December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

The end of a decade....
What posterity will remember of each year:

2000-Human Genome is fully mapped
2001- 9/11
2002-Increased national security vs. privacy rights
2003- Iraqi War begins
2004- Massachucets first state to legalize gay marriage
2005- Hurricane Katrina
2006- Illegal Immigration becomes a national issue
2007- The American and World Economies Crash
2008- Barack Obama wins Presidential Election
2009- Michael Jackson Dies, H1N1 virus

Under these city lights

The beauty of a city at night....


In more recent times...

It snowed!
A lot. I didn't think it would snow at all, but I was wrong. The thing about here is that when it snows any amount, everything shuts down. Schools, post offices, federal offices, businesses; there wasn't really any point in going anywhere.



The people next door actually rented a mini-bulldozer to clear out their driveway.

From Last Month

Really I should have posted these right after I went.
Has anyone heard about the Star Wars Concert? I went in November when it came to a reachable city. I mentioned it to a few people I know and they asked "How do you have a Star Wars concert?".
You play the orchestral peices in time with clips taken from all six movies, combine it with a laser lights show, and have Anthony Daniels narrate it.

Unfortuantely, you were not allowed to take pictures of the actual concert. There was, however, a traveling museum exhibit showcasing some of the props, costumes, and peices taken out of storage from Skywalker Ranch. Some of these peices have never before been displayed anywhere.
Enjoy the pictures.








December 3, 2009

Back to that again

Another post on the articles I found on science-fiction and feminism. If you haven't read them yet, refer to the last three articles first, please. The most recent comments there have clarified the issue quite a bit for me. Many thanks go to Arbitrary for his or her comments; and kudos on the ability to not rage about innacuracies in thinking.

From The War on Science Fiction and Marvin Minsky (fourth to last and the two last posts as of today)

Vicky Thorne November 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm
This is almost as bad as ’superheroes/comics are for boys! Since boys are the ones that want power! They are the ones that are agressive!’
Seriously, Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech; get over yourself. Please. Remind me again how women have killed science-fiction? Science-fiction has a very loyal fanbase, as I’m sure you know, and I fail to see how because you are female you simply cannot like technology or science. Or that you must like romance. Romance is sappy. Science fiction is where all the good stuff comes out. Dystopias, social issues, how societies function, the possiblities of intellect…Tell me how it is impossible for me to like science-fiction, or be an intelligent human being with likes and dislikes and things I will not stand to hear.Perhaps there are more boys and men who read science-fiction and/or comics, but did you ever think it was because we actually enjoy it but people like you just love to kick us around and then say that we won’t stand for abuse that you aren’t taking because we have very slight genetic differences?


Arbitrary November 26, 2009 at 9:26 pm
Vicky, I am afraid you have completely missed the point; you seem to think that the thesis of this article is entirely reversed from its actual intent. The author (and I) have no inherent problem with women reading or writing science fiction. The problem is that science fiction, as a genre, has been warped to target women as an audience; no one here is claiming that all girls are purely interested in romance, or that girls are biologically incapable of expressing interest in male-targeted entertainment. The point of the article is that, in an effort to “be more inclusive of girls” (that is, to target them, being a more valuable audience), male-targeted science fiction has been crowded out of the marketplace.
It is because of these differences in targeting that the symptoms of these problems arise; shows focused on relationship drama and on advancing a social agenda (surreptitiously, not to be confused with confronting social issues) rather than the themes of man conquering nature (both his own and that which surrounds him) and allegories of philosophical and social problems.
I will not defend the claim that these targeting assessments accurately reflect viewer interests; I don’t have to. Regardless of whether they do, or do not (and I would assume that they do, given the amount of money riding on the issue), they are the assessments made by the industry. We are here expressing an interest that their desire to grab a female market (misguided or not) not crowd out the entertainment we are looking for.

Vicky Thorne December 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm
Thank you for clarifying the point, Arbitrary, the problem here is that the way the argument is presented seems to be saying that you and the author do not want women in science fiction in any way. I think your post should be added on the end as a edit to the article. It could very well stop the flaming that seems to be going on all through this comment thread.Anyhow, I completely agree with all your points, but it might perhaps be better to address these concerns to the industry instead of (perhaps seemingly)to feminists and women to prevent further misunderstandings.


From We Are All Misogynists Now

Vicky Thorne November 26, 2009 at 9:11 pm
Completely agreeing with you here that rampant feminism in which all people do is insult eachother is completly besides the point and unhelpful. However, what I’m seeing in this article is circular reasoning. The women/feminists have a knee-jerk reaction of shaming language to apparent misogyny and you are comparing them to ‘bleating sheep’ and Klansmen and Nazis. That is also shaming language. So shaming language is invalid… yet both sides are using it. Therefore that brings about the conclusion that neither side’s arguments are valid; so everyone needs to shut up and go home and not come out until they can think of something comstructive to say which does not involve insulting people.

Arbitrary November 26, 2009 at 9:38 pm
Vicky, you’ve again not accurately read the article presented.
The article is not comparing feminists to Klansmen or Nazis. It’s saying that feminists use the label “misogynists” on men to try to make them seem equivalent to Klansmen and Nazis.
The article did, however, call the people bleating knee-jerk reactions sheeple. If you feel that this is an unwarranted insult, I suggest that you consider carefully the way in which this claim was introduced.

Vicky Thorne December 3, 2009 at 1:44 pm
I went back and looked, you’re right, Arbitrary, it does say in the article that “feminists use the label “misogynists” on men to try to make them seem equivalent to Klansmen and Nazis” as you put it. Thank you for pointing this out.Sheeple? Sheep-people or she-people? I’ve never heard that term before.Also, which claim? My claim about circular reasoning or the article’s claim about misogyny?
“Instead, we look to you and say, if we are Misogynists…SO WHAT?!”“SO WHAT?!” It offends a lot of women, that’s what. That is why so many people are complaining here.
“If we are what you call “Misogynist,” it is only so because we are reacting to a society and culture that has embraced Misandry as an acceptable cultural value.” If it is”an acceptable cultural value”, why are so many people objecting? It is because they do not feel it is acceptable, so it is a change in society. Therefore it is becoming not acceptable and you should realize that. If you want to decry the notion and file objections, go ahead; but keep in mind that many people will reply to this sort of thing as they have.

Arbitrary December 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm
Sheeple is a portmanteau combining sheep and people, and I was referring to the original article’s claim.
And I’m afraid that I honestly don’t care if telling the truth offends people; better to tell the truth and offend someone than to lie and hurt people in order to make a select few feel better about themselves, or to stand silently by as others do the same.
If telling the truth makes me a misogynist, I’m prepared to accept that label.


Vicky Thorne December 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm
Perfectly admirable viewpoint, and really that’s what this whole thing is about, right? Telling the truth as you see it? Cultural movements like femisim get started because the collective truth of a majority is changed.

November 29, 2009

Still unhappy about that

You remember those people in the last two posts, the one guy who had the 'shaming language' thing going on and the other guy with circular logic?
Their arguments have just been entirely deflated.
How?
The writer of the original Star Treck, the classic, the one with William Shatner as James Kirk and Spock and Uhura the communications operator and Doctor McCoy and Scottie from the "Beam me up, Scotty" fame, was DC Fontana.
Full name: Dorothy Catherine Fontana.
The writer of Star Trek was a woman. Tell me again how women are ruining science fiction?

Also: Ursuala K Le Guin. Andre Norton. Madeleine L'Engle.

November 26, 2009

And another response

We are all Misogynists Now.

To quote:
"...merely highlights your particular lack of logical reasoning and cognitive capabilities to refute an argument in a reasonable and intelligent manner.
What many of you people fail to understand is that people who read and contribute to this site are coming from an entirely different perspective. We do not share the same presumptions and rationales that you do. You who have registered your knee-jerk reactions and poured out your emotional-based outrage…you are merely the manifestation of bleating sheeple, following the herd of mainstream society."


So women have a "lack of logical reasoning and cognitive capablities"? Also that this somehow means we cannot "refute an argument in a reasonable and intelligent manner"? Explain, please. You are wrapped up in logical reasoning. So show me your logical reasoning for why women cannot refute an argument intelligently.

Stating now that this guy has a completly valid and sometimes sadly correct point that feminism which consists of insulting other people is not helpful and indeed harmful in many ways.

So far all I have seen is that you say women/feminists have a knee-jerk reaction to apparent misogyny and that you do not like this on a fudamental level, which makes your reaction a knee-jerk reaction to a knee-jerk reaction; furthermore you have already said that knee-jerk reactions are invalid. So therefore everyone's arguments are invalid and therefore no one is thinking at all.
Also: shaming language. So the feminists are using it, you say; and you are comparing them and those who think like them to bleating sheep and Klansmen and Nazis. How is this not shaming language? Shaming language is also apparently invalid, so again, everyone's arguments are invalid.

More responses to other's writings

The article today? The War on Science Fiction and Marvin Minsky.
Read it and return

Response:
So I cannot possibly like science or technology and must like romance because I am female? I must be more attracted to relationships than real-world issues? I am not allowed to dream or think of the future becuase I am female? I am not allowed to be intelligent because I have a slight genetic difference?
The reason there are less visible female readers, fans, and writers in science-fiction and comics is because of people like you, Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech. We take abuse dealt out by people like you and some leave when they refuse to take it anymore, and then obviously it is because we are female and not because you feel somehow threatend by us; and you don't even bother to acknoweledge that you are not taking the same kind of critisim and flame and abuse back.
There are less women working in science-oriented fields for the same reason. Cultural conceptions have held it as common knoweldge for centuries that men were superior to women, and obviously you still hold this belief.
Also: "whiny men who were genrally unable to find their way out of a wet paper bag"? Guess what women and girls in nearly all and any media since time immemorable have been? That. Those uncomfortable feelings you've got after seeing these men so characterized? Those are the same ones that many females have had for quite a long time now. Perhaps it is time to find your misplaced sense of empathy which, I am told, is essential to the survival of the human race.
SciFi changed its name to Syfy to escape B-list movie associations and to try and draw in more veiwers who would otherwise not want to set foot in the genre for fear of being called a geek or a nerd. If you feel the need to blame someone for the "more drama" focus of science-fiction now (if there is any, I'm not sure at this point), blame the people who made melodramas and reality TV shows popular.
Those three gay characters you were complaining about? Diversity in action. Do you also complain about racial diveristy? Diversity in general has been a touchstone and defining point in science-fiction for almost the entire history of the genre, understandable and even nessecary when you are writing about many and varied disparate cultures and races dispersed around the universe. Also known as aliens. If aliens are not diveristy, then what is?
Please get over your apparent obsession with "manly men". Those are the worst sort of men.
I would also like to address all these concerns to Sean_MacCloud.
Please, why don't you fall back on the time-honored tradition in science-fiction of inclusion no matter what the differences (that was almost the whole premise of Star Trek: explore to discover new cultures and how to work with them) and apply it to your lives.

PM/AFT; consider yourself Bingoed by virtue of There aren’t many women working in mainstream comics(science fiction, in this case) because they’re just not good enough.

Theory on Political Insanity

Lots of people seem to complain when the same politicians get elected time after time, despite how bad they are. Here's my answer to that:
Politics is mostly showmanship.
If you put on a good enough show, then enough people won't care about your platform to vote you into office. People will vote for what they feel is right instead and/or in spite of what they know is right. Think about it:
You remember the charmers and the con artists and the charismatic people in politics. The good speakers and the ones with the good public relations. The people who know what their constituents want and/or need. The masses remember Obama's "Yes we can" and "Change you can believe in" because that's what everyone felt they needed. When everyone was worried about communism, we got McCarthy. When Germany was sore over loosing so much, the world got Hitler. How many times has there been a change in government because people felt they couldn't live with the old one anymore; and then those same people make the government just the same as before? To many times to count since the rise of even a vestige of civilization and there will be many more to come.
Politicians are elected on feelings, it seems, more times than not. Certainly there are politicians who are decent people; I certainly know of some. Given that calling yourself a 'politician' usually gives people a bad feeling anyway, saying that you are a 'legislator' may help. However, that wouldn't change the situation at all if the politicians/legislators didn't change how they worked at all. We'd just have more complaining about 'two-faced politicians'.
If people thought more, perhaps then they would complain less.

Thanksgiving: It's historically innnacurate

Truth.
Here are misconceptions about the great American holiday.

The Puritans came to America.
The Puritans did not come to America. The Separatists came to America.

The Pilgrims were from England.
They went from England to the Netherlands and then back to England and took a ship to America.

The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower.
They originally had two ships: the Mayflower and the Speedwell. The Speedwell was too leaky to make the transatlantic voyage.

The Pilgrims came to America to flee from religious persecution.
Not all of them. Just over half of the people we now call Pilgrims were on the trip to make money off the land. The Separatists called them the Strangers.

The Pilgrims landed in Plymouth.
They were aiming for northern Virginia (they were being funded by the Virginia Company) and turned up off the coast of Cape Cod. They tried to correct course, but were forced back to Cape Cod and made first landfall in Princetown. They resupplied and then sailed to Plymouth, which wasn't even Plymouth; it was the area John Smith had named Patuxet.

Samoset and Squanto helped the Pilgrims through the winter.
Samoset and Tisquantum helped the Pilgrims through the winter.

Surely there are some people at this point going, 'no, that's wrong; Thanksgiving never happened anything like that!'. Go take it up with National Geographic. They published the book all this is from.

November 16, 2009

My two favorite ones






Two weeks late, but who cares












Will you come with me to the party?
Past the twisted oaken trees
And down the forest path.
See the burning candles
Now you know you're near.
Do you see the fires?
Do you see the dancing?
Will you stay to see
Or will you go to leave?


From the Halloween Party at my brother's school.

First Parish Gorham

I found a wonderful blog today, or at least someone I knew did.
Its called First Parish Gorham, and is the blog of Reverend David Butler, who says of himself:
"I am a non-traditional minister with a passion for social justice, the pursuit of truth and peace, and openness to other points of view (as long as they are open views as well). I am also an actor, writer, and playwright."
One post I really liked, Agnostic Christianity. Go read it.
While you're at it, go visit Senator Olympia Snowe's page. I'm writing a report about her and all her work with bipartisan reform.
Also visit Tamora Peirce's blog; especially if you liked the Girls Read Comics links.

Quotes pulled from various sources:
  • "Faith is the relationship we have with whatever it is that we consider truly transcendent." -Reverend David Butler
  • “Just because we have different views, that doesn't mean that we lack principles.” -Senator Olympia Snowe
  • "Thou art God" -Stranger in a Strange Land; Robert Heinlein

November 13, 2009

Disappointment

Maine repealed the Gay Rights Law. Those California people sent around a petition and got it re-voted on.
Commentary here.

October 28, 2009

In response to "Science Heroism", since the comment box there didn't work

I completely agree.
Thanks very much for the 'strong female characters', Comics Industry. However, how many of these 'strong females' are strong in mind? Physical strength is all well and good, but how does that help if you can't outhink your opponent?
I also despair at the plight of smart in people in the media. They are
1) geniuses with no social skills whatsoever and therefore laughed at constantly
2) so sarcastic/snarky that no one messes with them
3) out of touch with the rest of the world
4) evil
Why are there no geniuses who have average interpersonal skills who are also polite, social, and irrevocably on the side of good?
There are people like that.

EDIT: for those of you who liked this post, check out the American Association of University Women. In a hugely coincidental event, I found out that a letter from them arrived in the mail after I finished writing this.
EDIT 2: Here's the original article "Science Heroism"

Dennis Damon and Gay Marriage

Wonderful things happen in New England.

County fairs, lobstering, clambakes, blueberry picking... and the legalization of gay marriage.
Unfortunately, no one hears about it. In fact, the announcement of just the fact that this was going on didn't rate mentioning until page 7 of the newspaper. This should have been, in my mind, on at least page 2 or in the 'what's inside' section in the bottom corner of the front page.
Why, you ask?


Maine is only the FIFTH state to legalize gay marriage. Everyone heard when California failed to pass a similar bill, but no one has heard of how five of the six states to take this step (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine) are all in New England. The only other state is Iowa.

I ask why we hear more of the failures than of the successes.
Any answers?


This, by the way, is the man behind it all: Dennis Damon

October 7, 2009

Girls Read Comics

And now for some links to the wonderful world of Girls Read Comics:

Bingo: The Callers Include You

Myth Is A Metaphor

Science Heroism

A Distinct Lack of Shouting

I Am Not Doing This Twice

Read these and then read all the rest.

Comics

In light of the fact that I failed horribly at trying to promote awareness of sexism and misogyny in comics at school, I provide these links to you:

http://girl-wonder.org/

http://girl-wonder.org/girlsreadcomics



The ladies (and men) there have done a wonderful job with the topics mentioned above and I will let them do the talking.

However, this does not stop me from touching on the same topics, or indeed writing whole posts about it.

In the News....

So yesterday, I beleive, I found an article. An article on healthcare reform.
Now this is nothing unusal. Healthcare reform has been all over the news for awhile now. However, it was what they said in the article that really got to me:
"We put a lot of money into this program, and get less results than other countries which put in less money and get good results" was essentially what the part that inspired me to write this post said. Well, there is an answer to that.
Research what they are doing.
Because obviously they are doing something different than you, Government. I'll bet they have a different system. I'll bet they have different ways of doing the same things. I'm sure that Congress has some sort of Research Department, and if they don't then isn't that what aides are for? Or mabye they should do some research themselves (strongly reminded about another article about when Congress had to pass another important bill in the last three months: they held a meeting and had their aides explain it to them, as it was the aides who actually read it). Failing that, why not politley say to the other countries: "We noticed that you have a good healthcare system. We're trying to reform ours, so we'd like to know how you run yours, and why you think it works."
If you're trying to keep face and dignity in tact, guess what: you lost it already. Deal with it, and do this and maybe other countries will go "Hey, they know when need help and aren't afraid to ask for it! Perhaps they aren't a stuck-up superpower after all!"
Just saying.

August 28, 2009

What to do with Baby Birds

Today on my way home I found a baby robin. I picked it up, took it home, dried to off (it was raining), fed it, and gave it water.
I looked up what you feed baby birds.
Then I put it back.
That is apparently what you do with baby birds. You should not move them away from where they landed (if they are uninjured). The parents will find it and feed it. You do not need to do anything with it. If you feel obligated to help the bird, make a little nest from a basket and some tissues, then put it in a nearby bush or tree. If it dies, it dies faster than if you had fed it the wrong things and it died from that. If it is injuired, you should take it to the nearest Aubodon society and/or wildlife preservation facility. They know better than you what to do with a wild baby bird (unless you happen to be a liscened wild bird rehabilitator: like Mercedes Lackey.)
So, be careful of wildlife and what you do with and/or to them.
Yes, I did get pictures, and they may show up later.

here's a link for more information: www.avianavenue.com/wild_baby_birds.htm

Also- Important: the parents will not smell you on the baby. Birds have a horrible sense of smell. They are not dogs.

EDIT- Here is a video of the baby robin.

video

School: The First Week

Its been rather boring. Latin is fun, as is US Government; Art and Geometry are fine, but everything else tends to be just berable. Spent a lot of time filling in forms with the exact same information.
Latin is surprisingly like Spanish. I keep having to remind myself to not say it in Espanol (Hispanica!)
Here's some Latin for you:
Unus 1
Duo 2
Tres 3
Quattuor 4
Quinque 5
Sex 6
Sept 7
Octo 8
Novem 9
Decem 1o
Sale- hello, to one person
Salete- hello, to many people
Vale- goodbye, to one person
Valete- goodbye, to many people
Nomen mihi- My name is...
Quinis nomen tibi?- What is your name?
Siek- yes
Mimime- no
Americana- America
Latina- Latin, not a Mexican citizen

Note: these may be incorrect spellings

Learning grammar is much more fun in Latin class.
So we'll see how the rest of this goes.

August 21, 2009

2 weeks

That's how long its been since I posted. I just realized that. Its a few days till school starts, and I've taken the recent opportunities to good use. Being up to see the sunrise, having a thunderstorm handy today; both great photo opportunities.
Has anyone else who watched the Smurfs gotten annoyed by the little blue guys using "smurf" in an non-noun manner?

Storm and Sunrise




















































August 8, 2009

Regimental Dress Parade Photos and Videos

This isn't all of the pictures, I didn't label them when I transported them. And the videos are apparently the wrong sort of file type to get uploaded (I can't play them on my computer either). If anyone has a solution to this problem or wants to see more pictures, leave a comment.

EDIT- I got the videos to load! Something like five months after I took them...
video

video


video

Navy Family Day

Today was the day all that cleaning was for! And I think we could have done a little less. So the beginning of today was going to the Regimental Dress Parade. All the new recruits to the Academy turned out for their third dress parade of the summer. The marching band(s) were really good. If you have an opportunity to see one of these bands and/or parades, go. They're really good, and besides; the recruits knock themselves out (literally) to get it right.
No seriously, something in the order of three people passed out on the parade field.
I took pictures and some videos, but I'm not sure if they'll pull up. That's next post.
The plebe we got from Manie's (see previous entries... I think) family came around for food and to check us out. That's why we've been cleaning all week. I got to go to the library afterwards, though, so I feel better about all that work.

Oh, and I found a website I bookmarked and haven't looked at in awhile. If anyone reading this knows about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, go read it.
www.sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/lovelace-the-origin-2/

August 5, 2009

Cleaning

All this week has been cleaning. Vacuming, dusting, organizing, sweeping, washing the windows. All to make the house "presentable" for some people who may or may not be coming this weekend. It's very tiring.

August 3, 2009

Three days later...

So, the trebuchets were fun, even though I couldn't really throw much of anything. Yesterday we met the Plebes (first-year Naval Academy students) that we are sponsoring. We've got one from California, and one from Maine. There parents are coming out this weekend to see them and meet us. So a massive house cleaning is in order.

July 31, 2009

Tech Camp, Last day

The very last day of Tech Camp, seems like longer than five days since this started. Maybe a week.

Today we get to build TREBUCHETS! Those are like catapults, for those of you who don't know. This should be a fun one.



The website for the National Cryptologic Museum is www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/museum.

July 30, 2009

"The Road to Heaven" and "Twilight Forest"




West Point Bridge Designer design

Darn! It won't come up! Anyway, I made it for $183,201.64.

Tech Camp, Day 4, cont.

After we got back from the Museum, we did the Cryptogram Game (teppo.tv/cryptogram). Then our instructor introduced us to the West Point Bridge Designer . Apparently, West Point (the Military Academy, or USMA) made this program and there are contests to see who could make the least expensive, strongest bridge they can (bridgecontest.usma.edu). I made a bridge for under $200,000 that could support a truck. I'll post that next.

National Cryptologic Musuem Pictures











Tech Camp, Day 4

Pretty much all of today was a field trip. We went to the National Cryptologic Museum, which is near Ft. Meade. Interesting place, they have Enigma machines (what the Germans used in WW2) that you can actually use. They talk about American Codes and Codebreaking from the Civil War on, at least if there was an area for the Revolution I couldn't find it. They have code interception satellites, supercomputers, and voice-scrambled telephones on display. Unfortunately I didn't get to take many pictures, even though I've got a memory card now. Those will be next post.

Tech Camp, about Yesterday

ALL of yesterday was about Alice. Using Alice, programming Alice, all that stuff. I recommend you try it.
Remember: www.alice.org.
And I was wrong Carnegie Mellon University developed it, and Randy Pausch (who died of cancer sometime not so long ago) was an important contirbutor to the project. He wrote a book, 'The Last Lecture'.

July 29, 2009

Tech Camp, Day 3

Got in a little late today, so not entirely sure what we're going to be doing today. But its Wednesday now, so our instructors are changing. This afternoon I'm pretty sure we're going to be using Alice, which is a programming, uh, program. You can download it from the internet, I'm pretty sure its an MIT thing.
ADDITION: Yep, it's at www.alice.org.

July 28, 2009

Here's a new photo


Day 2, Photo manipulation cont.







Here's my other dog, and my take on fixing red eye. The bigger the picture, the more he looks like he's possessed. Unfortunatly, the picture isn't big enough here for anyone to really see it.

Day 2, Photo manipulation


Here are the girls, in there photo revisions.



Yesterday...



Yesterday I tried out the camera a bit to get used to it. All I really had around were my dogs; so here they are.
(There was one more, but you'll see his picture later)