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Posted by Juliana Britto Schwartz

The Paraguayan government is denying a 10-year-old girl the abortion care she and her parents want. The girl, whose name will not be released, was raped by her stepfather and did not realize until 20 weeks in that she was pregnant. However, abortion is illegal in Paraguay except in cases of extreme threat to the woman’s life, and the government is not making an exception for her case.

Pregnancy at such a young age is actually very dangerous, notes Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress. Girls under the age of 16 are at four times greater risk of dying in childbirth and are much more likely to have medical complications. In fact, 28 minors died last year of pregnancy complications in Paraguay alone.

We’ve seen this problem of putting politics before women’s lives throughout Latin America. Last year, Chile denied an 11-year-old girl the abortion she needed and not long before her, El Salvador almost let 22-year-old Beatriz die instead of allowing her to terminate a pregnancy. If you need more proof that this problem is systemic, Mexico has imprisoned women for miscarrying, and there are currently 17 women sitting in jail in El Salvador for terminating their pregnancies.

Denying women abortions isn’t simply about religion and a difference of opinion. It’s about denying women their basic freedom to bodily autonomy, health, and even life in some cases. In fact, the UN has compared blocking access to abortion with torture. Says Culp-Ressler: “Under international human rights law, reproductive rights are recognized as a critical aspect of reducing maternal mortality, and UN officials regularly call on countries with particularly harsh abortion bans to remove unnecessary restrictions on the procedure.”

Banning abortion risks women’s lives and doesn’t protect children. It protects power.

Sign the Amnesty International petition calling on President Cartes to grant this young girl the abortion she wants.

Header image credit: Jorge Adorno/Reuters

So I bought a tablet

May. 6th, 2015 02:19 pm
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
It is a hudl2 from Tesco; I had done a bit of looking at specs and prices, and played with my m-i-l's first-gen hudl, and was generally convinced it would do what I wanted.  It is cheap, and I had a bunch of clubcard vouchers which made it even cheaper.

It runs the same version of Android as my phone, which meant I felt confident in using it.  So far I've established that typing isn't much more fun than on my phone, and reading is less comfortable, because I need both hands to hold it, or to rest it on something.   However, the apps I have all look nicer and show more words at a time.  (That's the Economist and FT newspaper subs, Kindle app, Mantano app for epubs, Adobe app for PDFs, and of course Chrome for web pages.)

It comes with an app to manage multiple users, so I've set up both children with an account, and I can control which apps they each see when they log in. That means I can let them e.g. watch stuff on iPlayer or play games without worrying about them mucking up my ebooks or reading stuff open in my browser tabs.  Charles has expressed appreciation for the greater screen size for Angry Birds Epic.

I've been enjoying watching stuff on it - the screen is big enough and high enough resolution to be actively pleasant when it's on my lap, rather than squinting at my phone up close.  The children seem to like snuggling up together to watch stuff on it; meanwhile I've finally started watching Daredevil and discovered that I can literally cover the screen with my hand when it gets too gory for me.  For whatever reason, I find it easier to settle down to TV on my lap in a room by myself, than on the big TV in the living room.

The absolute delight though is reading comics.  I have a Marvel digital comics account, and I have a lot of first issues-of-series on it, from when they did a big first-one-free promotion some time ago.  But I find my laptop screen the wrong size, the desktop too inconvenient, and my phone too small.  The tablet though, is just right: the artwork is clear and crisp and the experience is lovely.  I need both hands to read a comic or a graphic novel anyway (which is why I am so slow to read them), but I can carry literally hundreds of them around on this tablet.

I still find it a bit hard to switch back to reading comics after reading lots of text, because my default is to race through the text and not slow down enough to see the artwork properly.  But I do enjoy it when I do, and I'm slowly working through my existing collection, and managed to only buy one new thing so far (this Daredevil collection - look at the cover on that, it's amazing! - because J recommended it and it was on sale).

All my future comics purchases will be digital.  Please recommend me ones you like, and good places to get them. I'm set up with Marvel and I know that Comixology exists - is there anything else I should know about out there?
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Posted by Soulskill

drinkypoo writes: We've been discussing the importance of automating over-the-road trucking here on Slashdot whenever self-driving vehicles come up in conversation. Jalopnik reports that the Freightliner "Inspiration Truck" will be the first autonomous commercial truck to drive on American roads. It's been given the green light to start testing its self-driving technology on the roads of Nevada. A human will be present at the wheel at all times, and will take control whenever the truck is in more populated areas. "Given a big trucks' long stopping distances and limited maneuverability, driving one requires the ability to correctly predict what's going to happen far out ahead. That requires foresight and intuition that are difficult to program into computers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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“I shall have spent my life in railway stations
Nearly departing
For catastrophes,
All for love
And my heart haloed with the madness of love.
Nothing is quite so beautiful as the trains I’ve missed …”

- Jules Laforgue, from “X. The Loves,” Last Verses, trans. Donald Revell (Omnidawn Publishing, 2011)
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Posted by Eric Ravenscraft

4K video support is still pretty new, and it can be costly to get for your home theater. Your computer is another story . With a decent enough graphics card and monitor, all you need is content. YouTube can provide that with Google’s TestTube program.


The Big Idea: Ryk E. Spoor

May. 6th, 2015 12:18 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Writers, rejoice! Ryk E. Spoor has solved the Second Novel in a Trilogy problem! What soloution does he apply, and how did he apply it to his novel Phoenix in Shadow? The answers are below.


All of my books came with their own unique challenges; Grand Central Arena was supposed to capture the old-era “sensawunda” while somehow staying in the modern sensibility, and then its sequel Spheres of Influence had to live up to its predecessor; the Boundary trilogy had all the restrictions of hard SF to address, plus the not-insignificant challenges of collaboration with a much more experienced author; and of course my self-published Oz-based novel Polychrome had the physical challenges of getting published at all.

But in some ways, Phoenix in Shadow, second in the Balanced Sword trilogy, presented one of the most daunting challenges of all. Like many epic fantasies, the Balanced Sword is really a single long story told in three novels, and anyone who’s read (or watched) any number of trilogies knows that there is a major problem with most second installments: they cannot resolve the major conflict, and in fact are supposed to continue building tension, and creating challenges, for the main characters. They’re not really even expected to have resolutions; more like cliffhangers, really; the middle’s there to bridge the gap between beginning and end. Frodo and Sam are stuck in Cirith Ungol and everything else is sort of hanging fire at the end of The Two Towers; Han Solo’s frozen and kidnapped, Luke’s lost his hand, and the Empire’s pretty much on top in The Empire Strikes Back; and so on.

I personally hate that. I like my heroes to get some kind of victory in every book. Yet I obviously couldn’t have the real plot of the Balanced Sword resolved at this point.

But I did have one saving grace: there was another major character with a separate quest. Tobimar Silverun, searching for his people’s lost homeland. When I originally worked out the plotline for what became the Balanced Sword, I didn’t know who would be with Kyri on her quest; Tobimar was one of several possibilities. Once I decided on him, I realized that the mysterious “Moonshade Hollow” was a perfect candidate for the lost homeland (I’d had a few other possibilities, but once he was linked to Kyri and Evanwyl, this one leapt out at me).

So there was this tantalizing possible way out of the Middle-Trilogy Trap: resolve Tobimar’s plot, in a suitably dramatic way, if I could show how that connected to Kyri’s mission; this would allow a real victory for the heroes, give them progress towards unraveling the main mystery, and still have plenty left for the final volume.

I also decided to completely discard a secondary plot I’d originally planned out – one in which we would follow Kyri’s Aunt Victoria and King Toron as they dealt with the invasion of Zarathan by the King of All Hells. I realized that this side plot split the focus of the novel; while it was very tempting to show some of that war directly to the readers, this would be taking up chapters of the novel with characters we hadn’t really gotten to know fighting battles that wouldn’t have any direct bearing on the main plot. It was a bit painful, but I knew once I thought about it that it was the right decision: I had to focus on Kyri, Tobimar, Poplock, and their personal adversaries, and let the rest of the world take care of itself.

I’d always had a vague idea of what Moonshade Hollow was like – a corrupted wilderness, yes, but there had to be people living there, too. Originally I envisioned a sort of grim fantasyland, something like the faux-Gothic villages of Hammer films or the Ravenloft setting of D&D (not surprisingly, as Kyri herself had originated in a Ravenloft-based campaign run by Jeff Getzin many years ago). I sketched out the interior, started figuring out details.

(SPOILERS coming! If you want to read Phoenix in Shadow without being at all spoiled, you probably don’t want to read farther!)

With Tobimar’s quest present, I immediately knew there had to be a link to his background – the “Seven Stars and Single Sun”, which quickly translated to a total of eight cities. Originally I envisioned a sort of spiral through this dark land, with them getting more and more evidence of some dark force running things, and an eventual confrontation with the demonlord Kalshae, who was trying to make use of the lost artifacts of Terian that were part of Tobimar’s heritage.

But I wasn’t satisfied with this; it was too simple. Kyri’s people knew dark and evil things came out of Rivendream Pass, from Moonshade Hollow, so everyone – readers and characters alike – would expect some monstrous dark realm. Dark and tragic gothic-y realms have been done to death in fiction.

So I thought: What if it wasn’t dark at all?

As soon as I thought that, it was obvious; the eight artifacts of Terian, one of the greatest of the gods of good on Zarathan, would fight any corruption in their area, provide safe havens for the humans left there, allow them to resist being corrupted themselves, and perhaps even allow them to rebuild a civilization. The dark forces that had caused that fall would perhaps try to guide that civilization’s development, but they couldn’t ignore the power of one of the greatest of the gods. The question then became what that civilization, and that place, would really be like.

The answer came from my son Christopher. He had recently become a fan of the Touhou series, mostly through the fan art, and he showed me the fan-produced animations “Memories of Phantasm.” As soon as I saw the images of Gensokyo, a shining land of beauty, and the innocent-looking inhabitants with godlike powers, I knew this was the kind of image I needed. Kaizatenzei, the Unity of Seven Lights, was born.

This would not be just a safe haven within evil; it would be a shining refuge, a perfect paradise, a place that would leave the heroes wondering from whence came the evil outside its walls, and where their true enemies could be, and because I knew how magic works I realized instantly that this would allow those enemies to remain well hidden. In addition, all of that deific power within the Stars and Sun would give them a suitably lofty goal to aspire to: the corruption and theft of the power of Terian itself. The demonlord Emirinovas emerged as a second major player, and I realized that there was a potential for considerable character progression with her present.

I had two last problems: first, where was all the corrupt power that warped the surrounding forest and Rivendream Pass coming from? The demons running the show would be hiding theirs, not releasing it to be wasted on the landscape outside. But what could possibly be powerful enough, huge enough, to corrupt an entire valley –

And I knew the perfect answer. There was the… worm, so to speak, in the apple of the whole valley, and the real final adversary they’d have to face. This also addressed my preference for dramatics; the final conflict of a book needs not just buildup, but sufficient complexity in the dénouement that it lasts a while – in general, several cycles of conflict, reversal, and triumph to give the reader a more satisfying end. Thus at the end of Phoenix Rising the final combat really starts with Kyri’s unexpected capture by Thornfalcon, then goes through cycles of hope and danger with Tobimar’s arrival, near-murder, Kyri’s escape and intervention, Thornfalcon’s death, the unleashing of the horde, the heroes nearly being overwhelmed, Xavier’s nick-of-time arrival, and the final destruction of the gateway of the monsters – and then, after an interlude, the confrontation with the remaining Justiciars at the Temple of Myrionar.

I now had a three-layered set of enemies, all of whom would have to be defeated in turn: the demons who thought they were running the show, the apparent servant of the demons who was actually running the show behind the scenes (and who had been the supplier of Thornfalcon’s monsters), and the source of corruption which had been sealed away by both.

More, as I developed this, I had a new place worth seeing, something that would make the journey to that battle one worth traveling, and new scenes came to life in my head – especially ones highlighting the character that most readers seemed to like best, the little Toad, Poplock Duckweed. Most importantly, I had a suitable climax to the second book… and the true Big Bad of the trilogy still waiting for the final showdown in Phoenix Ascendant.

I think that with all this, I’ve managed to evade the curse of the middle-of-trilogy. I hope readers will agree, because I want them to enjoy the journey as much as the conclusion!


Phoenix in Shadow: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s blog. Follow him on Twitter.

Pointer 1: Jan Morris

May. 6th, 2015 01:54 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I have what is by now looking like rather an ambitious goal to post 10 pointer posts to other content by 15th May. Anyway, here's the first: did you know that Jan Morris has a Tumblr, [tumblr.com profile] janmorris? (Discovered via a Making Light comment thread, I think.)

commentary, plus Reading Wednesday )

Three weeks for Dreamwidth: 9

May. 6th, 2015 01:47 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

The Comfortable Courtesan

Poets, however apparently attractive, are not a good idea. Any initial cachet you acquire from their besotted lyrics to your charms will be completely overturned the day they take a jealous fit and publish a satire on your hideous features, deformed figure, foul smell, and evil character. Also, I have never yet known a poet with money.

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Posted by Soulskill

schwit1 writes with news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can't have their staff with them. They can't have a copy, they can't take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they're monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement. "Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations)."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - search - about
May 6th, 2015next

May 6th, 2015: Hey guess what! A bunch of my discontinued shirt designs are now RE-CONTINUED, thanks to a new site called T Shirt Diplomacy, which also has... aliens designing shirts too? And friends! And this INCLUDES the Professor Science shirt!

– Ryan

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Karlie Kloss Announces #KodeWithKarlie Scholarship So Teen Girls Can Learn To Code

Coding classes have made such an impact on Karlie Kloss’ life that now she wants teen girls to have the chance to take them, too. Thanks to her latest project, a handful of them will get that chance without worrying about the cost. For more on how to apply to Kloss’ scholarship go here. 


Kobo vs. Amazon

May. 6th, 2015 08:27 am
coffeeandink: nook cover: white ampersand on black background (nook)
[personal profile] coffeeandink
I ordered a Kobo Glo HD last Wednesday. Kobo promptly confirmed the order and charged me. They were not so prompt about shipping, so I called them Monday to find out the order status. (Fun Kobo fact: You need to contact them by phone with order queries. You can't even look up your order status online.) The agent could not find the order and so escalated the ticket. Kobo then emailed me to say that they had processed the order and it had not yet shipped. They did not say when it would ship.

Yesterday I ordered a Kindle Voyage, which Amazon assures me I will have by tomorrow. Will Kobo manage to get me an ereader before the end of the Amazon return period? You'll know as soon as I do.
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Thing to add to your Xmas list of the day: Planetary glass set from ThinkGeek

Currently out of stock, but hopefully it should come back in stock soon. Also, yes includes Pluto… deal with it and drink up.

Product link

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Posted by Eric Ravenscraft

Having goals isn’t the same thing as working towards them. Many of us have things we’d like to accomplish that just sit in the back of our mind. But if you never get out of your head and into the workshop, those goals will never go anywhere.


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Posted by Walter Glenn

Collaboration is a key element of good document creation in most workplaces. Like most things in Microsoft Word, the collaboration tools are powerful, but can be frustrating until you learn how they work and how to make the best of them.


spiralsheep: Remember guys, magic is more realistic than black people (sugargroupie Magic realer than Black Peo)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
- Reading Warsan Shire: "my alone feels so good, i'll only have you if you're sweeter than my solitude."

- Watching another UKIPper issuing death threats against a non-white Brit: parliamentary candidate and disaffected-Conservative-come-UKIPper Robert Blay was filmed threatening to shoot Conservative politician Ranil Jayawardena, who has been touted as an eventual possibility for Britain’s first British Asian Prime Minister: "If he is I will personally put a bullet between his eyes. If this lad turns up to be our Prime Minister I will personally put a bullet in him. That’s how strong I feel about it. I won’t have this fµcker as our Prime Minister. I absolutely loathe him." Mr Blay also referred to his likely defeat in the election by Mr Jayawardena (who was born in Britain): "It makes me quite sick. But I’ve always said in my constituency you could put a monkey out there with a blue rosette on and it would win." "His family have only been here since the Seventies. You are not British enough to be in our parliament."

- Reading Warsan Shire: "fit in here, in my palm, in my shadow, don’t be bigger than my idea of you, don’t be more beautiful than i can accept, don’t be more human than i am willing to allow you to be and be quiet, you’re too loud, even your un-belonging is loud. quiet your dreams, your voice, your hair, quiet your skin, quiet your displacement, quiet your longing, your colour, quiet your walk, your eyes. who said you could look at me like that? who said you could exist without permission? why are you even here? why aren’t you shrinking? i think of you often. you vibrate. you walk into a room and the temperature changes. i lean in and almost recognise you as human. but, no. we can’t have that."

- Reading, books 2015, 69.

- Reading Warsan Shire: "later that night / i held an atlas in my lap / ran my fingers across the whole world / and whispered / where does it hurt? // it answered / everywhere / everywhere / everywhere."

69. My Family and Other Superheroes, by Jonathan Edwards, is a poetry collection. Reading it caused me one of those moments of profound disjuncture from reality as represented in popular culture. Y’know, the one in which self-hatred is an art-form, and hating other people is "banter". Whatevz. Most of these poems are distinctly average, like mainstream white boy indie pop lyrics. There’s an occasional poem in which Mr Edwards manages to offer a less bland viewpoint, such as Cheerleaders, or some interesting poetic imagery, such as in View of Valleys High Street Through a Café Window, and a handful of touching poems about his family, such as The Death of Doc Emmett Brown in Back To the Future, but not outstanding enough to make slogging through the remainder of the book worthwhile. This isn’t a case of the emperor’s new clothes, such as Robin Robertson’s execrable Wrecking Light, it’s merely an average collection by a young poet promoted beyond what it deserves. (3/5, and if you want to read good recent collections by younger poets then I suggest you try Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire, or Black Country by Liz Berry, or Cairn by Richie McCaffery).

- Reading Warsan Shire: "every mouth you’ve ever kissed / was just practice / all the bodies you’ve ever undressed / and ploughed into / were preparing you for me. / i don’t mind tasting them in the / memory of your mouth / they were a long hallway / a door half-open / a single suitcase still on the conveyor belt / was it a long journey? / did it take you long to find me? / you’re here now, / welcome home."


tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

May 2015

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