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Wednesday News: Google & Net Neutrality, Gamergate, the ‘science’ of extraordinary appeal, and extreme OKCupid date = new romcom.

Wednesday News: Google & Net Neutrality, Gamergate, the ‘science’ of extraordinary...

Google is all grown up

This is the realpolitik theory, and represents the simplest and most likely explanation. The point, which National Journal makes too, is that Google is a mature, diversified company that sits on both sides of many policy issues. The company has less interest in staking out idealist positions and, in the case of net neutrality, is rich enough to cut a “fast lane” check to whoever is demanding one.

There is, of course, an irony here in that companies like Google, and especially YouTube, might not have emerged in the first place were it not for net neutrality. But that was then and this is now. –Gigaom

By design, Gamergate is nearly impossible to define. It refers, variously, to a set of incomprehensible Benghazi-type conspiracy theories about game developers and journalists; to a fairly broad group of gamers concerned with corruption in gaming journalism; to a somewhat narrower group of gamers who believe women should be punished for having sex; and, finally, to a small group of gamers conducting organized campaigns of stalking and harassment against women.

This ambiguity is useful, because it turns any discussion of this subject into a debate over semantics. Really, though, Gamergate is exactly what it appears to be: a relatively small and very loud group of video game enthusiasts who claim that their goal is to audit ethics in the gaming-industrial complex and who are instead defined by the campaigns of criminal harassment that some of them have carried out against several women. (Whether the broader Gamergate movement is a willing or inadvertent semi-respectable front here is an interesting but ultimately irrelevant question.) None of this has stopped it from gaining traction: Earlier this month, Gamergaters compelled Intel to pull advertising from a gaming site critical of the movement, and there’s no reason to think it will stop there. –Deadspin

What Rudder and his team found was that not all averages are created equal in terms of actual romantic opportunities — greater variance means greater opportunity. Based on the data on heterosexual females, women who were rated average overall but arrived there via polarizing rankings — lots of 1’s, lots of 5’s — got exponentially more messages (“the precursor to outcomes like in-depth conversations, the exchange of contact information, and eventually in-person meetings”) than women whom most men rated a 3. –Brain Pickings

What happens when “a reclusive writer who spends hours identifying new constellations in the ceiling paint” agrees to go on an OKCupid date with “a wildly energetic university professor”? Well, if they’re two twentysomethings who share an overly robust sense of whimsy, the date turns into a spontaneous three-week trip around the world, which turns into a Salon essay and then into a big-time Hollywood movie. –New York Magazine

REVIEW:  First Destroy All Giant Monsters by D. L. Carter

REVIEW: First Destroy All Giant Monsters by D. L. Carter

First Destroy All Giant Monsters (The World Wide Witches Research Association) D.L. Carter

Dear Ms. Carter,

 

I found myself quite curious to see you also wrote contemporary paranormal romance as I was perusing your backlist, so decided to avail myself of Amazon’s finest – and I wasn’t disappointed.  First, Destroy All Giant Monsters is the first in the World Wide Witches Association series (at least, I HOPE it’s a series).  It chronicles the life and times of Amber Kemp, a young-ish witch who turned her back on the craft at the behest of her father and buried herself rather unsuccessfully in the regular world.  It’s a classic case of science versus mysticism, which is a touch ironic, given that Amber’s aunt, Lucinda, was the founder of a movement to structure witchcraft with science.

 

Thanks to a confluence of seemingly unrelated events, Amber finds herself back at the old homestead, the one her family is bound by covenant to guard, beginning the search for her now-missing Aunt Lucinda and Uncle Robyn.  That mystery very quickly gets away from her when she encounters something much darker and much more evil just a few towns away while investigating her Aunt’s disappearance.  The presence of a book – one by the same title as this – is one of her few clues.  What she finds infects not only her, but threatens the entire world as she knows it with a web of darkness that seems to drain the life out of all it touches – and she’s next.

 

Amber’s search brings her into contact with quirky, somewhat lovable bookstore owner, Karl.  Karl seems to be a mass of contradictions – every time someone mentions magic, he starts to lose his mind with anger.  Yet he finds himself attracted to a known witch and magic user.  Together, they start searching for whatever is draining their lives away – and more importantly, why they’re being targeted.

 

A support cast of rather…interesting folks help liven things up a bit while descriptions of the magic workings have a very real feeling of authenticity.  I’m not a practitioner, nor do I hold any great knowledge about the workings / theories of magic, but what was presented was done so in a very accessible manner so it seemed to feel right, for lack of a better phrase.  The explanations were understandable and made perfect sense.  One thing that caught my attention, and held it, was the feeling of community that wove itself throughout the novel.  Different people kept showing up, and throughout both the good and the bad, they were there.

 

Amber is a rather strong protagonist, both in her magical power and in her dealings with everyday life.  She’s not a shrinking violet, but neither is she a woman who is an intimidating persona.  She comes across as an average, “everywoman” who just so happens to have a little something extra (no, not THAT!  Though, one gets the distinct impression she wouldn’t mind borrowing Karl’s for a little while), and the same types of familial issues that everyone else does.  It’s nice to see a non-perfect heroine for once, one who makes mistakes and drags her feet a little about owning up to them.  Who isn’t petulant once in a while when someone calls them out?

 

It did feel, at times, like things were dragging on just a little too long and a little too much.  I understand where some of Karl’s issues were coming from, but if he was a jerk to her one more time, I felt like I was going to reach through the pages and beat him soundly about the head and shoulders with his own idiocy.  He was, at points, an unmitigated jackass to the woman who was only trying to help him, and it went a little far.  That didn’t just happen once or twice, either, but it was a recurring theme throughout the first half of the book or so.  And then there’s the mystery of Lucinda and Robyn – that doesn’t get solved.  While the story of what was going on with Karl did get resolved and wrapped up nicely, I was left hanging on what’s going on with Amber’s whole reason for returning to the farm.  No, I’m not a cliffhanger fan.  I like for things to be neatly tied up with a bow at the end!  It was almost as if the disappearance of Amber’s relatives was the main story, but somewhere along the way Karl’s story hijacked your mind so that it was only at the end you remembered to go “Oh, them!  Um, well…Funny you should mention that…”

 

Thank you, though, for a very lovely read.  I enjoyed getting to know your characters and look forward to seeing more about them in the future!  C+

 

Mary Kate

 

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