Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2012

.

One of the best things that has come about because of personal computers is the ability to play around with music. A few years ago I ripped my entire CD collection onto my hard drive, thereby reducing scratching from handling, and making my music easier to access. And it’s fan-freaking-tastic to be able to purchase individual songs once again via digital download.

There was a horrible, gaping void for music lovers for several years in between the death of vinyl as the primary medium–and thus the death of 45 rpm singles–and the rise of digital music. Releasing singles on CD wasn’t as practical, so it wasn’t often done. Anyone who loves music can relate to refusing to pay for a whole album when you know for a fact you only want one song.

But what pleases me most is the ability to infinitely customize how I listen to music. There are few albums that I consider excellent as a whole. CDs introduced the ability to easily skip songs; computers introduced the ability to easily combine them in whatever way makes me happy.

I have over 100 custom playlists on my computer. Some of them are for a single artist with the songs I like best. For my favorite artists I often make several playlists, each with different tempos and moods. Most playlists are mixes, based on theme, style, or whatever other classification I come up with. Some playlists I create specifically for burning to CD for use in my car stereo.

A few months ago I posted a song playlist, inspired by reading a similar one on Stacia Kane’s blog. That list was mood music for moping.

It was fun doing that, so figured I’d do another one. But this time it’s happy tunes. These songs are great for when you need a little perking up, already feel fine and want to express it, or just need sunny summer day type music. The list is arranged in an order that plays with a good flow.

.

1. “I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash. For when you need a little uplift, or are already feeling good, having overcome an obstacle. I’ve always loved it, but the lyrics took on a whole new meaning for me, and it became my personal coming out theme song in the mid-80s. Now it’s mostly back to being a general, all around great song.

2. “Ventura Highway by America. This one always makes me think of mellow summer days, lying in the grass, watching the clouds.

3. “Back to Avalon by Heart. A going home (literally or metaphorically) song.

4. “Jazzmanby Carole King. Nice saxophone, and the lyrics say it all about music and moods.

5. “Good Morning Starshine from the Hair soundtrack. An early morning singing song that always makes me smile.

6. “Stoned Soul Picnic by The Fifth Dimension. For groovin’ on a warm summer day.

7. “Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin on Me)” by Joss Stone. A feeling good love song.

8. “I’m Alright by Kenny Loggins. Title of the song kinda says it all. Good beat and a chorus that encourages loud singing.

9. “Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison. Van the Man singing about sharing the load to a tune that’s irresistibly upbeat.

10. “Sky is Fallingby Beth Hart. Not sure how to describe this one, but it always grabs me and gets my head bobbing*.

11. “I Take My Chances by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Carpenter is one of the greatest lyricists ever, and I love her voice too. This one is about throwing caution to the wind, with no regrets.

12. “Montuno by Gloria Estefan. Not knowing Spanish, I haven’t a clue what Gloria is actually singing about. But listening to this one makes me feel like I’m drinking margaritas and dancing at a fiesta.

13. “Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells. For that positive, optimistic vibe. I can’t resist smiling and singing along.

14. “Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles. Quintessential.
(Link is to the CD. No Beatles music is available for digital download as far as I know.)

.

It probably doesn’t escape notice that at least half of the songs listed fall into the “golden oldies” category. I like a lot of newer music too (though at my age, “newer” is defined as anything from the 1990s on). But I think most people have a soft spot for the music we grow up with, and it’s what we return to again and again when wanting to evoke a specific feeling.

.

* Beth Hart is a horribly under-appreciated artist. “Sky is Falling” is from Screamin for my Supper, which is a great album. I’ve linked to the CD, since songs are not available digitally. I couldn’t find anything online for “Sky is Falling”, but here’s a link to Hart performing a different song, “Delicious Surprise,” from the same album to get a taste of her style. (Though the sound quality on the video isn’t very good.)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my previous posts about the Mark Regnerus NFSS paper (here and here), or other criticisms by experts around the web, that the paper published by Regnerus in Social Science Research, a peer-review journal, is indeed bullshit. But it is Darren E. Sherkat, a member of the journal’s editorial board, who is saying it this time.

Sherkat was assigned to conduct an internal audit of the study and its peer-review process. The audit results will be published in the November issue of the journal. The audit found that there are significant and disqualifying problems with the study, that the peer-review process failed to identify them, and that there were conflicts of interest among the reviewers.

Sherkat concluded that the Regnerus paper never should have been published, and in an interview bluntly summed it up by saying, “It’s bullshit.”

The audit finds that the peer-review process failed due to both ideology and inattention. In other words, some people failed the process due to having an ideological agenda. Others were simply busy and skimmed, not catching the study’s methodology problems.

In my original post I was apparently incorrect that Regnerus was only making guesses about whether any respondents had lived with a stable same-sex couple their entire lives. According to this article by Tom Bartlett, which is where I read about the audit, Regnerus does know.

The study reported that there were 236 respondents raised by gay parents. According to Bartlett, of those, only two were children raised by a lesbian couple for their entire childhood. (None by gay male couples.)

I hope everyone is grasping the enormity of this. A study purporting to accurately depict child-rearing outcomes by lesbian and gay parents had only two respondents that actually fit into that category.

In addition to the internal audit by Social Science Research, The University of Texas is conducting a scientific misconduct investigation to determine if the study lacks scientific integrity and if Regnerus engaged in improper behavior in regards to study funding and others connected with the study.

Lastly, to highlight my concern about the bullshit study being used improperly in court cases, yesterday I read the court’s summary judgement in a Hawaii case where the Regnerus NFSS study was used to “prove” that parenting by married opposite-sex couples is superior to parenting by gay and lesbian couples.

Read Full Post »

My Kindle 2 when she was new – all tucked in and ready to go for reading in bed.

.

I’m still massively in love with my Kindle 2. (My first and only Kindle.) She’s 3.5 years old now and, despite a few signs of aging, she’s still going strong.

However, when she was around two years old her battery started going noticeably downhill. Using her every day I was having to recharge about every 4-5 days. (I generally recharge when the battery gets to the 50% mark.)

But I eeked things out for a long time. Until recently that is, when I’ve been having to charge every other day, sometimes every day. And the charge in that short time was getting down to around 25-30% remaining.

Part of the reason I waited so long to do anything about it, aside from being a champion procrastinator, is that the instructions on how to do the battery replacement are in the form of an online video, which I could not watch on dialup. Now that I’ve joined the 21st Century and have broadband, I figured it was time.

I ordered the replacement battery from NewPower99.com. Along with the battery you’re sent a shim tool for removing the cover, and a tiny magnetized screwdriver for handling the four teeny screws involved. Which is everything you need to do the replacement yourself.

There is a how-to video on the product page and watching it is fully instructive. The most difficult part for me was getting the small top plastic cover off. I worked at that quite a while before I could get it to pop off. The rest was a cinch.

Oh, well, almost a cinch. I almost forgot about the part where the volume control button/lever fell out. Heh. I was able to fit it back in place when reassembling my Kindle and I assume it still works. (I don’t use music, text-to-speech, or audiobooks on my Kindle, so even if I couldn’t have refit it, it wouldn’t have been a loss.)

After I replaced the battery and got my Kindle 2 put back together, it appeared that I’d killed her, and suffered several pangs of grief and regret. The screen was displaying my Home page, but none of the buttons worked, including the power slider.

Turns out she was just lying low until I could charge the new battery. A couple minutes after I plugged her in she did a reboot and the critical battery page came up on the screen. A bit later, after she got some juice, she started working normally again.

So the moral of the story is, don’t freak out, just plug it in and be patient until the charging light turns green.

I replaced the battery four or five days ago, and I’ve lost less than 25% of the charge in that time. If this battery is anything like when my Kindle 2 was new, it will perform even better after it’s been in use for 2-3 weeks.

So if you have a Kindle that is getting on in years and you’re tired of having to recharge frequently, I encourage you to go ahead and replace the battery yourself. It really is easy to do, and will breathe new life into it!

.

[Note: Amazon offers to do battery replacement for a small fee, around the same price or only a little more than the purchase price and shipping for the battery from NewPower99. However, it means sending your Kindle to them and being sent a different one, with a fresh battery, in return. If you’re anything like me, you want YOUR Kindle, not just any ol’ Kindle. So replacing the battery yourself is the better solution.]

Read Full Post »

I’m really behind on my reviewing! (And doing Book Bits!)

I just finished reading Two on the Aisle by Robbi McCoy, so wrote my review tonight while I was still thinking about it. It has been added to the Romance page in my Lezzie Books section, or you can go directly to the review by clicking here.

There have been a few other books that I’ve intended to review over the last few months, but kept procrastinating. Which then makes it difficult to write a decent review, since my impressions are no longer fresh. For two of them, I’ve added their titles to their respective Lezzie Books category pages and included links to my brief Book Bits comments.

Both of these books are highly recommended. They are: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson and Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. They are both mentioned in my April 2012 Book Bits post.

Also mentioned in that Book Bits post (and also highly recommended) is Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, which has been added to my Miscellaneous category page. (I guess April was a good queer reading month for me!)

To find other lesbian and bi book reviews and recommendations click on the Lezzie Books tab at the top of this page.

Read Full Post »

.

This is a bit different than the usual movie I post about. Hung is a short, and probably the only people who ever heard of it are ones who caught it at a queer film festival.

Hung is a well-executed indie short film. When it came up in my search results for free streaming lesbian movies through Amazon Prime I was dubious, but couldn’t resist giving it a try, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

The premise is that a lesbian obtains a magic potion that will give her a penis for one day. She got enough potion for five people, so that her four lesbian friends could join her on the little adventure. I don’t really want to say anything more, since it would give too much away.

Everyone who spends any amount of time viewing indie lesbian movies knows what it’s like to struggle through badly acted crap with crummy scripts and poor production values. Happily, that’s not the case here. Well, the low budget production part is there (most notably in terms of sound). But the acting is decent, the script is unexpectedly subtle and creative, the humor is spot on, and the editing is top-notch.

My only real complaint is that it’s too short. The actual movie time is only about 10-11 minutes, which means there’s not enough time to explore the experience as much as I’d have liked. It would be easy to go overboard and take the gag too far with a longer movie, but this was kind of like only being allowed to eat one appetizer when you’re hungry. Though, I suppose it could be argued that’s what makes it work so well.

Hung is definitely worth spending the few minutes it takes to watch*. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get several chuckles out of it.

* If you have Amazon Prime and can watch it for free, there’s no reason not to. If you aren’t a member, the purchase price for the digital download is $2.99. That’s kinda steep considering how short it is, but would be worth it if you end up watching it a few times. I’m thinking of buying it in order to support the filmmakers.

Read Full Post »

First let me get out of the way that I’ve been a sidetracked blogger for the last month and a half, so I’m way behind on my Book Bits, and all other kinds of posts and reviews.

I spent the end of June and most of July focusing on a large project and making the most of a free trial month of Netflix. I’ve never watched so much video (and done so little reading) in a 30 day time span!

I also attempted failed combat against a highly irritating, and ultimately intransigent, computer virus that ended with resorting to doing a clean OS install that resulted in no computer for almost three full days because, of course, it didn’t go well. (All my fault, I thought I knew what I was doing. I didn’t.)

Plus there was all the resulting, seemingly endless, setup and reloading of data and programs that made for limited computer utility for a few days more. And to cap it off, had to deal with another 12 hour period of online and computer withdrawal due to a power outage. I’m only now finally getting back to normal! The good news is, my computer seems to be okay.

.

So today I wanted to discuss two types of harassment that I came across in my net wanderings yesterday. They are very different. The only things that they have in common is that one or more persons harassed another person or persons, and that I read about them both on the same day. Rather than doing two separate posts I figured I’d lump them together in one long-assed post.

The first is a case of sexual harassment. A Hugo-nominated writer attending Readercon this year was harassed by a man also attending the con. It’s a good case to use for discussion of what exactly constitutes harassment, and what is required to make space welcoming and safe for women.

The acts of harassment, when taken individually, do not on the surface seem to be severe or worthy of lodging official complaint. After all, women put up with those sorts of things all the time, and rarely remark on them, except maybe comments to a close friend.

That fact alone is worthy of discussion. It’s shocking just how little most men know about what the average woman deals with in her lifetime. And because it’s so seldom discussed, women, especially young women, are much too ignorant as well. Meaning, they often can’t even identify actual harassment when it happens, being trained by our culture to not trust their instincts, let alone how to do something about it.

Women are trained to accept a certain amount of boorish behavior from men. We are also trained to apologize for the bad behavior of others, as if it is somehow our fault. So it sometimes becomes difficult to identify just when average, ill-considered behavior crosses a line, unless the behavior is blatantly abusive or predatory.

The Readercon case was not an instance of blatantly abusive behavior, and the stalkerish nature of it is not necessarily immediately obvious to someone who is only reading a brief recounting of the weekend after the fact.

But women need to feel safe within their communities, however community is defined at that moment. And feeling safe means that they should not have to wait until a man physically corners them or whips out his penis before it’s acceptable to expect action be taken by whatever the local authorities are for that situation, whether it be event organizers or local police.

My main point in bringing this up, though, is to link to Genevieve Valentine’s excellent blog post about her Readercon experience. In the last half of the post she lays out, in concise, easy to understand bullet points, the social cues that all men must recognize and abide by.

And most importantly, she stresses that women do not owe men any further contact, even if it’s a chance to apologize, once those men have violated boundaries. This goes against our training, but I think it’s vital for women, as well as men, to learn this particular point. As Ms. Valentine states in her post: “When you have made a woman uncomfortable, you show her you are sorry by leaving her alone.”

—————————————————————————

The second issue for today is a case of public cyber harassment. This isn’t the usual sort that makes the news, where a bunch of teens gang up on another teen to bully them and make their life as miserable as possible. In this case it’s hypocritical adults abusing internet tools.

I’m not a member of Goodreads (haven’t had the time yet), but I’m somewhat familiar with the site. A small group (if it’s not a single individual posing as a group, which is entirely possible) has taken it upon themselves to try and clean things up, get rid of bullying, and make it a better, friendlier place.

That all sounds well and good. But here’s the problem: the “bullying” they are decrying is not in fact bullying. What they are taking issue with is some reviewers who have posted negative (sometimes filled with liberal amounts of snark or mockery) reviews about books. Yeah, you read that right. They’ve equated stating an opinion as a consumer with bullying.

But that’s not the worst of it. These hypocritical net thugs have employed some of the tactics used by actual bullies in their crusade to stamp out what they, in their massive ignorance, define as bullying. They have set up a website where they have posted out of context screen captures, but most reprehensibly, real life info about their targets, including family info, real names, locations, and photos*.

That is NEVER okay.

It does not matter if the info was easily obtainable with some inside help spying on private pages and from public pages elsewhere on the net. It is NEVER OKAY to collect and post people’s private info on the internet. Doing so is not only a form of harassment, it invites additional harassment from unrelated weirdos, and potentially puts people in real life danger.

Foz Meadows made a great blog post about what is and is not bullying that sums it up as well as anything I could do.  (The first part of her post discusses the Goodreads environment for those not familiar with it.) Though she’s much too soft on calling out the offenders, making it sound like what they’ve done is no worse than posting a negative review, which I most stridently disagree with. Still, it’s good reading.

This post at Gossamer Obsessions proves that though the personal info is no longer on the STGRB site, it was at one time.

To make my position on reviewing clear:

Once a book is published, the author relinquishes control over how that book is perceived and discussed in the public domain. Once an author is published, they become a public figure, and their behavior, in real life and/or in cyberspace, will be discussed.

Readers have the right to offer up their honest opinions about books they have spent their valuable time (and usually money) reading, without any interference from authors, editors, or publishers. It is in an author’s own best interests to let readers alone to do what they do, even if the reader is being unfair or out of line.

I do not think reviewers should be nasty or malicious towards the author in a book review. There are some who don’t follow that rule, and I’ve probably skirted that line in one or two of my reviews, but it unfortunately comes with the territory. I understand that hearing negative things about your hard work hurts. But that also comes with the territory.

Authors who can’t accept this should never put up anything they have written for sale. Post your work on a blog, where you maintain full control of content and feedback, if that’s the case.

.

[As a sidenote: Despite only being a distant outside observer, I’m pretty sure I know who the operator of the Stop the GR Bullies site is. A few months ago on an Amazon forum a woman posted a link to her blog where she had supposedly written a post about how to make the online world a better place. But when I followed the link I found a post centered around dredging up an old conflict from Goodreads in which she made many off-target accusations.

I commented at the time that I found it curious that a post supposedly about how to counteract bullying in a positive manner was in fact antagonistic, focused on conflict, and spreading misinformation.

Some of the same misinformation posted on that blog is now posted on the STGRB site. It’s clear to me that the author (and she is an author despite claims otherwise) has an axe to grind and is unable to let issues from months ago die their natural death.

Since I have no intention of sinking to her level, I will not out her here by revealing her name. I just found it interesting that something that was old news, and was overlooked by most book-oriented netizens at the time, has dots neatly connecting it to the recent mess, which has gained plenty of net buzz .]

.

* The photos are posted without permission, which is a violation of copyright.

.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: