wait what

May. 19th, 2017 09:05 pm
dreamer_easy: (*writing 8)
The crashing realisation that what you want to read is science fiction, and what you want to write is science fiction, and that the next half-dozen projects on your mental list are all fantasy.

Robota

May. 18th, 2017 09:37 am
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
I'm enjoying re-reading some Isaac Asimov robot stories which I haven't read since adolescence. I'm struck by how complex robo-psychology is, and how rich and different the personalities of the robots are. They are people - certainly no less people than Asimov's humans, who are often as constrained by their own psychological quirks as the robots are by the Three Laws (the Aurorans' terror of human presence, for example). This only underlines the creepy idea underlining Asimov's whole project of getting away from the stock pulp storyline of robot uprisings. In creating the Three Laws, he created the perfect slave: loyal, willing, disposable. Or almost perfect, since the things keep going wrong. I read "Little Lost Robot" this morning, in which Susan Calvin (cheers cheers cheers) explains that robots are entirely aware that they are superior to human beings: it's only the Three Laws which keep a potential rebellion in check. Even Calvin, that great champion of robots, calls them "boy" (as does Lije Bailey), in a disturbing invocation of the era of segregation during which the stories were written, and is coldly willing to destroy dozens of them rather than let an unbalanced specimen escape. (Cf the Star Wars universe, in which Anakin's mum's slavery is tragic but the droids, for all their personality and loveability, are strictly property.)
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
I've made it through five chapters of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. Now the library's gone and recalled it! I must snavel my own copy; it's a challenging read, and I'm going to need to re-read at least some of it. I've stuck loads of coloured sticky bookmarks in it, so what I want to do before returning it is quickly jot down which pages caught my attention and why.

Arendt traces the historical reasons for the position of the Jewish people in Europe, and how it changed, first with the appearance of nation-states in the Seventeeth and Eighteenth Centuries, then the French Revolution, and lastly the rise of imperialism. (14-15) One important element was a lack of interest in / involvement in politics, which contrasts with the "ficitious role of a secret world power" which antisemites still asign to the Jewish people (20-21, 24-25).

The earliest antisemitic political parties in Germany characterised themselves as "above all parties", which to me recalls the boasts of fascist politicians that they are not politicians. Previously, writes Arendt, only the state and the government had claimed to represent the whole nation, and not parties or classes; the antisemitic parties aspired "to become the representative of the whole nation, to get exclusive power, to take possession of the state machinery, to substitute themselves for the state." (38-39)

Some damn interesting and intricate stuff about "vice" - about how socialites welcomed gay men and Jewish people into their circles because they saw them as representing thrilling naughtiness. "They did not doubt that homosexuals were 'criminals' or that Jews were 'traitors'; they only revised their attitude towards crime and treason. The trouble with their new broadmindedness, of course, was not that they were no longer horrified by inverts but that they were no longer horrified by crime... The best-hidden disease of the nineteenth century, its terrible boredom and general weariness, had burst like an abscess." There may be a connection here to the lionisation of organised criminals in pop music, and perhaps to the "Social Negroes" that Tom Wolfe writes about in "Radical Chic" IIRC.

Arendt talks at length about the mob. I need to re-read what she has to say, as I'm not clear I genuinely understand who they are. (106-)

She analyses the rise of imperalism at some length - the critical change IIUC being the merging of the state with private economic interests. (eg 126-7). Was it in Inga Clendinnen's book "The Aztecs: an Interpretation" where I first encountered the idea that the Aztec civilisation depended on constant warfare and expansion, and therefore they couldn't have lasted much longer, even if the conquistadors hadn't arrived - that they would have run out of peoples to conquer? Arendt paints a similar picture of the endless expansion required by imperialism, which could only end in catastrophe: "The most radical and the only secure form of possession is destruction, for only what we have destroyed is safely and forever ours." (145)

Finally for now, this interesting remark: "The truth was that only far from home could a citizen of England, Germany, or France be nothing but an Englishman or German or Frenchman. In his own country he was so entangled in economic interests or social loyalties that he felt closer to a member of his own class in a foreign country than to a man of another class in his own." (154)
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
Disturbed by Kelly Robson's column in the April issue of Clarkesworld, "Another World: Being James Tiptree Jr". She discusses the letter which Dr. Alice B. Sheldon left to be released in case of her death, in which she outed the science fiction writer Tiptree as being a woman writing under a male pseudonym. Robson quotes a key passage from the letter: "Everything sounded so much more interesting coming from a man. (Didn't it. Didn't it, just a little? Be honest.)" She remarks, "Writing as Tiptree, Alice Sheldon didn’t just avoid gender discrimination; she supercharged everything she wrote with gravitas and authority... Writing as a man gave her freedom that was missing when she wrote as herself... Being Tiptree certainly allowed her to avoid gender discrimination, but more importantly, it allowed her to overcome the barriers in her own mind."

My contribution to Chicks Dig Time Lords, "If I can't Squee I Don't Want to Be Part of your Revolution"*, contains a puzzled self-examination: what makes women's writing different from men's, and thus made my Doctor Who novels different from the others, which were overwhelmingly written by men? I consulted a couple of books on the subject of women's writing: one pointed out that women generally have different experiences to men; the other seemed to warn against lumping all women together. My problem was, and is, my slightly loose connection to the category "woman". Though I am a ciswoman, and share many experiences with other ciswomen, I am also sufficiently gender non-conforming to be occasionally mistaken for a man.

In the Chicks chapter, I pointed out that the style of all of the Doctor Who novel writers was somewhat constrained by the fact that we were writing science fiction adventure stories, with the main characters already provided. Although we drew on our own lives, like any writer in any genre, the books are still fairly homogenous, and that may have overwhelmed any gender differences.

Robson recounts meeting a male SF fan who proudly proclaims that he never reads books by women. I seem to recall that, as a teen, I eschewed female SF authors because they didn't seem to be writing the kind of SF I enjoyed (Asimov, Niven, a Heinlein phase). Perhaps they were drawing on interests or experiences I didn't share; perhaps there were fewer female authors available, so I was less likely to hit on one that I liked**; or perhaps it was simple prejudice. I am frustrated by not yet having found women who write the sort of SF I've recently enjoyed, by Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson, and Liu Cixin.

As well as being disturbed by my freakish gender, it troubles me that I insist on reading and writing SF, even though fantasy seems like it would be my more natural home. Perhaps the reason I write science fiction is to grab some of the "gravitas and authority" that Tiptree's assumed gender provided. Some part of me insists that SF = srs bizness, fantasy = mucking around (the same part that insists that YA is also mucking around). I worry that this prejudice is also somehow grounded in gender. I guess that's why Robson's column troubles me. (OTOH, maybe I don't want to write fantasy because I'm far less interested in reading it?)


* Neither my best title nor my greatest piece of prose ever, but I am still desperately proud of having been part of this landmark book, particularly its role in triggering the Sad Puppies. I'm also chuffed to see it being quoted in academic books, which must mean I got something right. :)

** The two most significant anthologies in my youth were Tomorrow's Children, edited by Isaac Asimov, and The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus. The former contains 18 stories, three by women, but they seem to have made no impression on me, compared to Damon Knight's "Cabin Boy", Fritz Leiber's "A Pail of Air", Mark Clifton's "Star Bright", Asimov's own "The Ugly Little Boy", and, gods help us all, Jerome Bixby's "It's a Good Life". The Omnibus contains just one story by a woman - "The Snowball Effect" by Katherine MacLean, which I do remember, but it's a bit of fluff, damnit, surrounded by more memorable stuff.
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Child asylum seeker wins government payout over Christmas Island detention trauma (GA, 26 April 2017). The girl, "suffered recurrent dental abscesses and recurrent allergic reactions while in detention on Christmas Island and was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression with anxiety, separation anxiety, stuttering and bed-wetting." | Children are being damaged in detention – Australia's day of reckoning will come (GA, 27 April 2017)

Catching up on links.

At What Cost? The Human, Economic and Strategic Cost of Australia's Asylum Seeker Policies and the Alternatives. Report from Save the Children and UNICEF, September 2016.

Detention abuse inquiry did not interview children so as to not 'traumatise them further' (GA, 6 March 2017) IIUC the report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is due at the end of this year.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Report on Christmas Island (August 2016). From the introduction: "The Christmas Island detention centre holds around 30 men seeking asylum mixed in with about 200 men exiting prisons from across Australia after serving sentences of varying length for crimes of varying severity. This places the men seeking asylum at significant risk of harm due to the simmering resentment of some of the ex-prisoner population. The effects of the extreme isolation, fear of violence, uncertain future, and lack of adequate mental health care has had a deeply dehumanising effect on these men. The detention centre on Christmas Island is run as a high security military camp where control is based on fear and punishment and the extensive internal use of extrajudicial punishment by force and isolation is evident." | 'I do not deserve this,' pleads asylum seeker detained with violent criminals on Christmas Island (SMH, 27 September 2016) | Australia's forgotten detention centre: the peculiar torture of Christmas Island's asylum seekers locked up with hardened criminals (SMH, 17 September 2016)


This is the most recent news I can find on the boat that sank off Christmas Island: Siev 221 tragedy: class action adjourned as asylum seeker boat survivors seek documents (GA, 28 September 2016)

Going even further back in time: Christmas Island detention centres to close as part of immigration savings (GA, 12 May 2016) They won't be mourned (the shire president describes them as having been "a disaster" for the community.)

End Immigration Detention of Children is a worldwide organisation; their Australian branch is the End Child Detention Coalition.

dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Manus refugees who fed child lodge complaint about Dutton's 'false allegations' (GA, 27 April 2017). "All of these incidents is recorded by your CCTV cameras. We are requesting for the immediate release of the footage of this incident. We didn’t do any wrong except helping a poor boy. We need investigation ASAP."

Manus Island shooting: PNG MP labelled 'discredited witness' by Dutton reinstated by court (GA, 26 April 2017). So much for that dodge.

On my lengthy outing today I read all of Sean Dorney's short book The Embarrassed Colonialist, which discusses Australia's relationship with its former colony, Papua New Guinea. Dorney argues that Australia's lack of interest in our neighbour is to our detriment: a stable PNG is both an important trading partner and strategically significant, as it was in WWII. However, politicians take little interest and the media's attention has dwindled to little beyond sensational stories. Dorney is clear on the fact that PNG does have serious problems with violence, corruption, and general lawlessness, but also asserts the country's strengths: it is struggling, but not failing, to progress. Amongst the ways forward that Dorney suggests is for Australia to contribute training of police, officials, teachers, etc. The book is easy to read, and if anything, too brief; I'm left wanting to know a lot more, which I guess means the author has succeeded! (For me the only wrong note was the use of "political correctness" to explain why Australia's history as a coloniser isn't taught in our schools, which only underlines how meaningless that phrase is.)

Dorney touches briefly on the detention centre on Manus Island, and the promises of aid which helped Kevin Rudd sell its "resurrection" to PNG PM Peter O'Neill. "While there has been some employment created on Manus and a few business opportunities there is real annoyance within the host province that many of the extra aid benefits went to the mainland." (Perhaps there is schadenfreude at the resulting mess.) "Assimilating the mostly Muslim people who are classified as genuine refugees into PNG's strongly Christian communities adds yet another challenge for a country with no shortage of challenges already." Dorney also reminded me of something I'd forgotten: Nauru was also once an Australian colony.





dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Contact Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and ask him to replace Peter Dutton as Immigration Minister:
https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/contact

Contact Peter Dutton and ask him to either produce the evidence he says he has, or resign:
http://www.peterdutton.com.au/Contact.aspx

Peter Dutton says his claims about Manus violence came from 'classified information' (GA, 27 April 2017) and he won't release it. *headdesk*

Manus Island police chief says he has not been contacted by Peter Dutton or his staff (GA, 25 April 2017) "He also said police are not investigating the incident, in further direct contradiction to Dutton’s claims."

Manus Island controversy: who said what and when (GA, 25 April 2017)




dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Peter Dutton demands apology from media over Manus controversy (GA, 25 April 2017)

The incident a week or more ago in which a ten-year-old boy approached the detention centre on Manus Island, was given food, and returned safely to his parents, did not spark the violent attack on the centre. However, there's a danger that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's insistence that it was a factor, and his innuendo that the boy was taken there to be sexually abused, could trigger further violence. I firmly believe this should be the end of Peter Dutton's time as Minister for Immigration. He should either produce the evidence he says he has, which contradicts the statements of the police, navy, and witnesses, or he should resign. When even Andrew Bolt says you should put up or shut up, it's time to put up or shut up.

Contact Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and ask him to replace Peter Dutton as Immigration Minister:
https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/contact

Contact Peter Dutton and ask him to either produce the evidence he says he has, or resign:
http://www.peterdutton.com.au/Contact.aspx


Dutton's Manus Claims Could Inflame Community To Murder, Manus MP Claims (Huffington Post, 24 April 2017) MP Ron Knight is also furious at Dutton's continued insistence that he has better information than those "on the ground". (Interestingly, Dutton claims Knight is a "discredited witness" as he has been dismissed from the Papua New Guinean Parliament for corruption. How about the police commander and the navy, Mr Dutton? Are they also "discredited witnesses"?)

How Dutton comes out of dispute about Manus claim goes to the question of character (The Conversation, 23 April 2017)

dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Peter Dutton defends comments over 'five-year-old' boy and Manus shooting incident (ABC, April 23 2017) | 'I have facts you don't': Immigration minister Peter Dutton stands by Manus claims in fiery interview (SMH, April 23 2017) Dutton overboard? We live in hope. ETA: Turns out the ten year old's approach to the centre took place two weeks before the attack. | 'Ridiculous': Peter Dutton contradicted for third time over Manus Island brawl explanation (SMH, 24 April 2017) Manus MP Ron Knight: "His comment that he knows more than we do is ridiculous."

Government dismisses shootings on Manus Island (The Saturday Paper, 22 April 2017). Iranian refugee Behnam Satah: "I know for sure that there was a few real Wilson heroes that night in security which did many things to stop navy from entering compounds. But people don’t trust them because we know for sure Australia can extract all his citizens whenever it wants. They could just go and leave us." Behrouz Boochani: "Some refugees feel better with the officers because some of them protect them on that night. I don’t think this make relationship better between refugees and guards because the refugees have lost four friends in this island and also the officers during the big hunger strike on January 2015 beat the refugees and put them in Lorengau jail. The refugees have had very bad experiences with this system."

Waiting for America (SMH Interactive, April 2017) "As the fate of the US-Australia refugee deal hangs in the balance, Michael Gordon and Alex Ellinghausen visit Manus Island to find out who might be gifted a new life, and what will happen to those left behind."

I posted a while back that International Health and Medical Services had been kicked off Manus for practising unlicensed, leaving refugees with only basic and emergency healthcare. Here are earlier links from the lead-up to that: Manus Island: IHMS accused of running medical centre without a licence (GA, 3 March 2017) | Manus Island medical clinic may be shut down, PNG Government says (ABC, 4 March 2017)

An audit of IHMS held last year showed dangerous incompetence: Immigration healthcare provider failed to run police checks on staff on Manus (GA, 16 February 2017) They also lost the working-with-children check run on one staff member, and "failed to provide evidence it provided appropriate vaccination coverage for children, child health milestones or specialist referrals".


dreamer_easy: (refugees)

 

Serious allegations of abuse, self-harm and neglect of asylum seekers in relation to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, and any like allegations in relation to the Manus Regional Processing Centre - the Senate Committee's report.

Australia must end 'fiction' it does not control Nauru and Manus centres, Senate inquiry finds (GA, 21 April 2017)

Human rights groups demand closure of Manus and Nauru after scathing Senate report (GA, 22 April 2017)

Catching up on links:

Australia's detention centres a crime against humanity, says submission before ICC (ABC, 14 February 2017)

Immigration Department spent more than $1 billion without proper authorisation, independent audit alleges (ABC, 17 January 2017) "The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been accused of mismanaging offshore detention centre contracts, with an independent audit alleging more than $1 billion was spent over the last four years without proper authorisation." | Immigration spent unauthorised $2.2bn on offshore detention, says auditor (GA, 17 January 2017) "The auditor found the department failed to get 'value for money' in running offshore detention: contracts were signed 'in great haste to give effect to government policy decisions and the department did not have a detailed view of what it wanted to purchase'. In some cases, private contractors tendering for contracts were invited to suggest elements they would like written into contracts, and contracts were signed before agreement on a price. In addition the auditor raised safety concerns, finding massive gaps in the video recordings taken within the island detention camps."
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Contradicting refugee, police, and navy accounts, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stated that the armed attack on the Manus Island detention centre was sparked when locals saw refugees leading a five-year-old boy towards the centre. Papua New Guinea police say that a ten year old boy approached the centre to ask for money, without being led there, and this was entirely unrelated to the attack. The boy was safely returned to his family. Manus MP Ron Knight: "Dutton should get his facts right and stop inflaming the situation."

I am too gobsmacked to comment.

While I'm here: refugees will be among those hardest hit by the new White Australia policy the proposed changes to the citizenship test.

Rohinhya refugee Imran Mohammad Fazal Hoque, detained at the centre, writes: 'I have never experienced safety since I was born': Life in the Manus 'death centre' (SMH, 21 April 2017)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
PNG authorities investigate allegations soldiers shot at Manus Island detainees (ABC, 18 April 2017)

Detained refugee Abdul Aziz Muhamat's podcast The Messenger

Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari who fled PNG granted bail (ABC, 15 February 2017)

'The torture in my country is transparent, in Australia it is not obvious' (The Age, 12 January 2017). Rohingya refugee Imran Mohammad writes from Manus.

Manus Island refugee who had breakdown found 'hungry and homeless' (GA, 11 January 2017) He is severely mentally ill and cannot be treated on the island; instead, he has been jailed multiple times.

Fear deliberately spread on Manus Island (The Saturday Paper, 28 January 2017) The detainees were told that the locals were cannibals; the locals were told that the detainees were terrorists. Janet Galbraith reminds readers not to simplistically regard the Manusians as villains; they, too, are the victims of Australia's detention policy, lied to and used as a dumping ground for our problems. (I have here a slender tome by Sean Dorney, The Embarrassed Colonialist, about Australia's colonial history with PNG, to which I must apply myself.) | The detainees, too, should not be "stereotyped", writes Michael Gordon: "The truth is the Manus detainees are a mixed bunch, including writers, artists and professionals; men so traumatised they still refuse to leave their rooms after the violence that engulfed the centre in 2014; and some who drink too much and chase women; those who consider themselves the walking dead and those who retain the capacity to dream and hope."

As well as criticising Australia's offshore detention regime, Human Rights Watch is critical of Papua New Guinea's failure "to protect women and children, or to respond to corruption and police violence".


dreamer_easy: (refugees)
But before we land on that unlucky island, I wanted to pass on Dreamwidth's request for donations to All Out to help gay men escape Chechnya.

And also to share some good news: Iranian-born asylum seeker Mojgan Shamsalipoor granted bridging visa (GA, 17 March 2017)

On with the motley.

Drunk soldiers blamed for Manus rampage (SMH, 16 April 2017). "Provincial police commander David Yapu has slammed the 'unethical and unacceptable behaviour of the drunken soldiers' who went on a violent rampage at the Manus Island detention centre on Good Friday. Inspector Yapu said the soldiers assaulted refugees, his policemen, PNG immigration officers and service providers and caused extensive damage to property and vehicles."

Refugee court challenge to be streamed live on Manus Island (SMH, 9 April 2017). Refugees are suing the Australian government for false imprisonment. The case begins in May and is expected to run for 6-7 months, "the largest and most forensic public examination of events and conditions at the Manus Island detention centre".

Harrowing allegations at Senate refugee inquiry (SBS, 14 March 2017)

Manus refugee Faysal Ishak Ahmed, who collapsed and died, sought medical help 13 times in two months (GA, 10 February 2017)

Port Macquarie journalist Nikala Sim says she wasn't arrested or detained on Manus Island (Port Macquarie News, 18 April 2017)

Manus Island centre to close by year's end (Sky News, 8 April 2017). According to Papua New Guinea, it's already closed. Or it isn't. Australia says it's still open, and so, confusingly, does PNG, who plan to close it by October. Hell is bureaucracy.

Manus Island refugees' fate uncertain if not settled in PNG, US (ABC, 8 April 2017) Neither government has a plan. PNG has had little success in resettling refugees, but one journo argues we'll consider it their problem anyway: "I can tell you what the Australian Government is going to do about the refugees on Manus Island who won't be resettled in the United States. Nothing". Unsuccessful asylum seekers are already being refouled. (The Prime Minister did not discuss the forcible return of Hazara asylum seekers when he met President Ashraf Ghani earlier this month.)

I haven't posted much about the refugee swap deal with the US because, tbh, I don't know what to believe. Neither do the refugees. Amnesty has called the resulting psychological damage frightening.

Asylum seeker deported from Manus fears for his life in Lebanon (The Age, 22 March 2017) | Nepalese asylum seeker 'in hiding' after shock deportation from Manus Island (ABC, 3 March 2017) | The UN is concerned that some of the decisions about whether the refugees are legitimate may have been made in error.

Manus Island refugee arrested for alleged sexual assault of 10-year-old girl (GA, 7 March 2017). The MP for Manus, Ronnie Knight, threatens both a lawsuit against the Australian government (fair enough) and the massacre of the refugees by locals (wait, what?). ETA: Manus Island asylum seeker charged with rape (GA, 24 January 2017)

Satire, free speech and Mehdi Savari (The Saturday Paper, 31 March 2017) "Censorship and persecution of comedians is one indicator of a repressive regime. So why is Australia detaining a comedian on Manus Island?"

Immigration department suppressed detention contractor's name due to boycotts (GA, 29 March 2017)

Port Moresby hospital staff failed to attend to dying Hamid Kehazaei, inquest told
(GA, 13 February 2017)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Locals and navy personnel have attacked the detention centre on Manus Island, beating refugees and firing rounds and throwing rocks into the compound. Guards and refugees have been injured. Bullet holes are visible in images from the compound.

Shots fired as armed mob tries to storm Manus detention centre, reports say (GA, 14 April 2017)

Sustained gunfire breaks out at Manus Island detention centre (SMH, 14 April 2017)

At least one Manus Island asylum seeker injured after group tries to storm facility (GA, 15 April 2017)

Churches demand Manus Island asylum seekers be evacuated (GA, 16 April 2017)

No one safe at Manus detention centre, say refugees (SMH, 15 April 2017)



dreamer_easy: (Default)
Spotted in the latest issue of Scientific American Mind: Some People Suffer from Face Blindness for Other Races.You won't be stunned to hear that the study in question was about the failure of white Australians to recognise Asian faces:

"They asked 268 Caucasians [sic] born and raised in Australia to memorize a series of six Asian faces and conducted the same experiment, involving Caucasian faces, with a group of 176 Asians born and raised in Asia who moved to Australia to attend university. In 72 trials, every participant was then shown sets of three faces and had to point to the one he or she had learned in the memorization task. The authors found that 26 Caucasian and 10 Asian participants—8 percent of the collective study population [9.7% of the white people and 5.7% of the Asian people] —did so badly on the test that they met the criteria for clinical-level impairment."
 
 
It's not hard to imagine why white people in Australia, where the population is overwhelmingly white, might be less skilled at telling Asian faces apart: we seldom have to bother. Not only are there few Asian faces around, so we don't get much practice, but the consequences of a screw-up are less likely to be serious - not true for an overseas student who fails to recognise their lecturer or tutor. (The other studies mentioned in the SA piece tend to back this up.)

Before Kpop, I'm sure I would have been one of that 9.7%. For a start, I'm not too crash hot at remembering white faces. I once shared a hotel room with someone who, as part of a costume, donned a wig; when she started talking to me in a hallway, it took me long, confused minutes to work out who she was! In TV shows, I persistently confuse white actors and forget their characters' names in TV shows. Thank heavens for Jon or "Game of Thrones" would be incomprehensible. This problem spills over into my writing - I don't know how to describe faces, so I use other descriptions for characters, like their hair or clothing.

Kpop forced me to learn how to tell Asian faces apart. Even now, when I see a photo or a video, my brain whirrs into action. How many boys? Five? That's probably SHINee, then. Next a scan for my favourite member, Taemin. Wait - or is that Onew? I tend to confuse them when they have similar hair. No, look at the width of the mouth, and the size of the eyes - that's Taemin, all right. And there - those cheeks could only belong to Onew.

I'd been doing this quite automatically for a long time when Jon and I happened to sit down and watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Mighty Jack (a Japanese series edited into a movie by Sandy Frank, who also brought you Battle of the Planets). I was startled to realise that my tell-the-Asian-boys-apart neurons had kicked in: I was sitting there memorising which uniformed, short-haired young man was which.

The most interesting thing is, perhaps, the sheer variety of Asian eyes: Minho from SHINee's are large and "double-lidded"; actor Lee Joon-gi's eyes are long; Onew's eyes vanish when he smiles. Looking at fan edits of the band's faces, showing just their eyes, it's simple for me to tell them apart. But I didn't become consciously aware of this until I very recently read Describing Asian Eyes and followed some of the links there.

To sum up, although I think I'm not good at recognising faces in general, I've learned to recognise Asian faces (well, the faces of young Korean men, mostly) as a skill. That bodes well for my ability to remember peoples' faces in real life, and to describe my own characters better.

(One thing I'm not sure of is whether the six faces used in the study were only East Asian. In Australia, this is what we'd usually mean by "Asian" - Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and so forth.)
 
dreamer_easy: (*writing 7)
"5. Not for nothing, but there is a direct correlation between the quote unquote “diverse” Big 2 properties that have done well (Luke Cage, Black Panther, Ms Marvel, Batgirl) and properties that have A STRONG SENSE OF PLACE. It’s not “diversity” that draws those elusive untapped audiences, it’s *particularity.* This is a vital distinction nobody seems to make. This goes back to authenticity and realism."

— G. Willow Wilson, responding on Tumblr to the recent controversy over diversity in comics

This blew my head up, because I'd just read a short story by Nnedi Okorafor called "Spider the Artist" (in the antho Robot Uprisings), and "particularity" perfectly describes it. Its setting, a near future Nigeria, is full of details that make it ring powerfully true: you quickly understand that these details haven't been invented or researched, but experienced. (And indeed, the author is Nigerian-American and has visited Nigeria many times.) This is the "authenticity and realism" that Wilson is describing - the believability of setting that makes fantastical / speculative stories seem real.
dreamer_easy: (*waaaagggh)
So far I've encountered two major pains in the ass: unlike LiveJournal, you don't get the markup tools in HTML, and in Rich Text you can't paste in text without its original formatting. This is a particular hassle when posting long lists of links, as is my wont. Also, the HTML version of the post is a mess. All advice gratefully accepted.

ETA: Is there a way to login securely?

ETA: Go here https://www.dreamwidth.org/login and choose "Secure".
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
Hello Dreamwidth! Let's see if I can make a post.

"It bears noting that Johannes Cabal would never have referred to these colours thus, pointing out with agonising pedantry that infra-violet is simply indigo or, more likely, blue, while ultra-red is better known as ‘orange’. This is why these stories are written in the third person." — Jonathan L Howard, The Brothers Cabal.

So, You Want to Be a Synesthete? (Scientific American, 1 November 2016). "Several “artificial” approaches exist but most evidence suggests that training cannot capture a synesthete’s experience."

The secret history of colour in black and white (GA, 15 November 2016). "A distaste for colour runs through western culture like a ladder in a stocking." (An extract from The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair.)

(This is a quick test - I guess I'll bring door-of-time over here too, and repost these links to it.)
dreamer_easy: (writing 2)
To quote the Sheriff of Nottingham from "Robin of Sherwood", after he was stung by a billion bees and got into the sting-soothing bath: "Oh, the relief!!"

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