quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
So because it's been so long since my last entry, and since so much has happened between then and now, I'm splitting this update into three posts. This first one is going to be about work-related stuff.

••• The autism nonprofit where I work has been putting together an employment pilot program over the past few months now. What this program will do is train autistic adults with little to no work history in mid-level jobs, with the ultimate goal of getting them competitive employment in a workplace where disabled and non-disabled people work together. In that way it's sort of based off of places like Roses For Autism, the Walgreens distribution centers, and Specialisterne, which give autistic adults more fulfilling jobs where they can actually use their skills, instead of the kinds of menial entry-level jobs they get "stuck" in by adult day centers and state vocational rehab agencies (like BRS, who I've talked about before). Right now the pilot project has hired a data analytics firm that specializes in patent research to train three people to be research assistants; I really don't know much else as to what's been going on, but from what little I've heard it's doing fairly well, despite the mistakes and mismanagement you'd expect when a big thing like this is just starting out.

I was supposed to be a part of this program; I even had an interview last December with the president of our board of directors, who's also the lead principal of the headhunter agency that's coordinating this program with us (and whose office is just upstairs from ours). And I've heard absolutely nothing since then. XPPP Which makes me a little peeved, because even though patent research doesn't sound like a field I want to get into, I could really use something where I can gain job skills and experience, and make more money than I have been right now. I did get a chance to talk to her last week, though, and she said that not only does the training take longer than she thought (six months instead of three), but they can only train two people at any given time, and it might be a few more months before they find a place for me in the project. Obviously I don't like not knowing when I'll be starting, but in reality it doesn't bother me at all because, as you'll soon see, I've been busy with lots of other things. ^_^;

In the meantime, the project needs grant money in order for it to actually work, and I was told to research facts and statistics about adults with autism and employment so they'd be that much more likely to receive an award. And, well.....I should probably just leave the results of that research here, because I think it just says it all. I kinda figured the job situation for autistic adults was bad -- it is for people of all kinds of disabilities, after all -- but I didn't realize it was this bad. Like, there are some estimates out there saying the unemployment rate for autistic adults is 90%? WTF?! Many of them are perfectly capable of holding down good jobs, and in some cases their autism gives them skills and advantages over neurotypical people; all they need, in essence, is some support and accommodations, but employers too often treat them as if they don't even exist. >_< I could go on, especially about how full inclusion is good for both the employee and the employer, but I think the outline I linked above should help explain that. What really gets me, though, is how little this is being talked about right now -- sure, there are a few articles about it here and there, and NBC Dateline did do a report on autistic adults the weekend before last [autoplay], but with 50,000 autistic kids turning 18 in the U.S. each year (and with this number likely to increase as ASD diagnoses do), this is going to become a serious social policy problem before long. But not as many people care because it's not as charismatic or controversial as, say, rape on college campuses or police brutality against black people. >_>;

(Unfortunately, I've gathered that we haven't gotten much grant money thus far, and it seems that the bill in the state legislature that would help fund our program is stuck in limbo. I just really hope our luck changes soon enough. =_=;)

••• While I was doing research for the pilot program, I came across something in San Francisco called the "Autism Job Club." It's a group of autistic adults who are unemployed or underemployed, who meet once a month to go over things like networking, interview skills, how to dress appropriately, how to get along with coworkers, etc., as well as share job leads and moral support. From what I can tell, sometimes they also bring in guest speakers, employers, and headhunters who are looking to hire adults with autism, or who need a little convincing that it would be a good idea. I found this to be really intriguing, especially since I couldn't think of anything quite like it near where I live. I mean, I go to a support group for young men on the autism spectrum once a month, but it's very informal and deals with a wide range of topics, not just jobs; and between adult day services, vocational rehab, and projects like the ones I mentioned earlier, there are many programs out there to help get people employed. But something that functions as both a support and a networking group, where people are there specifically to talk about employment, which they can't attain despite it being probably the most important way to help them? Something that could be really helpful to lots of people? Nope, nothing.

So I thought to myself, well, what if I helped start one?

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon, and I'm at the Yale Child Study Center meeting with both this woman, who just started a program for young women with autism that would train and then place them in various jobs, and the director of student services at the UConn Law School, who is also a co-director for a consulting firm that helps autistic students be successful in college. They were really interested to hear my idea, and we bounced ideas off each other to see how well a "job club" like this would work. Long story short, I'm going to spearhead this project, the two people I met last week will be providing me with names and e-mail address so I can put together a mailing list, and the first meeting will likely be within the next couple of months, at the absolute latest.

Guys. You guys. I have never done anything like this before. I wouldn't have minded if I helped start something like this, but I didn't think I'd end up being, you know.....in charge or anything. O_o; Still, I'm very excited about all this! This has the potential to turn into something really big, with multiple groups throughout the state or even a foray into activism. But of course, things like this have to start small and slow in the beginning, and it all depends on the needs of the people who actually show up. Oh man, I just really hope this turns out well; after all, this has the potential of helping lots of people (including myself! XD) who otherwise wouldn't get it. Wish me luck! :D

(BTW, the guy who wrote the article I linked to above co-wrote a book called The Autism Job Club: The Neurodiverse Workforce in the New Normal of Employment, which came out just last month. I read it last week and I highly recommend it! It's a great introduction into the issues autistic adults face when it comes to employment, and even if you're not autistic yourself, it still has a lot of intriguing [if depressing] information about the changing nature of employment in the U.S. in general -- namely, how a single, full-time job is becoming a thing of the past, and how most young people today will have to work multiple, short-term jobs throughout their "career.")

••• As far as the BRS stuff goes, I finally managed to do a work evaluation! That's the good news. The bad news is that it didn't go as well as I hoped.

I worked at the Meigs Point Nature Center in Madison, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for the last three weeks in February, for a total of 40 hours. The job coach and I spent the first week learning about the animals that live there and how to take care of them -- feeding them, cleaning their cages, etc. It was actually quite interesting working with them, and by the end I was way more comfortable handling the snakes, but after it was all said and done I realized it wasn't something I wanted to spend my life doing. (I kinda already knew that beforehand, but it was nice to know with absolute certainty. ^_^;) Most of the rest of the time was spent on my main project, which involved the educational programs they put together for school groups, kids' birthday parties, etc. There have a variety of "scripts" the people who work there use when they give their presentations, with talking points about the animals (or the habitats they live in) and how to demonstrate certain things to the kids; my job was to turn these scripts into outline form so it'd be easier for volunteers to learn, and to flesh them out with information we'd gather from the Internet.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it was, but it wasn't without problems. Editing the "scripts" was one of those projects they'd been meaning to do for a long time now, but because there are only two paid employees there and they had their hands full actually running the place, it kept getting put off. Not that it was a big priority in the first place, if you think about it. And the director, who was otherwise very nice and helpful to us, wasn't clear at all about what it was exactly he wanted us to do or how to do it, which made me suspect he didn't know and couldn't be bothered to figure it out. After all, he had places to go and TV appearances to make, and he was so laid-back and scatterbrained that it wasn't unusual for him to go a week or more without returning my job coach's phone calls. Not to mention the Internet connection at the place sucked, and the only other computer in the building we were allowed to use had no Internet access at all, so I had to go to my job coach's house nearby for a day to work. Eventually we figured something out, but I was still immensely frustrated with the experience. It felt like I was just doing busy work rather than anything meaningful. Between that and the not-fun of working with the animals, it really soured me on having any sort of job at a nature center in general.

And that wasn't even the worst part of it all.

The Sunday after my first week there ended (the 15th), there was a big snowstorm that forced the center to close, and since they're normally closed on Mondays they were closed the next day too. That Sunday, a window in the main room blew out, causing the snow, wind, and cold to get inside and move tables, knock things over, etc. A pipe on the main floor also burst, which meant there was a little bit of flooding too. It wasn't until the director came in that Tuesday morning that anyone knew how bad things got.

24 animals died. 30 if you include the fish.

So not only did the director and his assistant have to deal with the fallout -- you could tell they were deeply affected by it because they had come to develop an affinity for those animals, and I can only imagine the responsibility they felt toward them -- but they also had to clean up as quickly as they could and pretend nothing ever happened. Most of the animals that died were rescues and rehabs with backstories, such as their unofficial mascot, a 46-year-old box turtle named Merlin who was hit by a car two decades ago. It certainly explains some of the director's scatterbrained-ness, at least, so I don't want to be too hard on the guy.

But the more I think of it, the more I think he acted somewhat irresponsibly by not doing enough to prevent it from happening. If you run a place where animals who can't fend for themselves live, and you need to close it down due to a snowstorm, the very least you could do is have someone check in on them regularly to see if they're okay, or prevent more animals from getting hurt or killed in case of an accident. Hell, at the animal shelter near me, sometimes people will volunteer to be snowed in so that they can keep the pets safe. Or have the windows wired to an alarm in case they break, not just the doors, even if you have a tight budget. If part of the purpose of a nature center is to protect wild animals, you should, you know, protect them. >:[

Oh well. I did get to see wild harbor seals for the first time, though, and I got paid minimum wage for my time, so it wasn't a complete wash.

••• I still look for other jobs now and again, and I've managed to get a side gig! Last November I applied for a work-from-home research assistant position at a place in New York called Outcast Films, which distributes documentaries to the educational market, with an emphasis on connecting audiences directly with filmmakers. When I didn't hear back from them at first, I thought the job had already been filled or they didn't think I was qualified enough, because that's usually what happens when you don't get a reply to your application. But a month later, out of the blue the executive director e-mailed me, saying she got my application and was reviewing it. After another month without hearing back from her, I e-mailed a follow-up -- I really did want this job because it seemed right up my alley, I could use the extra money, and it wasn't as if anyone told me no, right? XD I waited yet another month before the ED replied back.

Two phone interviews and a Skype call later, and she wants to hire me! All I'm waiting on is the contract I'll need to sign to make it official, although my parents want me to see an attorney to look it over before I do. The ED has been very busy; the company started off as a distributor of LGBT films until the Internet made it easier for filmmakers to distribute their work directly to their audiences, so lately they've been doing some restructuring to stay in business. Plus, they're working on acquiring two more films, and the ED wants to acquire six films within the next six months. Once they get some new documentaries, my job will be to look for teachers, professors, libraries, etc. that might be interested in screening them. I'd also be writing one-page outlines called SWOTs, which stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (Where would be the best places to screen this move? Who should we market this to?), and Trends/Threats (How "hot" is this topic? What competition does this film have?); I've already done one, which the ED was actually quite impressed with. :D

Once I start getting some work, I'd be working about five hours a week on an independent contractor basis, making $15/hour, and if I enjoy the job and the ED sees what I'm capable of, it might go up to 20 hours per week. She's really looking for someone who'll "grow with the company" because it's extremely small right now; I don't know how well I'd fit that expectation since I'm looking to get more work at my current job, but there's not much I can do about that right now except wait and see. I really hope it goes well. ^_^;

••• I've had a couple of other interviews as well; some of them were for this place in New Haven called Next Step Living, which conducts assessments of people's homes to see how they can become more eco-friendly and cheaper to maintain, and then sells solar panels, windows, HVAC systems, and anything else that would help with that. I really liked their business model, and I got excited because they were the first to reply to my application. But then I realized I had applied to, well.....sales jobs. As in working on commission, long work weeks, weird hours, traveling long distances, and risking getting doors slammed in my face after showing up on people's doorsteps unannounced. Nope, I am not cut out to sell my soul for that line of work. I still had two phone interviews and one in-person interview because, hey, I could use the practice, but I was okay when they told me I was passed up for the job.

I also had a Skype interview for an internship at a place in Massachusetts called the Dare Institute, which does a lot of psychological research, especially involving autism. And that went somewhat.....bizarre, actually.

My interview was with the founder and co-director -- if by "interview" you mean him rambling off-topic, dropping names and concepts I had never heard of left and right, and me hardly getting a word in edgewise. My job would've been to help market what they called a "developmental task sequence" to autism schools and centers around the country, and then collect the data from those who use it to see how well it works, and if it can be used to detect autism in infants and toddlers. It sounded vaguely interest, and I admit the prospect of having my name attached to a published academic paper was tempting, but the guy had a lot of opinions that were stuck in the 1960s:

  • He's spent so much of his long career working with autistic kids with severe symptoms and serious behavior issues, that I can't help but think it's colored his idea of what autism actually is. I don't doubt that consciously he knows autism is a spectrum disorder (meaning it manifests differently in everyone who has it), but anytime he mentioned autism, in the same breath he would talk about headbanging, violent behavior, criminal activity, etc. It's almost as if he felt a person severely impacted with autism automatically meant they were extremely unstable time bombs with very low IQs. Some fit that profile, but many don't.

  • He thinks the term "developmentally disabled" is too "politically correct" and thinks "retarded," "slow," or "developmentally challenged" are more accurate descriptions. According to him, people with DD don't develop any differently than "normal" people, just slower than average, and it's ~~~very important~~~ to make sure they catch up. Because it's not like it's discriminatory to assume there's more than one "right" way for a person to develop or anything.

  • Worst of all, he has a lot of connections with people who work at the Judge Rotenberg Center, and has done a lot of work in conjunction with them. For those of you who don't know, the JRC is a school in Massachusetts that treats students with emotional issues and DDs like autism; they're one of the few schools in the U.S. that use aversives to condition students to stop behaving in certain ways, and the only one that uses electric shocks on a person's skin as a form of punishment. Yes, "treatments" like this are still being practiced in 2015, and many disability advocates have tried for years to shut it down. Dr. Commons, however, thinks that skin shocks are more humane and ethical than medication, because medication can have severe side effects. Never mind, of course, that using skin shocks will likely give the student PTSD, and in order to treat that they'll probably have to take medication anyway. Then again, he's a very strict behaviorist a la B.F. Skinner, and applied behavior analysis as a treatment for autism is fraught with many, many problems.


After all this, I wouldn't have taken the internship anyway, but the fact that a.) it was unpaid, and b.) it would require me to actually be in Cambridge while doing it, made my decision a hell of a lot easier.

••• Last but not least, since autism has come up so much in this entry, and because April is Autism Awareness Month (or Autism Acceptance Month, depending on who you talk to), I figured I might end this by sharing three articles about autism that I hope you'll find interesting:

President Obama’s World Autism Awareness Day Proclamation Is Right On
Autism Awareness Month – Autism is More than Autism Speaks and Temple Grandin
PayPal founder thinks people with Asperger’s have an advantage

And congratulations to all of you who made it this far. I told you I had a lot going on! XD
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
First off, in case you missed it, my last RL update is here in case you're curious as to how I'm doing. ^_^;

Also, one of my cousins recently opened up a jewelry shop on Etsy! I think some of you on my f-list would be interested, so if you'd like to support her (which would be awesome! :D) or just see the kind of work she's doing, feel free to check out her store. ;-)

Because I haven't done a linkdump in a while, it's another REALLY REALLY long one, so it's under a cut. Obviously I don't expect you to read all of it -- or any of it, for that matter -- but I've bolded the ones I recommend the most for your convenience. Enjoy!

Read more... )
quadruplify: ([LoK] Amon - mask)
So...stuff's been happening. On the minus side, seeing my dad's mother for the first time since she was admitted to the nursing home a couple of weeks ago -- rail thin, in a wheelchair, easily confused, hardly talking -- was rough. Cut for somewhat depressing details :( )

On the plus side, though, my birthday yesterday went well (I got two new shirts and an iTunes gift card, and we went out to eat -- it obviously wasn't much, but I don't need a lot of stuff and I don't like making a big deal of my birthday anyway), my psoriasis is slowly clearing up again, Dan Harmon is coming back to Community (which I honestly didn't see coming at all, but OMG YES SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! because now I can totally look forward to season 5 XDDDDDDDDDDDD), and overall my mood has been ever-so-slightly better than it has been. I was really disappointed with The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me -- I tried to like it, but all the songs sound pretty much the same, it seemed as if the band ended up refining their sound so much they sucked all the soul and life out of it, there's no lyrics that stand out or any other hooks to grab the listener's attention like all their other albums, and it's just plain boring -- but I've enjoyed the latest from Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest, a hell of a lot more, so that offsets the disappointment at least. ^_^;

Also, [livejournal.com profile] edge_chan was interviewed by a big art supply website (exciting!), and even though I don't collect vinyl LPs and hardly care for collecting them at all (unlike some music fans), this ultramarine-colored LP of Young Galaxy's latest album (which is also really good, BTW!) is so cool and I want one. *grabby hands*

[livejournal.com profile] kattidya, I got your birthday card in the mail a couple of days ago. Thank you very much!! :D

All right, on to the links, since they've piled up yet again and it'd be nice for my browser to work faster again:

POLITICS
--Does the NSA really need to spy on us?
--The tangled web of empire (more on the recent NSA spying controversy)
--Who Is Afraid of Big Brother? (a somewhat reasoned defense of PRISM)
--Why the NSA Needs Your Phone Calls
--Washington Is Trapped in Its Own Prism of Data-Mining Self-Defense
--Of Course Apple Avoids Billions in Taxes -- And It Should
--Connecticut Boy Scouts Chapter Defects, Welcomes Gay Members to Serve Openly (this includes adults, unlike the BSA's recent decision -- plus this was the council I was a part of when I was younger, so YAY!!!!!)
--The Impossibility of Being Barack Obama
--How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
--Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For Public Opinion to Turn Against Obama (this was published before the NSA scandal broke, but IMHO the article's central thesis is still relevant)
--Here's Why the Government Went Ballistic Over the AP Leak
--The EMPire Strikes Back (on why the "threat" of electromagnetic pulse is practically nonexistent)
--Top 10 warning signs of 'liberal imperialism'
--Fear Factor (a defense of drone strikes in foreign countries)

SCIENCE
--We've Found the Molecule That Causes Itchiness
--The effect that explains why you regret posting in anger
--You Didn't Have Any Lions to Run From, So You Clicked on This
--Butterflies remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia
--We're Only Beginning to Understand How Our Brains Make Maps
--5 Reasons Cold Fusion Is Bunk
--Study: Science Can Change the Sexual Orientations of Mice
--No need to eat like a caveman -- just eat your damn veggies!
--Giant fluorescent pink slugs found on mountain
--Amnesia and the Self That Remains When Memory Is Lost
--How many people really went through with the Milgram Experiment?

ENVIRONMENT
--So this is where all our greenhouse gases come from
--How Antarctica Would Look Completely Naked

SPACE/ASTRONOMY
--Can Space Tourism Save Earth?
--Could we find alien civilizations using infrared light?
--When it comes to exoplanets, science fiction lags way behind science
--How will space colonists access the Internet on Mars?
--Opportunity Finds More Hints of Mars Habitability

TECHNOLOGY
--The Video Game Helmet That Can Hack Your Brain (on the growth of brain-computer interfaces and its potential consequences)
--Gorgeous Floating Buildings Around the World

EDUCATION
--An Open Letter to Science Students and Science Teachers (on how much needs to be done to improve science education in the U.S.)
--The 12 Most Controversial Facts in Mathematics, and its sequel 9 More Super-Controversial Math Facts That People Refuse to Believe Are True

SOCIETY
--Masturbation Is at the Root of the Culture Wars (Hugo Schwyzer generally isn't someone worth listening to when it comes to feminist issues, but this is a good article nonetheless)
--If You Think Like an Imposter, You'll Be an Imposter (good advice for everyone to read)
--"You are all going to die": Joss Whedon's Wesleyan commencement speech (on making peace with contradictions, and the need to look at "both sides" of everything)
--When Men Experience Sexism (on finding a middle ground between militant feminists and MRAs)
--The Questions People Get Asked About Their Race
--Charles Ramsey and the Racial Language Barrier
--What Should I Do With My Life?
--Advice For College Grads From Two Sociologists
--What About the Guys Who Do Fit the 'Gay Stereotype'?
--Why Suicide Has Become an Epidemic -- and What We Can Do to Help
--Survivorship Bias (on the pitfalls of ignoring stories of failure)
--Sex After Dementia
--Why Is It So Hard to Understand What's Wrong With Rape Jokes?
--"The wonderful and frightening thing about Tumblr and Twitter..."
--On Horse Racing, "Break Downs," and Our Humanity
--Optimism Is Not Insane

GEOGRAPHY
--22 Maps That Show The Deepest Linguistic Conflicts in America

MEDIA
--Elementary Demonstrates the Right Way to Update a Classic Hero
--The Problem With Celebrating Straight Actors in Gay Roles
--New York PBS station criticizes reality TV with fake subway ads
--The Government Can't Stop Our Heterosexual Love: YA Dystopia From a Gay Perspective
--6 Ways to Survive an 'Internet Drubbing'
--You Won't Finish This Article (no, that's not a challenge)

ART/CREATIVITY
--Belgian Man Made His Own Samurai Armor (and it's very impressive!)
--Short film "Captain T&T": Boy tries to become a superhero in the violence of Trinidad and Tobago
--Sweet Mother of Assassin's Creed III... (I know zilch about this franchise and fandom, but I'd totally wear something like that too :D)
--"So Dark": A short film that proves even noble vampires can be horrifying


quadruplify: Shizuo Heiwajima (from Durarara!!) yelling ([DRRR] Shizuo - angry)
--Sex in Space Could Be Deadly  (D:)
--Many Working-Class Women Are Already Leaning In  (on the growing activism of low-income and working-class women in the U.S.)
--The Political Dead-End of Christianism  (a Catholic philosophical perspective in support of same-sex marriage)
--Why New Zealand is officially, earnestly upset about Argo
--American teacher in Japan under fire for lessons on Japan's history of discrimination
--Babies like people who injure babies not like them  (on how some prejudice actually IS inherent and not just taught; the link also has information about the link between political turmoil and HIV treatment, the recent finding of habitable planets outside of our solar system, and how stereotypes hold women in science back)
--10 Superhero Traits Tech Will Bestow
--Ancient Mars Had Conditions Suitable for Life  (I was skeptical about this at first, but when Phil Plait says it's probably right, chances are it is)
--The Emotional Psychology of a Two-Party System
--Some Theories on Why Men Don't Do As Many Household Tasks
--Why Daylight Saving Time Is Pointless
--We're Screwed: 11,000 Years' Worth of Climate Data Prove It  (DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:)
--What Teens Get About the Internet That Parents Don't  (a good article to share for parents or other adults in your life who ~don't get it~ XD)
--'Women Own 1% of World Property': The Feminist Myth That Won't Die  (on why it's important to fact-check EVERYTHING)
--How to Resurrect Lost Species
--Feminism needs to include men to obtain equality for all  (some might find this article ventures too far into "but what about teh menz?!" territory for their liking, but the central point about why the word "feminism" has such a negative connotation is legit)


quadruplify: Julian Minci (from Legend of the Galactic Heroes) sticking his tongue out in disgust ([LoGH] Julian - yuck)
--SimCity 5's Multiplayer Blues  (I ended up having a lot more feelings about the new SimCity than I expected. I loved playing SimCity 3000 back when it was a thing, and part of the appeal was that I DIDN'T have to work and cooperate with others to play the game; I could build a city on my own, with whatever vision I liked. I'd be interested in playing this new version, but the offline DIY ethos of the previous games was what made it interesting, so it'll take a while getting used to.

Plus, part of the reason why I've spent most of my life NOT playing video game [or Second Life, for that matter] is because of the interacting with complete strangers that tends to happen. I'm extremely shy and self-conscious, and it's hard enough for me to talk to new people in other contexts as it is -- and people can be REALLY immature when playing video games, which makes me uncomfortable. IDK, I'd much rather start playing with people I already know if I have to.

And then there's the fact that you have to be online in order to play it, which I don't like at all. Considering we've lost Internet access for days on end before, I'd like to be able to play games to pass the time in a situation like that, and with something like SimCity 5 it wouldn't be possible. That is,
if I could play it in the first place without EA fucking it up. Seriously, I think we all know by now how disastrous the rollout this week has been. :PPP)

--Neither Pro-Life Nor Pro-Choice Can Solve the Selective Abortion Crisis
--8 things the U.S. election system could learn from Mexico's
--Mars mission poses greater risk to human life than NASA would allow
--Soon they'll be able to 3D-print you a hybrid car
--Our brains, and how they're not as simple as we think
--No, Our Solar System Is NOT a "Vortex"  (debunking myths made by a popular viral video)
--A Supermassive Ice Age May Have Led to Complex Life on Earth
--Why U.S. Politicians Think Americans Are So Conservative When They're Not  (and yet I still see way too many Tea Partiers on Facebook :/)
--Are popular scientists becoming modern day preachers?
--Astronauts Traveling to Mars Could Be Protected By a Poop Shield
--The Mixed Results of Male Authors Writing Female Characters
--The Benefits of Optimism Are Real
--One of the best places to search for alien life is the last that you'd expect
--"South African Violence" Only Explains the Pistorius Case If He's Not Guilty
--Invasive species? This sushi chef rolls with it  (this is a profile of the sushi restaurant K. and I went to last summer)
--The Birth of a Planet, Observed From Earth
--We Aren't the World   (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- on how culture shapes our fundamental beliefs, perception, and ways of thinking more than anyone could have expected, and how dangerous it is that science ignores this fact)
--Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?

And because I haven't done one of these in a while, a meme:

So I took a 'What Harry Potter character are you?' test. Does anyone familiar with the series think this is right? )


quadruplify: Julian Minci (from Legend of the Galactic Heroes) sticking his tongue out in disgust ([LoGH] Julian - yuck)
First of all, thanks a lot to whoever sent me a valentine on [personal profile] tf_valentines! I wasn't expecting it at all, but I appreciate it all the same, and it made my day. XD All right, now on to today's links:

--The Hard Lessons of Oscar Pistorius  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- on how the factors that make certain people wildly successful and accomplished in what they do end up hurting them, and why highly successful people do stupid and horrible things more often than the rest of us)
--How to read like a writer
--Azealia Banks and the Other "F" Word in 2013  (as someone who's frequently heard that word used as a homophobic slur against me and other people, it makes me sick that some people think it no longer has a homophobic meaning just because they say so)
--Toward a Black Jesse James  (on why mass murderers like Christopher Dorner don't deserve to be praised -- "I don't really know how anyone, with any sort of coherence, adopts Christopher Dorner as a symbol in the fight against police brutality, given how he brutalized those two human beings. I cannot understand, except to say that sometimes our own anger, our pain, becomes so blinding that we fail to see the pain of others. This is the seed of inhumanity, and inhumanity is the seed of the very police brutality which we all deplore.")
--California highway dig reveals four new whale species
--What Food Desert Maps Get Wrong About How People Eat  (on how trying to determine where "food deserts" are is more complicated than you'd think)
--Fibonacci Flim-Flam  (on how attempts to make science cool and popular can lead to harmful misinformation)
--Did This New Hampshire Woman Take Part in the Rwandan Genocide?  (on why bringing people to justice is messy, difficult, and leads to bad outcomes)
--Sex on Mars: A Dangerous Love Story
--This Bionic Hand Will Let an Amputee Feel Again
--The Internet's Kevin Bacon Effect: Any Web Page Can Be Accessed From Any Other in Just 19 Clicks
--The Obama Administration's 10-Year Plan to Map the Entire Human Brain
--Do Colors Look the Same For All of Us?
--The 5 Most Frequently Misused Proverbs
--5 Groundbreaking Firsts That Your History Books Lied About
--Male as the Neutral Default
--The Tesla/NY Times fight is a sideshow  (on the complications electric cars still face in order to be taken seriously)
--The Art of Infinite War, Ctd.: The Administration's Drone Campaign
--Why We'll Probably Never Build a Space Elevator  (;_;)
--Sony Files Patent to Make TV Ads Into Video Games  (this is actually pretty scary if you think about it D:)
--What Would Happen If the 2012 DA14 Asteroid Actually Hit Earth?
--It's Time For Hollywood to Make a Same-Sex Romantic Comedy
--Teach For America's hidden curriculum
--Maybe dogs really can talk!
--Coming out to my wife  (on rethinking traditionally-held ideas about marriage, monogamy, and cheating)
--White Girl Privilege and the Problem of Blaming All Men  (a.k.a. why "misandry 4 lyfe" jokes on Tumblr are bad and why you should feel bad for making them)


quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
Another one so soon? Well, yeah...I have way too many tabs open as usual, as I have to close out most of them before my computer crashes. :/

--Aziz Ansari gets candid about love: "Elusive and sadly ephemeral"  (a really enlightening interview on just how complicated it is to find and build relationships, especially romantic ones, which isn't as pessimistic as Ansari is afraid it is)
--Why finding love is like finding alien intelligence
--12 Rude Revelations About Sex  (I don't know why, but the more I read this the more tempted I was to be celibate for the rest of my life D:)
--The Last Time a Pope Resigned, Mass Media Was Called ... Mass
--Science Confirms the Obvious: Men and Women Aren't That Different
--The Human Race Will Come to an End. What's Next?
--Kids Are Still Drawing 1900s Idea of What Dinosaurs Looked Like
--No, An Asteroid Is NOT Going to Hit Earth in 2106
--The Only Problem With Your Argument Is You  (on the psychological underpinnings of why politics is so contentious, and why gridlock between political parties happens, and explains a LOT about political discourse on the Internet)
--$100 Million to Know Why NFLers Die Young? Here's Why, For Free
--The Art of Infinite War  (Ta-Nehisi Coates absolutely nails it as always :D)
--Former Political Scientist to Congress: Please Defund Political Science
--Don't Forget to Live  (on the ways pushing yourself and striving for success can go over the top)
--Robo-Eye to Enter US Market
--Thriving since 1960, a garden in a bottle: Seedling sealed in its own ecosystem and watered just once in 53 years
--The history of Pad Thai  (includes a recipe)
--The Only Black Guy At the Indie Rock Show  (a black man's experiences involving race and culture in a predominately white scene -- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
--Why You're So Afraid of Change (And What You Can Do About It)  (this connects a lot with the articles "The Human Race Will Come to an End...", "The Only Problem...", and "Don't Forget to Live")
--The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Streaming Blocked Content Overseas  (could be useful if you're trying to watch shows on BBC iPlayer outside the UK)
--Mogwai: A beginner's guide  (to one of my favorite bands ^_^;)
--DuckTales invented a new animated wonderland -- that quickly disappeared


quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
--Tiny new (?) spider species creates large spider puppets to scare away predators
--24 places that look not normal, but are actually real  (I believe I shared some of these on Tumblr before, but I've never seen some of these before, and here they are, all in one place ~_^)
--AP Credit Will No Longer Be Accepted at Dartmouth  (I really don't know how I feel about this; on one hand, I get where they're coming from after reading this article and realizing it lined up really nicely with my experiences with AP classes in high school, but on the other hand, the issue is a lot more complicated, as the comments to this article prove. The only benefits I got from AP at college was that I was able to skip one of my required classes for my major, and I started off with 5 credits so I could take 3 classes some semesters instead of the usual 4. I really didn't feel like my AP classes prepared me that much for college at all, but a part of me is still glad I took them.)
--Glowing full moon credenza  (I'd like something like this too, even though it must be ridiculously expensive :PPP)
--How Forks Gave Us Overbites and Pots Saved the Toothless
--How Facebook affects your memory
--10 false facts most people think are true
--How Game Theory Explains Washington's Horrible Gridlock
--Kendrick Lamar's Forever War  (on hip-hop and the myth of "noble violence")
--The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots
--Why You Can't Cry in Space
--Violence and Mental Illness in Middletown, Connecticut
--Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets
--Dr. Carin Bondar's "Wild Sex"  (NSFW obviously)
--Should science fiction and fantasy do more than entertain?
--Anonymous and encouraging message posted in university restroom
--Antarctica takes out its frustration on the children of the 1%  (I'm only sharing this for the comments, which [strangely enough] are far better than the article)


quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
I know most of the links this week are from The Atlantic; this is only because I follow the magazine on Twitter, and every day they have a ton of articles that catch my interest, and I end up clicking on them all, and pretty soon my browser is crammed with tabs from this one website. Which I find kinda embarrassing, even though it's not a big deal at all. I should go on a bigger variety of sites regardless. :P

--Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness: 6 Lessons From the Newest Research on Income and Well-Being
--The "Most Significant" Photo Recently Taken From Space
--Why We Get Prune Fingers
--Hollywood's Real Bias Is Conservative (But Not in the Way Liberals Often Say)
--The Fact-Free Political Alarmism of Naomi Wolf  (this does a good job of pinpointing what bothers me about left-wing activist writers like Wolf, Glenn Greenwald, Michael Moore, etc. -- they're too extreme and addicted to attention for most people to believe anything they have to say, and whatever good points they make are undermined by their poor research and lack of nuance)
--There's More to Life Than Being Happy
--A GIF Guide to the Most Bannable Semi-Automatic Weapons
--Russian test uncovers strain of space travel  (with all the buzz surrounding the Mars One project, this is important to keep in mind)
--Actually, Don't Write Like You're Dead  (on bad writing advice, and how it's impossible not to be a product of your times)
--Sympathy For the Nice Guys of OKCupid  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- not because Nice Guys deserve that much pity [they don't], but it's an interesting perspective that's worth thinking about)
--Censoring Pirate Sites Doesn't Work, Researchers Find
--Astronomers Discover a Planet Almost Identical to Earth
--New battery converts physical motion to chemical energy in a single step
--Galaxy's center tastes of raspberries and smells of rum, say astronomers
--What If NASA Could Figure Out the Math of a Workable Warp Drive?  (I'm pretty sure I shared this on Twitter before, but it's worth sharing again)
--Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012
--A Stunning, Sparkling Beehive Caught By Accident  (on globular clusters and distant galaxies)
--Tongue and Tech: The Many Emotions For Which English Has No Words
--Pondering Our Cyborg Future in a Documentary About the Singularity
--Climate Change Doesn't Have to Mean the End of the World  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- this partly explains why I've become so burned out on even thinking about environmentalism and climate change activism; at this point, adaptation is the only thing we can do about global warming)
--Short animated film: "R'ha" by Kaleb Lechowski  (I'm only sharing this because a.) the animation and CGI is AMAZING, and b.) the guy who made this is a year younger than me, and I feel woefully inadequate because of it D: )


quadruplify: Gay pride parade participant, dressed as astronaut, holding sign that reads: "Gay Astronaut Association Members: 1" ([Other] LGBTQ+ - gay astronaut)
Since I've been doing linkdumps around here for the past couple of weeks, and because I'm bored, I figure I might make this a semi-regular thing. Maybe? Basically it's a list of things I've found/read lately, and I thought at least some of you out there might be interested in some of them too. Hope you all enjoy it! ^_^; 

--Sandy Hook controversy: Is it wrong to sympathize with a killer?
--Meanwhile, in Canada, a Narwhal Tusk Smuggling Ring Has Been Busted  (first maple syrup, now this...O_o;)
--Captured in (Actual) Pictures: The Swirling Birth of Planets
--Finding the Positive  (on criticizing what other people do vs. doing something better yourself)
--A Martian Dream: Here's What the Red Planet Would Look LIke With Earth-Like Oceans and Life
--'Channeling spirits' shut down parts of the brain
--Can You Be Gay By Choice?  (the best article I've read yet re: whether or not the "born this way" defense of homosexuality is a good idea)
--The Appeal of "Bad Boys"  (on Nice Guys™, the psychology of what makes people attractive, and how men can attain it without being douches)
--Why It's Dangerous to Say "Only Bad Guys Commit Rape"  (CW: details of incidents of rape)
--America Has a Macho Problem


quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking mildly pissed off ([LoK] Lin - pissed off)
Another entry because I'm bored and I feel up to it. ^_^;

••• So, Christmas went relatively well! It wasn't very eventful, and I've had far better Christmases, but it wasn't too bad, all things considered. Here's what I managed to get:

Under the cut: Loot, long-lost family, acting like an asshole, and illness... )

••• I'm still trying to think of what to do for New Year's resolutions; I know they rightfully get a bad rap because people hardly follow through on them, but I really need to get myself in gear in 2013 to prevent a repeat of 2012, which was ... a whole lotta nothing, really. Which is not to say awesome things didn't happen this year, or that I didn't grow as a person, but in a lot of ways I'm in the same position I was when I wrote this, and that's not good. The main difference is that I'm in a better position now to be more proactive when it comes to developing skills and achieving goals than I was two years ago -- or at least, I hope so. ._.,

Of course I need to work on the important things, like being more proactive in looking for jobs, volunteer work, and grad schools, cooking, taking better care of myself (including hopefully joining a gym), and driving. But I've also created a huge backlog of books I want to read, movies and TV shows and anime I'd like to watch, music I'd like to listen to, video games I'd like to play, etc. Far too often I put these things off to one side saying to myself, "I'll deal with this later," and I never do; instead, I end up constantly feeling bored, doing nothing, and wanting to do nothing. So maybe trying to get through that backlog should help? (Oh yeah, and fitting in some time to write while I'm at it. :P)

Anyway, I hope everyone reading this has a Happy New Year, and that if your 2012 was meh like mine, I hope 2013 will be better for you. ;-)

••• Finally, some more articles and links you might be interested in:

--This Tiny Gizmo Could Be a Very Big Deal in 2013 -- And Beyond (I know I already posted something about this on my Tumblr, but it seems so interesting enough it's worth bringing up again, especially since this article goes into greater detail, and it reveals it'll only cost around $70)
--27 Science Fictions That Became Science Facts in 2012
--Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? (I don't think I've read a better explanation of what meditation is supposed to do before, or what benefits it's supposed to bring)
--Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare (DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:)
--No Longer Vaporware: The Internet of Things Is Finally Talking
--Videogames Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art
--'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013 could be Ison, the comet of the century
--Amazing new house proves that green doesn't have to mean expensive


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
A couple of days ago I received a Christmas card from [livejournal.com profile] kattidya, so thank you very much for that! :D

Speaking of Christmas cards, I'm sure it's become obvious I'm not doing them this year, what with it being three days away and all that. :P Sorry if any of you out there were expecting one, but if you'd really like one and don't mind it being horribly late, just let me know and I'll be more than happy to work something out. (And the same goes if you'd like sending something to me.)

Not much has been going on with me; I'm still in that big funk I mentioned the last time I updated, and this didn't help matters one bit. So ... a brief linkdump, because I haven't done one of these in a while, and I need to show myself I haven't entirely been wasting my time. These articles have made me think about or reevaluate a lot of things lately, and they might have the same impact on some of you.

--The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going to Miss Almost Everything
--Physicists testing to see if universe is a computer simulation (a.k.a. "Scientists try to prove The Matrix is actually real")
--7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable (this expresses pretty much how I feel re: the cynicism and jadedness many young people feel today, explaining why it bothers me so much better than I ever could)
--6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person (obviously there are parts that rub me the wrong way, namely the fact that some people will never achieve the kind of success David Wong talks about due to their lack of privilege, and that sometimes the idea of productivity can be detrimental to one's health and well-being, but his central message is worth considering, and has helped me put some things in perspective)
--5 Reasons Humanity Desperately Wants Monsters to Be Real (this explains SO MUCH about human nature like you wouldn't believe)
--5 Reasons Life Actually Does Get Better

I likely won't be posting anything until after Christmas, so to anyone reading this (especially those who celebrate), Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. ;-)


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quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
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