22 July 2014

The Axis of Assumption: Exploding Embedded Relationship Concepts

Young Couple in Relationship ConflictRecently Ferrett said some really smart things about axes of introversion. Really, if you've not seen it, take a look - it's been a really great starting point for my amour and myself talking about the differences in the ways we're both introverted, and helped us understand where the other is coming from.

It also got me thinking - there are some other things in the ways we talk about relationships that probably should have thier own axes as well.1

One example of an axis that should be split up is in the way we talk about "seriousness" of relationships. There are several ways that a single axis of "strong" to "weak" doesn't quite match up to our lived experiences.

Is a one-night stand more of a "strong" relationship than a best friend you've had since childhood? What about people who you see infrequently, but when you see them, the relationship is strong and intense while it lasts? Is that relationship "stronger" or "weaker" than the barista you see every day?

There's clearly several axes here - sexuality, intimacy, and frequency - and how you value them may be very different than someone else you're in a relationship with.

When we're casually talking about relationships, "strong" and "weak"2 work... but with lots and lots of caveats. Taking the time - at least once - to split up at least intimacy, sexuality, and frequency will help you better have a grasp on the way you intuitively think about your relationships, but also let you translate what you mean to someone else.

And then there's the axes that go between two values, rather than a single "strength" scale. Let me give you an example:

Helper to Adventurer

At one end of this spectrum, you've got someone who looks at relationships as being about mutual support. Being in a relationship means you've got someone to help look after the kids and dogs, or take the trash out, or wash the clothes, or help pay the mortgage. It's about security, and knowing there's someone there to help you up.

At the other end, there's the person who looks at relationships as to have someone to do fun things with, to go on adventures with. The person who wants someone else to share the cool things in life with. It's about experiences and good times.

In my experience, most people (myself included) value one end of this scale more than the other. It's important - vital, perhaps - to remember that it is a scale. Too often it's presented as a binary either/or rather than a scale...and it doesn't have to be. Not at all. This recent "A Softer World" really kind of gets at how this scale can be reconciled between two people:

Even calling these things spectrums misses the point. People are not even a point on this spectrum, really. They're normal distributions around a central point... so that even if one value is significantly more important to you than another person's, there's still a lot of overlap.

I look at Zoƫ and Wash from Firefly here. They're very different people. They go on adventures. And they support and love each other completely.

But the final, and perhaps most important, point to make whenever you're talking about relationships, is that it's about the other person. This is perhaps the best working definition of love out there:

Love is when the happiness of another person is more important than your own.

And that's the thing. If you value your relationship with someone, you'll shift on these axes to meet them. Maybe not all the time. Maybe not all the way. But you'll shift. And if you're lucky, they will as well.

Sometimes people can't shift enough (or at all). Some relationship decisions (kids, for example) are yes/no choices. Sometimes your wants and needs violate someone else's boundaries.

But all the rest of the time?

The Adventurer will take out the trash for the Helper, and the Helper will pack the 50' of silk rope in their backpacks3.

What other assumptions about relationships do you think need to be broken down or expanded on this way?

1 I'm coming from this with the attitude that each relationship is its own unique thing, despite the common assumption in Western culture that all (hetero) (monogamous) relationships are all structured the same.
2 We talk about how "caps" the R in relationship is. Capital R? Small caps? Demi-caps? Lower case? It's a quick shorthand that works well.
3 Because you always got the 50' of silk rope in AD&D.

20 July 2014

Don't support authors who plagarize (original posted site exceeded bandwidth)

[Edited to correct username to DataAngel]

The person behind astrangeday.net uncovered a case of pretty blatant plagarism (which, as I'll get to later this week, is pretty rare).  It ended up on the front page of Reddit and exceeded that website's bandwidth.  (Google cache here, original link if you MUST)  I'm reposting (and adding to) because this is hosted by Google, and if their bandwidth is exceeded.... well.  We've got bigger problems.

Here's the text of the original post (removed links that weren't to Amazon):

Don’t support authors who plagiarize.

The best thing about living in the future is that you can find out about these things very easily and spread the word that much faster.

The story starts like this:

My mother (Mim) was on Amazon looking for something to read. She found a recently (self)published book that had several great reviews and one negative one. Mom likes to read self-published books. Sometimes there are real gems and the price is usually great. But poor editing is a big turnoff for her, so she read the lone negative review.


Curious, I got the free sample of both books. The evidence is pretty conclusive.

[images redacted by me, see below]

He’s published the second book in the series. It’s… more of the same.

[images redacted by me, see below]

As a reader and as a writer I can’t put up with this. I did find out that the original author is on Goodreads and I’ve sent her a message. That’s not enough for me, though. I’ve had my short stories pirated. That hurt a little because it meant I wasn’t getting paid, but at least no one was making money off my work. This guy’s a thief. He’s stealing someone else’s work and earning money and reputation. Not cool. Not cool at all.

The images were also hosted on astrangeday.net, and I couldn't snag them. But I'll do you one better. Not only did I directly change the link to the review, I checked the books myself. Not only did I take pictures, but the images SHOULD link directly to Amazon, and if I'm lucky, the actual "look inside".



Unlike "DataAngel", I do not think this is a case of someone writing under a pen name and later changing their mind.  I looked at Geraldine Evans' author page and Karl Jones' author page.  Since Geraldine is still an active author, and neither her page nor Karl's mentions writing the same book under a different name, I'm going to go one step further and introduce @gerrieevans and @karljonesauthor on Twitter. 

Like I said at the top, the irony is that I have a scheduled post for later this week that basically says this doesn't happen.  And that's probably the most important takeaway here, as "DataAngel" pointed out at the beginning of their post.

Especially in the internet age, it's too easy for this stuff to be found out.  And it's too damn risky, especially not in the genre fiction world.  There's too few of us at any kind of professional level for any one to get away with it for long.


17 July 2014

Run Different Programs On Connecting and Disconnecting From Networks with Both WICD and Network-Manager in Linux

So I wrote a program again.  :)

It is (unimaginatively) named networkcontrol-wicd-networkmanager, but I affectionately call it "Bob".  It's what I use so that I have the right settings for Wondershaper and it doesn't bother trying to call up CrashPlan when I'm at work.

When you connect to a network, this script gets called, determines if it recognizes the network, and then launches whatever programs you want.  It also will run other programs on disconnect, and has a variable delay... so that if you plug into your wired connection it doesn't shut down and start up programs when you don't need it to.

It also runs with both of the big networking programs for linux - wicd and network-manager - so you don't have to worry about how so much as just getting it done.  It also writes (some minimal) output to the messages.log. 

This is another one of those things that looks super complicated...but it was actually harder making it so it'd work for other people than it was to get it running at all.

The installation instructions are in two parts - the actual commands to install the files, and then how to configure the configuration file.

The program is on GitHub, and should play nicely on *nix systems.  If someone knows what the equivalent is for Macs, we could do something similar there.