The Top 40 #EUInfluencer (s)

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:15 pm
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(Picture by Harold Tor)

At a glittering (well, actually somewhat overheated) ceremony on Thursday night, the list of the top forty EU Digital Influencers, as calculated by a rigorous and scientifically determined algorithm, was announced by EurActiv and ZN Consulting. The list was selectively drawn from Anglophone Twitter users, excluded sitting MEPs and Commissioners, but included their spokespeople, and also other EU officials and journalists, and former Commissioners and MEPs. Slightly to my surprise I scraped into the list at #37.

My glory was slightly muted by the fact that the official infographic illustrated me with a picture of former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt (who came in at #17). But I still said a few words when invited to do so by the organisers (from 37:40 here). Only two other people who work for consultancies made it - a former MEP at #13, and another chap at #40.

I don't think many people would dispute or begrudge the top spot being awarded to Australian journalist Ryan Heath, whose POLITICO Playbook morning briefing has established itself as the essential start to the day for most of us working in EU politics. I'm a bit more dubious about the fact that the next two places were taken by European Commission spokespeople, who actually tweet as part of their job. Fourth and fifth palce went to gadfly parody account @Berlaymonster (whose response was characteristically splenetic) and Jon Worth (who was more gracious).

These things are really just a bit of fun. Back in my young days I took the Diplomacy Zine Poll awfully seriously, and more recently it's been the Hugo Awards (whose ceremony had roughly twenty times the attendance of Thursday night, and whose reults will probably be remembered for a bit longer). Still, I'm putting it on my professional creds, and I shall wear my commemorative hashtag pin with a smidgeon of pride.


Oct. 20th, 2017 10:11 am
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[personal profile] seekingferret
The 25 mile ride I did in Helsinki at Worldcon left me wanting to do more longer rides on my bike. I somehow rode ~25 miles in Helsinki in spite of the fact that I don't think I've ever ridden more than 10 miles in a trip here in the US- in retrospect the bravado of saying "Sure, I can do this, let me sign up" amazes me. Helsinki is flatter than Highland Park, though, especially along the coastline, and the bike I rented there had road tires that I think probably also helped reduce rolling resistance compared to the more treaded tires on the crummy mountain bike I've been riding since I was a teenager. 25 miles still feels out of reach at home, but I want to work toward it not feeling so crazy, since I know that in some parallel European universe it's possible.

About a month ago, I set off on a 14 mile ride. They converted an old industrial railroad track into a biking path in Metuchen. It's about 4 miles to the trail, the trail is 3 miles long, and so all told the round trip is 14 miles. I rode 3.5 miles and then wiped out catastrophically on a curb cut, damaging my bike and bruising my arm pretty badly. There's this tricky part of the trip out where there's no choice but to ride alongside Rt. 27 and there's no sidewalk, and I was overly anxious having cleared that passage to get back on the sidewalk as soon as it was there, and there was also a puddle to avoid, and the result was I hit the curb slightly wrong and went flying. So that was a bust.

But I got right back on the horse. Er, bicycle. As soon as my bike was fixed up, I went out on the same route. We had beautiful weather and I made it through the tricky part without trouble (beyond a racing heartbeat) and the actual bike trail was lovely, with an overgrown tree canopy isolating it from the rest of town. I had to cut the ride short because I was going to dinner in my sister's Sukkah that night, so I only did 10 miles total. But I easily could have done the 14, I had it in me. I'm waiting for the next free Sunday to do the whole trip.

I've also been pushing the limits on my shorter after-work rides, lately, though it's getting dark earlier and earlier, making it harder for me to get in those rides before the point in the sunset where I'm too nervous of getting hit by a car to ride.

My next goal is to do a ride on the D&R Canal trail... I've done, a few times, the ride to the entrance to the trail- it's roundtrip 8 miles from home. And then the actual trail segment is 29 miles, so I can sort of pace myself and work my way up to the whole trail. Of course, now it's late October, I'm going to be running out of good weather weekends soon. I keep saying I'm going to get a gym membership to try to do indoor stationary biking in the winter, but then I remember that I find stationary biking stultifying. So we'll see.
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mike (short for "microphone")

Should I ditch my plans and plunge into a day of current events?
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Posted by Charline Jao

Director Quentin Tarantino, who had collaborated with producer and predator Harvey Weinstein for decades on films like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hateful Eight, spoke to the New York Times for about an hour about the producer’s continuous harassment and assault towards women in the industry.

Mainly, he revealed the unsurprising but still horrifying fact that he was completely aware of Weinstein’s behavior. “I knew enough to do more than I did,” he said. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

Tarantino confessed that he had known about the abuse of power from actress friends of his, including his former girlfriend Mira Sorvino who recently shared accounts of Weinstein trying to massage her, chasing her through a hotel room, and more. The director shared that he felt the problem was resolved when Sorvino became his girlfriend, and Weinstein would keep his distance.

The director also pointed out that nearly everyone close to Weinstein knew one of these stories. So how did Tarantino continue working with with Weinstein for several more years, even attending an engagement party Weinstein threw for the director just weeks before? “What I did was marginalize the incidents,” says Tarantino. “Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse.”

And of course, that’s what they are. They are crappy excuses that paint him as an apathetic, uncaring coward whose career benefited from keeping his silence. The New York Times article is full of apologies. He also said (emphasis mine):

“I chalked it up to a ’50s–’60s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk … As if that’s O.K. That’s the egg on my face right now.

“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.

“I’m calling on the other guys who knew more to not be scared. Don’t just give out statements. Acknowledge that there was something rotten in Denmark. Vow to do better by our sisters.

“What was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness.”

Now, reactions to Tarantino are somewhat split, with some praising the director for being candid and upfront about his failures, and others feeling frustrated and angry at how blatantly complicit the director was in Weinstein’s abuse. If it wasn’t clear, I’m in the latter camp. I’m furious at how familiar this story is, as it reminds us that while there are many hidden predators, there are just as many who quietly support them—that you could be Tarantino’s girlfriend and he still wouldn’t take real action against your abuser.

That’s not to promote the idea that men should be motivated only when someone close to them is under threat, only to point out that Tarantino’s reaction to Sorvino’s treatment wasn’t to try to create an environment where that couldn’t happen to any woman. Rather, his reaction was to use his own status, to enforce the idea that Sorvino was off-limits because she was his—not because she’s, you know, a person. What he thought of the less-famous actresses without famous boyfriends, we don’t know.

And “previously accepted”? By whom? Because anyone with a “certain consciousness” recognized that Weinstein’s behavior was never acceptable. Tarantino, in his call for action, also noted that Hollywood has been “operating under an almost Jim Crow-like system that us males have almost tolerated. We allowed it to exist because that’s the way it was.”

Beyond what’s wrong with the Jim Crow comparison in the first place (let’s remember that black women often have an even harder time when it comes to going forward with allegations), Tarantino’s use of the word “tolerated” and “allowed” really snag here. It’s incredibly telling about how he views his position. “Tolerating” and “allowing” something implies a certain level of passivity. Let’s make it clear: What Tarantino was doing was not passive.

It was a conscious choice of looking away from a problem, and deciding that the well-being and safety of these women weren’t of enough concern. It was hearing these stories and then going on to make hugely popular, award-winning films—ones that Weinstein would later go on to quote, name-drop, and reference when propositioning and preying on young, up-and-coming actresses.

It was an active enforcement of the status quo, of rape culture that keeps women silent and afraid while uplifting their abusers. Tarantino’s work and career is one that uplifted and contributed to Weinstein’s power—this is not tolerating a power structure, it is creating one.

Like all the stories coming out now about Hollywood and Weinstein, we should never forget that rape culture is in every industry and every aspect of our day-to-day lives. “When did you meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein?” showed us that countless women encounter workplace harassment and assault from men in power. But I’m sure that just as many women can recall a Quentin Tarantino in their life.

The Tarantino is the man who made excuses for your abuser, who didn’t cut him out of his life despite the fact that just the mention of his name leaves you crying and shaking, and who you see posing and smiling with your abuser in photos. He’s the man who feels so, so bad about what he did and gets called “brave” and “honest” for admitting his wrongdoings while the women who came forth before him are still dealing with threats and doubt. He’s a crappy excuse.

Tarantino states that Weinstein needs to “face the music,” but it feels just as necessary for men like Tarantino who are complicit in that kind of abuse to face the music as well. That is, if we truly want to change the culture.

(via NY Times, image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

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Eva's 12 today!

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:01 am
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[personal profile] conuly
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Posted by Teresa Jusino

A big concern some Star Wars fans have about J.J. Abrams returning to direct Episode IX after helming The Force Awakens in 2015 is that he was too “safe” a choice for the end of this particular trilogy. What’s more, they feel that TFA was simply a retread of A New Hope, so they worry about the implications of that on the final installment. It seems that Abrams hopes to alleviate some of those concerns.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4, Abrams was with long-time collaborator Michael Giacchino, who recently contributed to the Star Wars universe by taking on last-minute composing duties on Rogue One. With regard to what their intentions are for working on Episode IX, Abrams said:

“[I]t’s certainly something that I’m aware of now working on Episode IX — coming back into this world after having done Episode VII. I feel like we need to approach this with the same excitement that we had when we were kids, loving what these movies were.

“At the same time, we have to take them places that they haven’t gone, and that’s sort of our responsibility. It’s a strange thing – Michael’s worked on things like Planet of the Apes and Star Trek and Star Wars, and these are the things of dreams. Yet we can’t just revel in that; we have to go elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, as reported by, a fan on Reddit recently talked about meeting Abrams and Episode IX co-writer, Chris Terrio, and why it made him confident that Episode IX is going to be awesome:

“They said that they’re going to be brave and there will be big surprises. I got the impression that J.J. felt like he had to refresh previous Star Wars moments for a modern audience in TFA, and now it feels like they have free reign to do what they want.

“Apparently they’ve had no interference from Kathleen or Pablo or the Lucasfilm Story Group. 9 is also the film which unites all three trilogies and brings everything together. That’s all they would tell me.”

The trilogies, you say? Ugh. Don’t remind me (well, don’t remind me of The Phantom Menace. The other two were okay). Still, it makes sense having Episode IX be the culmination of the entire Skywalker saga film franchise as it stands now (no pressure), and if that’s the case then it really should be the freest of the bunch as the last chapter of a really long story.

I’ve gotta say, there’s no pleasing some people. Star Wars: TFA was “too much” like A New HopeStar Trek in 2009 was “too unlike” original Trek. Be risky, but not too risky. There’s no winning, really, which is why we’re gonna get whatever movie we’re gonna get without getting any say in it whatsoever.

What I kind of hope happens is that I want them to film a short film that looks like the beginning of Episode IX, except that after the crawl the film opens with Rey, Poe, Finn, and BB-8 sitting at, like, an Applebee’s having a Tarantino-esque discussion about pop culture. For half an hour. Then, just when fans start getting really pissed, Abrams comes on screen and is like “You wanted different!” and then says, “Nah, I was just messing with you. Here’s the actual movie.” That’s what I’d do, anyway, if it were me.

Which is probably why no one will let me direct anything.

(via The Wrap, image: Lucasfilm)

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Lovely Links: 10/20/17

Oct. 20th, 2017 11:52 am
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Posted by Sally

Weekly Kitty: Handsome boy. Sarah Anne shares six plus size Halloween costume ideas. Diversity Report: Landmark Gains for Nonwhite, Transgender and Plus-Size Models on the Spring 2018 Runways (However, as the Accidental Icon points out, If You Are...

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Posted by Charline Jao

Backstage on The Late Late Show, Adam Scott and Ben Schwartz took some time to respond to Parks and Recreation fan theories the show pulled from Reddit. These range from theories that point out tension in plot lines (how does Leslie buy those extravagant presents?) to the completely outrageous. But do they amount to anything?

The theories:

  • Was the team embezzling money from Pawnee City Hall? (Evidence cites the money Ron and Leslie have and Ben’s nervousness around the police.)
  • Did Ben once date Rachel from Friends? (The name “Ben Wyatt” comes up in one Friends episode when Monica mentions Rachel slept with Ben. The theory also speculates that she dumped him after learning of Ice Town.)
  • Is Jerry actually a sleeper agent? (His family is too perfect, he’s “oddly okay with people changing his name,” and The Americans “is a really cool show.”)

While Scott and Schwartz both strongly disagree with the first point, with Schwartz repeatedly going “How dare you?”, while Schwartz is willing to let the second one go for kicks. Scott essentially sums up how I feel about crossover fan theories (I’m looking at you Disney conspiracy theorists), responding, “When you cross TV streams like that, it tears a hole in the space-time continuum.”

As for the Jerry-theory, the two are all for it. “I agree with this 100%” says Schwartz, “and then I would like to see a Jerry/Mr. Bean type film where he’s an international spy and he says no words, but he farts and has heart attacks all the time. He’s constantly, like, falling into good luck. I would love to see that, he’s 100% a spy. I mean, you’re right, it’s almost too easy and too wonderful. He’s just so happy all the time, he’s hiding, he has deep regrets and the only way he can get it out is by taking lives and stealing artifacts.”

Do you have any favorite Parks and Rec theories?

(via screencap)

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[personal profile] nostalgia
Okay I am caught up on Discovery, pls link me to your posts that I have previously skipped to avoid Teh Spoilarz.

the quorn show )
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[personal profile] spikesgirl58 posting in [community profile] thefridayfive
1. What book frightened you as a young person?
2. If you had to become a ‘living book (i.e. able to recite the contents of a book cover to cover upon request – reference Fahrenheit 451), what book would it be?
3. What movie or TV show scared you as a kid?
4. What movie (scary or otherwise) will you never ever watch?
5. Do you have any phobias?

Copy and paste to your own journal, then reply to this post with a link to your answers. If your journal is private or friends-only, you can post your full answers in the comments below.

If you'd like to suggest questions for a future Friday Five, then do so on DW or LJ. Old sets that were used have been deleted, so please feel free to suggest some more!

**Remember that we rely on you, our members, to help keep the community going. Also, please remember to play nice. We are all here to answer the questions and have fun each week. We repost the questions exactly as the original posters submitted them and request that all questions be checked for spelling and grammatical errors before they're submitted. Comments re: the spelling and grammatical nature of the questions are not necessary. Honestly, any hostile, rude, petty, or unnecessary comments need not be posted, either.**

My tweets

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:00 am
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I am enjoying the Dynasty reboot

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:48 am
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[personal profile] giandujakiss
There. I said it.

(Never saw the original so I don't know how it compares)


Oct. 20th, 2017 05:24 am
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[personal profile] dglenn

"Oh, take your time don't live too fast.
 Troubles will come and they will pass.
 Go find a woman you'll find love
 And don't forget son there is someone up above.
 And be a simple kind of man
 Be something you love and understand [...]"

  -- from "Simple Man", written by Ronnie Van Zant (b. 1948
d. 1977-10-20)
and Gary Rossington (b. 1951-12-04)

Comic for October 20, 2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 11:59 pm
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Dilbert readers - Please visit to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to

Scholarly woman ends happy!

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:48 am
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[personal profile] heliopausa

It's Vietnam Women's Day today (International Women's Day is also celebrated, but in March, as everywhere else.)  So to mark the day, here’s something about one of the many notable women in Vietnam's history.

Nguyễn Thị Duệ was born in the late sixteenth century, under the Mạc dynasty.  I don't know her parentage, but her name suggests that she was from an undistinguished family - Thị Duệ  (pronounced, roughly, tea zway) means more or less "ordinary worker's daughter".  (It's possible, though, that this was a name given to deflect unwelcome attention - a name to go unnoticed by?) 

At the age of about twenty, she adopted another name, Nguyễn Thị Du, in order to sit the mandarin entrance examination, disguised as a young man.  The name Thị still has something of a female ring to it, but the history definitely says she was disguised when so called, and women did not at that time enter the exams or serve as mandarins.  Anyway, back to the story: 

Statue of Nguyen Thi Due in temple
Statue of Nguyễn Thị Duệ in her temple in Chí Linh District of Hải Dương province.— VNS Photo Bạch Liên

Of her poetry, I have struggled with the translation of just two lines.  I like it very much, but I can't say it neatly enough in English.  Here, in fourteen words, she gives a picture of a young girl (nữ nhi) straining to just barely touch the strings (lề) used to bind together the books of her time, and predicts with certainty that the girl who can do so much will advance, first to the humble copy-card used to learn characters (thiếp), and then to take her doctorate (trạng nguyên).

Nữ nhi dù đặng có lề

Ắt là tay thiếp kém gì trạng nguyên

She who uses all means possible to just touch the book's binding
Advances to spell out the words, and to win her doctorate. 

(Not literal, but I promise you a heck of a lot closer than G****** translate.)

"Let's" in Chinese

Oct. 20th, 2017 04:08 am
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Posted by Victor Mair

Advertisement recently spotted by Guy Freeman in the Central, Hong Kong MTR (subway) station:

It's a mixture of Chinese and English, of simplified and traditional characters.  In this post, I will focus on the calligraphically written slogan on the right side of the poster:

Hǎinèi cún 'zhī'jǐ, let's zhīfùbǎo


This slogan is not easy to translate.  Consequently, before attempting to do so, I will explain some of the more elusive aspects of these two clauses / lines.

First of all, the zhī 支 inside single Chinese quotation marks in the first clause has more than two dozen different meanings, including "support, sustain, raise, bear, put up, prop up, draw money, pay, pay money, disburse, check / cheque, defray, protrude, put off, put somebody off, send away, branch, stick, offshoot, twelve earthly branches, a surname, division, subdivision, auxiliary verb, measure word for troops".  For the moment, I'll refrain from attempting to translate it in the present context.

In the second clause, zhī 支 is part of the disyllabic word zhīfù 支付 ("pay [money]; defray"), which, in turn, is part of the trademark Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ("Alipay", China's clone of PayPal).  Being the name of a company, Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ("Alipay") is a noun.  However, since it here follows "let's" to form a first person plural command, it is acting as a verb:  "let's Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝" ("let's Alipay").

When we realize that the first clause is a literary allusion, it gets even trickier.  The first clause is perfectly homophonous with and echoes the first line of this couplet by the Tang poet, Wang Bo 王勃 (650-676):

hǎinèi cún zhījǐ, tiānyá ruò bǐlín

海内存知己, 天涯若比邻

"When you have a close friend in the world, the far ends of heaven are like next door."

Thus 'zhī'jǐ「支」己 (lit., "pay self") is a pun for zhījǐ 知己 ("bosom / close / intimate friend; confidant[e]; soulmate", lit., "know-self").

I would translate the whole couplet this way:

"You have a bosom friend (pay pal) everywhere, let's Alipay"

Guy notes that the ad "is from Alipay, a subsidiary of Alibaba, a very large Internet company from China. This shows the occasional outbursts from Chinese officials about defeating English to be useless at best."

Last question:  why did they use the English word "let's" instead of the equivalent Mandarin, "ràng wǒmen 让我们" or "ràng wǒmen yīqǐ 让我们一起"?  But that's three or five syllables instead of one, so it sounds clumsy and clunky instead of neat and crisp the way an ad should be.

If they wanted to avoid the English "let's" and use only Chinese, they could have written something like this:

yīqǐ Zhīfùbǎo 一起支付宝 ("together Alipay")

To tell the truth, in terms of rhythm, idiomaticity, and catchiness, that actually sounds better than "let's Zhīfùbǎo 支付宝 ('let's Alipay')" when paired with "Hǎinèi cún 'zhī'jǐ 海内存「支」己" ("You have a bosom friend [pay pal] everywhere").

Bottom line:  they wanted to sound international, since Alipay has global aspirations.

There have been many earlier posts on multiscriptalism and multilingualism involving numerous languages and scripts.  Here are some that specifically feature Chinese:

This is not an exhaustive list.

[Thanks to Fangyi Cheng, Yixue Yang, and Jinyi Cai]


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