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Posted by Ken White

Imagine a local news channel in a small city. The channel starts running stories fed to it by criminals, thugs, and n'er-do-wells. The stories are uncritical and unquestioning. "Local methamphetamine dealers report that their product is more reasonably priced and safer than ever," goes one report. "Consent: is it an unfairly ambiguous concept?" goes another. "A career burglar explains why alarms are a bad investment," goes the third.

Seems ridiculous, like something out of The Onion, doesn't it? Yet we endure the equivalent all the time — news stories that are indistinguishable from press releases written by law enforcement or government.

Take the story of Patrick McLaw or Maryland. Several writers are posing troubling questions about whether McLaw was suspended from his teaching job, subjected to some sort of involuntary mental health examination, and his home searched based on the fact that he wrote science fiction novels set in 2902 under a pen name. Jeffrey Goldberg explains:

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Maryland, middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—"taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future.

Though I am generally receptive to believing the worst about law enforcement and local government, I was skeptical when numerous people emailed asking me to write about this. I suspected that more than two books were at issue. Subsequent reporting suggests that McLaw may have sent a letter that was the trigger of a "mental health investigation":

Concerns about McLaw were raised after he sent a four-page letter to officials in Dorchester County. Those concerns brought together authorities from multiple jurisdictions, including health authorities.

McLaw's attorney, David Moore, tells The Times that his client was taken in for a mental health evaluation. "He is receiving treatment," Moore said.

Because of HIPPA regulations mandating privacy around healthcare issues, he was unable to say whether McLaw has been released.

McLaw's letter was of primary concern to healthcare officials, Maciarello says. It, combined with complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime from various jurisdictions led to his suspension. Maciarello cautions that these allegations are still being investigated; authorities, he says, "proceeded with great restraint."

What's more, he told The Times, "everyone knew about the book in 2012."

We need more facts before we draw firm conclusions, but for the moment, I think there is reason to believe that the story may be more complicated than the provocative "authorities overreact to citizen's fiction writing" take.

But it is not at all surprising that people would leap to that conclusion. Two factors encourage it.

The first factor is law enforcement and government overreach. When schools call the police when a student writes a story about shooting a dinosaur, and when law enforcement uses the mechanism of the criminal justice system to attack satirical cartoons or Twitter parodies, it is perfectly plausible that a school district and local cops would overreact to science fiction.

The second factor is very bad journalism. The Patrick McLaw story blowing up over the long weekend can be traced to terrible reporting by WBOC journalist Tyler Butler in a post that was linked and copied across the internet. Butler reported McLaw's pen name as a sinister alias, reported as shocking the fact that McLaw wrote science fiction about a futuristic school shooting, and quoted law enforcement and school officials uncritically and without challenge. Faced with the bare bones of the story, any competent reporter would have asked questions: is this only about the two books he wrote? Was there a basis, other than fiction, to think he posed a threat? Are there any other factors that resulted in this suspension and "mental health examination?" Was the examination voluntary or involuntary? Is it reasonable to suspend and "examine" someone and search their home over science fiction?

Even if authorities refused to answer those questions, a competent reporter would discuss them. "Authorities declined to say whether any factors other than the two books led to the investigation," Tyler Butler might have written. Asking the questions and reporting on them might have restrained our temptation to believe the worst. Instead he gave us this:

Those books are what caught the attention of police and school board officials in Dorchester County. "The Insurrectionist" is about two school shootings set in the future, the largest in the country's history.

Journalists ought to ask tough questions of government and law enforcement, to present us with the facts we need to evaluate their actions. But too often they don't. Too often journalists run with law enforcement "leaks" without considering how the leaks impact the rights of the suspects, or asking why the government is leaking in the first place. Too often journalists allow themselves to be manipulated by law enforcement, not recognizing the manipulation as the important part of the story. To often journalists accept the headline-grabbing take rather than the less scandalous but more correct take. Too often journalists buy access with the coin of deference. Too often journalists report the law enforcement spin as fact.

That's why when a local news channel reports matter-of-factly that a man was detained and "examined" over science fiction, it doesn't occur to us to question the story. Just as it's entirely plausible that the government might do it, it's entirely plausible that journalists might report it without criticism, analysis, or apparent consciousness of how outrageous it would be.

Patrick McLaw, Skepticism, And Law Enfocement's Obliging Stenographers © 2007-2014 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

[syndicated profile] unfuckurhabitat_feed

persephonemag:

Ask UfYH: There’s No Right Way to Clean

image

Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of ineffective ways to clean, but most of them involve whatever you’re cleaning ending up dirtier than when you started. For almost everything, though, there’s no one correct way to clean something, and thinking that there is just leads to a whole lot of nothing getting done. (more…)

View On WordPress

This week’s Ask UfYH!

aldersprig: (GIRAFFE!)
[personal profile] aldersprig
I have three prompts to go on my Giraffe Call, after which the Giraffe-Call discounted rate (1 cent/word) will be closed until the next Giraffe Call.



Tips currently stand at $14 from the commission-a-piece-of-art level.

AND

The September Theme Poll will close Thursday the 4th at noon EDT. If you want a vote, you have to be a be a Patreon Patron at the $5 level or higher or donate (or have donated in August) $5 or more via paypal.

Want to kill 2 birds with one stone? Commission a piece of fiction from the Giraffe Call, get a vote, AND gets some nice, cheap fiction!



aldersprig: (Mermaid 2)
[personal profile] aldersprig
Today's theme is "healing & growth."

The call is here.

Leave a prompt (or several) and Ysabet will write a poem to your prompt.
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)
[personal profile] sophie
I just had a very interesting conversation with the support team at Amazon.co.uk.

I was calling about a $1.00 Amazon MP3 credit that I had acquired on the 27th of July 2013. This credit was given to me on Amazon.com (as opposed to Amazon.co.uk, where my account actually is) for a 'Free App of the Day' order I made in the Amazon Appstore for Android app. (Note that none of this is referring to gift certificates. It's possible they may have the same issues, but I was not calling about that.)

My issue was that I couldn't use the credit on Amazon.com, because it would keep asking me for my card details, and I obviously didn't want to give them.

I learned a few things from the call:
  1. It is not possible to use the promotional credit unless you turn on your 1-Click setting.
  2. If you have a promotional credit on your account, Amazon will use that before your selected payment method.
  3. It is not possible to see whether you have any promotional credit on your account before you purchase; you have to contact Amazon by phone and ask.
All of these combine to make the ultimate money-sucker: Thought you had Amazon MP3 promotional credit but actually don't? Normally you'd be able to see that sort of thing on an order confirmation screen, but sorry, you have 1-Click turned on. Boom, that's £0.99, sucka.

But that's okay, she said, I have a £1.00 credit on my account, so you'll be fine.

"Wait a second," I said. "Is that 1 pound or 1 dollar?"

She confirmed to me that she was seeing a 1 pound credit on my account on Amazon.co.uk which I had received on 12th October 2013 and expired Tuesday 30th September.

So I go to check my email, wondering if I'd missed something... but no, I didn't get any email about this credit at all. In fact, I never even *made* any orders on Amazon.co.uk in October 2013, a fact that I was able to confirm by looking at my order history on the site. On Amazon.com I hadn't made any orders in 2013 at all.

She couldn't tell me which order the promotional credit came from; I'm not sure if this was for security or simply because nothing was showing up.

So at this point I'm left with a mystery promotional credit for £1.00, and I have no idea where it came from. (And it wouldn't have gone to my Spam folder as I have filters specifically set up so that any emails to my Amazon account email addresses do not get flagged as spam; I've had this set up for ages.)

So, now we have a case of: In order to use promotional credit that you don't even know exists, you need to turn on 1-Click.

Does this seem fishy to anyone else?

I am not ok.

Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:59 pm
miintikwa: a Stephanie Roberts painting made into an icon with a pretty redheaded girl (Default)
[personal profile] miintikwa
Flaring, plus dealing with all the emotional foo. I am planning on being quiet this week. I am not going to do anything stupid, no worries there. I am going to spend this week resting and recovering, working out, reading, and playing video games so I can get through this flare and regain my emotional balance.

Be well, everyone.
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
The journalist Steven Sotloff has been murdered by ISIS.

Since I've posted that, I may as well post the other more or less related links that have accumulated in the past few hours.

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all Syrians displaced

The Pentagon is denying that U.S. troops are fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq—but eyewitness accounts and Kurdish officials tell a different story.

And, somewhat related, Metafilter had up this rather depressing ad for Save the Children. There are actually two morals hidden in their "one year" video, the first being "donate money!" and the second being "pay attention" - after all, one of the signs that the shit is hitting the fan is their neighbors hurriedly packing their car, presumably to get someplace safer.

But the point is that if you're at all concerned about the many many (many) wars going on right now, they're apparently one of the most legit organizations out there, with a solid 4 rating on Charity Navigator, with nearly all of their money going to their programs, which all seem to be pretty helpful and non-controversial. So if you're thinking ahead to "how am I going to spend my charitable money this year?", that's one option.
[syndicated profile] unfuckurhabitat_feed




bouncingbabycage:

So my bedroom has been in a bit of a disaster condition for a while now. In the “before” picture, yes, those are two regular mattresses stacked on top of each other, directly on the floor, with the bedframe sort of hanging out in the middle of everything. I’ve been sleeping like that for a year. A WHOLE YEAR! However, the box spring that came with one of the mattresses was 150 miles away, and arranging to get it to my house has been a disaster— but this weekend it arrived! Woo-hoo!

Now, I could have let the box spring hang out in my hallway for a long while… excuses excuses… or I could buckle down and tackle this room. After several 30/15s (and time to do the laundry) the bedframe is put together, with a box spring on it, and just ONE regular mattress, and all the bedding has been washed and the bed made.

I can’t wait to sleep in my “big girl bed” tonight! :)

Evil Time | Herman Hesse

Sep. 2nd, 2014 03:19 pm
yodepalma: ((disney) mulan)
[personal profile] yodepalma posting in [community profile] poetry
Evil Time
Herman Hesse
 
Now we are silent
And sing no songs anymore,
Our pace grows heavy;
This is the night that was bound to come.
 
Give me your hand,
Perhaps we still have a long way to go.
It's snowing, it's snowing.
Winter is a hard thing in a strange country.
 
Where is the time
When a light, a hearth burned for us?
Give me your hand!
Perhaps we still have a long way to go.
[syndicated profile] askamanager_feed

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I see a lot of questions from people wondering if they can ask employers why they weren’t hired. What I’m wondering is almost the opposite: can I ask an employer why they did decide to hire me? I’d be awfully curious to know at what point in the process they decided to choose me, and what the deciding factor was. It doesn’t quite seem like the kind of thing I can ask, though: a bit fishing-for-compliments, and a bit Captain Obvious (since the fact that they did hire me in a way answers the question by itself: because they thought I was the best fit for the job). (But, like, whyyyy specifically, I want to know!)

I feel like asking could be awkward for me and for them, so left to myself I wouldn’t do it. But I’ve seen you suggest some elegantly professional scripts to handle situations that I would probably have floundered around in, so. I thought it might be worth it to check and see if you think it’s a thing that can be asked in a professionally appropriate way, or if I should just not do it. Or if it even might be more of a down-the-road thing, like, after I’ve worked there a year or two I’d be in more of a place to turn to my boss and say, “Hey, by the way, I’m curious: I wonder what made you decide to hire me back then?”

It does come across as fishing for compliments … and really, you know the answer: They hired you because you were the best qualified of all the candidates they talked to.

I think what you want to hear are specifics: They loved your answer to the question about X, and were fascinated by your experience in Y, and they were charmed by your poise and sense of humor, and your personal thank-you note pushed you over the edge. But in reality, that’s rarely the real answer. It’s more often about the whole picture — you had great experience in X and Y (but so did two other candidates) and you seemed highly organized (but so did those other two candidates) and you seemed to really get what they do, and they all got along with you, and there were no red flags.

So you’re not really asking what made them hire you — you’re asking “what do you like about me?” And that’s a more awkward question, and if you ask it right after you start, you risk undermining yourself and coming across as lacking confidence.

I do still think you can ask it — but I’d wait until you’ve been there a while and have more of a rapport with your manager. (Of course, at that point you may not care anymore, and your boss may not remember the sort of specifics that would be interesting anyway.)

can I ask my new manager why she hired me? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

(no subject)

Sep. 2nd, 2014 05:55 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
In reassembling my workspace after the window installation, i've given up on the "no cats on my desk" rule and bowed to the inevitable.
Read more... )

Ladies' Bingo Card

Sep. 2nd, 2014 01:25 pm
aldersprig: (Genique)
[personal profile] aldersprig
This is my [community profile] ladiesbingo card!

[community profile] ladiesbingo is a challenge for fanworks about relationships between women.

Please feel free to leave me suggestions for any square (either extant characters/settings or generic prompts); I'll italicize squares that have suggestions and link completed stories.
Read more... )
aldersprig: (Aldersprig Leaves Raining)
[personal profile] aldersprig
2 continuations were anonymously paid for; this is [personal profile] alexseanchai's requested continuation of the "Samurai" thread
Gonna be a Samurai
Gonna Learn how to be a Samurai and
Being a Samurai Takes Work
.

First Year

“Dancing is a good idea, Austin, Sianna. It teaches balance, rhythm, and a sense of where your body is n relation to your partner.”

It turned out that almost everything was useful to learning how to be a samurai, at least to hear Miss Ascha tell it. But the weird thing was, everything was also useful to learning how to be a dancer, like Sienna - even swords-training - or a teacher, like Ethelwin wanted to be - even the meditation exercises - or even a bounty hunter, which is what Sweetbriar wanted to be this week.

Austin wasn't sure if Miss Ascha was right; he wasn't even sure if she was being honest or if she was just encouraging them to learn their math and dancing and meditation. But Professor Inazuma and Principal Doomsday agreed with Miss Ascha, yes. Dancing was useful for being a samurai. Addition and subtraction were useful for being a samurai. And science and history were very very useful.

They were his teachers, and Austin was going to have to listen to them if he wanted to be a samurai.
Read more... )
[syndicated profile] askamanager_feed

Posted by Ask a Manager

When you’re managing remote employees, it can take longer to realize when there’s a problem than with employees who you see every day.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about three signs that a remote worker has checked out, and what you can do about it when it happens. You can read it here.

how to know a remote worker has checked out – and what to do about it was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

OTW Fannews: Every Kind of Fan

Sep. 2nd, 2014 10:40 am
otw_staff: Janita OTW Communications Staffer (Janita OTW Communications Staffer)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
OTW Fannews Every Kind of Fan

Women have always been at fancons, if not running them, so TV and films are only now catching up: http://bit.ly/Y8VvHh

ARGH WHY IS BODY CHEMISTRY SO HARD.

Sep. 2nd, 2014 10:49 am
lireavue: A tiger and its reflection drinking water in a still river. (water tiger)
[personal profile] lireavue
This message btyb the discovery that Bengal no longer works on me and in fact goes to powder. Seriously. The only thing that's changed since the last time I was wearing it anything like regularly is (admittedly a rather radical) spike in stress levels, which is apparently enough to kick it out of the works well on skin.

Fortunately it still smells good in the imp, and it was low-priority enough that I hadn't gone out and bought a full bottle, but ARGH GODDAMMIT.

I probably am going to have to suck it up and get a range of imps at this point and see what continues to change. This is fucking ridiculous, body, I liked that scent.

Russian to come in another post later today. I just. GRUMP. This was like the last fucking thing I needed on top of the rest of my fuck-awful weekend.

ETA: fine, no, there will not be Russian following, my body has decided now would be the best of all possible times to ooze blood and other things. Thanks, body. Where's the fucking ibuprofen.

(No, I don't think it's menstrual hormonal change, either, I've tried Bengal on and off for about ten days now and it keeps doing it and this was just the last goddamn straw.)

I require chocolate and a book. Luckily there's a new one of those out today.
[syndicated profile] askamanager_feed

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work in a small office where our desks are stationed together, facing each other. One of my coworkers uses e-cigarettes at her desk and the menthol vapor is very strong. The scent upsets another one of my coworkers and as a person who has cystic lungs, I worry about the effects of the chemicals in the e-cigarettes.

I think it’s great that she quit smoking, but I wonder if it would be worth asking my manager to see if she can take it outside.

Yes. There’s actually a growing movement to ban e-cigarettes from workplaces, because studies show that toxins can be present in the exhaled vapor, and many people report that they aggravate their allergies.

So far, three states (New Jersey, North Dakota, and Utah) include e-cigarettes in their overall workplace smoking bans, and a quickly growing list of cities are banning them in public spaces and offices. Plenty of employers are banning them too, including big ones like General Electric, CVS Caremark, Starbucks, and Target.

It’s entirely reasonable for an employer to include e-cigarettes in their broader smoking policy, and you might suggest to your manager that your workplace do exactly that. They probably just haven’t had the impetus to think about whether and how to address it, but it’s a pretty easy call to make once they do.

should companies let employees use e-cigarettes at their desks? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

[syndicated profile] unfuckurhabitat_feed


pearapple:

Well this is fucking embarrassing to post, but I’m doing it anyway. We’ve had this chair with a growing pile for the last several months. I’m not sure what started it, but it got out of control. Used an unfuck your habitat challenge to get the shit cleaned up. Now to rest and I’ll do another challenge or two tomorrow.

aldersprig: (Briar)
[personal profile] aldersprig
After And We Are Not Monsters.

The girl called Rohanna did not take well to the collar.

Viatrix had sympathy for that. Nobody in their house had ever taken well to submission and, to the girl, they were the enemy. They had stolen her from her crew at hawthorn-point.

What she did not have was tolerance. "No." She knew she was getting sharp, and could not manage to soften her tone. "No, what did I say?"

Rohanna snarled. "If I washed the floor I didn't have to wash the dishes."

"Try again, little mage."
Read more... )

Dry Ice

Sep. 2nd, 2014 02:00 pm
[syndicated profile] goatmilkstuff_feed

Posted by Brett Jonas

The other day, we had a delivery (Graeter’s ice cream, yumm!!) that included some dry ice. After making sure the kids understood that they couldn’t touch the dry ice, they were allowed to do what they wanted with it. They wanted to touch the fog, to feel how cold it was. They wanted to pour it […]
[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Much has been said — and much more should follow — about the militarization of the police in American cities.  The images coming out of Ferguson, MO these past weeks testify to the distribution of military-grade hardware, gear, guns, and vehicles to your everyday police officer.

Here I’d like to focus on just one small part of this distribution of military-grade equipment: the uniform.  It’s not, by a long shot, the most straightforwardly dangerous, but it is a powerful symbol.  It’s a “dead giveaway,” writes a political scientist at Gin & Tacos, that there is something amiss with the “mindset of law enforcement.”  He’s referring to the swapping of blue or tan in favor of camouflage, like in this photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times:

2

From Gin & Tacos:

Of what conceivable practical use could green or desert camouflage be in a suburban environment? Gonna help you blend in with the Taco Bell or the liquor store? Even if they did wear something that helped conceal them, that would be counterproductive to the entire purpose of policing in a situation like that; law enforcement wants to be visible to act as a deterrent to violent or property crimes in a public disturbance.

He concludes that “[t]here is only one reason those cops would wear camo” and, if I can put words in his mouth, it’s to be frightening and intimidating.  And, perhaps, to enjoy being so.

This is clear when we think about the role that camo plays in everyday fashion. For women, it’s a fun appropriation of masculinity.  For men, it’s a way to signal “I’m tough” by reference to hunting or soldiering. What irony, after all, that black men in Ferguson were also photographed wearing camo during the unrest that followed Brown’s death.

3

On their bodies, of course, the camouflage is much more benign.  In contrast, alongside kevlar, automatic rifles, and riot shields on cops, it’s terrifying. It sends a clear message to the people of Ferguson: you are now enemy combatants.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

(View original at http://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

[syndicated profile] unfuckurhabitat_feed




molegirl:

The kids start back at school tomorrow so I’m making a start on the epic house clean I want to do between now and Christmas.

So, one KALLAX and eight DRÖNA later….

Gotta love IKEA. :)

conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I declared that she doesn't have to, so long as she changes into her bathing suit and enters the pool area during her classes.

Jenn wanted to know why, Eva didn't want to tell us, and the whole conversation culminated in Eva stripping off her panties and putting them on her head to simulate a swim cap, before tossing them dramatically on the floor and then striding off. She returned a minute later to hug them, mummering "It's okay Purply" as she did so.

I feel we have gained a new insight into Eva's thought processes.

*****************


Pakistan parliament backs embattled prime minister as crisis deepens

Police abandon posts in Lesotho, fear for lives

As Russia Invades Ukraine, the Kremlin’s Far Right Allies Meet in Yalta

Ukraine's defence minister has accused Russia of launching a "great war" that could claim tens of thousands of lives.

Nato to create high-readiness force to counter Russian threat

Pro-Russia Rebels Say They Will Settle For Autonomy In Ukraine

Baltic States Fear Putin Amid Escalation in Ukraine

Kazakhstan is latest Russian neighbour to feel Putin's chilly nationalist rhetoric

Tiny Genetic Differences between Humans and Other Primates Pervade the Genome

Presence of Bedbugs in Subway Scares Riders, Transit Workers

The Central African Republic’s sectarian civil war has divided a once peaceful nation, and pitted brother against brother.

Nigeria's Boko Haram 'seize' Bama town in Borno

Nigerian Military Failing to Defeat Boko Haram, Report Says

What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa

Scientists Develop Simpler, Cheaper Way to Detect Ebola

Doctors and Nurses Risk Everything to Fight Ebola in West Africa

Trillions of Tiny Plastic Pieces Reside in Arctic Ice

Fast-food workers plan acts of civil disobedience. Another article here.

Burger King has maneuvered to cut U.S. tax bill for years

Gross Photos Show Sewer Workers Battling A 'Fatberg' The Size Of A Boeing 747 Under London

Kurd Rebels Fighting Islamic State Boost Hand for Turk Talks

U.N. to investigate alleged human rights abuses by ISIS

ISIS Turning Old Enemies into Awkward Allies

Captured IS Suicide Bomber Reveals Threat

Somali officials say U.S. struck where al Shabaab were meeting

Taughannock Creek, 8/24/14 (or so)

Sep. 2nd, 2014 09:17 am
aldersprig: (Stormclouds)
[personal profile] aldersprig
Our creek is full of water this year, what with all the rain.

This is up above all the falls, where there's no gorge sides & a much more mellow creek.

Read more... )
[syndicated profile] racialicious_feed

Posted by Racialicious Team

Summer closed with a bang.

Six bangs, to be specific.

The shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson sparked an international uproar. Ferguson, Missouri became the latest chapter in America’s ongoing racial saga, with protests still occurring.

During the break, we followed conversations on Twitter and Tumblr, but we want to hear from you.

How are you feeling?
What does justice look like in Ferguson?
And what happens next, from a racial justice standpoint?

The post Open Thread: Where Do We Go From Here? appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

(no subject)

Sep. 2nd, 2014 08:40 am
the_rck: figure perched in a tree with barren branches (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Not a lot happened for me yesterday. Scott and Cordelia went to the Saline Fair with a friend of Cordelia's and her father. Every year on Labor Day, they have a deal at the fair to let people pay a flat fee ($10 this year) and get an armband that lets them ride anything as many times as they want. From what Scott said, Cordelia and her friend were pretty independent this year, going from ride to ride unaccompanied and only coming back to their fathers when they wanted money for food or drink. The fair isn't huge, so this isn't as big a deal as it might be, but I'm still glad for Cordelia.

In the evening, we went out to Applebee's for dessert. I told Scott that he owed me a dessert for Saturday night when we didn't get one, and he didn't mind going out for that. I always feel like a child when I make requests like that-- I can't drive, so I can't take myself out. I have to depend on Scott, and he's often so exhausted that it feels like a terrible imposition. It feels like, because I can't drive, there're a lot of adult things that I simply can't do.

After getting dessert, we stopped at Busch's for a few grocery items, the things we didn't get on Saturday because it was going to be so long until we got the groceries home. Scott used to go to Busch's for produce and meat and then to Kroger for everything else, but lately, he's just been going to Kroger. I regret that because Busch's produce really is better than Kroger's, but I can see his point. Stopping two different places makes the shopping take longer.

Cordelia got off to school just fine this morning. She was eager to leave and got us out the door about twenty minutes before she absolutely had to be there. She insisted that I come with her because she wanted my help to find her classroom. As it happened, some of her friends were there at the front door, and she decided that she'd just follow them and that she didn't need me after all, so I just went to the office and turned in her paperwork. She refused to carry her own paperwork. She said her backpack was heavy enough as it was. I don't really think that six pieces of paper would have added much weight, but she was adamant.

We still don't know how much lunch will cost. Elementary school kids pay $2.50 for a lunch. Middle school students pay $3.00, but they get more food (and more options). Nobody seems to know whether the sixth graders at Cordelia's school will be paying middle school prices or getting middle school sized meals. I wrote a check for $30, figuring that that's divisible by either $2.50 or $3.00. The secretary said that Cordelia will find out at lunch time. She couldn't offer me any other way of finding out. Hopefully, if the sixth graders get elementary sized meals, they'll take advantage of the salad bar that comes free with every lunch (kids can eat as much from the salad bar as they want).
aldersprig: (BookGlasses)
[personal profile] aldersprig
[livejournal.com profile] lb_lee is hosting a call for prompts on the theme of "service and servitude" here.

Prompting is free; stories can be sponsored to be posted.

Rich fantasy life

Sep. 2nd, 2014 05:44 am
supergee: (reclining)
[personal profile] supergee
I am pathologically vanilla about sex. My attitude towards power and domination is so phobic that I don't want that stuff anywhere near my sex life. The healthy part is that I have no desire to keep others from doing it. Here Cecilia Tan, who writes excellent fiction about BDSM, has written a thoughtful discussion making clear that the line between fantasy and reality defines consent.

"I wish it would go back"

Sep. 2nd, 2014 04:43 am
rosefox: Spock's pointy ear. (ear)
[personal profile] rosefox
It's been 16 weeks since the injection.

Saturday and Sunday I had a weird sort of sensation that felt like static in my head, which may or may not be related to the ear stuff. I was also massively underslept and think that's more likely to be the culprit. But I note it here just in case.

Yesterday and today, my right ear hearing has been occluded slightly; I blamed the storm system that's been squatting over the region giving us all pressure headaches. Today I had a three-hour bout of vertigo, from about 18:45 to about 21:30, mild enough that I had to keep checking to make sure it was still going on but definitely vertigo. Symptoms )

I took two taurine and had substantial food, and it cleared up pretty quickly after that, but I'm quite certain it was neither anxiety nor hunger-dizziness; it was vertigo, and I didn't miss it at all.

I really hope it's just the atmospheric pressure and will go away when the weather breaks. If I need to get an injection in my ear every four months I will be Very Put Out.

SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD

Sep. 2nd, 2014 08:43 am
hunningham: Evil queen with extremely evil grin (Great big grin)
[personal profile] hunningham posting in [community profile] capslock_dreamwidth

IT'S A THING. THERE IS A FISH CALLED THE SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD.

YOU MUST WATCH VIDEO TO THE END, BECAUSE THERE IS A SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD FIGHT.

WHEN SARCASM IS NOT ENOUGH YOU CAN INITIMIDATE YOUR ENEMY WITH YOUR GIANT MOUTH.

There and Back Again

Sep. 2nd, 2014 12:30 am
[syndicated profile] reasonablywell_feed
Gee, guys. I meant to tell y'all where we went; didn't mean to leave that little bit of info out of my last post!

We drove east along the Columbia River gorge till we hit the Blue Mountain range; then went into southern Idaho and Northern Nevada. It was beautiful but very hot and as expected -- very very dry.

When we headed Goldie west and as the climate changed from arid to the wonderful lush Pacific Northwest, I felt my whole body sigh with relief as the moisture rushed back to my eyes and lungs and skin.

So much fun to travel; so many good memories; but so good to be home.


I'm going to take time to rest up for a few days, so to those that have emailed questions to me, I think it would be wise to allow my brain to recover before I respond. Otherwise my answers would be even more silly than usual.

Heading to bed. See y'all tomorrow.
zapbiffpow: (Default)
[personal profile] zapbiffpow posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Man, I loved Scribblenauts Unmasked. It's such a great mixture of stupid, insane, nerdy, childish and awesome.

I retconned Jor-El and Lara into putting baby Kal-El in a helicopter. I made the Justice League fight Flash's Rogues and after there was a flock of magical doves everywhere, and I didn't even summon any magical doves. I had to chop down some trees, so I summoned 'George Washington' and 'axe', and the game basically said, "Correct, PLAYER. Let's go watch some goddamned chopping."

The comic book sequel was also surprisingly fun. A lot of great references in these next four pages, but I've listed the best ones after the cut:


Above: A vigilante is locked in vicious combat. )
ravenna_c_tan: (slytherclaw)
[personal profile] ravenna_c_tan

How The Line Between Fantasy and Reality Defines Consent: And Why It Matters
by Cecilia Tan

This blog post is prompted by two things that happened today. One, a male writer friend I respect a lot and who is clueful about many things including sexuality and feminism asked me: “Serious question: I’d love to hear your thoughts, as a kink-friendly feminist Asian woman, about racial fetishes. Blog post?”

The other is that right before reading his message, I had just gotten email from a reader who wrote: “Anything that makes violence abuse and torture seem more attractive, i.e. associating it with getting off sexually or glorifying in anyway, is keeping us from developing into a more enlightened society” and also “those feminists who think that rape portrayed in any format is okay are just shooting a cause in the foot.” This fan is someone that I met at a BDSM convention and their email to me says they’re okay with common consensual BDSM activities like bondage and flogging and spanking. What prompted their reaction was not the convention, but reading some of my fan fiction that featured “non-con” — non-consensual acts. (If you’re new to me: I’m a professional writer of erotica, romance, and sf/fantasy whose fiction often deals with BDSM. I also write fanfic for fun.)

You might think that someone who was okay with BDSM wouldn’t be able to make a statement like “Anything that makes violence abuse and torture seem more attractive, i.e. associating it with getting off sexually or glorifying in anyway, is keeping us from developing into a more enlightened society.” The point I’d like to make here is not that this particular fan is confused or a hypocrite, it’s to point out that this particular kind of hypocrisy is VERY COMMON. So common perhaps we should say it’s human nature, except then we’d have to accept it instead of trying to change it. And I’m trying to change it. My activism and my creative life for the past 23 years have been built on trying to change it, on the following basis:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

(no subject)

Sep. 1st, 2014 11:29 pm
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
It was a very Cat Lady weekend. I showed my landlord and some of my roommates episodes of My Cat From Hell to let them know how not to pet and handle Emily. My landlord then latched on to cat furniture as his new way to procrastinate from plumbing the dishwasher. Which I have mixed feelings about--I like neat cat stuff, but I would like a working dishwasher.

Anyway, now he wants to make a cat castle using a concrete pour tube.

This weekend I also fitted the cat with soft nail caps, which she regarded as THE GREATEST BETRAYAL EVER PERPETRATED ON CATKIND, OH THE FELINITY. After that she was almost mild about and the new feeder maze, where she has to flick her kibble through different levels before it lands in the slow-feeding trough at the bottom. It addresses a few concerns I've had, since she gobbles her food like she'll never eat again and then shows signs of upset stomach half an hour later. This one leaves her with enough Fuck It that she walks away between mouthfuls, and I know for a fact that she left some food in the trough tonight when we went downstairs when usually her bowl is empty within ten minutes of food being poured.

Though tonight she's gone upstairs for once, after ages of always following me from room to room. I figure this is progress--she used to sleep on the shelf near my window, but last night she was up late making noise so I shut her out of my room, which she did not complain about; and tonight she came downstairs with me, then left her shelf after about half an hour and went back up. I may be codependent and go find her.

Tonight I also ended up dispensing cat advice on Tumblr, after ranting about my roommates' cat-insensitive ways.

Something made me think about and miss Bert this weekend, but I forget what.

Anti-procrastination Tuesday 9/2/14

Sep. 2nd, 2014 12:30 am
sid: (pretty Key and book)
[personal profile] sid posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
Is there something you've been procrastinating on? Something that really needs must be done, but is kind of a pain in the tuckus? Today's challenge is to do That Thing.

Go team, go! We can do it together!

NOTE: Optional 5 minute challenge for those who just do not have the brains for this challenge, because it is just too much. (Which is totally okay.) It seems that there's always something that could use a bit of cleaning in the bathroom, am I right? So sweep up some hair, give the toilet bowl a swish, shine the mirror, have a go at the shower surround. You choose!
lynnoconnacht: A brown-haired girl in a gingham dress looking at the viewer over her shoulder. (!Me blue default)
[personal profile] lynnoconnacht

As my good friend Memory said a few months ago: so many wonderful things begin on Twitter. Like reading a book together and then discussing it. Sometimes they continue on Twitter, but this conversation about the sequel to The Vintner’s Luck wouldn’t quite fit there. (It’s over the character limit. Just a tad. A smidge.) After a nice brief break and then life intervention on both our parts, Memory and I finally managed to align our reading schedules enough to do a buddy read of The Angel’s Cut and so we present to you today, the ensuing discussion. Wherein there is much squeeing and pondering of things. And cats. There are also cats.

The Angel's Cut by Elizabeth KnoxThis is part 2 of our conversation, as a note. Part 1 can be found on Memory’s blog here. (If you’d like to see our conversation about The Vintner’s Luck first, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.)

For those of you who’d like a summary, it is provided below, courtesy of the back cover:

Hollywood, 1929. While Conrad Cole is working late on elaborate plans for his aeroplanes and his films, a mysterious stranger appears at his door. Xas soon finds himself caught up in the glamorous and treacherous world of movie-making and entangled with both Cole and a young woman who owes her life to the eccentric director. Both of them are drawn to Xas without knowing his secret – that under his shirt he hides the remnants of great snowy wings that set him apart from humankind, and that he is destined to wander the earth forever, always hearing the beating of feathers behind him, threatening him that his dark brother has found him again.

The Angel’s Cut will actually stand alone fairly well, so if it sounds like your kind of book, don’t be put off by the fact that it’s a sequel to another book. It will help if you’ve read The Vintner’s Luck because some things will make more immediate sense, but it’s not necessary. I’ll let Memory introduce herself again too:

Hello, Lynn’s readers! I’m Memory, a writer, reader, and watcher of trashy television (and/or movies where lots of stuff blows up). Lynn was one of the first people I met when I jumped into the blogosphere in late 2008, and she’s introduced me to a fair few wonderful books over the years–including THE VINTNER’S LUCK.

And I think that’s it. So with very little further ado… Let’s move on!

!!! REMEMBER! THIS IS PART 2. YOU CAN READ PART 1 HERE. !!!

!!!! HERE BE SPOILERS! THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING! !!!!

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Little Lion Lynnet's.

"Bait and switch"

Sep. 2nd, 2014 12:03 am
rosefox: A sci-fi landscape and the words "DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC". (uppity)
[personal profile] rosefox
Three comics crossed my browser in sufficiently short order that I sat up and took notice. (In all cases, click the image to view the original.)


Transcript )

"You think I'm transphobic... but all I really care about is accurate costuming!"


Transcript )

"You think I'm transphobic... but all I really care about is fashion!"


Transcript )

"You think I'm transphobic... but I'm just mad about you lying to me!"

The punchline in all three cases is that the cisgender authority figure could be an asshole, but is choosing not to be... and they want to make sure the person with no power--the child or employee, the trans* or GNC person--is aware that it's a choice. It's a statement of power. I could make your life miserable, but I won't! Ha ha!

And I want to focus especially on the reaction shots, first distress:



And then elation:



These people are so upset at what sounds like scorn, and then so grateful for what turns out to be (or look like) respect and acceptance, that they don't even notice the way "respect and acceptance" have been recast as gifts rather than as simply what they deserve for being human. The children are particularly vulnerable to this, because few things are more devastating to a child than the threat of a parent's love being withheld. The relief on Sarah's face is heartbreaking.

If respect and acceptance are gifts, rather than a person's birthright, they can be taken back, or bargained for. That makes for a very unpleasant dynamic when it's combined with the dependence of a parent/child or employer/employee relationship. And the emotional weight of that combination is what the creators of these comics are drawing on when they write these jokes.

When the power differential is removed, friends can come out to friends and have it be no big deal:


Transcript )


Transcript )

No tears or glowing relief there--just a brief awkward moment of "So what do we talk about now?".

Or they can talk and argue and say foolish things and learn from each other as equals, as in the Irma/Irving arc from The Princess, which is too long to quote here but is really excellent.

But add the element of power and you get gripping emotional tension. And comics creators are choosing over and over to use that tension to fuel a joke, without really thinking about what it feels like when someone who has a lot of power over you, someone you respect very much and possibly even love, has just said something that sounds a lot like a condemnation of your identity and/or self-expression. That moment is devastating, and no table-turning additional context can redeem the thoughtless cruelty of an authority figure saying something like "Take that off immediately before the neighbors see you!" or "No one will take you seriously" to a person who is in a tremendously vulnerable place.

I will give some leeway to the creator of The Princess, because so much of the comic is about Wendy and Sarah's relationship, and Wendy slowly coming to terms with Sarah being trans. The very first strip was Wendy yelling at Sarah to stop wearing a dress. The comic up there, where she says she's going to donate Sarah's boy clothes, is strip #500. So their relationship is a lot more than a one-off joke, and full credit for that! That said, the ellipsis between panels 3 and 4 is massively unfair to both Sarah and the reader, and so is Wendy's angry tone. Sarah has no happier expectations of "Go straight up to your room and open your closet--" than James/Batgirl has of "Take that off immediately before the neighbors see you!". Her face in panel 3 makes that clear.

As a bonus, in the first two comics we get cis people being experts on how to be trans*/GNC correctly. "You don't want to be wearing the clothes you're wearing! You want to be wearing these other clothes that follow the rules. Poor clueless person who doesn't know how to gender. Since I am fortunate enough to have a lifetime's experience in being exactly one gender, I will help you to learn gendering, for you are like a newborn lamb tottering about on wobbly gender-legs." I'm the first to acknowledge that cis men have provided me with a tremendous amount of useful advice on menswear and I'm very grateful for it, but you know, if someone's first reaction to seeing me in a men's suit was to tell me that it was out of date and also my haircut sucked, I would find that really goddamn rude. So even the "respect and acceptance" isn't, really. What if the employee's tie was his grandfather's and it means a lot to him to wear it? What if Batgirl hates wearing yellow and enjoys walking around in impractical shoes? Why does being accepted mean being pressed to conform to particular dictates of fashion?

Well, because this culture sucks and its notions of gender are inescapably about conforming to gender norms. But perpetuation of that is not acceptance. Especially when it comes to GNC folks, and to people who are just starting down a new path of gender expression and have to maintain two separate wardrobes and are low-level employees who can't afford a lot of new clothes, and to people who have their own fashion sense, and to people--both children and adults, but especially children--who need room to play around and experiment and explore and figure out what they like. That newborn lamb needs to totter about on its own for its legs to get stronger so that it can leap off to wherever it pleases.

Accepting someone as e.g. male doesn't mean crushing them into a tidy little packet of 100% Grade A Extruded Maleness. It means saying "Oh hey, nice haircut, and I like that tie" the way you'd say it to anyone else who cut their hair and wore a tie. It means treating them like an individual person who gets to make individual choices.

I'm not criticizing people for laughing at these strips. I laughed at the Batgirl one, which was the first of the three that I saw. It's very easy to fall into the cultural pattern of thinking this sort of thing is funny, of sharing the trans*/GNC character's relief at not being stepped on like a bug and turning that relief into laughter even as the "respect" comes in the form of a backhanded insult compounded by social pressure that makes it nearly impossible to decline what crumbs are offered. (If the employee really liked his tie and didn't want to change it, do you think he felt free to say so to his very vehement boss? I don't.) But in actual real life, it's not funny. In actual real life, it hurts a lot. In actual real life, it's incredibly unpleasant to have people act like the only two ways to treat you are to either reject you or force you to conform. And the repetition of it really got to me.

I know pain is the root of a lot of comedy. But when this particular pain is made into a punchline over and over again, I have to ask why, and to challenge creators to do better.
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
I've been trying to expand my musical horizons lately: break out of my rut, not be that person who only likes the stuff they liked when they were 17. I mean, I will always love me some butt rock, but why stagnate? So I've been trying different things, on the child feeding principle that you have to try things three or four times before you really know if you like them.

It turns out I enjoy opera! Quite a bit! I guess that's not so surprising considering how much I have always loved prog metal. And I have started listening to country, and discovered that there is a lot to like. One thing about country that especially speaks to me these days: there's a lot of country songs about kids and childrearing. Everything from the sentimentality of "There Goes My Life" or "He Didn't Have To Be" to the bitter humor of "One's On The Way".

And I have also been listening to hip-hop, and before anyone brings up the ~misogyny~ of hip-hop let me tell you a little story about Ray LaMontagne. Because Spotify served me up a Ray LaMontagne song on my country radio - Spotify, by the way, is fantastic if you want to listen to new music! - a quiet, beautiful song called "Like Rock and Roll & Radio" that I immediately fell wildly in love with. I must hear more of this, I thought. So I pulled up the album, started from the beginning, and on the first song the singer expresses his intent to beat his ex-girlfriend like he says her father should have. Your sensitive white people folk music, ladies and gentlemen! It turns out that I am completely used to a certain level of misogyny in my music, that I just grimly live with, and staying under that level, well, it's not hard. Plenty of rap music turns out to easily clear that bar.

But because I'm sort of off sausage fests these days anyway, I went looking for female hip hop artists, and that's what I've been listening to lately. And I've learned a couple of things.

One:
I can get into Angel Haze's flow or Rah Digga's energy as much as I like, but I can never, ever, ever sing along with any of their music. And some of that shit is catchy! This is a problem! This is worse than the time I found myself singing "Uncle Fucker" under my breath at work! And it is, to me, a KEEP OUT sign placed all over the music.

For which I do not in any way blame the artists, mind you: considering that the entire history of music in America is the history of black people coming up with musical forms and white people coming up with ways to take them over and make money off of them, if I were a talented black MC, I would spraypaint THIS IS OUR SHIT, EVERYONE ELSE KEEP OUT all over my work in any way possible.

And, again, I'm totally used to spending all my time playing in other people's sandboxes. For example. Prog metal. Completely infested by the kinds of guys who, as Neal Stephenson wrote, sincerely believe that they are way too smart to be sexist. Let's take a moment to revisit Queensryche's classic concept album Operation: Mindcrime, musically a work of genius, lyrically an unintentionally hilarious celebration of manpain which reaches its nadir when the main character finds the dead body of his beloved, his only friend, the ex-hooker nun who's been providing him social services, and tearfully, rhetorically asks who's going to fix his meals now. …Yeah. Well, that was the soundtrack of my adolescence, so I'm totally used to enjoying music that has enormous IT'S NOT FOR YOU signs plastered all over it. It's not a dealbreaker. I'm happy to live with it. But I don't stop noticing it, either.

Two:
I know hip-hop deals with as many subjects as any other musical genre, but the playlists I am checking out, they seem to be hitting the high points. And the most popular songs in the genre, by female artists, seem to overwhelmingly be about: 1) being sexy at the club; and 2) triumphing over other bitches. And that's not speaking to me. I'm lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I don't really have any bitches that I need to triumph over. Like, not personally. There are lots of people I wish would just die, but that's more for political reasons. And as far as being sexy at the club, I can't remember the last time I was at a club; and I can remember the last time I was sexy, and it was right around when I got pregnant with Rocket, and that was a pretty long time ago in terms of that sort of thing, and I'm not sure that I'll ever be sexy again. And it turns out that listening to all these songs about triumphing at sexy are making me feel worse about myself, in the way of "don't read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly."

Hey, speaking, of which, I have a question: how do you deal with the end of sexy? If you are a member of the sex class, that is the person in the relationship whose body's power of attraction is meant to create desire not only in your partner but also in yourself ("I have to imagine he is fucking you just so I can climax"): how do you deal with it if your looks, your power of attraction, such as it ever may have been, is gone, but you are in what is meant to be a sexual relationship and you would kind of like it to continue as such? Do me a favor and leave aside completely the question of whether this is relevant to me at this very moment. No, I'm serious. If we're lucky enough to live long, if we're lucky enough to have lovers if we want them, it will become relevant if it's not now. I'm not gonna age like Helen Mirren or whoever, I'm gonna age like an ordinary person without massive amounts of plastic surgery, and that means I'm gonna age more like those mysterious things you eventually unearth with horror in the back of the fridge. So how do you have a sexual relationship when your body contains all the sexual magic of old Gorgonzola? Do you decide that it's the other person's turn to be sexy? Can you both just decide that? Do you keep the lights off forever now? Do you try to create a sexual narrative that doesn't include sexiness? How do you do that? Help me figure it out, y'all, I found a white armpit hair in the shower this morning, I need some damn songs about that.
[syndicated profile] askamanager_feed

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How should I handle customer complaints about my coworkers?

I work in an office with 10 coworkers and 2 bosses. There have been problems in the past with issues like backbiting and tattling. I really hate this type of behavior and have promised myself I would not participate in this type of behavior. I have never gone to the boss to “tell” on a coworker; I have always worked any issues out with coworkers, because I myself would hate to be “told on” and get in trouble for something I didn’t even realize I did. The bosses have told us to work things out amongst ourselves anyway. Thankfully, I haven’t really had many problems over the 20 years I’ve been at this office.

Today, though, I saw a client from our office in the community. She had scathing complaints about her treatment at the front desk of our office. (Two people work at the front, the rest of us in the back.) She really was treated poorly, and I feel compelled to do something about her complaint, but I don’t want to tattle to the bosses. However if I go just to the front desk women, I feel like nothing will change except they will treat me badly. I can take it if they hate me, but I don’t want our practice to lose any more clients because of this treatment. I know it’s happened before because other former clients have told me. I really care about our clients and want them to stay. Bottom line, I don’t want to tell the bosses, but they would probably care to know that their practice is losing clients. What are the chances of the 2 front desk women changing the way they treat clients if I’m the only one to say something to them? One has been there for 15 years, and the other, 8 years.

Slim to none, I’d guess. If you want to do something about it, you’ve got to talk with someone with authority over them. And that’s not tattling (a concept that doesn’t really apply here anyway); it’s telling your boss pretty important information that was shared with you that affects the business. When they told you to work things out among yourselves, that presumably referred to interpersonal issues, not to major business priorities or customer concerns.

You noted yourself that your bosses would probably want to know that the practice is losing clients and why. And of course — what business owner wouldn’t? Go say something like this: “Several clients have complained to me recently about their treatment by the front desk staff. I don’t think I have the standing to handle this on my own, so I wanted to simply relay their feedback to you.”

2. Discrimination in hiring

My question is about the possible existence of discrimination (likely some of it subconscious) in hiring. I’m an African American male in my late 30′s with Bachelors of Science in MIS coupled with prestigious certifications (PMP, ITIL, Cisco, Microsoft, Apple etc.) and 19 years of IT experience, 15 of which have been at a managerial level. I’ve also been accepted to a decent school’s college of engineering graduate program, although I haven’t begun yet because it’s expensive to get a masters and I’m unsure of the return on that investment. That being said, I’ve been with the same mid-sized company for quite some time and recently begun to dip my toe into the idea of working somewhere else (maybe somewhere with a tuition reimbursement program). I have a outstanding employment history and educational background but I’ve been getting rejection letters stating basically that I’m not qualified to be an IT manager or IT project manager when that’s what I do.

I tend to be on the positive “can do” side of thinking, I’m smart, competent, and have a demeanor that makes my customers and employees feel at ease around me. Lately my confidence has been starting to waver though because of these rejection letters before an interview. I’m not one to typically racialize things but it’s hard not to think something is up when you have a “usually” African American name and on most online applications they ask you what your racial box is. I don’t want to sound like I think I’m owed a job, but I only apply to things that are genuinely in my wheelhouse and I think I would at least make it to the interview pool of candidates. When you read about these blind experiments that African Americans are 50% less likely to be called for an interview and you know you’re employable with a strong and clean background, and it happens over and over again, you really start to wonder. So, my question for you is: is there a conscious or subconscious devaluing that can take place when a African American male applies for a managerial positions – a tax so to speak? I realize this can be a complex or awkward question to ask.

Ugh, yes. You’ve got two tricky factors in play here: First, that racial bias does still existing in hiring, and second, that the job market sucks.

On the first one, research is very clear that racial bias still occurs in hiring. It’s more likely these days to be unconscious than conscious — which actually can make it harder to combat, since people who are convinced they’re unbiased can be resistant to reexamining their own preferences.

But you’ve also got to factor in the second point: Loads of great, well-qualified candidates get tons of those rejection letters, regardless of race or other possible areas of discrimination. It’s a reality of the job market — great people get rejected all the time. And I think you might be taking the wording of the letters too literally — they don’t really mean that you’re not qualified; they mean that they’re talking to other candidates who they’ve decided are more qualified. (And sometimes “more qualified” really means “we had 30 great candidates and only time to talk to five of them.”)

So what do you do with all that? What I’d focus on in your shoes would be first making sure that your application materials are as kick-ass as they can be (since most people’s are lackluster, statistically speaking there’s a good chance that yours could be stronger too) and then networking the hell out of your network. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and good luck.

3. My colleagues don’t want me rinsing my breast pump in the kitchen

I recently returned from maternity leave to my job at a law firm, and am breastfeeding, so I need to pump twice a day. So far, they have done a fabulous job of accommodating this. I’ve been provided an empty office with a couch right next to my shared office, and have been told it’s mine to use whenever I need, for as long as I need. Until a few days ago, my routine after pumping was to pack up everything is my discreet, purse-like pumping bag; walk two doors down to our kitchen nook to rinse my plastic pump attachments in the sink; wrap said attachments in a towel; and bring them back to my desk.

Well, several days ago, one of my bosses pulled me into her office and said she had received complaints about me rinsing out my attachments in the kitchen sink, and asked me to instead use the sink in the shower room at the opposite end of my floor. She assured me that I shouldn’t feel bad, but “some people are just really freaked out by breastfeeding.”

Now, part of me feels badly that I made anyone uncomfortable, but the other part of me is rolling my eyes and thinking they need to get over it. Admittedly, I’m very desensitized to all things nursing-related. In addition to this being the second baby I’ve breastfed, I have many girlfriends and family members who breastfeed as well, so I’m around it all the time. Therefore, if I saw a coworker rinsing out pump parts in the sink, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash (here is what the attachments look like, in case you’re unfamiliar). However, I can appreciate that nursing has only recently re-emerged as mainstream, and some of the older attorneys and secretaries I work with may not be used to it.

What do you and your readers think? I don’t plan on pushing back on this, since the only real hardship it’s causing is an extra long walk to the other sink. I’d just be interested in your thoughts, and am very open to perspectives that differ from mine.

Lame, lame, lame. Lame of the people who complained, and even more lame of your boss to pass their complaints along to you rather than telling them that the company supports nursing moms and to get over it.

4. Can I ask for relocation assistance if I’ve already relocated?

I recently (one month ago) relocated to a large city in an effort to secure a job. I have an interview scheduled this week, and the job posting for this position indicates that relocation assistance is offered to the right candidate.

Can I/should I still ask for relo assistance even though I have already relocated? I am living temporarily with my brother until I can get a job and find a home. Wondering if I can ask for assistance to move closer to the job site since this is still a long commute from my brother’s house.

Generally no, relocation assistance isn’t retroactive. It’s provided to make it possible for you to move to accept a job. Since you’ve already made your move, it wouldn’t normally come into play.

Asking to use it to shorten an otherwise long commute could be reasonable, depending on how long of a commute we’re talking about. But it sounds like you’re planning to move out of your brother’s house regardless, once you have a job, so I’m not sure there’s an argument for relocation help here that is going to make sense to an employer.

5. Are these bad signs?

Generally, if the hiring manager does not ask for your references or does not give you a business card or does not return your thank-you email, are these all bad signs?

Nope, these are normal things that don’t mean anything either way. Some employers don’t check references at all, or reach out later in the process for them. Some people don’t even have business cards anymore, or don’t use them much. And thank-you’s aren’t typically meant to be replied to. So there’s nothing here to read into — and you will be much happier if you put this job out of your mind and move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they contact you.

how to handle customer complaints about coworkers, discrimination in hiring, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Sep. 2nd, 2014 02:47 am
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Posted by Patrick Non-White

SCIENCE IN THE HANDS OF ANGRY LIBERAL ARTS MAJORS:  That DOJ attorneys are threatening scientists with criminal prosecution for the "return" of Kennewick Man, to Indian tribes whose ancestors were in Siberia when he died, is disgraceful. If only the Tsar knew what evil his ministers are doing.

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