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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn

30nov2022

cropThe wizard (aka my fabulous tech support) fixed my mastodon link (below), so we're back to ranting about vehicular homicide and injury. I had read in comments somewhere (probably on a not just bikes youtube vlog) that people wanting pickup trucks for actual pickup-truck type work were among those unhappy with the modern versions because besides being gas-guzzling behemoths compared to the older smaller ones, their truck beds were so high it was difficult to load stuff into them, but this image comparing old and new style really drives home (heh) how starkly pickups designed for hauling stuff and pickups designed for status have diverged.

In the USA, land of mass shootings, there are—I hope, anyway—increasing calls for gun owners to be licensed and insured just like automobile drivers, which seems like a painfully obvious requirement, but in my view drivers’ licensing could stand to be a lot more rigourous as well—just a couple of Sundays ago, when we had our first sticking snow, as my friend and I were riding along the road (in front of his house, to get to the bike path), some dudes in a pickup told us we should get off because “it's slippery and we might lose control of our vehicle and hit you”, to which I tartly replied that ‘if you can't control your vehicle then you're the one who needs to get off the road!’

It's exactly the same excuse other abusers make, along the lines of ‘don't make me angry and hit you’, and it's just as bullshitty. It's also why I'd like to see (much) steeper plate fees for these giant SUVs and graded licensing and steeper penalties, based on vehicle weight (& for funsies, bumper height as well...), for hitting others—pedestrians, especially road construction workers, cyclists (push and motor) even smaller autos. To go with, yet another story about someone getting hit by a car. Like me, she suffered a concussion, though hers was much more serious; and like me, she holds the man in no particular animus.

This is not to say we either of us ever want to experience this again; also, the fact that the vehicles were going relatively slowly is why we're alive and functioning today. But higher speeds and higher bumpers make such collisions infinitely more dangerous. Which is why I want people driving status symbols to pay through the nose, both financially and legally, when they screw up.

Meanwhile, California joins a growing number of states that repealed the auto-industry inspired “jaywalking” laws of a century ago, hurrah (WAPO link). Why yes, you should be going slowly enough to stop in time not to hit people who are crossing the street.

Or, um, have the latest iteration of the very first dead mouse. Which is at least has the advantage of not supposed to be alive.

29nov2022

cropOriginally we were gonna have a rant about giant SUVs and how they're awful for pedestrians, but the wizard has to update the code for this site so it can handle ‘@’ signs in https links (not just mailto:addresses, that is, mastodon links;)

So how about some interesting looking comics? Please Say It is a slice of life webtoon about being gay in the 80s, and it looks charming.

Also (likely) via bb, Kindra Neely's Numb to this, about the manga-ka's experience with a mass shooting, is almost universally described as “searing”—as well it should. It seems ridiculous that, a decade after Sandy Hook, we're still arguing about guns, but change is slow, and getting people to think about such issues is—frankly—one of the reasons people make art: to communicate, in a visceral way. (N.b., her website is down, so I put in a Marysue link instead of the ubiquitous amazon.)

Finally, I did actually check out and read, Made in Korea, and, tying it into the prior recce, also has a school mass shooting subplot (yet another symptom of the ubiquity of this scourge in USian culture.) The six issue series, now collected into a graphic novel, is written by by Jeremy Holt, illustrated by George Schall and lettered by Adam Wollett. (The book does not, iirc, have any actual Hangul in it, which would've been awesome. Also, I thought the art was nicely done, particularly suited the family moments, if a bit lacking in the dystopian corporate scenes.)

This review notes that the story excels in capturing the everyday, intimate moments of the protagonist and the new USian family into which they're adopted, but is less strong in capturing the Korean corporate culture in which the creator of said protag is embedded; in a similar way, that shooter subplot functions more to drive the plot than examine this failure of US culture in a really meaningful way.

Frankly, I wanted more of the Korean stuff, and wondered, a bit, why Schall chose Korea for that subplot—did the writer have some connection? Um, yes. The author was adopted from that country by USian white folks, and said in the interview above that the narrative was very personal because it explored both their Korean origin and (eventually) their nonbinary status. —I really liked those bits and wished they'd been pushed even harder.

Besides the NB aspects, I really appreciated how much the adoptive parents loved and defended their (literally) foreign child.

Recommended.

Or you can check out this green and white mouse.

28nov2022

cropEventually there will be some fresher art, but not today!

Like a lot of people I've been watching twitter crash and burn—I do have an account on the platform, though I haven't accessed it in years, because I'm not currently making much of a push to sell my work, and the point of tweeting was to let people know I had new stuff up on etsy for sale.

Frankly, I'm not sorry if its far too wealthy owner is out 44 billion dollars, (though my understanding is that these fatcats usually persuade a bunch of other people to spend their money, and I have no doubt Musk will skate off relatively unharmed by his fecklessness) but I do feel for the politically marginalized folks in repressive regimes that find it vital, others (such as political journalists) who need it, not to mention the people have put their heart and soul into the company only to see their hard work destroyed.

But the wizard has been experimenting with alternatives to the big platforms: he's switched our phones to the graphene OS, which does give a lovely level of control. (Why no, interval timer app, I don't wish to grant you internet access.) He's installed signal to use instead of google chats for friends and family. It lets you pick text bubble and background colours, which is kind of nice. (It has more robust privacy, too;) He helped me set up a mastodon account, which is being touted as perhaps the major alternative to twitter (except without so much of the racism, sexism and slurs.) So far I've made one post.

The graphene OS is pretty impressive so far, on both functionality and aesthetic fronts—everything else is, to be honest, not as slick as the big commercial competitors (though the colour choices for signal are a nice alternative to the in-your-face cobalt blue and bright white default, ughhhhhh) but they don't have to be perfect, just good enough. So far, they seem to be.

Pintrest, and especially Instagram are major time sucks, so I've left them off my phone for now, on the theory that perhaps I'll do something more useful with my time. Like make web pages of mediocre photography of gift decorations, such as today's offering. We'll see.

24nov2022

cropThis page was actually supposed to precede the last one, so the link in it should work now:)

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it (& a pleasant Thursday to those who don't, and that all have many reasons to give thanks. As I actually made some beads yesterday, and the sun's been shining, I have a lot to be thankful for, even semi-ugly beads as these.

22nov2022

cropHey, today is palindromic, at least if you do yy-mm-dd (or dd-mm-yy of course), so I gotta do a page! In fact, not only is it palindromic, the outsides are double the insides: 22-11-22. Just the sort of date Attorney Woo would appreciate. (And by the way, this series is splendid—I've been rationing episodes, I like it so much...)

  • Trolling through dpreview (while trying to figure out how—or even whether—my old panasonic LX-100 did video. Spoiler: it does, and what's more, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to to turn it on) here's a link about a master photographer and some lovely shots of a ballet dancer: never gonna turn that down.
  • The Netherlands is a world leader is sustainably grown food, using a combo of vertical farming, humane animal husbandry, and the like. ‘The like’ including cultured meat, but unfortunately the wapo article doesn't get into that, which I s'pose is par-for-the-course for our society's carnivorous bias, but it's still a pretty interesting article, even though it failed to delve into the bits I was most interested in:)
  • Finally Toy Story turns 27 today. Ummmmmmm, I saw that in theaters. Man I'm old...

And are some only slightly elderly beads with a very classic design that I think goes well with the symmetrical theme. Enjoy.

18nov2022

cropToday's page wraps up this week's series of memory wire necklets with fringe (though there will eventually be more...I know this because I have one already strung up:) and I thought I'd take a break from the endless ranting and link farms for some brief book reviews:

Ed Yong's latest, An Immense World, has been getting rave reviews, and deservedly so. About the only issue I have with this book is the extremely ugly cover, which not only is uninspired and boring: as if someone plopped on a stock photo of a monkey and a butterfly, added some swirls & called it done. Its even greater sin is that it also completely fails to convey (at all) what the book is about, the wonderful ways differing sensory systems constrain—and enlighten—the animals possessing them. (So why, you ask, if the book is so good, are you ranting about the cover? Two reasons: 1) it deserved something handsome & 2) covers are advertisment, and such a good product deserves equally good packaging.)

Anyway. Great book, go read it.

Rick Emerson's Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic and the imposter behind the world's most notorious diaries starts with the author imploring the reader to start at the beginning and read through to the end, with no cheating—something I never ever used to do and now find myself so anxious I often can't even stand the stress of a make-believe story...jeez! This resonated with me, as I begged the reader to do exactly the same with one of my back-of-drawer novels. That said, I found the first half of the book more engaging, probably because I'm of an age to have actually read Go Ask Alice, whereas the later book about the Satanic Panic and witchcraft passed me by. I know—generally—that the Satanic Panic was ginned up by a number of conservative (evangelical?) type preachers and the like (critiqued by Fred Clark of Slacktivist fame, among others) and that some innocent daycare workers and others had paid dearly for it.

The ‘anonymous’ author of Go Ask Alice was not some 16 year old girl but a woman—Mormon, IIRC—roughly the age I am now when she wrote it, who came from a hardscrabble background, determined to make good, specifically, to become a famous author. There was a lot to admire about her grit, and work ethic—she busted her ass for years, writing for free, pitching ideas, anything to get a foot in the door...and finally hit upon taking a suicidal girl's journal, spicing it up with sex and drugs and selling it for lots and lots of money, but without the one thing she craved the most: recognition as an author.

Emerson doesn't really speculate why this person thought it was okay to take the raw agony of some teen's words and dress it up with lurid details tailor made to appall all her church going buddies, and the original diarist's name was not, in fact, Alice; that came for a song. But what angered me was the way this unknown kid's reputation was smeared for gain, and by extension, teenagers as a whole, who to be sure do a lot of damned stupid and dangerous things, but are not nearly as feckless as the media paints them. As far as I could tell from the narrative, this book is still selling and it's still marketed as memoir/biography, not the fiction it actually is.

Having hit upon a winning formula once, the author did it again with another suicidal teen's journal: in this case the parents actually passed along their son's papers, hoping his tragedy would save other children; they weren't fools, and of course wanted to check over the book before it went to press. Joke's on them, it never did, and folks in their town, believing this boy was participating in Satanic rituals, desecrated his gravestone and made his family's lives a misery.

As a teenager I was a goody-two-shoes to the max, so I knew nothing about drugs, but the Satanic Panic just annoyed me; while it be years before I ever dabbled in D&D, went to SF cons or otherwise associated with all those nerdy sf&f fen, I still had adults worrying about whether I could tell my fantasy worlds and stories from “reality”. The irony is that, all claims by them to the contrary, I actually did not have a vivid imagination—all my stories and ideas were hugely derivative from the media (mostly books in those days, though I did watch ST:TOS in reruns) I consumed. I was lucky, because my parents knew perfectly well where my “imagination” came from; other kids were not nearly so lucky and their joy in sf, fantasy, horror, RPG, cosplay and the like were curtailed because of these grifters getting clueless adults all bent out of shape.

IOW, this woman and others like her are directly responsible for the suspicion that persists even today between sf&f nerds and conservative christians, which never had to be (& likely fostered the increasing distrust of science by such folks as well) —which is really hard on people who are both; it certainly hasn't promoted understanding.

I think I read this account in one day, which is pretty much always a recommendation!

On the fiction side, Natalie Jenner's Bloomsbury Girls is a lovely, gentle & truly heartwarming tale of three women looking to advance their careers at the venerable Bloomsbury Books, a hundred year old bookstore run by a stuffy (and sexist) manager in post WWII London. Remember how in the prior book the author begged for the reader not to peek at the end? But what if it ends badly? (I peeked, which clearly says I need to do something about my anxiety.)

I can faithfully assure you it all comes out delightfully in the end. Everybody gets their happy ending! Just a really delightful and charming book, perfect comfort reading. But as it says on the tin, the heart of the story is about the way these 3 very different women support each other.

Ok, folks, that's all for this week. Enjoy a fancy amber necklet if you like.