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Saturday, May 11th, 2013
8:48 pm - Book review policy (sticky post)
Delayed My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )


(Art by hamburger.)

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Thursday, December 8th, 2016
8:06 am - 2016 book: Spin
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



The story in Spin started out interesting: One day the stars vanish. One second they're there, bright in the sky, the next they're gone. What happened to them? What else does it impact (since the sun is a star as well)? How did it happen?

The writing started out really good: The author kept adding scenes from later in the story, to let the reader know that Something Big was happening down the road. That kept me really interested in the story... for a while.

But oh my god, this felt like the longest book ever. At the 10% point, I felt like I should have hit the end of it. At the 30% book, I felt like I had read at least a trilogy's worth. I boggle that Amazon lists this book as only 366 pages. It feels longer than the longest Game of Thrones book. And that's not a good thing.

Unfortunately the scifi of this story was mostly just background stuff. The story's focus was on the relationships. And, in my opinion, the relationships in this book sucked. The story opened with one boy (the son of a maid), friends with twins (the kids of a very rich family his mother worked for). The maid's boy (the story's boring, boring main character) was in love with the female twin. She didn't love him back.

Over the years, literally years, the main character loved that girl. Even after eight years without so much as a phone call, he still loved her. An Amazon reviewer compared him to Forrest Gump pining after his Jen-nay, and I had to laugh -- that's exactly how it felt.

I reached the 40% point of this book before giving up, but it felt like I read a whole series of books. If the author had focused on the scifi aspects of this story, I would probably have loved it, but instead it felt like the scifi elements were just window dressing for the relationship story. No thanks.

current mood: hungry

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
8:59 am - Oh what the hell, Time...
They made Donald Trump person of the year. I swear to god, if I ever bought that magazine, I'd stop.

Like we need his head to swell even more?

Though, in 1938, Hitler was person of the year, too.

Still, just ugh. Why can't four years be over yet?

current mood: annoyed

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Monday, December 5th, 2016
10:19 am - The most wonderful time of the year?
I wish I could work from home this whole month. Every day this month, my workplace is putting out boxes and piles of cookies and chocolates. The ones out today look AMAZING.

It's been more than two years since I've had a single sweet. I'm not going to start now, but dammit work, why do you have to make it so much harder?

I'm really grumpy/sad about my weight, too. Even though my diet and exercise haven't changed at all, over the last three weeks, somehow I gained TEN POUNDS. At first I thought it was water weight, but holding onto it for three weeks? Ugh.

I've not had any popcorn in two weeks. My most favorite food in the world, but I cannot have something that's all carbs, butter, and salt when my weight is up.

And my workplace is full of cookies. I want to cry.

This is the most weight I've gained since I started losing. Regaining all my weight is my biggest fear, so I really need to get these ten pounds back off.

Go away, cookies and candy and amazing looking chocolates.

One good thing: I've learned that cutting protein bars in half works a lot better for me. When I eat a whole one, I feel like I have an awful brick in my stomach, plus by the time I get through the whole thing, I HATE the taste of it. A half-bar works a lot better, and then I can eat the other half the next day.

current mood: sad

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Sunday, December 4th, 2016
1:50 pm - 2016 book: Love Volume 4: The Dinosaur
Love Volume 4: The Dinosaur by Frederic Brremaud
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Book received free for review from Diamond Book Distributors.



I've been waiting for the next graphic novel in the Love series to come out. I've enjoyed all of them so far -- they've all had such beautiful artwork. (For example, see my Love: The Fox and Love: The Lion for some samples from the previous books.)

In each of these graphic novels, the stories are told only through the artwork; other than a brief (couple sentence) forward, there's no text at all.

While the artwork was really nice in Dinosaur, I wish the pictures had been a lot more colorful. Like the other dinosaur graphic novel I reviewed last year, everything in this one was shades of grey and brown -- modern day reptiles can be colorful, why can't dinosaurs be? Or at least the plants and trees/ground around them?

Four sample images from the book back here behind the cut.Collapse )

Unlike the first three books, the final third (or more?) of this one was taken up by drawings of individual dinosaurs: A page for this kind, a page for this other kind, a couple pages for the T-Rex. That was nice to see, though I would have enjoyed a second story more.

All in all, I was quite happy to 'read' Love: The Dinosaur! I can't wait to see what Love 5 will be about.

current mood: hungry

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Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
9:47 pm - A sweet commercial... just what we need right now
This Amazon commercial is just so sweet. And I love the background music as well!



The two men in the commercial are real, a real priest and a real imam. They've since become friends:
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/slices/priest-and-imam-amazon-ad-are-now-actual-friends

Sorry if this is all over the airwaves and everyone is sick of it. Since I have no TV/cable, I don't know what's overplayed.

current mood: touched

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Friday, December 2nd, 2016
9:19 am - 2016 books: Warscapia, Tandem, The Erth Dragons
Warscapia by Garrett Boggs
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Written in first person, the main character sounded like an overexcited five year old. "I did this! Then I did that! And I punched him! Then I rolled out of the way! THEN I GOT INTO THE GUILD YAY!"

The story was set inside "Warscapia" -- a video game. Why the book claimed it was set in a video game and not just some generic fantasy world is beyond me... or perhaps beyond the point I read to. I gave up very, very fast on this one, at the 4% mark. Just a typical bad self-published book.

Tandem (Many-Worlds Trilogy Book 1) by Anna Jarzab
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



From the Amazon description:
To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love—one who knows her secret, and one who believes she's someone she's not.

That sounds exciting and interesting, no? The book felt more like a bait-and-switch. I read to the 11% point, and in that time, the whole entire story was about a girl, a plain "nerdy" girl, who high school's hottest guy falls in love with for no apparent reason. It's perfectly possible that the story changed later (I suspect the hot guy was about to kidnap her off to that other world), but 11% of a book with two teenagers talking, going to the prom together, all that high school stuff... Blah. No thank you. Besides, clearly a love triangle was coming, so I probably did the right thing by bailing out on the story when I did.

The Erth Dragons: Wearle Book 1 by Chris D'Lacey
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Erth Dragons had an interesting story idea: Dragons are able to fly/travel/whatever between planets. A small group of them comes to Earth and is lost, so a larger group comes to find out what happened to them.

The writing killed the story for me. For some reason, the dragons call the planet Erth. They made "i:mages" of themselves, a "wyng" is a group of dragons, a class of dragons is named "De:allus". And nearly as bad, every dragon in existence had a name that starts with the letter G, so the whole book was G-someone does this, and G-someone responds by doing that, and G-someone looks on and comments this... It made it especially hard to keep track of who the characters were, since there were a dozen of so dragons and only two had any kind of personality/character development.

I gave up at the 14% mark.

Currently reading: Spin, which was a free ebook from the publisher last month. isiscolo enjoyed it, so I thought I'd check it out next.

current mood: thirsty

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
11:26 am - 2016 book: Insert Coin to Continue
Insert Coin to Continue by John David Anderson
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



So often I go into a book completely blind. My To Read pile is about 170 books high, so by the time I get to a book, usually I've long since forgotten anything about it. And as they're ebooks, I can't even see much of the covers. That usually leads to surprises, and generally happy ones.

Insert Coin to Continue started with a giant happy surprise. As I read through the front matter, I got to the listing of 'other books by the author' and was overjoyed to see that John David Anderson was the author of one of my favorite books of last year: The Dungeoneers (my review of it).

Unfortunately, right from the first page, this story really didn't work for me. The main character seemed bland, and his 'voice' was hard to tell apart from his best friend's. Plus the plot just didn't work at all for me, I didn't believe it: In it a boy found a secret level of a video game which somehow changed all of reality. He woke up the next morning and his legs were paralyzed, and he was seeing a coin slot with 'insert coin to continue' above it. He had a coin on his nightstand, stuck it in this floating coin slot, and suddenly his legs worked. As he went through his day, stuff like that happened. He looked in the mirror and saw his clothing had stats and names (like Shoes of Average Traveling Speed, +1 resistance to fire). No one else noticed these differences, yet all of reality was changed by it (teachers turned into other things, but no one else in the classroom saw it but the main character).

That seems like such a fun idea, doesn't it? But for some reason it just all fell so flat for me.

I'm not the target audience for this book, so my faults with it are probably personal to me. (This was a middle grade novel, which is one step younger than a YA novel.)

I thought I could at least get to the 50% point before giving up, but when I hit the 30% mark I had completely lost interest in it, so sadly I moved on to something else.

It's such a disappointment when you're sure you'll like a book but it just doesn't work out.

current mood: tired

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Monday, November 28th, 2016
9:52 am - Book #55 of 2016: Gilded Cage
Gilded Cage by Vic James
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Book received free for review from Random House Publishing Group.



This might have been the best book I read all year.

Set in an alternate universe England, a very small part of the population has magical powers (called Skill in the story). Unsurprisingly, they're the ruling class. Surprisingly, the nonmagical people have to spend ten years of their lives as slaves to the people with Skill. It can be any ten years you want, from age 18 on. Some people do it right away (and then spend the rest of their lives bitter and likely broken), others wait until what is probably their final ten years of life.

The slaves live in awful conditions, doing backbreaking work all day, six days a week.

The story follows two families, one with Skill and one without, and how the two intersect. Personal relationships between the two groups were explored, as well as much larger society-wide issues.

The author did everything, everything right in this book. The writing, both technical and storycrafting, were perfect. What little romance in the book was completely believable and realistic.

As I neared the end of the story (staying up well passed my bedtime to finish it), I was worried how the book would end. There was way, way too much story left for how much of the book was left, so I was worried Gilded Cage would do what too many other trilogies/series do: End on a cliffhanger. But it did not! While it was clear there was more story to come (so much more), this book had an actual ending! You rock my world, Vic James. More authors need to follow your lead.

I strongly recommend this book, unless you don't enjoy dark stories.

current mood: hungry

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Sunday, November 27th, 2016
9:30 pm - TV shows: 3%, Westworld, Grey's Anatomy
For someone without a TV or cable, I sure am watching a lot of TV lately...

Grey's Anatomy: Man this show has started to annoy me. I finished the first two seasons (out of eight), but I'm not sure how much more I'm going to watch. It's become like a bad soap opera. Stupid, stupid god awful love triangle, such painfully stupid logic from the characters, and such overly dramatic stuff. Ugh.

Westworld: HOLY COW I love this show. For some reason I had thought it was another superhero show, so boy was I surprised when I started watching it. A cool, cool, oh so cool show about virtual reality, AIs, and lots of complex, subtle stuff story-wise. Too much unsubtle death and violence, but so many shows seem to think they need that nowadays... I'm on the 4th ep (of 10 I think).

3%: Other than that it's dubbed, this is quite the perfect show for me! A Netflix series, filmed in and for Brazil, it's set in a dystopian future. Most of the world is poorer than current third world countries, but off shore is a perfect world where 3% of the population lives. At age 20, everyone is tested to see if they can go live there or not. As 97% of the people are rejected, the testing is dark and cutthroat. There are subplots going on as well, and I just love the whole thing. I'm on the 5th ep (of 8).

Usually I marathon only one show at a time, but for some reason I keep jumping around between these three and the very few current shows I'm watching (Ink Master, Walking Dead, The Lion Guard).

I'm so not ready to go back to work tomorrow...

current mood: stressed

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Friday, November 25th, 2016
10:16 am - Switching back to S1
If, like me, you switched to LJ's S2 and wish you had stayed on S1, there's a backdoor that lets you return back to it. kishenehn linked me to it: http://gsap.livejournal.com/50304.html.

If you had used a custom style on S1 before switching to S2, it might take some fiddling to make work (my main journal page was a mess of raw HTML and CSS code), but on the journal display page (http://www.livejournal.com/customize/s1/index.bml) just pick a default one and it should work.

I'm not sure why my previous custom S1 style didn't work when I switched back, and I couldn't make it work again, but a default style is still good enough. Woot!

current mood: hungry

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Monday, November 21st, 2016
10:08 am - The movers' cut
My mother told me that when you use movers, they always "lose" (steal) one box. I hadn't believed her at the time, but now I'm thinking that's actually right.

Before I moved, I bought a new container of cleaner. I was nearly out of the previous one, I'm 100% certain I bought a replacement.

Before I moved, I had two bottles of shampoo (one almost empty, and a new/full one to replace it).

Before I moved, I had FOUR extra/new tubes of new toothpaste.

All those things are missing, and they all would have been packed in the same box. (The cleaner could go with the other stuff, since it was new/sealed).

But how would the movers know which box to 'lose'? They have tape in their trucks, and they're alone with your boxes in the truck. They do add extra tape to boxes if they think it's not closed well enough, so they could easily open them, check what's inside, then reclose it and if needed, add more tape.

I had numbered my boxes, but things were so hectic, I didn't check them on the other end as I was unpacking.

It's possible, though unlikely, that I left them behind. I checked both apartments very carefully, multiple times, before turning in the keys.

I suppose I should be happy that's all that's gone, things that can be replaced. But still. I use an expensive/special toothpaste that's about $8 per tube, so altogether that's almost $60 worth of stuff. And that's only what I've noticed is gone. I'm sure the box had more than those three things in it.

It's been almost two months since I moved, so it'd be pretty pointless to contact the moving company. Plus I have no proof...

current mood: annoyed

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Sunday, November 20th, 2016
4:18 pm - Book #54 of 2016: War Stories: New Military Science Fiction
War Stories: New Military Science Fiction by Karin Lowachee and others

Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Usually when I read an anthology, I keep track of all the stories within it, then do a mini-review on each one. For some reason I didn't do that this time, but I wish I had.

While every story in this book wasn't a winner for me, the majority of them were. Of the maybe 20 stories, I didn't finish three of them. Maybe three more I finished but they didn't work for me.

Each story revolved around the theme of war, though few of them were directly about battles. Most of the stories were about relationships, which was a positive to me.

Sadly, the story I bought the whole book for (Karin Lowachee's Enemy State) was probably the worst one to me. She's the author who wrote one of the best books I've ever read (Warchild), but I'm starting to think that book was the exception. I haven't liked much of anything else she's written. The whole story was a stream-of-consciousness, first person narrative -- a person speaking to someone else who had gone off to war. That someone else wasn't there to hear it, respond to it, or react to it, so the first person was just speaking into nothingness. It just fell really flat for me, no connection to it at all. Sadly boring.

But man, there were some good stories in this book, too. Wardogs was especially interesting, about relationships and bonds. The last story, War 3.0, should have been a novel and I actually went "ARG!" out loud when it ended. There were a bunch of stories I wished had been longer.

Suits was good enough that I searched for and bought other books by the author (James L. Sutter). It was just so well written -- it did what I always say authors should do: Trust the reader. It dropped small hints here and there, slowly filling out the world setting and what was happening, without ever hitting us over the head with it. In it a tech (clone, so not considered a person), learns what the work he's doing is being used for -- he learns what war really is. Sutter writes for RPG games, and most of his work seems to be male/male stories, so I suspect his books should work for me.

All in all, even with the 'miss' stories, I recommend this book!

Note: The Amazon page is messed up. Apparently there's another book by this name, and the reviewed are mixed between the two books, and the Editorial Reviews section is for the other book.

Currently reading: Gilded Cage. I've been second-guessing myself about accepting it for review (I don't much like the responsibility that comes with that anymore), but it turns out that so far it's really good, so I made the right choice in accepting it. Set on a world where some people with magic, all the people without magic must act as slaves to the magic class for a period of ten years out of their life...

current mood: tired

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Friday, November 18th, 2016
10:32 am - The difference a line makes
I thought I'd get used to my LJ's new style (forced on me when I upgraded from S1 to S2), but I didn't. It's been two weeks, and I was getting annoyed at LJ to the point of not wanting to come here anymore.

The style I used looked okay on my main page, but my friendslist page was basically unreadable -- the posts ran together, I couldn't easily tell where one post ended and the next began, and it was hard to tell who made which one. So I decided to pick a new style based not on how my main LJ page looks, but how my friendslist page looked. That seems to make sense, since I look at my friendslist every day and my LJ page only when I make a new post.

So I checked out a bunch of styles until I found one with a line between each person's posts. What a big difference that made!

Now I just have to ignore that my main LJ page is ugly...

current mood: tired

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Sunday, November 13th, 2016
4:41 pm - TV: Major Crimes, Grey's Anatomy, Designated Survivor
It's such a sad thing when you finish a series you were marathoning. I watched all of Major Crimes with barely a break to watch anything else. Five seasons straight through, just a pause now and then to watch a single episode of some currently-running show, then back to it.

It's a show full of wonderfully realistic characters. All of them flawed in some way, but all coming together over five seasons to make one big family. The crime-of-the-week part of it was so background, the relationships were what drove the show for me.

Now I have to wait until next year for more episodes of it, blah.

By total chance, I stumbled upon Grey's Anatomy. Since I no longer have a TV and watch it online, it's harder to change the channel. The other evening, when I was in the middle of something and whatever show I had been watching ended and Grey's Anatomy started, I didn't have a hand free to change the station. I was surprised at how watchable it was. I had no idea who any of the characters were, but I thought it was a show I could get into. So I started with season one... A couple days later, and I'm well into season two. There are eight seasons as of now, so this will keep me going a while.

I feel bad that I haven't gone back to watching Designated Survivor. It was a really great show. In it, a terrorist attack struck Washington DC killing the president, VP, and all of the House and Senate. Following the rule of succession, the Head of Housing (Kiefer Sutherland) became the new president, a man who the president had intended to fire the next day. I only saw the first episode of it, but then the election happened and suddenly I cannot make myself watch anything related to the president, Washington, politics, or any of that. I feel horrible for the show -- I hope other people aren't having the same reaction as me.

current mood: okay

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Thursday, November 10th, 2016
7:58 pm - 2016 book: Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos
Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos by Marc Sumerak
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Book received free for review from Insight Editions.



What a fun book this is! As the title implies, it's set up just like a tour book, just for the whole universe.

For each place, there's all the expected information you'd see in a tour book, set up exactly the same way. Overview of the area, What to Wear, Sights and Activities, Lodging, Etiquette, a "Did you know?" section, Tips for a Fun Trip, Do's and Don'ts, etc. That would be interesting enough, but this book belonged to the Guardians of the Galaxy crew, and they all made notes all over it. Each of them has a perfectly distinct handwriting, so it's easy to tell who wrote each note.

While the art is fun, it's the text that really makes the book. Unfortunately there was a request to not to quote any of it, since it's still subject to change, so I'll share a few images from it instead. Click behind the cut to see it.

Three pieces of art back here.Collapse )

As this was a graphic novel, it doesn't count towards my book total for the year.

current mood: thirsty

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9:09 am - My friends list, my people
My friendslist is all the same this morning. Almost without exception, every post on it is expressing sorrow over the US election results. I'm right there with you.

But this morning I woke up with a small positive thought: We're now one day closer to Trump being out of office. And tomorrow we'll be another day closer.

I just have to try not to think about the damage that will be done before he's gone.

I heard the saddest quote on the news yesterday. Some woman said, paraphrasing:

"They always told me I was wrong for not believing in gay rights. But Republicans hold the House, Congress, and now the presidency, and that's telling me I was right all along. Blah blah back to traditional values, things the country "should" believe in, the quote went on and on.

It makes my heart ache.

I try to focus on the positive things. Hillary won the popular vote. So there are more good, kind people in the country than there are people who support that abusive, racist, bullying piece of crap.

I wish we could address the issue of why it's not the popular vote that counts, but as Democrats keep winning the popular vote and yet losing the election, the Republicans won't ever let that happen.

current mood: tired

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Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
8:17 am - 2016 books: Promise of the Wolves, Secret of the Wolves, Beneath a Winter Moon
Secret of the Wolves by
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



The second book in the "...of the Wolves" series, but I hadn't realized that and read it first by mistake. I was pretty quick to realize what was going on (the first part of the book was a massive info dump, I figured had to be explaining the first book). I didn't think I owned the first book, so I tried continuing on with this one. 'Starting in the middle of the series' issues aside, neither the writing nor the story worked for me, so gave up about 10% in.

The plot was unclear. Something about how gods had wanted to have wolves work with humans, and the wolves agreed, then someone (wolves or man) broke that promise. Thousands of years in the future, we arrive at current time (in the book, alternate universe) and wolves are just starting to be willing to work with humans again, though some wolves are against that.

Promise of the Wolves by
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Then it turned out I did actually own the first book in the series, so I tried reading that. Why would a first book start with an info dump? I slogged through that, but found the same issues with story and writing, so gave up on this one as well.

Beneath a Winter Moon by
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I'm starting to listen to signs that I shouldn't read a book. This one had a very long, very poorly written author's forward. It ended with "Note: This book has been edited by the author, only." I gave it a couple pages into the story to see if it would be as poorly edited as I suspected. It was. I deleted it.

Werewolf story, but I can't say more about it beyond that.

Currently reading: War Stories: New Military Science Fiction. Usually I wouldn't be very interested in war stories, but Karin Lowachee (author of the Warchild book I loved so much) has a story in this, so I bought it.

I'm two stories in, and I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would. So far it's more about people than wars. Her story is the second to last one, so I have a ways to go before getting to it.

current mood: tired

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Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
8:11 pm - Fitting post from Tumblr for tonight:
I can’t wait to wake up in a dystopian young adult novel tomorrow. I BETTER get the aggressively perfect boyfriend that comes with it.

I feel the need to apologize to all my friends in other countries. If this election goes as it seems to be, I'm sorry for all the harm Trump's America is going to do.

current mood: sick

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9:15 am - Little LJ things ... bigger election thing
I hate it how easy it is to click the like button on posts. It's so easy to be lazy and not comment! I always feel guilty if I just like something, but I suspect that guilt won't last.

Related: I'm still struggling to make LJ usable for me again. I can't find a style that makes my friends list clear and easy to read. Grumpy.

I'm so pissed at political stuff. There was a news story yesterday. If Hillary gets elected, the very first thing the Republicans have said they're going to do is try to impeach her. I swear to god, it's like dealing with children. They worry about the election being stolen from them? Yet they're the ones trying to do that (like telling people they can text their vote if they want to vote for Hillary...). They're worried about voter fraud, yet it was a TRUMP voter who tried to vote multiple times.

Sigh.

I also strongly suspect the news media is trying to make the race seem closer than it really is. The more afraid people are, the more they'll watch the news, so the news has a vested interest in making people afraid.

Stop the world, I want to get off.

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