Doctor Who Inspired Jewelry For The 50th Anniversary

Last year was huge for Whovians as we celebrated fifty years through time and space. Between writing articles, watching reruns, and listening to Big Finish, I found time to make some Doctor Who jewelry.

(Spoilers for recent episodes… assuming you haven’t already been spoilered…)

earrings

The first set: TARDIS earrings. Because I am a Fifth Doctor fangirl, this is Five’s TARDIS. To make these you’ll need some 4mm split rings, wire, beads, two earring hooks, and two square blanks. I printed the images and glued them to the blanks with a bit of Mod Podge. I also spread a thin coat of Podge on the surface, but be careful not to smear the image.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course after watching the 50th anniversary special I had to make earrings inspired by Gallifrey Falls No More. These are my favorite so far. I love those blue-purple swirly beads! Again you’ll need split rings, wire, beads, hooks, blanks.

Last, a ponytail holder and a crocheted hair barrette. Here you can see the completed barrette with the TARDIS earrings and ponytail holder. The ponytail holder was also made from a blank with the image glued with Mod Podge.

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For the barrette you’ll need yarn in blue and black, white embroidery floss, black felt and a barrette. The pattern for the rose comes from here. I thought it would be too big for a barrette, so I modified the pattern as follows:

1. Ch19

2. 1dc in 4th ch from hook, ch2 and 2dc in same space. Ch1 and skip 2 ch sps. 2dc, ch2, 2dc in same chain space. Repeat * til end. <6 clusters>

Then skip in the pattern to step 8:

8. Weave tail through embroidery needle and wind up flower. Wrap petals around your finger for even spacing.

The leaves are from this pattern. I made four, two large and two small. For large, work the pattern as specified. For half size leaves, ch7 then (working in back loops) 3dc in 4th ch from hook, 1hdc, 1sc, sl, leaf point, sl, 1sc, 1hdc, 3dc, sl st to top of beginning ch3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next, I stitched the immortal words upon the leaves. Probably could have done a better job but I was in a rush to see Day of the Doctor in the theater. It’s almost like I need a time machine.

I glued the rose to the barrette and the leaves underneath with fabric glue. I didn’t like the look of the white thread against the background of the leaves so I glued on some black felt to cover it. Voila, one TARDIS rose barette, guaranteed to look fashionable while running on any alien planet.

Coming soon, more Dragon Age jewelry! Stay tuned.

Have you made any geeky crafts lately? Share links in the comments! I love to see what others have been inspired to make.

 

Discovering Your Favorite Authors Are Misogynists

The harassment of women in geek, tech, science, and other circles has many people taking a closer look at the sexism all around us. Thanks to this newfound awareness, I’m discovering, to my discomfort, that some of my favorite authors are actually misogynists.

tg-bookshelf

Books chez Guidry. Wish I had a misogyny detector, like a Geiger counter.

It’s a disturbing feeling when you realize all those hazy fond memories of curling up in a tree with a book and an apple (because that’s how Jo March reads, dammit, and I didn’t have access to a convenient garret with worn sofa) are contaminated by the fact that those authors, when they were writing those books, touring the con circuits, answering fan mail, were also being what today I’d term total creeper asshats. It’s even more disturbing when you realize this is still going on, and might be getting worse.

Heinlein, I should have known better. It’s right there in his books. But I was a kid and way more fascinated by the computer Mycroft in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress to realize the implications of Time Enough For Love. For the record, I also thought “a man who does not exist” in the Knight Rider opening credits referred to K.I.T.T., not Michael Knight. So I was a teenage idiot, apparently.

But… surely not Asimov. He was shy around women, so I’d heard. There were hardly any in his books and those who were present were almost asexual, like Susan Calvin. And anyway, I was only there for the robots.

Second childhood copy of The Caves Of Steel. I wore the cover off the first one.

And then, quite recently, I find out about this. Oh, no, Isaac, not you too! Can I ever read The Caves Of Steel again without feeling your ghostly hands on my ass?

It’s not fun, doing a web search for “<favorite author> misogynist” but it certainly is illuminating. I’m afraid to know what would happen if I were to type “<favorite author> racist” or “<favorite author> homophobe” or “<favorite author> total creeper asshat who just harassed female author XYZ last week at convention blah-blah-blah”.

I’m not sure I can re-read some of these writers’ books without misogyny leaping out at me like bold italic text. I know I’d have a hard time with Lazarus Long (fist in the face seems appropriate). But is it there in less expected places? Do I want to find out?

And then… there’s my own writing. I recently described my mental crossroads over recent sexist SFWA incidents and what I should do as a fantasy fiction writer. Is the misogyny there, too? Am I secretly a privileged cisgendered idiot who can’t even keep the misogyny out of her own stories? I submitted one recently and afterwards was wracked with guilt that it might be misogynistic. Ugh! I dread getting the rejection: “This thing is a piece of sexist tripe and don’t ever darken our doorstep again.”

I am going to go cry in my Valdemar now.

If you’re interested here are some of the other folks talking about sexism and speculative fiction…

 

 

How Being Female Affects My Strategy As A Writer

If you’re in the speculative fiction field you know about the recent controversy surrounding SFWA (Science Fiction Writers Of America). This has me questioning if women are really invited to the professional writers’ table, and if so, whether we get to sit with the grownups.

gabrielle-scroll

Female writer Gabrielle says, “You USED my SCROLL?!?!?!”

Specifically, recent issues of the SFWA Bulletin (their official publication) contained sexist language combined with stereotypical “sexy girl in unrealistic armor” cover art. You can read more about it here:

As a female writer, this has my attention. I write fantasy fiction as well as nonfiction about technology. For the past several years my goal has been to publish at least one story in a venue that would qualify me for minor status in SFWA. Now I wonder if my gender has been killing my chances, and what other women writers are doing about this dilemma.

SFWA is THE professional organization for writers of speculative fiction. Not being in SFWA hinders my ability to succeed in this field (I measure “success” as “get published more than once and develop a healthy readership”).

And it’s not just genre fiction. I have similar problems with tech writing, too. I guess women are supposed to be penning poetry about teacups instead of doling out advice on cloud storage security. Oops, my bad.

How Being Female Affects My Writing Strategy
I try to submit to publications with female editors. Why? Because I hope they will be more likely to take a chance on another woman. I didn’t start doing this consciously, but once I realized it, it became part of my strategy. Of course, you also have to make sure you’re submitting to an appropriate venue, that you understand manuscript format, that you’re following the guidelines… but for me, gender equality has become equally important. I don’t want to submit to (or, heaven forbid, get published by!) a misogynistic publication.

I also look for publishers who publish women writers, and who have women on staff. As in, more than one and allowed to sit in the big chairs. That seems so basic as to be ridiculous, but again, it subconsciously became part of my research process. If they don’t hire women, they’re not likely to publish women. The search for potential misogyny/unfriendliness has become a not insignificant part of my strategy for both fiction and nonfiction.

As you can imagine this takes additional time and effort, not to mention reducing the number of possible places where I could be published. As a freelancer, more overhead + less potential clients = less paying work. (Good thing I’m not expecting to make money as a fantasy writer… but it hurts on the tech side.)

What Can Women Writers Do?
I’m disappointed, but not surprised. It’s a corollary of my experiences as a woman in IT – less raises, less chances for promotion, less opportunities to work on the high-profile projects. For some time I’ve wondered if my obviously-female name alone is hurting my chances. Maybe I should write under a pseudonym? Worked for D.C. Fontana.

But I don’t want to be an androgynous writer. I am a FEMALE writer. I want to be in a group like SFWA because I want to network with like minds, polish my skills, learn new things from new people… but not if they’re deliberately hopping on the misogyny train. I never thought SFWA was like that until this latest debacle. Not being in it, I’m not sure if I was naive or if this is just an aberration.

I’m disinclined to think such things are mere aberrations, however, because holy Captain Grace Hopper in a handbasket, shit has been BAD for geek women lately! Harassment at cons. Harassment on the job. Harassment in online comments. Rape and death threats for any female who speaks out. And apparently a professional organization like SFWA doesn’t have our backs either? What century is this? What the heck is an aspiring female writer to do?

Some female members of SFWA have chosen to leave. Some are giving it another chance. Many are sharing their experiences with sexism in the field. All are doing so knowing that it could permanently affect their professional careers. (That’s food on the table, people.) As a newbie I find myself at a crossroads because, as Ann Aguirre said in her thought-provoking blog on her own experiences with misogyny in speculative fiction:

My professional work shouldn’t be impacted by my gender, my appearance, my religion, my sexuality, my skin tone, or any other factor. The fact that it is? Makes me so very sad.

And as Patty Jansen expressed in her blog about why she’s giving SFWA another year:

Our genre needs and deserves a decent professional organisation, dammit. Since there are no viable alternatives, THIS IS IT.

THANK YOU To The Women Who Continue To Write
I want to give a big shout out to all the women out there, talking about this, putting up with personal attacks, dealing with the utter filth they receive in comments and on social media, all so that they can continue to write the stories that are sitting on my bookshelf. Thank you. A million times. THANK YOU.

Personally I’m not sure I want to be a member of SFWA anymore. (Easy to say – I don’t have the publication credits to qualify, at this point.) But this isn’t specific to SFWA. I’m not sure I want to be a member of ANYTHING if it’s going to turn into a sexist slugfest. And it stinks not knowing whether the rejections I’ve received mean that I need to polish my work more… or that I’m committing the grave error of Writing While Female.

Meanwhile SFWA has an updated announcement which defines their strategy for dealing with this situation – starting with an immediate hiatus of the Bulletin until improvements can be made. This, I like. This tells me somebody’s taking the matter seriously… unlike, for example, when Microsoft does its sexist thang and then shrugs and walks away. But still… once bitten, twice shy…

I would love to hear from other writers. What’s your strategy? Is this SFWA thing just a hiccup? Are there other organizations/publications more friendly to women? Should we just give up and go back to scratching stories in notebooks that get shoved in drawers, as some might prefer? Or should we wait it out and see if the atmosphere becomes friendlier to geek women in the future? And how might we help make that happen?

 

Star Trek Into Darkness: Where Did All The Strong Starfleet Women Go?

uhura-originalStar Trek has always been about achieving your fullest potential no matter your race, gender, creed, or pointiness of ears. Which is why the utter lack of strong women in Star Trek Into Darkness is a slap in the face to all the outstanding female Star Trek characters we’ve met over the years.

Spoiler alert, Captain!

We like Star Trek because it has strong women. Gene Roddenberry’s original pilot had one of the series’ strongest women in Number One, its first officer. Although this was too much in the 1960s for chauvinistic network execs, the series slipped one over with Uhura, whose short skirt belied her intelligence, wit, and talent.

That’s why I’m saddened to see Nu-Uhura reduced to lip quivering and teary eyes as her primary means of communication. In STID she exists solely to express Spock’s emotions for him, so we can see he is a Deeply Troubled Vulcan.

STID-uhuraHer one big chance to shine is when she says, “You brought me here to speak Klingon, so let me speak Klingon.” I’m waiting for her to grab a phaser, because isn’t that how you speak Klingon? No, she’s going to talk to them and offer help. From what I understand, in most Klingon provinces that gets you quickly dead. This scene could have been full of an awesome Uhura kicking some serious ass while still using her brains and her linguistic skills. Instead she acts like it’s her first day on the job.

Even worse, however, is Carol Marcus. In one stroke of a misguided scriptwriter’s pen, this woman has gone from scientific powerhouse to Daddy’s little girl whose only role is to scream as if she’s in a 1950s B-movie.

twok-carol-marcusThe original Carol Marcus battled the Federation and Starfleet for control of her research project. Her team was so dedicated that they willingly underwent Khan’s torture so she could escape with the Genesis Device. (The original suave creepy Khan, not the “I’m too sexy for my coat” Nu-Khan.) She was not a woman to take crap from anybody, least of all Jim Kirk.

STID-carolThis Carol Marcus is supposedly an advanced weapons scientist, but for an advanced weapons scientist she sure doesn’t seem to know much about fighting, or tactics, or… well, much of anything other than how to keep her blonde hair looking perfect in the lens flare. She spends the pivotal moments of the movie either screaming or whining at her Daddy about what a meanypants he is. Or displaying her underwear. Can you picture Bibi Besch doing this?

Didn’t Dr. Marcus go to Starfleet? Don’t they have training on things like torture and not letting a little ol’ shattered kneecap get you down? And why is she helping McCoy at the end? I thought she was an advanced weapons scientist, not a medical doctor. Or is her only function at this point to pass test tubes to McCoy and tell him how brilliant he is, as Jo Grant once described her role as the Third Doctor’s assistant?

(Although… it would have been hilarious to have Uhura and Carol kidnapped by transporter while Quinto’s Spock yells: “THE WOMEN!!!!”)

To me, Uhura and Carol Marcus were the biggest disappointments in this movie. They could have been so much better and instead they were relegated to stereotypical, subordinate roles. What happened to the Starfleet of the future, where women like Janeway and Kira kick as much ass as the men?

This is not a Starfleet that will develop a Borg Queen-defeating Janeway. She’ll be designated some desk job at Starfleet HQ where her talents are wasted while lesser officers are promoted simply for being male. That is the universe we saw in Star Trek Into Darkness: a projection of today’s rampant misogyny codified by girls who sob or scream for help instead of relying on their own talents.

The amusing one-liners, the original series shout-outs, and the special effects weren’t enough for me to like this movie, and I have been to every Trek premiere since Trek IV. I went into STID wanting to like it. I enjoyed the first one, even though I wasn’t happy with some of the directions it took, because at least it was different and didn’t simply copy the original. And, for the first three-fourths of Star Trek Into Darkness, I thought, optimistically, that we would get more of that. Instead it degenerated into a wild-eyed mess that wasn’t even worthy of a second-season TNG montage episode.

Do better, Star Trek. As T’Pol told Hoshi, you’re capable of it.

 

Iron Man 3: Don’t Take Password Advice From Iron Patriot

Iron_PatriotSaw Iron Man 3 over the weekend and it was an enjoyable romp with just the right amount of explosions and mayhem. There’s one little thing that caught my attention, however, and that’s Rhodey’s laughably insecure password.

All those fancy HUD displays and we’re still relying on 1990s AOL-style passwords? Where’s the single sign-on? The two-factor authentication? The retinal scans? The fancy Kree or Shi’ar technology that uses DNA instead of passwords?

Here’s what you can learn about password security from Iron Patriot.

Don’t use common knowledge about yourself as part of your password.
Rhodey’s the superhero formerly known as War Machine and his password is WARMACHINEROX. Yeah, that’s not easily guessable. When he’s forced to change it he’ll probably rotate it with IRONPATRIOTSUX (with an X). And use the same password on Facebook.

Don’t use a password that doesn’t have special characters.
This one didn’t even have numbers. I’m surprised he didn’t put an exclamation point at the end because everyone knows that turns an insecure password into a secure one. Sort of like Silent E.

Don’t use an easily guessable password.
Really, Tony? A totally guessable password and you still had to ask him what it was? I bet Jarvis could have cracked it in about two seconds. On a side note, you didn’t give Jarvis a password cracker? What kind of script kiddie are you?

If that’s the kind of password Rhodey uses I bet he’s no good with security questions either. “What’s your favorite color?” “Red, white, and blue.” Oops, account cracked!

In reality that password conversation should have gone like this:

“Rhodey, what’s your password?”
“Okay, Tony, it’s capital X zero one asterisk lowercase g caret…”
“What the hell is a caret?”
“It’s that upside down V above the 6. Anyway, caret uppercase L uppercase Y seven one nine lowercase j…”
“The HUD in my suit doesn’t have a caret.”
“Yes it does, Tony. Hit the caps lock twice, just like a smart phone.”
“Pepper must have put that there. What’s after the caret?”
“Uppercase L. Then uppercase Y seven one nine lowercase j…”
“Did you say seven one nine or seven nine one? Oh, never mind, just email it to me.”
“But Fury sent a memo saying we’re not supposed to email passwords anymore. It’s not secure.”
“Screw him! Send it to my Gmail.”

By which time the bad guys have incincerated them and the point is moot, not to mention pwned.

The Avengers really need to invest in some better network security. Seriously, Tony, you can’t have Stark Industries buy up RSA or something? I bet Reed Richards has something tucked away in a box. Or you could ask Hank McCoy if he has something up his furry sleeve. Or maybe Spider-Man swiped something from Doc Ock (before Ock became Spidey… oy).

In other words there are ten million better ways to authenticate to that system besides WARMACHINEROX or any other persistent password. I wag my finger at you, Iron Patriot.

And please, don’t anyone use WARMACHINEROX or variations as your real-life password. I hate it when they use actual passwords in movies because then people are all, “I’ll be clever and use that! No one else will think of it!” Except the other billion people who have seen the movie.

(Another thing about Iron Man 3? No obnoxious adoptee jokes - bonus.)

Related Tech Tips article: How To Create Secure Passwords (Revised Edition)

A Grownup Gamer’s Guide To Kids And Video Games

kids-internetAs a tech support specialist I’m often asked about kids and video games. To a non-tech-savvy parent, the world of video games is as confusing as a foreign language. What are they playing? With whom are they playing? Are they safe online?

So I wrote this guide as both a parent and a gamer. And what I’ve learned is that you don’t need to protect your kids from video games – you need to protect them from the violent video game culture.

Are all video games violent?

No, as those of you who play Words With Friends know. Some video games are fine for kids. I would even go so far to say that some video games are good for kids, and I’m one of those annoying parents who won’t let her kids have “screen time” except on weekends.

You may be interested in Seymour Papert’s book The Connected Family which discusses how families can benefit and learn from technology in positive ways. I like the Lego series, for example, because it encourages cooperative play and problem-solving. Little Big Planet does, too. Even good old Sonic has his place – there’s nothing wrong with letting your kids run a little hedgehog around mazes collecting rings. Studies have shown that playing video games has a relaxing quality to it, producing the same sorts of brainwaves as in deep meditation.

But I’m not about to let my kids play Bioshock Infinite or Call of Duty. Just as I would recommend your kids watch Doctor Who (TV-PG) but not Game of Thrones (TV-MA) even though I watch both, I wouldn’t recommend your kids play the more violent video games out there. It’s a matter of appropriate content.

How can I find out if games my kids are playing are appropriate?

Read up on the titles they like. A web search for “(name of game) parent guide” will bring up the info you need.

You can also go by the ESRB rating on the cover. These work just like movie and television ratings. There’s a nice ESRB Ratings Guide you can use as a reference.

How do I tell my kids that I don’t want them to play a particular game?

Don’t be afraid to say no. If you’re not sure if a game is appropriate, watch them play it. You might even play it with them! Your kids may try to tell you “everybody’s playing this” but I assure you, and them, that they can find games that are just as fun to play without the gore and violence. There are some things that simply have to wait until you’re an adult, and mature-rated video games are in that category.

Can kids talk to strangers through video games?

Yes. These games often involve speaking to other players via headset (voice) or in-game chat (text). That other player could be the kid next door, or some creep halfway across the world.

So how can I let them play with friends but not with strangers?

Um… you don’t, not if they’re playing a multiplayer game across the Internet. Most throw all the players into one big electronic arena. That’s why supervision is essential; it’s like letting your kid loose in a big city without a grownup.

You can, however, run your own game by connecting multiple consoles on your own network (called a LAN party; LAN means Local Area Network). That’s much safer because you know exactly who is playing, but you physically have to get together – oh no, human interaction!

What is the “violent video game culture” you mentioned?

You’ve probably heard of rape culture thanks to the recent high-profile cases that have been making the news. There has been a backlash in the geek community over geek women and the inappropriate comments and situations we often have to face. When geek women complain over sexist remarks in professional settings, we are frequently vilified and even harassed both on the Internet and in real life. It’s a sad state of affairs and, while many people are fighting against this, it is still a very real risk.

You can find more here:

As you can see this culture of misogyny and harassment is widespread in certain violent video game circles. In short, there are people out there who get their kicks through cyberbullying and continual harassment. This is not something to which you want to expose your kids.

How can I make playing video games both fun and safe for my kids?

Encourage your kids to play in a safe, supervised environment. Why not set up a rotating Game Night or LAN party with other parents? The kids can play the games that they enjoy, and you know they’re really playing with friends and not random Internet creeps. Who knows… you might even find yourself wanting to join in!

How do I set up parental controls for video games?

All modern gaming consoles have parental control features. Here are instructions for some of the most popular consoles.

On a computer, you can use the built-in parental controls for Windows and Mac, or you can use a third-party service like Norton Online Family (works on PC, Mac, and mobile devices). Bear in mind that parental controls can be bypassed by a savvy kid. If you really want to lock down your network, you can configure your router to block games. You’ll have to look at your specific router’s instructions for that.

How can I make my kids understand the importance of video game safety?

Your kids will probably feel betrayed that you don’t want them to play certain games anymore. They don’t understand why Lego Star Wars is okay but Bioshock is not.

Explain why these changes are necessary for their protection. Visit sites like NetSmartz together. Talk about online dangers and what they can do to avoid them. Explain that you’re going to follow video game ratings just as you do TV and movie ratings. (Put the onus on the ESRB, they won’t mind.)

Meet your kids halfway. Ask to join them in their world of video games so you can see what intrigues them about it. You might be surprised to find you enjoy video games yourself. There’s nothing wrong with Mom or Dad enjoying a game night of their own.

Speaking of which, the number-one question I get about video games is:

Wait… you’re an adult and you play video games? Why would an adult want to do that?

Why do adults like any hobby? Because it’s fun and stimulates the imagination. Many of today’s games are more like novels than arcade shoot-em-ups. You’re missing some good stories by not playing video games. (I’m thinking specifically of Dragon Age and Mass Effect, if you want to know. But there are many others.)

I’ve noticed that, for adults, video games are classified as socially acceptable or not acceptable. If I mention that I play FarmVille (which I don’t, simply because it’s not my cup of tea), that is socially acceptable. If I mention that I play Tales Of Graces (a Japanese fantasy role playing game) that’s not acceptable.

Part of it is that most non-gamers aren’t familiar with the latest titles. But another part of it is that grownups playing anything beyond a select few games is apparently weird. I don’t get that, but I never stopped playing video games. I’ve been gaming continuously since the days of my Atari 2600 and I still do so today.

Do you have questions about kids and video games? Ask in the comments!

Fake Geek Girls? You Think Women WANT This Job?

Apparently the science fiction community is being flooded – FLOODED, I TELL YOU – by fake geek girls: women with insufficient geek cred who are only pretending to be geeks for the attention.

Say what? Being a female geek is a tough job thanks to the cretins who are put out that female geeks won’t, well, put out. Do you really think it’s likely that women are going to volunteer for this?

Do you think women are lining up waiting for their big chance to struggle with an uphill career? Face sexual harassment at cons? Get stalked online? Be treated like a maidservant or a cuddlebunny or an NPC instead of a peer of equal knowledge and experience?

Women aren’t supposed to be able to fix computers or name all 79 original episodes of Star Trek. It goes against the natural order of geekdom. The genre that prides itself in being “strange and unusual” thinks it’s too strange and unusual to include women.

What’s interesting is how certain levels of female geekdom, over time, have become reluctantly tolerated. I can remember when being a female Doctor Who fan was considered weird. Today, girls are allowed to be Whovians because it’s assumed they’re only doing so to watch David Tennant’s rear. (Clearly ridiculous. We’re ALL in it to watch David Tennant’s rear. Matt Smith’s, too.)

Similarly, girls are permitted to like comic books, but only if they emit the pre-requisite cooing over Loki and dress in provocative superhero cosplay for the benefit of the men around them.

As a geek woman, I like what I like and it just so happens that most of it is geeky. I didn’t start reading Hitchhiker’s Guide so I could impress my boyfriend. I haven’t spent 20+ years in technology because Windows is soooo cute when it crashes.

The idea that women would willingly subject themselves to the misogynistic crap that comes standard with female geekdom seems unlikely at best. Somehow I can’t picture a woman secretly fine-tuning her knowledge of python or Cerebus just so she can bask in the attention. Because the attention she’s likely to get is going to be negative – “You can’t like that, it’s for GUYS!”

Most female geeks I’ve met don’t want male geeks to know the extent of their geekdom. They hide it, because once people find out you’re a female geek, you’re never good enough.

Like when a male geek finds out that you, a female geek, like something he likes. Then you get subjected to the big interrogation – Which episode did this happen in? Who guest starred in season 2? How many spaceships are in the background in such-and-such scene? You have to prove that you REALLY know your geek in order to be accepted as a geek, and even then you’re never truly accepted.

It’s the same in IT. Women in technology are constantly having to prove we know our stuff even better than the men do. Yet we still have to put up with the doubt expressed by those around us: Why are you here? What makes you think you belong?

Geekdom is the love of something you’ve found, the adoration that makes you cry out to everyone around you, “YES! This is an AWESOME THING and you must experience it!” Why is that okay for men and not for women? And why are female geeks so threatening that some feel the need to invent the idea of “fake geek girls” so that any women who claim geekdom can be readily dismissed as Not Geek Enough?

Here are some blogs from people who are talking about fake geek girl syndrome and what it represents. Food for thought.

What do you think of the fake geek girl phenomenon?

image via I Can Haz Cheezburger

Ten Doctor Who Hellos That Will Make You Smile

Since Amy and Rory’s farewell has put us in a melancholy mood (still crying? same here) I thought I’d cheer us up by talking about ten special “hello” episodes of Doctor Who.

Related article: Goodbye, Pond: Five Doctor Who Farewells That Will Make You Cry

10. Barbara and Ian in An Unearthly Child
Our first introduction to the TARDIS comes through schoolteachers Barbara and Ian, paving the way for fifty years of adventures in time and space. How can you not smile at that?

9. The Ninth Doctor in Rose
The first new Doctor Who in a decade? Christopher Eccleston? With Nestenes? Sign me up!

8. Sarah Jane Smith in The Time Warrior
The incomparable Elisabeth Sladen makes her first appearance as Sarah Jane Smith, with Third Doctor Jon Pertwee. Just think of all the things to come!

7. Captain Jack Harkness in The Empty Child
Our introduction to Captain Jack, the man who can’t say hello without flirting. Honorable Mention: the big reveal concerning Jack at the end of The Last Of The Time Lords. NO WAY!

6. The Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard in Storm Warning
This is the first of the Big Finish Eighth Doctor stories, and Paul McGann and India Fisher have a wonderful chemistry in it. A great way to say hello to the Big Finish episodes (and goodbye to your spare cash).

5. Donna Noble in The Runaway Bride
No one can resist Catherine Tate and David Tennant, and the natural rapport they bring to Donna and the Tenth Doctor. Best car chase scene OF ALL TIME. Honorable Mention: their pantomime reunion in Partners In Crime.

4. The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler in The Christmas Invasion
She wants to go with him. He wants her to go with him. YES!

3. Sarah Jane Smith (again) in School Reunion
“Hello, Sarah Jane.” The Tenth Doctor is reunited with one of his dearest companions. Don’t tell me you haven’t watched that scene in the gymnasium a million times while grinning your head off. Plus, K-9!

2. The Brigadier in Everything
We all smile when the Brig shows up, especially if he’s been gone a while, like when he meets the Fifth Doctor in Mawdryn Undead or the Seventh in Battlefield or alongside Sarah Jane in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

1. The TARDIS in The Doctor’s Wife
“I just wanted to say… hello.” Admit it, you’re sobbing and smiling at the same time.

What are your favorite Doctor Who hellos? Share in the comments!

Fangirl Review: Doctor Who/Star Trek Assimilation2 #5: The Enemy Of My Enemy

(Sorry this is late but, you know – PONDS. *sob*)

Despite last issue’s weaknesses, this one comes back strong with plenty of goodies for Whovians and Trekkers alike.

Spoilers!

The writing was positively spot-on. Combined with the art, I couldn’t help hearing Matt Smith and Patrick Stewart in my head again. And thank you for giving Troi and Crusher some dialog other than “I sense something” and “Yes, Captain”.

There were some nice presents for longtime fans in this issue. I liked the parallels between the Eleventh Doctor showing Picard how horrible the future will be if they don’t stop the Cybermen, and a Classic Who scene familiar to many: the Fourth Doctor showing Sarah Jane alternate 1980 a la Sutekh in Pyramids Of Mars. Given that we’ve had flashbacks of Four in this series, it made for nice continuity.

I also enjoyed Amy’s talk with Picard. It was very Amy to approach the situation that way, and I can see why she was the only one who could convince him to try it the Doctor’s way.

You Knew It Was Coming moment: Picard says “bigger on the inside”!

Bonus You Knew It Was Coming moment: “It also travels in time.”

Awww moment: Rory admiring Dr. Crusher’s sickbay. I could totally see him on her medical team. (Rory doesn’t need a redshirt to be a redshirt, he’s already an expert at dying in every episode — and that’s not even including Series 7.)

The Doctor appears to have answered the (multi)universal question as to who’s worse, the Cybermen or the Borg. Personally I suspect that answer is, “whichever one is the more immediate danger”. In this case, that’s the Cybermen thanks to their sliding technology… I mean, interdimensional capabilities.

Tune in next time, when hopefully Worf will have more to do besides growling and pointing phasers at things. (Wait, then it wouldn’t be TNG at all.)

Why Is Gaming Considered Unprofessional, And What Can Gamers Do About It?

Nerddom has achieved an unprecedented popularity of late, but there are still some aspects that remain anathema. Case in point: gamers, who are supposed to keep their video game playing in the closet.

Making the rounds is this tidbit about a Maine lawmaker who discusses her gaming in public instead of keeping it behind closed doors.

 Colleen Lachowicz is a Democratic candidate running for State Senate in Maine. She’s also a level 85 orc in the massively popular online game “World of Warcraft.” And for that, the Republican party says she is unfit for office.

[Lachowicz's response] “I think it’s weird that I’m being targeted for playing online games. Apparently I’m in good company since there are 183 million other Americans who also enjoy online games. What’s next? Will I be ostracized for playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends? If so, guilty as charged!”

Many gamers, myself included, have experienced That Look when we mention we happen to like video games. Ironically, it’s the complicated role-playing and strategy games that get the most grief. If you profess a love of Farmville or Bejeweled, you’re in the clear.

But if you like fragging enemies in Halo or strategizing your way through Mass Effect, forget it. You’re a weirdo, a loser who belongs back in your parents’ basement eating Cheetos and lamenting your lack of social skills. You can’t POSSIBLY be a rational human being with a job and a life.

BBC News, reporting on the Laschowicz incident, quotes a gaming researcher:

“In my work, I’ve spoken with many people who in their regular lives have roles of significant responsibility (as doctors, managers, or educators) but who choose carefully with whom they disclose their gaming activity,” she told the BBC. “And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment.”

But, she added, having a gamer run for office was a “heartening” development. ”This would seem to run contrary to the other stereotypes that we love to assign to gamers: that they are lazy, antisocial people who don’t have a ‘real life’,” she said. “Maybe this will trigger some dialogue about our perceptions of gamers and the role that games can and should play in modern society.”

People can and do lose their jobs for being gamers – not for playing on company time but because their personal hobby supposedly shows they’re not “professional” enough. That’s when stereotyping nerds moves from simply not-funny into the realm of discrimination.

I was with a bunch of other parents at a school event recently. I didn’t know these parents well, and because I tend to live in a universe where gaming and cosplay and incessant watching of Doctor Who is considered “normal”, I sometimes forget that to other people, it isn’t.

One of the parents begins complaining about her teenage son. “He’s playing all these video games. I don’t know what to do.”

The other parents nod. I make the mistake of asking, “Which ones?”

She blinks. “What?”

“Which video games?”

“Um… some military ones. Call of Duty, I think. And some fantasy game.”

I give the wise nod of a gamer. “Skyrim, probably.”

“Huh?”

“Skyrim. It’s a very popular fantasy RPG.”

“What?”

“Role playing game. Skyrim is a popular fantasy role playing game. Not one of my personal favorites, I’m more into Dragon Age and Tales of Symphonia.”

By now the other parents are staring at me like I’ve got leprosy. The parent I’m talking to edges away. “So anyway,” she says to the other parents, “I’m trying to figure out how to get him to stop.”

I figure I’ve already put my foot in it, and it sounds like the kid needs some backup. “Video games are fun. As long as he’s meeting his responsibilities, why not let him play?”

Blank stares all around.

“Have you ever played a video game?” I ask. “A real video game, not Tetris or Scrabble. Not all of them are violent gorefests, you know. Not all of them are appropriate for every age level either, but that’s no reason to ban all games.”

The parent asks, “You actually play these games?”

“Yes. I actually play these games. They’re fun and I enjoy them. Your son probably does, too.”

Silence. The topic quickly turns to something else. I shrug and silently wish the kid luck because it sounds like he’s going to need it.

As a female gamer, I’ve noticed women are especially ridiculed for their gaming. Adults are not supposed to play video games. Women are not supposed to play video games. Middle-aged moms with kids are especially not supposed to play video games, much less brag about how they trounced the Arishok in single combat on nightmare level as an apostate mage in Dragon Age 2.

(Cone of cold, baby. I’m just sayin’.)

Honestly I think a lot of the problem is that people decide you’re supposed to give up all that childhood stuff when you become an adult. Unless you happen to live in the fandom world, which I suspect many of us do because it gives us the freedom to be kidlike about things like video games and Doctor Who and comic books.

Pure and simple, these people are jealous. They envy their fellow adults who are brave enough to embrace supposedly child-like things. It’s why people covertly read YA novels instead of admitting they like them. “I’m only reading Hunger Games because it’s so popular.” Uh-huh. Admit it, you keep a copy of A Wrinkle In Time under your pillow… and you STILL cry at the end.

What we as gamers need to do is make it known that you can be a gamer AND a professional (even – gasp! – a professional gamer). I’m a professional freelance tech writer. I’m also a level 35 spirit healer mage. Why is this a problem?

To my fellow female gamer Colleen Lachowicz I say: You go, girl. Kick some serious ass on behalf of gamers everywhere, in World of Warcraft and in the real world. We could use more of that.