When I was studying, I came across a new character — Oh, wait, did you think I was going to stop complaining about Mandarin after taking HSK1? No! I passed, so now I’m prepping for HSK2.

Let me start over. I wish Chinese characters on clothes or skin or art weren’t such a Clueless White Person thing to do, because I came across one, and I love this character so much. It means begin but I almost never hear it in context, people usually say 开 for start class and 上 for start work.

始 is written by forming the character 女 woman next to the character 台 for place. It looks a bit like a house, doesn’t it? One of the first things I could read was the name of my first city, 烟台,and whenever I see it on departures boards, it always looks like a little guy coming home to his little house. Anyway, I try to remember characters based on concepts (Ben Franklin’s kite 电 means electricity) or other characters (操 is sad, with the radical used for push/pull actions next to 品 things, an obvious mnemonic for anyone who’s tried to work through a depressive cycle). I have dozens of these.

For 始,though, I just love that a woman plus a new place is a beginning.

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Actually, It’s About Ethics In Dystopian Journalism

I don’t want to talk about the election, but I will tell you that one of the best parts of being married is that when you have to lie on the bed asking if humans are bad and the world is ending, you have a friend with you.

So a couple of years ago, there was an NPR story from Mike Daisey about the plight of Chinese workers assembling Apple products. Later it came out that the story was seriously exaggerated. I mean, Apple workers in China were definitely being exploited. But not, you know, in the ways he described, and his sources were not real, and general inaccuracies caused NPR to retract the story. It was really frustrating because after the lead story about worker exploitation was retracted, it seemed like FoxCon and Apple got a free pass, and they were absolutely running tech factories without concern for worker safety. Probably still are, actually, but it’s not covered as much since it’s hard to cover a story that was proven inaccurate and retracted.

Anyway, right now there’s a story about the KKK celebrating Trump’s victory in Mebane, NC, making the rounds. It is scary and completely believable, but isn’t accurate. (Worth nothing that it seems to be more of a misunderstanding and series of assumptions rather than a hoax or a scam.) It’s believable because the KKK is legitimately congratulating the Orange Lord, since he’s, you know, the candidate openly supported by the Klan. This is a real thing that happened in real life.

And the president-elect has already named a white supremacist as a his chief strategist (a white supremacist from Breitbart, the source of so much gender-based harassment and shoddy journalism in GamerGate). This is also a real thing that happened in real life.

In this climate, I’m frustrated by the spread of a false story about the KKK because this will make it so much harder for actual stories of racism to be heard. Accurate accounts will be subjected to skepticism and disbelief. After inaccurate stories spread, whether they’re meant to be funny hoaxes or designed as scams or just a normal result of human error, true accounts won’t be believed.  It’s already hard to tell real events from background worldbuilding in a dystopian novel.

Make no mistake, my friends, I’m not defending North Carolina or the attitudes that make this seem like a believable story to read and share. I invite you to share this true story about Cary, NC inviting Rachel Dolezal to speak at the town’s next MLK event as your touchstone for the state of racial relations in North Carolina. And make no mistake, it’s important to keep telling the truth and sharing the truth about the rising violence, racial and sexual harassment, discriminatory graffiti, and other daily events in the Orange Lord’s domain. Please, my friends, continue to write these accounts and then continue to fact-check and then share these accounts.

If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s the terrible damage of uncritically sharing and believing lies.


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I don’t know exactly how the CVS suggestion algorithm works, but every time I get an advert asking if it’s time to replenish my Clearasil or hair dye, I feel like Big Data has found my appearance unsatisfactory.

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New Captain Action Card Game

Our Captain Action Card Game is out!

This new card game celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first superhero action figure, Captain Action. The game features all the characters from the Captain Action mythos: Action Boy and his pet black panther, Khem, Lady Action and the diabolical Dr. Evil.

The game features classic art from legendary comics artists such as Murphy Anderson and Carmine Infantino, and fan-favorite comics artists, including Jerry Ordway, Paul Gulacy and Kerry Callen.

The game offers 3-in-1 gameplay, just like the classic Captain Action card game.

You can get it from TGC here: Captain Action Card Game


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Nasty Women

nasty-womanThe Nasty Women rallying cry has been a bright spot in a pretty depressing election cycle. After the Republican nominee, an accused rapist and admitted sexual assaulter, insulted pretty much everyone from Muslims to Mexicans, women, China, New Jersey, a disabled reporter, journalists in general, accused Hillary Clinton of being a nasty woman.

Not being “nice” is a big deal to those of us socialized female. We were taught from an early age to be considerate of others’ feelings, to be nice in the face of meanness. As adults, we know that not being nice enough has very real consequences. There are frequent stories of women who weren’t gentle, nice and considerate enough in rejecting men who were interested in them, and got attacked, assaulted, or killed. Being perceived as too brusque or too bossy can hurt a woman’s career, even when those brusque and bossy actions are doing her job or doing exactly what a man in that position would do. Women are constantly expected to be nice.

So I’m delighted by the number of women agreeing that we don’t have to return endless insults with niceness. I was reluctantly With Her, but I am honestly pleased to be among other nasty women.

(Amazing photo from ThreeStitchFifteen’s Etsy shop.)


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Blogging on Blogging

Blogging is such a tough thing to explain to people who don’t get it. Why in the world would you want to pour your most private thoughts and emotions onto pages that anyone in the world can read? It looks almost rude to them, like taking your pants off in the middle of the street. And you’re not even getting paid for it? And there are only three or four people watching, and two of them are snickering behind their hands?

Quoted from Ask Polly: Should I Start Blogging Again?

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May Fit The Requirements

social-media-intern-hiddenA few weeks ago, I noticed Indeed’s depressing new “feature” which sends an automated follow-up asking if you’ve heard back from places to which you’ve applied. Because who doesn’t want to be reminded of the CVs and cover letters they’ve sent, without a response from a prospective employer? I’m in a pretty good place with freelance work and teaching, but being reminded of just how many cover letters I’ve written and sent off into the abyss is deeply depressing.

Today Indeed sent me a different message! In theory, sending available positions to job-seekers is a much better feature. Except Indeed wants me to know that I’m probably qualified to be an unpaid intern. Not definitely or anything. It’s not an offer. But they’ve reviewed my resume, and think I’m probably qualified to work for free.

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Captain Prototype

Remember that Captain Action game I started working on last year? We got the first prototype this week, and it looks so good. After so long on index cards and in shared docs, it’s great to see it looking like a real game. Harold’s done an amazing job sourcing original Captain Action art from a long list of comics illustrators, and he’s also come up with packaging and a wild cards that references the original. I’ve kept the original 3-in-1 game concept, with three different card games that can be played with the same deck.

captian-action-demoJust a couple more tweaks before our November launch!

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Turing Test, HSK Test

You know that philosophy puzzle called the Chinese Room about the definition of AI? It basically ask if you don’t speak Chinese, but have sufficient dictionaries and translation resources to fake it to people who don’t see your 老外 face, did you just pass a Chinese Turing test?

Searle (1999) summarized the Chinese Room argument concisely:

Imagine a native English speaker who knows no Chinese locked in a room full of boxes of Chinese symbols (a data base) together with a book of instructions for manipulating the symbols (the program). Imagine that people outside the room send in other Chinese symbols which, unknown to the person in the room, are questions in Chinese (the input). And imagine that by following the instructions in the program the man in the room is able to pass out Chinese symbols which are correct answers to the questions (the output). The program enables the person in the room to pass the Turing Test for understanding Chinese but he does not understand a word of Chinese.

Searle goes on to say, “The point of the argument is this: if the man in the room does not understand Chinese on the basis of implementing the appropriate program for understanding Chinese then neither does any other digital computer solely on that basis because no computer, qua computer, has anything the man does not have.” The Chinese Room Argument (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Anyway, I’m studying for the HSK right now, and I’m pretty sure that I’m the guy carefully producing a reasonable facsimile of Chinese in the Chinese Room.

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Adult Collector


These nerd toys are labeled adult collector so that kids can’t accidentally open it and  decrease the value by playing with it. These are for grown men to keep NIB and then swap and sell on toy collecting message boards.  I have married one of these men, which is how I know NIB means New In Box on toy collecting message boards.

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