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Posted by thebloggess

First off, several of you recently asked if I was tested for Hashimoto’s Disease and so yesterday I asked my doctor when I was in for more blood work and she was like, “Yeah, of course you have Hashimoto’s Disease. … Continue reading

Cake, FBI Agents, & Horses!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 03:30 pm
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Posted by Amanda

Under Her Skin

Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders is $1.88 at Amazon and $2.99 elsewhere! Readers warn that this is a contemporary romance on the darker side, but many say this is a great debut by Anders. I’m actually reading this right now and I love it. It’s definitely dark, so if that’s not your thing, stay away. But the hero is a blacksmith with Beta qualities. I’m in love!

Battered by a life determined to tear him down, this quiet ex-con’s scarred hands may be the gentlest touch she’ll ever know.

…if only life were a fairy tale where Beauty was allowed to keep her Beast

Ivan thought the world was through giving him second chances. Who’d want a rough ex-con with a savior complex and a bad habit of bringing home helpless strays? Everyone in Blackwood, Virginia knew he wasn’t good enough for the fine things in life; they knew he was too damaged to save. He just needed to keep his head down, work himself to the bone, and pretend he was content with the lot he was given.

Until she came into his life. Until she changed everything.

Until he realized he would do anything, fight anyone, tear the world apart if it meant saving her.

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A Gentleman’s Game

RECOMMENDED: A Gentleman’s Game by Theresa Romain is 99c! Redheadedgirl read this historical romance and gave it an A:

Theresa Romain basically created a series just for me, and the first full-length book just confirms it. She reached into my head and found the references and plot that would make me happiest, and gave those thoughts a beautiful cover and said, “Here!”

In Book One of Romance of the Turf, a refreshing new Regency series from rising star Theresa Romain, a mystery demanding to be solved brings unlikely allies together in more ways than one

How far will a man go

Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck-and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel’s skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father’s new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.

To win a woman’s secretive heart?

Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team…and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind’s life is built on secrets and Nathaniel’s on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts…

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Special Agent Francesca

Special Agent Francesca by Mimi Barbour is 99c! This romantic suspense is bursting with catnip! There’s an introverted FBI agent who goes undercover. There’s a fake relationship. Plus, a psychiatrist/criminal profiler hero. Hello! This is a standalone and readers loved the heroine, but some found the pacing a bit uneven.

An introvert, Special Agent Francesca moves to Las Vegas to escape her powerful, domineering mother. On arrival, multiple obstacles challenge her. She needs to approach a father she’s never met, a man who doesn’t even know she exists. Then she must play the role of a loving fiancée with a stranger. One who makes her question every unexpected emotion he provokes. Craving the chance for real undercover work, she grabs the opportunity to be involved in cleaning up gang corruption in a nasty neighborhood. When she poses as the new owner of a hotel, the deadly-dangerous situation ramps up and she’s forced to fight her way from one conflict to the next.

Sean Collins, Psychiatrist and LVPD Profiler, has never known anyone like Francesca Donovan. From first sight, he believes her to be a screwball but her beauty and maddening personality attracts him. Despite her prickly disposition, which gets them into a load of trouble, her rotten driving skills and her constant battles, he’s hooked. Once he’s roped into a mock engagement with her, his desire to make it real takes precedence over everything else in his world.

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American Cake

American Cake by Anne Byrn is $1.99! This book make an appearance in a previous Redheadedgirl’s Historical Kitchen post. Readers loved the blend of recipes and history. However, some reviewers found the historical aspects a bit patronizing. See this Goodreads review for more on that.

Cakes in America aren’t just about sugar, flour, and frosting. They have a deep, rich history that developed as our country grew. Cakes, more so than other desserts, are synonymous with celebration and coming together for happy times. They’re an icon of American culture, reflecting heritage, region, season, occasion, and era. And they always have been, throughout history.

In American Cake, Anne Byrn, creator of the New York Timesbestselling series The Cake Mix Doctor, takes you on a journey through America’s past to present with more than 125 authentic recipes for our best-loved and beautiful cakes and frostings. Tracing cakes chronologically from the dark, moist gingerbread of New England to the elegant pound cake, the hardscrabble Appalachian stack cake, war cakes, deep-South caramel, Hawaiian Chantilly, and the modern California cakes of orange and olive oil, Byrn shares recipes, stories, and a behind-the-scenes look into what cakes we were baking back in time. From the well-known Angel Food, Red Velvet, Pineapple Upside-Down, Gooey Butter, and Brownie to the lesser-known Burnt Leather, Wacky Cake, Lazy Daisy, and Cold Oven Pound Cake, this is a cookbook for the cook, the traveler, or anyone who loves a good story. And all recipes have been adapted to the modern kitchen.


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[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Charline Jao

There’s a reason that 1984 comparisons to the Donald Trump regime are so popular. The famous lines of “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength” resonate with the way that Trump and his team seem to constantly forget that words have meaning and facts matter. It’s the same reason that Merrim-Webster, the site you mostly frequented to make sure you were spelling “argument” properly, somehow became a hero of the resistance.

In comes “Fantastic Words and Where Not To Find Them,” a segment that is “Part news, part performance art, entirely nonsense,” as Full Frontal “examine[s] Trump’s bastardization of words and language.” So what happened to language, once the tool of poetics, logic, and purpose? Bee looks at some of the biggest victims of the decimation of words, like leak, lies, and classified as well as some other casual damages, like Ivanka Trump’s attempt to re-categorize complicit.

Of course, this includes “fake news,” a term that actually might’ve lived a long life as a term for the wave of deliberately deceptive hoaxes, but got curb-stomped in a dark alleyway by Trump to become something you scream when erroneous predictions pop up or when you want to shallowly dismiss any news story or outlet that refused to become your propaganda machine. No, it’s not just you constantly yelling at your phone/tv/computer screen, about the weird stream-of-consciousness that seems to spout off his team and it’s somewhat cathartic to see Bee similarly just exclaim, “I don’t fucking know!” Because I don’t, I don’t know.

“Journalists now huddle in a tiny lifeboat of a heaving ocean of pure gibberish arguing with their doppelgängers,” says Bee. Please, our we can not sustain ourselves and have turned to eating our tortoise shell glasses. Send help. “Resistance is futile, government is the deep state, expertise is dangerous elitism, language is dead,” says Bee.

It’s like we’re living in an even bleaker Theatre of the Absurd.

(via Vulture, image: screencap)

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Posted by Carolyn Cox

This post originally appeared on The Portalist. It has been republished here with permission.

Planning a birthday party or bachelorette night? These 10 taverns, pubs, bars, inns, and other watering holes from fantasy fiction can’t be beat. Sure, the barkeep might not agree to charge your phone, and Uber drivers might be few and far between, but that’s all part of the fun. Join us in celebrating these 10 fantasy establishments that have us saying ”they come in pints!”

Inn of the Last Home, from Dragonlance

(image: Dragonlance)

If you’re ever in Solace, make sure to pay a visit to Inn of the Last Home, a beloved institution known for its food and for regularly hosting The Heroes of the Lane. The inn has had many different owners in the hundreds of years since it was built by Kale the Strong in the branches of a vallenwood tree. During the War of the Lance, the inn was lowered to the ground and dragonarmies burnt the tree in which the inn sat. Following the war, the inn’s then-owner Otik planted a new valennwood tree to house the inn for future generations. To this day, its distinctive appearance and hearty food and drink continue to provide welcome hospitality for weary travelers.

Best Dish: Spiced potatoes

Best Drink: Dark ale

The Leaky Cauldron, from Harry Potter

(image: Warner Bros.)

The Leaky Cauldron at 1 Diagon Alley on Charing Cross Road is the oldest pub in London, a perfect place for witches and wizards to quench their thirst and relax after a day of shopping. Visitors with an interest in history will be particularly delighted by the storied establishment; built by Daisy Dodderidge in the 1500s, the inn, which initially welcomed Muggle patrons, has served as an important social gathering place throughout the most trying periods in magical history.

Nestled between a Muggle bookshop and a record store, the bar itself has a dive-y feel to it, but the overnight lodgings are surprisingly comfortable.

Best Dish: Soup, soup soup

Best Drink: Exploding lemonade

The Green Dragon Inn, from Lord of the Rings

Located in the Shire village of Bywater, The Green Dragon Inn was a favorite watering hole of Frodo Baggins and his friends before embarking on their quest. According to Merry and Pippin, “the only brew for the brave and true … Comes from the Green Dragon!”

Best Dish: Beef and ale pie

Best Drink: Beer. So brown.

The Silver Eel Tavern, from the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories

In the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber, the barbarian Fafhrd and his nimble-fingered companion Gray Mouser frequently relax at the Silver Eel Tavern in the corrupt city of Lankhmar. It’s not an establishment for the faint of heart, certainly—but if you chance a visit, you’re bound to come away with a story or two.

The Eolian, from The Kingkiller Chronicle

The Eolian tavern in Imre plays a pivotal role in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle. Its owners Deoch and Stanchion host nightly performances in which local performers pay for an opportunity to show off their skills in a bid to earn their ‘talent pipes’ and hopefully secure a patron. The tavern is hugely impactful on the hero Kvothe’s development as a musician, and on his relationship with Danna.

Best drinks: Cinnamon mead, scutten

The Old Phoenix, from A Midsummer Tempest

Poul Anderson’s Shakespeare-inspired A Midsummer Tempest features a magical tavern known as The Old Phoenix, staffed and patronized solely by beings who are touched by magic in some way. The tavern moves in the time and space between parallel universes, and offers free, one-night lodging to weary travelers who can find their way to its door. The accommodations are reliably excellent, but the true draw is the opportunity to converse with guests from varying periods of history (provided you share a language in common, of course).

Best Dish: Roast beef

Best Drink: Dark beer

The Tavern, from Beauty and the Beast

Gaston, peacocking in front of a painting of Gaston. (image: Disney)

Some might call this pub provincial, but it boasts live entertainment that you won’t find anywhere else—patrons can expect to enjoy improvised musical numbers dedicated to Gaston, a local chauvinist. Special mention must also be made of the tavern’s decorating scheme, which centers heavily around antlers and aggrandizing Gaston murals.

Best Dish: Eggs?

Best Drink: Beer.

Lodging: Maybe, but good luck sleeping surrounded by all that Gaston imagery.

The Three Broomsticks, from Harry Potter

The Three Broomsticks in the wizarding village of Hogsmeade has been a popular hangout for Hogwarts students for centuries. Students as young as 13-14 can visit the welcoming pub and enjoy the hospitality of Madam Rosmerta. Like most establishments in the wizarding world, a visit to The Three Broomsticks is not without danger; but it’s certainly a more reputable establishment than The Hog’s Head Inn, another Hogsmeade bar frequented by Harry and his friends.

Best drinks: Butterbeer, firewhiskey

Merlotte’s (aka Bellefleur’s Bar and Grill), from True Blood

Merlotte’s chef Lafayette. (image: HBO)

Should you find yourself in Bon Temps, Louisiana, there’s no better place to grab a burger and a beer, or perhaps some TruBlood, than Bellefleur’s Bar and Grill (formerly Merlotte’s). The bar is always full of excitement, whether that means Stackhouse family drama or a rampaging fire demon. However, there’s rarely any dancing at this establishment—those looking to cut a rug (or drink some vamp blood) should instead check out the vampire bar Fangtasia in neighboring Shreveport.

Best Dish: Hamburger

The Traveller’s Rest, from The Dark Tower series

The Traveller’s Rest, depicted in The Dark Tower comics. (image: Marvel Comics)

The Traveller’s Rest in Mejis is a decidedly unfriendly establishment, with a clientele that’s more than a little gloomy. But it’s also the sight of many legendary showdowns, including the notorious altercation between a band of gunslingers from Gilead and the Big Coffin Hunter bandits. If you want to be able to say you were there ‘when’, get your butt to The Traveller’s Rest and wait for the drama to start.

Best drink: Graf

(featured image: Disney)

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(no subject)

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:41 pm
marina: (scifi janelle)
[personal profile] marina
Life is good right now, and I want to record that, before I probably lose my apartment in the next few months, as I do every year for the past 5 years. Probably in some spectacular last minute clusterfuck, as has happened in 2 out of those 5 years.

Anyway, I'm still reading Ninefox Gambit and enjoying it a lot. My health is better. Not "healthy person" better, but definitely better than it's been in say, two years. I'm going to London soon, which is so, so exciting.

The thesis has been... awful, but awful in the usual academic-grind sort of way.

This morning my maternal grandmother's youngest sister died. I couldn't make it to the funeral, but weekend plans (mostly thesis plans) will have to be altered to go grieve with family. Her granddaughter just got married a few weeks ago.

I'm sad, even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her in recent years, since my grandparents died and we stopped celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries as big family events.

My grandmother was 12 when she and her sisters and her mom and her grandma and two of her female cousins were all living in a Nazi concentration camp. This sister, the youngest, remembers that time the least, but she was old enough then to help with the missions, where their mom would send them out in pairs to try and escape the camp illegally and get food and supplies in the nearby village.

Every outing meant risk of capture and death, so the girls always went in pairs with a cousin, not a sister. My great-grandmother wanted to ensure that she could never be blamed for putting her own children ahead of her nieces.

Anyway, it's a sad day. My own grandmother in New York just got out of a 3 month stay at the hospital, and I'm grappling with the fact that it's very likely I'll never see her again.

The sun is shining, and there are flowers outside, and I still have a bed and a kitchen and a closet that are entirely my own. I suppose that's something.


Jun. 22nd, 2017 07:46 am
scarlettina: (Everything Easier)
[personal profile] scarlettina
In last night's post, I mentioned that Sophie had an abscess. I won't get into giant detail, but the TL;DR version is that apparently she and Zeke had a tussle at some point. He bit her and the wound healed, but she developed an abscess in the fat layer under her skin. It had to come out. I took her to the vet, she stayed overnight and she's home now with a giant scar on one side and an Elizabethan collar to keep her from picking at it.

(I tried to post a picture of her here, but DW has an unfamiliar picture-posting system, and I can't seem to get it to work. I'll figure it out eventually.)

She's doing just fine. She's eating, pooping, and getting used to life with an E collar. Last night, I closed her in the upstairs room, collar on, with food and a litter box. This morning, as if to show me who's boss, I woke to find the collar laying in the doorway to my bedroom and Sophie nowhere to be found. The door to the upstairs room was still closed. The only way she could have gotten out was to climb up and over the loft edge, and then jump down onto the easy chair on the main floor. No, there's nothing wrong with this girl. She's going to be fine. But this all means that I'm going to have to keep a careful eye on her. If she can remove her collar and drop it in my doorway to spite me, then it's going to be a tricky two weeks until she can stop wearing it.

:: sigh :: Cats.

Prompt for 2017-06-22

Jun. 22nd, 2017 10:45 pm
sacredporn: Kris Allen icon made by Sacred Porn (Default)
[personal profile] sacredporn posting in [community profile] dailyprompt
Today's prompt is "going back to where it all began".

The Big Idea: Curtis C. Chen

Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:01 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… well, if you’re Curtis C. Chen, maybe you think about setting a novel there. Here’s Chen now to explain Kangaroo Too’s lunar connection.


It is very likely that I set Kangaroo Too on the moon because of The Fifth Element.

In that movie, there’s a throwaway line of dialogue when Korben Dallas’ mother telephones him and complains that he never visits her on the moon. I had totally forgotten this until I went to see a 20th anniversary screening this year (yes, we really are that old), but it must have been stewing in my subconscious all that time.

Because why wouldn’t you put a retirement community on the moon? Gravity there is only one-sixth of Earth’s, so elders with mobility issues will find it easier to get around. Every habitat needs to be pressurized and climate-controlled anyway, so it can be as tropical as residents want. The only downside is that your family will have even more excuses for not visiting. Q.E.D.

Using the moon as a setting also let me put characters in a wider variety of awkward situations. Most of the first novel took place in a single location—a cruise spaceship traveling from Earth to Mars—but each hemisphere of the moon is roughly as wide across as the entire continental United States. Add a futuristic high-speed subway connecting population centers, and a reckless secret agent can get into plenty of trouble all over the place.

One lunar feature I latched onto early in my research was a “crater of eternal darkness.” The moon is tidally locked to the Earth (i.e., one hemisphere always faces toward us), and there are places along the day/night terminator that either always or never see sunlight. If you want continuous free electricity to power a transportation network, put solar panels on mountaintops near the north pole; if you want to keep something hidden, bury it under the deepest crater at the south pole.

And, of course, I had to include visits to at least a couple of Apollo landing sites, which are preserved as historical museums in this future. I’m sure the same thing will happen in reality. As soon as people can affordably travel to other planets, there’s going to be a booming space tourism industry. Everybody wants to stand on the Lunar surface, see the Earth rise over the horizon, and cover that blue marble with their thumb.

But back to aging on the moon. NASA recently conducted a Twins Study in which they followed identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly for one year, while Scott lived aboard the International Space Station and Mark remained on Earth. The final report isn’t out yet, but researchers are already seeing unexpected results (e.g., telomere lengthening) which raise many interesting questions. It seems possible that humans could naturally live longer in low gravity environments.

Of course, the most important scientific question raised in Kangaroo Too is: could we actually keep chickens on the moon, and therefore have fresh eggs? The only way to know for sure is to establish a Lunar base and start breeding livestock up there. Make me a liar, Fish!


Kangaroo Too: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s blog. Follow him on Twitter.

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Amy Poehler has a lot of experience with politics. That may mostly extend to her excellent run on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” and playing the world’s most lovable politician as Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec, but that’s exactly the kind of experience required to take up the “Really!?” segment again to mock the protestors of the Trump-themed Julius Caesar production.

It’s great to see Poehler and Meyers at it again, even if it’s on a different show, in a time when so many others are content to play to “both sides.” It’s also just great to see Amy Poehler anytime, anywhere, because she’s earned a special place in our hearts, and there are a few more segments from her Late Night appearance on the show’s YouTube channel in case you need to take your mind off of things with some pure joy.

Meanwhile, if you’re all fired up after seeing Leslie Knope mock political protestors during Donald Trump’s presidency, there are certainly more serious issues to think about. Late Night also touched on the Senate Republicans’ super top secret healthcare plan (and so did Jimmy Kimmel), and by “healthcare plan,” I mean “plan to ruin healthcare.”

The plan is finally expected to be revealed this week before Republicans make a final push to ram it through Congress before public outcry can stop them, but details have begun to trickle out that suggest cuts to Medicaid at the very least—something Trump promised he wouldn’t do, though we’d be positively shocked if he actually stuck to anything he’s ever said. It’s also likely that Trumpcare will remove the requirement that insurers cover addiction treatment—in the middle of a massive opioid addiction crisis.

Speaking of Trump himself, he stated publicly that he doesn’t want a “poor person” making economic decisions in his cabinet and tried to make a case for why it’s OK—beneficial, even!—that his cabinet is full of super rich people to an unprecedented degree. Truly, we have never wished harder that Leslie Knope were a real person.

(image: NBC)

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r/Fantasy AMA

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:00 am


Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat


Must be an adult

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

New Discoveries in the Animal Kingdom

Jun. 22nd, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

I believe that all new scientific discoveries should be announced via cake, don't you?

[pushing back glasses and consulting clipboard] Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present...

The Majestic Bagel-Nosed Falcon of Uganda!

Or it might be a fish. Fish...falcon...you know. Whatevs.


[Shuffling papers] Next we have...

The Majestic Happy Chicken-Footed Spiny-Backed Slime Devil.
(Watch out; they spit.)


We're still working on the scientific name for this one:

So for now let's just call it the Majestic Coiled Crap Hound.
(I think that has a real ring to it, don't you?)


Here we have a particularly colorful specimen:

The Majestic Disco Newt! Let's pause a moment to admire his beautiful plumage.

Right. That's long enough.


And finally, we have...

The Majestic Three-Toed Four-Eyed Whiskered Zebra Toad.
(Yeah, you heard me. ZooBorns, eat your heart out.)


Thanks to Kelly D., Kit R., Caitlin B., Jordan J. and Donald L., who are all, er, majestic.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

More Fireflies

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:11 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

I’m getting a smidgen better at taking pictures of these little glowy dudes. The secret, which is not a secret at all, is long exposures on steady platforms, and low ISO settings so you don’t blow out the picture. This one, which is actually a detail of a larger photo, is a 20 second exposure at ISO 250 at late dusk (close to 10 pm here because it was literally the night before the solstice), so the sky was darker than it is here. I used the birdbath in the front yard as a platform.

I was focused on the fireflies but as you can see a little here, and rather better in the photo linked above, I caught some stars in there too, as well as twenty seconds of their movement across the sky, which was apparently just long enough to catch some streaking. I think this is pretty cool.

I’ll probably post one or two more firefly photos before the season is done. I think they’re pretty.

[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Teresa Jusino

Orphan Black is, in large part, about women fighting for their bodily autonomy. While Dyad and Neolution have been trying to claim ownership over the Leda Clones for four seasons, Clone Club has been fighting to survive on their own terms. What’s interesting in the show’s fifth season is that in the most recent episode, “Clutch of Greed,” we were given two female characters fighting for bodily autonomy without survival being the point. **SPOILERS AHOY**

For the past four seasons, Sarah’s daughter Kira has been shuttled and shuffled around for her own safety. The daughter of our principal Leda Clone, it’s also become clear over the years that she’s special beyond the fact that she was born to a clone. Over the years, she seems to have demonstrated that she has visions, or a kind of sixth sense. More recently, as they’ve found more Leda clones, Kira has made it known that she can “feel [Sarah’s] sisters.” Kira is connected to all of them, and feels them constantly.

So, of course, everyone wants to study her, and her mother wants to keep her safe. They’ve been running and hiding for years and, for the most part, Kira has gone along. As a little girl with an entire clone family protecting her, along with Felix and Mrs. S, she didn’t really have much choice, and she trusted that they had her best interests at heart.

Yet, at the beginning of this season, there’s a new element affecting the Leda Clones’ lives. Rachel has been chosen by P.T. Westmoreland himself (the founder of Neolution who’s way, way old) to lead Neolution. She says she wants to help cure her sisters, and she wants them all to come in willingly. She’s giving Cosima the time and space to test the cure for their illness, and if it works, she can develop it for all of them.

She also wants to restart human cloning, but that’s a whole other conversation. The point is, she wants to do so nicely.

After Rachel captured Sarah, she wanted to make a deal. Or rather, she wanted to call a sort of truce between herself and the other Ledas. She doesn’t want to take Kira away from Sarah, but she does want to study her, and so she asks Sarah to allow her to pick up Kira from school every day so that she can aid them in their research, and she’ll be delivered back safely

Sarah agrees, but then once she’s safely alone with Mrs. S and Felix, she reveals that she has zero intention of trusting Rachel, even though in her brief time with her, Kira has come to like Rachel, going so far as to call her “Auntie Rachel,” much to Sarah’s annoyance. Sarah then comes up with a plan to steal Kira back from under Rachel’s nose and go hide outside the country.

The plan to save Kira succeeds, though not without some hardship and tragedy. But when it comes time for Sarah and Kira to board a truck that’s going to take them away to safety, something interesting happens.

Kira fights getting on the truck and insists that she doesn’t want to run again. She wants to go with Rachel. Sarah is horrified.

But as Kira explains, she wants to know “why [she’s] like this.” She’s tired of running without answers. She’s tired of her mother and the rest of Clone Club making decisions for her. She’s tired of being shushed or not believed when she tries to warn people about something. Rachel might not be the safest person in the world, but in this moment Kira is asserting her right to look for answers about her own body, abilities, and identity. Even if it means putting herself in danger. She screams for the right to be able to make that decision for herself.

Orphan Black seems to be reminding us that, just because Kira is young doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve a say in what happens to her. While Sarah obviously loves her and wants to protect her the way most mothers would, she’s not taking into account the toll the constant running and hiding has already taken on Kira. Kira is tired of survival at the expense of her own spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. She chooses to take a chance, because the pain of not knowing feels worse to her. And when Sarah looks to Mrs. S and Felix for support, they side with Kira, driving home the message that even as parents want to protect their children, they also have to listen to them.

**CW: Brief description of a character’s murder and a shot of the dead character from the show**

And then there’s M.K. Poor, sick M.K. who’s come down with the clone illness hard. Scott has managed to track down M.K. and M.K. has managed to break into Felix’s apartment. She becomes a big help in maneuvering Clone Club to get Kira to safety, and Sarah is determined to ensure that M.K. will be safe, too. Diverging from the plan a bit, Sarah risks her safety (and almost gets caught by Ferdinand) to stop and pick up M.K. so that she can leave with her and Kira.

However, when Sarah gets to Felix’s, M.K. tells her she shouldn’t have come. That she’s been running and hiding most of her life and she just needs to stop. She’s really similar to Kira in this way, and as with Kira, Sarah thinks she knows best. She insists that the only thing that matters is escaping Neolution. M.K, however, has other priorities. Her illness is pretty far gone, and it’s likely she doesn’t have long anyway. She doesn’t want to spend what’s left of her life running. She finds meaning in helping the rest of Clone Club to safety, but that doesn’t necessarily mean safety for herself.

When Ferdinand tracks Sarah to Felix’s apartment, M.K. makes the ultimate sacrifice. She exchanges clothes with Sarah and gets her out though another entrance as she attempts to hold off Ferdinand. While Ferdinand is there for Sarah, he sadistically rejoices at the sight of M.K. (who recently deprived him of millions of dollars and didn’t have the decency of dying with the rest of the clones he was responsible for killing in Helsinki) dressed as Rachel (who has recently broken his heart by not being into dominating him anymore). He calls it “two revenge fantasies in one.” In a scene that is really, really excruciating to watch, he stomps on M.K’s chest until she is dead. Then, in morbid salute, Ferdinand places her sheep mask on her chest before leaving the apartment.

What’s almost beautiful about that entire scene, however, is that M.K. is prepared to die. She knew what was coming, and she was at peace with it. She insists, over and over, that “you can’t hurt me anymore.” She has chosen to help her sisters and escape her illness by putting herself in this position and letting the chips fall where they may.

On a show that is all about female characters fighting for ownership over their own bodies, I was struck by the fact that, in this episode, we had two of those female characters essentially fighting for the right to put themselves in harm’s way toward a greater purpose. Fighting for freedom, or for one’s life, or for the abstract idea of “having control over one’s body” is very understandable to most people.

Fighting for the right to die, or for peace, or for answers, or sacrificing for another are understood a lot less.  These, too, are choices one can make when exerting autonomy over one’s own body, and women have just as much a right over these choices as they do over the choices that would protect them and keep them safe, and alive.

It’s interesting that Orphan Black gave us a look at what that kind of autonomy can look like through the two most seemingly helpless characters on the show. Kira and M.K. are both nuanced female characters, showing us that being a “strong” female character means being a character who asserts her agency, whether it keeps her “safe” or not.

(images: screencap/BBC America)

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Interesting Links for 22-06-2017

Jun. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm

NSA Insider Security Post-Snowden

Jun. 22nd, 2017 10:52 am
[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

According to a recently declassified report obtained under FOIA, the NSA's attempts to protect itself against insider attacks aren't going very well:

The N.S.A. failed to consistently lock racks of servers storing highly classified data and to secure data center machine rooms, according to the report, an investigation by the Defense Department's inspector general completed in 2016.


The agency also failed to meaningfully reduce the number of officials and contractors who were empowered to download and transfer data classified as top secret, as well as the number of "privileged" users, who have greater power to access the N.S.A.'s most sensitive computer systems. And it did not fully implement software to monitor what those users were doing.

In all, the report concluded, while the post-Snowden initiative -- called "Secure the Net" by the N.S.A. -- had some successes, it "did not fully meet the intent of decreasing the risk of insider threats to N.S.A. operations and the ability of insiders to exfiltrate data."

Marcy Wheeler comments:

The IG report examined seven of the most important out of 40 "Secure the Net" initiatives rolled out since Snowden began leaking classified information. Two of the initiatives aspired to reduce the number of people who had the kind of access Snowden did: those who have privileged access to maintain, configure, and operate the NSA's computer systems (what the report calls PRIVACs), and those who are authorized to use removable media to transfer data to or from an NSA system (what the report calls DTAs).

But when DOD's inspectors went to assess whether NSA had succeeded in doing this, they found something disturbing. In both cases, the NSA did not have solid documentation about how many such users existed at the time of the Snowden leak. With respect to PRIVACs, in June 2013 (the start of the Snowden leak), "NSA officials stated that they used a manually kept spreadsheet, which they no longer had, to identify the initial number of privileged users." The report offered no explanation for how NSA came to no longer have that spreadsheet just as an investigation into the biggest breach thus far at NSA started. With respect to DTAs, "NSA did not know how many DTAs it had because the manually kept list was corrupted during the months leading up to the security breach."

There seem to be two possible explanations for the fact that the NSA couldn't track who had the same kind of access that Snowden exploited to steal so many documents. Either the dog ate their homework: Someone at NSA made the documents unavailable (or they never really existed). Or someone fed the dog their homework: Some adversary made these lists unusable. The former would suggest the NSA had something to hide as it prepared to explain why Snowden had been able to walk away with NSA's crown jewels. The latter would suggest that someone deliberately obscured who else in the building might walk away with the crown jewels. Obscuring that list would be of particular value if you were a foreign adversary planning on walking away with a bunch of files, such as the set of hacking tools the Shadow Brokers have since released, which are believed to have originated at NSA.

Read the whole thing. Securing against insiders, especially those with technical access, is difficult, but I had assumed the NSA did more post-Snowden.

oursin: Photograph of a statue of Hygeia, goddess of health (Hygeia)
[personal profile] oursin
[R]ed tape also means regulations that protect citizens, at a certain cost to companies that otherwise have little incentive to sacrifice some profit to mitigate risk. It is because of red tape that you cannot buy a flammable sofa, and that you are very unlikely to die in an air crash.

Much red tape, indeed, is the frozen memory of past disaster. Modern regulatory regimes as a whole came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of public outrage at the dangerous practices of unrestrained industry.

This is perhaps partly similar to the phenomenon that having effective infrastructure and ongoing regular maintenance of same is not as dramatic a story as horrendous accidents.

It's possibly also analogous to people becoming anti-vaxxers, because vaccination programmes have been so successful that there is no notion of the risks there used to be from common diseases of childhood.

For the first few years of 'there were no new cases of polio in the last twelve months' this is news. And then that becomes the default setting.

For those who decry 'Elf and Safety, I recommend a salutary reading of the London Medical Officer of Health reports from the C19th, freely available digitised and searchable online.

There are some Victorian values one can get behind, and the rise of public health is one of them.

On other Victorian values, however, and those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, this person seems unaware that providing tied housing contingent upon working for a particular employer is nothing like a 'welfare state':

it was recently reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is spending is around $30m to provide short-term, prefab housing for 300 of its employees because Silicon Valley housing is in such short supply. Tech giants helped cause a housing crisis in Silicon Valley, now it seems they are becoming landlords. It’s feudalism 2.0.
Not so much feudalism as C19th model towns, e.g. Saltaire, founded by businessmen to keep their workers contented and (I hypothesise) spurning the trades union movement (having had to do with a late C19th enterprise with some of the same elements of benevolent paternalism towards the workforce).

And, looking at that article, was New Lanark really quite the same thing? Enlightened capitalism not quite the same as utopian socialism.

Also had the thought that people who are 'regulation BAD' seem to reverse this opinion when it comes to panic measures against terrorism that are often symbolic rather than proven efficacious.

reading wednesday

Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:55 am
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
• What are you reading?

The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan.
The conceit of this book is brilliant. She has to stay single, for complicated family reasons, but her plan will stop working if she turns down any reasonable offer, so she has to make her person repellent enough to counterbalance the attraction of her considerable fortune -- without letting anyone see that she's doing it on purpose. I love it when the obstacles in a romance are not stupid! I love comedy of manners, when it puts extra constraints on the protagonist's solution space! Especially when the protagonist using a formidable intelligence and an immense amount of work to seem foolish and ineffectual!
I was disappointed that this book ignores the constraints that don't assist the story it wants to tell. (For example, these unmarried gentlewomen would not go to a dinner-party in a house without a hostess. One of them is accompanied by a chaperone, another is with her sister, and that is adequate for excursions in public places in daylight, but after dark, in a house full of young men -- no. It would not do.) These elements might not move the story forward directly, but they would do a lot to make the societal forces our heroes are working against seem powerful and real.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer. DNF. It isn't a bad book, but I found myself resenting the idea that it would be one of the approximately 3000 new books I have time left to read. Its greatest appeal for me is how thoroughly Schumer fights against shame. Read for Tawanda book group.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I put a Climbing Mount TBR challenge on my Habitica To-Do list, but I'm not sure how to tackle it. Two of my book groups are on summer hiatus, so I have room to move. I like [personal profile] melannen's FMK polls, and I keep thinking I could do that too, but when I look at my shelves and ask, "Which of these are you going to read, really?" and "Which of these do you need to keep, really?" my answer is always, "All of them. All. Yes, even that one."

January 2011


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