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 Vashta Nerada were swarming, carnivorous beings. The name meant "the Shadows that melt the flesh".

They appeared in the Doctor Who series as sinister beings of shadow. I saw the picture below and thought of them.

It's not safe for work, people scared of nudity, or inhabitants of repressive theocracies.
You Have Been Warned! )
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 LINK to as Gail Simone's blog.   Gail is a comic book writer who was responsible for the highly influential "Women in Refrigerators" analysis of how badly female characters were treated in comic books.   She is one of the best writers out there today.

The blog is a fine read generally, but I felt I had to repost this entry as it contains a fine fine insight into the craft of writing:

Gail's words after the cut )
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Damon Fowler, an atheist student at Bastrop High School in Louisiana, was about to graduate. His public school was planning to have a prayer as part of the graduation ceremony: as they traditionally did, as so many public schools around the country do every year. But Fowler -- knowing that government-sponsored prayer in the public schools is unconstitutional and legally forbidden -- contacted the school superintendent to let him know that he opposed the prayer, and would be contacting the ACLU if it happened. The school -- at first, anyway -- agreed, and canceled the prayer.

Then Fowler's name, and his role in this incident, was leaked. As a direct result:

1) Fowler has been hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community.

2) One of Fowler's teachers has publicly demeaned him.

3) Fowler has been physically threatened. Students have threatened to "jump him" at graduation practice, and he has received multiple threats of bodily harm, and even death threats.

4) Fowler's parents have cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and thrown his belongings onto the front porch.


A student's public prayer at a pre-graduation "Class Night" event was turned into an opportunity for the school and community to gang up on Fowler and publicly close ranks against him -- teachers as well as students. (Here's video). And people seen defending him have been targeted as well.
What next?   Believers in Goblins insisting that school graduations take place in caves?  Believers in unicorns laying out golden straw for the creatures to eat during the prizegiving.
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Operation Geronimo photograph Oceania leadership maldeveloped, refs female comrades, rectify 

Inner Party member Clinton's image corrected from original, unpresent, female comrades unacceptable in powerposition to Hasidic prolefeed

Crimethink original shown below

Crossposted from my [ profile] 1984minitrue community because it's so awesome

My Shadow

May. 8th, 2011 04:04 pm
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I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed. 

- Robert Louis Stephenson
finncullen: (1984)
Driving home tonight from my place of gainful employment I decided to entertain myself by listening to the opening of 1984 once more.    It's one of my favourite books, and I'd been told that one of my online buddies [ profile] phloxflammula  had just started reading it.   To gain a vicarious share in the experience I did some deft thumb work on my iphone which serves as my in car entertainment system and fired up my Bookmark App to play the audiobook.

Bizarrely it was starting at Chapter Four - the second of the 10 mp3 files that make up the audiobook.   I did the dangerous alternating between watching the road and stealing momentary glances down as my left thumb tried to "rewind" the audiobook... to no avail.   It stubbornly seemed to consider Chapter Four to be the opening.

I abandoned the thumb-work at this point.   I could have tried to use the spiffy voice-control features but I never trusted them.   Once I'd had to brake sharply when a group of children had dashed out in front of me in the road, I swore 'fucking kids' under my breath, and my ipod started playing a Michael Jackson medley.   Make of that what you will.

Anyway this evening I tinkered with my iTunes to discover what had caused the problem.   Apparently of its own accord my iTunes folder had decided that the author of chapters one to three of 1984 was not in fact George Orwell, but Eddie Van Halen.
I managed to correct the problem, but am left wondering as to whether some Van Halen fan somewhere in  the world is now listening to their seminal rock album Down and Out in London and Paris
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Before Gauguin brought his work in Tahiti to a close, he shifted from his symbolist pictorial agenda in order to focus on the beauty and serene virtues of the native women. In this painting, he depended on sculpturally modeled forms, gesture, and facial expression to vivify the sentiments he had used to describe the "Tahitian Eve": "very subtle, very knowing in her naïveté" and at the same time "still capable of walking around naked without shame."

Source: Paul Gauguin: Two Tahitian Women (49.58.1) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Well they may have thought they were without shame.. and Gaugin may have thought they were without shame.. but Susan Burns a 53 year old from the state of Virginia in the former colonies decided otherwise.    She attacked the painting, thankfully unsuccessfully, in an attempt to destroy it because:

"I feel that Gauguin is evil...He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it's very homosexual."

Lackwitted old trollop.

finncullen: (1984)
I've decided to indulge my interest in matters relating to brainwashing, cults, propaganda and the inter-relationship between thought, language and society in a new LJ community.

All are welcome to read, join, contribute as they see fit.

[ profile] 1984minitrue  
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mumble mumble I went to the talkie picture theatre place yesterday to see the new version of "True Grit"

I was favourably impressed.   The talkie was based on the original novel rather than being a remake of the 1969 John Wayne movie, and it showed.   The writing and characterisation were much more authentic, and the storytelling was well paced and thankfully lacked the Hollywoodisms that could so easily have crept in.

Two things in particular stood out.

Firstly the dialogue was an absolute joy to listen to.   It was authentic nineteenth century American idiom, not the macho moron dialogue of many "Westerns".    I saw that one blogger had commented that the dialogue seemed out of place and made the talkie seem "like a period piece."   Well, sorry to burst your insular cultural bubble, but 19th century Western stories *are* period pieces.   Just because something doesn't take place in a Georgian ballroom doesn't change that.      It has an eloquence, a formality and a musicality that enchanted me and is credibly reminiscent of the writing and letters of the period portrayed.

It is the same idea as a coon hunt. You are just trying to make your work sound harder than it is. Here is the money. I aim to get Tom Chaney and if you are not game I will find somebody who is game. All I have heard out of you so far is talk. I know you can drink whiskey and snore and spit and wallow in filth and bemoan your station. The rest has been braggadocio. They told me you had grit and that is why I came to you. I am not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need and more at the Monarch Boarding House.

The second thing that stood out was the lead actress (who delivered the lines quoted above).  Hailee Steinfeld plays MattieRoss beautifully.  She is a well educated and determined fourteen year old who in the words of other characters in the talkie "doesn't give out much sugar" and "doesn't varnish her words" - forthright does not begin to cover it.     The scene where she browbeats and haggles with a veteran horsetrader and walks away with everything she wanted is masterful.   Just how masterful is reflected in a later scene when she asks one of the horsetrader's employees to thank his employer for a fine horse.   His response

Can't do that Miss, I'm forbidden to ever mention your name  

She is an awesome character who reminds me a little of Pratchett's Tiffany Aching, except without the magic.

I recommend True Grit to anyone.
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A quick update of surpassing brevity.

I went to the cinematograph yesterday with a friend of surpassing tolerance in order to see "The King's Speech" which has been receiving rave reviews.  I hereby add my own rave.   It's brilliant.  Beautifully acted throughout and amazingly involving.   No shotguns, car-chases or sex scenes.. and still entirely magnificent.     The story of Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) and his struggle against the crippling speech defect that hamstrung his public appearances.   Thoroughly thoroughly compelling.  Go see it.

Prior to going into the viewing chamber thing (I am not up on the parlance of such places) I was compelled to mingle in the outer area where tickets and overpriced comestibles were being purveyed.   My eyes were caught by a splendid pair of what the indelicate may call "legs" and I naturally glanced a little closer.    Finn is somewhat of a "leg man" (if any classification is required) and was intrigued to see who owned this remarkably shapely and well presented pair.   Alarmingly the upper body and face of the owner were undeniably and unattractively male.   The gentleman in question had a bad blonde wig, a muscle-shirt, brawny arms, a short red skirt, nice legs in black tights (pantyhose to any colonial readers) and red high-heeled shoes.   He was there with his girlfriend judging by the way they were interacting.      Good for him, says the tolerant liberal part of my socially conscious brain, and viva diversity.   But the older brain-stem male part of my brain is still running round in circles whining in alarm at momentarily ogling him.

Finally I am very grumpy with my face.   Not in the usual way, which the citalopram seems to be taking care of, but because I have developed a couple of patches of ridiculously dry and fragile skin beneath my eyes (the route along which a cartoonist would draw tears falling).   I found myself scratching these the other morning before I got out of bed and by the time I got downstairs to the bathrooom the bloody things were weeping blood which continued for most of the day on and off.   Not nice.  I may have to hand back my Mister Adonis (UK) sash if this goes on, and heaven knows what it will do to my career as a male model.
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Come my own one, come my fair one,
Come now unto me,
Could you fancy a poor sailor lad
Who has just come from sea.

You are ragged love, you are dirty love,
And your clothes smell much of tar,
So be gone you saucy sailor lad,
So be gone you Jack Tar.

If I am ragged love and I am dirty love,
And my clothes smell much of tar,
I have silver in my pocket love
And gold in great store.

And then when she heard him say so
On her bended knees she fell,
I will marry my dear Henry
For I love a sailor lad so well.

Do you think that I am foolish love,
Do you think that I am mad,
For to wed with a poor country girl
Where no fortune's to be had.

I will cross the briny ocean,
I will whistle and sing,
And since you have refused the offer love
Some other girl shall wear the ring.

I am frolicsome, I am easy,
Good tempered and free,
And I don't give a single pin my boys
What the world thinks of me. 
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Exploring in my house one dusty day,
I came across a chest, and from it took,
A Thousand Nights and One, a gilded book,
And sitting on the floor I turned each page
Uncovering within a Sultan grim
Who slew each day a wife who wearied him

And one fair wife, Scheherezade by name
A wise young girl, who desperate and bold
Would save her life each day by stories told
Each night she would begin another tale
And rapt the Sultan listened then enthralled
Until the cry for morning prayer was called

There she would stop, and leave the end untold
So thus enthralled the Sultan spared his wife
From death upon the slayer’s bloody knife
Next evening he would beg the ending made,
And she’d oblige, and then she would begin
Once more a story delicate to spin

I closed the book and frowned, and certain knew
My place within that tale. The truth is hard;
I am the Sultan. I Scheherezade.
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In November 2009, a young mother of four children was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona for an emergency abortion. The doctors who cared for her at the Catholic hospital determined that without the emergency abortion, she likely would have died. From a letter sent by the ACLU in July of 2010 about the case:

The woman was eleven weeks pregnant and suffered from life-threatening pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. As her condition worsened, the hospital diagnosed her with right-sided heart failure and cardiogenic shock, and determined that she would almost certainly die unless she terminated the pregnancy.

I'm sure her husband and children are forever grateful to the surgeons and physicians who saved the life of this woman, a wife and mother.
Not so the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, however.

After the life-saving procedure was performed Bishop Thomas Olmstead of the Diocese demoted Sister Mary McBride who acted as the liasion between the hospital Ethics Committee and the physicians. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed with the decision.

Now, in a letter revealed in the media today, Bishop Olmstead is not only castigating Catholic Healthcare West, the group that runs St. Joseph's Hospital, for saving her life but threatening them in order to force them to promise that doctors will never save a woman's life if it requires an emergency abortion ever again.

In a letter (PDF) to Lloyd H. Dean, President of Catholic Healthcare West, Bishop Olmstead calls the life-saving procedure "morally wrong" even though he doesn't deny that it almost certainly saved her life. The ACLU notes that he then "threatens to remove his endorsement of the hospital unless CHW "acknowledge[s] in writing that the medical procedure that resulted in the abortion at St. Josephs' Hospital was a violation" of the policy that governs all Catholic hospitals and "will never occur again at St. Joseph's Hospital."

From the letter it seems as if Dean and CHW have stuck to their position that not only were their actions moral and just, in this circumstance, but that they certainly would not promise not to save a woman's life or health if presented with a similar case in the future. In fact, they presented both religious and moral ethicists' opinions as support for the hospital's actions.

On what planet does Bishop Omstead live that saving the life of a mother of four is unacceptable on a moral or religious scale?
The ACLU claims that Olmstead's insistence that the hospital must never provide an emergency abortion procedure is actually a violation of federal law. Alexi Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement this week:

"Religiously affiliated hospitals are not exempt from federal laws that protect a patient's right to receive emergency care, and cannot invoke their religious status to jeopardize the health and lives of pregnant women. Women should never have to be afraid that they will be denied life-saving medical care when they enter a hospital."

The federal law, in specific, to which Kolbi Molinas refers is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The law protects patients' rights to receive emergency reproductive health care and Catholic hospitals cannot opt out. The law is necessary given that Catholic hospitals operate 15 percent of all hospital beds, according to the ACLU, and may likely provide the only or closest emergency care in a region. In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in July 2010, the ACLU requests an investigation into violations of the federal law - not only as a result of the incident at St. Joseph's but after numerous reports of horrendous scenarios:
We know that what happened at St. Joseph's was not an isolated incident. Catholic-owned hospitals across the country have refused to provide emergency abortions, as documented in a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health. For example, a doctor in the Northeast decided to leave a Catholic-owned hospital after he was forced by the hospital's ethics committee to risk a pregnant patient's life. The woman was in the process of miscarrying at 19 weeks of pregnancy. She was dying: her temperature was 106 degrees, she had disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, which is a life-threatening condition that prevents a person's blood from clotting normally and causes excessive bleeding. This patient was bleeding so badly that the sclera, the whites of her eyes, were red, filled with blood. Despite the fact that there was no chance the fetus could survive, the ethics committee told the doctor that he could not perform the abortion the woman needed to save her life until the fetus's heartbeat stopped. After the delay, the patient was in the Intensive Care Unit for 10 days, and developed pulmonary disease, resulting in lifetime oxygen dependency.

Still, Bishop Olmstead and the Roman Catholic Diocese are steadfast in their insistence that physicians and hospital administrators acted immorally when they saved the life of a pregnant mother of four children and are determined to ensure that pregnant women are not safe in the hands of Catholic hospitals across the country. 
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Bold the ones you've seen stage productions of, italicize the ones you've seen movies of, underline the ones you've read or listened to, and add a star to any you've performed in, done readings of, or in which you've otherwise theatrically participated.

All's Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, Part I
Henry IV, Part II
Henry V
Henry VI, Part I
Henry VI, Part II
Henry VI, Part III
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love's Labour's Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado about Nothing


Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew

The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Two Noble Kinsmen
The Winter's Tale 


Dec. 4th, 2010 10:22 pm
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 I, as I woke the other day,
Recalled a dream my face was clay
That I could smooth it all away 
And start again

And then of course my waking mind
Explored the dream, to try to find,
What face I could have redesigned
In such a way

Should I craft a lover's eyes
Gentle, yearning, drawing sighs,
Or gleaming, scheming parting thighs
For sportive play?

Or should I carve a regal brow,
Patrician, potent, showing how 
A god strode among mortals now
With power plain

Or should I change it hour by hour
Now smiling joy, now dismal glower,
Now saintly bliss, now lust for power
All on a whim

Thank God this dream can never be
I cannot choose what they shall see
For each new man would not be me
So I remain
finncullen: (Default)
This is a portmanteau post in many ways- a few things recently have been prompting me to update my LJ but nothing worthy of a full fledged post, so I'm just bundling them together here.

Read more... )
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