Socorro local development environment

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:34 pm
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Posted by Will Kahn-Greene


Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla's products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers "yes!", then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

This (long-ish) blog post talks about how when I started on Socorro, there wasn't really a local development environment and how I went on a magical journey through dark forests and craggy mountains to find one.

If you do anything with Socorro at Mozilla, you definitely want to at least read the "Tell me more about this local development environment" part.

Read more… (14 mins to read)


Sep. 21st, 2017 01:22 am
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Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Anand got the toy he most desired for his 8th birthday (a Nintendo Switch) and I am not sure I have ever seen a child so ecstatic. He is trying to play the game (Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) but is so happy and excited that he keeps getting up and jumping around. He can’t contain himself. He is trying to explain the game to us (he has watched many, many YouTube play through videos about it), and not spoil it for us, but he can’t help giving us hints — ‘the old man isn’t just any old man! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!’ Just now, Kevin went downstairs for something, and Anand ran down a minute later because he had gotten to a particularly exciting bit and he didn’t want Daddy to miss it.

OXO Peeler

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:11 am
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[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 – MF]

It is hard to image how the traditional kitchen peeler could be substantially improved. Remarkably, the OXO Peeler accomplishes this. Easier to use, vastly more comfortable for long stretches, sharper, and more productive. The OXO Peeler continues to win awards in test kitchens. A superior tool; worth the few extra dollars.

-- KK

OXO Good Grip Swivel Peeler ($9)

Available from Amazon

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Posted by James Noori

Dear community members,

Today we are happy to announce our first publicly available Hardware Adaptation sources and instructions for Sailfish X, aka Sailfish OS for Sony Xperia™ X!

This will enable you to create a Sailfish OS image and flash it to your own Sony Xperia™ X. It is targeted to the eager and highly skilled developers in our community to create their own images and even help us out by contributing back to those open sourced HW adaptation repositories, which we in turn shall use for the official Sailfish X images and updates.

If you are a developer in our community who has previously done Sailfish OS ports to other devices, we recommend you to give it a shot. Please carefully follow the instructions we have on and make sure you fully understand them. They will be your ticket to getting the OS working on your Xperia™ X, and if you’re feeling even more adventurous, you should be able to adapt them to run on other Sony’s Open Devices. All of this can be achieved via the guidance of the #sailfishos-porters Freenode IRC channel, say hello there!

The aim throughout this endeavor is to get individuals building a Sailfish OS image and flashing it to their devices, (meaning, trying it out before official releases), enjoying apps from the Jolla Store, and contributing back to HW adaptation improvements.

I would like to thank the tech lead of Sony Open Devices, Alin Jerpelea, for assisting us in this great collaboration opportunity, relentlessly facilitating solutions to ease integration and producing a great, open-source base for our ports.

Please note that working with HADK requires a lot of skill, and naturally you will perform these actions at your own risk. Good luck!

.. and happy hacking,

The post Opening Sailfish OS HW Adaptation Source Code for Sony Xperia™ X appeared first on Jolla Blog.

Early morning EPL bars?

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:50 pm
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Posted by /u/quinnlez

New to the area and looking for a legit EPL bar. A lot of places advertise themselves as a soccer bar, but don't open till 11am.

Where do you go on a Saturday morning at 7:30 ?

submitted by /u/quinnlez
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Posted by Jason Kottke

Hello! Jason Kottke here. If you’re a regular reader of this RSS feed, please consider supporting my efforts on by becoming a member today. The revenue from memberships is critical to keeping one of the best independent websites running at its full capacity. There are several membership options to choose from; you can check them out here or read about why I’m doing this here.

And if you’re already a member, thank you! You are the best.

Strange Launchpads

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:58 pm
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Posted by Benjamin C. Kinney

Publishing with Strange Horizons gave my career the perfect start. I'd spent years struggling to get my first semi-pro publications, until Strange Horizons took a chance on my odd new creations. Not just one chance, but two: six weeks apart, my first two professional sales.

As a scientist, I know the difference between correlation and causation. Publishing in Strange Horizons wasn't the only reason I've sold six more stories in the sixteen months since then, nor the reason I became the assistant editor of Escape Pod. But without Strange Horizons, I never would've achieved those successes. Before 2016, I was at a low point in my career confidence. I was ready to give up short fiction entirely, and I very well might've if not for Strange Horizons.

Strange Horizons publishes some of the most interesting and challenging science fiction and fantasy on the internet. No matter what happens to my writing career, I'll always be proud that I got the chance to set my shoulder against that wheel and help push it further along its rising path toward that mysterious and beautiful horizon.

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Posted by Jason Kottke

Ridley Scott’s favorite scene in Blade Runner is when Deckard meets Rachel in Tyrell’s office. In this video, he breaks the scene down and highlights some of the most interesting aspects of the production.

In all my films, I’ve been accused of being too visual, too pretty, and I’m going, well, we are dealing in pictures so how can I be too visual?

Tags: Blade Runner   film school   movies   Ridley Scott   video
[syndicated profile] kottke_org_feed

Posted by Jason Kottke

Hip Hop Archive

Hip Hop Archive

Hip Hop Archive

Hip Hop Archive

Cornell University has a hip hop collection with tens of thousands of objects in it: photos, posters, flyers, magazines, etc. Much of the collection is only available on site in Ithaca, NY by appointment, but parts of it have been digitized, like these party and event flyers:

Created entirely by hand, well before widespread use of design software, these flyers preserve raw data from the days when Hip Hop was primarily a live, performance-based culture in the Bronx. They contain information about early Hip Hop groups, individual MCs and DJs, promoters, venues, dress codes, admission prices, shout outs and more. Celebrated designers, such as Buddy Esquire (“The Flyer King”) and Phase 2, made these flyers using magazine cutouts, original photographs, drawings, and dry-transfer letters.

And the archive of Joe Conzo Jr., who photographed groups, parties, events, and the like in the South Bronx in the late 70s and early 80s (but FYI, the Conzo archive interface is more than a little clunky and there’s lots of non-hip hop stuff to wade through):

In 1978, while attending South Bronx High School, Conzo became friends with members of the Cold Crush Brothers, an important and influential early Hip Hop group which included DJs Charlie Chase and Tony Tone and MCs Grandmaster Caz, JDL, Easy AD, and Almighty KayGee. Conzo became the group’s professional photographer, documenting their live performances at the T-Connection, Disco Fever, Harlem World, the Ecstasy Garage, and the Hoe Avenue Boy’s Club. He also took pictures of other Hip Hop artists and groups, including The Treacherous 3, The Fearless 4, and The Fantastic 5.

These rare images capture Hip Hop when it was still a localized, grassroots culture about to explode into global awareness. Without Joe’s images, the world would have little idea of what the earliest era of hip hop looked like, when fabled DJ, MC, and b-boy/girl battles took place in parks, school gymnasiums and neighborhood discos.

And most recently a portion of the Adler Hip Hop Archive, compiled by journalist and early Def Jam executive Bill Adler:

The Adler archive contains thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, recording industry press releases and artist bios, correspondence, photographs, posters, flyers, advertising, and other documents. These materials offer an unprecedented view into Hip Hop’s history and are made available here for study and research.

Fair warning: don’t click on any of those links if you’ve got pressing things to do…you could lose hours poking around.

Tags: Bill Adler   design   Joe Conzo Jr.   music   photography

Midwest Auger

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:01 pm
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Posted by mark

I bought a house a few years ago that has a cheap fence. Rather than putting posts in at the edges where the neighbor’s fence had already been installed, they tacked my fence directly to the rails of the neighbor’s. So a few years go by and the nails are rusted and the rails are rotting and the dogs have figured out that they can push their way out of the yard. I either need to put in a new fence (and do it right) or I can add a couple of posts and buy myself another year or three before buying a new fence. Guess which I picked?

I had resigned myself to buying a post hole digger and suffering through when my co-worker mentioned a tool he had – the midwest auger. It’s a manual auger with two blades that form an open bucket. He brought it in the next day. It was old, covered in rust and showed signs of long use combined with neglect. I brought it home anyway and to give it a shot. I started the hole with a couple of turns and dumped the bucket. Each couple of turns made the hole 6″ deeper. I ended up digging two post holes in under 15 minutes and even had to backfill one of them because I made it too deep. A couple of clicks on Amazon and I am now the owner of a brand new midwest auger… I’ll never use a post hole digger again.

-- Art Provost

Auger with Hardwood Handle, 6″ Diameter ($63)

Available from Amazon

Why another WOC Special?

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:28 pm
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Posted by Isha Karki

“Narrative is frightening and staggeringly powerful, and those who control the narrative control what the world sees.” – Cassandra Khaw

Growing up in the UK as an immigrant and a POC during the noughties, your cultural references for speculative arts were very limited to what was available in mainstream media: Harry Potter, Matrix, Buffy, Charmed, Darren Shan, Lord of the Rings… If you actively sought female representation in speculative fiction, you found the Lyras, the Alannas and Daines, the Hermiones, the Sophies, the Eowyns – all brilliant but all overwhelmingly white. You had to look much harder for speculative writers that looked like you. Finding Malorie Blackman’s work was akin to a revolutionary moment but it was a moment in a childhood eternity of reading, watching and soaking in a completely whitewashed perspective of the world. It’s a familiar story. Years later, you realise your own fictional characters were white, ethnically and culturally; your fictional situations and locales Western: you replicate what you consume.

To borrow Cassandra Khaw’s words: those who control or are given monopoly of the narrative anywhere in this world control what that world sees – more importantly, they control what that world thinks. It takes years to recognise and overcome that kind of deep-rooted internalisation. It takes years to reboot the very codes of your imagination. So why another WOC special? Because every issue like this is a challenge to that kind of damaging indoctrination.

“We’re still rare enough to be noticeable, although the situation is improving.” – Mary Anne Mohanraj

As editors of a publication with global reach, it is crucial we help dismantle any sort of hegemony on narrative. It is crucial we ensure that our material reflects our readers in all their guises. This issue is dedicated to highlighting the work of a select few Women of Colour, to discussing issues of identity, culture and representation, as well as showcasing that WOC, regardless of how they identify, can write whatever the hell they want. POC writers often suffer from pigeonholing and generalisations; in this issue alone, we have writers who dabble in everything from body horror, urban fantasies and fairytale retellings to space operas, manga-style fiction and hard sci-fi. We have those who draw inspiration from their cultural and ethnic backgrounds and those who don’t, those who have a fixed sense of the multiplicity of their identities and those who embrace liminality.

The WOC roundtable brings together five writers of South Asian origin who discuss and dismantle what being ‘South Asian’ means and how this affects their work. We have interviews, fiction and non-fiction from other WOC doing ground-breaking work in terms of genre and style. Reading these interviews and essays in conversation with each other invites the reader, alongside the writers, to interrogate issues surrounding ‘WOC’. Positive discrimination comes under fire; categories are questioned or embraced; tropes of ‘strong’ female characters are examined; the subtleties of writing about a culture other than your own are explored; representation as onus, burden or right is discussed.

“I am energized by the growing number of WOC who are both writing and being written into narratives in SF. The categories seem useful as… an indicator, but I don’t like it when they get too stifling. It’s important to have that conversation, but not to let people get boxed in – that just kills growth.” – Isabel Yap

Curating any kind of special issue focusing on race or gender can be problematic. It throws up a lot of questions on who we are centring or considering the ‘norm’ when we give people labels like WOC or POC – especially in a publication like Mithila Review, dedicated to spotlighting the global majority and to creating a truly global conversation about SF. At the same time, until it becomes the norm to have an issue dedicated to WOC without having any questions asked – just as it is the norm to have journals and issues which somehow end up featuring only white or male or Western writers – there should be another and another and another special issue bringing these voices to as many readers around the world as possible. Things have moved on since we were children but the onus doesn’t stop there just because a handful of WOC have gained recognition.

So why another WOC special? Because every special issue like this is a challenge: to creative spaces where these ‘marginal’ voices are devalued or tokenised; and to the worlds within our world where WOC struggle to see a reflection of themselves where it really matters.

“These [mainstream] voices are always louder than mine, so I am not at all ashamed to write my own subjective dismissal of them in my fiction, because I know mine will never be the defining voice. The best I can do is to bring on the dissent.” – Mimi Mondal

The post Why another WOC Special? appeared first on Mithila Review.

The physics of sushi

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:36 pm
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Posted by Jason Kottke

Master sushi chefs in Japan spend years honing their skills in making rice, selecting and slicing fish, and other techniques. Expert chefs even form the sushi pieces in a different way than a novice does, resulting in a cohesive bite that doesn’t feel all mushed together. In this short video clip from a longer Japanology episode on sushi, they put pieces of sushi prepared by a novice and a master through a series of tests — a wind tunnel, a pressure test, and an MRI scan — to see just how different their techniques are. It sounds ridiculous and goofy (and it is!) but the results are actually interesting.

Tags: food   science   sushi   video


Sep. 20th, 2017 01:29 pm
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Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Today is in theory a writing-all-day day; I’ve blocked it out. I have a Wild Cards story to double in size (really, George? Okay.), three other stories in revision, and a novel I’d like to draft another chapter of.


But in practice, I can’t actually write all day because my brain melts and my fingers ache. So writing all day actually means reading some of the time, and usually also interspersing with household chores. I keep meaning to use the co-working space days I’ve paid for, though, see if they work for me, and they’re going to run out soon if I don’t.


But I have the beginnings of a cold and my house is more cozy than the co-working space. At least I think it is — I think the space is more desk and chair rather than comfy sofas, although I’m not sure. Chris arrives at 9, too, which complicates things, since usually I give him some direction over the course of the day. But I think what I ought to do is at least try the co-working space. If it doesn’t work, I can always come home.


Okay — shower and dress, eat some breakfast, make up a to-do list for Chris so he has things to work on while I’m not here. I’ll probably walk back here for lunch, and I can check in with him then. Of course, if I come back here, will I be motivated to leave again? Maybe I should pack a lunch. I should definitely pack a lunch. But first, I should get off this comfy couch. And turn off Facebook.

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Posted by admin

Aces, at 32-10 37th Ave. in LIC, announced it was closing down on Sept. 15 (Google Maps image)

September 18, by Nathaly Pesantez

As a Long Island City strip club that was a magnet for crime announced this weekend that it was closing, community leaders are saying that similar clubs in Western Queens may end up seeing similar fates, too.

Aces, the gentlemen’s club located at 32-10 37th Ave., announced last week that it was shutting down via a post on Instagram. “The Aces family would like to thank everyone…for one hell of a run,” the club’s post reads. “There will never be another Aces New York.” Later posts also signal that the club would be reluctantly shutting its doors.

Several violent incidents took place at the club over the years–from shootings to assaults–and the police were often called to the troubled venue. A May 2016 incident saw a gang-related shooting outside of the club; that same year, more than 250 “911” calls were made that were associated with the club.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), who had long called for the club to close and was outraged when the State Liquor Authority (SLA) reinstated Aces’ liquor license earlier this year, celebrated the strip joint’s closing after the SLA ultimately canceled its liquor license on Sept. 12.

“It is a success for our neighborhood to get this source of community unrest shut down, but we must remain vigilant,” Gianaris said in a statement.

The owner of Aces could not to be reached for comment.

But Aces’ closing, coupled with the site of the former troubled Club Purlieu in Astoria turning into a retail locale after its closure last year, could signal the demise of other problematic strip joints in Western Queens.

Antonio Meloni, head of the Public Safety for Community Board 1, said that the SLA is finally listening and taking note of the public’s opposition to these clubs.

“When it’s a troublesome location, it’s very good that the SLA is paying attention,” he said. “We have found that the SLA is more responsive.”

At nearby Community Board 2 where strip clubs have also been an ongoing issue, Patrick O’Brien, the chairperson for the Public Safety committee, says Aces’ closing is “a very good sign”, and hopes that the recent events mean a crackdown on similar problem sites.

“I don’t think any community wants these kinds of establishments in their midst,” O’Brien said, adding that gentlemen’s clubs, while allowed to operate as long as they’re within the law, almost always bring problems to a neighborhood. O’Brien referred to Show Palace, the strip club on 21st Street in Long Island City, that has operated without a liquor license since its opening, but still sees periodic incidents.

“When you have a residential and vibrant upcoming commercial community, it’s only a matter of letting out enough rope [for strip clubs] to hang themselves because this activity almost universally seems to follow.”

“When they overstep the boundaries of what is safe and appropriate, they are writing their own epitaphs,” he added.

Nevertheless, O’Brien does not think strip clubs will ever be eliminated from the district despite the apparent clampdown.

“You can compel them to be in line, and this is a sign of exactly that—if you don’t operate in an appropriate manner, you’re going to lose your business.”


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Posted by Octavia Cade

I’ve been a horror film fan for decades now, happily watching every sort of horror I can get my hands on, and if you watch enough of it you begin to see the same motifs come up again and again. (Never trust a horror film child. Never turn your back on anything unless you’re absolutely sure it’s dead.) But one doesn’t have to be a dedicated fan to note just how very bloody often—and I use the word “bloody” deliberately, both as emphasis and descriptor—women in horror are in horror solely because of their reproductive systems. Harrington describes this particular subgenre as gynaehorror: “horror that deals with all aspects of female reproductive horror, from the reproductive and sexual organs, to virginity and first sex, through to pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and finally to menopause and post-menopause” (p. 3).

Given this definition, there are clearly limits to the scope of Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film: Gynaehorror, and Harrington makes these clear in her introduction. Her interpretation of gynaehorror is based around the “normative cisgendered female reproductive lifecycle” (p. 11), and there is little exploration of the experiences of trans women, for example. Diversity of source material is also limited mostly to Anglophone films and their particular intersections of female reproduction and demography. Harrington points out, for example, that most of the women featured in these films are white and middle-class, and this naturally affects how their experiences are portrayed and understood. Economic status, education levels, access to health care … these are factors that can materially influence how a female character navigates her own sexual experience and reproductive system in what is frequently a hostile environment.

Horror films, Harrington notes, are not always known for their positive representation of women. With notable exceptions, the feminine experience of victimhood—especially sexual victimhood, since women displaying overtly sexual behaviour in horror films have lengthier and more violently explicit deaths than similar male characters—is frequently prioritised in horror films. This is arguably derived from the historical tendency of the female body being seen as both lesser and other, something to be exploited for entertainment and shock value. Sometimes this misogynistic presentation is less than subtle, as in the film Contracted (2013), where “a woman is infected with a sexually transmitted virus that renders her dying from the inside out; at various points she bleeds profusely from her vagina and, in one particularly abject scene, maggots fall from her vagina” (p. 61). Sometimes it’s more so, such as in those slasher films where the Final Girl survives and it’s strongly implied—explicitly so, in the reactionary impulse of Scream (1996) for instance—that her survival is linked with her virginity. Harrington points out that despite the triumphant image of the single survivor it’s that tedious trope, Not Like Other Girls, that’s ultimately the reason for her survival.

I suggest, then, that it is this compulsive return to the figure of the “special” girl that is something insidiously problematic. The deaths of transgressive, active, often implicitly “unlikeable” women who assert their agency in threatening ways, in a genre that is often accused of loving to punish women, is not something to celebrate. (p. 45)

But horror itself can also be transgressive, and the ability of women in horror to flip the script, to undermine expected exploitation and maintain positive agency is also possible. The character Dawn, who in Teeth (2007) is in possession of a vagina dentata which bites off the penises of everyone who sexually assaults her, gains agency in two areas. First the obvious, in that she’s able to mutilate and kill those who look to hurt or exploit her; but the second and arguably more important (if less gory) advantage is that possession of this monstrous organ encourages her to actually learn about it. For Dawn, previous stalwart of the school chastity club, is discomforted enough by her own body to be almost entirely ignorant of it—a state which is sanctioned by a society that privileges abstinence and lack of sex education over adequate knowledge. Dawn, Harrington points out,

is doubly victimised—once by the men who assault her, but also by the movement that professed to have her best interests at heart … However, the film emphasises that it is not sex itself that is dangerous, but abusive sexual practices, sexual ignorance and misogynistic discourses of sexuality. (pp. 69-70)

The tension between misogynistic exploitation and transgression is particularly apt given current political debates over reproductive rights. Much of this is because the female reproductive system is so often seen as not suitable for polite conversation—it’s crass to talk about it. Indelicate.

… more often than not, the vagina is portrayed as inferior: as lesser than the penis; as a passive receptacle for the penis; as sexually inadequate, vulnerable and abused; as smelly, dangerous to both men and infants, and ultimately disgusting … Such negative and normalised portrayals of the vagina—indeed, of the female reproductive and sexual body as a whole—are recognised and ratified in the horror film, which offers very little in the way of positive or affirmative representation. Instead, the horror genre looks to the vagina as a place of disgust: it is a fleshy and conceptual site of monsters, of dread and of dangerously unbridled sexuality that marries terror with obscenity. (pp. 56-57)

Such an unpleasant subject … which makes it ripe to be the subject of shock-value horror, which can wallow in the unspeakable while other genres paddle about the edges or ignore the subject altogether. I was unaware, for instance, that until the late 1950s representations of pregnancy and (especially) birth were effectively banned from Hollywood cinema. They are unexceptionable today—and the determination not to go there has shifted from birth to abortion. For all the stories about evil children in horror (and they are legion) there’s much less emphasis, even in horror, on getting rid of that little problem before it arises. Honestly, the section on abortion in Women, Monstrosity and Horror Films is worth the price of admission alone. I’m not sure how I’ve managed to escape the entertainingly terrible pro-life propaganda of films such as The Life Zone (2011), which shows women wishing for abortions reliving their experiences in (literal) hell until they figure out how terrible they are for wanting control over their own bodies, but I certainly feel inclined to go looking for it now, if only to point and laugh.

I was particularly interested to note Harrington’s reference to the Alien franchise entry Prometheus (2012), which apparently was given an R-rating largely because the main character was shown giving herself an abortion of the alien rape baby she was carrying. This has shades of the birth-refusal of that earlier era of cinema, and of the consistent punishment, conceptual and actual, of women who have abortions—even in horror films. But I can’t help recall a recent Strange Horizons review of mine, of a young adult novel entitled The Fallen Children, in which one of the teen protagonists, herself forcibly impregnated by aliens, also effectively gives herself a DIY abortion. That a mainstream film for adults is so much more constrained than a novel targeted at teens is notable in itself. From my own perspective, gynaehorror is far more evident in forced pregnancy than it is in voluntary abortion, but clearly—even in horror—this is not a universal feeling. The monstrous child may be monstrous, but women are still expected to feel maternal if saddled with one, and this is an element of gynaehorror that is less well questioned in the genre than it might be.

It is in Harrington’s exploration of the maternal in horror that we begin to understand why abortion is so underserved. Her interpretation of horrific motherhood as a specific and continual negotiation is, I think, an acute one: “I suggest that horror films can be considered not as static representations of motherhood, but as culturally and historically specific, dynamic negotiations with the expectations and pressures surrounding the fulfilment of normative motherhood” (p. 181). Motherhood is indeed ringed round with expectations, with idealism and guilt, and the pressure to be a good mother is unrelenting. Social changes such as the growing combination of motherhood and career, and the increasing number of single parents, impact on this expectation. It’s impossible to be as good a mother as is expected, and the pressure to achieve the ideal—and the blame when motherhood or children turn monstrous—is enormous. The mother who kills herself so her ghost can take care of her own dead (and also ghostly) son in The Orphanage (2007), the mother who lets her ghoulish, flesh-eating baby literally devour her breast in Grace (2009) … the self-sacrifice expected of mothers has become so all-encompassing, the obsession with nurturing so determined, that it’s no wonder horror mothers boomerang between doormat and the far-too-involved Norma Bates. “The message to mothers in horror film is clear: you must do better, but you can never do enough” (p. 215). This constant negotiation, the need to reconcile the real and the ideal, is a debate entirely cut off by the act of abortion. No wonder it’s not more prominent within the genre—it cuts off the horror to come.

In all the discussion of this horror, it’s important to recall that Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film is an academic text. There’s a difficulty in reviewing such texts for the lay reader—potential audiences are so different that the writing itself can (unintentionally) exclude. Reviewing as a lay reader, this came across very much as a text of two halves.

If “academic writing” can be said to be a genre of its own, the need to justify and explain and reference every statement must be the defining characteristic thereof. Depending on the reader, this can be variously comforting or frustrating. For the most part, I found the way Harrington wove in theoretical ideas to be immensely interesting when she was talking about horror films: her frequent use of example is a finely judged leavening agent. There were often chunks of theory and background, however, that were far less digestible, especially as the focus in these areas became extremely broad, moving away from gynaehorror (or any horror) to wider contexts. There’s such a pronounced difference, as a reader, between the chunks of theory and background that are interwoven with example and the chunks that aren’t, that I found myself wishing this background absent, or at least tucked away as appendices at the back of the book. It’s not that it’s not interesting (it is, if only mildly); it’s that it seems so frequently unnecessary.

I’m not at all sure, for example, that one needs to wade through eight densely argued pages on the history of virginity as a concept to understand that (a) there is a cultural history of treating female virginity differently from male virginity, (b) cultural emphasis on the value of female virginity is frequently used to control women’s sexuality, and (c) this is often expressed in horror films. Those three sentences, appropriately backed-up of course (this is academia!), are really all that’s needed before we get to the fascinating meat of the chapter focusing on virginity and first sex in horror. The academic need to include background material inevitably has an effect on readability for lay readers, with these sections appearing to have markedly more jargon and markedly less horror.

There is one place where all this background really shines, however—and it has to, for if abortion rarely comes up in gynaehorror then menopause is even rarer. In contrast to horror films that deal with the onset of menstruation, such as Carrie (1976) and Ginger Snaps (2000), representation of menopause is practically nonexistent. Harrington points out, and accurately so, that given the wide range of horror films available this omission is itself worthy of study. As it is, criticism has to work around the gaping hole where the subject should be. Harrington does her best to use ageing women in horror as a proxy for menopause-based horror, and this results in a genuinely interesting chapter that explores what she calls hagsploitation, discussing the ways in which older women are exploited by horror and in turn can make horror into a “richly complicated site of contestation and resistance” (p. 254).

Less gripping in its contextualisation is the chapter “Not of woman born: Mad science, reproductive technology and the reconfiguration of the subject,” which, in fairness, does manage to circle back round to Harrington’s own definition of gynaehorror a couple of times. The perception of the mad scientist as a masculine figure, on science itself as a masculine subject, and the tension in the discipline between masculine and feminine is certainly interesting, but the seeming conflation of “feminine” with “gynaehorror” at this point (a conflation which seems specific to this chapter) does, I think, allow the text to wander, again, from the point—and from the gender. Victor Frankenstein might be a perfect example of man creating life and not needing women to do it, but this isn’t the book I want to read about that in. It seems a bit of a stretch to include it in a book about gynaehorror, and this stretch does pop up occasionally in other parts of the text.

I find the assertion that the shark mouth in Jaws (1975) can be read as an allusion to “the toothed, dangerous vagina” (p. 61), for instance, to be deeply unconvincing. There are illuminating metaphors and then there are vagina-coloured glasses. For the most part, however, when Harrington shifts her attention to metaphorical gynaehorror she's far more focused. There’s an excellent section on the eco-horror Prophecy (1979), for example, in which the main character’s pregnancy is used to illuminate an environment polluted to mutant toxicity. Maggie’s pregnancy in that film—itself in jeopardy of mutation after she’s exposed to the same poisons that have destroyed the surrounding ecosystem—is an encapsulation in miniature of the central horrifying problem of the text.

As a reviewer, I’m not sure I can accurately place Women, Monstrosity and Horror Film in an academic context. For lay readers, however, it’s a fascinating and feminist look at gynaehorror, and one that’s highly recommended. If the text sometimes has slightly too wide a focus, well, readers can I think skim or even skip the jargon-heavy theory and background sections. They won’t miss much of the thought-provoking and the scary by doing so, as the majority of the text—the parts that are focused on horror films themselves—are both clear and clever, and well worth reading.

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Posted by Surabhi Kanga

Patricia Sauthoff is an American PhD scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a former faculty member at Nalanda University in Bihar. From August 2016 to 28 July this year, Sauthoff was employed as a teaching fellow at the university’s School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions. In her second term at Nalanda, which started in January this year, she taught two courses, including a course titled the “History and Politics of Yoga.” It explored the “history of Yoga in India as religious, social, and political practice.”

On 13 June, the university’s administration sent Sauthoff a letter informing her that her contract would soon expire and requesting her to communicate her “willingness for further continuance in the University.” Six days later, she received another letter, which informed her that the previous one “may be treated as cancelled and withdrawn.” Sauthoff’s employment contract was never renewed, and her course was subsequently discontinued—she later said that she was not given any official reason for this decision.

On 9 September, Ram Madhav, the national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a director of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated think-tank India Foundation, criticised the course. He tweeted: “Stunned to hear dat Amartya Sen’s Nalanda Univ regime had a course on ‘Politics of Yoga’ taught by a foreigner. Now course abolished.” Madhav’s reference to Sen was odd—the economist resigned from his position as Nalanda’s chancellor over a year before Sauthoff’s course on yoga began.

Nalanda University has deep-rooted historical origins. From the fifth to the twelfth century, Nalanda was a renowned monastery and centre for learning in the ancient Indian kingdom of Magadha, situated in modern-day Bihar. In 2007, the decision to re-establish Nalanda was taken at the East Asia Summit—an annual forum held by the leaders of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In 2010, the university was established by a central legislation. The act mandates the constitution of a governing body, which is responsible for its policies, decisions, and the management of its affairs. In 2012, Sen was appointed as the chancellor of the university, and the ex officio chairperson of its governing body. The body comprises 14 members, which also includes five representatives of member states from the East Asia Summit and three renowned academics or educationists. In 2014, the university held its first academic session.

Within a year into the university’s revival, Sen demitted office. He noted in his resignation letter that that he was not appointed as a chancellor for a second term despite the support of the governing body. He wrote: “Non-action is a time-wasting way of reversing a board decision.” He also expressed concern that “academic governance in India remains so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government.” Sen continued to be a member of the governing body until November 2016, when the then president Pranab Mukherjee, in his capacity as the visitor of the university, reconstituted the body. The economist was not included in the new list of members. Along with the reconstitution of the board, the president also denied Gopa Sabharwal, the vice chancellor at the time, an extension for another term—though the governing body had already approved it. Within days of Sen’s ouster, the then chancellor George Yeo resigned from the position. In a post on Facebook, Yeo said that he was not consulted before the reconstitution of the governing body. He wrote, “I was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now.”

As present, the university’s chancellor is Vijay Bhatkar, the president of Vijnana Bharati—an RSS-affiliated scientific body that, according to its website, aims to “spearhead the Movement for Swadeshi Sciences.” Sunaina Singh, who is also one of the directors of the India Foundation, was appointed vice chancellor in March this year. In 2014, Singh was summoned by the Andhra Pradesh Minorities Commission due to allegations of discrimination by a staffer at the English and Foreign Language University in Hyderabad, where she was the vice chancellor at the time. During her stint with EFLU, Dalit and Adivasi students had alleged that the administration, headed by Singh, discriminated against them. The day after Madhav’s tweet, a report in The Telegraph quoted Singh: “The very title of the course is problematic … Why are we allowing a foreigner to teach the politics of yoga?”

I contacted Sauthoff in mid September, to discuss the discontinuation of her course as well as her experience at Nalanda. Extracts from our subsequent email conversation, which took place over several days, are presented below. In her emails, Sauthoff described several aspects of the university’s functioning.

According to her, the course was discontinued because her “discussion of yoga was threatening to the RSS-linked administration.” She added that she was “never given a reason” for the withdrawal of the letter offering her an extension of her contract. Sauthoff further said the university had not released her last salary and had declined to issue her a no-dues certificate, without which she would not be able to work in India again.

In addition to such “academic censorship,” Sauthoff added, the university also faced other “very real problems” such as the lack of medical facilities, access to doctors, and hygienic cooking facilities. She said that the administration had deliberately overlooked instances of plagiarism that she pointed out to them. Sauthoff added that the RSS was making attempts to use the university to promote its own ideology.

On 18 September, I contacted the university’s spokesperson Saurabh Choudhary for a response regarding Sauthoff’s allegations. Upon his request, I emailed him my queries on the same day. At the time this article was published, Choudhary had not responded.


Sagar: In an email, you said that the government and the university might have found your course “inappropriate,” and described its cancellation as an “assault on academic freedom.”
Patricia Sauthoff:
Both the university’s new chancellor, Vijay Bhatkar, and vice chancellor, Sunaina Singh, have close relationships with the RSS. I imagine they felt my course would threaten the RSS-approved narrative of the history of yoga. I also think that looking at their politics within the yoga sphere caused them to feel personally threatened. At my first and only meeting with Singh and the faculty, [in May 2017], she told us that she was “not political but a hardcore nationalist.” Clearly this is a contradiction. She also announced that she wanted to start courses on the “history of science,” which I read as coded for Vedic science, and month-long yoga and meditation intensives for members of the Nalanda student body, faculty, and others.

Publicly saying that the title of my course was “problematic” is itself an assault on academic freedom. By doing this, Singh has not only told the remaining members of the Nalanda faculty that she will speak publicly against them but also that she will determine what can and cannot be taught. Academic freedom relies on academics having the autonomy to teach and discuss ideas that may prove to be inconvenient to authorities and political organisations. Controversial subjects should be avoided only when they are unrelated to the subject at hand.

Singh would likely argue that yoga is not political, but that is false. If that were the case then why is a BJP operative attacking my course on Twitter? Academic freedom means that scholars must be able to teach their subjects without the fear of becoming targets for repression, job loss, or imprisonment. Government officials should not have a say in what is being taught in universities. That is the job of academics, not politicians. As soon as politicians start bragging about the abolishment of courses, they are telling everyone that their freedom to speak and learn is going to be limited to what they pre-approve as appropriate.

S: Do you recall any instances during your time at the univerity when you felt the government was interfering in its functioning?
When the government dismissed Sabharwal and the board, the university was left to flounder. Professor Pankaj Mohan was appointed interim VC and immediately began to leave the faculty out of decisions. We had no idea what was going on except that administrators began to run the place. When Bhatkar was appointed, he came for a groundbreaking ceremony that featured a Hindu rite [Bhatkar held a puja.] This immediately demonstrated that the secular nature of the university was gone.

S: Could you describe other incidents that you thought were “academic censorship”?
Instances of plagiarism were ignored [by the administration] and teachers were gently pressured to pass students who were not up to the academic challenges of the MA [Master of Arts] programme. After the end of my contract, I was asked to mark two papers for my first term class that a student turned in at the end of term two. I protested stating that the papers were due at the end of the first term and that my syllabus clearly stated all papers would lose points for late submission. These were not turned in on time, and therefore the student should not pass. I am still being asked to mark them. This means my final grades and the policies of the university are being ignored.

S: How do you assess Singh and Madhav’s objection to a “foreigner” teaching yoga at the university?
I think it’s absurd. It’s none of Madhav’s business what is being taught at a university. The students of Nalanda are smart adults and have the right to learn whatever interests them. As for the university officials, I think it’s unprofessional and inappropriate for them to speak out in the press against a member of their own faculty—former or current. It undermines the faculty that is still there, surely demotivates them, and makes the university an unpleasant place for anyone who thinks for themselves who might consider applying.

S: Singh also challenged your course itself—she noted, “Why do you inject politics into it?” Was it being taught without the knowledge or approval of the university management?
The course was taught with the knowledge of the university administration. I submitted my syllabus to Dr Ambika Pani [the university’s point-of-contact between the faculty and the administration] on 3 December 2016, nearly a full month before I began to teach the course. Further, the librarian ordered books for the course and needed approval from the administration for purchasing the course materials. A guest lecturer was scheduled to come to Nalanda to speak about the Yoga Sutras in Indonesia and the administration also knew that this lecture would be considered mandatory for my course. Never did anyone raise any issues with the title or content of the course, which was posted on the website and included in all schedules [timetables], which were approved of by the administration.

As the acting VC [after Sabharwal’s ouster], Pankaj Mohan was the de facto acting dean of the School of Buddhist Studies, as we did not have a dean. He never held a meeting with us and paid us very little attention. However, as the acting dean and vice chancellor, it was his duty to oversee the curriculum. Had the administration told me I could not teach the course, I would have resigned at the time, but no one said a thing.

As an academic it is not my job to inject politics into anything. It is my job to offer my students the tools to think critically about the world. That world includes people in India and overseas discussing the Modi government’s connection to yoga and how that impacts not only Indian, but world politics.

S: Was there anything in particular in your course that could have irked the university administration or the BJP government?
I think my discussion of yoga is threatening to the RSS-linked administration. Nalanda has very strict rules regarding the celebration of religious ceremonies on campus. Students are free to do so, but the university was to remain secular in the spirit of inclusion. This is not conducive to the beliefs of the RSS. In my course, I attempted to present all views equally. I included discussions of cultural appropriation, what it meant for a white woman to teach the course, and had readings that argued for the view that yoga is a Hindu practice and should remain such. Had the administration discussed the course with me, I think they would have found that I did not speak against anyone’s view, was not attempting to change anyone’s practice, but merely started a discussion about the various ways in which people approach yoga in the historical modern world.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The post “My Discussion of Yoga Was Threatening to Its RSS-Linked Administration”: Patricia Sauthoff On the Cancellation of Her Course At Nalanda appeared first on The Caravan.

Tearing up all the streets

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:07 am
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Posted by /u/mr_sir

I'm curious, who's idea was it to tear up all the streets by 21st Avenue & 20th Avenue and take forever to fix it, not even fixing the sections that are done properly, and taking up all the parking while they are doing so?

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At our recent in-person staff meeting in Davis, California, we introduced three new members to the team, SherAaron Hurt, Elizabeth Williams and Karen Word. All will be working with the Carpentries part-time.

Elizabeth has joined Software and Data Carpentry in a part time role as Business Administrator to assist with onboarding and supporting Member organizations and general business and financial operations.

Here’s what Elizabeth has to say about herself:

“After earning a B.S. in Cultural Anthropology at UC Davis, I have worked as a small business manager, a tutor, a bookkeeper, and an organization consultant. I am currently managing the Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab at UC Davis, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to dedicate my (rather eclectic) skills and passions to the exciting and worthy mission of the Carpentries community.”

Elizabeth has recently joined Twitter where she tweets as @ecwilliams8.

We are delighted to have Elizabeth join the team and look forward to working with her.

Karen Word is a post-doctoral researcher in Titus Brown’s lab at UC Davis. As a part of her work in the lab, she is working with the Carpentries on Instructor Training and will be the Deputy Director of Instructor Training. Karen will be involved with many aspects of the instructor training program, including training a new cohort of Trainers (watch for a call for applications soon!). As co-Maintainer of the Instructor Training curriculum (with Christina Koch), Karen will continue to improve and update those materials. She will also be actively involved in other curricular development efforts, including ongoing work on Data Carpentry Genomics and Data Carpentry Social Sciences curricula. Welcome to the team, Karen!

Karen writes: “I have built a career on roughly equal parts teaching and research, with happy periods of exclusive focus on each. As an educator, I’ve taught high school and community college, at museums and outreach programs, and have served at the university level as both a TA and Associate Instructor. My scientific research has focused on ways in which organisms respond to environmental change, with emphasis on hormone signaling and metabolism. Most recently I have served (and continue to do so) as a postdoc in the Lab for Data Intensive Biology at UC Davis, where I am working on program assessment for our in-house bioinformatics workshops. I am delighted to be able to bring what I’ve learned through all of these experiences to bear on the Carpentries’ mission.”

Instructor training is a huge part of our outreach effort, and we are delighted to have Karen assisting us with this important work.


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