Well, sort of from the world pool: March 27th, 2015

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I got hit with deadlines today, so no real links round-up; maybe I’ll manage tomorrow. But in the meantime, or maybe in place of it, here’s something to hold you: two wonderful pieces of music.

I dug out an old album I’d forgotten about to listen to while working, thought, I wonder if there’s a video of them performing this song, and looked to see. No—but there they are doing something else that’s equally splendid. Zap Mama… so fine. (Looks like you’ll have to follow the link to YouTube; you should do so.)

Eva Cassidy could make any song sound new again. Every time I listen to her I’m blown away. And as I understand it, this was recorded when she had a bad cold. Go watch all her videos.

Is it just me?

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So the Arts Council tweeted a link to a crafts website this week, and I went to take a look: Citizens of Craft. I started reading through their manifesto, and was within seconds hit with WTF?

Because this is not about crafts.

This is about YOU, you wonderful, wonderful person.

This is a MOVEMENT. One aching for your glorious, sparkly participation.

I figured it was either written by a well-meaning person who had taken a short course on Marketing and a longer one on Basic Motivational Speaking, or, more likely, it was some kind of scam (as my partner said on glancing at it, “Let me hide my wallet.”). So I checked to see who was running it.

Well. It’s a government-backed initiative, according to this article:

The push for the movement came after Craft Ontario, in partnership with Canadian Crafts Federation and all provincial and territorial craft councils in Canada, started to become concerned that the ‘craft’ designation was becoming synonymous with large corporations pushing the idea of handmade.

Okay, so… these organizations think that crafts don’t get enough respect (something I couldn’t agree with more). And their solution?

Sucks.

Let me illustrate. Here’s item #2 from the manifesto.

#2: WE VALUE THE UNIQUE AND ENDURING.
As an authentic human being, you appreciate things that don’t scream assembly line.

Translation: I am an authentic human, unlike all you squalling orangutans out there who are do not have the wit to understand that there is something better than a mass-produced plastic copy of the Eiffel Tower. I understand what should truly be appreciated.

So… the problems with this.

  1. None of what is said in the manifesto (someone needs to actually look up the definition of the term, btw) relates to crafts. This is all about Me, Wonderful Me. It reads like a series of self-affirmations for the terminally insecure.
  2. The entire thing is based on thinly veiled (and sometimes not veiled at all) insults of The Plebes Who Do Not Have Your Superior Perception, plus those affirmations that You Are Far Superior To Them.
  3. Do you actually expect me to take a Commitment to Crafts seriously when the website looks like it was built on the template that half of the Cool and Current sites use (which means that in a couple of years they will look very dated)? (Oh! The Irony!)

Oh, I could go on. But I won’t.

Look, here’s the thing. Everything in the manifesto applies to me. I do some crafty things. I believe in all the principles listed. Crafts are things that should be valued, as far as I’m concerned. But this… document… as it is written isn’t about crafts, it’s about feeling good about yourself. It’s a long time since I’ve read anything that comes across with such an air of smug self-satisfaction.

It didn’t have to be this way: “We value the unique and enduring” could have been “Crafts give us things that are unique and enduring,” for example. That’s a fine thing to base a call for supporting crafts and crafters on. It’s not as personal, no, but this should NOT BE ABOUT ME.

Crafts have a long history of struggling against pompous fine arts elitism, so to some degree I can see where this is coming from; but surely the answer is not reverse elitism. I see that they’re trying to do something positive, but… wow. If this is how they do it, I want nothing to do with this “movement.”

A change of plan

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big branch and golden retrieve

It’s a beautiful day today, warm and sunny and absolutely t-shirt weather, so we decided to go for a bike ride this afternoon. We got Our Dog loaded in the car and the bikes on the rack and were just about to fasten them down when this BIG gust of wind hit out of nowhere. There was a loud crack and we got to watch a big branch fall off a cedar tree (in our yard? the neighbouring lot? couldn’t tell) from wayyyyy up there (they’re big cedars) and crash down.

Oh, we said, perhaps this isn’t the best time to go for a bike ride. We put the bikes away and Dog in the house (where he proceeded to fart stupendously, alas) and went to see if we could spot the branch.

It had landed, of course, on our fence.

As the main purpose of the 6 foot high wire fence is to keep the dog in and even more importantly, the DEER OUT, its squashing was a potentially immediate problem: the dog wouldn’t have been able to get out, but the deer would have been able to get in.

We gave it a bit of time to make sure the wind wasn’t going to be silly again, and then I went out with a hand saw and cut through the branch about half way along it (with cleverly applied strategy and a rope to make sure the top part didn’t fall on me when I did so). At that point the diameter was only about 4 or 5 inches. (As I said, it was a BIG branch, it was probably 6 or 7 inches at the base.) The big half was in the neighbouring (undeveloped) lot, so I roped the top of it and was able to pivot it off the fence.

This is a picture of the half that ended up in our yard, along with some incidental debris that it had collected on the way down, such as the top of a douglas-fir. It looks surprisingly small in the picture; in real life, not so much, especially when you’re hauling it out of a patch of salmonberries, salal and periwinkle. Put together, I’d estimate the entire branch was a good 25 feet long.

At any rate, there was no bike ride but I did get exercise, I suppose.

From the world pool: March 13, 2015

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Happy Friday the 13th! (A short list this week, was preoccupied with work deadlines.)

Socio-political commentary

Culture as ‘Ways of Life’ or a Mask of Racism? Culturalisation and the Decline of Universalist Views. (PDF) An interesting paper from the journal of the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association that discusses how “culturalization” can be used on the left as well as the right to disguise, reinforce and depoliticize racist structures and discourse. (via @rcloenenruiz)

Audrey Watters: Men (Still) Explain Technology to Me: Gender and Education Technology. Transcript of a talk delivered to Leeds Beckett University. “The problem isn’t just that men explain technology to me. It isn’t just that a handful of men explain technology to the rest of us. It’s that this explanation tends to foreclose questions we might have about the shape of things.”   (via @tressiemcphd)

Online harassment

Anita Sarkeesian: What I couldn’t say.

A redditor succinctly breaks down the fear behind “credible threats” with regards to safety precautions/leaving home. “So now you get to decide: do I panic? Or do I fucking panic?” (via @ Quinnae_Moon

Quote of the week

It’s the rule you make, not the rule you intended, that everyone will have to deal with in the future.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Just cool

Further adventures in multiple inheritance. (via @evilrooster)

From the world pool: March 7, 2015

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Yep, running behind schedule again; yesterday was busy.

Socio-political commentary

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think. “But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.”  (via @mcahogarth)

Further Thoughts on Call-Out Culture. (via @tressiemcphd)

Plastic People: Epigenetics has shown that there’s no such thing as a normal human body, so how did it get hijacked by the body police?

Venting About Students: Punching Up or Down? I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this subject recently; this struck me as a balanced position that identifies a core problem of relative privilege.

Marissa Lingen: Attention policing paradox. “Telling people, ‘You should not like the thing you like!’ or ‘You should not care about the thing you care about!’ hardly ever works.”  (via @hawkwing_lb)

In the news

“We’ve got little doors everywhere. We’re not anti-fairies but it’s in danger of getting out of control.” ‘Fairy control’ to halt tiny doors in Somerset woods. We have some of these doors in our local woods. Thank heavens it hasn’t gone this far. (via @pericat)

Geeking Out

Shut up, Blackwall, I still don’t care what you think.” This will mean nothing unless you are playing the game, but if you are, it’s gold.

It was a sad week for those in the sf/f community, amongst which I count myself.  (via @mcahogarth)

I can’t believe so many folks didn’t get this!” (via @evilrooster)

On Writing

Kate Elliott: Writing Women Characters as Human Beings (via @hawkwing_lb)

Are they going to say this is fantasy?” Ursula K. LeGuin takes on Kazuo Ishiguro.  (via @eilatan)

Chris Clarke: Desert words I want.  “I want a word for the earth’s shadow in the sky on a summer sunset evening, that terminator between pink and indigo, and the knowledge in the gathering chill that tomorrow’s sun will be every bit as hot.” What words do you want? (via @evilrooster)

Quote of the week

The fad to make every game into an online multiplayer really does drive me nuts. I play computer games because I don’t like other people.

Brian McClellan, via (via @KameronHurley)

Just for fun

If you’ve had a I hate my job kind of Monday just be thankful. (via @MaryRobinette)

Man cuddles with a cute wombat. (via @rcloenenruiz)

A simple guide to washing machine symbols. (via @MaryRobinette)

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