Release 0.9.207: Change Log

2017-Oct-21, Saturday 17:43
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

We recently fixed MOBI downloads on Kindle, solved some miscellaneous bugs, and cleaned up some code around the site.


  • Coders: Elz, cosette, james_, redsummernight, Sarken, ticking instant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, james_, Sarken
  • Testers: Aline, bingeling, Lady Oscar, redsummernight


Works & Comments

  • [AO3-5202] - MOBI downloads were suddenly failing on Kindle devices, due to a tiny little typo that had slipped into our code unnoticed. Now that we've noticed it, you should be able to download MOBI files again.
  • [AO3-5199] - On October 5, we had to temporarily disable downloads when we mysteriously ran out of disk space. It turned out that was because our clean-up code was broken and we weren't deleting HTML files after generating them. We've fixed that.
  • [AO3-1259] - The option to remove yourself as the co-creator of a chapter was buried on the page for reordering a work's chapters. Now it's also in a much more sensible location: the chapter edit page. (And as a bonus, when you remove yourself as a co-creator, the byline on the chapter will actually update now!)
  • [AO3-5197] - Works with no content at all (near impossible to create, but sometimes databases do weird things) were causing word count errors, since the counter wasn't prepared for having nothing to count. It just counts to 0 now.
  • [AO3-5125] - We've added a Rake task to map imported works to their counterparts on the original archives. Now if we host the original domain, individual work links from the original site will redirect to the copy of the work on AO3, as they should.
  • [AO3-177] - Comments marked as spam were counted toward the total number of comments, even though they were hidden from view. We've made sure that wherever a comment count shows up, it now displays the number without spam.

Skins & Frontend

  • [AO3-4376] - We had CSS-related documentation in a few different places, laying out information for creating your own skins to style the Archive or the content of works. This information is now all in one place.
  • [AO3-4840] - Archive skins created with our Skin Wizard didn't properly style the Reindex Work button (visible to wranglers). Now they do!
  • [AO3-5183] - The admin page for approved site skins was timing out, so we made a small performance tweak and now it's greased lightning.
  • [AO3-4658] - The login page looked wonky on small screens and made it harder to log in on mobile devices. It's all pretty now!


  • [AO3-5201] - When accessing the Archive through our HTTP option (relevant when we switch to a secure default protocol for good), it was impossible to submit a page from the domain to Abuse. Now it is!
  • [AO3-4976] - In autocomplete fields, tags with ampersands (e.g. "Abbi & Ilana") would sometimes show up with a semicolon after the &, which looked untidy. We've tidied that up!
  • [AO3-4004] - Trying to use the tab button to navigate from certain autocomplete fields after entering a tag would jump you back to the top of the page in some browsers. You should now be able to reach the correct field.
  • [AO3-5082] - The test for removing oneself as a co-creator of a work or series would fail sometimes (but not always), making the test not very helpful. That's fixed now.
  • [AO3-5173] - There was some unused code lingering from a feature we had previously removed. It lingers no more.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

Review – The Naming of the Shrew

2017-Oct-21, Saturday 13:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of The Naming of the Shrew by John WrightThe Naming of the Shrew, John Wright

There’s a lot of hilarity to be found in the Linnaean species names, from Crikey steveirwini to the unfortunate Rubus cockburnianus (named in honour of the Cockburn family, of course – how can you doubt it). I figured a book digging into all this would be interesting, or at least entertaining enough to beguile an eight hour plane ride.

Not so much. The author is undoubtedly – and commendably – enthusiastic. He’s dug around in all the vagaries of zoological and botanical naming, and he’s found some gems. He also tries to explain exactly how these names are coined and accepted. Unfortunately, he’s rather longwinded about it, and it becomes a long list of funny names joined by some anecdotes. Some of them I’m glad enough to know, but I did get rather tired of the idea by chapter four, and started wondering when the light at the end of the tunnel was going to show.

Rating: 2/5

Stacking the Shelves

2017-Oct-21, Saturday 08:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Good morning, folks! Here is my haul of books about diseases, for background reading for my course. I’ve already torn through four of them, actually, and it is very helpful to have this perspective.

It hasn’t been a great week in some other respects, so hey, at least I have books. And bunny pictures.


Cover of Ebola by David Quammen Cover of Virus X by Frank Ryan Cover of No Time To Lose by Peter Piot Cover of Rabid by Bill Wasik

Cover of Angel of Death by Gareth Williams Cover of Paralysed with Fear by Gareth Williams Cover of Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC

Can you tell what I’m studying this semester? Heh.

Read this week:

Cover of Ebola by David Quammen Cover of I Hate Everyone But You Cover of Paralysed with Fear by Gareth Williams Cover of Rabid by Bill Wasik Cover of Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

Cover of Angel of Death by Gareth Williams Cover of The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim Cover of Sea, Swallow Me   Cover of The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo Cover of The Chocolatier's Wife by Cindy Lynn Speer

Reviews posted this week:

Jhereg, by Steven Brust. A reread to get back to the series. It remains fun, though there were no surprises (obviously), and I think some of the fun does come from working things out. 4/5 stars
Just One Damned Thing After Another, by Jodi Taylor. I don’t know why I’m the odd one out, but to me the title summarised how this book felt. It had a natural end and then — kept going. I can’t say I loved the characters, either, or the fact that the plot was advanced by sexual assaults. 2/5 stars
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, by Angela Saini. Takes a look at — and skewers — supposed science about in-built differences between genders. 3/5 stars
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t get the enduring charm that’s made this a classic, I’m afraid. 2/5 stars
First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones. Holy rape culture, Batman. 1/5 stars
Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey. This had less of the team feel than the previous book, and basically I’m 10,000% here for the lot of them settling down, making a found family and having capers (together) forever. 4/5 stars
The Beautiful Ones, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I didn’t love Signal to Noise, but this worked much better for me. It’s very Heyer-esque. 4/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW Wednesday: The weekly update on my currently reading stack, and what I might read next!

How’re you all doing? I’ll always visit back if you leave a comment here, so feel free to drop in a link directly to your STS post.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Putting this behind a cut given the “Guy In Your Office Who Gives Weird Backrubs And Ends Every Sentence With ‘That’s What She Said’ Is Totally #IBelieveYou About Your #MeToo Social Media Posts” and “Pretty Much Every Movie You Loved In The 1990s Is Now Kinda Gross To Think About” week we’ve had.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m a lady who has been friends with this guy for about a decade. He moved away to a nearby city a few years ago for post doc work so most of our conversations are through WhatsApp and Skype. A couple times a year we’ll visit and sleep on each other’s couches. We’re both unattached hetero-ish opposite gendered folk, but I have talked about how I’m basically asexual and never looking for anyone and he’s looking for someone to marry and have babies with. So that’s been discussed while neatly avoiding the ‘I’m not into you like that’ more direct conversation. We have always just been normal friends who are friends. I really like hiking, and he’s one of my only friends who shares that hobby so it’s something we’ve also done a lot together. A decade. No issues.

We went on a weekend camping/hiking trip this summer, and on one of the days we trekked out to a beach that happened to be clothing optional. He asked me if I was OK with him being naked. I said that while I would rather be clothed myself, I didn’t mind in the context of our hanging out sunbathing and reading our respective books at a nude beach if he’d rather ‘run free’. Since then, he’s casually WhatsApp’d me a few articles that tangentially relate to nudism. It’s clearly on his mind. “Look-these Germans are totally fine with going to the sauna naked with co-workers!” Neat. “Hey, have you seen this BBC article about naked co-ed swimming pools in Poland? It’s nice they’re comfortable about perfectly natural human bodies.” Sure, that’s cool. “Isn’t it terrible how clothing is used as such a marker of class and social difference?” I guess that’s true. Why are we so weird about bodies? But also, I like my tyranny of clothing?

Then I went out for another visit. Crashed on the couch as ever. Everything perfectly non sexual. We talked philosophy, pop culture, politics, hiking, the usual. In the morning I was getting ready to leave and he came out of the shower while I was packing up. “Do you have the bus schedule?” I asked, and as he checked the times he just fully removed his towel-one-Mississippi-two-excruciating-Mississippi-before tucking it back around his waist. I averted my eyes in panic and then said nothing, because, well, you’re the Captain of Awkward. You know.

He moved apartments just after our trip, and I’d been asking to see what his new place looked like. “Give me the virtual tour!” I suggested. He WhatsApp’d back a five minute video. Wow, it does have great lighting! And there he is casually narrating how great the appliances are here and the closet space is there, and 4 minutes in, in full view of the mirrored closet doors but not looking at them, he’s just totally naked. Dick a swinging. OK, I thought. Plausible deniability… it was a heat wave. Maybe he wasn’t thinking about the mirrors? Maybe he was, and he’s just chill with the human body? I can’t be chill this way. But I said nothing. Pretended that wasn’t in there. “Love the counter-tops” I wrote.

A few weeks have gone by. Conversations on WhatsApp are normal. “Maybe we can do more camping and hiking next summer?” he asked. Maybe. A few days ago I sent him some photos of a new hiking bag I’d gotten. He’d been shopping too. “And on sale because it’s end of season!” declared the caption on a perfectly innocuous photo: a box of new hiking boots on his living room floor. I scrolled past it and replied “Those look way better than the old ones, how much?” And so it went. We move on to other topics. Politics. Hikes. OK, maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with this situation. Things are… fine? But going back through the photos today, I clicked on the boots image this time to see them better and there, in the now fully expanded view on my phone, was his dick. Just hanging out in the bottom corner of the image. NothingwrongwithbodiesbutcomeONadickisnotahandoraknee….WHAT DO.

Lest I make you do the summarizing work yourself, here is a less full-picture but probably sufficient TLDR alternative:

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am a lady whose close decade long platonic friendship with a dude has taken an awkward turn. He lives out of town now, so we mostly communicate online with the odd visit to one another’s respective city. We both share a passion for hiking. We stopped by a clothing optional beach when hiking earlier in the year, and he asked if I was cool if he took advantage and let it all hang out whilst we sunbathed. I said that was fine, though I was gonna carry on wearing my clothes and enjoying my book. Since then he’s sent me a number of ‘isn’t nudism/naturism? great’ articles. OK, fine. What even are bodies anyway. The menace of class expression through clothing and the joy of non sexual naked bodies has been a recurring theme in his recent ‘check out this news link’ communication.

When I crashed at his place during my most recent visit, he let his towel slip for a moment too long after getting out of the shower, but I said nothing. A few weeks later he sent me a video tour of his new apartment where four minutes in he’s just casually and totally naked in the reflection of his mirrored closet doors. Just for a short few seconds. There was a heat wave. He’s maybe a nudist/naturist now? I was uncomfortable but pretended it didn’t happen. Now this week we exchanged innocuous ‘cool new hiking gear purchases!’ photos. But I realized upon expanding the shot of his hiking boots that his footwear was photo bombed by his dick. It’s autumn. There is no heat wave. Nudism surely does not equal what feels like stealth dick pics. WHAT DO? :/

Hi there! I included both the longer version and the TL;dr because you summed it up so well in both.

So, your friend is exploring nudism. Many people in the world are into that. There are clubs, days, events, hikes, bike rides, runs, online communities, resorts, and an entire Wikipedia page for “nude recreation.” Your friend can be free-falling and free-balling in the great outdoors as long as he a) finds like-minded people (i.e. not you) and b) he respects certain limits.

Speaking of limits, your friend is testing yours by repeatedly showing you his bathing suit area. He started with “accidentally-on-purpose” towel drops and escalated to “Oh hai, my apartment tour has some very special features!” Not cool. The chances that the hiking boots were accidentally photobombed by his junk approach .001%., though to be clear I don’t actually care if it was an accident.

We could spend a lot of time discussing his intentions, does he MEAN IT-mean it like, in a sexual way, or is it just part of his new lifestyle and he’s really comfortable with you vs. is he trying to be creepy/provocative, is it just a mistake where he thought because he asked you that one time that it’s okay forever,  is it just that he’s too shy/socially awkward to ask you about it again (though somehow not too shy to do it). And, why stop at “shy/socially awkward” as descriptors? Why not dive into his entire psychological makeup and history for explanations so we can find a diagnosis that would make this somehow less his fault? Or, we could try to separate a clear pattern of behavior into totally unique isolated incidents that definitely do not have anything to do with each other and definitely do not have anything to do with gender or misogyny or culture. We could write it all off as probably “harmless,” we could discuss body positivity and why are people so weird about a little bit of nudity it’s not all sexual/why are we making it that way with our dirty minds and narrow-minded upbringing, are we some kind of prudes or something? We could do the 1,000 other absurd, exhausting mental and emotional gymnastics where we deep-dive into the intentions and feelings of men and try to find the most reasonable, gentle, benefit-of-the-doubt approach that won’t startle them or make them feel bad for even a second about the things they do to women.

I think there are two questions women can ask themselves when a man does something that creeps them out that are way better than “but did he MEAN IT-mean it”:

  1. Does he do this behavior to other men? Do his dad or his boss or his male buddy have to say “Whoa dude, consider the pants” when they chat with him?
  2. Do we think he’s doing even a tenth of the emotional labor in this situation that you are? 1/100th? 1/1000th?

This week has felt like a century. I don’t know about y’all but I’m done with doing this much work around men behaving badly.

Here are the facts:

1) Your friend repeatedly exposed himself to you.

2) You don’t like it and you want it to stop.

That’s enough. That’s enough to block him from your life if you want to without any further communication or work on your part. It’s enough to change whole story to “I had this really lovely friend for 10 years but then it got weird between us and we’re not friends anymore.”

It’s certainly enough to send him a text that says: “Can you make sure to put on clothes if we’re going to video-chat? Thanks.

See also:

  • “Can you make 100% sure that your penis doesn’t show up in photos you share with me, thanks.”
  • I’m glad you’re enjoying all that. I don’t really like reading or talking about it with you, so you should find someone else to send these articles to.”
  • Also, while we’re talking, that hiking day at the clothing optional beach was a one-time thing for me, please opt for pants when we’re talking or hanging out in the future.”
  • I don’t like that.” = Good general script for unwanted nudes.

If your friend has sad or embarrassed feelings about what he’s done…okay? Good? He should feel some awkwardness about making his friend so uncomfortable? He should be the one writing to advice columnists right now about how he’s really into this new hobby and he’s afraid and uncomfortable about maybe fucking up a great friendship by getting carried away with it and constantly showing her his penis, so, how can he apologize and how can he make it right.

Honestly, if you tell him to knock this off, “I’m really sorry I made you uncomfortable” + STOPPING THE BEHAVIOR AND DROPPING THE SUBJECT IMMEDIATELY & FOREVER = is pretty much the only acceptable reaction from him. If he gives you an iota of pushback about this, your friendship is probably over. “Wait, did you think I was harassing you? I was just enthusiastic about my fun hobby!” = “Cool story. But now you know that I don’t like it, so, STAHP.”

If that pushback becomes about how this is all your fault somehow, like “But you said it was okay that day when we were hiking, it’s not fair for you to change the rules on me now” or  “I didn’t think you were such a prude,” we’ve crossed over into friendship-is-over-with-extreme-prejudice territory. “It was an accident and I didn’t mean it, but, also, it was all the woman’s fault since I reasonably and objectively assumed she liked it” is not how great guys who are safe to be around talk when they get busted for behaving badly.

I’m so sorry, this sucks and none of it is your fault. Neither his penis nor his feelings are your work to manage.






[syndicated profile] queer_ya_feed
In Chapter Six, Wyatt blogs his first impression about Abraham Lincoln from his book of primary source letters: That Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy. That Abraham Lincoln was gay.

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them as comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, or instagram.)

Okay community, here's Chapter Seven!

* *

Chapter 7
Monday January 12

            Mr. Guzman faked a yawn as he examined Jennie’s blog on his hand-held tablet. “So Lincoln established Thanksgiving as our national holiday… why should we care? Where’s your first impression?” Their I’m-not-a-substitute teacher walked the front of the room like it was his own personal kingdom. He’d been telling everyone what was wrong with their blog posts and why he’d given them some version of a ‘C.’ Eight minutes of class left and there were only four still standing: Jennie – who was under the ax – Mackenzie, Wyatt, and Jonathon.
            Jennie giggled nervously.
            Mr. Guzman continued his video-game-worthy massacre. “You’re in high school now, Miss Woo, and you need to dig deeper. ‘C-minus,’ but I’m being generous.”
            Jennie giggled again, which Wyatt thought was just weird.
            “And now, to use the technical term, the bat-shit crazy book reports.” That made the class titter. He swiped the screen to call up the next blog. “Miss Miller!”
            Mackenzie stopped playing with the end of her fancy French braid and poised her fingers over her laptop keyboard, ready to take down every word Mr. Guzman said.
            “Calling Lincoln an occultist and arguing that his belief that the living could communicate with the dead inspired his Gettysburg Address, among other speeches, is quite the first impression.”
            Mackenzie broke in, “I said it influenced him. Not inspired.” She was the first one of them to protest at all. Wyatt gave her props for that. “It’s possible Lincoln was just so in love with Mary that he went along with it, but he went to a séance! Surrounded with all the deaths in the Civil War, his own two sons dying, and the guilt… I think he at least wanted to believe that you could talk to dead people.”
            Mr. Guzman made a snapping sound with his mouth. “I’m not sure how you’re going to prove that, but either way, annotating one speech would have been sufficient. No one has time to read what would print out to be eighteen pages of material on a blog. Consider the math of it: I have four classes. “C-minus again.”
            The color drained from Mackenzie’s face. Wyatt knew it was the lowest grade she’d ever gotten, and it could ruin her perfect GPA.
            “Speaking of math, Mr. Yarrow…” Mr. Guzman put down the tablet on his desk, entwined his fingers and stretched them out, like this particular grading murder was going to be extra work.
            Wyatt tried to keep his face completely blank. He told himself he wouldn’t react, no matter what happened.
            “What a load of crap you posted.”
            Jonathon led the room’s explosion of laughter.
            Mr. Guzman waited for them to settle. “For someone whose family lives and breathes the history of Abraham Lincoln, I must say I was roundly disappointed. While I applaud your use of video, I found it hard to believe your book came out – forgive the pun – and said that Abraham Lincoln was gay.”
            Whispers of disbelief swirled around him. Wyatt guessed no one had read his post.
            Mr. Guzman continued, “In fact, when I spoke with Mr. Clifton at the library an hour ago, he assured me that was NOT in your book. Thus, what you’ve presented to the world is lies, or if I’m continuing to be generous, I might call it ‘offensive conjecture.’ A book report is not where we make things up. ‘F.’ The one failing mark for the entire ninth grade.”
            But… I didn’t make it up!
With Jonathon snickering and nasty stares boring into him from all sides, Wyatt felt Thai-chili-pepper-level heat engulf him. He sank down in his chair.
            Jonathon stage-whispered to Charlie, “What a fag!”
            Charlie answered in the same let-everyone-hear-but-pretend-it’s-just-between-us voice, “Yeah, Mosquito ball fag!”
            They cracked up.
            “Gentlemen, that’s enough.” A scowling Mr. Guzman picked up his tablet again. “And finally, Mr. Rails…”
            Jonathon swung around from smirking at Wyatt. He’d been giving him that I’m-so-happy-to-watch-you-crash-and-burn attitude all first period P.E., too, but Wyatt couldn’t figure out how Jonathon had known in advance Mr. Guzman had failed him.
            “I saved your critique for last, because frankly, even though you clocked in with only one minute to spare…” here Mr. Guzman’s voice changed, sounding pleasantly surprised. “You used your time relatively well.”
            Jonathon grinned, letting every one of his dentist-brochure-white teeth show.
            Mr. Guzman continued, “Mr. Rails’ book contains transcripts of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. In an elegant display of how ‘the medium is the message,’ his entire blog post took the form of a debate rebuttal to Mr. Yarrow’s blogged piece of… Well, we’ve established what it was.”
            Waves of laugher smashed into Wyatt. He slipped down even lower, wishing he could disappear.
            “Also, Mr. Rails used a quote from his book, citing the source material. And his post was… let’s be real people, I had to read 142 of these, blessedly short. Nicely done, Mr. Rails. You would have received a B-plus. But bullying, in any form, is not acceptable in my classroom, and your blogs are an extension of that domain. Accordingly, I’ve dropped you down to a B-minus.
“Dude! Still the highest grade in the class!” Jonathon bragged, and high-fived Charlie. Then he turned and aimed his finger like a gun at Mackenzie, all, I got you this time.
Mr. Guzman raised his voice to be heard. “Note that you will need to delete the personal attack as soon as humanly possible.”
            Personal attack? Wyatt couldn’t see the screen in Mr. Guzman’s hand.
            Mr. Guzman clicked his tongue and set down his hand-held computer. “That’s everyone. Remember, as we move forward, to state your thesis, and then back it up with evidence from your primary source materials.” He walked over and circled ‘Thesis’ on the white board. “Keep in mind that the more you blog, the more traffic you’ll get. I expect you to address the concerns we discussed…”
            Wyatt stopped listening. He’d ask Mackenzie to borrow her phone right after class – and turn it on – so he could get online and see what Jonathon had said about him.
            He wanted to know. He needed to know, but his stomach clenched at the thought of what he’d discover.

Jonathon Rails’ Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.Lincolnville High School.Book: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. REAL MEN. REAL AMERICA.
 First Impression Blog Post: Monday, January 12, 5:59 a.m.
Lincoln was not gay. Our greatest president ever, Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Republican Party, was arguing with his advisors and said to them:
                        “If you call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs does a sheep have?”
                        “Five,” the advisors agreed.“No,” replied Lincoln. “A sheep only has four legs.” Then Lincoln added, “Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” (pg. 4)
 Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest debaters ever.
Calling him gay doesn't make him gay.
And calling him gay, like Wyatt Yarrow did in his blog? You’d have to be some kind of gay idiot to do that.

* *

“I want you to delete your post.” It was the first thing Mr. Guzman said in their ‘chat’ after school. “Your whole blog, in fact. Start over.”
“I don’t want to start over!” Reading what Jonathon blogged had made Wyatt want to prove this even more.
Mr. Guzman made a clicking sound and sighed. “Mr. Yarrow, I failed you because you were making things up–”
“I didn’t!”
“…And with a failing grade, I’m required to notify your parents.”
“That’s not fair! I worked hard on it, and it’s true!” Wyatt realized he was shouting, and fought to get back in control.
Mr. Guzman swiveled in his desk chair. “You really believe your book, this…” He scanned a spreadsheet he’d printed out. “Joshua Fry Speed, proves Abraham Lincoln was gay?”
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it.”
“I thought we were supposed to dig deep?”
Wyatt’s teacher chuckled at that. “Not so far that you lose touch with reality. There is a core to the Earth after all. Molten lava, I believe.”
“You’re letting Mackenzie do séances…” Wyatt got an inspiration. “And if I pull it, what’s Jonathon going to debate?”
Mr. Guzman seemed on the fence.
“Come on… I read the whole book, I did the assignment. I’ve got a thesis! Let me prove it.”
Mr. Guzman considered. “David Rice Atchison, President eleven point five, huh?” He was quiet for a moment more. Wyatt waited, not sure which way it would go. Finally, his teacher decided. “How about I let you do a make-up post? And when I say ‘make-up,’ you need to show me you’re not making it up. I want to see sound reasoning, and citations.” He stood and started packing his satchel. “I’ll give you till midnight Friday to post something to back up your thesis, such as it is, so I can see where this is going. And if you can’t convince me, then on Monday I’m afraid you’ll have to start over.”
Wyatt was relieved he was getting a chance.
            “I’m curious.” Mr. Guzman paused and looked over at Wyatt. “You don’t have any new material on Lincoln – your book is older than I am. So, if you’re working from the same body of evidence as the rest of the world, why are you suddenly able to see that Lincoln was gay when no one else has?”
            Wyatt felt the trap there, and he blustered. “Well, it’s not like I’m gay or anything! I’m dating Mackenzie!”
Mr. Guzman gave a nod. “She seems like a girl who knows what she wants.”
The fact that he didn’t just slam gay people was a silence that shouted in Wyatt’s mind. He needed to test the waters a little more. How would Jonathon put it? “I don’t know any fags myself, but if Lincoln was one, that’s important, isn’t it?”
Mr. Guzman studied Wyatt for a long moment. “Mr. Yarrow. I don’t want to hear that word in my classroom again.
“Sorry,” Wyatt shrugged, elated but trying to keep his emotions in check. “What about you telling my folks?”
            After a tongue click, Mr. Guzman said, “I’ll hold off on contacting your parents. For now. Do we have an understanding?”
            Fine. He’d show that jerk Jonathon and Mr. Guzman that he was right. That Abe was gay. But all he said was “Yeah,” and got the heck out of there before Mr. Guzman could change his mind.
            Wyatt had work to do.

* *

            Wyatt was in the living room on the red and yellow Turkish rug by the fireplace. If asked, he could tell guests these kinds of rugs were popular in the 1800s. But this one was from Costco.
            He had a bunch of volumes of The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln out of the glass bookcase, and he was going through the huge index (all of volume twelve) when the doorbell rang. Which was odd, because they were kind of like a hotel – during the day, people just walked in. The clouds were already showing off pink and gold sunset colors, and it was just after 5 p.m.
            Wyatt heard his mom open the front door. “Ira? Where did the time go – is it seven already? Let me get Gregory…”
            “Um, no. Actually, Mrs. Yarrow, no bowling for me tonight. I’m here on official library business.”
            Wyatt put volume twelve on top of Joshua Fry Speed to hold his spot in both, curious. What was Mr. Clifton talking about?
            “Really, Ira. You can call me Liz. ‘Mrs. Yarrow’ makes me sound like my mother-in-law.”
            “I just feel we should keep things official. Me being here on business and all.”
            Wyatt inched to the doorway, careful to keep out of sight.
            “Oh!” His mom chuckled. “You make it sound like you work for the F.B.I.!”
            “I wish I could find some humor in this as well, Mrs. Yarrow. Unfortunately, there’s a matter about which I might lose my job, and I need your help. Specifically, I need Wyatt’s help.”
            His mom’s voice got quieter. “Come in. Wyatt’s doing homework in the living room. This Lincoln blog project has him all fired up.”
            “Ira!” Wyatt’s dad’s voice. “You’re early!”
            There was a pause. Wyatt guessed they were shaking hands.
            “He has something he needs to discuss with Wyatt?” His mom tried to explain, but she sounded baffled. Wyatt was, too.
            Adult steps came down the hall. Wyatt scrambled back to his pile of books, pretending to study. As they walked in, he was underlining ‘Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, letters to’ in his notebook.
            “Wyatt?” His dad said.
            To seem busy, Wyatt added an exclamation point. He glanced up, feigning surprise.
            “Sorry to interrupt you. Your mom and I love that you’re studying, it’s just that Mr. Clifton stopped by and he’s saying he needs our help.”
            Their town librarian was sweating, and it was January. What was going on?
            Mr. Clifton stammered out the words, “Wyatt. The… the book about President Lincoln I gave you…”
            Wyatt made a huge effort to not let his eyes move to it, under volume twelve right in front of him. One brown corner was poking out. “Yeah?”
            “I… I made a mistake in allowing it to be checked out. You see, it’s really a reference book, and I’ve violated a rather important guideline of library science by allowing it to enter circulation.”
            Wyatt thought about the crumbly spine, and how he’d been careful with it. But right now, it was being squished. “I didn’t hurt it or anything!”
            “I just… I need to get it back.”
            “But I need it for my report! I’m supposed to have it for six weeks!”
            “I’m sure we can find you another book. That one needs to come back to the library. Tonight.”
            Wyatt couldn’t hold the words in. “But you gave it to me! You never know where a book can take you, remember?”
            Mr. Clifton flushed and puffed out his cheeks. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Every Lincoln book was assigned randomly, and your getting a reference book was simply a mistake.”
            He’s lying!
            “The bottom line is, I need that book back, now.” Mr. Clifton took a step towards Wyatt but Wyatt’s dad got between them.
            “Ira… I don’t know how appropriate this is. Wyatt didn’t do anything wrong.”
            “I’m not saying he did. It’s just that I could lose my job over this!”
            “That’s ridiculous.” Wyatt’s mom said. “No one’s going to fire you for checking out a reference book.”
            Mr. Clifton sniffed. “Some of us serve at the whim of the Mayor. You should understand that.”
            Wyatt’s dad shifted to the tone of voice he used when someone complained about running out of hot water, or the rooms being too drafty, and he tried to convince them that what they got was actually what they had wanted in the first place – a real Civil War-Era experience. “What’s the harm in letting the boy have the book for now? I’ve used the historical reference section. It’s not like there are hordes of people lined up for those books. He’ll return it safe and sound when it’s due.”
            Mr. Clifton gaped at the three of them. “You don’t understand!”
            “We’ll make sure he returns it not a day late. But until then, Wyatt has homework.” With an iron grip on his arm, Wyatt’s dad guided Mr. Clifton out of the room. It felt really good, his dad standing up for him and everything.
            His mom gave Wyatt a worried look, then followed them.
            He listened to the adults argue in the entry hall. Mr. Clifton’s voice was shrill. “I told her no one’s going to believe a high school kid’s book report, but the Mayor wants this dealt with. Have you seen his blog post?”
            There was a pause, like they were calling it up on the reception computer.
            Moving quietly, Wyatt took Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend, turned it so the plain back cover faced out, and sandwiched it in the glass bookcase behind volumes eleven and twelve of The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. Then he pulled out volumes one through ten so they were all even.
            Completely hidden.
            He could hear his video playing on the tinny desk speakers. With a twist of the old-fashioned skeleton key, he locked the bookcase, and slid the key into his jeans pocket. Slipping out to the stairs, he stayed silent as a Civil War ghost. He stopped on the second floor landing, listening.
            Mr. Clifton cleared his throat. “It’s like Pandora’s Box.”
“All hell is going to break loose because of this,” Mr. Clifton continued. “I’m just trying to close it again.”
            But he gave me the book on purpose! Does he know about me? Wyatt tried to figure it out. Maybe Mr. Clifton had seen him hide Absolutely… But if he did know, and that’s why he gave him Joshua Fry Speed, wasn’t it because he wanted Wyatt to find out about Lincoln?
            He couldn’t hear what his parents said, but Mr. Clifton’s words hit him in the gut. “Did Wyatt tell you he got an ‘F’ on this report?”
            That bastard.
            Wyatt snuck the rest of the way up to the third floor. He had to get ready for the Inquisition.
            A thought stopped him at the hallway bookcase by Room Eight. His laptop was dead – at breakfast, his mom had given him a twenty-minute lecture about responsibility, and how he wouldn’t get a new computer until he could buy one with his own money. Given that he barely had twenty dollars saved up, and he only made twenty-nine cents for every coffee-aged document they sold downstairs, that was going to take a while.
The reception computer was off-limits except for homework. His parents and Mr. Clifton were on that now, anyway… but they did have this old set of Encyclopedias. Wyatt had never really thought of the cream, blue, and red-striped leather-bound set as anything more than period wallpaper, but maybe it had something on Pandora. After all, Wyatt figured, that’s what people did before the internet, right?
            He grabbed volume 18, ORN-PHT, and headed to his room.
            Turned out Pandora was this girl who got a box from the King of the Gods. Only she wasn’t allowed to open it. Of course, she did open it, and from inside all the different kinds of evil escaped into the world.
            Why would the truth about Abe loving another guy be evil?
            With the box open and all these Evils escaping, Pandora panicked, and slammed the lid shut. But that left only one thing trapped inside: Hope.
            Wyatt wondered if she ever let that out.
            He wished he hadn’t ruined his laptop after all. Maybe in computer lab he could add his blog as an external link to the Wikipedia article on Lincoln.
            The world needed to know, and he wanted to tell everybody.
            It was time to let Hope out.
            But first, he’d have to deal with his dad and mom, and make sure they didn’t know about him.

* *

* *
Endnotes for Chapter 7 
On his blog, Jonathon quotes Lincoln’s joke about “calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” Abe did say this, but it wasn’t included in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates book I imagined Jonathon had for his book report (not on page 4 or elsewhere.) I actually found this Lincoln quote on page 194 of The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln: A Treasury of Quotations, Anecdotes, and Observations, Edited by James C. Humes, Gramercy Books, Random House, 1996.

* *

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Review – The Beautiful Ones

2017-Oct-20, Friday 08:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of The Beautiful Ones by Sylvia Moreno-GarciaThe Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 24th October 2017

I wasn’t a huge fan of Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise, though I liked it well enough, but I wanted to give more of her work a try. I wasn’t disappointed! The Beautiful Ones is a sort of Heyer-esque romance, only with magic as well — maybe Austen. You get the vague idea. It’s alternate universe, but there’s enough parallels that I just sort of nodded and accepted it as our-world-but-with-different-names. I’d have loved more world building about that, but it might have taken away from the character study and the romance, so I’m not too disappointed.

The characters, well. I spent a fair amount of time wanting to shake them into being sensible and communicating properly, but I enjoyed them and rooted for them — except of course for Valerie, who I didn’t quite hate (Moreno-Garcia does a reasonably good job of pointing out why she is the way she is), but who definitely isn’t a character to love. I found the lengths she ended up going to a bit unconvincing and unpleasant — sucks that it’s a guy who at the end decides to do the decent thing and come clean, and Valerie ends up being pretty irredeemable.

If you don’t like romance and novels of manners, this probably won’t appeal; if you do, then I recommend it. Even if you’re not so much into fantasy, really; that aspect is relatively slight.

Rating: 4/5

Review – Taste of Marrow

2017-Oct-19, Thursday 08:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of A Taste of Marrow by Sarah GaileyTaste of Marrow, Sarah Gailey

Received to review; publication date 12th September 2017

Yay! More of Hero!

In a sense, I didn’t like this quite as much as the first story — because there’s a lot of dark stuff going on; Houndstooth is totally blinded in his search for Hero, and he doesn’t mind what he does (or who he does it to) along the way. In parallel, Adelia and Hero have to deal with Adelia’s baby being kidnapped, and Adelia doesn’t mind what she does (or who she does it to) along the way. That does give us some interesting development for Hero, as they try to help Adelia despite their usual tendency to stay in the background and the fact that Adelia tried to kill them. But mostly, I just wanted the old band back together again already.

The end of the book delivers on that, and was pretty much exactly what I wanted. I’d love to see more of these characters, together, with their hippos, and going on capers that don’t involve death, dismemberment, torture and bereavement.

In other words, hi Sarah Gailey, I am 10,000% here for Hero and Houndstooth setting up home, occasionally going on a riverboat to steal some shit or protect some hippos when they get bored.

Rating: 4/5

Thank You!

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 20:48
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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, October 12-18, 2017

As our October 2017 fundraising drive comes to an end, we at the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) would like to thank each and every one of you who donated or spread the word. You've helped our projects grow stronger, and we couldn't be more grateful! We would also like to recognize the tireless efforts of all the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make these drives and all of the organization's work possible.

During this drive, we raised over US$137,000 from over 5500 individual donations representing more than 70 countries. To break that down a little more: 2,733 donations were from first-time donors, 1,243 new members are eligible to vote in next year's OTW Board election, and we will be shipping out 110 thank-you gifts in the next month!

Over the past week, you've received updated information regarding our budget, checked out a timeline of major events in OTW history, and been given a glimpse into our plans for the future. The OTW has been serving the interests of fans for ten years now, and we hope to continue that work and improve our projects and services in years to come. Keep an eye on our news outlets for information on how you can help us pursue that goal.

Once again, we'd like to express our incredible gratitude to everyone who helps to make this organization successful: thank you!

(Don't forget: although the drive has ended, we do accept donations year round.)

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

Over the years, my smart, funny, fun friend Elizabeth has become ruled by her insecurity, anxiety, and grievances. She’s close with my friends from a couple of overlapping friend groups — I met my boyfriend through her — and somehow, her emotional needs have become the center of our lives. We are constantly trying to manage around Elizabeth’s irrational reactions.

Any time she isn’t invited to anything I’m doing, I’ll hear about it directly and again passive-aggressively. It doesn’t matter the reason. Every low-key hangout becomes a dilemma: do I invite Elizabeth, do I lie about my plans, do I just endure the confrontation. If I invite her when I don’t feel like it, she claims I wasn’t happy to see her. If she’s busy when we make plans, she’ll still say how left out she feels. Any time anyone has big news — they’re engaged, moving, pregnant — telling Elizabeth is a whole thing that has to be strategized around.

It’s not hard to tell this is the result of some deep and miserable insecurity and loneliness. I feel terrible that she feels that way. But she is using her anxieties to control everyone around her, and I’ve realized it’s a fucked-up game that I can’t win.

If she weren’t friends with all my friends, I would cut her out of my life entirely. Given the overlap, though, that would be difficult and dramatic (and maybe end up ruining her relationships with people who are frustrated but not yet totally fed up. She does need friends. I just can’t be one anymore). I am trying instead to see her as a friend-of-friends who I don’t care for. I don’t feel guilty about ways I inadvertently hurt those people. I don’t vent for hours about them to mutual friends. I don’t go to parties we’re both invited to and leave frustrated by all the ways they are disappointing me.

But I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to react the next time she tries to make me feel guilty or make something about her. I don’t know what to say that doesn’t turn into a big, involved, emotional conversation that I do not want. She always wants more from me. I want to give her less. I know what my boundaries are. How do I make them clear to her?

Hello! I think your question is going to resonate with a lot of people.

Story Time: Once upon a time a group of friends and I were trying to decide where to eat dinner. One of the group members had her sister in town, and Sister is apparently a VERY picky eater. Not medical-issues or food-allergies-picky, more like: Most restaurant food is gonna be too weird/too spicy/too ethnic/contain too many foods, like, the “rocks” and the “trees” might touch each other on the plate, so we had to find someplace that would have something she could eat. Great! A challenge! Chicago is a restaurant-rich environment. Surely there would be something.

I tell this story not because picky eaters are bad and shouldn’t be accommodated as much as possible (seriously, do not fill the comments with details about you don’t & can’t eat, I don’t care and it’s not the topic of this column). I tell it because the conversation went on for almost two hours with people raising suggestions and others shooting them down and because during all of this the Sister never said a word. She never said “Ok, Mexican or Thai is cool, I can eat some rice there” or “The diner is fine, I can get a grilled cheese probably and they’ll put everything on the side for me” or “actually Italian doesn’t work for me, sorry” or “Listen, why don’t I make some Kraft dinner here so I’m not starving and then come keep you company later at the bar” or “Hey, I know this is kinda weird, thanks for trying to help find something that will work for me” or “Can we pull up the menu online and see if there’s anything I can eat?” She just sat there quietly making frowny faces and grimaces for almost two hours while 6 people (most of whom she’d just met for the first time) tried to find something she could eat and auditioned options for her while her sister tried to interpret her face and mediate between everyone else.

It was so weird. It was one of the most amazingly dysfunctional things I have ever seen. I say “amazingly” partly because of the way that the visiting Sister had trained her sibling to anticipate and worry about her around eating and to fear her negative reactions to the point that she didn’t even have to say or do anything at this point. The mere prospect of her being sad or upset or unsatisfied was enough to have everyone strategizing around it. It was amazing how quickly we were all trained, by proxy, to react the same way. Also notable was the amount of effort it took to break out of the pattern that was instantly established among us, the amount of energy that it took to be able to say  “Listen, I’m starving, we gotta goooooooo.” (We ate Mexican food. There were plain quesadillas. It was fine. Also, this dynamic played out before every single meal of her visit, three meals a day).

I tell this story because your story about your friend is partly about habits and group dynamics and the way they calcify. Elizabeth has trained you all to strategize around her and dread her reactions to things. She has to an extent trained herself to be let down over and over again. It has become a self-perpetuating cycle – the more negatively she reacts, the more she’s left out, which makes her react negatively, which makes people want to be around her less. Stir in some Geek Social Fallacies and it sucks for everyone, Elizabeth most of all. Since you can’t change what Elizabeth will do or how she’ll feel, so can you change the way you react to it so that the relationship works better for you? And can your example help steer the group to help break the pattern?

Relationships where one person is always apologizing and the other person always needs an apology are pretty unbalanced, yes? Relationships where you have to strategize around the possibility of them blowing up at you over pretty minor things are also unbalanced and exhausting. Whatever you’ve shared in the past, that’s where you are now. So, since you do have a lot of social overlap and history with Elizabeth and don’t want to ostracize her from the larger group, figure out your threshold for inviting her to stuff (it sounds like big group hangs are where it’s at) and do that. When you want to invite different people, hang out in smaller groups, make plans without her, or announce good news, do that. When you don’t want to go to something she’s organizing say “No thanks, can’t make it” without giving a reason or apologizing. Then, the hard part: Let her feelings be her feelings and don’t work so hard to fix them or manage them. Be kind and polite without being effusive or engaging deeply and otherwise withdraw to the place that you are comfortable and that feels sustainable for you.

Part of setting and maintaining boundaries with others is internal. It’s making & owning the decision that hey, my line is here, and if someone crosses it, I will withdraw from interacting with them, and if that upsets them, that’s sad, but it doesn’t automatically make the feelings my problem or my fault. Once you decide that you can deal with Elizabeth’s negative feelings without making them your problem, you’ll feel a lot more free and relaxed.

If you end up talking about things with her, say, when Elizabeth inevitably notices your withdrawal and pushes you about it, the script you are looking for might be some version of this:

I definitely don’t want to upset you or hurt your feelings, but I also don’t want to apologize for something that isn’t actually wrong. 

For example, if we’re going to stay in each other’s lives, it has to be okay for me to  hang out with other people without consulting you first. It has to be okay for me to do social stuff when you aren’t available. It has to be okay for me to tell you good news about my life and hear ‘congratulations, that’s so great!’ instead of comforting you about the things in your life that you are unhappy about.

I’m not doing those things AT you or in order to hurt you or exclude you, and it’s not okay when you expect me to take care of your feelings when I do them. I find these conversations really exhausting and I don’t want to have them anymore.

For another example, when Elizabeth starts venting about people who have wronged her after parties, what if you said “Hey, let me stop you there. I don’t actually want to listen to this”? Or what if you redirected her away from venting about people and toward talking to them? “You sound really upset with ______, why don’t you talk to them directly about it?” It sounds like there’s a dynamic here where Elizabeth is expecting you and other friends to expend a lot of energy listening to her grievances with others but won’t take the actual steps that might fix the situation. What if you removed yourself as that outlet and put the work of fixing whatever it is back on her? You can’t control whether she actually talks to the person but you can actually control how much energy you’ll expend on the problem.

See also:

  • “Listen, every time I hang out with someone who isn’t you, it can’t become A Thing Where We Have To Have A Giant Talk. I really don’t want to.”
  • “Where is this coming from?”
  • “What is this really about?”
  • “What would make you feel better about this?” 
  • You’re right, we’re not as close as we used to be. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around you, and I don’t love it.” 
  • You’re right, we’re not as close as we used to be. Sometimes it makes me sad to think about, but also I think it’s okay if friendships evolve over time.
  • “You seem really unhappy in general lately, what’s going on with you?”
  • “But friends don’t have to do everything together.” 
  • “This is really weighing on you, and you seem so unhappy lately, do you think it would help to talk to someone about it?”
  • “I feel like this comes up every single time I do something without you. Do you really think friends need to do everything together?” 
  • “Wait, I just told you good news. Can I get a ‘congratulations’ for a second before we talk about you?” 
  • “Can you not?”
  • Hmmm interesting
  • Okaaaay?
  • Wow.
  • Yikes.
  • “Ouch.”
  • Not cool!
  • “Okay so we’re going with worst case scenarios then?”
  • I can’t talk about this anymore today.”
  • Have you told ____ what you just told me?
  • What are you going to do about that?
  • “If we all suck so much, why are you friends with us?”
  • It’s a giant bummer when every party or brunch needs this giant post-mortem with you. Can we not?” 

There’s a pretty wide variety there, so, find that script or scripts that lets you engage constructively with her behavior and disengage from a performance of feelings. It might be really valuable to have this out once and for all and really argue with her, like, “Hey! You are stressing me out a lot and making it hard to be friends with you! Knock it off!” It might be better to quietly withdraw. Don’t (for example) ask a lot of questions and dig deeper into what’s going on if you’re ready to be done with the friendship.

I think that given your long friendship it’s worth addressing head on and in depth at least one time. If you’ve never actually said any version of  “Hey, this is an unreasonable question, you’re not the boss of my social calendar, knock it off!” before – for example, if you’ve defaulted to mollifying her in the moment (and then resenting the hell out of it later) – remember to start gently and give everyone a couple of chances to reset the relationship. It’s a longstanding problem for you, but it may not read that way for her if this is the first time you’ve pushed back. Does that make sense? Maybe give her a little room to have a less-than-ideal initial reaction and a little bit of time to self-correct things before you tap out forever and ever.

Also, never, ever invoke the wider feelings of the group when you talk to her. Own your own annoyance – “It bothers me,” I’ve noticed,” “I am annoyed by…” etc. Other people may well have these same issues but appealing to the the group will not lend you authority. It will only justify Elizabeth’s paranoia about being left out and distract from the conversation, like, “Wait, everyone feels this way about me? Who exactly? What exactly did they say?” She already worries that she’s being ostracized and/or bullied, do not feed that worry. Keep it focused on you: “I can’t speak for anyone else, but it bothers me when you hear about me having brunch with other friends and take it as a slight.

Speaking of “the wider social group” and “things that you can control,” try to stop talking about & complaining about about Elizabeth with the larger friend group as much as you possibly can. There is power and freedom in venting, but sometimes venting also feeds on itself and it becomes a habit unto itself at the expense of action. While you try to break Elizabeth and yourself of bad habits, what if you also tried to redirect the group’s habits, too? When her “b-eating-crackers” behavior comes up in the group (and it will), what if you channeled the complainstorm into “Yep, that is pretty annoying. Have you tried talking to her directly about it?

  • I know we all try to strategize about how Elizabeth will react to news like this, but what if you just told her ‘I’m engaged!’ and let her feelings be her feelings?
  • Yeah, she can be like that sometimes. I’ve been trying to set boundaries and just talk to her directly when it comes up instead of spending so much energy talking about her.” 
  • “I think we have this weird pattern, where Elizabeth overreacts to stuff and then we all overreact to her overreaction. I’m trying to break myself of the habit and just take her as she comes without too much angst about it. I wish nothing but good things for her, and I wish she could be happier but I don’t have the energy to dissect all this every time we see her.” 
  • “Elizabeth’s gonna Elizabeth, let’s not feed the fire. How is [new topic]?” 

People may or may not follow your lead. Set the boundaries anyway, and then enforce them by changing the subject or walking way from Elizabeth-centered conversations. Go talk to anyone else about anything else (the way you wish Elizabeth would do!).

It will take time and probably a few tries to disengage. Be gentle with everyone, especially yourself.

Finally, if you read this and thought “Shit, I’m ‘Elizabeth,'” here’s some stuff you can do to feel better:

A. First and foremost, if anxiety about your friendships and whether people like you is seriously messing with your life, take the problem seriously and investigate solutions. Here’s a website (with forums) devoted to helping people with social anxiety. There are tons and tons of people dealing with this in the world, you are not alone, there are tons of strategies for managing it, everything from therapy & medication to improv classes. Chances are that you don’t have to feel this awful forever.

B. It’s okay to need reassurance from friends sometimes. If your current ways of reaching out aren’t getting the results you want, can you try out a strategy of asking for some specific action the other person can do that might make you feel better? “I miss you, it feels like we never hang out anymore” or “I feel like everyone is too busy to spend time with me” might be true, real, awful, overwhelming feelings. Sadly, expressed out loud or in text form they read like accusations that require a lot of emotional work on the other person to figure out what to do next. What if you translated those feelings into more actionable requests like “I really miss you, friend, can we have lunch soon? Tuesdays are generally good for me.” See also “I’m feeling really sad today, it feels like no one likes me” vs. “I’m really feeling sad today, what’s your favorite song that really cheers you up?” or “I’m feeling really down today, please send compliments & animal .gifs.” I don’t necessarily know what to do with “I’m so lonely and I feel like everyone hates me” but I do know what to do with “Everything sucks today, can you tell me something nice?” or “I could really use a friend to come over and sit with me and color and watch TV later, do you have a little time?” It takes time and practice to reshape this pattern, so, go slow and be nice to yourself, but try it.

C. If it feels like everyone is always hanging out without you, or like your friend group has calcified into a pattern that doesn’t feel good for you, what can you do to change it up? What can you control?

For example, I get a lot of letters & comments about people who wish they were invited to more stuff. UNDERSTANDABLE. But more often than not, when I scratch the surface and gently ask “Hey, what happens when you plan things for friends to do?” the person says some version of “No + Nobody would come anyway” or “I invited some people once but they didn’t want to come so I stopped” or “Here are 1,000 reasons that this advice is stupid and will never work.” And yeah, okay, maybe so. It sucks, I’m sorry. But you can’t control what other people will do, you can only control what you will do. If the situation is going to change, you’re going to change it, by either changing up how you interact or finding different friends.

Additionally, planning and hosting social events is work. The people in your group who are good at it and confident about it or just defaulted into being in charge of it because no one else wanted to do it also have worries and anxieties:  That no one will show up, no one will have a good time. They worry about accidentally hurting people’s feelings by excluding them, or accidentally inviting awkward exes or mortal enemies, or running out of food or ice, or that they’ll make a ton of food and no one will eat it, or that they’ll suggest a bad movie or a board game that is not fun, or that everyone expects them to do the work and nobody ever helps or even thanks them (I get those letters, too). It’s easy, when you are self-conscious, to forget that literally everyone else is also a giant self-conscious weirdo too.

Mostly, and I swear this is true once we get past high school, most people who like hosting events want people to feel welcome and to have a good time. They do not enjoy excluding people or making them feel bad. With this in mind, maybe you can approach the person in your friend group who does most of the scheduling and inviting and say, “Hey, I really appreciate the work you do hosting trivia night every month, what can I do to help?” “Can I plan something for the two of us where the only work you have to do is showing up?

See also:

  • RSVP promptly when you’re invited to something.
  • If the culture of your friend group is “people bring stuff to parties even when it’s not explicitly a BYOB situation” then be a person who brings baked goods or something to drink. Contribute.
  • Set up chairs, offer to wash dishes, and do other tasks that keep your hands busy.
  • Say thank you to the organizers afterwards.
  • Pay attention to whether other people are having a good time. Is someone new here, do they seem shy? Could they use an introduction to someone else?
  • It’s okay to hide out in the bathroom or on the porch or with the host’s pets for a little while if you get overwhelmed. The person who hosts the best parties I know of in Chicago is a bit socially anxious and take breaks from her own parties.
  • If you don’t really gel with someone, give them space. Find someone else to talk to at the party. You don’t have to have the same level of intimacy with everyone in a social group.
  • Invite people to do smaller stuff, one-on-one. Stop thinking of it as The Whole Group vs. You and think of it as a bunch of people you mostly like and some you like more than others.
  • Try to approach events you’re invited to with the mindset of “People want to be kind and want me to have a good time here.”
  • When you’re not invited to something, try (I know, but try) to cultivate the mindset of “Hey, not everyone has to hang out together all the time. I’ll probably catch them another time.

D. All that said, it’s 100% okay for you, Relatively Lonely Person, to back off from friendships that feel like too much work. If people make you feel like you have to chase them all the time, if people make you feel insecure, if people judge you when you need a little reassurance or cheering up, if people never make you a priority, it’s okay to disengage. You don’t have to make all the effort or have to subsist on crumbs or leftovers to deserve friends.

To be totally honest, I am a recovering ‘Elizabeth.’ I spent my teens and 20s as a needy and socially confused bull in ye olde emotional china shoppe. I had undiagnosed depression and anxiety. I over-relied on friends to process endless streams of complaints and obsessions. I got rejected a lot socially and romantically and received a lot of negative and painful feedback from groups I wanted to be part of. I *often* experienced that moment of saying something and feeling a group of people go kind of silent and limp around my awkwardness, exchanging awkward eye messages with each other, and then changing the subject (“So…anyway…“) while my conversational turd sat there, unacknowledged.

Things that helped: Therapy. Getting older. Reality checks and boundary-setting from friends who were like “I love you but you are too intense sometimes, please knock this off so I can keep liking you” or “Look I know you’re sad but I am done talking about this” or “Do you realize you start every phone call by immediately just talking about yourself and how sad you are and don’t even ask me how I’m doing?” Losing friendships where I didn’t listen to these boundaries and learning from those mistakes. Painful self-awareness and trying to do better. Making the effort to reframe situations where I felt rejected and not automatically default to the explanations that most dovetailed with my poor self-image. Realizing that the “So…anyway…” moments were an attempt to let me save face, and that it’s okay for people to have limits about how much complaining they can absorb. Learning to read the room better and to ask questions before launching in.

It took a long time and it was hard and I still fuck up sometimes. In some cases I let go of friendships that didn’t work anymore and sought less rocky ground. In others I changed my behavior. In all cases trying was better than not trying. In all cases the only person who could really change the dynamic was me.

I hope things get better all around for you and Elizabeth(s). You can’t fix her feelings, so, take care of yourself and be as gentle as you can.


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Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble

Luke Chesser is back, and it looks like his luck may be changing when he makes a surprising connection with one of the marching band field techs, Curtis Cameron.

But just as their relationship is set to launch, Curtis is diagnosed HIV positive. Too ashamed to tell anyone, he puts off treatment and pulls the plug on his relationship with Luke. He won't risk infecting another person. But Luke won't let go so easily. The two soon find themselves struggling to either define their relationship in terms they can both live with or end it altogether.

Add your review of "Just Between Us" in comments!

Review – First Grave on the Right

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 13:00
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Posted by Nikki

Cover of First Grave On the Right by Darynda JonesFirst Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones

Received to review via Netgalley

I didn’t have high hopes for this, I admit, but what people said about it made it sound like some light fun.

Guys, this needs to come with trigger warnings. This review needs a trigger warning because it describes the problematic stuff. It opens with the main character having a sexy dream. Only it’s not just a dream: there’s some kind of supernatural agent behind it and it is actually a person who she knows. Okay… I’m a little dubious about the consent here because it sounds like he just jumps into her dreams and goes at it, but I’ll hold off. It’s clear she thinks she knows who the guy is and that she’s more or less okay with him having sex with her.

That’s fine, but I’m not along for the ride because it’s revealed later that they’ve met once before. She tried to help him in a situation which appeared to be horrific abuse, and he pinned her against a wall and groped her while asking if she’d ever been raped (read the scene quoted here).


Now, I’m not judging people who find bad boys sexy or whatever, and maybe somehow all that is dealt with. But it didn’t look like it was being dealt with, and I was very uncomfortable.

Given the importance of sex and who likes whom to the apparent plot (which is otherwise jerky and felt oddly paced), it’s perhaps not a surprise I didn’t get along with it in other ways either, but… yeesh. At the very least, I’m shocked no one I know has brought up that aspect of the plot/characterisation/pile of problematicness before.

Rating: 1/5

WWW Wednesday

2017-Oct-18, Wednesday 08:00
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Posted by Nikki

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa ScottMost actively (the key words, with the way I stack up a bunch of currently-reading books!), it’s Trouble and Her Friends, by Melissa Scott, and Angel of Death, by Gareth Williams. The former is queer cyberpunk, and I’m having a lot of fun with it — it’s a little slow to unfold, but I read 25% when I should’ve been sleeping, so I’m gonna say it’s hooked me. Angel of Death is fascinating in other ways, of course, because it’s about the history and science of smallpox. I am learning a lot of things I didn’t know about it!

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Rabid by Bill WasikThe last thing was a cultural history of rabies, Rabid, by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, because there was a lot of emphasis on the cultural stuff, like rabies’ relation to vampirism and werewolves. Still, there was some interesting stuff, especially about recent cases who actually recovered from rabies (which is normally considered 100% fatal in humans).

What will you read next?

Cover of The Gracekeepers by Kirsty LoganI started The Gracekeepers, by Kirsty Logan, at the weekend, and I want to pick that back up and finish it. I also want to focus on my Kushiel’s Dart reread. I’m trying not to tempt myself too much beyond that! I’m intrigued by The Gracekeepers; I haven’t read much, so I haven’t got to grips with the setting yet.

What are you reading?

Review – A Wrinkle in Time

2017-Oct-17, Tuesday 08:00
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Posted by Nikki

Cover of A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

I’m sorry. I don’t get it. I think I might’ve loved it if I read it at a formative age, but the basic concepts of fighting a great evil (and even some of the relationships between characters) reminded me mostly of The Dark is Rising, which I’m afraid has first place in my heart. I didn’t get the sense of wonder and fascination that I think it could’ve invoked, encountered at the right time, and I just felt rather impatient with the protagonists.

I’m not sure if I’ll read the other books or not – I know that if I’d gone on Over Sea, Under Stone alone, I’d never have finished Susan Cooper’s series. On the other hand, I just don’t enjoy the half fantastical, half scientific backdrop, and part of the reason I didn’t connect with the characters was because I couldn’t pin them down – one minute they seem painfully young and naïve, and the next I seem to be expected to root for a romance between them.

Really, it reminds me of so many other books — The Wizard of Oz, The Railway Children, The Dark is Rising, Little Women… It never quite became its own story for me.

Rating: 2/5

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Posted by JenniferP

Hi Captain,

My question is not exactly high-stakes, but I’m having some anxiety about this situation all the same, and not sure what to do.

I (she/her) started using OkCupid recently, and a couple days ago, my coworker (he/him) who I don’t know well but see around often (we work at a very small company) sent me a message. I know it can be fun to send a couple silly messages back and forth when you see your friends on these sites without making it weird, but I don’t think this is that.

Anyway, if I see coworkers on dating sites, I think the polite thing to do is just ignore it and move along, so I was not super into the fact that this guy messaged me but I figured he was just being kind of socially obtuse. His message implied that he was going to ask me out “until he realized who I was,” which made me immediately uncomfortable. Dude, if you realized that, why did you message me anyway and tell me that?

I felt like ignoring him might make things weird at work, so I just messaged back noncommittally (like, “Ha, look who it is”), hoping I could move the conversation to peter out without making it awkward. However, things got awkward anyway, because coworker continued sending messages despite my polite attempts to disengage (“[Cool, unsolicited weekend plan you shared] sounds fun. Anyway, see you Monday!” …and then he’d send another message trying to continue the conversation.) I read and did not respond to the last message.

I’m sure I should communicate that I feel uncomfortable chatting with a coworker on a dating site, so do you have any scripts for that? Or would it be better to just block him and pretend it never happened? In hindsight, I feel like there are other things I could have said or done to end the conversation sooner, but that’s only now that I know I wasn’t able to end it without confrontation. It might be useful in general to know how to stop an inappropriate interaction like this in the future, so what would you have done?



Hello OkAwkward!

It’s not inherently weird to be on the same dating site as other people you know in other contexts. It feels weird because the illusion of privacy has been punctured for a moment, but it’s not actually that strange. The awkwardness is in what people do about it.

I believe I have shared the story of the Shadowy Dating Juggernaut where Commander Logic and I and both of her roommates and a few other friends in the Bespectacled Bookish Brunettes of Chicago Knitting Circle And Culinary Society were on OkCupid at the same time, right? It was inevitable that streams would cross and one of us would bring a dude we were dating to a party and watch him slowly figure out where he knew the rest of us from…because if you liked one of us enough to write to you probably liked all of us…and that we all knew each other….and that we had definitely had been trading notes about him behind the scenes in the name of safety, solidarity, and hilarity.

When seeking romance (etc.) on the great wide Internet it is inevitable that we will run across people we know in other contexts. Like you, my strategy has been either to totally ignore it or to be like “Oh, ha, look who it is. See you at work, Work Person!” and then drop the conversation completely. Whether I ignored or said something depended a lot on context and the vulnerability of what was on display in their ad. “My mom and my friends say I’m funny and I like long walks on the beach and living life to the fullest” guy got a “hey, hilarious that we’re both here, good luck bro!” Someone revealing kinks or more explicit sexual content or desires just got ignored and in some cases insta-blocked more so that I wouldn’t make THEM uncomfortable or feel like they were being monitored. Mostly my attitude was “No shame, no foul, and no gossip unless you do something actually creepy.” And if it ever came up at work, I’d be like “Whoa, awkward, right? I won’t talk about it if you won’t, and heyyyyyyy good luck out there buddy!” #don’tcrossthestreams

Another true story: Years ago colleague who was new in town messaged me once on OK Cupid and we went for a friendly coffee before we knew we’d be working together. Then we got assigned to co-teach a class. Upon being “introduced” at work, we never mentioned or even hinted that we had met each other before in any other context. Yay professionalism!

If your coworker has got overall good intentions and is also feeling awkward about what to do next like, “aaaaahhhhh, I started this, do I have to keep emailing her now back and forth forever, ugh, so awkward?” he will gratefully take your lead. And if he’s not taking your lead, like now? Then don’t reply to anything else via the dating site, or, reply once to say “Hey, let’s wind this conversation down, I’m not interested in connecting here, see you at work” or “Hey, let’s block each other here so it’s not super-weird to have a coworker hanging out whenever we log in, ok? Good luck out there!” and then block him. Blocks are not mean. Blocks are often necessary to make a social site usable.

Then, keep work conversations only about work and wait for the awkward levels to normalize.

And, if your colleague won’t drop the subject and starts bringing it up at work, making you feel like he’s monitoring your dating and sex life, and making your life weird at work? DOCUMENT THE EVERLOVING SHIT OUT OF IT. America needs about 100,000,000 uncomfortable training sessions led by HR right now.









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Alys by Kiri Callaghan
Following her gay best friend’s suicide, Alyson Carroll descends into the realm of Dreams and Nightmares. In her quest to find home, she discovers that Charlie might not truly be gone after all, but when she meets Oswin, the prince of Terra Mirum, she must face her own fears and raise an army against The Nightmare Queen, or surrender as the world of dreams is consumed by terror and darkness forever.

I recently caught up with author Kiri Callaghan (dressed as a fae character from her novel) and got the scoop:

Add your review of "Alys" in comments!
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Posted by Nikki

Cover of Inferior by Angela SainiInferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, Angela Saini

There’s a lot of science (and pseudo-science) out there about gender differences and how they affect the way we think. Intelligent people, male and female, often disagree about what exactly it all means, and how evolution has selected for male promiscuity, female passivity, and a host of other stereotypes about the sexes.

Saini has a go at untangling some of this, discussing inherent bias in the researchers looking at this kind of thing, and alternate models that are available for understanding gender differences. She’s definitely successful at making the conversation more complex. For example, a lot of theories have rested on similarities between humans and their close relatives, chimpanzees. Saini points out that other research has shown that bonobos are equally closely related to us, and they have an entirely different social structure.

It seems that easy answers aren’t available, but there are many theories, with supporting evidence, that suggest women have been equally important in forming the human race. That would be my belief, simply because (as Saini points out) pregnancy and childbirth are definitely an important point at which selection will act, particularly in humans where we seem to be dependent on having other support.

An interesting read, but nothing that I think is revolutionary or likely to convince people that male and female brains aren’t physically different in structure. Note: if you think of gender as being a spectrum rather than a binary, be aware that this book definitely treats it as a binary with two distinct sexes. It doesn’t touch on transgender men/women at all.

Rating: 3/5

Looking Forward

2017-Oct-15, Sunday 12:07
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Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, October 12-18, 2017

As we celebrate the past ten years of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), let's also take a moment to look towards the future. Thanks to your donations, there's a bright path ahead of us! Your continued support funds all our projects, from the Archive of Our Own (AO3) to the Fanlore wiki, from Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) to our Legal Advocacy team. Here's a taste of what you can expect from some of these projects soon:

The near future for AO3 includes continued expansion of site stability. Your donations have allowed us to hire contractors to help upgrade the Archive, and we will be continuing those infrastructure improvements. Keep an eye on our release notes for more information! The Archive will also continue to work with Open Doors to import and preserve at-risk fanwork archives, using a new and improved importing process.

Meanwhile, in addition to their everyday work helping fans with questions about fannish legal issues, Legal Advocacy is preparing once again to renew the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption for vidders in 2018.

Also in 2018, TWC will publish its historic tenth anniversary issue, which will bring the journal's total number of published essays to nearly 500! As part of the OTW's ten-year retrospective celebration, that TWC issue will focus on The Future of Fandom, illustrating how our networks of communities have evolved and will continue to do so. Keep an eye out for announcements about this issue on TWC's Tumblr and their website.

As we look to the future, 2027 might seem very far away. Untold numbers of fandoms will emerge between now and then, and untold numbers of fanworks will be created within those fandoms. But 2017 once seemed far away too, and yet here we are! We hope that in the coming decade we will be able to serve not only those of you who have been with us all along, but also all of the creators who may not even have discovered their first fandom yet. Here's to another ten years of new fans, new fandoms, new goals and new achievements!

We hope that you will continue to support the OTW and its projects for years to come. We have many things in store for the future, and we can't wait to share them all with you!

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Posted by Nikki

Cover of Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi TaylorJust One Damned Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor

The title pretty aptly describes the book. It is a fun romp, as others have described, but I seriously think the writing needs tightening up — the plot jerks ahead with little sense of time passing (all of a sudden, two characters have known each other for five years — since when?! I thought they met a couple of months ago!) and there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable ending. It sort of goes, “Oh, and another thing.” And a couple of events rely on sexual assault, which… jdnsjgn. The author deals reasonably well with the character’s feelings afterwards, but it’s used twice as a vehicle for “this guy is really nasty, and oh the plot is moving”. Not my favourite trope, by far.

Also, also, the love interest once yells at the main character for very little reason except that someone told him she lost his baby, when she wasn’t intending to tell him she’d ever been (briefly) pregnant. He loses it and calls her a slut, etc, as do other people in the building. It’s more or less out of nowhere and out of character — and she forgives him with shocking ease.

It just didn’t quite come together for me, and honestly at times I wondered if I was reading the same book as other people. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.

Rating: 2/5

Review – Jhereg

2017-Oct-14, Saturday 13:00
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Posted by Nikki

Cover of Jhereg by Steven BrustJhereg, Steven Brust

Ages ago, I read Jo Walton’s reviews of the Vlad Taltos books and resolved to read them immediately. I did pick up this first book, but after that failed to carry on, even though the first book is good and Jo’s reviews fascinating. There’s a lot going on in this world, and I really want to read more of the books to get a better grasp on it. In the meantime, Vlad Taltos himself is snarky, moderately capable, and definitely capable of getting himself into trouble. A winning combination – even without Looish, his jhereg companion.

It’s a fun beginning, which leaves a lot of questions unanswered (and sometimes even barely posed). This time, I mean it; I’ve gotta get on and read the rest!

Rating: 4/5

Stacking the Shelves

2017-Oct-14, Saturday 08:00
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Posted by Nikki

Good morning, folks! I’m finally better from my cough… at least mostly, though if you look at me wrong I might go off into a little coughing fit, alas. I’ve just ordered a bunch of background reading for my course, but it hasn’t all arrived yet, so I only have a small stack of books to share this week: a couple of ARCs and a novella.

Oh, and here’s the obligatory away-from-buns bunny picture:

Photo of my bunnies sat together.

Double Trouble.

Received to review:

Cover of Close Encounters with Humankind by Sang-Hee Lee Cover of Valiant Dust by Richard Baker

I’ve already read Close Encounters with Humankind, which is pretty fascinating; I can’t remember the summary of Valiant Dust, so that one’s going to be a surprise…


Cover of The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

I’ve been curious about this since N.K. Jemisin mentioned it in her column, so I picked it up with what was left of an Amazon voucher after buying stuff related to my classes.

Read this week:

Cover of Away With the Fairies by Kerry Greenwood Cover of A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup Cover of Close Encounters with Humankind by Sang-Hee Lee Cover of A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson Cover of The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

A bit better week for reading, this week! Here’s hoping I get back into top form soon…

Reviews posted this week:

The Hammer and the Cross, by Robert Ferguson. A little dry and very detailed; a very good read for someone who’s really interested, though. 4/5 stars
A Very British Murder, by Lucy Worsley. A fun book covering the evolution of crime fiction in the UK, and people’s love of it. 4/5 stars
Machiavelli: A Man Misunderstood, by Michael White. Another good biography from White. 4/5 stars
The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis. I didn’t love this, but the way it ended was perfect — it made so much sense with what we see in reality. Hence, 4/5 stars
The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. This didn’t quite work for me, and I’m not sure why. I guess it felt rather predictable/typical in some ways. 3/5 stars
How We Got To Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson. Good points and a pretty entertaining read, but nothing earth-shatteringly surprising. 3/5 stars
The Lost City of Z, by David Grann. Really, I want the book about the archaeology being done now, rather than about Victorian explorers, but it’s reasonably entertaining all the same. 3/5 stars

Other posts:

WWW WednesdayThe weekly update on what I’m reading.

How’re you doing? Comment here to let me know, and don’t forget to provide a link so I can visit you in return!

[syndicated profile] queer_ya_feed
In Chapter Five, Wyatt's first "date" with Mackenzie is cut short, and when he finally cracks open his book on Lincoln for his book report, he discovers the real-world historical letters that Abraham Lincoln wrote Joshua Fry Speed. Letters that, Wyatt suspects, reveal that Abraham was in love with Joshua!

Want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill fan art? Share them in comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, instagram. We're also using the hashtage #qaafdb)

Okay community, here's Chapter Six!

Chapter Six

Wyatt Yarrow’s Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.
Lincolnville High School.
Book: Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend by Robert Kincaid.


First Impression Blog Post: Monday, January 12, 3:56 a.m.
President Abraham Lincoln Was Gay!

Fact: When Abraham Lincoln was 28 years old, he was a brand-new lawyer and moved to Springfield, Illinois. He went into Joshua Fry Speed’s store to buy the stuff for a bed so he’d have somewhere to sleep.
Fact: Abe was so poor, he didn’t even have $17 to pay for the stuff he’d need for his own bed.
Fact: Joshua told Abe he could share his bed.
Fact: Abe was a success as a lawyer and had the money, but still shared the bed with Joshua for four years!
Fact: The bed was a double bed, 53 inches wide (less than 4 ½ feet) and not even six feet long.
Fact: Abe was six feet four inches tall. Lying down, even like a soldier at attention, from shoulder to shoulder he’d cover 29 inches across.
Fact: If Joshua was average height (and the internet says that in the mid-1800s, that was around five feet seven inches tall) lying down, his shoulders would have been at least 24 inches across.
Fact: 29 + 24 = 53. Not an inch to spare.
The facts add up: There’s no way they could have shared that bed and not been touching practically the whole time. Here, I’ll prove it.

Insert Internet Video: “Abraham Lincoln Was Gay: BEDMATES!”

A hand moves away and Wyatt backs up from the lens. He’s in the Lincoln Room, black-suited wax-Lincoln by his side. Wyatt looks right at the camera.

Okay… Hi. I’m Wyatt, and this is my video proof that President Abraham Lincoln was gay. Or, at least, had a thing with Joshua Fry Speed. Like, a love thing.

This… is a life-sized wax figure of our sixteenth President, six feet four inches tall. And that…

Wyatt points over his shoulder to the bed where the old military mannequin, changed into his mismatched Union dark-blue wool coat, light-blue pants, and brown boots, lies on his back.

…is a guy pretty much the size of Joshua Fry Speed.

Wyatt struggles to carry wax-Lincoln over to the bed. The sculpture tips backwards, and Wyatt catches the right-arm-that’s-out-to-shake just before it smacks into the sideboard and breaks. Cradling the arm and leveraging wax-Lincoln onto the bed, Wyatt talks to the camera.

Lincoln was tall. He would have had to scrunch up in any bed, even one today, and this wax-figure’s knees don’t bend.

The video jump-cuts, and Wyatt approaches to take the camera off its tripod.


The camera aims back at the bed. Wax-Lincoln is on his left side and at an angle, size 14 shoes sticking past the footboard. His right arm rests across the other mannequin’s chest. From the end of the bed, the camera pans left to right. The two figures are pressed against each other with no extra room.


The camera flips around to show Wyatt’s face, Lincoln and the soldier on the bed behind him.

They didn’t need to share it. They chose to. For four years! Do the math: Lincoln was gay.

* *

* *

Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here.

Ready for Chapter Seven? It will be posted on October 20, 2017.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill / #qaafdb fan art? Share them in comments here, or on facebook, twitter or instagram.

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Thanks for being part of my community, and for being one of my READERS!

Review – The Lost City of Z

2017-Oct-13, Friday 08:00
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Posted by Nikki

Cover of The Lost City of Z by David GrannThe Lost City of Z, David Grann

I’ve been meaning to read The Lost City of Z for ages, especially since I read Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God. I’m not here for the exotic diseases and epic endurance of hacking through the jungle, though: I’m interested in the archaeology, and the resolution of the mysteries. Where are these cities, and did they exist at all? The Lost City of Z is interesting in terms of the exotic diseases, larger than life explorers and hacking through the jungle, along with some history of that drive to explore, and less so in actually finding the archaeology. It’s mostly focused on figuring out what happened to Percy Fawcett and his son on their final attempt at finding Z, as well as tracing their lives up to that point; less interesting to me, though it has its moments.

The last chapter, in which an archaeologist who lives in the Amazon actually explains where he thinks the great vanished cities are, is the most interesting to me. There’s echoes of the ritual landscape of Stonehenge and Avebury in his description of the palisade walls and ditches dug around the settlement — combined with the power of the jungle just reaching up and strangling all those remaining signs. That’s the book I find I really want, written by a Francis Pryor or Mike Parker Pearson of the Amazon.

Rating: 3/5

Releases 0.9.205 - 0.9.206: Change Log

2017-Oct-12, Thursday 13:48
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

With our latest deploys, we've ensured that common audio and video players still work after our pending move to HTTPS, added parent links to comment threads, removed a whole bunch of unused code, and took steps to prevent users from adding other people's works to anonymous or unrevealed collections.

Note: We successfully made the switch to HTTPS for a few days; however, the extra strain from encrypting all traffic proved too much for our servers at peak times. Until we have installed additional frontend servers (coming soon!), HTTP will remain the default protocol. (Of course, you can still elect to use a secure connection, e.g. via a browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere.) Please follow @AO3_Status on Twitter for futher updates.


  • Coders: Ariana, Cesy Avon, cyrilcee, Dense Lancer, Elz, james_, redsummernight, Sammie Louise, Sarken, tuff
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, Elz, james_, redsummernight, Sarken
  • Testers: Alison Watson, Lady Oscar, mumble, natalia gomes, Sarken


Works & Comments

  • [AO3-5192] - Common audio and video players that support HTTPS will still be accessible after our switch to secure browsing! We have adjusted the protocol in current embeds and added a step to our sanitizer that takes care of posts going forward.
  • [AO3-5188] - When trying to download a work as an ePub, users would frequently be served .zip files or a page of gibberish instead. We found the cause for this (caching! it's always caching!) and rewrote part of our download code to address the issue. Downloads should be served more reliably now.
  • [AO3-5159] - Some PDF files were also failing to generate, so we removed a line of code to see if that would help. Fingers crossed!
  • [AO3-3704] - If a work was styled with a work skin, and a co-creator edited that work later, the skin would be stripped off (...gruesome), requiring another edit by the first creator to tack it back on. Now the work skin stays where it should be at all times.
  • [AO3-5016] - It was previously possible to add other users' works to one's own anonymous and/or unrevealed collection, effectively hiding them from their creators (and everyone else) in the worst case scenario. We now prevent this, and display a helpful error message to the collection owner when they try.
  • [AO3-5058] - When importing someone else's work (as an Open Doors archivist), the site would throw an ugly Error 500 if it couldn't detect the work creator's email address on the imported page. It now provides a helpful error message instead.
  • [AO3-5131] - Trying to delete more than one comment from the same user, on the same work, when both had replies, was not possible for some reason. Turns out they would have both turned into identical "deleted comment" placeholders, and our validation code didn't like that. It's more lenient now.
  • [AO3-5144] - In order to make comment navigation easier, comment replies now have a "Parent Thread" link that takes you to the first comment in the thread and allows you to see the whole thing. \o/

Misc. Issues

  • [AO3-5015] - The location of the our backup Support form (used in case of serious site issues) had changed, so we edited the link on our Support form to save the OTW website a redirect.
  • [AO3-5044] - When changing one's username, one first had to read a little warning message about the consequences of a name change. However, that warning was misleadingly worded and didn't provide enough information about the process. We have improved the message now.
  • [AO3-4440] - In our efforts to make the AO3 interface translatable, we prepared the email that goes out to people with works in imported collections for eventual translation.
  • [AO3-5165] - We added some cleanup when certain background tasks failed.
  • [AO3-5189] - After running into an import test failure because an image URL in the relevant Dreamwidth post had changed, we rewrote the test in question to use the DW journal and community we manage ourselves to test imports.
  • [AO3-5195] - Coveralls was giving us wildly erratic scores for our test coverage, so we switched to Codecov, which will hopefully analyze our coverage in a more reliable manner.
  • [AO3-5055] - We have added a license to our code repository on GitHub.
  • [AO3-5187] - When we moved the autocomplete to its own Redis instance in our last deploy, we forgot to change the config files we use for our development environments. They're now updated and our coders can code again!

Code Cleanup

  • [AO3-4796] - When we deployed Rails 4, it broke filtering a little bit, so we had to use a hack-y workaround to fix it. Now that we're on Rails 5, we've removed the hack and filtering still works.
  • [AO3-5012] - We found some old code for automatically generating tag sets for a challenge that was never actually fleshed out, so we just removed it, for neatness.
  • [AO3-5093] - We simplified and tidied up part of our abuse report code.
  • [AO3-5094] - We also removed an ancient hack for fixing an encoding issue with time zones. It had fixed itself over the years, apparently.
  • [AO3-5096] - There was another bit of ancient unused code for bookmarks of external works, so we removed that too.
  • [AO3-5087] - More ancient, unused code for importing works was squashed while we were at it.
  • [AO3-5088] - Same for a security patch that had become irrelevant in the four years since we added it.
  • [AO3-5085] - We also had some lingering code for locales, which is now gone as well.

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

Happy Thursday! I hope you are having a great week so far. I wanted to ask your opinion on how to best handle my husband when he gets angry and upset and how I can better help us move towards having a happier marriage.

Some background: My husband and I are pretty nostalgic, and we both enjoy reminiscing on past things (I feel like I tend to be more in the present, but just because I think that doesn’t mean that is true). We met in college and hit it off. We had a great group of friends who we keep up with and we both got jobs about an hour away from our hometown/college town. The trouble is, he seems like he’s been upset ever since graduating. I totally get that, as school was a lot of fun and it was great being able to learn so many things (we are both engineers) and meet different types of people.

Fast-forward to now. We got married in 2012. Our marriage isn’t the greatest, and we usually do things on our own around the house and do not spend much time together. He constantly pines for the college days and constantly complains about how much things have changed and how people disappoint him and how much he hates his job. Both he and I are pretty selfish people who suffer from anxiety and depression, and I constantly feel like I’m forced to do things for him and on his schedule to try to keep him happy.

My husband likes to unwind after work, and his unwinding time got so long that I would find other things to do. I got involved in a dance class where we live now which has allowed me to make friends and to keep in shape. My husband has been watching a lot of youtube and complains about how he feels he is getting fat. Neither of us are super great at keeping up with the house, however I feel like I am the one who usually ends up cleaning and taking care of those type of things. He also likes to complain that when I go to dance (I am currently a competitive dancer, so I dance 2 days a week) I am out of the house for much longer than I really am, and that all I do revolves around dance. I do not feel like this is true, as I constantly skip events and I have drawn back on how involved I was in comparison to when I first started. I have made lots of friends with this activity and it’s a great social outlet for me. I do not want to quit, but he keeps dropping ultimatums. Of course, he doesn’t have his own hobby, aside from watching TV and reading the news, and neither of us have a hobby that we share.

Since my husband is so set on his college days, he is very attached to that group of friends. Unfortunately, since they do not live close by, we do not see them nearly as much as we did (why would we? We don’t live a mile away anymore!). When we do make plans to see them, whether it’s last minute or no, my husband expects me to drop everything to make it happen. He will not visit with them on his own, as he says that it’s important that I’m there to share the experience with him. I have trouble believing this because I feel like he usually tries to police my behavior in front of them and gets upset when I do not act the way he wants me to. We have tentatively gotten involved with some work friends in our area, but he is always on edge about doing things with them, and if any event conflicts with a change to see college friends, he always chooses the college friends.

He is very in touch with his emotions, however he is not very good at reflecting on himself. He has a bad habit of talking about heavy issues through emails at work, while he doesn’t like to discuss things at home. Sometimes he can lay it on thick and really tear into my personality and how awful of a person I am and how much I am hurting him (I get called names pretty consistently). This sometimes has a really bad effect on my attitude and makes it really hard to mask at work. Other times I’m able to ignore it and get on with my day, only to have him write to me the next day that I didn’t have time for him and he feels neglected.

I am a very active person, and I feel like I have no support in this marriage. I cannot talk to my parents or his parents about this, to save face. I feel like I am constantly changing my plans to suit his needs and wants only to get yelled at about it all later on, or to be told bluntly everything that is wrong with my personality and my thought process. It’s an extremely negative environment and I am having a lot of trouble handling it. Unfortunately, for the last 5 or 6 years, it’s been a weekly occurrence. I started seeing a counselor, which has helped a little, but it’s a process that will take a long while.

I have also read a LOT of relationship articles and books to try to understand how he feels and things that I can do to change it. (I’m not trying to make myself out as a “holier-than-thou” type of person, even though I am sure that’s exactly what I’m doing, but I would like to illustrate that I am trying). None of it seems to be making a difference, and it’s really difficult to make myself continuously try when nothing seems to work at all. I get discouraged and I don’t want to keep trying.
Both of us are too lazy to divorce and I’m (relatively) Catholic, so I don’t think that’s something I’d want to do in the end anyway.

Just would like someone else’s perspective. If this email is ignored, I totally get it, as you’ve addressed issues like this a lot. Also, my apologies for being such a poor writer.


Worn out

Worn Out, I’m really sorry this is happening to you. It is not your fault. Nothing that is happening right now is your fault.

I going to talk to your husband for a sec, ok? He will probably never read this and in fact I don’t recommend that you show him this post but I have some stuff to say:

Dude. Here is a list of things you can do besides pressuring your wife to quit the fun thing that she loves doing, yelling at her,  and sending her mean emails when she’s at work:

  1. Treat your anxiety and depression like the serious conditions they are. Whether that means finding a therapist or counselor, getting a full health screen where you tell your doctor about having a low mood and being irritable and discuss medications, or using tools to self-manage if counseling is not possible right now, there are steps that you (and you alone) can take to try to feel better.
  2. Get a hobby.
  3. Join a MeetUp group and meet more people.
  4. Take an evening class in something that interests you.
  5. Check out the UFYH website and start cleaning the house once in a while.
  6. Go see your college friends by yourself sometimes. You are not 4. You don’t need mommy to come on your playdates.
  7. Those long emails about serious, negative topics that you’re writing and sending while your wife is at work or at dance class? Write that shit in a journal. Get the feelings out of your head and onto the page. Then, don’t send them to your wife.
  8. Repeat after me: “I am responsible for working to make a happy life for myself. My wife is not responsible for my social relationships with others or my happiness.
  9. If you really do need constant companionship at home and feel lonely when your wife is out, consider a pet.
  10. Wash your hair. Work out. Do a crossword puzzle. Use compressed air to clean out your computer keyboard and marvel at the grossness. Stare at the ceiling. Bingewatch every show that starts with P on Netflix. Do literally anything else besides yell at your wife.

Depression and anxiety don’t happen by choice, but being mean to your wife is a choice. You have a lot of choices about how to try to make a happy life for yourself and how to self-soothe when you feel sad. You are choosing to yell at your wife, derail her plans, try to drag her away from dance (thereby isolating her from friends and something she loves), and send her horribly critical emails. Here’s a list of common emotional abuse signifiers. This letter is checking off more than half of them, so, congratulations, you are emotionally abusing your wife. If hearing that hurts your feelings and scares you, good! Your behavior is mean and scary! You should be ready to move mountains to figure out how to stop it and do better.

Okay, Letter Writer, let’s talk. You can’t change your husband’s feelings or his behaviors or his choices. You can’t singlehandedly help him recapture the magic of college. You can’t make your life small enough that he won’t be threatened and resentful and mean to you. You can’t make your entire world revolve around this sad, lazy man. You are doing a ton of work (reading relationship books, etc.) and he is doing zero work to make the relationship better. It’s time to apply the Sheelzebub Principle, namely, if things stayed exactly like they are and nothing got better, how long would you stay? It’s already been bad for five years, so, would you stay another year? Another 5 years? Another 10? The rest of your life? Inertia is powerful and the Catholic church does frown on divorce but the Catholic church also doesn’t have to hang out with this dude day in and day out and you do. If you want to serve God in your life there are lots of ways to do that and staying in a marriage for form’s sake or martyring yourself to this man’s struggle to feel as cool as he did in college is not the only way.

I’m glad you have a counselor, please stick with that. I’m glad you have a hobby that you love, please stick with that and do not ever give it up for another person. In my opinion it’s time to at least talk to a divorce lawyer even if it’s just to get a picture of what the process will look like, so that you can make an informed decision. There’s a site called The Lilac Tree that some people I know have found helpful, use it if it’s useful to you.

Here are some scripts and strategies for you:

  1. It’s okay to filter his emails and not look at them when you’re at work. Don’t delete them – they are documentation of how bad things have gotten that you can show a counselor (or a lawyer) – but maybe set up a filter so they bypass your inbox. He is not allowed to electronically yell at you while you are at work! I hate so much that he does this, like, any minute you are away from him he has to somehow crawl in and poison it. You can tell him you’re not reading them – “I don’t have time to read emotional discussions at work, let’s talk about it later”  – or, you can just quietly take care of yourself around this.
  2. It’s okay to say “I can’t go to [college friends] event, I have a conflict. You should go and have fun.” And not cancel your plans. And if he won’t go without you, that’s his decision. And if he yells at you or sulks remember: He was going to do that anyway, no matter what you did. He was going to criticize everything you said and did in front of your friends. Him: “I won’t go without you.” You: “Ok, that’s your choice.” 
  3. You’ve read a lot of books about relationships, so, howabout one more? There’s a book called Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft that is oft-recommended here. Here’s a quote:

“The abusive man’s high entitlement leads him to have unfair and unreasonable expectations, so that the relationship revolves around his demands. His attitude is: “You owe me.” For each ounce he gives, he wants a pound in return. He wants his partner to devote herself fully to catering to him, even if it means that her own needs—or her children’s—get neglected. You can pour all your energy into keeping your partner content, but if he has this mind-set, he’ll never be satisfied for long. And he will keep feeling that you are controlling him, because he doesn’t believe that you should set any limits on his conduct or insist that he meet his responsibilities.”
― Lundy BancroftWhy Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

Bolding mine. Um, sound like anyone we know?

4. If you are capable of becoming pregnant and you don’t have children already, use a contraception method that doesn’t depend on him to succeed and one that he can’t easily sabotage. Lock it down for now.

I’m really sorry you’ve ended up here, but again, it’s not your fault. Nothing you have ever done could make you deserve this behavior from your husband. And the sad truth is that there is nothing you can do, no book you can read, no work you can do, no emotional labor you can perform, no magic words you can say that can turn an unhappy mean person into a happy kind one without his effort and participation. It’s time to protect yourself and invest in yourself. I wish you safety, and peace, and a lot of dancing.



Review – How We Got To Now

2017-Oct-12, Thursday 08:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of How We Got to Now by Steven JohnsonHow We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, Steven Johnson

How We Got to Now is a reasonably entertaining and easy to read survey of six topics which shaped the world we live in now, in various ways. The main benefit is that Johnson tries to look across disciplines and from different angles, and tries to capture the whole of the picture. The six topics he picked make sense: glass, (artificial) cold, (the understanding of) sound, hygiene, time (and the accuracy thereof) and (artificial) light — they’re summarised under six headings: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light. That does sound a little odd with the title, since sound is hardly something we invented. Nonetheless, he makes good points about the way science and technology surrounding those topics has made our modern lives what they are.

Not world-shattering, but entertaining enough!

Rating: 3/5

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward:

I have been engaged for 1 1/2 years now. We are both in our 40’s and have been married before. I have no contact with my ex. When my fiancé and I first got together I made the mistake of discussing things from my previous marriage. There was nothing good about my past but my fiancé doesn’t believe that. He thinks I am still in love with the ex. I am not! He admits to being jealous and possessive and needs to feel like he is #1. If he is not #1 then he can not move forward with me. He has always been the first for the woman he has married or dated. He has never been with a woman that has much of a past in regards to relationships. He wants to be able to get over this hurdle about my ex and I want to do everything to help us get over this hurdle. What can we do?

Lovely Letter Writer, you’re not going to like this, because my #1 piece of advice is: Maybe…don’t…marry him? Maybe don’t “move forward” with someone who suddenly becomes obsessed with your romantic past and who accuses you of things that aren’t true? Maybe this road block is a gift to you, telling you to get out of this relationship with a jealous and possessive man who is using your past as a wedge between you.

Look, I really distrust people, especially straight cis men, who self-describe as “jealous & possessive.” I have a lifetime of experience/an inbox full of examples/an endless sea of violent headlines that point to why the guy who “playfully” grabs your phone on a first date and casually scrolls through it looking for male names and quizzing you about each of them (true story) or why the guy who is threatened by someone you haven’t talked to in EIGHT YEARS sets off alarm bells for me. The Venn diagram of “men who monitor the women in their lives and who get hung up on being ‘#1′” and “men who do scary stuff to exert control over the women in their lives…and bystanders” has a lot of overlap. I specifically mistrust this guy because if I’m reading correctly he has been married at least once before (and dated other people before) and that’s not a problem but somehow you doing the same exact stuff is a problem? Get the entire fuck out of here, Sexist Double Standard Dude. All the way out.

Furthermore “jealous & possessive” are not awesome qualities one should lean into. Those are not things to brag about. They also aren’t excuses for behaving like a jerk. And while attachment styles are a thing and jealous feelings are a thing, people who feel a lot of jealousy and anxiety about romantic partners and fidelity still have choices about how they express those feelings. He could feel weird about your ex and never ever make it your problem. This guy is choosing to make his feelings into your problem. He’s also telling you that his feelings about your past relationships are more valid and more true than your actual words and actions. You saying “I love only you and want to marry you” is less valid to him than his newly-acquired insecurity re: your ex. I don’t like it.

I can think of two likely reasons that this is coming up now and neither of them are great:

Reason 1: He’s getting cold feet about marrying you and is looking for an excuse to break it off or slow things down but instead of saying “I don’t think this is working, let’s break up” he’s fixated on something to blame you for, some “flaw” in you that makes the breakup all your fault.

Reason 2: He is cool with getting married as long as he can put you in an impossible position of having to convince him and pet him and audition for him and reassure him and apologize to him about something that is not actually a problem and not actually happening, i.e., you are not still in love with or even in touch with your ex. He has taken things you told him in confidence long ago and is now using them as a weapon against you to make you beg and apologize and strive for his affection and look for ways to fix a thing that is all in his head. This is an attempt to establish control and reset the power balance between you. Not good.

I mean, if your fiancé truly wants to get over this hurdle, he could talk to a therapist about why he’s having these thoughts and feelings. He could take responsibility for the feelings, like, “Hey, I know I am out of line and your romantic past is actually none of my business, so I’m going to figure out a way to deal with this so that it doesn’t intrude on our life together anymore, please bear with me for a bit, I love you and of course I trust you.” He could talk to a therapist and say “Hey I’m feeling really insecure and need a lot of reassurance from my fiancée about this stuff lately, and it’s upsetting her and stressing her out, how can I redirect some of these thoughts?” He has some negative emotions and you’re supposed to…what…build a time machine? No ma’am.

I think the most gentle script I can think of is something like: “Whoa, I’m sorry you feel that way, that must be a really awful feeling. Since I’m not in love with my ex and none of this is actually true, I’m at a loss for what I can do to help. I agree, though, we should absolutely take a step back and slow down wedding plans. You’re right, we absolutely can’t move forward while this is such an issue for you. Why don’t you talk to a therapist or somebody and try to work it out?

Yes, he gets the “I’m sorry you feel that way” non-apology. Yes, he gets his bluff called.

If you told him that script, what do you think he’d do? Would he yell? Would he blame you? Would he accuse you? Would he bring up old painful things you told him in confidence? Would he monitor you, follow you, quiz you about your plans and who you’re with? Would saying something like that generate too much friction and conflict to be worth it? Would you end up having to soothe his ego and pet him for hours afterward? Are you already dreading the fruitless and stressful conversation you’ll end up having about this? Do you feel safe being able to say “Whoa, hold up, that is not actually a problem or my issue to handle, it’s yours” to him?

Other scripts:

  • “That’s incorrect.”
  • “But you’re wrong about me still having feelings for that guy.”
  • “But you’re upset with me about something that isn’t true.”
  • “Could you explain to me why this is a problem? Can you help me understand why it’s just suddenly coming up?”
  • “It’s not possible for you to be my first-ever husband, but you’re the one I’m choosing in the end. That has to be enough for you.”
  • “I’m sorry you feel that way. What would you like me to do about it now?”
  • “Wow, none of that is true. I don’t know how to reassure you about this. What do you want me to say?”
  • “I can tell you feel really anxious about this and I honestly don’t know what to say that will make it better. What do you think we should do next?”
  • “What is this really about?”

Whatever you decide to do about the relationship, hold this close: You didn’t do anything wrong. This is literally all in his head. Do not give into the idea that you did something wrong by meeting somebody when you were younger and loving someone else before you met this man. If you start saying to yourself “Well, he does have a point about this, to be fair, some of this is my fault,” it’s time to RUN. That is an abuse script talking, one that shows that the abuse has moved inside and colonized the victim. Seriously, run.

This is a problem created by him, and one that only he can solve (by getting over himself already). It’s not fixable by you because nothing that is happening is created or caused by you. What would happen to the relationship if you didn’t try to fix it, like, “Ok, welp, that’s your weird obsession to deal with, good luck working on that, let me know when you want to go back to enjoying our relationship instead of manufacturing problems.

Proceed with extreme caution. Pull in your Team You and make sure you have safe, supportive people to talk to. Do not get married with this cloud hanging over you.

I know this is really hard and not what you wanted to hear, but I don’t have a magic spell against misogyny in general or dudes who suddenly decide to hold your life story against you because “Love!”

Update: The fiancé showed up in the thread to tell us that the Letter Writer is way more jealouser than he is, among other things. Warning bells have become klaxons. I’m closing comments because, among other reasons, it’s very possible that this guy feeds on the attention and will use what we say to hurt and punish the Letter Writer.

I hate this.






OTW: A Decade of Serving Fans

2017-Oct-11, Wednesday 20:00
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, October 12-18, 2017

For ten years now, the Organization for Transformative Works' many projects have been pursuing our stated mission: "serv[ing] the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms. We believe that fanworks are transformative and that transformative works are legitimate." Your support over the past decade has allowed us to do some amazing work for you. Help us to continue, expand and improve our services by donating to the OTW today!

Our very first project, Legal Advocacy, was launched in 2007. The Legal team has spent the ten years since then working tirelessly on behalf of fandom by answering fans' legal questions, publishing informative posts, and adding the OTW's voice to major legal cases affecting fandom.

Next came Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), an open-source, peer-reviewed academic journal launched in September 2008 to showcase research and conversation about fannish topics. With essay topics ranging from digital fan labor to fanfiction in the 17th century, TWC has advanced the field of fan studies and expanded our understanding of fandom. In its lifetime, TWC has published nearly 200 articles, some of which have been cited dozens of times or more.

Launched in the same month as TWC, the Fanlore wiki aims to be a living history of fan traditions and communities, with articles dedicated to ships, works, zines, websites, and fan activities of all kinds. Check out Fanlore's new, completely redesigned front page, then try exploring the site—over 40,000 Fanlore articles have been created over the past decade, and more are added every day, so you never know what you might find!

In November 2009, the Archive of Our Own (AO3) opened to the public. It was created to be a place where fans could post their works without having to worry about censorship or financial constraints, and today it is home to over three million fanworks and counting! Running the Archive accounts for a significant portion of the OTW's budget, and it's your donations that make it possible.

Last but not least, Open Doors has been preserving at-risk fanworks and archives by bringing them to AO3 since 2009. To date, Open Doors has imported 47 fanwork archives from many different fandoms, safeguarding them for future fans to enjoy! Open Doors' Fan Culture Preservation Project (FCPP) also collaborates with the University of Iowa to save non-digital forms of fannish culture like zines, con materials, and letters between fans and studios or writers. The OTW has been working with the university's Special Collections department since June 2009, when the FCPP facilitated a donation of over 3,000 zines!

The OTW's projects have done some amazing work over the past ten years, and we need your help to continue, expand, and improve our efforts! We hope to be serving the interests of fans for the next decade and beyond. If you'd like to contribute and be a part of our mission, please make a donation today!

For more fun facts, here's a timeline of some major milestones in OTW's history:

Timeline of major OTW milestones
Follow this link to access this infographic's contents in text form.

To find out more about the Organization for Transformative Works, visit the OTW's website.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain and Co.,

Please help me sort out this mess. I don’t know how to handle this at all.
My mom keeps on pressuring me to have a relationship with my dad, who is a Darth Vader Boyfriend to his girlfriend. She wants me to see him and we had this huge fight over months where I didn’t want him to come to my college graduation because my Dad and I were estranged at the time and she thought he should come for the sole reason that he was my dad. Part of the reason that Dad and I are very very low contact is how he treats his girlfriend, including kicking her out of the house because she did a thing he didn’t like and then texting me “Happy Valentine’s Day”. I found out about it because Girlfriend texted my sister in the biggest guilt trip I have ever seen and told Sister how much Girlfriend hated our dad and how mean he was to her and then asked Sister to help even though Sister barely knows her and wasn’t even in state. The other reason Dad and I are estranged is that he was very abusive when he and Mom were divorcing and treated Sister and I as his emotional dumpsters and trash-talked our Mother constantly. Most recently he took Sister and I to China in hopes of reconciliation and meeting family but threatened to abandon us there after a day because he was jealous that we were talking to our mother.

My mom says that what goes on between Dad and his Girlfriend is between the two of them and I shouldn’t let it affect my relationship with him. She has a history of enabling him and not standing up for me. I’m just really confused about how to handle this, because even if I discounted his treatment of Girlfriend, I still don’t like him that much. Is it true that I shouldn’t let what goes on between Dad and his Girlfriend affect my relationship with him? I feel that I can’t have a relationship with someone in a vacuum.

Thank you very much,
WTF Do I Do About My Dad

Dear WTF Dad?

Your letter reminds me: I read this really compassionate, wise piece about family estrangement written by a rabbi who counsels people at the end of their lives this week. The piece contains some references dealing with family members who commit sexual assault (can’t imagine why people would be estranged after that!) and other heavy topics so know that if you’re going to open the link , but I think it gets to one of the biggest arguments people use to pressure estranged family members to reconcile: “Well, what if [abusive person] DIES and you haven’t fixed your relationship?” The good rabbi’s answer is something like: Okay, that might very well happen, so, how do you grieve and learn to make peace with the situation as it is instead of pressuring yourself (or others) to force a reconciliation that isn’t meant to be?

Letter Writer, forgive the tangent, I just know that this topic of family estrangement and pressure is on a lot of readers’ minds. Back to your situation.

I think your mom is living with a few fantasies here. One is that the divorce didn’t really affect you and your sister all that much, because look, it’s still possible for her kids to have a good relationship with their dad! She’s not standing in the way of that, she’s doing her part to make that possible for you! She’s being the bigger person!

Another fantasy is that it’s possible to compartmentalize your feelings and relationships to a certain degree, like, surely you can ignore your actual dad’s actual personality and actual crappy behaviors in service to respecting your duty of filial piety to the dad-shaped thing who can attend graduations and dutifully pose for photos and all pretend to be a “normal” family for a few hours.

Her habit of compartmentalizing, minimizing, and going through the motions where he’s concerned is probably how she survived the abusive marriage with him and was able to leave it, so, you can be gentle with her and have compassion for her around this even while you stand up for yourself. In extracting herself from that marriage she had to let go of many dreams and plans for what the rest of her life would look like and now that you’re hitting milestones like graduations there are more little aftershocks from letting go of what those moments “should” be like. For example, your dad “should” be at your college graduation, her mental picture of that event is/was somehow incomplete without him. So she pressures you to help her complete that picture, to make allowances, to observe the form if not the content. (Cut to: The 100+ questions in my inbox from brides re: “My dad is abusive, do I have to ask him to walk me down the aisle at my wedding?” Blanket Answer: Nope! I get why this topic hurts because it is messing with the picture you had of what this would be like and it’s also messing with other people’s expectations of what this should be like, but it’s okay for you to honor what it IS like. Walk yourself down the aisle, or have someone who is always nice to you do it, but don’t torment yourself for a photo-op or to meet other people’s expectations about what your family should be like. Traditions are there for you, you don’t exist to serve them at your own expense.)


None of this means you have to do what she says, it just means recognizing, “Hey, my mom has a pattern when it comes to my dad and she’s just following the pattern I know well.” You know that this pattern is not for you going forward, and that knowledge is power. Your dad also has a pattern where he treats all the women in his life with contempt and attempts to control them, and you’ve made a pretty reasonable and healthy decision to minimize how much you want to deal with someone who acts like that. You don’t have to recreate or fall into these patterns.

Your mom has unwittingly given you the perfect vehicle for making yourself clear around this. She says that your dad’s relationship with his girlfriend is between the two of them and that it shouldn’t affect how you interact with him. Welp, in that case, your relationship with your dad is between the two of you and it’s not for your mom to manage.

Basic script: “That’s between me & Dad, Mom, there’s nothing you can do to fix it, so let me figure it out.

Longer Script: “Mom, I know you’d like it if Dad and I had a better relationship, but we have the one we’ve got. We’re both adults and it’s our job to figure out and manage how we interact from here on out, not yours. You’ve done all you can here, and I appreciate it all so much. It must have been hard to keep the peace with him all this time for the sake of co-parenting and I know you’ve bitten your tongue many times so that I could have the best possible relationship with him. But that’s not your job anymore.

Right now I need a break from being pressured, hurt, and disappointed by Dad. I need to be able to look forward to celebrations and milestones without the shadow of managing his feelings hanging over the whole thing. And I need you to give me space to figure this out for myself. If Dad wants a better relationship with me, he knows how to get in touch, and he can make the effort. If I want to invite him to something I know how to reach him and I can make the effort. You don’t have to carry water for him anymore, ok? You did your best, now it’s time to let us muddle through this ourselves.” 

If you use any of the above you’ll probably use it in smaller pieces, especially as reminders/boundary enforcement, like “Mom, we talked about this – this is for me & Dad to figure out together, you don’t have to defend him or fix it.

I mean, her argument, “But he’s your father…” cuts both ways. She means “He’s your father, so you should accommodate him/invite him/keep trying to make peace with him/brush off his bad behavior/forgive him.” But also, he’s your dad so he shouldn’t use you as an emotional dumping ground and take out his anger at the divorce on you. He shouldn’t make threats to abandon you in a foreign country. He’s your dad, so he shouldn’t be cruel and awful to your mom. He’s your father, so he  shouldn’t emotionally abuse his girlfriend and then expect you to be cool with it. He’s your dad, so maybe the financial and emotional support you’ve gotten from him shouldn’t come with all these awful strings attached. Lots of dudes fertilize eggs that turn into kids. Not all of them are good dudes or good dads.

For the record, I think your mom is also wrong about how you should view your dad and his girlfriend. How your dad treats the people in his life DOES affect how you see him, and that’s HEALTHY. Forming your own relationship with and opinions about your dad based on observed behavior is, again, HEALTHY and NORMAL. Someone who is nice to you and awful to everyone else is pretty awful, (and your dad isn’t even nice to you, like, remember the time he took you to China and then almost abandoned you there after a single day?).

And yes, family ties are strong and powerful and can withstand a lot of ups and downs, but I think we need to push back on the idea that they are unconditional. People who are routinely mean and inconsiderate to you and others should expect some consequences to the relationship even if y’all are faaaaaaaaaamily. You don’t have to forgive or welcome in people who treat you badly and you especially don’t have to do it when they neither apologize nor change the bad behaviors. You don’t have to give them chance after chance to disappoint and abuse you. Your dad is emotionally abusing his girlfriend. You are correctly spotting this as a red flag in a sea of red flags that surround this guy. Trust your own instincts here and break the familial patterns of apologizing for and shoring up this dude at the expense of your own happiness.

I don’t know if your relationship with your dad will ever get better. I do know that you will feel better if you have some space from him and freedom from pressure to make excuses for him, and that there’s no possible route to a better relationship that doesn’t involve you feeling better, more free, more safe, and having more autonomy in managing your relationship with him.


[syndicated profile] queer_ya_feed
Because if we (and especially today's teens) know our LGBTQ past, we can be assured Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning, and Queer people have a place in the present. And if we know we have a place in the present, we can dream of our futures...

So let's discover the real history of Eleanor Roosevelt loving Lorena Hickok.

The real history of William Shakespeare writing 126 love sonnets to another man.

The real history of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut changing how they portrayed their gender over 22 years of rule, from being seen as completely feminine, to an in-between gender, to being portrayed as completely masculine.

And let's be real about the history of Abraham Lincoln loving Joshua Fry Speed. (Want to know more about that one? Check out my YA novel inspired by that true history, here.)

Here are this year's LGBT History Month icons:

And be sure to check out the more than 370 LGBT Icons from the Equality Forum's LGBT History Month celebrations of the past 10+ years here.

And let's celebrate who we've been, who we are, and who we can be!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Review – The Bear and the Nightingale

2017-Oct-11, Wednesday 13:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

I struggled a bit with this book, which surprised me. It’s not the fairytale-like narration, because that worked for me, nor the choice of setting (semi-historical Russia), or the characters, or the choice of fairytales to invoke. Perhaps it’s just that I felt I knew where it was going and how it would unfold, and I am so very tired of stories all about taming a wild young woman who doesn’t belong among her people.

It’s well written, and I enjoyed the Russian flavour – probably helped by the fact that I don’t know Russian well at all, so the words chosen to give a flavour didn’t contradict each other in the way they were Romanised or used. I do enjoy Vasya and her determination, her basic goodness, her love for her family and duty to the people who, unknowingly, relied upon her. I enjoyed the little snippets that joined it to history.

I just… didn’t quite click with it in some way I can’t put my finger on. I’m glad I read it, and I’ll probably pick up the second book to see how I get into that, but… something didn’t work for me.

Rating: 3/5

WWW Wednesday

2017-Oct-11, Wednesday 08:00
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Posted by Nikki

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of A Sting in the Tale by Dave GoulsonA Sting in the Tale, by Dave Goulson. It’s a non-fiction/pop-science book about bees, and is part of a new project of mine to get less scared of insects by becoming curious about them. It worked for me when it comes to pathogens (starting with David Quammen’s Spillover), so I’m hopeful. So far I’m learning a lot of interesting facts — for instance, bumblebees have smelly feet — and I’m not grossed out or anxious. On the other hand, bees are relatively harmless anyway and aren’t a major fear of mine. I’ve got a book on ants lined up, and that might be more problematic. Ideally, I should find something on spiders…

I’m also reading a few other books, but most actively it’s Kushiel’s Dart, which I finally found the time to pick up again. I forgot how long it takes before Joscelin actually appears!

What have you recently finished reading?

Cover of Away With the Fairies by Kerry GreenwoodI think the last thing I finished was a reread of Kerry Greenwood’s Away with the Fairies. It’s a blatant homage to Dorothy L. Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise, in some ways, and it also features Phryne being terribly daring and heroic in rescuing her lover, Lin Chung, from pirates. These books make for great comfort reading, because you can pretty much be sure everything will be okay, and also I’ve read them before so I know how they turn out. And Phryne is awesome.

(I needed comfort reading because my cough got so bad I pulled muscles in my ribcage. I’m doing better now, before I had to bring out the big guns and reread The Goblin Emperor.)

What will you read next?

Cover of Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. CoreyI’m going to focus on finishing Abaddon’s Gate, for a start. I also have a stack of library books to read while I’m visiting my parents, including some books in the 300s of the Dewey Decimal System for a Habitica challenge. I can’t remember the titles, but they’re about multiculturalism and immigration, so not my usual thing, but rather topical given the world at present and the political preoccupations of our time.

Other than that, I’m not sure. I might pick up Nine Coaches Waiting, since I’m about due for another scheduled dose of rereading Mary Stewart’s work.

What are you reading at the moment?

OTW Finance: 2017 Budget Update

2017-Oct-10, Tuesday 23:04
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

OTW 2017 Budget Update

Earlier this year, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) published its budget for 2017. As December draws closer, we'd like to give you an update on our financial outlook for the rest of the year, and how our plans have progressed or changed since a few months ago.

Our Finance team is currently preparing for the OTW's first audit of financial statements, in what we expect will become a regular annual process going forward. Given the size of our organization and our donors' generosity, it's important for us to make sure that our bookkeeping and internal controls are as efficient and thorough as they can be. We're very grateful to have the stability and revenue required for this undertaking. Thanks to our donors for making this possible!

2017 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 72.2%. Open Doors: 0.5%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 1.1%. Fanlore: 1.8%. Legal Advocacy: 0.5% Con Outreach: 0.7%. Admin: 14.5%. Fundraising: 8.7%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

US$89,207.44 spent; US$134,838.35 left

  • US$89,207.44 spent so far out of US$224,045.79 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • As usual, the majority of the OTW's expenses—a projected 72% of this year's total—goes towards maintaining the AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance fees—plus contractor work, website performance monitoring tools, various systems-related licences and training (access all program expenses).
  • We continue to work with coding contractors on structural improvements for the AO3, and there's been a lot of progress throughout this year, such as our much-needed Rails upgrade! Check out the Archive's latest release notes for information on our most recent deploys.


US$1,389.03 spent; US$4,299.83 left

  • US$1,389.03 spent so far out of US$5,688.85 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchase, maintenance and colocation costs, in addition to related licenses and Fanlore web domains (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC)

US$819.81 spent; US$2,579.93 left

  • US$819.81 spent so far out of US$3,399.74 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • TWC's expenses are its allotment of server costs, as well as the journal’s publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

US$402.25 spent; US$1,283.52 left

  • US$402.25 spent so far out of US$1,685.78 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • This year’s expenses for Open Doors are hosting, backup and domain costs for archives imported by Open Doors (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

US$0 spent; US$1,500.00 left

Con outreach

US$713.50 spent; US$1,300.00 left

  • US$713.50 spent so far out of US$2,013.50 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • Our convention outreach expenses consist of preparing and shipping promotional material related to the OTW and its projects for volunteers to share with other fans at conventions. This year we've done a meet-up during San Diego Comic-Con and a technical talk about the AO3's systems infrastructure at Nine Worlds (access all con outreach expenses).


US$12,669.94 spent; US$14,420.00 left

  • US$12,669.94 spent so far out of US$27,089.94 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation; thank-you gifts purchase and shipping; and the tools used to host the OTW’s membership database and track communications with donors and potential donors (access all fundraising expenses).


US$10,893.98 spent; US$33,981.00 left

  • US$10,893.98 spent so far out of US$44,874.98 total this year, as of August 31, 2017.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, auditing services, as well as project management, communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2017 Revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 45.6%, October drive donations: 35.8%. Non-drive donations: 17.1%. Donations from matching programs: 1.5%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 81% of our income in 2017. We also receive donations via employer matching programs and Amazon Smile.
  • The OTW Finance team is investigating options for a sustainable plan to invest the OTW's current reserves; our forecasted income should be enough to cover this year's expenses without requiring emergency withdrawals from our reserves.
  • US$191,014.11 so far (as of August 31, 2017) and US$321,531.62 projected until the end of the year.

US$191,014.11 donated; US$130,517.51 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on October 15 from 7PM to 9PM (what time is that in my timezone?). This post will be updated with a chatroom link a few hours before the appointed time. Come chat with us, and bring your questions!

To download the OTW’s updated budget for 2017 in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.

The OTW is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects, including AO3, Fanlore, Open Doors, TWC, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan-run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on the OTW website.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hello Captain!

This is a weird position I have found myself in.

I go to a lot of events, and I’ve noticed the people I go with or see there try to convert me to their lifestyle which heavily feature said events. Examples:

1) I go to the gym once a week with a friend. They always suggest me going 1 or 2 times more per week and doing tiny exercises all day long.

2) I go to a rope-bondage-workshop. After the 90min-sessions the organizer keeps talking for 20-30 minutes about how we all can improve heavily if we have a rope on-hand all day and excercise with it all day long.

3) A few friend who is heavily into nutrition regularly suggest changing my diet to accomodate more protein/fibre/etc

I would like to do all of these things, but I do not have the time and/or energy! I am happy already I can manage 1 gym-trip per week, and adjusting my lifestyle to accomodate more is not feasible.

And when I have to listen to somene trying to convert me I do now know how to make them stop without seriously alienating them (as may have happened in the past)

I have mentioned this idea to a few friends, and that I feel the social contract in that situation is brokenby the other person. “I attend your workshop, learn something, have fun, pay you, but I will not listen to you trying to convert me completely to this idea for another period of time that is 1/3rd of the actual workshop itself”, and everyone disagrees saying I should just swallow and endure it.

What would be an appropriate way to deal with this?

Hello! Good news, this is all very solvable.

The script you’re looking for is “Thanks, I’m good” or “Thanks, I’ll think about it” or “Thanks, but no” or “Thanks but this is working for me” followed by action:

Either change the subject (in conversations with friends) or give yourself permission to leave (from workshops that go on too long).

Be terse. Don’t elaborate about why. Explaining to people you’d love to but you can’t right now because: reasons! is registering as a negotiation. Your reasons are good reasons and reasons would convince you to drop the subject, but people who don’t take no for an answer see “reasons you don’t want to do x” as “problems to be solved,” like if they could just helpfully fix your time/energy constraints you would be at the gym eating fiber-covered-protein with one hand while you skillfully manipulate ropes in the other all day every day.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do or with more intensity than you want to do it and you don’t have to be a conversational hostage here. “Thanks, but that doesn’t work for me” + “Are you excited for Riverdale coming back?” (or the subject change topic of your choice and interest) can get the job done. Someone who keeps pushing you when you’ve made it clear that you don’t want to talk about or do something is the one making it weird, not you. If people push more, follow up with “Hey, why are you still asking about this when I’ve said ‘no thanks?’“I love your enthusiasm, friend, but what I’m doing now is right for me.

With the workshop it might have felt like it was rude to leave, like, it officially ended but there was no pause to say thank you or ask questions and everyone was still sitting there politely listening. You can still leave, though! Get up quietly and go. If you want to thank the instructor later, send an email. The people who find the extra info valuable can stay.



2017-Oct-10, Tuesday 18:25
[syndicated profile] rhodesideattractions_feed

Posted by kim

It’s World Mental Health Day. 2017. I enjoy the optimism of adding the year. It implies we will have another. Or perhaps that’s pessimism… that we will need another.

I was probably nine or ten when my grandmother wandered past the dinner table, robe open, tissue clutched in her fist and eyes focused. She jabbed a spot on the wall and cackled triumphantly, “Got it!’ then went back into her bedroom. She then continued the birthday party she was throwing for her husband who had died three years earlier. I thought it looked like she was having fun and wanted to join. But my parents said nothing. I stood up and my father shoved me back to my seat. I learned in that sharp moment it was also my job to say nothing. That was somehow the loving and noble act and would make everyone feel better again. Pretend to ignore it and it will go away.

There was such sad irony when I visited my father in the mental ward a few years later. I couldn’t say nothing. I didn’t know how to ignore him. He didn’t know how to answer me when I asked if it would go away, but I could smell his shame.

I have loved so many people with mental health challenges and most of them have gone. Eventually. Often by their own hands. So today I would like to encourage you see the people who may have been deemed “broken” or “abnormal” or any other of a hundred words we use to erase our own responsibilities. Do not ignore this. Do not stay silent. Do not wish for it to go away so that we can return to the safe illusion of “normal”.

Instead, pay attention. Give support. Listen to what is asked of us rather than imposing what is comfortable for us. Let’s try embracing the minds that are here and helping them stay.

Review – The Man Who Fell to Earth

2017-Oct-10, Tuesday 08:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter TevisThe Man Who Fell to Earth, Walter Tevis

Ouch. I was sort of enjoying this, but not really bowled over — and then that ending. Of course that’s the way the US government would end up treating an alien. Of course it’s not that easy to save the world.

To start at the beginning, this is a short novel which imagines what would happen if an alien came to Earth with the intent of saving our world, in order to save his own. Newton is from Anthea, which sounds like it’s probably Mars (back when we thought Mars might have had intelligent lifeforms), and his people need a new world. So they send him to Earth to kickstart technology, enough to build an ark to fetch them to Earth. And from there, they’d take over Earth quietly, guiding humans to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, etc, etc.

To no one’s surprise, it doesn’t quite go as planned, but the way that works out is fascinating. The weird thing for me was how much people drank, and how routine alcoholism was for the characters. Just… not a world I’m used to. But it’s an interesting book, and I enjoyed it — and it gets an extra star for that ending.

Rating: 4/5

MTAC is Moving to the AO3

2017-Oct-09, Monday 16:48
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

MTAC Banner

MTAC, an NCIS fanfiction archive, is being imported to the Archive of Our Own (AO3). In this post:

Background explanation

MTAC is an archive for NCIS fanfiction, accepting works focusing on any character or pairing, including crossover with other fandoms. The moderator, Jessi created it in June 2006 and it has since amassed over 1000 works. Due to activity slowing since the site’s early years, Open Doors will be working with Jessi to import MTAC into a separate, searchable collection on the Archive of Our Own. We will begin importing works from MTAC to the AO3 after October.

What does this mean for creators who have work(s) on MTAC?

We will send an import notification to the email address we have for each creator. We'll do our best to check for an existing copy of any works before importing. If we find a copy already on the AO3, we will invite it to the collection instead of importing it. All works archived on behalf of a creator will include their name in the byline or the summary of the work. All imported works will be set to be viewable only by logged-in AO3 users. Once you claim your works, you can make them publicly-viewable if you choose. After 30 days, all unclaimed imported works will be made visible to all visitors. Please contact Open Doors with your MTAC pseud(s) and email address(es), if:

  1. You'd like us to import your works, but you need the notification sent to a different email address than you used on the original archive
  2. You already have an AO3 account and have imported your works already yourself.
  3. You’d like to import your works yourself (including if you don’t have an AO3 account yet).
  4. You would NOT like your works moved to the AO3.
  5. You are happy for us to preserve your works on the AO3, but would like us to remove your name.
  6. You have any other questions we can help you with.

Please include the name of the archive in the subject heading of your email. If you no longer have access to the email account associated with your MTAC account, please contact Open Doors and we'll help you out. (If you've posted the works elsewhere, or have an easy way to verify that they're yours, that's great; if not, we will work with the MTAC mod to confirm your claims.) Please see the Open Doors Website for instructions on

If you still have questions...

If you have further questions, visit the Open Doors FAQ, contact the Open Doors committee. We'd also love it if fans could help us preserve the story of MTAC on Fanlore. If you're new to wiki editing, no worries! Check out the new visitor portal, or ask the Fanlore Gardeners for tips. We're excited to be able to help preserve MTAC!

- The Open Doors team and Jessi

[syndicated profile] queer_ya_feed
It's being reported by many news agencies, including the BBC,


You can add your voice to the outrage by joining me and signing this ALL OUT petition to the Egyptian government.

All Out reports that
"At least 43 people have been detained in Egypt just because someone waved a rainbow flag.

The hunt started when images of a concert in Cairo were posted on social media, showing someone dancing with the rainbow flag. The police claimed that the people arrested were “homosexuals who raised the LGBT flag and encouraged the practice of immoral acts."

Most of those detained have been put through a speedy trial and sentenced to six years in prison. They are appealing these sentences and we need to show Egyptian authorities that colours are not shame. That's why activists from Egypt, the Middle East, and North Africa have started this petition with All Out."

Waving a flag shouldn't be a crime.

Being your authentic self shouldn't be a crime.


The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of Machiavelli by Michael WhiteMachiavelli: A Man Misunderstood, Michael White

Like White’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci, I’ll confess I picked this up mostly because Machiavelli is an important character in the game Assassin’s Creed 2 (and at one point he even makes a reference to The Prince in the game). I haven’t read The Prince, but I had a certain idea of the content. White’s key point in this biography is that despite the aura of disreputable scheming around Machiavelli, that wasn’t his intent in writing The Prince, and he served Florence well and faithfully. Mostly, he was a shrewd strategist and diplomat, and an observer of human nature, who doesn’t seem — at least in White’s account of it — to have got the respect he deserved.

White’s biographies all seem to be pretty well sourced, and they’re very readable. I’d recommend them.

Rating: 4/5

October London meetup

2017-Oct-08, Sunday 21:33
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by katepreach

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 14th October, 12pm onwards.  Please note slight change of location, same as last month – Green Bar rather than Blue, e.g. same thing as the previous location but the opposite side.  Also please note we are starting an hour later than previously.

Colouring in – please bring copyright-free images, pens and pencils, etc.  Or just come and chat with us!

The venue sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Green Bar (go up in lift 1, sadly not as musical as lift 7).

Here is the accessibility map of the Royal Festival Hall: PDF map

I have shoulder length brown hair and glasses, and I will bring my plush Cthuhlu, which looks like this: 

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets. Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(November meetup will be the 11th.)

September 2017 Newsletter, Volume 117

2017-Oct-08, Sunday 17:35
[syndicated profile] ao3_news_feed

Banner by caitie of a newspaper with the name and logos of the OTW and its projects on the pages


On September 5th, the OTW celebrated ten years of successfully achieving our mission to support the creation and distribution of fanworks and preserve their past. During the month of September, our Communications Committee hosted online chats with authors Lev Grossman, Martha Wells, Seanan McGuire, Christina Lauren, and Tessa Gratton, along with Young Adult Library Services Association board member Kate McNair, and romance writer and professor of cultural and gender studies, Catherine Roach. We also hosted several open house chats with OTW volunteers, a trivia contest with prizes donated by author Tamora Pierce and First Second Books, a guest post from media scholar Henry Jenkins, and a retrospective post by OTW co-founder and author Naomi Novik.

A big thank you to all of our wonderful guests, staff, and volunteers who helped make our celebration (and the last decade) a success! We hope everyone enjoyed the events and posts this month. If you missed any of September's events, we have links and transcripts to many of the posts and chats available.


In September, Accessibility, Design & Technology completed the move of AO3 to Rails 5.1 and Ruby 2.3.4, capping off a long process. They also grappled with login issues, rewrote several bits of code to speed up tag sets and wrangling pages, and fixed a bunch of lingering bugs, as summed up in their most recent release notes.

In recent months, Open Doors has made a great deal of progress working through a large queue of archives to import to the AO3, with a new archive import announced nearly every two weeks! Open Doors was excited to complete the imports of The Brian/Justin Fanfiction Archive, and Hammer to Fall, and Bang and Blame in September and to publicly announce the upcoming imports of The Alpha Gate, and a little piece of gundam wing, and soul circuit. Special thanks to Communications, Translation, and Tag Wrangling for their help in this process.

Tag Wranglers assisted Open Doors' import of new archives by searching the AO3 for existing copies of works--a manual and time-intensive process--and helping with tag mapping for several new archive imports. In addition, Tag Wrangling volunteers assisted Accessibility, Design & Technology in testing the wrangling functions for the code upgrade to Rails 5.1. Wranglers continued to handle over 500,000 tags per month.

Lastly, Abuse received over 600 tickets, and Support received over 1,300 tickets in September.


In September, Legal joined allies to submit two petitions to the Copyright Office seeking exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. These petitions follow and expand upon our petition to renew the vidders’ exemption, which allows people to rip DVDs, Blu-Rays, and digital files for the purpose of using clips in noncommercial fanvids. One of the new petitions seeks a more inclusive exemption that would permit ripping audiovisual works to use short portions for criticism or comment (not limited to vids). The other seeks an exemption that would permit ripping audiovisual works to include short portions in multimedia e-books.

As part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations, Legal also held two open house chats on and fielded questions about law, fanworks, and the OTW’s legal advocacy mission. Thanks to everyone who came and chatted!

In addition, Legal is also addressing some issues with app makers who are confusing people into believing that they are affiliated with the OTW. A reminder: OTW and AO3 have not authorized any apps.


In a public meeting on September 1, Board elected the following officers for the next year: Yuechiang Luo, the current Finance chair and Treasurer, as Treasurer; Priscilla Del Cima as the new President; and Jessie Camboulives as the new Secretary. All board meeting minutes can be found here on our website.

Board has also had a busy September integrating the new Board members prior to the changeover on October 1st.


As of the 27th of September, the OTW has 697 volunteers. Recent personnel movements are listed below.

New Directors: Claire P. Baker, Danielle Strong, Jessie Camboulives.
New Committee Staff: SarkaS and 1 other Translation staff, 1 Fanlore, 1 Support.
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Adie, AkaKarasu, cali, Charlotte Im, Desipio, Diana Horton, Ellie Burrell, falsteloj, Fevrier, FurryVille, Goodwin, Hando, hmweasley, Icey, idiosincrasy, Jeniouis, Jenny Lynne, lemoncave, Marta Cardoso, Millip, Natalia Gruber, NirCele, NovaNica, Okaykay, patron, Qkat, rdv, Ron Geromy, Ruby Davis, Sang Yun Kim, SavannahM, Shotenchu, SoVeryAverageMe, Tatapioca, Tsukiko, Zoë Renee.
New Translator Volunteers: Marika

Departing Committee Staff: Kellyn (Support) and RoseJackson (Abuse).
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: IShouldBeWriting, Andy D, 1 other volunteer
Departing Translation Volunteers: ayerenne, Rana Kamal, Ha Thi Ngoc Huyen and 5 other Translation Volunteers

For more information about the purview of our committees, please access the committee listing on our website.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

Review – A Very British Murder

2017-Oct-08, Sunday 08:00
[syndicated profile] thebibliophibian_feed

Posted by Nikki

Cover of A Very British Murder by Lucy WorsleyA Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley

A Very British Murder is an extremely readable, sometimes gossipy survey of the development of crime/mystery literature in Britain, up to the Golden Age of Sayers and Christie. It examines why people loved a good murder story, and what kind of murder story they wanted, while also reflecting on some of the real murders that occurred and the anxieties surrounding them.

I especially enjoyed Worsley’s sympathy for Sayers and Christie, and her defence of Gaudy Night against a male critic’s boredom about it. Quite right, too!

It’s not deep lit crit, or a totally in depth micro-history, but there’s interesting stuff and it’s entertainingly written.

Rating: 4/5


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let me hear your voice tonight

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