An explanation of 'Full Inventory' )
Remember how, earlier today, I was kind of impressed with the research and presentation of history in "Claudia"? Yeah, that's not going to happen again. "Elements" deals with several interconnected artifacts related to Native American culture, specifically, the Lenape tribe, also known as the Delaware. (It appears there are currently two tribes currently recognized by the U.S. government.) And it goes about as well as you would expect when you're dealing with agents of the United States government trying to take control of native culture and keep it "safe" without any actual Native Americans involved. The best thing that can be said about this episode is that it looked like somebody read a book before writing all of this horribly wrong BS.

Spoilers for 'Elements' )

And, you know, if I'm going to keep doing these, I'm totally going to need an icon of the Crazy Mexican Murder Rock.


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