The latest season is on Netflix now, so it's time for me to work through more of this incredibly watchable show about terrible people.
For those who need a brief refresher:
Do you like The West Wing? Do you like Leverage? Would you like a series that's cross between those two shows? How about a series that thinks it's a cross between those two shows, but missed the memo that a big part of the appeal was the main characters being likeable, competent, and out to do good things? Well, Scandal is that last one.
Our heroine is Olivia Pope, a freelance fixer of political problems with a reputation for being supercompetent, brilliant, and heroic. Before canon started, she had already helped rig the US Presidential election to put her (Republican) (also married) boyfriend into office. The first few episodes follow a mini-arc where she is asked to defend the reputation of a woman who also had an affair with said President. Olivia yells at this woman for being a lying liar. Olivia is proved wrong.
This sets the stage for a pattern where, halfway through any given case-of-the-week, whoever Olivia is defending will turn out to be evil, and whoever she just shot down will be revealed as the true victim. She is aided by a motley crew of employees and allies, some of whom are already terrible people when the show starts, others of whom compromise their morals over the course of the series. They've covered everything from war crimes to murder to perjury to torture.
An illuminating example: One of the employees (Abby) idolizes Olivia for rescuing her from an abusive husband -- now if only it stopped there. Later, Abby and a much-nicer love interest (David, also a legal ally of Olivia's) come perilously close to uncovering Olivia's Presidential-election-rigging. To get them off the trail...Olivia plants information that triggers Abby's abuse-trauma, manipulating her into a panicky and tearful breakup. Neither Abby nor David finds out Olivia orchestrated this! Both of them continue to idolize and adore her! The writers still seem to think we should too!
At the end of season 5, there were maybe 2 characters that were likeable human beings. Senator-turned-VP Susan Ross, who pleasantly surprised me by flat-out quitting her job rather than sell her soul, and governor-turned-Dem-candidate Francisco Vargas, whose soul is still up for grabs.
Liveblogged the first episode. Might end up doing the same for the whole season, depending on how commentable it is.
Season 6 opens on the night of a presidential election, and it all comes down to...California. That's right, folks, in the Scandal universe, California is a swing state.
Also, Olivia is chastising her staff to vote if they haven't already. I mean, hey, just because they're reporting totals on the west coast, that doesn't mean the polls can't still be open! Our competent political-genius heroine in action, folks.
Frankie won. So now Olivia is berating her candidate (Mellie, also her boyfriend's ex) to call and concede, which seems like the smart and reasonable move. Knowing this show, that means we will eventually learn it totally the wrong move.
(I like Mellie and Olivia being friends. For all that they're awful, their fighting with each other was pretty evenly matched -- not one abusing the other, they both gave as good as they got. And it all stemmed from their rivalry over Fitz, who is painfully not worth it.)
Dammit, they shot Frankie. He might escape becoming awful by dying.
Obnoxious agent: "Ma'am, I'm sure you have some security clearance..." Abby: "No. I don't have some security clearance. I have all of it."
Hits all the beats and all the right emotions of a badass smackdown scene. Logically, undercut by the fact that Abby didn't show any security clearance. If you're going to waltz into a hyper-secure operation (the hospital) and start barking orders, have your badge in hand! (Also, her entire order was literally "don't let anyone in here," which I'm pretty sure they were already doing.)
...yep, they killed Frankie.
Olivia yells at her father (ex-leader of the government's Evil Secret Black Ops Division): was he behind the killing? Well, we're 22 minutes in and she's yelling at him, so I bet not.
Mellie just wants to go on vacation and leave this all behind. Now that would be the smart and reasonable move. (She never really wanted the job in the first place. She wants power in the abstract, but has no interest in doing anything in particular with it. Five minutes later she'll forget all her reasonable plans and decide she wants it again.)
Now Olivia's convinced it was Cyrus (part of the Fitz conspiracy, now VP candidate for Vargas) who had the candidate murdered so he'd be promoted to the top of the winning ticket. But we're only 27 minutes in, so she's probably wrong. After all, the Electoral College hasn't voted yet, so Cyrus would be taking a pretty steep gamble on them not abandoning the Vargas-Cyrus ticket even with half of it gone.
Olivia storms into the hospital. The same hyper-secure hospital that nobody was supposed to be let in. And finds Cyrus in mute, trembling shock. Who could've seen that coming?
Fitz: "I wanted you to be right. You're always right." Dude...have you never seen this show?
He ultimately supports the EC supporting Cyrus, which is the right choice as far as the will of the people is concerned, although both he and Mellie are impressively awful choices who should not be trusted with this country.
Vargas' widow is still in the hospital after a sleepless night, still covered in blood from standing next to the shooting, but for some reason her hair and makeup is still flawless. D- for realism, makeup department.
...So the last five minutes unveil a tip from a mystery person that it was Cyrus (no details on how the tipper came to this conclusion). Well, now that this twist has been un-twisted and re-twisted again, I'm sure the issue is settled, and will be quite shocked if the rest of the season isn't completely straightforward.
So... from here to Wavre, the time of sunset is different this time of year but the time of sunrise is the same. And from here to Austin, the time of sunset is the same this time of year but the time of sunrise is different. But on the other solstice, it's the other way around - Austin and NYC share a sunrise time, Wavre and NYC share a sunset time.
There is some way this all makes sense, and I know I've had it explained to me before, but... I guess it didn't make enough sense. (It has something to do with how the sun appears to move in a figure 8?)
Semi-related, Mr. "How did they know it was noon?" reminded me of something. There is an algorithm to convert sundial time to clock time, and vice versa. Apparently, when mechanical clocks first became common, their time was considered inaccurate, and true time was sundial time. This is blindingly obvious the second you hear it explained, but it didn't occur to me until I happened to read it on Wikipedia while looking up common sundial mottoes. (It's later than you think!)
There must have been a middle period in there where the younger generation was chronically annoying the older generation by showing up for things at clock time when the older generation obviously meant real time.
The Deseret Alphabet, a 38-Letter Writing System Developed by Mormons
Pictures: Colored Honey Made by Candy-Eating French Bees (There's something to pointlessly engineer - flowers with multicolored nectar to make multicolored honey! If they think they can sell pink pineapples, colorful honey is sure to be a hit. And it won't be garbage, so it won't be gross.)
Census: US growing older and more racially diverse
The Mussels That Eat Oil
When the Bus Stop Button is Broken
Medieval medical books could hold the recipe for new antibiotics
Man sent home from work for wearing shorts in over 30°C heat comes back in a dress
Memory for stimulus sequences distinguishes humans from other animals
This ‘Indian Dr. Seuss’ Is Very Fond of Nonsense
How the Liberal Arts Help Veterans Thrive
Urban agriculture only provides small environmental benefits in northeastern US
Supreme Court Says You Can't Ban People From The Internet, No Matter What They've Done
People with disabilities at risk in Central African Republic
Abused children find Japan’s shelters provide little comfort
Desperate Venezuelans set sights on Colombia as worry mounts
Hundreds of Inmates Still Confined to Tent City During Phoenix Heat Wave
Former immigration detainees challenge labor practices
How Our Modern Lifestyles Perpetuate Slavery
War-torn Yemen to get cholera vaccines as death toll mounts
U.S. will take weapons from Kurds after Islamic State defeat: Turkey
Dear Rare Pair Writer,
Links to my fandom pages:
Maeve of Winter on AO3
Maeve of Winter on Tumblr
Maeve of Winter on Dreamwidth
WhimsicalNixie on LiveJournal
Maeve of Winter on Fanfiction.net
Wishing you well! This my first time participating, and I'm very excited!
I should say right off the bat that my prompts are only here for guidance, not as anything you are obligated to right for me. If you have your own idea for the pairing that fits with my likes, it’s more than okay with me if you want to write that.
Also, feel free to mix and match my prompts with different pairings and fandoms. If it’s somewhere in my letter, it’s something I’m okay with receiving for any canon or character.
( Read more... )
[R]ed tape also means regulations that protect citizens, at a certain cost to companies that otherwise have little incentive to sacrifice some profit to mitigate risk. It is because of red tape that you cannot buy a flammable sofa, and that you are very unlikely to die in an air crash.
Much red tape, indeed, is the frozen memory of past disaster. Modern regulatory regimes as a whole came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries because of public outrage at the dangerous practices of unrestrained industry.
This is perhaps partly similar to the phenomenon that having effective infrastructure and ongoing regular maintenance of same is not as dramatic a story as horrendous accidents.
It's possibly also analogous to people becoming anti-vaxxers, because vaccination programmes have been so successful that there is no notion of the risks there used to be from common diseases of childhood.
For the first few years of 'there were no new cases of polio in the last twelve months' this is news. And then that becomes the default setting.
For those who decry 'Elf and Safety, I recommend a salutary reading of the London Medical Officer of Health reports from the C19th, freely available digitised and searchable online.
There are some Victorian values one can get behind, and the rise of public health is one of them.
On other Victorian values, however, and those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, this person seems unaware that providing tied housing contingent upon working for a particular employer is nothing like a 'welfare state':
it was recently reported that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is spending is around $30m to provide short-term, prefab housing for 300 of its employees because Silicon Valley housing is in such short supply. Tech giants helped cause a housing crisis in Silicon Valley, now it seems they are becoming landlords. It’s feudalism 2.0.Not so much feudalism as C19th model towns, e.g. Saltaire, founded by businessmen to keep their workers contented and (I hypothesise) spurning the trades union movement (having had to do with a late C19th enterprise with some of the same elements of benevolent paternalism towards the workforce).
And, looking at that article, was New Lanark really quite the same thing? Enlightened capitalism not quite the same as utopian socialism.
Also had the thought that people who are 'regulation BAD' seem to reverse this opinion when it comes to panic measures against terrorism that are often symbolic rather than proven efficacious.
Also, be sure to do today's Google doodle. I could do that all day.
Cow herd behavior is fodder for complex systems analysis
Making Cents of Currency’s Ancient Rise
The Lion-Shaped Maps That United a Nation
African farmers’ kids conquer the marshmallow test
Summer solstice: the perfect day to bask in a dazzling scientific feat (First comment: "How did they know it was noon?" I can't even...)
Discovery could lead to sustainable ethanol made from carbon dioxide
She May Be The Most Unstoppable Scientist In The World
Dinosaurs got an evolutionary assist from huge volcanic eruptions
The Great Uprising: How a Powder Revolutionized Baking
Why the 'peculiar' stands out in our memory
Incredibly pictures of NYC when it was covered in farmland
'Human Project' study will ask 10,000 to share life's data
The App That Does Nothing
DNA reveals how cats achieved world domination
The ATU Fable Index: Like the Dewey Decimal System, But With More Ogres (I don't really care what happens in "Bunnies Beware of the King", but I'm more than a little perturbed that I can't even read the entire synopsis for 910J: Never plant a thorn tree.)
Chimps' cultural traditions extend beyond family
A Good News Story About Diarrhea — With One Surprising Exception
The Forgotten Trains of India (Photojournalism)
South Africa's District Six Cookbook Helps Preserve A Lost Community
Forever green: Cemeteries make more room for natural burials
Debate heats up over teaching climate change in US schools
Bosnian students keep up their protest against segregated schools
Afghan de-miners cling to hard but much-needed jobs
What Is the Point of Sean Spicer's Briefings? (I've got a question for Sean Spicer. "Do you know that you make yourself a laughingstock every time you hold one of these briefings? How much are you getting paid to shred your dignity to bits? Are you sure it's really worth it?" Damn, that's such a good question, rather than waiting for a journalist to ask it, I should send him a postcard. Or I could go traditional - "How do you sleep at night?" Postcards are cheap, I can send both questions.)
Iraqi forces advance on Mosul mosque where IS declared caliphate
What Is Putin Up To in Syria?
US interrogates detainees in Yemen prisons rife with torture
My hc_bingo card ( is under this cut )
At first glance I didn't see a whole lot of prompts there that work well with my usual-these-years fandom/ship, but on looking again, there are a few that I could theoretically do interesting things with, or that at least can be made to match WsIP that I expect to be on the shorter side if/when I can finish them. And my monofannishness aside, I do always hope that these challenges will twig something in my brain and let me write something new.
(Is this my first time getting an hc_bingo card that doesn't have one of the soulbond prompts? I haven't gone and checked to see if it's literally the first time, but the card generator has traditionally been very keen on giving me "unintended soulbond" and/or "unintended side effects of planned soulbond" [or whatever the exact phrasings are]. I always kinda meant to write the former for Warehouse 13; it could even happen someday. It's pretty perfect.)
And my seasonofkink card and Newsflesh-specific (inherently NSFW) notes ( are under THIS cut )
And well, yes, that's because it did. Most of my memories of childhood summers take place in Belgium. The sun didn't set in Wavre today until 10pm. It set here at 8:30.
Logically, I know that I spent many more summers in NYC than in Belgium (and I also spent a few in Austin, with my other grandmother), but... somehow, in my memories, except for the 4th and the occasional trip to the beach, it's always Belgium. And in Belgium, the sun stays up forever in the summer. (It sets correspondingly earlier in the winter, but we never were there in the winter.)
Roundup of incidents of Trump supporters being proudly violent, sometimes to the point of murder, in his name. Features racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, the whole hatred spectrum.
Trump wants to start charging stores to accept food stamps, because apparently Republicans want to help small businesses by driving away their customers.
The Leopards Eating Faces Party constituents:
"'I really haven't seen him doing anything' on jobs, Olsen said. 'The longer they stall around and dance around and whatever, the more people are gonna get hurt.'" GEE, YA THINK.
"Mike Catanzaro, a solar panel installer with a high school diploma, likes to work with his hands under the clear Carolina sky. That’s why he supported President Trump, a defender of blue-collar workers. But the 25-year-old sees Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement as a threat to his job."
"Trump supporters in Texas are coming to the realization that their vote for the president may force some of them out of their homes for less than they are worth, with others finding out that — if they stay — they’ll be living in Mexico if his wall is built."
One coping mechanism: “I didn’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to feel that he’s not doing what he said, so I just choose to not listen.”
"My neighbor and I drove home in silence. I wondered if his being amongst Middle Easterners who wore hijab and spoke in their native tongue reaffirmed his anti-immigration stance. As we were parting, he said, 'Let me know if you need help with more deliveries. I’m happy to help anytime.' He had tears in his eyes."
Not everyone in this mindset is stuck there forever. Some people can learn, and grow, and change.
The trick is not to draw well, but to draw like everybody else. A quick sketch of a rectangle with a fin on it is better than a beautiful, photorealistic picture of a shark - and apparently, the entire world, when confronted with "animal migration", decides to make a few m-birds and call it a day. (The algorithm is entirely too fond of throwing out "animal migration" as a challenge.)
--To further illustrate how my reading is (not) going lately, seananmcguire's new novella came out a week ago and I haven't read it yet. ;_; I've at least been keeping up with some graphic novels from the library, but that's about it.
--The adorable annual we're planting that I couldn't remember for the life of me is Hawaii Blue ageratum, AKA "floss flower". *charmed* Look how cute it is!
--A happy twofold discovery: while rummaging for something else, I found a small stash of Toronto transit tokens that we'd clearly forgotten about, and I was briefly sad because I'd had the impression that the Presto system rollout in Toronto was far enough along that tokens might not be usable anymore. (Horrifying thought, since the Presto rollout sounds like a clusterfuck in all kinds of ways--which strikes me as extra embarrassing when, as far as I can tell, Presto works fairly well in Ottawa, and unless I'm wrong about that, clearly it can be fine.) But I checked the TTC site, and the header on the "fares and passes" section says "Last year’s tickets and tokens are still valid. Customers paying with tickets and tokens do not need to deposit ten cents." [Emphasis theirs.] So we'll see about using our stash up.
--Related: one of the infinite things I love about having Claudia and Jinksy is that it's much less heartbreaking to come home from Toronto now that we have sweet, soft kitties waiting for us, but the flip side is that I preemptively miss them. I'd cling to them, but they don't like that. ^^;
(That said, Jinksy's currently purring on my lap. *^^*)
My friends gave me a gift certificate to a local automotive shop which was awesome. We love to support local businesses. Another set of friends gave me a gift certificate to Ulta which I used to buy All the Bath Products. :)
Emma made me a card, and Josh got me a wireless speaker thing that hooks up to Spotify and plays music. Since the wane of CDs and the death of our last CD player, we don't listen to music in the house often, so I'm really glad to have this. I've been thinking lately about how important music used to be to me and how little I listen to it now. This gift is the kick in the pants I needed to change a habit I've been thinking about and lamenting for several months but not doing anything about.
I got cards and well wishes from lyr, timespirit, kaleecat, and decynthus (who also sent me some replacement photos for my fridge magnets: Alfred and bb!Bruce, Lucifer, and bb!Groot), and sallymn.
executrix sent me an amazing package full of all my favorites: books, notebooks, perfume, and some killer new clothes.
Looking forward to seeing what 38 brings.
What I read
Finished Binti. Reminded me a bit of other things I have read over my sff reading life, but well-done, may well go for the next one.
Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth (2017). Okay, everybody mentions the hippos, but isn't it, underneath that, a combination western/caper tale where an unlikely team is brought together and has its own tensions besides the issues with what it has to do? (not that that isn't a good armature). Enjoyable, but ended abruptly and cliffhangingly, and is the new thing (see Binti above) of issuing novellas which are only the beginning of a longer story arc the new allotrope of serialised fiction? (but hey, it worked for Middlemarch, though at least Ms Evans indicated that it was an ongoing story.)
Dana Stabenow, Bad Blood (2013). Not quite as good as the last one I read, I think, but ended with A Thing that makes me want to go on to the next quite shortly to see how that pans out for Kate Shugak.
Two short pieces of Barbara Hambly's 'Further Adventures': Hazard (2017) (Sunwolf and Starhawk) and Elsewhere (2017) (Darwath).
Picked up in booksale, Arthur Ransome, Missee Lee (1941). I remembered very little about this, even though I later discovered I already had a copy on my shelves. I don't think it was ever among my favourites of the Swallows and Amazons books; but I've found, on re-reads of these books, that somehow they do not do for me what they did in youth - something about the style? I don't know. Also, early C20th rendering of Chinglish, sigh.
On the go
Elizabeth George, A Banquet of Consequences (2015). I was considerably off these when they were turning Lynley's Epic Manpain up to 11, but this one was very cheap in a charity shop and promised mostly Havers. And really, do we not want more of the scruffy maverick with constant disciplinary issues who is also a woman? - the 'top brass not pleased' is massive at the beginning of this one. Okay, it's got a standard E George riff on 'all unhappy families are different in baroquely complicated ways, and there are no happy families' (the misery handed on is not so much a coastal shelf as the Mariana Trench), but I have stuck with it, though have just been irked that over 500 pages into the narrative they are only just looking into how anyone might have got hold of the somewhat unusual toxic substance involved.
Also, on the ereader, because I don't want to tote around a damn great fat paperback, from the romance bundle, Ivory Lei, How to Wed an Earl (2013) - not got very far, but seems as, 'be betrothed in infancy by respective parents' is how...
Well, in another charity shop found the preceding volume by Elizabeth George, Just One Evil Act (2013), which, I daresay, will reveal what got Havers into the deepest of disgrace and quite possibly the depths of depression, but I'm not sure I really want to commit to going straight on to another of these. Or maybe the next Stabenow in the series.
Or I could look through my tbr piles, actual and virtual.