Outlander 3.02: Surrender

Sep. 23rd, 2017 09:00 am
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Posted by Redheadedgirl

outlander season 3 with claire and jamie on either sides of a stonePreviously: Jamie survived Culloden, and got sent home to Lallybroch. Claire had their daughter and is trying to make a home in Boston.

The title splash is a redcoat posting a wanted poster for an outlaw called the “Dunbonnet.”

At Lallybroch in 1752, three boys, in the manner of troublemaking boys, find a hidden pistol in the dovecote. They are Rabbie, Wee Jamie, and Fergus (HEY FERGUS). Their bragging is interrupted by a bunch of soldiers who are looking for the Dunbonnet, who might also be Jamie. Jenny, who is very pregnant again, tells them (as they arrest Ian), that they haven’t seen Jamie since the filthy traitor went to the rebellion. The soldiers remind them that anyone harboring a traitor will be hanged, and they tell him the same thing they told five other commanders – there’s no Red Jamie there. They arrest Ian anyway, and Fergus spits at the Redcoat who is a Corporal MacGregor.

Of course, Jamie is there, in ragged clothes, long hair, and generally looking not at all like himself. He successfully hunts a stag (with a bow and arrow) and brings it to the house after dark. When he walks in, he has a vision of Claire working in the garden, but it’s really Jenny. He’s haunted and hunted and isn’t used to talking.

Jamie carries a stag to Lollybroch. He thinks he sees Claire, but when the woman turns, it's Jenny.

Inside, they butcher the deer, Jenny and Fergus keeping the conversation going while Jamie is silent. Jenny also asks Jamie if he can help with the books, since Ian is away for a bit. Jenny also tells him that her conscious is clear when it comes to lying, because she’s not: “James Fraser hasn’t been here for a long, long time.”

Claire, in her bed, pants as she remembers Jamie in happier times (by which I mean sex and fun bed times). We get a nice shot of Sam’s butt in her memory. But it’s Frank sleeping by her side, and she’s alone.

It’s 1949, and Claire puts Bree in her bed (with her Bunny), and in the Globe, there’s an article about Irish Independence. Bree fusses a bit, and Claire tells her that she’ll want to hear this: “This is history in the making.” Bree makes her own history by rolling front to back the first time. (Claire’s dressing gown is very 1940s, but also reminiscent of one of her Paris dressing gowns, which is a nice touch). Frank comes down in just a towel and they marvel over their clever daughter who rolls over a month ahead of schedule. Claire puts on a hand on his naked chest. It’s a moment, and neither is too sure what to do with it.

Frank holds baby Bree. Claire touches his chest.

Jamie paces through the woods to his little cave covered by bushes. He hears someone outside, but it’s just Fergus, who SAYS he was very careful and doubled back on his trail. He’s brought the pistol and wants to learn how to shoot so he can be ready for the next rebellion. Jamie tells him there won’t be another one, and Fergus snaps ,”Just because you’re a coward now doesn’t mean I am!” Jamie just tells him that weapons are outlawed, so PUT IT BACK.

In the house, Jamie comes to help with the books, and finds that Jenny is in labor.  Mary tells him not to worry. The boys are doing their chores, and see a raven. Rabbie tells them that his Granny said ravens are messengers of death, and they shouldn’t be near a birth… so they decide that the best thing to do is get the pistol and shoot the raven.

Of course, there are soldiers near enough to hear the shot. Jamie is about to throttle one or all three of them, when Mary tells him that the baby has been born- a boy- and takes the gun.

Inside, Jenny is quite pleased with herself, and is going to name the new baby Ian. He is a wee chicken. Jenny tells him that Jamie looks good with a baby, and then asks how long it’s been since he had sex. Jamie tells her to not go there, and she’s like it’s been 6 years and Mary McNab is young enough. Jamie takes the baby out to meet the others, when he hears the soldiers looking for the gun. Jenny settles herself in bed, and calmly tells them that there’s no weapons. They threaten to search the house. Baby Ian starts making noises and Jamie shoves a fingers in his mouth, and Jenny’s like look, we always cooperate, there’s no weapon!

He asks her if she’s given birth, and she tells him that baby came early and was dead. (MacGregor says that’s good, it’s one less Scot to deal with.) They ask where the body is, and then the Captain gives and order to find the midwife. At the point, Mary comes in with the pistol. She tells them that it belonged to her husband, and she kept it because it gave her comfort, and she fired it at a raven to protect that baby. MacGregor scoffs at the “stupid Highland superstitions” and offers to take her into custody. The captain says nah, they have the weapon, but warns Jenny that if anything happens again, they will not be so lenient.

A solider snatches the gun from Mary.

The soldiers leaves, and Jenny muses that she’s seen the look in that captain’s eyes before… he’ll not give up. She tells Jamie to dig a fresh grave in the cemetery, just in case.

In Boston, Claire wakes Frank up and says she “misses her husband” and initiates sex (with her on top). This is the first time they’ve been together since she came back.

In Scotland, Ian is brought back, and MacGregor tells him that the garrison is searching to north and south, and they’ll be back. Fergus eyes them darkly.  Ian thanks them for the “lovely visit.”

Fergus sneaks out, where there is a soldier hidden, waiting to see who leaves the house. In the woods, Fergus knows he’s being followed, and leads the pair of soldiers, including MacGregor, on what he intends as a merry chase. He taunts them Frenchishly, runs, gestures, and taunts them a second time. Jamie hears the yelling and sneaks to see Fergus spending more energy on taunting and less on running. Fergus gets cornered by another pair on horseback, and MacGregor uses his saber to cut off Fergus’s right hand. The soldiers leave, and Jamie tumbles down the slope and puts on a tourniquet and brings him back to the house.

Jamie picks up a wounded Fergus.

Inside, Jamie paces by the fire, and Jenny tells him that Fergus is alive because of Jamie. Jamie says he should have stopped them, and Jenny sensibly points out that if he had, then they would all be dead. Jamie falls to his knees, sobbing, and Jenny holds him.

After he’s collected himself, Jamie finds Fergus, who says that Jenny has been quite generous with the whiskey (Though he prefers the taste of French wine). And that he’s sorry. Jamie says that Fergus reminds him that he does have something to fight for, and Fergus smiles: “There you are, Milord.” Fergus also reminds Jamie of the agreement they made in Paris: if Fergus lost an ear or a hand in his service, that Jamie would support Fergus for the rest of his life: “In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure, no?”

A pale Fergus, lying in bed. I have always trusted you, milord.

Claire and Frank are having Millie (the neighbor Claire met) and her husband over for dinner. They are having Eton Mess for dessert, and Millie laughs that she doesn’t do baking – if it’s not in the freezer section, too bad. Jerry says she that her “talents lie elsewhere.” They are affectionate, and easy with each other, in the way Claire and Jamie were and Frank wishes they were.

After Millie and Jerry leave, Frank pours Claire a nightcap, and after some banter, she takes his glass, removes her panties, and guides his hand between her legs. Her eyes are closed as he lays her down in front of the fire, and he asks that she look at him. She refuses, and he stops. He doesn’t want to be used as substitute: “When I’m with you, I’m with you. But you’re with him.”

Claire and Frank, face to face. Claire is untying his tie, mid seduction.

The him in question gets a drink from Ian, and Ian talks about the phantom pains he gets in his leg: “Feeling a pain in a part of you that’s lost…Claire was your heart.” I dunno, that’s laying it on bit thick, show. Upstairs, Jamie sees a tapestry with the family arms on it that’s been slashed – the British did that. Jamie muses that they won’t stop until he’s found.

Jamie’s plan is to have Jenny turn him in: that way they get the reward money, they prove their loyalty to the Crown, so the soldiers will stop harassing them. Jenny hates the idea, like REALLY hates it. She’ll hide her brother forever if that’s what he needs, because Ohana Means Family. Jamie’s plan is that Jenny will tell the British that she’s heard from Jamie, and she knows when he’ll show up, so that’ll be that. Jenny says that he’ll be “hangit” but Jamie doesn’t care all that much, and besides, it’s been seven years. They’re not hanging people that much. It’ll just be prison. Jenny asks Jamie if he’s not seen enough prisons, and he shrugs. “Little difference to the prison I live in now.”

Jenny says "Have you not seen the inside of enough prisons for one lifetime?" Jamie replies "Little difference to the prison I live in now."

In his cave, Jamie sees Mary bringing him food and offers him company. She shaves him, and cuts his hair, and he thanks her for her bravery for turning over the pistol to the British. He leaves to go bathe, and tells her to bring back the books to the house, and toss the rest. She doesn’t though: she offered him company, and he comes back to find her in her shift.

What she’s offering is a moment of humanity. She’s not trying to compete with Claire. “Something we both need. Something to keep us whole as we move forward in this life.” He wrestles with himself, and admits that he hasn’t done this for a while. She hasn’t either, but they figure it out.

In Boston, Claire walks with Bree in her pram, and Bree is a super cute baby. Claire voiceovers that she did her best to resign herself to her new role as wife and mother, while looking at a headline announcing that Truman appointed a woman as Treasurer. She’s been a part of something larger, and eventually… she picks up a knife, and holds it like scalpel, and the picture fades into her actually holding a scalpel. “I would need to do something more.”

A SMILING BABBY BREE. IN A HAT. BECAUSE BABIES COME WITH HATS

She’s in the Anatomy classroom at Harvard Medical. She’s a first year, and her professor muses that Harvard is being super modern this year, with a woman and a Black man in the class. Claire takes her seat amid the hostile glares of her classmates, until the Black man walks in. He asks if he can sit next to Claire, and she smiles.  His name is Joe Abernathy. They shake hands, while the white dudes shake their heads in disgust.

The professor starts class: “Alright, gentlemen. Let’s begin.”

Claire and Joe, looking at each other and smiling in a sea of white dude faces in their anatomy class.

At the house, Claire comes into bed. She and Frank now are sleeping in twin beds.

Frank, turning out his light next to his twin bed. Claire is asleep in the twin bed next to him.

Jenny feeds the chickens in the yard, and Jamie – shorn and shaven and looking like himself, comes to the gate. He swallows hard before saying that he’s come home (and takes off the brown hat). She says nothing, and the soldiers come out of hiding and seize him. He, acting, says, “No, Jenny!”

She, not acting, says that he brought this on himself and she’ll never forgive him for making her do this. The captain arrests Jamie and gives Jenny a large pouch of coins, and she looks away and ashamed. But she takes it. He’s loaded into the cart, and she runs into the house, crying. Jamie sits in the cart, staring at the irons on his wrists.

Jenny, yelling after her brother, "You gave me no choice, brother, and I'll never forgive you. NEVER."

Claire walks across a bridge where a man playing Scotland the Brave on bagpipes is. She pauses to put money in his case, and walks on.

RHG: JOE ABERNATHY you are my favorite new character to come out of Voyager. HELLO.

I had a lot of thoughts while watching this episode- among other things, I’m not as enamored with Voyager as I am with the first two books, so my knee jerk “grouchy when things are changed” is considerably less that it was the first two seasons.

The second was articulated beautifully by this piece on (Bustle? I think it was Bustle) about how this episode made the point that the emotional part of sex exists for men, too. Frank wants the connection, he doesn’t want to be a sex toy. Mary understands that Jamie also wants the connection, and she can and will give him what she has to give.

Fergus, oh Fergus.  Fergus, Fergus, Fergus.

Elyse: See, this is why I stopped reading after Outlander. I want my hero and heroine to overcome their pain and live happily ever after together. Instead Jamie is living in a sadness cave and Claire is sleeping in a Dick VanDyke bed next to a guy she doesn’t love anymore. Also I’m not chill about a kid getting his hand cut off.

So as a non-Voyager reader I just kinda let my head hit the back of the couch and went, “but whhhhhyyyyyy aren’t they together? Whhhhhyyy angst?”

I like that Jenny and Mary are holding everything together though. Jamie and Ian aren’t really present (by no fault of their own) and once again, Jenny is getting shit done.

What about you? How did you like this episode? 

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Posted by Carrie S

B

Alex + Ada: The Complete Collection

by Jonathan Luna
November 16, 2016 · Image
Comic

Alex + Ada is a series of three graphic novels by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. The series is a love story between a man named Alex and an android named Ada. Over the course of the story, there are many parallels with past and current civil rights movements, as well as explorations of how, specifically, a rights movement for sapient androids might play out. It’s a tender, sweet story with moments of horror and tragedy but also with a truly enduring and endearing romance.

Alex is mooning over his ex-fiancée when his grandmother decides to get him an android companion. Alex’s grandmother, who is a constant source of comic relief, expresses great and uncomfortably explicit delight with regard to the success of her own android, Daniel. One day Alex comes home and finds a surprise from Grandma – an android named Ada.

Alex is quite creeped out by Ada’s complete lack of agency or interest in anything other than whatever he orders her to seem interested in. He is polite to her but can’t figure out how to interact with her (and no, he doesn’t have sex with her). Alex finds an online forum about android rights and learns that androids were built with the ability to be sentient, but have had that ability locked away. Unlocking an android is a difficult and illegal task but a person in the forum offers to unlock Ada. Ada would be a fully conscious person albeit still in an android body.

From this point on, Ada has agency and more of the story is told from her point of view. Unfortunately, unlocking a sentient is extremely illegal, as is simply being a sentient robot. Alex and Ada try being friends and try being lovers, while they also figure out what their lives can be like as a couple and individually given that Ada’s sentient state has to remain a secret.

Ada and Alex almost kissing

The art in Alex + Ada is very simple, but I thought it fit the story. There’s no panel tricks here – everything is drawn inside uniform rectangles and the color palette is subdued. This allows the focus to remain on faces. Even when Ada is standing still and not speaking, it’s easy to tell when she is sentient and when she is not.

The focus of the story is very much on Alex and Ada, but I loved the side characters as well. The only problem is that the more villainous characters are too one-sided whereas the more sympathetic characters are either allowed more complexity or are simply more pleasant to be around. There are multiple examples of healthy, happy relationships that involve a variety of races, ages, gender preferences, and human or non-human statuses. I’m especially fond of a character with a prosthetic leg who wants to upgrade and hang his older prosthetic leg on the wall. His wife is generally supportive, but in an aside to Ada whispers, “That’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.”

robot love. The older model robot lacks certain parts but, says his lover, is very good with his hands. The robot says I can vibrate.
Tee hee hee

This isn’t a very complex story and it doesn’t say anything we haven’t heard before about what makes a person a person. It’s also pretty brief and could use more elaboration about the world and other characters.

However, its very simplicity makes it emotionally focused. While everyone in the story is worried about society and the place of sentient robots and whether sentient robots will kill people and how to catch them, Alex and Ada just want to live their lives together. The story is affecting because of the relationship between Alex and Ada, and between their friends. There’s tough going at the end of the story but it ends on an optimistic note, with Alex and Ada poised to be the slightly boring suburban couple they always wanted to be.

Comic for September 23, 2017

Sep. 23rd, 2017 11:59 pm
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0.5 seconds in the Sun

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:24 pm
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Posted by Phil Plait

It’s funny — in astronomy, you wouldn’t think split-second timing would be all that critical for getting a good shot of some cosmic object. After all, the galaxies, stars, planets, and more have been around for billions of years. What’s the hurry?

But then, you have to remember that not everything is just sitting out there waiting for the shutter to snap. Some things are moving pretty rapidly, and if they’re close enough to us then the difference between getting a nice shot and a fantastic one can take less than a second.

Here, I can show you. Check this out!

ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

ISS transits the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

That is the Sun (duh), taken by Spanish astrophotographer Dani Caxete. He took this on September 5, 2017. At the time, those two big sunspots groups were visible (called Active Regions 12673 and 12674, the former of which flared several times just days later) — in fact, they were big enough to be spotted with no optical aid; I saw them myself using my eclipse glasses left over from August.

But that’s not all that’s in the shot. Look again: Between the active regions is a decidedly more artificial spot:

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

 

Yup, Caxete caught the International Space Station as it transited the Sun! The ISS is orbiting the Earth at about 8 kilometers per second at a height above ground of just over 400 km (about 500 km from Caxete, who was in Madrid when he took the shot due to his angle). At that speed and distance, it takes very roughly a half a second to cross the face of the Sun.

To capture it, you can’t rely on tripping the shutter at the right time; it’s better to take video, and then select the frames that show the ISS. This image shows one such frame. Caxete made a nice little video showing his travel across the city, the equipment-setting-up, and then getting the shot:

 

Coooool. I like his ‘scope, too; it’s a Long Perng 80 mm f/6.8 refractor with a Lunt Solar Systems Herschel wedge (which filters the sunlight down to acceptable levels), and a Nikon D610 camera. There’s no substitute for good optics!

As Dani told me, he has something of “an obsession with the ISS.” He took this shot as well:

ISS transits the Moon

ISS transits the Moon. Credit: Dani Caxete

 

Nice. And he has lots of other such images he’s taken (including one I featured on the blog back in 2011, though the ISS had a visitor that day), and I suggest you scroll through them, because they’re very pretty.

Getting a shot like this takes some planning, too. The sky is big, and you have to be at the right spot at the right time to catch the ISS moving across a target like the Sun or Moon. Happily, software packages like CalSky (which is what Caxete uses) make that a lot easier; you give it a location and it can calculate what’s visible in the sky and where, including the Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, and satellites (including potential transits near your location). It’s not too hard to use and fun to play with, so give it a try.

Not that getting a shot like this is easy. But with all this lovely tech we have handy, it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Still, it takes a lot of experience and perseverance … and a deep love of the chase. I don’t mind a chase myself, given the right circumstances (I traveled to Wyoming for the eclipse last month, after all), but in this case, I’m just glad experts like Caxete and others are willing to drop everything, even for just a short while, to provide the rest of us with such lovely images.

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Squeakity Squeakers Squeak

Sep. 22nd, 2017 01:00 pm
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Posted by Jen

 

 

Thanks Julie A. for the cake, the cake for Kuzco, the cake chosen specially to kill Kuzco, Kuzco's cake.

That cake?

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

Cheap 52mm filters

Sep. 22nd, 2017 10:26 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Someone on eBay UK is selling sets of 52mm UV filter, polarizer, and lens cap - for 99p! I always need 52mm skylights/UVs and caps for the lenses I sell so I just bought a few which arrived today, and they appear to be exactly as described. Probably not up to the highest quality standards, but I'll be honest, I can't tell the difference at all, and they'll certainly keep the dust out. Annoyingly they don't have any other size at anything like this price.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/253149121163

Probably not worth it outside the UK

Movie Review: Home Again

Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Redheadedgirl

I feel like the romantic comedy genre isn’t dead; it’s just in a vegetative state. We get a handful of rom coms a year, and they’re usually in the range of “boring” to “well, that happened.” This is slightly to the more interesting side of “well, that happened” seasoned with a few dashes of casual racism.

Alice (Reese Witherspoon) is the daughter of a well-known, award-winning filmmaker who moves back to her father’s home with her two kids after separating from her husband, Austen (Michael Sheen). Her dad has been dead for some unspecified amount of time, and Alice is coping with her new life, and her two daughters are also trying to cope with a new school and LA life after growing up in New York. Through a series of alcohol-fueled birthday shenanigans, she meets a trio of dudes who have come to LA to break into the movie business (they had a short that was well-received at South By Southwest, so they’re not like, randomly, showing up, getting off the bus with a suitcase and a dream), so they end up staying in her guest house for a while. Alice starts a relationship with one of them, Harry, setting up a really interesting older woman/younger dude dynamic. Her husband shows up, and everyone needs to figure out what they’re doing with their lives.

I liked the relationship between Alice and Harry as a very firm “yes, you’re an older woman, and I find you incredibly attractive and sexy” with no apologies or psychological discussions. These are two people who have pants feelings for one another. That’s it. Also Pico Alexander is super adorable, and Reese is also adorable, and they have chemistry to spare. But the movie kind of skates past “why are these two interested in each other beyond the pants feelings?” You see them talking in a montage, but what are they talking about? It’s all very superficial.

I don’t know if I like Michael Sheen. I really don’t. I do know that I’ve never seen him in a comedy before, and I think I’d like to see him do more. (I mean, really, I want more comedy in general, but I think he’s at least interesting in a comedy, and he can play the straight man very well.)

I have seen some other people saying that they really liked this movie because it showed three younger dudes learning how to do emotional labor and help out this single mom. They end up helping with the kids (one plot line involves Alice’s older daughter and her anxiety, and how one of the guys helps her with that), and helping with the house. It’s very sweet, if kind of unrealistic.

The main problem I had is that I have certain expectations of romantic comedy, specifically that there’s an HEA with the two leads together. And this doesn’t. I mean, everyone is happy, at the end, and things seem to be working out for everyone, but Alice and Harry aren’t together. And I miss the movies where you have Julia Roberts giving a heartfelt, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy…” speech. Those don’t get made anymore, and I’m sad.

I did like Alice processing her life and musing about decisions she made when she was 25 that were supposed to last the rest of her life, and I love the message that yes, an older woman deserves love and sex and intimacy. I thought this was charming, to be honest. I just thought the portrayal was kind of hollow.

This was written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who is the daughter of Nancy Meyers, the writer and director of movies like The Parent Trap, The Holiday, and It’s Complicated. Meyers-Shyer had small parts in her mother’s movies, and there’s a definite throughline in Home Again about growing up in the shadow of famous parents (Alice’s mother, played by Candice Bergen, was an actress). Moreover, in a move that I think is fairly typical for people who grew up in the movie business, this is a movie about movie people and the minutiae and frustrations of getting a movie made.

Is that something people who don’t spend a bunch of time reading and caring about the movie business are interested in seeing?

There were also a couple of moments of casual racism that just didn’t need to be there, which was so frustrating. There was literally no reason for the ostensible hero to say “You know what Indians are like,” without anyone calling him out on it.

I honestly don’t see this as a movie that you need to pay full price for. I mean, it’s a movie written and directed and produced by women, and it’s mostly about a woman entering the third act of her life, but it’s just not a $13 movie.

Home Again is in theaters now and tickets (US) are available at Fandango and Moviefone.

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Posted by SB Sarah

Sarah chats with New York Times bestselling author Alessandra Torre and filmmaker and Passionflix co-founder Tosca Musk about the filming of Hollywood Dirt, and the process of turning novels into films. We also discuss the launch of PassionFlix, their goals for service, the production schedule, and some behind the scenes fun moments and challenges that made filming memorable. And we have TWO dogs on the podcast! Very exciting.

PassionFlix launched on 1 September, and Hollywood Dirt premiered 20 September on PassionFlix. They’ve optioned several other projects, including books from Brenda Jackson, and there are two more original films premiering this fall:  Afterburn/Aftershock by Sylvia Day premieres in November, and The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis in December.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can find out more about Passionflix on their website, and you can sign up there, too: PassionFlix.com. And for more behind-the-scenes info, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can find Alessandra Torre at AlessandraTorre.com, and on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. And you can find Alessandra’s latest writing on Radish.

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Shadow Orchestra Sweet as a NutOur music is provided by Sassy Outwater.

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Comic for September 22, 2017

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:59 pm
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Posted by Phil Plait

On the morning of Friday, September 22, 2017, the Earth will experience a close encounter with a spaceborne object. But never fear! We’re perfectly safe. That’s because the space traveler is the NASA probe OSIRIS-REx, and it will pass more than 17,000 km above the Earth’s surface.

The flyby is designed so that the spacecraft will steal a little bit of the Earth’s orbital energy, using it to fling itself up, changing its own orbital plane to match that of its target, the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will pass closest over Earth’s south pole, and the Earth’s gravity will naturally bend the probe’s path up, up, and away.

This is the third event in the mission’s life in space, counting launch as the first. It launched a bit over a year ago and was placed into an orbit similar to that of Earth around the Sun. In January 2017 it performed a “deep space maneuver,” firing its engine enough to change its velocity by about 1600 kilometers per hour, putting it on the correct course for the flyby.

If you want the details of this flyby, then (as always) you should check in with my friend Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society, who has the info.

The spacecraft has already been spotted by Earthbound telescopes; the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona saw it on September 2:

Animation showing the movement of OSIRIS-REx on September 2, 2017, when it was still 12 million km away. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

Animation showing the movement of OSIRIS-REx on September 2, 2017, when it was still 12 million km away. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but c’mon: It was 12 million kilometers away and at a magnitude of 25. The faintest star you can see with your naked eye is 40 million times brighter! So this is actually pretty good.

If I’ve done the math right, it’ll be roughly magnitude 11 or so when it passes Earth on Friday. That’s still faint, though within reach of a good telescope. The mission web page has advice and links for trying to see it. Given how far south it’ll be, that means it’s easiest from southern locations; in Australia the Desert Fireball Network will use the flyby to test out their cameras. They’ll observe OSIRIS-REx from different locations and use that to get its 3D trajectory in space. They use the same technique to track material like meteors burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

I mentioned three events in the mission’s space life so far, but the fourth event is the big one: arrival. Approach starts in August 2018, when OSIRIS-REx is about 2 million km from Bennu. It’ll begin a series of engine burns to slow its approach relative to the asteroid until it goes into orbit. Starting on October it’ll begin surveying Bennu, and will continue to do so for a year.

The orbit of Bennu (blue) is similar to Earth's. This shows their relative positions on the day of the OSIRIS-REx flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL

The orbit of Bennu (blue) is similar to Earth's. This shows their relative positions on the day of the OSIRIS-REx flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL

Bennu is a pretty interesting asteroid (if it weren’t, then duh, we wouldn’t be sending a spacecraft to it). It was discovered only in 1991, and is on an orbit similar to Earth’s, though slightly bigger, more elliptical, and tilted to ours by about 6°. That’s a substantial inclination, taking a lot of energy to match, which is why the spacecraft is using Earth to whip it around. Bennu only approaches Earth about once every six years (its orbital period is about 1.2 years, so it takes a while for it and the Earth to sync up).

Bennu itself is about 500 meters across, a decent-sized chunk of rock (though it will be the smallest object NASA will have ever had a spacecraft orbit, an interesting statistic). It’s what’s called a B-type asteroid, meaning it’s rich in carbon as well as what are called volatiles: materials with low boiling points. Even though it’s small, it may have water inside it, trapped in materials like clays.

It’s shaped roughly like a top or a walnut, slightly wider than it is high. It rotates once every 4 hours or so. Its overall shape was determined from both radar mapping as well as how it changes brightness with time (for example, a very long object can get much brighter when it’s broadside to you, and fainter when it’s end-on). Interestingly, its mass is low; given its size it’s barely denser than water! It’s likely to be a rubble pile, a collection of loosely bound rocks held together by gravity and other forces. That can happen as an asteroid suffers low-speed impacts over billions of years, shattering it in place. Lots of voids form between the rubble, accounting for the low density.

Other than that, it’s thought that Bennu hasn’t undergone much change since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It’s hoped to be a time capsule dating back to the formation of the solar system itself!

NASA made this spiffy short video explaining more about Bennu, OSIRIS-REx, and the mission itself:

Oh, one more thing for now: OSIRIS-REx is loaded with instruments to examine the asteroid, including cameras, LIDAR, and a spectrometer. But it also has another package: a sample return capsule (SRC). While at Bennu, it will collect a sample of surface material, squirrel it away inside the capsule, then send it back to Earth! This has been done by a mission before (the Stardust mission to a comet), so it’s tested tech.

Scientists want to collect at least 60 grams of material, though they might get more. The mechanism to collect the sample will puff nitrogen gas onto the asteroid surface and then collect the material that floats off. They have enough gas to try this three times, so it seems likely they’ll get what they need.

Then the SRC will be sent on its way back to our planet, arriving as a fireball in the sky and then falling to Earth in July 2020. It’ll be collected and the samples brought to labs where this pristine asteroid material can be studied in much greater detail than is possible with a spacecraft.

But that’s all still far in the future. First things first! Let’s get the flyby done, and then we can start looking ahead to seeing Bennu up close and personal next year.

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Artwork showing OSIRIS-REx flying past Earth above Antarctica and South America. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

OTW Guest Post: Henry Jenkins

Sep. 21st, 2017 11:06 am
otw_staff: 'Comms' and 'Claudia' written beneath the OTW Logo (Claudia)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
Banner by caitie of an OTW-themed guest access lanyard



“News of the OTW bubbled up from many directions at once, most likely through my associations with Escapade, but also through an academic colleague whose partner at the time was involved. I was so excited to hear about the emergence of this fan advocacy network which brought together fannish lawyers willing to help protect our fair use rights as fans; fan scholars publishing their work through a peer-reviewed journal; fan programmers using their skills in support of the community; and of course, an archive where fans controlled what happened to their own works without the interference of web 2.0 interests.

Each of these things is important on its own terms, but taken together, this organization has been a transformative force, in all senses of the words, for fans and their rights to participate.”

For our anniversary Henry Jenkins talks fan studies, students, fandom changes over the years & why it's worth fighting for: http://goo.gl/fm19m5

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Posted by Amanda

The Trouble with Grace

The Trouble with Grace by Jenn LeBlanc is 99c at Amazon and iBooks! This historical romance serves as a prequel for the next book and seems to feature a triad of sorts. Readers recommend this one for those wanting a different sort of historical romance, while others said it was hard to get invested in the romance.

She had no idea what passion was,
Until she saw them…
 

Lady Alain needs a husband, and Quintin Wyntor will do just fine.

She will offer him a mutual agreement of respect and independence–
As long as he never visits her bed to claim his marital rights.

But seeing him with a man, with Calder, changes it all.
For better–and for worse.

Passion stirred.
Desire ignited.

And yet, she still never wants to touch or be touched.

But Quinn’s heart is shattered when his lover walks away so he decides to explore his feelings for Celeste to ease his broken heart.

In one unchecked moment of passion, mutual need spins out of control and bringing Calder home now may just be impossible.

Will Celeste give in to what Quinn wants for her?
Or will she stand her ground and hope they find another way…
 

This book is the story of Celeste and has her happily for now.
It is also the beginning of Calder and Quinn’s story which will be continued in THE SPARE AND THE HEIR.

This book is an autochorissexual romance (on the asexual spectrum) but contains important pieces of a gay romance. Both are explicit.

Warning: this book has a cliffhanger ending for Calder and Quinn, but is very much part of their story.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Down & Dirty

Down & Dirty by Tracy Wolff is $1.99! This sports romance is the first book in the Lightning series. Readers said that while the book is definitely a sexy contemporary, it has some great emotional depth. However, some felt the romance aspect happened a bit too quickly.

This hard-bodied football star is used to scoring. But he needs all the right moves to get past a fiery redhead’s defenses in a steamy standalone novel from the bestselling author of Ruined.

Emerson: Talk about bad first impressions. I have too much riding on this job to show up late on my first day looking like the winner of a wet T-shirt contest, all thanks to an arrogant quarterback who drives like he owns the road. Hunter Browning thinks that because he’s famous, he can fix everything with a smile and a wave of his hand. He’s too bronzed, buff, and beautiful for his own good. Or mine. I can’t let on that I’m a fan . . . no matter how much fun we’d have in the sack.

Hunter: Hitting that puddle was my best play since winning the Super Bowl with a touchdown pass. Sure, it’s not my preferred way to get a girl wet, but I’ll make an exception for Emerson Day. She’s got a sharp tongue and a red-hot temper, even with her soaking clothes plastered to her every curve. Now I know exactly what my next play will be: hire Emerson as my personal real-estate agent, save her job—and see if I can take her off the market.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

A Summer for Scandal

A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Adres is $1.99! This is a historical romance set in the Caribbean with a heroine hiding her writing identity. One promising review said the feeling between the hero and heroine is very much like Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, but some said the plot execution could have used some work. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads.

Arroyo Blanco, 1911.

When Emilia Cruz agreed to accompany her sister to a boating party, she had no idea that the darling of the literary world would be in assistance—or that he would take such pleasure in disparaging the deliciously sinful serial she writes under a pseudonym. No one save her sister knows she’s the author and to be found out would mean certain scandal.

Stuck on his long-awaited second book, Ruben Torres has begun to edit in secret a gossip paper whose literary reviews are as cruel as they are clever. The more he writes about the mysterious author of a popular serial, the more papers he sells…and the more he is determined to find out her identity before anyone else can.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Vampire Warrior Kings Boxed Set

The Vampire Warrior Kings Boxed Set by Laura Kaye is $1.99 at Amazon and iBooks! It’s $2.49 at all other vendors. This set collects books 1-3 in the Vampire Warrior Kings series and features vampires, obviously. Just a note that these romances are on the shorter side.

Get Laura Kaye’s three bestselling and award-winning Vampire Warrior Kings stories at one great price! Travel from Northern Ireland to Moscow, Russia, to Tromso, Norway in this exciting series featuring the world’s remaining vampire warrior kings as they battle immortal enemies in an escalating war and find unexpected love.

In the Service of the King
Kael, Warrior King of the Vampires loathes the Night of the Proffering. He needs the blood of either his mate or a human virgin to maintain his strength, but hasn’t enjoyed the ritual since he lost his mate. Until he lays eyes on his new offering, Shayla McKinnon, who will give him anything he wishes. Will Kael give in to their overwhelming desire–even if it means risking Shayla’s life?

Taken by the Vampire King
Henrik Magnusson is supposed to be immortal but, thanks to a mysterious ailment not even the blood of the Proffered can sustain him now. Then he rescues a beautiful young woman, and is filled with blood lust and desire he hasn’t felt for centuries…

Seduced by the Vampire
Kate Bordessa has fled to Russia to escape her family’s hopes that she’ll become one of the Proffered. But when she stumbles upon a wounded vampire, she’s instinctively driven to protect him. Will her connection now to Vampire Warrior King Nikolai Vasilyev be strong enough for her to embrace a destiny neither of them was expecting?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

A Series of Unfortunate Monograms

Sep. 21st, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Who thought this was a good idea?

 

Or this?

(Never in my life have I so fervently hoped that a cake was chocolate.)

 

Or, Aunt Flo help us, this?

"So, when's the party?"

"At the end of the month."

 

Amy M., Jenna B., & Kim W., URQTs. At least, I like to think that you are. Not in a creepy way, of course, or like I know firsthand because I secretly stalk you or anything...that would just be weird. I mean, look, I'm just trying to give you a friendly compliment, in a completely platonic, non-stalker-esque kind of way, Ok? Ok. As you were.

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

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Posted by Carrie S

B+

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

by Helena Kelly
May 2, 2017 · Knopf
Science Fiction/FantasyGraphic Novel

I am sorry to inform you, Dear Bitches, that Jane Austen: The Secret Radical is not the stirring tale of an undercover Jane who lives a life of seeming calm while secretly running top secret missions for the abolitionist movement in the dead of night. However, it’s a fascinating nonfiction piece of detective work that points out that in the context of her day, Jane would have come across as a much more politically and socially progressive writer than she does to modern readers.

Author Helena Kelly’s premise relies on the idea that every time period and every culture has its own frame of reference. If I tell you that I do all my shopping at Walmart, that tells you something about me that is different from me saying that I do all my shopping at Whole Foods. Cultural references aren’t always that name brand specific (“name brand” is, itself, a phrase that is a cultural reference) but we all rely on thousands of these references without ever thinking about it.

Over time, certain themes stay current, which is one of the reasons that so many older books remain relevant and meaningful. However, most of the references with which the books’ original readers approached the text are lost, giving the book a different flavor with each new generation of readers. Kelly tries to look at Austen’s texts through the lens of Austen’s first readers, and she finds a lot of plausible evidence that Austen was writing very progressively about marriage, class, slavery, and money during a time when England was at war and dissent or criticism was repressed, often severely.

Here’s an example: In Mansfield Park, there is one reference to slavery that all readers can easily understand, and that is when Fanny brings it up at the dinner table and is shushed. Readers with more knowledge of history also know that when Sir Thomas goes to Antigua, he’s probably dealing with problems on his plantation, which is run by slaves. So far things are pretty overt. However, readers who read Mansfield Park when it was published would also have noticed that Fanny’s favorite poet, William Cowper, was famous for his poems in praise of abolition, and that Maria quotes from a passage about slavery written by Laurence Stern that was all the rage at the time. These, among other references, are obscure today but would have been glaring to Regency Era readers.

The other method Kelly uses is to analyze the text for things like repeated words and certain symbolism. For instance, in Mansfield Park, a book that deals with the idea of being trapped in multiple ways, the word “chains” is used thirteen times whereas in all other her other books combined it’s only used twice. In my opinion, sometimes this method of analysis is plausible and sometimes not so much. It’s clear that Kelly knows her Austen. However, all English majors know the trick of making everything symbolic, whether it’s intended to be or not. I buy the idea that Northanger Abbey is a book with a lot of content regarding sexuality but I don’t buy the idea that the scene in which Catherine opens boxes is about masturbation. Sometimes a box is just a box.

This isn’t light reading, but it’s also not mired in academic jargon. To my surprise, I read it in two days, lured on by the suspense of wondering just what Austen allegedly had to say about various topics. I found the chapters on Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park to be the most convincing and entertaining. The amount of scholarship and the clarity and approachability of the writing is truly impressive.

One of the reasons that I loved the chapters on Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion is that while Kelly does get into the darker subtext, she also celebrates reasons that the romances in those two novels are successful at a level I hadn’t considered. With other novels, Kelly is less sanguine about the eventual happiness of the couples. If you don’t want anyone casting aspersions on Edward from Sense and Sensibility, or Knightly from Emma, or Edmund from Mansfield Park, back away from the book slowly.

I would recommend this to people who have an interest in Jane Austen at an academic level. I would NOT recommend it to people who simply enjoy Austen for some nice reading, nor to those whose primary attachment to Austen is from the television and film adaptation, which tend to soften things considerably. If you fall into either of the latter groups, then this book will either irritate you or successfully ruin all conception of Austen as light and happy. If you like getting into the nuts and bolts of writing and history, then this book will be perfect for you.

August 2011

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