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Jan. 1st, 2015

2014 Book List

This year, I challenged myself to stop being a lazy-ass and actually read something that isn't either fanfiction or for school. The challenge is for 100 books, and it's usually logged through Goodreads. I do not have a Goodreads account, nor do I particularly want one, so I decided to log it in a text document on my computer, and then post it at the end of the year. I didn’t get to 100, but I think I did respectably, considering I rarely ever have time to read anymore. There are several large gaps in between completion of books, due to various reasons (largely university being a timesuck).

When I was younger, I used to read a ton of books. I loved to read. Then I grew up, went to high school, and realized that honestly, after reading all of this stuff for school, I didn't want to read anymore.

In 2013, my mother started getting on my case about it. “All you ever do is watch TV and screw around on the Internet! You used to read all the time! What happened?” Well, I got older and realized I don't have tons of time to read anymore, and when I do have time to read, I want to read fic, not book. But this year, I decided to try to read a bit more than I usually do. And here's the results of that challenge, in the order of the books I read all the way through. I was going to include a short summary, but I'm lazy, so I ended up just linking to the Amazon page, which should have reviews as well as a summary. If you have any questions about the books you can leave a comment asking for more information and I will do my best to answer them, but keep in mind that some of these books I read a while ago, and I might not remember everything about them.

You can use this as a rec list if you want, but to be honest, some of these books I liked a lot better than others. If you have a question you can comment or email me. Manga read in book format, as opposed to scans, is also included, although scanlations/manga ebooks were not included because of the volatile natures of those sites- one day you log on, the next day it’s been deleted.

I have included books that were required for my classes, except textbooks. There were some other books that were only available as e-books. Anything that is only available as an e-book is marked with a * after the title, and anything read for class is marked with **.

So, onto the books!

1. 1634: The Galileo Affair: Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis
Date Completed: 1.4.2014

2. 1635: Cannon Law: Eric Flint and Andrew Dennish
Date Completed: 1.6.2014

3. 1635: The Papal Stakes: Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon
Date Completed: 1.16.2014

4. Grantville Gazette I: Eric Flint et. al.
Date Completed: 2.25.2014

5. The Winter Witch: Paula Braxton
Date Completed: 2.27.2014

6. Grantville Gazette II: Eric Flint et. al.
Date Completed: 3.6.2014

7. Crowned: Julie Linker
Date Completed: 3.11.2014

8. Kitchen Princess Omnibus Vol. 1 : Natsumi Ando, Miyuki Kobayashi
Date Completed: 3.11.2014

9. Kitchen Princess Omnibus Vol. 2: Natsumi Ando, Miyuki Kobayashi
Date Completed: 3.12.2014

10. Kitchen Princess Omnibus Vol. 3: Natsumi Ando, Miyuki Kobayashi
Date Completed: 3.12.2014

11. Absolute Conviction: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America**: Eyal Press
Date Completed: 4.24.2014

12. The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion**: Steven Singular
Date Completed: 4.26.2014

13. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Ransom Riggs
Date Completed: 6.13.2014

14. House of Faith or Enchanted Forest? American Popular Belief in an Age of Reason**: Charles W. Hedrick
Date Completed: 6.24.2014

15. Mighty Like A River: The Black Church and Social Reform**: Andrew Billingsley
Date Completed: 6.26.2014

16. The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down: Ann Fadiman
Date Completed: 7.1.2014

17. Moving the Rock: Poverty and Faith in Black Storefront Church**: Mary E. Abrums
Date Completed: 7.8.2014


18. Black Saints in a White Church: Contemporary African-American Mormons**: Jessie L. Embry
Date Completed: 7.17.2014

19. High * Speed!*‡ Kouji Oji
Date Completed : 8.5.2014

20. Diary of a Sorority House Mom*: Ann Hyman
Date Completed: 9.3.2014

21. The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America**: Sarah Barringer Gordon
Date Completed: 9.28.2014

22. Animal Sacrifice and Religious Freedom: Church of the Lukumi Babalyu Aye vs. City of Hialeah**: David M. Obrien
Date Completed: 10.9.2014

23. Jury Discrimination: The Supreme Court, Public Opinion, and a Grassroots Fight for Racial Equality in Mississippi**: Christopher Waldrep
Date Completed: 10.24.2014

24. The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced The Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution**: Barry Friedman
Date Completed: 10.31.2014

25. The Runaway Bridegroom*: Sundari Ventrakaman
Date Completed: 11.9.2014

26. The Bus Kids: Ira W. Lit
Date Completed: 12.1.2014

27. The iCandidate: Mikael Carlson
Date Completed: 12.27.2014

28. The iCongressman: Mikael Carlson
Date Completed: 12.31.2014


‡- The version of this book that I read was an unofficial English translation, since I couldn’t get the original Japanese copy without paying at least $50 to get it, which I did not want to do. The link I downloaded it from is no longer active, and I cannot locate another one, I still have the file though, if you want it comment with your email address and I’ll send it to you.

Jul. 14th, 2014

ScamCon

I honestly don't even know where to start with this.

People who've followed this blog for some time know that I don't really like much of anything. It would be easier to make a list of things I don't dislike than a list of things I do dislike. But there are some things I hate more than others, and scammers are one of those things. Even more than that, I hate scammers who try to make themselves seem like the victims. Fuck them with a cactus. In the ear.

Over the weekend, there was a fan convention in northern Illinois. Okay, no biggie, right? There are fan convention all the time. And most of the time, they're very fun for the attendees. This one... not so much. The con that happened this weekend was known as DashCon, previously known as Tumbl-Con USA. The name was changed to avoid confusing people into thinking that they were officially affiliated with Tumblr itself. And that was about the last honest, above-board thing that happened at that con.

I do not like the Daily Dot very much, but this is a relatively balanced account of what happened at the con, although the Daily Dot is a lot more willing to go on “this was an honest mistake, not fraud” than I am. To make a long story short, along with a whole lot of other issues, the con's organizers got on stage, claimed that they were going to be kicked out unless they raised $17,000 in an hour, and started begging for money, which they received. Even with all of this last-minute slapdash fundraising, they still didn't have enough money to pay for the hotel rooms of the celebrity guests they invited, couldn't pay the performers, and had to sell pizza at a ridiculous markup to feed the hungry guests. But they apparently had enough money to put a down payment on the convention hall for next year, And not only did they get a convention hall for next year, they upgraded massively, into a convention hall used for massive, already-established conventions in actual industries, that would probably cost even more than $17,000.

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of business law knows that once a contract has been signed, one party cannot renege on that contract by deciding that they don't like the people they signed the contract with and demand more money. That's not how contracts work. In my (humble and unprofessional opinion), they either never signed a contract, or didn't pay their fair share of the money to book the venue this year, and the hotel realized this belatedly. They could have also given a bad check, and realized what they did, and started trying to extort from the con attendees in order to cover their asses. This is called check kiting, and it's a federal crime, so this should be interesting to see if anything comes of this in the future.

If that wasn't bad enough, they also did not have enough money to rent the rooms for their high-profile guests, or even pay them. Welcome to Night Vale, a popular podcast, ducked out when they realized what was going on. I don't have the best opinion of the WTNV people since the podcast has stopped being funny and been more heavy-handed commentary on social issues, but my opinion has risen a bit based on this. Not only did they realize that they weren't going to get paid, most likely, they realized that if they did get any money at all it wouldn't have been ethically gotten, or could potentially be seized as part of an investigation into the fraud, if that's the way the defrauded parties choose to go.

But that's enough about the potential fraud/sketchy business practices. Let's get into the other sketchy things that went down at this con. For one, there was no security to speak of whatsoever, so anyone could wander into the con itself without paying for a ticket. There was a panel about BDSM, that was supposed to be restricted to adults only (18+). Reports are kind of all over the place about what actually happened, but it seems that they weren't very stringent with the age requirements, and minors went in and attended. That is a federal crime, and a very good way for the presenters to end up on the sex offender registry. Whether or not that's fair is a discussion for another day, but the fact remains that they really needed to be more careful about who gets into restricted panels.

And if that wasn't enough, now some people are complaining that the fact that the WTNV people bailed when they realized how sketchy this was are sexist because the convention organizers were “young women.” Never mind that at least one of those “naive young women” is approaching 40- technically old enough to be my mother. And serously? You're going to go the route of trying to paint scammers and fraudsters as naïve, poor, misunderstood young girls? HA. And Bernie Madoff is just a misunderstood old granddad.

I should end this by saying that I did not attend DashCon. But I can recognize a scam when I see one, and I have no sympathy. Well, that's not entirely true- I have sympathy for the attendees who got scammed out of their money. Given tumblr's demographics, it's very likely the majority of people who lost money actually were, in fact, naïve teen girls.

Here are some more links to the whole debacle. You know my position on it, you can form your own opinion if you'd like.

The Escapist

Oh No They Didn't! thread

Reddit thread from TumblrInAction

Another Reddit thread from TiA

Third Reddit thread

Hyperbite

Tumblr detailing what you can buy with $17 grand

Tumblr user explains the basic problems with the con- somewhat outdated but useful

Tumblr user who attended but left before the money grab happened describes the con

Lots of links

Why a lawsuit could happen
A vendor who went to DashCon talks about what she saw

Dec. 4th, 2012

The Hawkeye Initiative

So there's this movement over on tumblr to replace “sexy” female character poses with Hawkeye from The Avengers. It's become really popular on tumblr, as well as on other sites, and in way, I can kind of see why. Some of them are pretty funny and well-drawn, and it was started as a movement to sort of caricature some of the ridiculous poses that comics characters (specifically, the female characters) are sometimes drawn in. Yes, it's kind of amusing, and yes, some of the pictures copied are pretty damn ridiculous.

But despite that, I'm actually really uncomfortable with this whole thing, and I can't exactly put my finger on why.

While I think it started out in good fun for the lulz, I feel like now it's taken a really mean-spirited turn. Instead of being “yo, that pose is whack, let's draw someone else like that because it's funny!” I feel like it's now “goddamn you suck at art, let's make fun of the artist by ridiculously caricaturizing their work and making them look stupid on purpose! Let's purposely point out every single little thing we don't like about it and make it seem like that artist is a horrible person in the process!” While I said it started out in good fun, there was also a sort of political undercurrent to it. The creators of the initiative have said it started out to be a form of feminist critique. Which is fine. There's plenty of that going around on the Internet. And Longcat knows that it needs a more positive public face instead of the screeching lunatics that make it up right now.

This could have been that chance, but once again, a funny idea that could actually have made a positive impact of some sort has been hijacked, yet again, by those same screeching lunatics. And instead of actually trying to make a point, it's gone off the rails into asshat territory. Which is really par for the course, I've realized, for discussions on the Internet. You can start out with a good idea, an idea that could actually make an impact, and then the extremists show up and run it into the ground.

It's just unpleasant, and it doesn't give a very good impression of fandom as a whole. The general population tends to think of fans as ugly nerdy neckbearded basement dwellers for the guys, and fat, whiny fujoshi for the girls. Way to prove them right, folks, seriously.

But because I don't want this to be yet another entirely negative post, and because I do think the meme, at its heart, has good intentions, I'm going to put a few links to contributions that I think really did live up to the original spirit, and are just plain funny. These links feature funny dialog, an actual copying of the original image, and most importantly, they're all in good fun while still staying true to the message they were originally trying to get across, whether or not you actually agree with it or not. Unlike some of the submissions, which come across as “look, u don't art good lawlz, look how feminist I am!” they actually do try to make their point more or less... well, not exactly respectfully, but in good faith.

Feel the Fury

ART!

Yes, that suit is very practical. In fact, I think it's more practical for him than her- good for shooting arrows!

I have no idea who the original is but the copy is shiny!

Hulk looks confus

I thought they were doing the Caramelldansen at first...

Heh. Loki.

While this post might seem kind of harsh, I don't actually have anything against this project. I just think that they should try to keep the meanness to a minimum. Which might seem strange coming from me (The Douglas actually called me the Snark Knight the other day), but honestly? You can still be snarky and call attention to things without being unnecessarily obnoxious towards people who either don't know what it is you're on about, or who just don't particularly care. In fact, you're more likely to alienate people by being bitchy about the things they like than you are by explaining why something is a problem. That's not to say you can't use humor to do it- all those posts I linked are pretty funny. But they're not mocking the artist's actual ability, just the way that they chose to exercise it.

Mar. 11th, 2011

Help Japan Linkspam

Considering the magnitude of the disaster that has hit Japan today, it's incredibly important that they get all the help they can. The Japanese disaster relief effort does not have enough supplies to cope with this, so please make use of these resources to help, if it is possible for you.

If any of you have important people in Japan, I extend my hopes that they are safe and healthy. The Douglas and I are trying to get in touch with our friend, who lives in Ichihara near the Cosmo oil refinery, which set a good portion of the town on fire. I do hope that your loved ones are safe.

American Red Cross: Takes Visa, Discover, AmEx, MasterCard, and Amazon Payments. You can also text "REDCROSS" to 90999.

Save the Children: Takes Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, and Discover.

Peace Winds Japan: Takes Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, and several Japanese credit cards. Please note- you will need to use a translator to make sense of this site if you cannot read Japanese, and be aware that you will be donating in yen, not in dollars.

Operation USA: Takes Visa, MasterCard, AmEx

Doctors Without Borders: Takes Visa, Discover, MasterCard, AmEx

Salvation Army: Takes PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Discover. You can also text "JAPAN" to 80888.

If it is possible for you to donate, please do so.