the independent review

“Pure Heroine documented feelings of teenage ennui in a way that was both self-reflective and universal; Melodrama takes a similar approach to the early years of adulthood - following a narrative that could almost be one night at a house party - in all its gory detail. Fuelled by a black humour that’s almost become her trademark, there’s heartbreak and ecstasy, desire, fear, uncertainty, acting on impulse, making mistakes and (maybe) learning from them. And those are tunes we can definitely dance to." 

 ― INDEPENDENT

The first time I saw Revenge for Jolly I thought it was terrible. The second time, I decided it was quite good. After watching it a third time: I think this movie is a satire of gun violence. Maybe?

The thing about this film is: It’s not a cool action movie. It’s not a vengeance thriller. It’s maybe not even a black comedy.

You have to go into this movie understanding both these guys are completely crazy. Harry, in particular, is one of the strangest film characters of all time. 

His relationship with the dog was not cute; it was disturbing. I still can’t work out if the dog was his pet or, eh, his girlfriend.

It’s sad more people haven’t seen this film, because it is genuinely strange. The viewer has to read between the lines a whole lot.  

Oh, and I could be wrong here. But Oscar was legitimately smoking pot in that scene, wasn’t he? It wasn’t even that difficult to spot. 

2

Lots of narratives have been going around about why Hillary lost. Most are placing the blame directly on the candidate herself, ignoring a few key points:

1. Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million votes. Yes. 3 million. To minimize this or not take it into consideration proves you are bias in your analysis of why Hillary lost. You don’t win the popular vote by 3 million if you are a truly bad candidate (Hillary also won every single debate). And for historical reference, Al Gore only won the popular vote by 500,000. Hillary won it by 3 million. 3 million votes is no small feat. You cannot ignore this fact if you want an un-bias analysis of why Hillary lost the election. The last two Republican Presidents lost the popular vote!

Also – both popular vote winners Al Gore and Hillary Clinton were hurt by progressives (Nader and Bernie) who got too comfortable after 8 years of a Democrat in the White House. Our side seems to shoot itself in the foot after 8 years in power. As we learned yet again – every vote counts, especially in the swing states. Because guess what? You can win the popular vote and still lose the election due to the electoral college. Progressives blew it big time for the second time in 20 years and hurt our popular vote winners Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. A cumulative 3.5 million more votes for the Democrats!

2. In U.S. politics, one party usually has power over the White House for only 8 years. Very rarely does a party hold onto the White House longer than 8 years. The last time was when Bush Senior won after Ronald Reagan, but then he quickly lost re-election to Bill Clinton. Democrat Al Gore couldn’t even win after Clinton left us with a surplus and booming economy. This usually happens because the side that isn’t in power tends to rise up, while the side that occupies the White House gets lazy and complicit. From a historical perspective, America was already headed towards a Republican Administration in 2016. Combine that with the racist backlash to Obama, and Trump exploiting the rise of worldwide racist nationalism, it’s no wonder their base turned out and ours didn’t. Remember – under Obama, the Democrats have lost 900 legislative seats nationwide and most of the Governorships and state legislatures, too (in addition to the White House and U.S. Congress). The backlash to Obama has been strong and was bound to hurt us in 2016. Point is – in American politics, very rarely does the same party occupy the White House for more than two-terms. This especially holds true when you combine that with racism and the rise of nationalism working against the first African American President. Conservatives were out for blood after 8 years of Obama, while our side shot itself in the foot by allowing Bernie to run as a Democrat (Nader all over again).

3. Just as in the United Kingdom (Brexit), there has been a worldwide resurgence in a nationalistic white working-class. Trump exploited this in a way Bernie Sanders never could have. Why? Because nationalism is being used to scapegoat immigrants and minorities. The 2016 election truly was an election about which party was going to turn out their base (whites vs. minorities). That’s why Hillary spent her time trying to convince us of the dangers a Trump Presidency posed to minorities. And if we had voted in levels similar to 2008, our base would have triumphed. But a core part of our base was missing – young voters that showed up for Obama but not Hillary. Why? Bernie fucking Sanders. Most of the “Bernie-or-Bust” voters I knew were young male progressives who puked at the thought of ever voting for Hillary. They even called Bernie a “sell-out” when he half-heartedly campaigned for her. What a shame. Because in the face of Brexit, every vote counted. Remember – Trump only won the swing states by a total of 80,000. How many “Bernie-or-Busters” were in the swing states? Seriously – never underestimate angry white men showing up at the polls (Brexit and Trump). Our side is much harder to turn out. That’s why every vote counted. And yes… I’m looking at you, college students!

4. Comey. The momentum the 3rd debate victory produced was lost after the Comey letter. The 3rd debate was the debate where “Nasty Woman” was coined. The closet thing the Hillary campaign came to naturally produced momentum. And it (luckily) came near the end of the election in the final stretch. Hillary was riding high after the 3rd debate domination – 11% polling lead. Everyone thought she was going to win and Nate Silver gave her over a 90% chance of winning. But then came the Comey letter. 

His letter also came after the release of Trump’s “pussy grabber” tape. The media narrative switched from “pussy grabber” to “FBI re-opens Clinton E-mail Probe.” The headlines became anti-Clinton rather than anti-Trump. And in American culture, media momentum is huge. That’s why they call it an “October Surprise.” Late deciding voters heavily broke for Trump due to the Comey letter and that’s what made the difference. 

Hillary ordered a complete analysis of the election and the Comey letter was the only new variable from her 11-point polling bump after the 3rd debate to election day. “Pussy grabber” was old news. “E-mails” became front and center yet again. This is why there is currently an independent review of Comey’s actions as we speak. Official protocol says to never release anything about a case if it may sway an election. Why? Because it might turn out to be false. Just like what happened. Comey ultimately retracted the letter in the final hours of the election, but the damage had already been done. Hillary was finished. Her 11-point debate lead – gone. That’s why there is currently an official investigation into Comey breaking official protocol and swaying the election in Trump’s favor. Once this investigation is complete, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from the Clintons.

5. Sexism. The 2016 election proved a far more qualified woman can still lose to a far less qualified man. Actually, Hillary was the most qualified person (man or woman) to ever run for the Presidency. Any man with Hillary’s accomplishments and qualifications never would have lost. It wouldn’t have even been close. Period.

6. Russian interference. We’ll never know exactly how much Russia swayed the election, but the influx of “fake news” targeting Hillary Clinton definitely had an impact on her public perception, especially in regards to her “trustworthiness.” Putin had a vendetta against Hillary because he held her responsible for the protests he faced after his re-election. He also thought Hillary would be far more aggressive and effective than Obama. He’d rather have a puppet and buffoon as President (Trump) than the brilliant Hillary Rodham Clinton.

7. The media. Hillary’s e-mails were made to seem just as bad as the millions of horrific things Trump did over the course of his 4-times bankrupt career. The false equivalence was mind-boggling. In the pursuit of trying to appear “un-bias” by saying both sides were equally corrupt, they ended up being bias against Hillary and helping Trump win the Presidency. The actual un-bias viewpoint is that nothing Hillary has done is anywhere near the level of deplorable things Trump has done. But the media made Hillary seem just as bad as Trump in order to give the impression that they were being “objective.” 

I truly hope the media did some soul-searching after the 2016 election. Tearing down Hillary and glorifying Trump – giving rise to his “cult-of-personality” has really bitten you in the ass, hasn’t it? Now you have at minimum 4 years of covering a manipulative propaganda artist con-man who just likes to play head games. Have fun!!

8. Republican witch-hunts. Republicans abused their power, which led to 8 separate Benghazi investigations. More investigations than Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and 9/11. Yet Hillary was never found of any wrongdoing and came out victorious after her triumphant 11-hour Benghazi testimony. Unfortunately, after so many fake “scandals,” Hillary’s image had been damaged. Which was the entire point of these fake scandals – even if Hillary isn’t guilty, we can still accuse her of corruption and plant seeds of doubt. But rather than viewing the Republicans as the corrupt ones, manufacturing fake Clinton scandals and wasting tax-payer money, many Americans drank the Clinton hate kool-aid (even progressives).

All of these factors led to the “perfect storm.” Which is why we needed every single vote in every single state. Yet Hillary still managed to win the popular vote by 3 million despite Russian interference, Bernie mania, multiple witch-hunts by Republicans, 11-hour Benghazi testimony, sexism, a media hell bent on false equivalency, a rise in worldwide racist nationalism, one party historically only occupying the White House for 8 years, and the devastating Comey letter. 

3 million more votes. Despite it all. A majority of Americans agree with our vision and our values. By the millions. And that’s not even taking into consideration ID laws and voter suppression of minorities, which greatly decreased the amount we won by.

“But, you know, then at the end, we had the Russians and the FBI deal. She couldn’t prevail against that. She did everything else and still won by 2.8 million votes.

The finest vote counter in America is Nate Silver. He told you what costed the election.” ~President Bill Clinton

A political icon and legend. Was going for round 3 in the White House. And we all know she ran it the first two times.

Looking for Reviewers!

Do you like romance? Post-apocalyptic fiction? Curious about what you get when you cross the two?

I’m looking for interested readers to review my novels. What We Need is a series romance, following the same couple through three books and looking at the challenges of falling in love, and staying in love, when the world has fallen apart.

What I’m Offering:

  • Free digital copies of one or more of the books to those willing to read and review them

What I Expect in Return:

  • An honest review posted to both Amazon and Goodreads (minimum) within 3 weeks of receiving the book
  • If you have a book blog, posting a review there would be appreciated as well
  • Sharing your review through any of your other social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) would also be fabulous

Please Do Not:

  • Ask to participate if you have no intention of reviewing
  • Ask to participate if you already doubt you’ll enjoy the books based on the premise/genre
  • Ask to participate if you don’t think you’ll have time soon to read/review
  • Ask for physical copies instead of digital; I simply do not have the budget for this on a large scale
  • Distribute the copies you receive to others

How It Works:

  1. DM me here on Tumblr with your email address, your preferred ebook format, and which book you need (for most that will be What We Need to Survive but if anyone who has already started the series needs the later books, that’s cool too.)
  2. I will add you to the reviewers list and send the book to you via email.
  3. Once you’ve posted your review, if you’d like to continue with the series, email me with a link to your review so that I know you’ve completed it; then I’ll send the next book along. If you’re not interested in continuing, then you’re all done!

The Fine Print:

As this is post-apocalyptic fiction, the setting isn’t pretty. There is violence, there is injury and illness and death.

As this is a romance, and not a “clean” one, there is also sex.

If anyone has concerns about triggers, or wants content warnings before they commit to reading, I’m happy to discuss them with you first. I don’t want to post them all here because [spoilers]; also because I can tag a lot of the obvious potential issues, but I can’t know everything any given reader might be worried about encountering.

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you need to–I want my books to be enjoyable, not harmful, and I will not be offended if anyone decides not to read after talking with me.

4

Christian Serratos photographed by Xavier Guerra for MTV News

“Serratos recalled an incident where she did an independent film, then read reviews that referred to her character, one of the four leads of the film, as “the Latina friend.” The other three leads, she said, were described in detail.

I’m like, ’You just bastardized everything that I just f–king poured my heart and soul into,‘” Serratos explained. “Because yes, that is what I am, and I’m proud of it, but that is not all that I am… They didn’t mention anything at all about this character, who had basically saved her friend’s life. It was a very important person to talk about.

Top 5 Beautifully Tragic Independent Movies

Disclaimer: I’m not a film critic, I’m a photographer who gets excited about pretty, emotional things. 

By the time I was 16 years old, I had become obsessed with drama, independent and art-based movies. This was to the extent that I could barely fathom the fact that - on my first day of film studies class - our teacher informed us that our lessons would largely encompass generic blockbuster titles.

‘But there’s so little to these films…’, thought the younger, less knowledgable me. 'What could possibly be of interest about easily interpretable movies that follow cliche, overused narrative tropes, structures and visual stylings?’

Eventually I learnt the error of my thinking, and how dense filmic scrutiny could extend, even in the most conventional of titles. However, my love for movies that differ a little from the norm never really ceased. If its obscure, super dramatic/romantic, bizarre, confusing and/or beautifully shot I’ll probably be convinced by the end that it’s changed my life somehow. Yes, it’s relatively pretentious of me - at least I’m honest about it.

Since my departure from university, I’ve found myself with a little evening time to watch movies again. Subsequently, I’ve proceeded with my incessant hunt, in which there is no final target, to find films that are worthy of my 'list’. This is a catalogue of cinema that has moved me via nothing less than pure, superlative artistry. To celebrate this continuation, I have decided to share a section of my list so far with you. Whether a positive experience or not, these flicks are sure to blow your mind.

#5

'LOVE’ (2011)

If you’ve heard of a wonderfully talented American musician named Tom Delonge (that dude who played in blink-182 and somehow managed to make bad singing sound great), you might also be familiar with the numerous art projects completed under the alias and associated iconography of his band, Angels & Airwaves. Delonge has crafted a wealth of different media under Angels & Airwaves, but no other manages to compare to the 2011 LOVE feature length movie. Directed by William Eubank and produced by Delonge, LOVE is a truly gripping movie that aims to explore the unconditional human need for contact, connection and companionship.

At the very end of a long space exploration mission, astronaut Lee Miller becomes the last human in existence as an unexplained apocalyptic incident sweeps across the world. This event is insinuated only by Miller’s discontinued contact with earth. LOVE possesses a pace that is binary in nature; utilising calm, suddenly sporadic and inconsistent shots to expertly depict Miller’s descent into madness. These skilfully crafted scenes are successful in simulating feelings of irritability and hysteria within its viewers - perfectly epitomising the human need for raw emotion that LOVE strives to explore and present. In turn, we are guided towards the films resolution: Love is the answer; the reason for our very existence. To truly feel gratitude for those you have in your life, you need to experience LOVE.

Quote:

Why do we struggle to breathe a more righteous breath, when we all end up in the same place?’


#4

'Submarine’ (2010)

This is a movie which is set in a town called Swansea, south-west Wales. What’s kind of wonderfully coincidental to me is that five years after seeing this movie, I am now dating a girl who’s lived in Swansea her whole life (200 miles away from my current location), and roamed some of the locations in the movie during its production. I also met a guy back in university who was actually in the movie as an extra! Kind of strange… anyways.  

As a slightly bleak coming of age comedy about a lovelorn boy named Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), Submarine manages to adhere to, and subvert the conventions of the genre simultaneously. As Oliver tries to work out who he really is, he makes attempts to save his parents marriage and develop his relationship with his equally strange and somewhat pyromanic girlfriend, Jordana (Yasmin Paige). His naivety often results in ill-informed decisions and hilarious results.

I loved the striking performances delivered by the cast of the film; strong portrayals of refreshingly authentic character types. Additionally, the dry humour that remains consistent alongside more serious themes keeps the storyline concurrently sincere, yet humorous.

However, what I found most imposing about Submarine was its unconventional cinematography, visual triggers and narrative structure.

The camera work by Eric Wilson has an idiosyncratic, stylised dynamic; beautiful and often erratic. Alongside the choppy and quirky editing, this helps contribute towards the comedic undertones of the movie whilst remaining superficially alluring. The grain from the use of film cameras, and the use of only natural and existing artificial light, also contributes to Submarine’s 80’s era nostalgia.

Basically… it’s dope.

Quote:

'You’re the only person that I would allow to be shrunken down to a microscopic size and swim inside me in a tiny submersible machine. We have lost our virginity but it wasn’t like losing anything. You’re too good for me, you’re too good for anyone.’

#3

'The Tree of Life’ (2011)

This one is going to have you Googling explanations before the movie has barely begun. Its a CONFUSING film, but an emotional and gorgeously shot one at that. The cinematography is saintly and, as a photographer, I may have wept at little at this movie’s sheer beauty.

The film follows Jack (Sean Penn), the eldest son of a family as he reflects on his childhood in 1950’s suburban America: his relationship with his parents (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain) his experiences and the premature death of his brother.. however..

The way the movie has been moulded comes across as more of a lengthy video-based art-installation piece, rather than a feature film. The manner and pace in which the films develops, projects an inarticulate dream-like quality; an exploration of themes, ideas and visuals with no real events to drive any gripping or discernible narrative.

It’s damn complex - at times appearing complicated simply for the sake of being complicated. Some might call it art, some might call it pretentious - I call it poignant and moving.

The Tree of Life is a fantastic movie, demonstrating Terrence Malick’s auteurist style.

Quote:

'Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.’

#2

'Never Let Me Go’ (2010)

Much like the central theme of this movie, this is one that I will never let go of (or forget). Based upon Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name, NLMG follows its protagonists Cathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley). The trio are pupils at a school of children, all of whom were born and raised to be healthy, donate their vital organs and die young. Yeah.. it’s pretty grim. But hold up.. it gets additionally tragic.

A love triangle forms amongst the three and throughout the movies three act structure (spanning about a decade… I think) it becomes evident that Cathy and Tommy are meant to be. Deep down they knew this all along, yet by the time they act, they’re days from beginning their donations.

There is nothing more tragic than true love that cannot be allowed to exist. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it. Seriously, though… watch this movie. It’ll cut you up but you’ll know what it is to feel true gratitude and appreciation to be a free soul.

Quote:

‘We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.’

#1

'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)

So on account of its cult status - and being that this is Tumblr - my number one is probably one that you’re already familiar with. For those unfamiliar, however, I will enlighten you.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of two seemingly incompatible people, Joel and Clementine (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) and the deterioration of their relationship. The films director Michel Gondry, presents a tender, endearing and intimate companionship that becomes reduced to a jealous, frustrated and dispassionate mess.

Sounds pretty conventional so far, right? Well, conventional it ain’t.

Overwhelmed and exasperated, Joel discovers Clementine has visited Lacuna Inc, a company which provides a form of brain damage; allowing her to forget she had ever met Joel. Devastated upon realising this, Joel has the same treatment performed upon himself. Joel’s erasure is what guides the films narrative.

Beginning in the present day as Joel starts his treatment, Eternal Sunshine traces back through the cherished memories of him and Clementine as they are removed one by one. However, as the procedure is occurring, Joel realises that he can’t bare the thought of losing Clementine for good; even if only as a memory. From the depths of his unconsciousness, Joel tries desperately to hold on to this paradigm of his psyche.

The reason I adore this film so much is the muddled narrative structure, the obsessively detailed mise-en-scene and visual triggers. This is to the extent that new little details and easter eggs seem to reveal themselves with every viewing. Additionally, the conclusions, lessons and themes of Eternal Sunshine are most certainly transferable to real life.

Although the movie appears as somewhat incoherent at times, Gondry somehow manages to find a perfect harmony within the films delivery; superlatively demonstrating the importance of love and memory, irrespective of life’s eventual outcome.

It’s kind of difficult to express through words the impact that this movie has had on me, and the cinematic quality I think it possesses. It’s gorgeously shot, magnificently executed and hard-hitting. The soundtrack by Jon Brion is also expedient and gets you RIGHT in the feelings. It’s one of those films that makes you feel as though a deep, innermost element of your being has been changed somehow. It did with me, at least. It’s breathtaking.

Quote:

'What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she’s a stranger.’

anonymous asked:

From my tumblr bubble, I thought Harry was killing it with critics & sales. But when I checked for myself, it does not seem exactly superstar level? I mean the level that would justify his marketing budget & hyperbolic launch. If you look at Metacritic, his album is well outside the top 100 best reviewed albums in the last 90 days. If you look at album sales, he's dropped 80%. Both of those things are fine, but I was just shocked at the difference between SM & hype vs actual numbers.

•••

Hi!

Thank you for the question.

My answer is going to break the question down into several parts, and will include some conjecture on my part.

First, by any metric, Harry’s album has done very well. To debut as a solo artist in the #1 album position (in the U.S., with immense competition), and with a #1 single, is a PR victory in and of itself. I don’t mean “PR victory” as in the album was not deserving, just that there is so much great music out there, that one has to have a huge PR push to be noticed. And Harry did. Was the PR overhyped? Was it worth the outcome in sales and critical reception?

Columbia/Sony is counting on Harry as a sure thing. Harry’s PR has been well-strategize and meticulous; he has played the U.K. and American shows with the largest audience numbers, and the timing couldn’t have been better. It’s the envy of any artist to have his management devote 90% of their time to him, especially when they are arguably one of the most powerful in the music business. It’s not a matter of overhype– there’s no such thing for an artist that has a huge fanbase and who wants to launch as a solo artist into the ranks of A-list musicians.

Now, the longevity of the album’s sales, and the ultimate numbers, will have to wait a few months. Selling over 200,000 units over the first week in the U.S. is a very respectable start. I fully expect the album to go platinum.

As for the drop in sales after the initial push, I think it’s not unexpected, with promo ending, the large number and quality of new artists releasing music, and the fact that Harry’s music is very different from the trend at the moment. The only single released so far is SOTT. It isn’t the most radio-friendly, although it has been included in multiple media playlists as a “song of summer.” I think Harry will release another single within the month, either Carolina or Kiwi, which are much more in tune with summer hits. Singles and music videos help drive sales.

I also think the SOTT music video was a misstep. Despite the flight gimmickry, it was bland and incoherent, and didn’t draw many more listeners to the song. At two weeks after release, it has 31 million views, compared to Kendrick Lamar’s DNA, released a month ago, with 85 million views.

As for critical acclaim… sigh… if I had a nickel for every time I read, “despite his boyband beginnings.”

I see several reasons for Harry’s album to have mixed critical reception, and some of these are contradictory, so I’ll just list them.

1. The album’s sound was unexpected. Critics have always used the words “generic” and “bland” to describe One Direction’s sound– pop aimed at unsophisticated ears. I feel like this is the genre that Harry was expected to fall into– pop but a bit slicker, shinier, sexier and more adult (like Justin Timberlake). The range and confessional quality of the songs on the album were unexpected; critics could not use the history of One Direction (not that they bothered) to evaluate the songs… but still tried. It will take a while to think of Harry other than as the frontman for One Direction, and even his virtues– the beauty of his voice, for instance– will be viewed negatively, as something “cultivated on a reality television competition.” Unclench your anal sphincters already, critics. His voice is unlike any other, and a bad voice/ edgy sound isn’t the sign of creative originality. Get over yourselves.

2. His audiences is still predominantly female. The fact that Harry would not repudiate his audience, when presented with a chance to, immediately lowered his cool quotient.

3. The albums with higher critical ratings tend to be from independent artists with fewer reviews. These are the top ten best rated albums on Metacritic right now (the number in parenthesis is the number of professional critical reviews):

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band– remix
Damn - Kendrick Lamar (37)
Lovely Creature, the Best of Nick Cave (12)
Kicking Child - Dion (5)
A Crow Looked at Me - Mount Eerie (18)
Black Origami - Jlin (10)
Singles, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (7)
Eternity, In Your Arms - Creeper (8)
A Hair of Purpose - Pile (4)
The Order of Time - Valerie June (10)

Compare these with Harry’s album, with 23 critical reviews. The fact is, indie artists, reviewed by fewer professional reviewers, have a biased critical audience. The reviewers are ones who actively seek out indie music to review, & are already favorably disposed to this type of music. Statistics is not a science but an art. It can be bent multiple ways.

I don’t expect the whole world to love Harry, of course. His PR is imperfect. His lyrics can be more poetic and specific, his tropes about sex and women feel derivative (watch better movies, Harry). But compared to other artists, Harry is still young, and hasn’t really lived in the real world, either. Better songs will come.

Raisman: Scandal-marred USA Gymnastics needs sweeping change

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Aly Raisman is ready to talk about “the elephant in the room.” And the six-time Olympic medal-winning gymnast thinks it’s time USA Gymnastics joins in a conversation she feels is long overdue.

The 23-year-old is calling for sweeping change in the organization in the wake of dozens of allegations of sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar, a scandal that has left one of the U.S. Olympic movement’s marquee programs scrambling and Raisman shaken.

Nassar spent nearly 30 years as an osteopath with the USA Gymnastics program and is now in prison in Michigan after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. He is awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges, in addition to being sued by more than 125 women who claim he sexually assaulted them under the guise of treatment.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation .

Raisman, who was around Nassar regularly at the team’s training facility in Texas and at meets around the globe, declined to talk about whether she was treated improperly by Nassar. She did agree to speak more generally, calling Nassar “a monster” and blaming USA Gymnastics for failing to stop him and spending too much of the fallout attempting to “sweep it under the rug.”

“I feel like there’s a lot of articles about it, but nobody has said, ‘This is horrible, this is what we’re doing to change,”’ Raisman said in a wide-ranging interview Saturday shortly after she and other members of the “Final Five” that won team gold at the 2016 Olympics were inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Raisman served as a captain for both the “Final Five” and the “Fierce Five” that won gold in London in 2012. While several alleged Nassar victims have come forward, including 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher, Raisman is the highest profile athlete yet to publicly reprimand the organization. Raisman said she kept quiet waiting after the initial allegations surfaced last summer, waiting for USA Gymnastics to own up to its mistakes.

While it is taking steps toward creating a safer environment for its athletes, she doesn’t believe it is doing nearly enough openly enough, adding that she feels USA Gymnastics is trying to get on with business as usual.

“What people don’t realize is that this doctor was a doctor for 29 years,” Raisman. “Whether or not he did it to a gymnast, they still knew him. Even if he didn’t do it to you, it’s still the trauma and the anxiety of wondering what could have happened. I think that needs to be addressed. These girls, they should be comfortable going to USA Gymnastics and saying: 'I need help, I want therapy. I need this.”’

USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar and reporting by the Indianapolis Star that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.

In June, the federation immediately adopted 70 recommendations proffered by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review. The new guidelines require member gyms to go to authorities immediately, with Daniels suggesting USA Gymnastics consider withholding membership from clubs that decline to do so. The organization also named Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport. Part of Stark’s mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs, reporting and adjudication services.

USA Gymnastics said in a statement late Saturday it welcomes Raisman’s passion, adding it’s “appalled” by the accusations against Nassar.

“We are taking this issue head-on, and we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe,” USA Gymnastics said.

Daniels said repeatedly when her review was published that she wasn’t hired to make judgments on past missteps, something that doesn’t fly with Raisman. She pointed to the reported $1 million severance package given to former president Steve Penny after he resigned under pressure in March as proof that the organization just doesn’t get it.

“I thought, 'Wow, why couldn’t they create a program?”’ Raisman said. “A million dollars is a lot of money. They could do a lot of things to create change. They could create a program. They could even contact all the families that have come forward and say. 'Can we help your kid with therapy?”’

Lynn Raisman, Aly’s mother, said USA gymnastics needs to “get rid of the people who knew and looked the other way.”

Raisman has used her celebrity and extensive social media reach as a platform to promote positive body image and anti-bullying. She’s currently living in Needham, Massachusetts, working on an autobiography due out in November while weighing whether to take a shot at the 2020 Games. Either way, she wants USA Gymnastics to evolve and stressed there’s a difference between her criticism of USA Gymnastics and the sport as a whole.

The sport is fine. She loves gymnastics. It’s the parent organization that needs to undergo a transformation. And she’s clear on the message she wants it to send.

“Everyone is important,” Raisman said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the Olympic champion or you’re an 8-year-old that goes to gymnastics in Ohio, or wherever you are in the U.S. Every single kid is important and I want USA Gymnastics to do a better job with that.”

independent.co.uk
Harry Styles wears his influences on his sleeve for his debut album - review
As the most intriguing yet most inscrutable member of the biggest boyband in the world, putting together a debut solo album must have felt like both a daunting and exciting prospect for Harry Styles. There’s been far too much pressure on the 23-year-old to establish himself as “the new Bowie” or “the new Mick Jagger” (as if there could ever be such a thing), but what is immediately clear is that those two artists, among many others, have played a huge influence on the record.

Roisin O’Connor for the Independent. This one is extremely positive. Calls Harry out on the cliched tropes in some of his lyrics, which I think is completely deserved, frankly ;)

Stacks

Note: I’m not a carat™ just yet, but happy belated to Jeonghan. He looks so Regal sometimes! I’m taking baby steps into the seventeen fandom, but this is vaguely inspired by The Prince and Me (2004) - kind of. Also, surprise @versigny because you deserve some really nice things for giving me “dolly” even if I took it completely out of context. 

Pairing: Jeonghan x Reader
Genre: college!au 
Warnings: rushed confessions
Word Count: 1281
Rating: G, for Go Easy On Me Please? (PG-15)

*

“Thanks for saving me a seat, baby,” Jeonghan tells you with a wink, using his best indoor voice. That particular stress on the word “baby” isn’t lost on you because Jeonghan is an odd man who thrives upon the misunderstanding of the masses. He’s told you in the past how much he enjoys the moment of reveal when people find out that no, you’re not his live-in girlfriend of two years, pregnant with his child. You’re, disappointingly, just a friend - albeit a friend with whom he enjoys quasi-dating laden with a heavy dose of sexual tension that sometimes manifests itself in the form of his mouth over your unmentionables.

*

Keep reading

#readselfpublished reviews

#5 - The Redwood Rebel, by Lorna George

  • Read: 4/23/17 - 4/27/17
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

A fairly standard fantasy-rebellion plot that gets upstaged by the FANTASTIC culture-clash romantic subplot. Seriously, most of the time when the romantic leads come from different fantasy-lands, one culture is “good/educated” and the other is “evil/savage,” or sometimes, even, they’re portrayed as civilized/backwards on the sole axis of modern feminist ideals.

Don’t get me wrong, I want women to be empowered, but if you want to make a culture “bad” just by making it not-feminist, that’s a lazy way out. Dig deeper, or at least work out the full implications of how your “bad” society would effectively govern and function, please.

Anyway, I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

Here, some standard fantasy tropes are subverted, especially regarding virginity, both male and female (yay!)–and neither Naomi’s nor Arun’s cultural biases are wrong, they’re just different. I feel like I’ve been waiting to see a romance like this one FOREVER, and they’re not even really together yet! (More, please. I want to see how these two stubborn babies reconcile their differences.)

The one major flaw I saw in this work was the weak villains. Adrienne’s only two character traits are being spoiled and stupid, and Cygnus is an underdeveloped behind-the-scenes manipulator type who uses her to gain power. There’s a lot of potential there, but they never feel as authentic as Naomi or Arun.

That being said, I still had a hell of a good time reading this.

The Perfect Dish (3)

Ten x Rose restaurateur/food critic AU

Word count: 834 |  All Ages (for now)  |  Part 3/?

AO3

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 / Part 10

Chapter summary:  John and Jack begin to make plans, and Rose tells all to her readers.




“See?  What did I tell you.”  This time it was John’s turn to shove his phone under the nose of his friend.

Jack quickly scanned the email conversation.  “Huh…” he said, genuinely surprised.  “Wow.”

John scowled.  “Wow?  That’s all you can say?  After your speech about the world of culinary criticism?”

“Hey, I stand by my original statement.  Just ‘cause the Chippie Chickadee doesn’t fit the mold doesn’t mean the mold doesn’t exist.”

John rolled his eyes.  “Whatever. Anyway, I need you to help me plan the evening.  I’ve got the perfect dish in mind, but I want everything about the experience to be on point.”

Jack raised an eyebrow.  “'On point’? What is this, a date?”

“What?  No!”  John felt his cheeks color.  “For god’s sake, I don’t even know what she looks like. She might be an 80 year old woman.”

“Age-ist.”

“Stop it.  Will you help me?”

“Sure.  Whatcha need?”

“I need you to take Donna on a date.”

Keep reading

A Resolution for You

If you haven’t set New Year’s Resolutions yet, here’s a suggestion for one: write more Amazon reviews.

As an author, I can tell you that Amazon reviews are worth gold to authors. Literally, they make a huge difference to how a book sells.

It probably doesn’t matter if we’re talking about something like Game of Thrones, which currently has 3609 reviews on the UK Amazon. But the amazing On the Edge of Gone by @corinneduyvis (probably the best book I read in 2016) only has 9.

7 of those 9 reviews are 5 stars, the other 2 are 4 stars, but here’s the thing: Amazon doesn’t start including books in their “recommended” lists until it has more than 10 positive reviews (positive meaning 4 or 5 stars). So this fantastic book isn’t being suggested to new readers because it doesn’t have enough reviews.

Another book with an autistic protagonist, Viral Nation, has 8 reviews on the UK Amazon.

One of my own books, Omega Rising, has 5 reviews. They’re all 5 stars, but that’s not enough to tip it over Amazon’s threshold.

Well-written reviews can help people decide whether or not to buy a book, but any review at all can count towards the total reviews and determine whether the book shows up in the “also purchased” lists and “recommended for you” sections. It’s also worth noting that reviews are counted separately on the different regional sites - so  On the Edge of Gone mentioned above actually has 28 reviews on the US version of Amazon, but those don’t count towards its UK total.

So if you’ve enjoyed a book, especially a book by a new or independent author, leave a review. If you buy a book and notice that it has less than 10 reviews, make a note to come back when you’ve finished reading and give your opinion. You don’t have to write a lengthy essay. A detailed review is fantastic, but for some things, it’s quantity rather than quality that matters, so ticking 4 stars and writing “good book” is still going to be a massive help to an author. It will help get the book in front of new potential readers and mean that the authors can spend more time writing and less time wondering how they’re going to pay the rent next month.

In 2017, when you go to browse Amazon for new books, take a minute to go through your old purchases and leave a few, short reviews. Your favourite authors will love you for it.

Identifying pseudoscience

Science is the method of eliminating the maximum number of biases from observation as readily possible, describing results with as little interpretation as possible, and attempting to using valid and sound arguments to explain patterns in data with theorhetical models, peer reviewing results, and predict future results under similar conditions to experimentation.

The following may be very useful to read, especially with a topic in mind to examine whether it relates to these bullet points. Think of any broad topic relating to sets of political or religious beliefs, various practices in medicine, diet, fitness, spirituality, psychology, community, counseling, any subject presented as science. Really, any system of interpreting truth can be put under the microscope of the rest of this post, and It doesn’t even absolutely have to be a topic that presents itself as science, just any system of thought that makes claims. Once you have a topic in mind, consider how it relates to each bullet point. The subject I obviously would like people to examine is feminist theory.


The following are some of the indicators of the possible presence of pseudoscience.

Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims

  • Assertion of scientific claims that are vague rather than precise, and that lack specific measurements[47]
  • Assertion of a claim with little or no explanatory power.[36]
  • Failure to make use of operational definitions (i.e. publicly accessible definitions of the variables, terms, or objects of interest so that persons other than the definer can measure or test them independently)[Note 5] (See also: Reproducibility).
  • Failure to make reasonable use of the principle of parsimony, i.e. failing to seek an explanation that requires the fewest possible additional assumptions when multiple viable explanations are possible (see: Occam’s razor).[49]
  • Use of obscurantist language, and use of apparently technical jargon in an effort to give claims the superficial trappings of science.
  • Lack of boundary conditions: Most well-supported scientific theories possess well-articulated limitations under which the predicted phenomena do and do not apply.[50]
  • Lack of effective controls, such as placebo and double-blind, in experimental design.
  • Lack of understanding of basic and established principles of physics and engineering[51]

Over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation

  • Assertions that do not allow the logical possibility that they can be shown to be false by observation or physical experiment (see also: Falsifiability).[18][52]
  • Assertion of claims that a theory predicts something that it has not been shown to predict.[53] Scientific claims that do not confer any predictive power are considered at best “conjectures”, or at worst “pseudoscience” (e.g. Ignoratio elenchi)[54]
  • Assertion that claims which have not been proven false must therefore be true, and vice versa (see: Argument from ignorance).[55]
  • Over-reliance on testimonial, anecdotal evidence, or personal experience: This evidence may be useful for the context of discovery (i.e. hypothesis generation), but should not be used in the context of justification (e.g. Statistical hypothesis testing).[56]
  • Presentation of data that seems to support claims while suppressing or refusing to consider data that conflict with those claims.[26] This is an example of selection bias, a distortion of evidence or data that arises from the way that the data are collected. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect.
  • Promulgating to the status of facts excessive or untested claims that have been previously published elsewhere; an accumulation of such uncritical secondary reports, which do not otherwise contribute their own empirical investigation, is called the Woozle effect.[57]
  • Reversed burden of proof: science places the burden of proof on those making a claim, not on the critic. “Pseudoscientific” arguments may neglect this principle and demand that skeptics demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a claim (e.g. an assertion regarding the efficacy of a novel therapeutic technique) is false. It is essentially impossible to prove a universal negative, so this tactic incorrectly places the burden of proof on the skeptic rather than on the claimant.[58]
  • Appeals to holism as opposed to reductionism: proponents of pseudoscientific claims, especially in organic medicine, alternative medicine, naturopathy and mental health, often resort to the “mantra of holism” to dismiss negative findings.[59]

Lack of openness to testing by other experts

  • Evasion of peer review before publicizing results (termed “science by press conference”):[58][60][Note 6] Some proponents of ideas that contradict accepted scientific theories avoid subjecting their ideas to peer review, sometimes on the grounds that peer review is biased towards established paradigms, and sometimes on the grounds that assertions cannot be evaluated adequately using standard scientific methods. By remaining insulated from the peer review process, these proponents forgo the opportunity of corrective feedback from informed colleagues.[59]
  • Some agencies, institutions, and publications that fund scientific research require authors to share data so others can evaluate a paper independently. Failure to provide adequate information for other researchers to reproduce the claims contributes to a lack of openness.[61]
  • Appealing to the need for secrecy or proprietary knowledge when an independent review of data or methodology is requested[61]
  • Substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all view points is not encouraged.[62]

Absence of progress

  • Failure to progress towards additional evidence of its claims.[52][Note 7]Terence Hines has identified astrology as a subject that has changed very little in the past two millennia.[63][64] (see also: scientific progress)
  • Lack of self-correction: scientific research programmes make mistakes, but they tend to reduce these errors over time.[65] By contrast, ideas may be regarded as pseudoscientific because they have remained unaltered despite contradictory evidence. The work Scientists Confront Velikovsky (1976) Cornell University, also delves into these features in some detail, as does the work of Thomas Kuhn, e.g. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) which also discusses some of the items on the list of characteristics of pseudoscience.
  • Statistical significance of supporting experimental results does not improve over time and are usually close to the cutoff for statistical significance. Normally, experimental techniques improve or the experiments are repeated, and this gives ever stronger evidence. If statistical significance does not improve, this typically shows the experiments have just been repeated until a success occurs due to chance variations.

Personalization of issues

Use of misleading language

  • Creating scientific-sounding terms to persuade nonexperts to believe statements that may be false or meaningless: For example, a long-standing hoax refers to water by the rarely used formal name “dihydrogen monoxide” and describes it as the main constituent in most poisonous solutions to show how easily the general public can be misled.
  • Using established terms in idiosyncratic ways, thereby demonstrating unfamiliarity with mainstream work in the discipline
8

Dear White People (2014) - dir. Justin Simien

Satire is one of the toughest genres to tackle across any medium. Simien, as a first-time feature writer/director, proves up to the challenge. Dear White People is razor sharp, provocative in the right ways, and you can’t do much besides applaud the effort. Sure, the ending is a bit much, which is unfortunate since the film’s finale packs a sucker punch with each stereotype tossed on screen, and is cut a little short with the tongue-in-cheek. The film offers itself as a mirror, and it uses its four main characters - all walking contradictions - beautifully.

But why four? It may seem an odd complaint, but the film is held back in much the same way it’s propelled forward. Simien seems unsure of himself, cramming all of his ideas into one film, when it could have been so much better had he just worked one idea to completion. You can feel halfway through that Simien is too loyal to his leads, really only able to offer interesting character arcs for two (Lionel and Sam) while the other two get lost in the fray. It’s a bold film, but without one central character to latch onto, the film ends up being a beautiful collection of ideas, with moments of taut irony, forced into a structure that allows for too much downtime.

7.1