My FemslashEx story

Oct. 21st, 2017 05:18 pm
rachelmanija: (Buffy: I kind of love you)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I had tons of fun with FemslashEx, and highly recommend browsing the archive.

My recipient was [personal profile] iknowcommawrite aka Scioscribe, who wrote me two lovely Treats last Yuletide! FemslashEx allows prompts for original fiction, and this is the prompt I wrote for:

Female Revolutionary/Princess

Class issues, identity porn, loyalty kink, and compromised principles: hell yeah. I think ideally I would like this one in a fantasy world, but I’m open to other possibilities. I’d love to see about any variation on this I could think of. Is the revolutionary undercover in the palace, getting ready to overthrow the monarchy while falling for the princess? Is the princess on the run from the revolution, disguising herself, and falling in amongst the rebels? Do either of them begin to rethink their principles or their policies? Is the revolutionary agitating in the open, and the princess is intrigued by her radical ideas? Other things I’m totally here for: wearing a crown while being thoroughly debauched by a revolutionary, hurt/comfort, kneeling, undressing from gowns and corsets, and virgin princess/experienced revolutionary.

Isn't that great? I found it very inspiring.

I wrote Burn, an epistolatory exercise in Ultimate Identity Porn. The revolutionary hides her face to conceal her identity. The princess silences her voice to preserve her purity. They know each other. And they don't...
queenlua: (Princess Mononoke: Yakul)
[personal profile] queenlua
okay i might actually be insane:

BEGINNING OF JANUARY
Kentucky -> San Diego -> Washington DC -> Seattle

MORE JANUARY
Seattle -> Whistler -> Seattle

FEBRUARY
Seattle -> Nashville -> Miami -> Seattle

APRIL
Seattle -> Cancun -> Seattle

MAY
Seattle -> Boston -> Seattle

JUNE
Seattle -> Colorado -> Seattle

JULY
Seattle -> Las Vegas -> Seattle

SEPTEMBER
Seattle -> Singapore? Malaysia? Thailand? southeast Asia generally? -> Seattle

also i'll probably zip down to California a decent amount to remind my manager that i exist and all that

jeez. i mean, a lot of these are short trips, and i've more than accrued the vacation days for them, and a lot of them are going to be so much damn fun, but i honestly do not know how i fell into this jet set lifestyle

(all this and i still haven't managed to get out to NYC since 2014 or Twilight Covening since 2013, despite repeated swearing to the heavens that I'M GONNA GET THERE REAL SOON GODDAMNIT. the latter is truly a damn shame; the former probably just shows that, much as i love a great many humans in NYC, the idea of willingly going to that city still troubles my soul)

My long-delayed trip

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:12 am
rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Two years ago, I meant to go to Japan in November. And then I had the most horrible two years of my entire life, and the trip was shelved.

I'm going to Japan in November! I'll be there for two weeks, divided between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. The last is a city further south than I've been before, with some very pretty day trips.

I'm going to use AirBnb, which I also haven't used before, but it looks pretty great. I have two lovely apartments all to myself for cheaper than a hotel room would be, and one room in a house with a lady who cooks breakfast, has a friendly toy poodle named Piccolo, and says understatedly, "I am a former hotelier who worked in the five star hotel. I think I can assist you well during your stay."

Any of you done anything fun in Japan?

"death in venice" and self and stuff

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:18 am
queenlua: (Robin)
[personal profile] queenlua
I read Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice" yesterday. It's terrible; don't bother reading it.

But there was one interesting bit that struck me. The story's about a stiff, studious, German novelist (read: Mann's blatant self-insert), and the story's divided into five acts. The second act gives us an extended bio of the novelist's life—he was born in such-and-such town, he craved fame at a young age, he published his breakout hit in such-and-such year, his works focused mostly on blah-blah-blah, he was given such-and-such award for his most recent novel and lived in Munich. It's the sort of blurb you might see on the back of a book, describing the author.

The rest of the book involves him wandering around Venice, getting a bizarre obsessive crush on some preadolescent boy, and eventually dying of cholera due to not GTFOing out of Venice when he should have.

And it did strike me, during the very last few pages, where he's wasting away, that—okay, it is a really cute ironic thing that we're given the man's bio in part 2, and we're supposed to feel satisfied that we basically know who we're dealing with, only to spend the rest of the book being shown a man that you never could have guessed based on that bio.

I often look up the bio for authors after I finish a book, as I'm curious about "where the book came from"—but "Death in Venice" twists that around in the most blatant sort of way.

* * *


There was a somewhat popular tech blogger a few years back who posted a lot on tech culture and a bit of functional programming evangelism. The latter I found "eh", but the former I found genuinely interesting; he had a charismatic (if bombastic) writing style, and had some keen insights with regard to stuff like the perverse incentives of venture capitalist culture, arguments for unionization, and so on and so forth.

On message boards (crucially, not on his blog posts), the blogger would often rail about specific companies he'd worked for that were terrible, or specific terrible experiences he had in tech. And since I personally know people who have had awful experiences of such things, I shrugged and believed it to be mostly-true; people run into shit managers and shit luck all the time.

Then I went to work at one of the companies he bitched out.

I wasn't worried about working for the company; it was large enough that culture varies hugely from team to team anyway.

But, curious to see what he'd done while he was there, I searched his name internally and was surprised to discover that—well, he came across as an insane person.

The paper trail was very long and I don't think I missed anything important. Essentially, this guy had spent hours and hours spilling thousands and thousands of words on the internal version of Reddit (and, yes, having an internal version of Reddit is about as bad of an idea as you'd expect), shouting loudly about what THE COMPANY DIRECTION SHOULD BE!!! and those MORON VICE PRESIDENTS JUST WON'T LISTEN TO HIM!!! and he CLEARLY HAS DIRECTOR-LEVEL VISION!!! ...all this from a dude just barely out of college, who had joined the company two months prior.

Coworkers on internal-Reddit tried to be nice to him, and suggested that maybe he could wait a little longer than two months before trying to shake everything up? or maybe figure out a more productive forum for change than basically-internal-Reddit?

Dude did not take any of the coworkers' advice, and proceeded to spend many more months bolstering further claims of his own grandiosity, his overlooked technical brilliance, etc etc. Then he got his first little performance review thingy—and yes, I hate performance reviews more than anyone, but this dude fucking hit the roof over a performance review that rated him above-average!, i guess because it didn't rate him "supergenius" or something. Then he screamed about it on internal-Reddit for another many more thousands of words before ragequitting the company.

Um. Ummmm.

Honestly, his messages read untreated-bipolar-disorder or something similar, to me. I felt bad for him and hoped he got help (though his more recent posting doesn't really suggest this is the case).

Having this weird insider knowledge makes it a trip to go back and read his old blog posts. Like, yeah, he wants tech workers to unionize, and he has some nice arguments for it. But you can bet damn well who he thinks the union boss should be. You know damn well how he reacts to slights.

(A similar case of this is Shanely Kane, who writes really cogent and interesting lefty stuff for Model View Culture, but acts kind of unbelievably vicious on social media. Sorry, I am just super not onboard with the "unchecked fury is the answer to all slights" strain of lefty activism.)

* * *


That's the funny thing about meeting people online. I'm not talking OKCupid or whatever, I mean meeting people on online—in internet communities, in places where your socialization is first and foremost in a constructed realm, with no particular aim to ever meet up "IRL." People have more power to mediate what image they present of themselves.

Not that I want to say the internet's categorically different, in the scaremongery way old fuddy-duddies do. No one knew the protagonist in "Death in Venice," either, and that was way before the internet.

And neither am I saying that people present themselves falsely particularly often. I've met a handful of online friends in person, and they all were basically the person I expected. Usually there's an upfront shock of quirks that didn't translate through the keyboard—"oh wow, I was not expecting you to have this thick Valley Girl accent" or "you are way shorter and less imposing than I expected" or whatever, but nothing that changes who they fundamentally are, who I know them to be. (And recognizing that always brings a little thrill—here is my friend, come to life more brilliantly than I could ever have imagined!)

The internet's just one layer of possible indirection. But it's a particularly potent and prevalent layer, nowadays.

I sometimes wonder how I come across on Tumblr and Dreamwidth and whatnot. I know in many ways I'm more open here than IRL, but in some crucial ways I'm more closed off. I feel like I'm full of both more blistering bombast and abject despair on here, because I tend to be vent-ier here—what do people imagine me to be, based on that?

And sometimes I scroll through the Twitter or Tumblr feeds of writers or artists I admire, and imagine I know them. If they live in my city, I'll sometimes wish there were some non-awkward way to ask them to meet up for coffee, because of course we could be awesome friends, if we just had some way of meeting each other...! (Creepy, I know; I blame the 21st century.)

But of course I don't know them. Scrolling a feed is not knowing someone. The artsy side of me seems to like to think that my work says something deep about me, about the kind of person I am—but in practice, I think, if your work says anything about you at all, it's often buried so deep it's hard for anyone but you to see the important bits. It seems there has to be some mutuality, conversations where they learn about you as you learn about them.

And anyway, last time I asked someone for coffee solely because I'd admired their online work, they turned out to be a pompous asshole who forced a kiss on me in the back of some mediocre bar I've never returned to.

I'm pretty sure this is one of the posts where I'm basically describing "the human condition" and puttering out for lack of novel things to say on the topic, so let's just end it there :P

Linkspam for mid-October 2017

Oct. 16th, 2017 02:53 pm
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
I'm not doing regular linkspam posts anymore, but I had a pile of links to file and I thought I'd put them in one place.

Some advice for survivors and those writing about them, Leigh Honeywell (2017-10-12). Some great advice on talking to journalists that applies to situations where you're exposing any kind of wrong-doing.

Donald Trump to become first president to speak at anti-LGBT hate group gathering, Benjamin Butterworth for PinkNews (2017-10-11). Remember when people were saying "at least Tr*mp is pro-LGBT"?

[CW: rape] On predators who won't accept that they are predators, E Price (2017-10-12). "It’s important for men to question whether there are rapists in their midsts. But good men, really feminist men, need to go even further: they need to question whether they have ever been rapists themselves."

Sister Outsider Headbanger: On Being a Black Feminist Metalhead, Keidra Chaney for Bitch (2000-11-30). Good stuff about being in intersecting outsider identities.

We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made, Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton (2017-10-12). "Rick was a very talented developer. Rick could solve complex business logic problems and create sophisticated architectures to support his lofty designs. Rick could not solve the problem of how to work effectively on a team." (Other people have rightly pointed out that the author doesn't place enough responsibility on the environment "Rick" was in for allowing him to escalate his toxic behaviors, but the fact remains that some people deal with pressure by seeking help and support from others, while others deal with it by harming others in an attempt to preserve themselves.)

We Warned You About Milo And You’re Still Not Listening, Katherine Cross for The Establishment (2017-10-09). 'The hypersensitivity that reels from “trigger warnings” but thrills to Yiannopoulos’ joyful transphobia, that likens workplace diversity trainings to “gulags,” is what fuels the outrage culture about “outrage culture,” an insatiable rage that can never be sated by giving it what it says it wants. It will merely demand we make ourselves smaller and smaller until nothing of us remains. Reactionary outrage about “PC” is not a philosophy as much as it is a burning sun that demands our compliance as its nuclear fuel, consuming it endlessly until it can feed no more and goes nova.'

America Loves Plausible Deniability, Lindy West for the New York Times (2017-10-14). "When faced with a choice between an incriminating truth or a flattering lie, America’s ruling class has been choosing the lie for 400 years."

A guide to modern Nazi dogwhistles from [twitter.com profile] secretgamergrrl:
"Modern nazi dog whistles- Accusing people of "calling everyone a nazi." Specifically, doing this in contexts where it makes no sense. i.e. shouting "you call everyone a nazi!" when someone is talking about nazi book burnings in the 40s, or "everyone you don't like is a nazi!" in response to a statement like "this is a profoundly homophobic statement from this organization." The hope is that someone listening who has, in a more appropriate context, been at some point likened to a nazi will give some subtle gesture of approval, outing themselves as someone ripe for recruitment. A common variation is shouting "why do you hate Trump!?" when people discuss bigotry in contexts with no tie to Trump."

Cyrus Vance and the Myth of the Progressive Prosecutor, Josie Duffy Rice for the New York Times: "The progressive bombast is meaningless if prosecutors continue to promote the same harsh practices behind the scenes. Instead, voters must look closely at their policies and hold them to high and specific standards. We should ask: Are prosecutors opposing new mandatory minimum sentences during legislative debates? Have they declined to request cash bail in a vast majority of cases? Are they keeping children out of adult court and refusing to seek life-without-parole sentences for them?"

"Fun sexual assault fact: you only hear the stories we can bear to tell." -- [twitter.com profile] sarahhartshorne

Duma Key, by Stephen King

Oct. 14th, 2017 11:39 am
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Of all the new-to-me books by Stephen King that I’ve read in the last year, this and the middle Dark Tower books are the ones I’ve re-read the most. I’ve re-read Duma Key three times in the last two years, and I can tell it’s a book I’ll keep coming back to. Here’s the first page:

How to draw a picture


Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil ... hesitating ... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice. Pictures are magic, as you know.


On the one hand, this is my favorite prose passage in the book. On the other hand, the entire book has that same atmosphere and themes: the magic of art, the bleakness of loss, the terror of opening a door into darkness, human empathy and connections, and, always, how making a mark on paper is both simple and difficult, the dividing line between nothing and everything.

Unusually for Stephen King, Duma Key is set in on the Florida coast – an incredibly vivid and atmospheric Florida, which becomes enough of a character in its own right to make the book a very satisfying sea-soaked, sunset-lit Gothic.

I am pleased to say that this is one of the least gross King books I’ve read, bar a rotting ghost or two. It’s also one of the scariest, in a very classic “terrify by keeping the scary stuff mostly off-page” manner. The Big Bad is never quite seen directly, and is one of King’s creepiest and most mythically archetypal figures.

It’s also one of King’s most heartbreaking books. Almost all the characters are really likable, and if not likable, than still very human. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon opens with, The world had teeth and it could bite you with them any time it wanted. Duma Key is about the beauty and magic and redemption of the world, but also about the teeth.

It begins with a wealthy self-made man, Edgar Freemantle, getting into an absolutely horrific accident while visiting one of his job sites. He loses an arm and gets some brain damage; he’s barely out of the hospital before his marriage has ended, his life as he knew it has ended, and he’s on the brink of suicide.

After some talks with his psychiatrist, he ends up taking up art, which he’d enjoyed as a boy but never pursued, and moving to a cabin in the Florida Keys. There he meets a chatty guy, Wireman, who’s the caretaker for Elizabeth, an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s – both of whom have pasts which slowly, heartbreakingly unfold over the course of the book. Edgar finds that painting is his new passion and genuine talent… but his paintings are odd. Eerie. And they can change things…

The first half of the book follows Edgar as he recovers from his accidents, explores his new talent and gains critical and commercial success, and loses some old friends and gains some new ones. The emotional and physical recovery from the accident and its fallout (which doesn't mean he'll ever be the same as he was before) was incredibly well-done and vivid. I don't know if it was technically correct, but it felt very believable.

In classic Gothic fashion, there’s creepy stuff going on simultaneously, but it’s comparatively subtle. I found this part of the book hugely enjoyable even though tons of scenes are just Edgar painting or eating sandwiches and shooting the breeze with Wireman. On the one hand, it probably could have been shorter. On the other hand, I could have happily gone on reading just that part forever.

And then the creepy stuff gets less subtle. A lot less subtle.

This has an unusual story arc. I’m putting that and other huge spoilers behind a cut, but I’ll also mention that even for King, the book has some very tragic aspects— ones which he’s explored before, but there’s one I’ll rot13.com (feed into the site to reveal) because it’s a specific thing that people may want to avoid. Gur cebgntbavfg’f qnhtugre vf xvyyrq. Fur’f na nqhyg ohg n lbhat bar (n pbyyrtr fghqrag) naq irel yvxnoyr, naq vg’f gur ovttrfg bs frireny thg-chapurf va gur fgbel. Nyfb, n qbt vf uvg ol n pne naq qvrf.

If that’s not a dealbreaker, I suggest not reading the rest of the spoilers because even though if I’d sat down and tried to figure out where the story was going, I probably could have, the experience of reading it feels unpredictable; you can guess the outlines but a lot of the details are unexpected.

Read more... )

Also, have some brighter things

Oct. 13th, 2017 03:43 pm
rachelmanija: (Firefly: Shiny Kaylee)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Femslash Exchange 2017 is open! The original fiction stories look especially tempting; also, there's Jane Eyre/Helen Burns. Off to read my gift story (resistance fighter/glamorous '40s singer) now!

Also, have two cats hugging:

Pull The Football - Save the World

Oct. 13th, 2017 11:57 am
rachelmanija: (I wrote my own deliverance)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Are you worried about nuclear war? I am too. Keep reading for a way to stop it with one simple action.

Maybe you feel small and powerless. But many snowflakes make an avalanche. If we all move in the same direction, we'll be unstoppable. We will only fail if we choose not to act.

Trump has the power to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike for any reason - or no reason at all. He's always shadowed by a man with a briefcase of codes, called the "nuclear football," to enable him to launch nuclear missiles at any time. It would take less than five minutes from his order to the missiles being launched, and no one could stop him. Republican Senator Bob Corker says Trump is leading us into World War III. I believe him.

But we don't have to stand by and let it happen. Let's pull away that football!

Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) Passing those bills may literally save the world.

How to save the world:

1. Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill NOW, before it's too late.

2. Contact EVERYONE in Congress who might want to prevent a nuclear war. Usually people only speak to their own representatives. But with the fate of the entire world is at stake, it's worth contacting everyone who might listen.

3. Promote the Pull The Football campaign on social media. Trump isn't the only one who can use Twitter. Get on it and start tweeting #PullTheFootball.

Share this post on Facebook or Dreamwidth. Put up your own post on whatever social media you use. Ask your friends in person. If you know anyone in the media, contact them to get the word out. If you're not American, you can help by publicizing the campaign on social media that Americans follow.

How do I contact my representatives?

1. Resistbot is a free service that will fax, call, or write your representatives for you. Just text the word "resist" to 50409 to begin.

2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the representative of your choice.

I've contacted everyone. What now?

Contact them again. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. One water drop can be brushed away. Many water drops make a flood. Call, fax, or write as often as possible. Set aside 15 minutes every day to make as many calls or faxes as you can in that time. Relentlessness works - it's why the NRA is so successful. If they can do it, we can do it.

What do I say?

Page down for a sample script. Or speak or write in your own words.

Democrats to contact:

Every Democrat not currently sponsoring one of the bills. Thank them for their courage and service to the nation, and ask them to act now to save the world.

Thank the Democrats currently sponsoring the bills. There are 57 in the House and 9 in the Senate. Especially, thank Congressman Ted Lieu (sponsor of the House bill) and Sen. Edward Markey (sponsor of the Senate bill). Encourage them to step up their efforts to make it pass.

Republicans to contact:

The Republicans listed below are the most prominent who have voiced concerns about Trump. This is not an exhaustive list. There are more Republicans who might be receptive. For instance, all the House Republicans who just voted for more aid for Puerto Rico, and all Republicans who are retiring from their seats and so not worried about getting re-elected.

Sen. Bob Corker (202) 224-3344) warned us that Trump is setting the nation on a path to World War III. If you only contact one Republican representative, contact him. Thank him for his courage and urge him to follow through on his convictions.

Rep. Walter Jones (202) 225-3415 is the only Republican to support the bill. Thank him for his courage and urge him to get his colleagues onboard.

Other Republican senators to prioritize contacting: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, and Bob Sasse.

Sample Script

Hello, my name is [your name.] I'm calling to ask Representative/Senator [their name] to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.)

I believe Republican Senator Bob Corker when he says we're on the brink of World War Three. No one benefits from a nuclear war. But we can stop it if we choose to. This may be the most important action Representative/Senator [their name] will take in their entire life. It may literally save the world. I urge them to co-sponsor the bill restricting first use of nuclear weapons. Thank you.

Thank you for reading this far! Please share the post before you go.

on card and board games

Oct. 12th, 2017 11:33 am
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
Variations on a theme (the Great Board Games Desensitisation Process post), by [personal profile] kaberett. If you love card/board game socials, or if you are reluctant to play card/board games with others, this is worth reading.

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Oct. 11th, 2017 11:40 am
tim: A person with multicolored hair holding a sign that says "Binaries Are For Computers" with rainbow-colored letters (binaries)
[personal profile] tim

  • I'm not transgender as in "we need cis allies", I'm transsexual as in "fuck you".
  • I'm not bisexual as in "here's my 5000-word thinkpiece on why that doesn't mean I'm not attracted to non-binary people", I'm pansexual as in "I don't eliminate potential partners based on their gender".
  • I'm not "gay" as in happy, I'm queer as in "fuck you".
  • I'm not liberal as in "universal acceptance and inclusion is possible while including fascists and white supremacists", but rather, anarcho-communist as in understanding what the Paradox of Tolerance means.
  • I'm not poly and kinky as in "understand my bizarre tendencies", I'm poly and kinky as in "almost everyone's conceptions of family and sexuality would benefit from radical change."
  • I'm not mentally ill as in "I need to be changed into a different person from who I am", I'm neuroatypical as in "other people need to accept the person who I am."


Go forward, do no harm, and take no shit.

nerd parties

Oct. 10th, 2017 05:18 pm
queenlua: (pic#7528686)
[personal profile] queenlua
i don't think i ever blogged about the coolest thing at DefCon!

...oh, thumbing back through my posts, apparently i neglected to talk about DefCon at all, what the hell

okay, DefCon in general was awesome, and actually significantly more awesome than i was expecting; much more of a chill fuck-yeah-we're-all-hackers-here culture than one-uppy-competitive or anything and i loved it.

BUT

the part that perhaps amused me most:

you do not simply get invited to parties at DefCon. instead, you'll be handed a business card with a bunch of seemingly-random die rolls on it. or you'll get a link to a website with a trivially obvious SQL injection vulnerability. or you'll be handed some base64 encrypted string.

to get to the party, you have to solve the puzzle.

this turned out to be a ridiculously fun way to meet people, at least for me—if you're at some awkward happy hour, and you want to say hi but don't know how, just flag down the nearest lonely-looking person and say, "hey, i'm stuck on stage 3 of this challenge, want to try solving it together?"

then you learn that dude has a lot of background in government ops stuff, and also he suggests processing the codes as hex colors, and so on and so forth until you both solved the stage and got directions to the kickass party that night.

this also made parties much easier to find than conferences i've been to in the past—partially because there were just a ton of them, and this is Vegas, i'm sure, but also there's something very democratic about "whoever solves the puzzle can come," as opposed to the usual "make smalltalk with the right person whose company has deep pockets and rented the penthouse suite." you'd see people in the hallways all over with scratch paper and furiously intense expressions, and they'd always welcome some help.

it was awesome. i kind of want all parties to require some hacker challenges for entry, now
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