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Nyren Nabbit
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Nyren Nabbit

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So, Sarah introduced me to the Tinker Bell film series this past weekend. She said it was very good, but I didn't really believe her, because she tends to enjoy children's shows and movies more than me. I, of course, was wrong. I put one of them on as background noise while playing a video game, hoping it wouldn't distract me too much from the game. I had to stop playing the game because the game was distracting me too much from the movie.

If you like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, you should check out these movies. They have a very similar feel, and they're all on Netflix right now. The Tinkerbell movies are similar to MLP in that they focus on young, female characters with a variety of interests, personalities, interests, and strengths who do the things modern women do, like having tea, taming cats, fighting pirates, revolutionizing industry... And all the while, learning something about friendship along the way.

Like MLP, it goes against the sexist trend of older shows that were aimed at young women and showcased "traditional" stark gender roles. The movies show men and women doing the same things, including art and animal husbandry, but also science and mechanical engineering.

I've started paying much more attention to voice actors lately, and these movies have some really great voice talent. They star Mae Whitman (Katara from Avatar) as the voice of Tinkerbell, and the supporting cast includes Kristin Chenoweth (Originated Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical, "Wicked"), Lucy Liu (O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill), and Raven-Symoné (Olivia Kendall from the Cosby Show). There are also some other interesting names scattered in the cast. The first movie is narrated by Loreena McKennitt, one of my favorite singers. The third movie includes Michael Sheen (David Frost from Frost/Nixon) as a major character, and the fourth has Timothy Dalton (James Bond from the 80s Bond movies and Rassilon from Doctor Who (2005)) as a major character. The fifth movie's focal character is voiced by Christina Hendricks ("Saffron" from Firefly) and has Tom Hiddleston (Loki from the Thor/Avengers movies) on the cast.

So, yeah, I found the movies very enjoyable, beautiful, and creative. But, if ponies aren't your thing, faeries probably won't be either.
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There's a puzzle hunt (BAPHL 9) running in Providence on April 5th. Anyone interested in being on a team with me? Team size is 6 people. http://www.baphl.org/9/
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If you two are up for it, we still need three more.

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Dealing with a new rash of medical discrimination at work. Gods, I hate my life.
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Happy second birthday, Merry and Pippin!
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"Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity." - Aaron Swartz

For those who have never heard his name before, Aaron Swartz was the writer of RSS, the semi-co-founder of Reddit, instrumental in the defeat of SOPA/PIPA, a staunch crusader for free access to free information, and a fatal victim of federal bullying.

May death have brought you the peace your life could not find, Aaron Swartz. The Internet feels your absence and grieves for the loss of one of its most selfless defenders. May the backlash from your death blaze a path to both a more open Internet and US DoJ reform.

I wish I could say that I hope the corrupt DA Carmen Ortiz is bullied over her reprehensible actions until she kills herself as well. But, honestly, I don't. Bullying is wrong. It's wrong when the US Government uses it to silence transparency advocates. It's also wrong when it's used to retailiate against them. In truth, I hope she is fired and ruined for the harm she has caused. She had a responsibility to act with integrity, and she failed.


"Aaron is dead.

Wanderers in this crazy world,
we have lost a mentor, a wise elder.

Hackers for right, we are one down,
we have lost one of our own.

Nurtures, careers, listeners, feeders,
parents all,
we have lost a child.

Let us all weep."
- Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Internet
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An essay about critically analyzing problematic media, said far better than I ever could: http://gyzym.tumblr.com/post/39004853136/just-shut-up
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Yeah, I liked the article too.

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#election2012   #noon2   #massachusetts   #politics   #deathwithdignity  

After reading several powerful posts by members of the disability community, I chose to vote NO on Massachusetts Question 2, the so-called "Death With Dignity" question. I am actually a supporter of assisted death, but I do not believe that Question 2's proposal is the way to go about it.

That said, I would like to thank whomever drafted the question for drafting it. You have brought the subjects of death and assisted death into the public discourse, which is something I consider important and valuable. I just strongly disagree with the details.


As an aside, let me be clear. I do not support assisted death for personal reasons. Killing myself is strongly against my personal beliefs and not something I would ever do, and I know no one personally who would seek such a thing. I just feel it should be a choice under specific, controlled conditions for those who honestly wish it. For example, the case of the knight-author Sir Terry Pratchett.

However, I do not feel it should be handled by a pharmacy-filled prescription, covered by an insurance, available as an alternative to treatment, or presented as an option to people who are simply depressed or in pain, and are under-medicated. And, having something like this in place before legalizing medical marijuana is, in my view, destructively hypocritical.
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I just generally went with what Ethan and I interpreted the law to say. There were a couple of flaws with the wording, I have a feeling they'll reword the thing, since there were a few things in it that differed from states that have a Death with Dignity act already, and try again another year. On the bright side, Maine and Maryland (I think) voted in gay marriage! Woot!

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I've been listening to audio dramas in the car. Any suggestions for what I should listen to? Below are quick reviews of the ones I've listened to so far.

"The Leviathan Chronicles" (http://www.leviathanchronicles.com/) is a really well produced action/adventure series. I really love the modern-Jules Verne feel it has, with the supersonic jet that's also a submarine, the flying blimp air fortress, the city at the bottom of the ocean, and so on. But, the plot holes really started to get to me. The biggest one is when gruesome, crippling injuries are described, and then in the next scene, the person is fine with no wound management. This happens a LOT and was immediately noticeable (and jarring) from the first episode. Also, the main character's intelligence drops to almost nothing in the second season. The inconsistency with her character and her repeated stupidity despite the series's assurances that she's a genius really irritated me. I don't know if I'll finish the series when the rest of it comes out. Still, the action scenes came out so well... So, it's fun if you like action, but be warned it's full of holes.

"Children of the Gods" (http://childrenofthegods.net/main/) also has awesome production values (amazing sounding dog fights in space for the win!), but suffers in other ways. The biggest problem with it is that the author seems to have no idea how to write dialogue, especially not dialogue between military personnel. Everyone seems to be focused on acting tough and yelling to make a point, like a really cheesy army movie. And, all the characters seem prone to sudden mood swings, judging by the dialogue.

"7th Son" (http://jchutchins.net/7th-son-original-podcast-trilogy/) isn't really an audio drama so much as a series of novels first published in podcast form. The audio version of the book series is extremely well read and read by the author, with each character having a distinct and recognizable voice. He does a really good job of it, in my opinion. The story is pretty good and I'd recommend it if you like thrillers about assassination and conspiracy with sci-fi overtones.

My favorite audio drama is still "The Mask of Inanna" (http://www.themaskofinanna.com/). Compared to the other things I've been listening to, it was coherent, it was cohesive, it was concise and kept on track, it had no glaring plotholes, and it was fun. It is a tale of an elderly former audio drama star who is hired to record and broadcast the last few episodes of the horror show he never finished. Except, there is something really strange surrounding the audio drama and the people who hired him... Every episode contains a show-within-the-show done in the style of a 50s era radio drama, and most of them come across beautifully and tie in to the main story. I strongly recommend it if you like urban fantasy and/or radio dramas from the 50s, or if you just like a good story.

The first audio drama I listened to was "Second Shift" (secondshiftpodcast.com). But, it was years ago that I last listened to it, and while I remember really enjoying it, I had nothing to really compare it against. I'm listening to it again with Sarah right now, so I'll have to see how it comes across on a second listen-through. The story is a tale of three teenagers who are teleported to a fantasy world full of magic and danger. The premise is not my favorite, but the story is good. I also really love the voice acting (of course, I'm biased there), and think the unique accents they came up with are wonderfully executed. That said, I find the three main characters to be extremely annoying in the beginning, but that's intended. They're not taking things seriously yet because they don't believe anything that's happening is real, which is fair. We're only on chapter 3, and I remember it getting so much better later on.
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I highly suggest that if you like Doctor Who at all (and know the old Who doctors) you should check out the Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Dramas. They're fantastically written and star the actors from Old Who. (and they have magnificent production values). Getting them directly is expensive, though. 
 
The Providence Transplantations was such an awesome team to solve with. Thanks so much to +Thomas Lawler for inviting me. I just wish I could have been more of a help. My biggest contribution to the Hunt this year was bringing a plethora of tape for the Cut & Tape puzzle.

I was surprised at how solid the Transplantations are. They hammered through puzzles super fast, were ahead of the unlock curve on Friday and early Saturday, and solved six metas and just about every puzzle from each of the rounds the metas were in. There was no drama at all on the team, which was a first for me in many years. They had a really well set up website that allowed remotes to keep abreast of everything that was happening and to keep in touch with people.

It was just, really nice. I don't know if I'd solve with them again though, because I felt totally outclassed and useless the whole time. All the puzzles that I would have really enjoyed and/or been good at were solved before I got to them by people who are just better at solving those puzzles than me. The ones others were stuck on were not ones that I could really help with.

Maybe I'll solve with the WPI people again next year... I miss solving with them, but teams that small see so little of the Hunt...
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Even though I was on a small team this year they blew through the puzzles which was surprisingly cool. Didn't expect us to solve nearly all of first round plus a Meta!! I was also very glad to not be on a team whose intent is to win.. been there done that xD

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Hmm. I'm now looking for a mid-sized (30-50 members), casual MIT Mystery Hunt team for next year.

Sadly, things didn't work out with our triple merge (LAAEFTR, Halibut, and IdM) at this past Hunt. Us IdMers didn't like being derided, yelled at, or told that our ideas were crap and to abandon them (especially when they were correct...). Hostility does not make for a fun Hunt. I really hope I can find a team that's inclusive, casual, fun, and stress-light. It was so exciting when we found LAAEFTR, but sadly, we just didn't mesh at all with Halibut's leadership.

I may have to go looking for a team to join on my own without the other members of IdM... Most casual teams are concerned about allowing a larger influx of people all at once, for exactly the reasons we saw illustrated during our triple-merge. Adding too many people at once leaves too many openings for clashes of personality.
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Every time I tried that, either no one volunteered, or the people who did volunteer didn't show. Or, once, the person did show, but he was an ass to everyone all Hunt.

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In an NYC school for the disabled (including those with mental, social, and emotional disabilities), students with disabilities were recently subjected to a surprise fake school shooting. Neither the students of PS79, the teachers, nor the local police were warned of this "drill" beforehand.

"Shooter in the building! Get out! Get out! Lockdown!" shouted one of the administrators over the intercom, initiating school-wide panic. Administrators then went from door to door and tried to force their way into the classrooms, giving no indication that this was anything other than a real emergency.

Following the "drill," the principal publicly derided teachers and students who panicked while joking with the other administrators about how scared everyone was.

Growing up, I spent two years at a school similar to PS79. It was a Child Development Center in Pennsylvania. I cannot recall the name beyond the non-specific "CDC." Like PS79, the school administration took advantage of the fragile nature of the children to abuse them. I still have PTSD symptoms from the school's extensive use of the long discredited practice known as "Seclusion and Restraint."

It is not uncommon for abusive administrators to target special needs children. It's just so easy. Few truly care - the news story for PS79 was buried on page 32 of the NY Times. Also, this incident was not the first occurrence of abuse by this administration, and the previous incidences were ignored by the media and the state government despite parental outcry.

Emotionally fragile and socially underdeveloped tweenage children have no voice. No one listens to them. No one understands them. They're pushed away into a corner and forgotten until they push through, broken, or break and fade away.

Please. Listen. They are people, even if you don't understand them. They have hopes, dreams, aspirations, emotions, and needs. They are not statistics. They are not tame animals. They are not failures, no matter how many times they're told they are.

You don't treat aquaphobia with a surprise, staged waterboarding. You don't treat claustrophobia by burying someone alive. You don't treat agoraphobia with a surprise. staged crucifixion. And you don't treat emotional disorders and social development impediments by staging the most horrific and traumatizing experience you can think of. That's not preparation training. That's child abuse and torture. And it needs to stop.

Most of these children cannot speak out. It took me years to tell my mother how I was being abused at the school I attended, and nearly a decade before I could think about what happened without a panic attack. These children have suffered worse. Many of them cannot speak out, but all of you can. Please.

Petition to Mayor Bloomberg: http://chn.ge/TgjLDj 
Details of the PS79 incident http://bit.ly/RIVfu4
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Yeah... I tend to avoid reading comments on articles on topics like that or they upset me too much, because so many of them are things like that. 

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#election2012   #buddyroemer   #writeinpresident   #politics  

Please vote! Voting is important! Remember, if you're writing in a candidate, include their place of residence if you can.

For President, I voted for write-in candidate:
Charles Elson "Buddy" Roemer III
8440 Jefferson Hwy, Suite 404, Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Buddy Roemer did officially drop out of the election, but a vote for him is still a vote for campaign finance reform. If you place high value on campaign finance reform and do not wish to vote for any official Presidential candidate, please consider writing in Buddy Roemer.


Writing all that in a teeny tiny space on the ballot with a giant sharpie marker was... special. Note to self: next time you're going to vote for a write-in candidate, bring a pen, or print it all out on mailing label beforehand.

I didn't know what to put for his running mate, which was good because there wasn't even enough room for all of that too!


Also, if you're the kind of person who would vote for Buddy Roemer, please also consider voting YES on MA Question #4 (Non-Binding). This question requests that the state's representatives to Congress push for a federal amendment that would both overturn the "Citizen's United" decision and implement certain important campaign finance reforms.
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