[sticky entry] Sticky: welcome!

Jan. 12th, 2019 03:47 pm
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
Hi, all! With all the increased activity around here, I figured that this might be a good place to have a post I have actually intended from the beginning to be an introductory thing.

I almost always welcome comments here, unless they are disrespectful to me or to someone else. This does not mean you can't disagree, or that you have to be formal all the damn time, or that you can't swear. It does mean that I expect folks on my journal to assume that we're all humans trying to human with good intentions--assume that ouch moments aren't malicious--and to react to ouch! moments by pausing and checking in with each other.

Please talk to me! I like attention.

Behind the cuts: some useful Qs and As.

Who are you? )

What kinds of things do you like to talk about? )

What's your access/locking policy? )

Where else can I find you? )

Can I link your things somewhere? )

If you like what I do, I have a Ko-Fi.


Feb. 13th, 2019 05:18 pm
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
I need to finish carefully checking my sound chambers component by component and I need to catch up on my emails and grade my kids' homework but also I want to write about

-money, funding, and fandom; figuring out how to write about taking money and the different comfort levels people have with asking and discomfort around open asking for support and things and also, not coincidentally, trying to reopen my patreon in a way that does not make my skin crawl with shame and terror that I am not providing Enough;

-leptin and cortisol, and why stress and energy balance and satiety are likely to intersect

-leptin generally, and what all pies my buddy hormone has its fingers in that we know of

-this one really cool study I found about spotted female hyena social/sexual dynamics and how matriarchy is heavily influenced by matrilocality and long-running social bonds among hyenas within bands

-my ongoing building irritation with the way autism and disability have been getting discussed on metafilter and the metadiscussion I am extremely tempted to kick off, and figuring out how to workshop

...all of which could be thousand word pieces or more. Asghfl. But the sound chambers don't work, and I need an inventory of why so I can tell my PI that we need to order more amps so I can make them work again.


Linkspam may be delayed a day or two.


Feb. 12th, 2019 01:47 pm
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
I have been very tired and very discouraged and very frustrated, lo these past few days. It was T's birthday on Monday, and they had to cancel their planned party this past weekend because Sick, got diagnosed with bronchitis on Monday itself, and then got rear-ended on the way to pick me up. (This is the third car accident in three months.) I don't think I've had much uninterrupted sleep for two nights now--T coughing apparently kept waking me up night before last, and Dent (god bless him) kept waking them up last night first by repeatedly thieving Cheetos out of their backpack in the night, and then repeatedly thieving them out of the trash can, and finally crawling inside the entire bag in search of more Cheetos.

Eventually I physically hauled him up, marched his furry ass out to the living room, re-organized the ripple rug and the cardboard box full of ping-pong balls, and scattered cat treats everywhere so he could satisfy his urge to forage on something he could actually eat and not disturb anyone. We've been slacking on entertaining him that way lately, and it's showing.

I just want to go home, but my sound chambers are not functional and I just want to curl up and go to sleep and not worry about this experiment. Nrghahg.

The main thing giving me joy today is discovering the existence of Ross' seals, which are related to leopard seals but way, way more cute. Have a Ross' seal.

sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
One thing I am really enjoying about this show is that it honors the anger of women. S2E3 is one of the subtlest treatments I can think of in fiction of the utter, utter frustration that sexism wreaks in the workplace, the fury of thwarted women, the cluelessness and disinterest of commanding men--and experienced women in senior-experience but junior-rank choosing to reach out and back up other women and spend limited social capital to do it.

(Which is to say: that episode focused on some of the bullshit that is expected out of a female surgeon rather than a male one, and an experienced nurse observing chose to intervene and make some very, very canny political decisions to nudge the two men who were vastly, vastly

That was the A plot. The B plot was Shaun avoiding his ex-neighbor/love interest, who had moved to Pennsylvania and had come back unexpectedly to stay with him, and who had really upset him in the first place by leaving; he blurted out to her that he was really upset she'd left, and hurt, and if she was going to leave like that he didn't want her to come back, he wanted her to just go away forever. Then he hid and refused to see her or talk to her while she was staying in his house. The beginning of the next episode is Lea--the neighbor--responding to him coming back and apologizing by saying "Wow, that sucked! You're not the only one who needed a friend, that hurt me back, you have to tell me things and you think really badly of me! I need to go find a new place to live." In context, you feel for both of them: and I respect this show so, so much more for giving her the dignity of her anger and demanding that he acknowledge her pain as well as expecting her to acknowledge his.
sciatrix: A grison, a black-and-white large weasel rather resembling a honey badger, looks up at the camera with eyes wide in excitement. (grison)
which is:

the man has no autistic community or friends because he can't tolerate screens with pixels. This is something of a plot point earlier, when he insists on an expensive TV for reasons, but also all his stim fiddle things are analog and he's almost never shown using any kind of screen tech.

sciatrix: Mile Morales looks up from beneath his mask sheepishly. (oops)
T and I only have the one car between us, and since I work on campus which only has expensive and inconvenient parking, T generally takes the car. Unfortunately, that means I'm very dependent on Austin's crummy public transit, which generally doubles to triples the time any given trip takes me. I also live a mile and a half from the nearest bus stop, which doesn't help. So T and I are constantly coordinating with one another about rides add going places, and I get frustrated about that sometimes.

Also unfortunately, I have airways narrow enough to startle and horrify the ENT I visited last year, narrow enough that when I asked "what can I do to make exercise something I can engage in without constantly shorting out my breathing?" he awkwardly hemmed and hawed before suggesting I try dieting. And my balance is crappy. And I haaaaaaate bikes.

But there are little rentable electric scooters all over town right now, and buying your own is actually affordable. So I'm looking at whether or not I can train myself to use the rented kind with an eye to maybe buying one to use as a commuter vehicle.

Previous attempts to try biking have foundered on me not being strong enough to lift a bike onto the bus rack and finding bikes terrifying when I get freaked out practicing and have to stop. With the scooter, I started and stopped a lot--the ride was projected to take 10m and wound up taking 30m--but I wasn't as scared because bailing didn't feel like so much of a transition. And I did the whole ride on my own. Victory!

My ankles are bruised all to hell and I still can't breathe through the phlegm very well, but I'm cautiously going to label this a success. Hopefully I'll continue having some luck with this approach. We'll see.
sciatrix: a singing mouse tilts its mouth upwards, mid-song, with the words "cheep cheep" appearing to come out of its mouth in white text. below, SCIENCE is picked out in light green, bold font. (cheep cheep)
It occurs to me that I have an awful lot of subscribers and friends who have varying interests and expertises in biology, psychology, and all sorts of related topics and ideas. 'Related' being read broadly here--if it touches on natural or social sciences and you want to share, please do.

Therefore, I thought I'd spin up a biology friending meme. What kind of background in the subject do you have? What things do you find interesting?
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (default-me)
Goodness! It has been a week. I've been wrung out first by the writing retreat of the weekend and secondly by the head cold I got last week, so things might be a little thin on the ground this week. Or I might be exaggerating! Who knows!

In any case, I am declaring Link Amnesty for myself and bringing you all manner of things I meant to talk about and then didn't, so I can absolve myself of tabs. Yes.

[personal profile] liv is concerned about being boring and finding writing intimidating. Relatedly, [personal profile] hellofriendsiminthedark expressed some worry and exhaustion about transitioning to DW as a previous lurker and quiet Tumblr user. I found these two posts really interesting to contrast against one another because both people (who I am very pleased to be following) come from really different backgrounds and familiarity levels with DW, and both of them are expressing the same kinds of "gotta-be-interesting-and-articulate-enough-here" stress that I experience, too.

Relatedly for those folks who haven't seen, this is theoretically Shitposting February! (Followup from [personal profile] melannen.) Relatedly, [personal profile] kore has an example of the kind of riffing she thinks of as shitposting, involving arguments about Classical Greek flamewars about whether or not Achilles or Patroclus topped or bottomed. (I find the idea of seme!Patroclus to be rib-tickling hilarious, but that might just be my own weird-ass sense of humor.) If you'd rather, [personal profile] ruuger is doing Shipposting February instead, and [personal profile] corvidology is doing Stuff I Love February instead.

[personal profile] glorious_spoon had a really engaging discussion about romance in fic and what does and doesn't work for her (particularly in the realm of romantic gestures) which I was really dying to participate in but couldn't find the bandwidth to chime in on. It was total catnip for me, though. Maybe I will come back and comment later this week.

[personal profile] beehammer has entirely the correct reaction to palmetto bugs, which is a polite way of referring to giant flying cockroaches if you're not familiar. This is what we in the South refer to as a polite euphemism, by which we ofen mean "pleasant lie."

If you, too, are an evolution/ecology/behavior/integrative biology sort of nerd, [personal profile] felinejumper has a history of evo-devo as viewed through the lens of E. O. Wilson's career that I'm looking forward to reading. (One weird thing that recently happened to me was editing a lovely and interesting-looking history of female choice ebook so the format was nicer than the PDF I got it as, scrolling down through it, and being hit in the face with the author's description of the early contributions to the field of two of my committee members at the end.)

I did something similar over at [community profile] tweetingmouse as I was writing up the introduction of my current manuscript, so I'm particularly appreciative of [personal profile] felinejumper doing the same thing--makes me feel less self-conscious!

[community profile] access_fandom has a really neat article on disabled people being better adapted for space in some respects. There's good discussion in the comments, and I found out about [community profile] mcu_cosmic which I immediately went and joined--all for fans of the portions of the MCU currently IN SPACE. Guardians friends--[personal profile] sholio and [personal profile] lazaefair, you both came to mind--this looks cool!

[personal profile] cesperanza posted an argument that patreons and ko-fis are like MLMs (you know, like that lady in your knitting group who will not quit trying to sell you essential oils). [personal profile] fairestcat disagreed quite strongly. On balance, I do believe I'm with [personal profile] fairestcat on this one.

[personal profile] cimorene posted a really neat discussion about the role of fan favorites in creating nigh-bulletproof ships, using Rivers of London fandom as a centrepiece. This is another one I need to comment on, and I'm using compiling my linkspam as an incentive to go out and talk to people when I next have a moment. (Incidentally, if you also enjoy Rivers of London, [community profile] the_folly exists and would love some chatty attention.)

[personal profile] stellahibernis has some good opinions about Steve Rogers. I keep meaning to go and comment again and bounce off of how I vaguely feel like the trend they're talking about is related to the infantilization of tiny!Steve and the idea that out-of-place!old!Steve must therefore be less capable than more modern characters? but I keep forgetting. THERE ARE SO MANY CONVERSATIONS.

[personal profile] breathedout has been doing a rundown of the transition to criminalizing sodomy and homosexuality in colonial India. I liked this post discussing the deeply strange insecurities that colonial Englishmen had about what the Indian people they were occupying might think of them; the invasions, oh, that was fine, but sodomy was shameful.

[personal profile] lovepeaceohana linked a couple of stories from poly blogging contrasting two, ah, not-so-great poly experiences. I meant to link this last week and then forgot, but the discussion is interesting!

[personal profile] staranise has a long piece on emotions and learning how to handle them if you haven't had good role models that I also meant to link two weeks ago. And then followed it up with a really, really good take on Buttercup from the Princess Bride. They are both good things to read.

[personal profile] notasupervillain has been doing peer reviews on the work of mad scientists.

[personal profile] kaberett has some thoughts on the habit of explicitly thanking people for saying no to them. I try to do something similar--I almost always will go "oh, no, how dare you ask me to do $X!" and grin or laugh at someone who sets a boundary with me, in an effort to encourage that kind of thing and set them at ease--and I'm pleased to see someone else talking about that kind of explicitly honoring clear boundaries and praising people for having them.

Not on DW:

Do you have advantage blindness? Probably not, if you're reading this, but it's probably a helpful link to have in mind as ammunition.

My old friend Siggy has written a postmortem of the New Atheism movement.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
Oh, goodie, the transgender episode; and Shaun is predictably clueless about all flavors of gender ID and queerness. Really clueless, and not taking hints either, which the show views as him clearly putting his foot in it.

Which does not ring true for me, as an autistic person who grew up talking to other autistic people, and sure this character is clueless and isolated, but--

We are so much likelier to be gender non-conforming or trans or nb than allistic people! Even growing up with Wrongplanet back in the day--that would have been in 2007ish--I remember people talking frankly about gender issues and sexuality issues and being present with those things. Did this kid whose entire social circle knows he's autistic, who never ever passes, just... never so much as think to look for other people who got him?

Did he never have a chance to talk to people like him? )

What I'm getting at is that one of the things I am missing, looking at this depiction of this man, is that sense of... autistic community exists. I wish that even in a show that is clearly thinking of allistics as its audience, we were reminded that that community exists. I am tired of this idea that autistic people don't talk to each other.

...and okay, the very next episode features a little disabled kid who is gleefully explaining how the Internet lets her make all the friends which she couldn't have otherwise, so. Huh.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
I owe everyone and their brother comments right now, but I'm sick and I slept for two hours and all I want is to sleep again, so I'm watching this show for the bits I missed before I got tossed into the deep end yesterday.

First impressions under the cut. )

The thing I am missing most, I think, as I catch up on these episodes, is the total absence of self-awareness and humor on Shaun's part. Maybe that will pop up eventually, but it is something I particularly miss about Community's Abed--the notion that someone on the spectrum might be quite aware of how other people consider them, and find certain things about allistic people funny. It's never quite clear if the moments when Shaun references his autism in his line of reasoning ["You are a very arrogant person. Arrogant people don't bother to lie"] is something he finds funny, and I don't think I've seen him laugh once yet.

Which is fair. It's been a while. But I miss that. I love listening to Deaf humor, too, and like--

people expect disability narratives to be so serious, like our lives are an endless struggle, and never seem once to think about the notion that those lives might influence a sense of humor about things. It's one of the things I loved about the Netflix Daredevil series--for all it was frequently weird about Matt's blindness, he got to crack blind jokes and wrongfoot people and have someone who got him and leaned in on that. I hope we get that for Shaun at some point in this show.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)

[community profile] access_fandom posted: Article about Disabled People being Suited for Space

Rose Eveleth at Wired:
"It's Time to Rethink Who's Best Suited for Space Travel"


We need the strongest, smartest, most adaptable among us to go. But strength comes in many forms, as do smarts. And if you want to find people who are the very best at adapting to worlds not suited for them, you’ll have the best luck looking at people with disabilities, who navigate such a world every single day. Which has led disability advocates to raise the question: What actually is the right stuff?

Go check out [community profile] access_fandom, if you haven't already. This article is really good, and I've left a longer comment there in the comm.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
This morning I woke up to find my horrible kitten repeatedly rifling through my trash can.

He was stealing (and no doubt, consuming) my used tissues.

I... how... why... screw it, I'm going back to sleep.

And maybe finding a trash can with a lid.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
I returned from Galveston with a nasty head cold that has only gotten worse in the intervening hours, so today I am home sick and rolling around on the couch, slow blinking through the glasses I somehow managed to gouge scratches in over the left eye and trying to work out how to think through about two inches of mucous. I am resolutely taking my Dayquil, which historically does bad things to my brain-to-words filter, so... look forward to me watching the beginning of The Good Doctor and liveblogging shit as it occurs to me, I guess. I was doing a lot of DWing on phone yesterday--my colleage D helpfully drove all the way back from Galveston to Austin with Tribble and his husky baby Arya in the back seat--and I think as long as I route everything through my mobile-friendly theme, it's okay.

Also, I remain completely in love with posting and replying via email. That is magical. It is the most useful thing for mobile, I swear to god, because if the browser dies your email draft remains saved.

Sick-person solidarity to [personal profile] staranise, who I hear is also battling the cold monsters, and a more general joy-in-others'-joy to [personal profile] siderea whose upcoming move sounds like a great change for the better.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
I got home from my writing retreat in Galveston today to find out that Roomie M and T were raptly watching The Good Doctor, which is a show focusing on a young autistic surgical resident named Shaun Murphy developing his medical career--and this time, they know he's autistic. Like. The writers know, and there's got to be someone on the spectrum on the writing staff, but clearly not everyone on it, but... they are trying very hard. I think Shaun rings truer to me than any character since Abed from Community.

There were a lot of things I was enjoying about the show, but here is the moment where I just fell, uncontrollably and unreservedly, in love:

Shaun walks into a corridor and spots a young man fighting with several people trying to restrain him, flailing uncontrollably, and notices: the young man is nonverbal, overwhelmed, and the more people who try to touch him or shout, the harder he pushes back.

Shaun says "you're scaring him" and is ignored (and probably not heard). He says louder "You're scaring him." and then "You're SCARING HIM" as he intervenes, and as the doctor handling the patient and the aides listen, as they back away, the man stills and relaxes and stops fighting. "He's not psychotic, he's autistic." From another character who is, implicitly and explicitly, an autistic professional in the middle of his goddamn job, and demanding that neurotypical professionals in a position of power listen to his expertise and adjust their behavior accordingly.

I don't think I realized how much that mattered to me, seeing that.

It's not perfect, but what is? )
sciatrix: Alien cyborg woman Nebula glares up at the camera, jaw set. (determined)
So [personal profile] muccamukk hosted a set of questions for the Fediverse over at her blog today, and [personal profile] impertinence has done a really nice job of answering them from the perspective of social systems, moderation, and how communities attempting to avoid worst-case-scenarios really work.

I think, though, that I'm still uneasy, and I'm fundamentally uneasy because to me what I am hearing echoed from the various Fediverse/p2p/Mastodon schools of How Fandom Should Do Next is that the future of fandom should be decentralized and spread around many small communities, each maintained and monitored by a few moderators. Like a set of fiefdoms, but administered without hereditary rule, with mobile users who can transfer allegiances from one fiefdom to another quickly--at least in theory.

I think I am uneasy because I am concerned about handing out ultimate power--as opposed to social power--to many different people of unpredictable ethics and morality, with limited ability to leave a toxic space without abandoning friends and limited ways of getting in touch with people who follow. I'm going to talk out loud for a minute to see if I can pin that down.

One of the things I like about the structure of Dreamwidth is that the communities that do form here, and around individual users, are like... a series of connected salons, with both personal and public spaces for everyone, such that anything I post to my personal journal is mine and mine alone and anything I post to a community is surrendered to the moderators of that community, who I can know and trust ahead of time without ever necessarily stepping under their authority, just by reading publicly. It is not clear to me that you can do that on these decentralized fediverse systems.

Another thing I like is that the ultimate authority on how a service will be hosted and moderated is not someone who is modding the individual communities, such that relationships breakdowns with a moderator of a particular community has zero impact on my ability to interact with the rest of Dreamwidth. The odds that I will fall into a personal acrimony with [staff profile] denise or [staff profile] mark is slim to none; they straight up don't have the personal bandwidth to necessarily notice me as a person, and I feel safer in that anonymity.

Metafilter is the inverse of that, in some ways--it's a service where the site owner is also an active moderator, and where he and the mod team really do publicly interact in places where I might converse with them anywhere, and my ability to speak on the site at all is definitely mediated by my being a member in good standing with those mods--but also, I can see them and observe them and decide whether I trust the judgement of the MeFi mod team beforehand. I trust that even when I disagree with them, they'll still be decent people to me, and I can do that based on long observance.

So why am I uneasy about a fediverse instance while I'm comfortable on Metafilter, which operates (as far as I can tell) like one enormous federated instance? I cut my teeth on forums; why am I balking at this?


Oh, oh, oh.

I've watched so many dysfunctional forums, is the thing, with a lot of dysfunctional modding carried out by people who had neither the skill nor the confidence to have any business modding, who didn't know how to manage a community and didn't take community stewardship seriously as its own thing. I've made the decision to leave forums based on moderation and known grimly that unless things were bad enough to take a significant fraction of users with me--and at one point, I was in that situation!--that I was giving up a lot of my ability to get back in touch with people later, including people who I was really fond of, and that my friendships would have to be very strong indeed to survive a platform migration.

I'm thinking of fediverse as like the old forum systems, but without the option to lurk before deciding to trust someone, and with spinning up a new forum also including some outlay of actual hard cash, so that fewer people can try it.


No wonder I'm feeling cagey.
sciatrix: Rosa Diaz looks down at her lap, laughing. (hidden-smile)
...that she is just so damn good that she makes me look good.

Seriously, I am very proud of Tribble this week: she went to the beach with me for a walk and saw the ocean for the very first time; she's been just about perfect off-leash even in the face of standing water and mud to roll in; she's been very good about waiting for me to wipe her down before going into the rental, and after a couple of 'nope!' chastisements for hopping on the rental's furniture has happily been rolling around on the floor without even trying for the couch. For a dog who usually lives to burrow into our sectional, this is angelic behavior.

(It probably helps that she is viewing the living room rug as a deliciously scratchy novelty to roll around on, and that my colleagues are delightedly giving her attention every five minutes--with six people besides me in the house, almost all of whom like dogs at least in theory and only one of whom has his own at home, she's getting a lot of belly rubs.

And she's been about perfect about napping quietly in her crate while people are writing, and she's generally being very quiet and very sweet, and just--

*mooshes her* what a GOOD DOG.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
Okay, I'm going to try something new here as I'm drafting this manuscript. I'm going to try sitting down, working out what I want to say, and writing it out for y'all on the internet to read. Can't hurt, might help.

( Sexually selected traits like peacock's tails, hooded monk seals' ridiculous nose balloons, and the haunting thrum of the midshipman fish have been an object of fascination for biologists since Darwin sat down upon a tangled bank: they are flashy, loud, intricate, elaborately detailed and painstakingly controlled. )

Just for funsies, here's a hooded seal with full nose balloon engaged.

A hooded seal inflates its nasal sac to make a loud bellowing sound.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
[personal profile] muccamukk hosted a discussion about opt-in versus opt-out linking, and the ethics of linking in light of the knock-on effects of your readers and what they choose to do.

[personal profile] lannamichaels found out that a Vienna Teng song is about politics, which makes total sense in the context of the lyrics but is not something I would have guessed. I love "Stray Italian Greyhound" to pieces, and knowing this thing just makes me love it more.

For as little as $29, this company promises to "brainwash" an individual person on Facebook. Whether or not the startup in question can effectively pull this off--and neither the author nor I am convinced--this is a really creepy fucking thing to see, and a good nudge to me to turn my adblockers back on. (Fuck, it's hard--I want to give certain places the benefit of the doubt and revenue, but at the same time, I don't like to be manipulated. The internet is very, very bad at working out what I might like, so I hope it's working.)

This piece on what it's like to be an internet advice columnist is pretty hilarious.

So is this list of "unparliamentary language" that NZ politicians have gotten penalized for using. And there's a Canadian edition here, too.

Still giggling at weird Puritan names, okay. Has-Descendants! Tace! Wrestling!

This Maia Szalavitz piece on media coverage of opiods is excellent. I really like her writing generally.

Remember when feral emus roamed Texas?

This reflection on the creation of the bisexual pride flag gave me a lot of feelings.

Man injects 18 doses of semen into arm to cure back pain. Spoiler: did not work.

Via [profile] kabarett: To unlock the brain's mysteries, puree it. Still working out what I think of this one. I work on enough brains to think that cell counting is probably not the best way to go about what we're doing, but most of her conclusions support and inform certain other aspects of comparative neuroanatomy (e.g. the importance of cortical volume, at least for mammals). I notice that the article doesn't mention a thing I would think is completely essential to understanding the findings it mentions in birds, which is that birds don't have a cortex as we understand it--that's a mammals thing. Birds do have an older analogous structure, but their brains are organized a little differently, and they do not rely on cortical surface area to get things done as mammals do. It's really interesting in that vein that bird brains are so much denser in terms of neurons.

I have to wonder how important the specifically cortical structures are outside of a mammalian context, that's all. (I brought it to Metafilter, where a few other neuroscientists weighed in.)
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
This morning kicked off in an excellent way when I absent-mindedly glanced up at T, mind still on the Last Podcast on the Left episode I'd been listening to while emptying the dishwasher, and said, "Hey, do you remember Mark Twitchell?"

You know, the dude on the Edmonton cosplay scene who killed a man in 2008 in part because he thought he could be like Dexter, but cooler? )

We also got to talking about surrealism and shitposting, especially in the context of the fandom of yesteryear, and on balance--I don't think Tumblr fandom is actually any more clearly fascinated with surreal humor than media fandom on the old LJ/DW circles, either. T kept pointing out Heero Is Not Toast, which is something that wouldn't be out of place in any Tumblr reblog chain (although the Relena-killing thing would be now, thank fuck). I kept thinking about things like wingfic or some of the weirder crackfic premises I saw c. 2006ish. Seriously, what the hell was with wingfic? It's easily as weird as anything SuperWhoLock came up with, and it just appeared everywhere--like A/B/O, actually, but less explicably.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
It occurred to me that I've been having some interesting chats on metafilter, so I thought that I might as well archive a few things here, too.

I got very angry about gratefulness lists as a first-line treatment for struggling people, agreeing with the original author:

Like, fuck you, world! Sometimes being depressed and drowning isn't my fucking fault, sometimes it's a totally normal response to external fucking stress, and if a therapist wants to give me some help coping with that she has to acknowledge that I'm dealing with it!

I don't like bars as a locus of queer community, which is something of a sidebar to the original article (which discusses fundamental sustainability of queer media). I'm responding here a little more directly to schadenfrau, who has a particularly good point about media directed at queer media:

I’m sad and dismayed to hear that Autostraddle is apparently looking to be acquired in order to stay alive, but not super surprised. This seems to sort of miss the point:
Lesbian and queer women's media has particularly struggled when it comes to revenue, in part because lesbians are stereotyped as frumpy shut-ins who don’t care about nightlife or fashion — unlike their glamorous male counterparts — which can dissuade advertisers.

They don’t have any goddamn money.

Biologist MeFites have coalesced around discussing the weirdest things we've collectively done for science. I had fun describing the special hell that my efforts to distinguish variation in fine motor skill among singing mice turned into. Highlight:

The problem with this idea is that, well, singing mice are both considerably less docile than lab mice and also considerably more athletic. I have observed a singing mouse leap five inches to the edge of a cage and in the next instant fling itself off the blind edge of a three foot table, apparently without pause. I have watched a determined mouse leap ten inches from a standstill, and seen one with a good head start achieve two feet in a single bound.

I imagine that running them on a traditional rotarod would be something like an exhibition of murine popcorn.

I got really frustrated about the way that this discussion of one man's experiences with precocial puberty got derailed around whether or not he should have screened for the mutation in his children. The article was very fascinating; the discussion... well, put it this way, I wound up missing disability-focused spaces like Feminists With Disabilities and [community profile] access_fandom here with an almost physical ache. Between T making connections with the Deaf community in town and some things going back and forth with my own history, I might need to start reconnecting with disability-informed perspectives a little more in my day-to-day. I miss them.

MeFi brought me hagfish! This one is less great for discussion and more great for the links folks brought. Also, HAGFISH.

I countered, of course, with turtle dick. Hat tip to [personal profile] kaberett, who is I think where I originally saw this. (MeFites helpfully dug up a version of the original link with photos of the dicks in question.)

Also via me, the brittleness of children and the egos of driven men, which has some interesting discussion about a recent IRB failure in the comments:

In the fall of 1938, Wendell Johnson recruited one of his clinical psychology graduate students, 22-year-old Mary Tudor, who was avid but timorous, to undertake exactly that experiment. She was to study whether telling nonstuttering children that they stuttered would make it so. Could she talk children into a speech defect? The university had an ongoing research relationship with an orphanage in Davenport, Iowa, so Johnson suggested she base her study there. And thus, on Jan. 17, 1939, Mary Tudor drove along the high, swooping bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River to the Soldiers and Sailors Orphans' Home. The study she began that morning became the subject of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the State of Iowa and the University of Iowa.
sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)
...but instead am catching up on DW discussions and indulging in my most recent expensive obsession, which is fountain pens. I do a lot more writing by hand now that I can simultaneously go "oh it's so pretty!!!!" and marvel at my ink and paper, or carefully select the ink I wish to use at each given time,

Right now, I'm going "I WANT A STUB NIB WITH A BIG RESERVOIR AND A SHADY INK. WITH SPARKLES. YEAH." and considering making a couple of purchases. (Well, and I'm also eyeing this Noodler's Creaper which has a flexible nib that will let me vary how thick the ink is as I write depending on how hard I press, but the reviews are so variable that I can't work out whether it's worth trying.)

But yeah--I think my deal right now is that I really want to play with shading inks and play with the color variation in a lot of fountain pen inks, and also take notes for work at the same time. And I think italic nibs work really well for me in a way that other nib thicknesses don't always.

Right now, I'm spending a lot of time mooshing my nose up against the swabs at Mountain of Ink and daydreaming about the subtle color variations that I would definitely get to see and play with if I went out and bought all the inks.

I mean. Look at this!

Swatch of green Colorverse Supernatural Swatch of blue-black Robert Oster Black And Blue Swatch of Diamine Ancient Copper Swatch of Lamy Dark Lilac Swatch of brilliant yellow-orange Noodler's Apache Sunset Swatch of warm gold Colorverse String

They're so pretty. I keep wondering if I should just go ahead and get some paintbrushes, just to play with the shading of the inks on paper as a purely aesthetic pleasure.


sciatrix: A thumbnail from an Escher print, black and white, of a dragon with its tail in its mouth, wing outstretched behind. (Default)

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