brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
On what helps some people decide to attend social gatherings.

On the Short Trek The Escape Artist.

On noticing that I'm trying to read inaccessible fiction.

"Random" (as in the modern slangy sense, e.g., "the Mountain Goats are making an album about D&D? That's random") means: unexpected in a way that I disapprove of, unjustified, and I resent having to make room for this unexpected thing; where do I even file this?!.

The coverage of celebrities (especially actors) and sports that I run into is usually a way into telling stories about labor and power.

Arrested Development loved showing us how its characters clung to the perceived power of names/categories, to make other people see things their way. "It's a satire!" "Illusions, dad!" "Mr. Manager." And, relatedly, mistook fake things for real -- living in the model house, George treating all dolls as though they were people.
brainwane: Sumana, April 2015, with shaved head. (shaved head)
After I wrote this review of Manikarnika and this tiny review of, among other things, Victoria & Abdul, I started showing Black Panther to my spouse and I was talking with him about it and about Thor: Ragnarok. And I started wondering aloud why Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, which are about royalty, actually have reasonably interesting things to say about geopolitics, while Captain America: Civil War tries to and is incoherent.

(Do I actually believe everything I say here? Not 100% sure. Iron Man 3 spoiler ahead.) )What I said about Victoria & Abdul and about Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi was: "both of which seem to think the problem with the British oppression of India is that local subjects were deprived of a wholesome, classy, righteous queen (rather than, say, that Indians were deprived of representative democracy)." And I think that message isn't just about the Raj. I mean, representative democracy is cognitively demanding and there are a million ways it's broken and everyone has to keep making decisions. Wouldn't it be nice for someone else to do it for us??

But -- no. We tried that.

[personal profile] yasaman, basically I am waving my hands around not sure whether I'm full of crap, and would particularly welcome your input here!
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
I was just rereading the Star Trek Encyclopedia I got for my 13th birthday and realized: this season of Star Trek: Discovery has every reason to feature Sybok.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From 37:14 till about 42:00 of the 1st February episode of Caithream CiĆ¹il is a rockin' instrumental tune with horns and strings. It is so rockin' that I wanted to know more! Despite not knowing Scottish Gaelic, I worked out that the song's "The Kelburn Brewer", and is a collaboration involving Natalie Haas and Alasdair Fraser and closes their CD "Abundance".

"The Kelburn Brewer" as a YouTube track. Gets going around 0:34, then picks up further about a minute in, then increases its jammin'-ness as it goes. Enjoy! And I should listen to more Haas and Fraser.
brainwane: Photo of my head, with hair longish for me (longhair)
(Capsule review by my spouse at his blog.)

I saw ads for this on Indian TV around Republic Day and thought, cool, sort of Wonder Woman action vibes plus a martial-arts-dance sequence plus anticolonialism! It's a big enough blockbuster that it's showing in some NYC theaters, so I took my spouse plus a couple friends to it the other night.

The friends in question are white, and one of them likes big action movies (we see the MCU together) but is pretty ignorant of history, especially world history. So I prepped them, double-checking that they did know that the British occupied India for basically most of the 19th century, and that we weren't too keen on that. I didn't want to spoil them for the film but I wasn't sure of exactly what events would be covered in the film. So I told them: I'm pretty sure that this film assumes you know that, in 1857, there was a rebellion against British rule. From the fact that India got its independence in 1947, you may infer that this rebellion didn't work out for us. So, British rule depended on a middle management layer of locals, including Indian clerks and Indian soldiers called sepoys.... And I explained the bit about the cartridges.

And we wondered what exposition would happen -- would there be a Star Wars-style info crawl at the start explaining who/what/when/where? Nope! More like, halfway through the movie, you see some soldiers and an onscreen caption reading "Cartridges were sent...." and then, mutiny montage. So I unknowingly guessed THE EXACT RIGHT chunk of history to preload into my friends' heads so they weren't COMPLETELY at sea.

But of course I could see/hear some other messages that they couldn't. Like how Manikarnika was being positioned as a kind of figurative avatar of Kali or Durga. Or the chanting of "Har Har Mahadev" (anodyne English subtitle: "Victory is ours"; actually an invocation to Lord Shiva so specifically Hindu that Hindus yell it during anti-Muslim pogroms and chanted it during Partition violence, and it's super noteworthy when Muslims say it as part of a "communal harmony" initiative). The anti-casteism message (the scene where the villager serves Laximbai milk) is tiny, and the "hey Muslims were a huge part of the mutiny!" message feels practically nonexistent. And yeah that closing where there's an Aum symbol written in fire on the ground (also sort of end-of-Ramayana Sita imagery, as I read it). And the pointed scene where the Queen of Jhansi rescues a calf from being slaughtered (read: only awful barbarians might want to kill and eat cattle!). And all the treason and betrayal by other Indians, and all the "motherland" and "we try peace but we'll fight to defend ourselves" and "honor" and "so awesome to have a chance to be a martyr!" talk. This is a disturbing movie. It has fun bits in it, it has moving bits in it, but I came away distressed.

See, I haven't seen Lagaan* in a while, but in Lagaan, all the Indians work together. All castes, Muslims and Hindus together, women and men together, a guy with a disability turns out to be an amazing pitcher, and so on. Aamir Khan's character shows some leadership and you get a lot of training montages and it's about beating violent coercion with excellence and discipline and cleverness. Manikarnika is not like that. Manikarnika is about the joy of killing British soldiers, about the indivisible pride of the motherland and the people on/from it, and about a vision of Hindu nationalism that has no room for Ambedkar or Gandhi. And this is a huge blockbuster hit in a country that means a lot to me.

I need to read Harleen Singh's The Rani of Jhansi: Gender, History and Fable in India (Cambridge University Press, 2014) or a similar work before I say: this movie is historically inaccurate. And it weirds me out that it's hard for me to find reviews where people talk in depth about what's going on in this movie, politically. Is it all happening in Hindi, which I don't know and can't read? Am I completely misreading it? Is it not even worth explicating because it's so obvious to every Indian sourcelander watching it? (Indian news sources do point out that this seems almost part of a BJP pre-election campaign push.)

I'm worried, you know? Maybe one reason I'm not seeing people talk about this online is because they're afraid of retribution.

* I could swear that one of the British officers in Manikarnika is played by the same guy who played the main villain in Lagaan. IMDb seems to disagree. Maybe it's just similar facial hair.
brainwane: The last page of the zine (cat)
I'm back from my travel (taking care of ill family) and back on a bit of social media, but catching up on my inbox and may still be terse in my responses for at least a few days.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
On May 3rd, 2019, two friends and I are hosting "The Art of Python", a miniature arts festival at PyCon North America 2019 (Cleveland, Ohio), focusing on narrative, performance, and visual art. We intend to encourage and showcase novel art that helps us share our emotionally charged experiences of programming, particularly in Python. We hope that by attending, our audience will discover new aspects of empathy and rapport, and find a different kind of delight and perspective than might otherwise be expected at a large conference.

There's more about this at my co-organizer Erty Seidohl's blog post, including an invitation to also propose your "not-talks" to !!Con.

In short, we are interested in how fictional narrative, visual and performance art, and different presentation formats can make different kinds of teaching and representation possible.

"The Art of Python" is seeking your proposals now and the deadline for submissions is 28 February. And if you've never written a play and want guidance so you can write your first, we'll have a guide up on 1 February to help you!

Thanks to Erty and to Brendan Adkins for co-organizing "The Art of Python" with me! Thanks to PyCon's Hatchery program for new PyCon events, which makes this festival possible! Thanks to Jackie Kazil for the festival name! (My codename was "Spectacle!" which is probably misleading and less accessible.)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
John Rogers, Alexandra Erin, and Alexandra Petri all write varieties of genre fiction that reward both systems thinking (worldbuilding) and an understanding of human psychology (character), including the monstrous. This aids them in understanding and commenting on modern US politics; they don't get stuck looking at only one of those levels.

Bollywood-style Indian film reminds me how much I would love if more US films had song-and-dance sequences in them .... the musical is a medium that can cross a lot more genres than I usually get to see it in. (I haven't caught the new episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend yet, alas! Maybe next month.) The upcoming release of Thackeray, a biopic about politician Bal Thackeray, reminds me that I need to check whether there's a film that turns Nehru's midnight 15 August 1947 independence speech ("while the world sleeps, India awakes") into a song and dance.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
I wonder whether area code redlining was a thing (a very hasty search does not turn up anything) stopping people in different neighborhoods from easily talking with each other across racial lines.

Maybe TNG : Ramayana : DS9 :: Mahabharata? And Data is a bit like Hanuman and Odo is a bit like Karna.... But Picard : Rama :: Sisko : ?

In an era of very low media/consumer choice and availability, Book Of The Month and monthly record subscription clubs were popular. The rise of subscription box services comes as consumers have so much choice and availability that we desire better discoverability and curation for that choice. And book clubs also provide some of the same value; "this is the book we're reading" also helps the reader say no to other new books (for now) and ignore the rest of the To Be Read pile.

Some people are actually fine, most of the time, with probabilistic communication and not being certain that they're hearing or being heard properly. This is tough for me to grasp.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
So over in [community profile] wiscon we're talking about possible panels and sessions to propose for this year's WisCon, and I'm exploring proposing something I originally called "disaggregating & reconstituting the pleasure of military/spy/police stories" -- people seem into it, and I'm probably going to write up the idea and propose it within the next couple of days.

I was talking with my spouse about it and we got to talking about the ways we usually envision the criminal justice apparatus interacting with the supernatural (e.g., characters don't generally try to indict the Wolfman, although "Indict the Wolfman" is a good band name) and how it would go if, like, a DSA-endorsed attorney became the head prosecutor in Gotham City and started taking a very different approach regarding Arkham, the root causes of villainy, etc. Which fanon Bruce Wayne, as in [ profile] unpretty's fics, would be super into.

Anyway -- it strikes me that, in trying to figure out how one constructs a story that hits a bunch of the same buttons that spy/military/police fiction hits, yet avoids the ideological squick that the genre inherently pokes, I am a bit like someone trying to hack together a gluten-free or vegan equivalent of a favorite wheaty/dairy/meaty food; perhaps it will turn out that Leverage or Steven Universe is the Impossible Burger in this analogy....
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
Explaining why it's not a good idea to try to shop in Mysore for shirts that will be gifts for Leonard: "I can find things to fit me. Leonard is built .... like Bheema."

Explaining that Leonard, though an atheist, is fine with me being a Hindu: "For him, it's like I have a hobby. Like basketball."

Surveying multiple bookshelves of books that are not arrayed in any particular order: "This isn't a library. It's a pile, on shelves."
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
I'm going to be off social media a lot between now and about Jan 10th. Please email if you want to reach me - & have my address - but I will probably be slow & terse in response.
brainwane: spinner rack of books, small table, and cushy brown chair beside a window in my living room (chair)
Anger is a response to perceived unfairness, such as the denial of things one deserves, is entitled to.

I have a hard time working out what I believe I deserve -- it turns out that I can figure it out a bit by listening to what makes me angry. Stuff like:

The prospect of being denied my dignity, privacy, and liberty when crossing a border.

The prospect of being denied medicines necessary to my health because of insurance nonsense -- despite holding a prescription and ready money to pay for them.

The prospect of being denied love, kindness, intimacy, privacy, by corporate and government surveillance of my relationships.

That sort of thing.

Sometimes I can't tell why I'm angry.... I'm gonna try to listen to myself and ask: is there something that I'm not getting that I believe I deserve?

And if I can't tell why I'm sad, I'm gonna try to ask myself: is there something I want, yet believe I have no chance of getting?
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
"Intersectional sustainable crop science, and GIFs" is my newest MetaFilter post -- it's an inventory of informative & funny Twitter threads by [ profile] sarahtaber_bww, loosely grouped by topic (soil and ecologies, specific plants and animals, common misunderstandings about food/ag/econ, "family farms", organizing/politics and sexism, being an ex-Mormon, food safety, regulations, testing, and management systems, management skills and the economics of agriculture in the US, and oppressions therein, skill, culture, capitalism, land prices, slavery, white supremacy, and ag history in the US). Kind of a recruiter post for Dr. Sarah Taber fandom.

Taber explains: "My goal with this account is to beef up the "sustainable ag" info available for consumers w some science & general business mgmt info. The general public is incredibly frustrated with ag's slow rate of change. Someone should talk about the very real reasons change isn't instant....Some of the reasons won't reflect nicely on our ag institutions. Oh well. I'm not gonna tell folks it's all good, because it's not. We need to back up this "no BS" reputation by actually cutting the BS. If you feel weird about someone airing your dirty laundry, wash it." Also: "put info out there, see what kind of feedback it got, & thereby find out where the general knowledge level is at with ag these days". (Thread Reader)

When I want to read someone's old threads, I find it so difficult to dig through old tweets through the Twitter interface, so I thought this might be a useful resource to make and share. Enjoy, and please feel free to share & publicize.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
Last year* I was the lead playwright and co-star for "Code Review, Forwards and Back", a play about different ways code review can go. In a sense I play several different characters who have different approaches to code review. Here's the video.

The third character I play is very laid-back. I am not laid-back. I am extra and have no chill. (Only in about the last three months have I come to understand what "laid-back" can mean other than "unreliable and inattentive to detail" -- instead, "laid-back" can mean "calm, amenable to other people's preferences in low-stakes negotiations, with a demeanor that puts people at ease".) So the director had to coach me in how to properly perform laidbackitude for this character; I reached for sort of a beach surfer caricature, I think, slouching further and further in my chair. At one point, improvising a response to my co-star's distress, I said, "Bummer," and my director immediately said, "OK, we've found the line, bring it back. Not quite that far."

Last month, we reprised the play at RubyConf in Los Angeles. We revised the play a bit, added a scene, and worked to get as off-book as possible before the show. During rehearsal, in that same scene, when my co-star got his mouth tangled on a line, I improvised: "Dude, have a vape." And I immediately knew, on some level, that this ridiculousness is what he and I will say to make each other laugh in tense moments for the rest of our friendship.

The video recording for our RubyConf performance just went live (direct YouTube link) and I guess I should watch it, though I wince. Fortifying myself with some tea first!

* Wow, as I was writing this I started "A few years ago" but this was actually like August 2017. Brain, what is happening.


Nov. 30th, 2018 02:43 pm
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
If you like reading about clothes & social class, this post on my other blog might amuse you. It includes the phrase "investment sweatpants" and goes on for a while about coats I have owned.
brainwane: several colorful scribbles in the vague shape of a jellyfish (jellyfish)
[the cost of charisma is information asymmetry with those who meet me]
[the cost of vision is being misunderstood or ignored, Cassandra-style]
[the cost of actually thinking outside the box is having to then squeeze back into it so others can understand & fund me]
[the cost of love is grief]
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
My new MetaFilter post is about a strange edge case in the San Francisco school board election next week: what does it mean to you for a candidate to actually withdraw?

She got heavy criticism for her past statements, and says she's withdrawn. But her name's still on the ballot and her supporters are still campaigning for her. What if she wins anyway?
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
Murphy Brown premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9:30pm (8:30 Central). I am seriously thinking about actually getting an antenna for my TV so I can watch this over the air. Lord I loved that show when I was young. I'm trying to figure out how to talk about Murphy Brown -- brilliant, relentless, ambitious, witty, selfish in small things but deeply committed to integrity and justice, sometimes lonely and clumsy, the unmistakable star of her own life -- and I realize that DCI Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect and journalist Murphy Brown are sort of the drama and comedy takes on the same character?

Anyway I want to see it and maybe friends in NYC want to watch it together?

Edited 13 Sept to say: Oh wow this article about looking back at Murphy Brown reminds me:

* We're gonna get new Murphy Brown and Patrick Stewart wants to come back and play Picard again and evidently I am a target market for pandering now and it's GREAT
* it's a crying shame that Murphy Brown is not legally available for viewing except in cable reruns and on an out-of-print? 2005 DVD release of Season 1 (just as I guessed: music licensing is the hurdle)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
I have belatedly posted some notes from a WisCon panel on Dreamwidth power user tips -- I also noted several feature and documentation requests.

Ordinarily I would turn several of these into GitHub issues or [site community profile] dw_suggestions entries. [site community profile] dw_suggestions is very behind on processing its entries queue and I'm a bit short on time to file GitHub issues -- others should feel free to file suggestions and issues!
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