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July 2017

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Funeral: Mutual Interest

Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:41 pm
aldersprig: drawing of the author (LynLyn)
[personal profile] aldersprig
First: Funeral
Previous: Funeral: Shower Negotiations


There was an ancient fae assassin in Senga’s bathroom, and she had her hands in his pants.

“I’m capable of taking care of myself,” he pointed out.

“Yes. But you’re my responsibility now.” She peeled his pants slowly off. He went commando; she was going to get the full show all in one go.

“You have other responsibilities. Besides, you gave me something to do.” He stretched back a little bit, consciously or unconsciously showing off. Flat stomach, muscular chest and arms: he didn’t work out so much as he kept his body in perfect fighting condition. Senga didn’t try to stop herself from licking her lips. He was kind of scrumptious, in a way that wasn’t normally her style.

“You liked it?” She looked up to his face, to find his eyes half-lidded like he wasn’t sure he wanted to see her reaction. “Being given something to do?”

“Yeah. I.” He shifted into something she thought was close to a parade rest and studied her. “Yeah.” He swallowed and considered that. “I didn’t think I would,” he admitted. “I don’t like orders.”
Read more... )

Want More?

Negative? What Negative?

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:35 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
A plaque I found in a car boot sale (US="Swap meet") today.



Ignoring the slightly dodgy use of photographic terms, it occurs to me that we're already living in a world where a large percentage of photographers have no idea what a negative is...
Ten: The Perils of One’s Past

She should have thought of it before she agreed, she supposed.  She might be stepping into some long-held family feud — their mountain had several of those — or maybe into the sort of thing where the city wanted to move someone whose home had stood in the same place for three hundred years.  Their town had dealt with that, too.  She might be running into another conspiracy sort like Trinner Tralen, who thought, perhaps, that the city or the empire or this architect were out to get him.

And maybe they were.  She thought about Trinner Traln and the spectre sliding into him.  She didn’t even know if she’d done the right thing there.

The architect’s nervous cough interrupted Raizel’s train of thought.

read on…
Tags:
Five years ago I had a disagreement with a friend over whether this article was being overly pessimistic about augmented reality and whether we'd have "hard" AR soon.

Five years later, and this is the state of the art:


Which is, I totally admit, a very neat tech demo. But it's not "there" yet. The FOV is too small, and you can see the real world through it. Although, to be fair, most of the time the real world isn't _that_ distracting, you're definitely not going to be able to "see Victorian gas lamps in place of normal lights" or "have a real Coke can that you want to turn into an AR Pepsi can by drawing a Pepsi logo over the Coke logo".

Ah well, I'll make a note to come back in five years time and see where we are then!

Again?!?

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:16 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon

Screeech! Bang!

Ah, someone's just crashed outside again...

Deceptive downhill bend and a greasy road. Fortunately they always end up on the opposite side (touch wood)*. This time he took out about a metre of wall/gate pillar for the house opposite and one up from me, and about 1.5m of fencing on the electricity substation that's directly opposite. And he's completely flattened the green metal box that everyone's phone on that side of the street is wired to. Fortunately no one hurt this tiime.

Guess I'll have people working opposite for half the week. I do love the sound of concrete saws in the morning....**

* This is the main road I back onto rather than my street address. We're also elevated several feet above street level, so reasonably safe from anyone ending up in our back gardens.

** Not to mention I've got back ache and rushing upstairs to look out of the window appears to have been contraindicated

Change of Plans

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:56 pm
wendelah1: (The End)
[personal profile] wendelah1
We're leaving this afternoon for Fontana, no one's favorite vacation destination. Kyle's surgery is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and he has to be at the surgery center an hour ahead. Rather than getting up at the crack of dawn, we're spending the night at the Hilton Garden Inn Fontana. He should be released before noon so we'll be back home by afternoon.

There is absolutely nothing to do in Fontana. There is not a decent sit-down restaurant in the entire city. Their highly rated Mexican hole-in-the-wall doesn't hold a candle to the one in my neighborhood. There is a pool at the hotel. There's a movie theater right down the street so we might go see the latest Spiderman reboot. (Good grief. How many more times will they reboot that movie franchise?) Or maybe we should see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets instead. Basic cable is basic. I'll bring my computer but WiFi is spotty.


I didn't get a chance to finish, let alone post this before it turned into old news.

My husband just aspirated again. The hotel is cancelled. The surgery center doesn't open until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow so informing them will have to wait.

I see a trip to Urgent Care in the near future, as soon as I can talk him into it. He's really scared. This could be bad, like our last December vacation in Hawaii kind of bad. At least this time we're at home.

Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 11:56

When reading a contemporary werewolf story, generally one’s first thought isn’t “I love the multi-layered allegorical resonances,” but that’s what I came away with from Lundoff’s Silver Moon (originally published 2012 by Lethe Press but now reissued as one of the initial offerings of Queen of Swords Press).

Becca Thornton’s quiet life in the rural town of Wolf’s Point seems likely to be troubled only by the occasional tiresome contact from her ex-husband until three experiences intersect at once: the first stirrings of menopause, an unexpected attraction to the woman next door, and turning into a werewolf. Fortunately, the local women’s club is there to walk her through her lycanthropic initiation into their not-so-secret inner circle. Wolf’s Point has a long tradition of calling on women of a certain age to join the supernatural protectors of the town and its surrounds.

Becca is distracted from her uncertainty about this new stage of her life (heck, about all three new stages) by the incursion of a cult-like group of werewolf hunters, though their methods and opinions are more suggestive of gay conversion “therapy”--a parallel that is no more likely to be coincidence than any of the other thematic resonances.

Lundoff’s writing style is delightfully smooth and transparent, letting the story itself take the wheel. She evokes both the delights and annoyances of small town life--especially for a character who will be a newcomer however long she lives there--and mirrors them in the struggle to integrate into the alien dynamics of a werewolf pack that Becca seems to have had no choice in joining. This makes the thriller-style plot involving “conversion therapy” entirely believable as Becca is tempted by the possibility of “being normal again”. Conversely, the romantic subplot never raises such questions, only the standard anxieties around an unexpected attraction and the complexities of exploring it when everything else in your life is turned upside down.

I liked the overall pacing and how the various plot strands, both dramatic and humorous, were braided together. In an era when the “sexy dom/sub werewolf soulmate” plot seems to have taken over shapeshifter fiction, Silver Moon is a breath of fresh air: just a complex personal story of a woman going through The Changes. All of them.

Major category: 

No culinary activity, obvs

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:50 pm
oursin: The Accomplisht Ladies' Delight  frontispiece with a red cross through it (No cooking)
[personal profile] oursin

Today, in spite of various travel muddles and confusions, we went to Darmstadt. However, possibly more detail when I am less tired and it's not so late in a long day.

Tags:

Belated Memery

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:48 pm
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
The Kindly Ones for [personal profile] carbonel

Story here

This is an ambitious story. Its theme, basically, is "Snobbery with Violence." It's set in the place where I learned to sail, and I wanted it to have a ferocious sense of place; I'm not sure how successful that was.

Read more... )
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Europe at Midnight is the second in Dave Hutchinson's Fractured Europe series; although it isn't quite a sequel to Europe in Autumn and could reasonably easily be read as a standalone novel, reading Europe in Autumn first fills in some of the background, and reading Europe at Midnight first would take away the impact of one of the major plot twists in Europe in Autumn.

Like Europe in Autumn, Europe at Midnight is basically a Le Carre-esque spy thriller which replaces the Cold War with the complicated politics of a fragmented near-future Europe. Its events take place on the same timeline as those of Europe in Autumn, with limited points of intersection. It's clever and plotty and interesting and I enjoyed it a great deal. I did, however, have one reservation, which was that I counted no fewer than three separate incidents where female characters who were important to the two male protagonists died violently in order to advance the men's plots (and a fourth where a woman was only seriously injured). It's true that the novel belongs to the gritty spy thriller genre and that comes with a lot of violence, death and general unpleasantness, and it gets points for having a reasonably wide range of female characters who are as likely to be dishing out the violence and general unpleasantness as on the receiving end of it, but by the third death I couldn't help feeling that this was starting to feel a bit like a pattern, especially as none of the deaths of men had the same emotional resonance for the two protagonists.

***

Rivers of London: Black Mould is the third Rivers of London graphic novel. I pre-ordered this in February when the release date was, I think, May; it was eventually released this week. Like the first two, it's a short standalone casefic which doesn't add to the wider arc of the series; fairly slight, but it was nice to see more of DC Guleed in particular, and it was entertaining enough.

Odessa Opera House, Pt. 2

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:07 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
So the performance sucked so hard we walked out. Like, possibly the worst thing either of us have ever seen, which is saying an awful lot. The tickets were suspiciously cheap, but tbh most things in the Ukraine are suspiciously cheap. But in this case I think it was because they knew it was terrible. We'd actually gone in to see if we could get a tour or just wander around the opera house, but the lady said that there was a show that night, so we decided to give it a shot.

She described the show as a sequel to The Nutcracker but also a crossover with War and Peace, and a musical. A "wonderful spectacle," in fact. I have to admit that we were basically morbidly curious, and it would get us inside those gorgeously ornate doors.

Anyway, we made it two songs in. The thing was in Ukrainian so we don't know what it was about but I don't think it would have made a lot of sense even if we did understand the language. It was kind of embarrassing to listen to.

But! It meant that we got to sneak out and take unobstructed photos of the glory that is the Odessa Opera House, and that was worth the ticket price alone. I hope you appreciate how hard it was to narrow these down. They don't half capture the actual, real spectacle that is this building, but I've given it my best.

pretty! )

Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 10:59

I picked up this collection after seeing mention of the author’s novel Mask of the Highwaywoman, and seeing that it had the original shorter version of the same story (since the novel isn’t yet available for iBooks). I’m always looking for lesbian historical fiction that reaches farther back than the 20th century. Magic and Romance doesn’t have a focused theme (other than lesbian protagonists) and only four of the eight stories fall in my historical/fantasy target interest. The other four (In Rhythm: A ballroom dancing romance, Is She?: An on-campus student rom-com, Reason to Stay: A teen romance, and Delicious: A New Year’s Eve tale of food and infatuation -- and, yes, the genre-descriptive subtitles are part of the story titles) are contemporary romance and I’ll confess that I skimmed them lightly.

Enthralled: A dark vampire hunter story follows the usual conventions of the modern erotic vampire vs. vampire hunter story, with the protagonist infiltrating the lair of a vampire queen to rescue the object of her affection. The story veers away from being a rescue-the-damsel adventure at the climax when the protagonist’s understanding of what’s going on is turned inside out. A dark and violent story for those who enjoy charging single-handedly into danger.

The Lady Edris and the Kingdom in a Cave: A tale inspired by Arthurian legends also turns the protagonist’s initial understanding upside down, but is more of a traditional quest-and-rescue-the-damsel scenario. Edris is on a quest to seek assistance against the plague in her homeland from the sorceress-queen of Northgales, their traditional enemy. But the queen has other ideas for the female knight who has penetrated her enchanted realm--ideas that involve the queen’s bed. A deep familiarity with the themes and tropes of Arthurian legend shines through, though the plot feels like the summary of a role-playing game, where the character passes through a sequence of tests and challenges to emerge victorious with the McGuffin and the girl.

Mask of the Highwaywoman: The short-story that became a novel is the story that led me to pick this up in the first place. The plot itself follows the usual formula for highwaywoman romance stories: our heroine’s coach is stopped by a masked highwayman (with or without accomplices) who betrays a brief sympathy or erotic interest in the heroine, but takes a piece of sentimental jewelry from her. The highwaywoman uses returning the jewelry as an excuse for another meeting in which sparks fly, and... Well, presumably what happens next is in the expanded version of the story.

The Black Hound: A romantic gothic horror distills down the platonic ideal of a gothic novel. Our impoverished heroine has come to a lonely, sinister mansion to be the companion of a tyrannical distant relative. On being warned not to wander the woods as night, of course she does so, and barely escapes an encounter with The Black Hound. Curses, nightmares, and supernatural events come to a head as our heroine takes comfort in the arms of her employer’s lady’s maid. A forced separation, another flight through the haunted woods with the hound in pursuit, and a bloody denouement that...well, that would be giving away whether this turns our to be gothic horror or gothic romance.

I liked the story premises and how they dodged around some of the usual formulas, but the writing style was often choppy and too reliant on short declarative sentences and long passages of dialogue. I’m always hoping for something a bit more lyrical. The impression of a choppy style also comes from the stories being broken up into short chapters (as short as 300-400 words), sometimes breaking in the middle of a scene. Murphy has the potential to turn out some very enjoyable historical and fantastic fiction with a bit more work on the technical side and I will probably try out the expanded version of Mask of the Highwaywoman to see if it’s addressed some of these weak spots.

Major category: 
Every former Congressional Budget Office director has signed a letter telling Paul Ryan to take a flying leap. (And, presumably, not return.)

The Senate health care repeal FAILS the Byrd Rule, according to the parliamentarian. In its current form, to misquote Gandalf, it shall not pass.

Trump's infamous Voter Fraud Commission asked for public comment. They got it.

There's this exhibit of what is purported to be a replica of Noah's Ark in Kentucky. According to the people running it, it's a nonprofit ministry. But it's run now by a for-profit group, in order to get tax incentives from the state. So the Ark project is
now no longer eligible for the tax rebates.
How much are we talking? $18 million over the next 10 years.

Stop erasing women's presence in SFF.

The public editor's club at the NY Times, as told by the six people who were public editors. The job no longer exists.

Jeff Sessions authorizes highway robbery by police.

***

Red state North Dakota is trying an experiment in humane imprisonment for its prisons, based on the way Norwegian prisons are run. I will be very interested to see how this goes. One item in the article caught my eye:

...By 2015, Bertsch was ready to ship excess prisoners to a private facility in Colorado. In Norway, though, she learned that the farther a prisoner is removed from his home community, the less likely he is to have visitors. And that’s a problem, because multiple studies suggest that inmates who have regular visitors are less likely to reoffend later...

It makes me wonder if anyone was paying attention to the NYS prison system's stupidity in sending New York City felons to Dannemora, above the Adirondacks, or Attica. Each of those is hundreds of miles from where the violators' families are in the City. But when I look at the photo of the women in charge, it seems to me they're not old enough to remember the violence at either place -- though I have to say that much of the violence at Attica came from the police and National Guard sent to quell their requests for better food and medical care. I was living perhaps 10 miles from Attica; I noticed, and I remember it.

***
Now, you go speak truth to power, in regard to this:

From Democracy Now, a transcript of an Amy Goodman interview: Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are supporting a bill that would criminalize criticism of Israel or Israeli political/military actions. Further info behind cut )

More info here on how boycotting Israel would be considered a felony.

On free speech grounds alone this should not pass. Please write your Senators to oppose it. Here's the contact list for every Senator, with email, phones and more.

***

Teenaged girls in Austin, Texas, staged a wonderful quinceanera protest at the state capitol -- in their fancy gowns -- to protest the vile anti-immigrant law. And yes, they met with their elected reps afterward, to deliver the message in person. In case you don't know, a quinceanera is a big formal party on a girl's 15th birthday, to signify she is now an adult and no longer a child in Hispanic cultures.

Speaking of a different form of vile, the attempt to create a narrative of shame and regret for women who choose to exercise their own control over their bodies and futures, someone has come up with an abortion-pill reversal drug.

And damn right, tampons should be free for women in prison.

***

Tending tenderness and disrupting the myth of academic rock stars.

Six types of essays you should know.

Suggestions needed for motto

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:37 pm
watervole: (knitting)
[personal profile] watervole
 I'm nearing the end of a piece of cross-stitch that I've been working on for about a decade.  It isn't that big a project, but I had detours into knitting another other embroideries.  This used to be my 'travel' embroidery, in a case ready to go and easy to take anywhere knowing that I had all the necessary bits to do it.

It had a border of poppies and cornflowers and space for my own text in the middle.

But I can't decide what words to put in the centre.  It can't be too lengthy, a dozen words at most, and fewer might be better.

I'm hunting for something that says we don't need loads of possessions to be happy; that a garden is a great source of contentment; that life is to be enjoyed while you have it and maybe something ecological as well.

Now, clearly one can't manage all of that....


Random ideas have included:


Gardeners live longer

To be content is the key to happiness

We only have one world, treat it gently


Toss ideas at me.  Anything that sounds good.


Today's favourite story.
Science fiction, plausible, near through very very very far future.
Biiiiiiiiig future, the kind that stretches the edges of your imagination and lets you think bigger.
Showed me a bunch of stuff in a row that was obvious once seen but I hadn't thought through.
Reminded me of Accelerando, but kind. And short, in word count.
The world is going to get weirder and wider than we can think, but here in very human and relatable ways.
Accelerando made me kind of give up on the idea of writing proper SF, because the future is going to be more everything than we can imagine, but this story makes me think, there will still be people.
It even makes me think I could be one of them, which is a wonder and terror right there.
I mean Highlander Immortals think 5K is an impressive age, but this one goes through to times significant on the scale of the movement of galaxies.
As a single lifetime.
Reminds me of that Torchwood fic where Jack lives so long he realises he's the only thing that can last that long, and his memory is the only way to preserve data.
(which fic was that? there was a song)(In Perpetuity, by Concertigrossi. Which took a while to re-find because LJ is just deletions far as eye can see, but Ao3 had it once I found the name. We build on digital sand, but we build.)
But in this story there's so many more minds all immortal together, which is a grander and more hopeful vision.
And what is lost can be found again.
Rather liking that idea, rather fearing the alternatives.
But more than that, here's a future where anything is possible, in some senses all the pasts as well as all the futures.

I like stories that open up possibility and make you dream again, and dream a place for yourself.
Tags:
Currently Reading: Arundhati Roy, 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness'; Science of the Discworld II, and a few other bits and pieces.

Recently Finished: Backdated reviews from the UK trip, as follows

The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series, #2)The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Apparently I was on a roll with 'accidentally reading book two before book one of a series'. I liked this one! Although without the context of book 1 I had some trouble figuring out WHY a slum-born swindler was a competent secretary, I liked it a lot. I liked that the give-and-take came from both directions (Georgie's decision to read up on electricity was a nice touch), and I'm a fan of the cast of supporting characters - Lawrence's female inventions buddy especially.

The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series, #1)The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I liked this one a lot less than The Lawrence Browne Affair. It just seemed... meh. Meh in world-building, and in character-building. I think there's only so many 'scoundrel goes straight for love' romances one can read in a row, and I was coming to Cat Sebastian off the back of KJ Charles' An Unnatural Vice.

Mother of Souls (Alpennia, #3)Mother of Souls by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was *interesting*. This book is definitely marking a genre-stamp for the series, moving it more firmly into historical-fantasy and away from romance. Which, given I was getting sick of neatly parcelled romance novels, is a good thing to me. I enjoyed both of the new lead women characters, and the returning ensemble cast. It was particularly rewarding to see Anna the apprentice develop more as a character. The test to Margerit's worldview & philosophy of the mysteries via Serafina was great, as was the increase in ensemble cast diversity.

I'm just a bit surprised - I thought this was 3 in a trilogy, but it's clearly not a final-in-the-series book. This is, overall, a GOOD surprise. I have high hopes! Especially for Margerit's niece - I devoutly hope she's our next heroine.

Frenchman's Creek (VMC Book 2160)Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've never read any Du Maurier, and I'm told this is atypical - the only one of her works she claimed as a romance at all. It was a bit weird to read, like, say, if you'd read LOTR *after* reading Raymond E Feist. Suddenly I could see all these influences on the queer histrom I've been reading - not only faithfully adapted elements but *deliberately departed from* ones. Like. If this was written by one of the m/m histrom crowd now, there would be a *lot* deeper interrogation of the class issues in the novel. (Class here is used primarily as a _uniting_ factor, something to bring its heroine together with her Manic Pixie Pirate Baron, and not really interrogated at all.) Fisherman's Creek is definitely better literature, but less self-aware.

Good things: it's not in the slightest HEA. Which I liked - I was surfeited on HEA by the time I got to this one, and I can't see how a HEA would have *worked* here (unless you rewrote it as m/m. In which case they run away to sea together).

Also, Our Hero is a Manic Pixie Pirate Baron. That part seemed fairly self-aware: burned out woman gets to meet an inspiring rebel who Changes Her Life and recharges her to go back to her real world, much as has happened to dudes in literature forever.

To review later: Georgette Heyer, Tanya Huff, a book about beds, the latest Archer magazine issue, and LM Montgomery's autobiography.

Up Next: I need to attack Carolyne Larrington's 'Brothers and Sisters in Medieval Literature'




Music notes: well I saw Midnight Oil, asyouknowBob. And I bought Alan Doyle's first solo album, Boy on Bridge. Today I noticed that the song 'Testify', which sounds like country-gospel, is actually a song about a dude escaping prison by staging a river immersion baptism. This pleases me.
I watched this last night. Seemed like it has something helpful to say on the subject of that particular mix of envy and sadness you can sometimes feel when seeing work you consider better than your own...and I've been in that emotional state more than once across the decades.

Trailer Roundup

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:36 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

It’s movie trailer season!

1. Thor: Ragnarok – I love the banter between Thor and Hulk/Banner. Everything I’ve seen about this movie looks like fun.

2. Star Trek: Discovery – I’m intrigued enough to want to see more, and it will be nice to have some new television-style Star Trek. We don’t have CBS All Access, but I’m sure it will be available on Blu-ray eventually.

3. Ready Player One – I know a lot of people loved this one, but for some reason, the book just didn’t work for me, and the trailer seems to be following suit. The trailer looks pretty, but it doesn’t grab me.

4. Justice League – I don’t know. DC’s cinematic universe has let me down again and again…but then they did Wonder Woman, and I started to hope again. This looks like it could be fun. Or it could be a mess. I’m withholding judgement for the moment.

Which ones, if any, are you looking forward to?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles good for slow consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

Go Independent Or Go Home

Not to beat you with a dead horse, as my high school chemistry teacher used to say (verbatim) — the issues novelist Matthew Galloway raises in this piece are frequently discussed on the Seattle Review of Books — but: Publishing is going through the kind of cataclysmic shift that certain industries refer to as “disruptive,” and no reader or writer can afford to play innocent bystander.

Galloway published his first book in the “Green Zone” enclave of Big Publishing, his second with “the resistance” (independent publishers and sellers). The metaphor is dramatic, and he’s quick to dismiss the financial issues faced by those for whom writing is a vocation, rather than an avocation. But he has a solid insider’s view of how Amazon is shaping the book market, and how that translates into costs and benefits for authors, publishers, and readers.

Here’s some good news: As soon as an industry player is declared disruptive, it’s a sure thing that they’re vulnerable to disruption by the next new thing. It’ll take more than a drone army to keep Amazon fresh, as long as those committed to the written word make pragmatic decisions — decisions that drive the right action from publishing, and not Amazon’s bottom line.

Then there’s Amazon. If you talk to your overworked/underpaid friends who work in the trenches of Big Publishing, you’ll be keenly aware that no decision  —  from “content” to book covers to publication schedules to sales/marketing strategies  —  gets made without considering the actual or looming impact of the alien overlord/distributor. If Amazon is “unhappy” about anything, or if the perception of unhappiness is wielded like a dictatorial cudgel, the publisher will scurry to find a solution. The message  —  and the reality  —  from Amazon is: Make Us Happy or Die Trying.
How Checkers Was Solved

The story of artificial intelligence is, at least for now, a story about human intelligence. Alexis Madrigal profiles Marion Tinsley and Jonathan Schaeffer — the world’s greatest checkers player and the world’s greatest checkers programmer. Chinook, the program that came between them, is a quiet third wheel as the two men race to the death (literally) for mastery of the board.

Schaeffer and Tinsley sat across from each other, and a large screen rendered the movement of the pieces. Tinsley drew first blood, besting Chinook in game five. But then in game eight, Chinook delivered a stunning win; it was Tinsley’s sixth loss in 40 years.

Despite the years of toil and dreams of success, Schaeffer felt sadness in that moment. “We’re still members of the human race,” he wrote in his book, “and Chinook defeating Tinsley in a single game means that it will only be a matter of time before computers will be supreme in checkers, and eventually in other games like chess.” Schaeffer might have won, but the humans have lost.

On my second birthday, we landed on the moon

To celebrate his fiftieth birthday, Mike Montiero wrote a letter that’s somehow both typically irascible and terrifically poignant — about landing on the moon, landing in America, and choosing your own “we.” If you can get through this without watching the Dead Milkmen video twice, and/or crying a little, you’re a better man than I am.

As I looked down at my new son, I realized that for the first time in my life I was in a relationship I could not run away from, could not put on someone else, could not half-ass, could not pretend to do right. Even if I managed to to get all those things right, what genetic malfeasance had I saddled this kid with? I looked at this little bundle of pink flesh and spit and poop and realized that inside him there was the genetic code for depression, Alzheimer’s, cancer, anxiety, and all sorts of other shit. I looked at that little kid and thought, little one you are fucked.
Digging in the Trash

Conversations about race and class and economic disparity are loud and angry in post-Trump (or, sadly, mid-Trump) America. David Joy strikes the tough balance between apology and defense in this honest essay about what “trash” really means.

Maybe that’s why what I read in a trade review recently struck me so hard. The reviewer didn’t like my book, and that’s all right. A whole lot of people don’t like my books, and that’s perfectly OK. My books aren’t for everyone. This reviewer didn’t like what he called my “Southern Poverty Law Center photorealism.” This is what got me, though. He wrote that I should “leave the peeling trailers, come down out of the hollers, and try writing about people for a change.” He actually italicized that word, people, to be sure and say that what lives in those trailers, what finds itself in a world consumed by hopelessness, addiction, and violence, those aren’t people at all. I’m not sure what he thinks men like my grandfather, boys like Darrell, Smokey, Bubba and Lyndon, men like Donny, like Paco are, other than to use his own words, “trailer trash.”
Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101

Yes! Housework is “a nerve-twangling bore”! Let’s celebrate the life of the woman who recognized that ugly truth and did something about it: designed and built a house — her own — to end the tyranny of daily cleaning chores.

In each room, Ms. Gabe, tucked safely under an umbrella, could press a button that activated a sprinkler in the ceiling. The first spray sent a mist of sudsy water over walls and floor. A second spray rinsed everything. Jets of warm air blew it all dry. The full cycle took less than an hour.

Runoff escaped through drains in Ms. Gabe’s almost imperceptibly sloping floors. It was channeled outside and straight through her doghouse, where the dog was washed in the bargain.