That day of the week again

Oct. 1st, 2014 03:20 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Conversations with Dorothy Allison (2012) - so good, though understandably a bit repetitive in parts as interviews tended to have to cover the same ground in intro, and sometimes in questions. I long for more novels by Allison, in particular the lesbian fantasy trilogy she teasingly mentions more than once. Why has no-one given her one of those McArthur grants? it is quite clear that to make a living she is teaching writing (and sounds as if she is an excellent teacher) at the expense of getting anything much of her own written.

Sybille Bedford, Pleasures and Landscapes: a traveller's tales from Europe (2014 edition of collection of pieces dating back to the 1940s issued 2003) - this is lovely. I picked it up in the local independent bookshop and could not resist. She is so good on the process of being a traveller and the wonderful feeling of expeditiously getting into one's hotel room and closing the door and what one wants in there (enough towels and hangers and correct voltage) and pleasingly about the pleasures of this sort of thing - comfort and efficiency and so forth - rather than the arduous mule-back trek, the primitive picturesque, etc. I like that. She is also, as one might anticipate, very good on the nosh side of things.

Noel Streatfeild, Parson's Nine (1932). A pleasant read, though one felt that she was not quite in the Charlotte Yonge class when it came to producing clearly individualised depictions of members of a large family (some of them were more in the background than others), and that EM Delafield was perhaps a little more pointed on matters such as the strains of being married to and having as a father a saintly unworldly clergyman, and philanthropic society ladies. Also, not much of a plot - more of an 'and then' narrative, and also perhaps a bit too shiftingly episodic between characters (what happened to the suffragette governess after the War? given how central she was in the early part) - although the ending was neat.

Also some Sekkrit Projket books.

On the go

Peter's Room for the Marlowverse group read.

Up next

I had a bit of a spate of ordering things at the weekend, and am in hopes of, in particular, the new Jane Haddam turning up before too long.

Fan problems

Oct. 1st, 2014 01:10 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I've never really quite had time to get into the Marvel franchise, but I really like a lot of the fandom response I see drifting past me on Tumblr and to some extent my DW network. And I was over at [personal profile] jack's for the weekend and he happened to have Captain America: the Winter Soldier in his rental queue. He reckoned it was probably accessible to someone who hadn't watched the whole rest of the series, so I decided to give it a go.

And we watched about the first hour and a half and then paused the DVD to get up and pee. And at that point I realized that there were any number of things I'd rather be doing than watching the rest of that film, so we gave up and did other things instead. ([personal profile] jack was ok with watching the ending after I'd headed back to Stoke).

Basically, I just couldn't bring myself to care about anything. The characters seemed to have no depth or complexity. I didn't care enough about S.H.I.E.L.D to be invested in the fact that the agency had been infiltrated, and I pretty much guessed the identity of the "mysterious" Winter Soldier even though I have no real background in the mythos. I wasn't moved or shocked by Nick Fury's assassination, I was only mildly disappointed that having that character played by Samuel L Jackson didn't prevent the cliché of the African-American mentor figure getting fridged to give the blond hero some motivation. There were lots of explosions and shoot-outs and the obligatory car chase, but I found them so dull I was mainly noticing flaws in the CGI (the whole thing looks like being inside a fairly generic FPS computer game) rather than getting emotionally involved.

I don't think the problem was unfamiliarity with the franchise. All the characters kept explaining direct to camera what was going on and how they were feeling. If anything the film was almost too accessible; even as someone who isn't in superhero fandom at all, I felt talked down to. I tried to relax and enjoy it as just a big dumb action movie, but I was bored or irritated a lot more than I was excited or moved. So even the combination of sunk cost fallacy and narrative drive which usually means I always read or watch all the way to the end wasn't enough to keep me from wandering off half way through.

Basically, I like the version I'd glimpsed through fandom a lot better. The apparently entirely imaginary film that really explores what it would be like for a superhero veteran from WW2 to suddenly wake up in 2014. And where the Black Widow has a really interesting past as a former Russian spy and is genuinely morally ambivalent, rather than just looking sexy and pouty in very tight clothing. Where the friendship / bromance between Captain America and the extremely cute Anthony Mackie's Falcon takes centre stage rather than Mackie just being a minor comic relief character.

In general, feh.


Oct. 1st, 2014 10:50 am
foxfinial: (chatuchak market)
[personal profile] foxfinial
I was on holiday for over a month! It was very needed. Highlights of the holiday: time spent with excellent friends, eating endless tasty food, being covered in cats, 1,500km road trip, rocks. Not highlights: so many long flights. Now I'm living in Oxford where I'll soon be starting the Masters in Classical Armenian Studies. I'm in college-owned housing, in a room on the top floor where I can see the sky and leaves (on deciduous trees, sadly, turning to brown like the death of the sun and warmth), and it's going to be a good (and hard, and rewarding) year.

For now, a cute snake-warning sign on the Southern Ocean coast of Western Australia:



Oct. 1st, 2014 02:41 am
finch: (change)
[personal profile] finch
This story is set in the Baggage universe, though it doesn't feature any named characters.

The hair on the back of my neck was standing up.

Autumn's sunset had caught up with me, and the low sun behind me cast a long shadow. A fiery orange haze settled in my peripheral vision as the light sank.

I stopped walking, but the crunch of leaves continued. I didn't turn around, but waited as they sound got closer and closer, full of a sense of dread I couldn't explain.

I must look ridiculous, I thought to myself as the steps were nearly upon me, but didn't move.

The other person kept walking past me, not even looking in my direction. I shook my head and laughed at myself, then stepped forward, not realizing that my shadow had stopped moving with me.

I went several steps more before I realized my shadow was not moving. Instead, I was standing dead in the center of the dark space. I looked down, then up, then down again, trying to figure out what was casting the shadow.

Nothing was.

Ahead on the path, the same man as before was waiting for me.

I stepped forward, figuring I would just cross through this darkness and out the other side, but as I stepped forward, the darkness expanded. I panicked, breaking into a run, but it only spread faster, settling over the hills like snowfall.

"What are you running from?" he asked when I reached him.

"I don't know," I confessed.

He smiled affably and put an arm around me. "Are you sure it isn't me?"

"I- but- I just ran to you."

"Not very good at it, are you? Come now, back home with you. It's late." The gentle arm around my shoulders had an iron grip.

"Home?" I asked, suddenly confused.

"You had your day. You'll have your day again next year. It always comes around again." He walked me toward one of the hills, and I thought we were going up it, but then somehow it swallowed us up. My memories had dried up, and I couldn't say for sure if I belonged here or if some cruel trick had been played.

"Next year," he said again as he left me there. "Be ready."

This story was sponsored by [personal profile] serpentine. If you enjoyed it feel free to tip or sponsor more.
oursin: Frankie Howerd, probably in Up Pompeii, overwritten Don't Mock (Don't Mock)
[personal profile] oursin

I have seen a couple of links to reports about a couple who are Christian swingers - and of what appears to be a somewhat evangelical end of the spectrum vis a vis belief systems.

One report suggested that what they were doing was setting up a swingers' contact system for people in that exact same situation. The other suggested that they were using swinging as a missionary opportunity.

But what particularly struck me was that they self-identified as seriously fitt gym-goers, and they were all NO FATTIES WANTED.

This struck me as far more problematic than the swinging.

renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay posting in [community profile] ladybusiness

Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father's townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn't seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself. (source)

Everyone kept telling me to read this, so hey friends: YOU WIN. You were all 100% correct, and I shouldn't have looked at you dubiously when I heard the words "fairy tale retelling". I apologize for doubting you, especially Ana, since you think I would've learned my lesson after Chime and The 10 PM Question specifically (I will never learn my lesson, probably). Read more... )

Daily Happiness

Sep. 30th, 2014 11:02 pm
torachan: my glitch character (glitch)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Kitten seems to be feeling better this evening than she was this morning. Still not 100%, but I can definitely see an improvement.

2. A few weeks ago Irene dropped her ipad and the screen cracked. She took it in to a local repair place and they fixed it for $140, which is way cheaper than the $250 Apple charges for a replacement. But a few days after getting the ipad back, the actual LCD screen cracked, not through anything she did, just normal pressure. We have no idea if the repair guy damaged the screen while replacing the glass or what, but of course when we tried to take it back there, they said it wasn't their fault. But tonight we took it down to Apple and they replaced it free of cost!

3. I posted the final chapter of A Child's Child! While this isn't the longest manga I've ever translated, it's the longest thing I've completed all by myself, and it's also one of the first manga I started scanlating (as opposed to just doing translations for other people), so it's a pretty big thing for me! Not sure if I'm going to take on another project just yet or just try to get more done on the other stuff I have going on...

Scanlation: A Child's Child ch. 29

Sep. 30th, 2014 11:00 pm
torachan: haruna from kodomo no kodomo (kodomo no kodomo)
[personal profile] torachan
The final chapter! Thank you all for following along all this time.

Title: A Child's Child
Original Title: コドモのコドモ (Kodomo no Kodomo)
Author: Sasou Akira
Publisher: Action Comics
Genre: Seinen
Status in Japan: 3 volumes, complete
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations
Scanlation Status: Complete
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: In a small town in Tokyo, the PTA argues about teaching sex ed in elementary school, but what nobody knows is that eleven-year-old Haruna is already pregnant. When she decides not to tell any adults, it's up to her classmates to help her through this ordeal. (Note: This is not loli. Sex happens off-screen and the artwork is not fan-servicey.)

Chapter Summary: A reunion...

Chapter 29: An Adult's Child

And a complete volume download for those who want it:
volume 3.

Religious leader

Sep. 30th, 2014 10:53 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
Oh. My. Life! It's the middle of the High Holy Days, right, I'm up to my eyes preparing half a dozen major events in 3 weeks. And term started yesterday and I have a new PhD student, so work is fairly overwhelming too. So the day before the New Year, I get an urgent message from an old friend in Sweden asking me to come and run the Progressive Jewish community's big annual showcase event, because the person who was supposed to be doing it has pulled out for overriding personal reasons. And obviously every Jewish professional is massively busy at this season, and apparently they remember me fondly from 5 years back...

I mean, I can do a full weekend of activities with a mix of social, liturgy and Jewish study. I can even do it at short notice, if I have to. I can liaise with a bunch of people in a different country who have strong views about how they want to run things and haven't necessarily come to a consensus before consulting me. But to do this when the two weeks between hearing about it and it actually happening contain Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur and the start of term, that's a big ask. To cap it off, I am walking into two politically fraught situations, both at the national politics level (Sweden has just had national elections with a massive swing to the far-right party), and at the community politics level (the broader community just sacked their rabbi because he was too successful at his brief of attracting young people to synagogue and making things more dynamic, and it turns out the old stalwarts don't like change.) And again, I can handle politically fraught, but only if I have really plenty of time to prepare, not just intellectually but talking to people and sounding out what the issues are and where I need to tread carefully.

Also, would you believe that the theme for the weekend is "how to deal with legitimate criticism of Israel in a climate of anti-semitism". Um. That is waaaaaay the hell outside my comfort zone, very hard to teach in a text-based way, and likely to provoke some really passionate and potentially conflicting responses.

anxieties )

Oh, and in other news the university has invited me as a special guest to attend a lecture by former Archbishop The Rt Rev & Rt Hon Lord Rowan Williams. I assume because they wanted to showcase interfaith diversity, but it's weird that I've ended up as someone the university trots out to meet VIPs. The lecture is public, but I get to attend a formal dinner as well. I'm kind of excited about this, but also I could do without it being 24 hours before the start of Yom Kippur.

This is just,,, no... I can't even...

Sep. 30th, 2014 10:14 pm
oursin: C19th engraving of a hedgehog's skeleton (skeletal hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

[H]e claimed he sent the messages to exercise his right to freedom of speech and to “satirise” the issue of online trolling.
Labour MP says Peter Nunn, who was jailed for 18 weeks for threatening her on social media, led her to install panic button

And he's claiming that it was what, some kind of performance art?

Or classic case of 'That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means'?

silveradept: The logo for the Dragon Illuminati from Ozy and Millie, modified to add a second horn on the dragon. (Dragon Bomb)
[personal profile] silveradept
Let's start this time with women cartoonists drawing naked women's bodies, along with quotes from the cartoonists about bodies.

Continuing, a letter, from one guy to another, containing many of the mistakes and assumptions made about women, their experiences, and feminism, asking whether or not his views are sexist. (They are.) Notice this - calling for more male YA authors ignores that there are plenty there already, and that they're actually showing up a lot on the award and bestseller lists. Which suggests a very different thing than "the aren't enough male YA authors". More like people are of the opinion that women can't be too successful, or that women who have written bestselling books shouldn't try their hand at film adaptation, or that no woman could possibly understand video games enough to talk about their tropes. These and other claims leveled against Anita Sarkeesian are baseless and do not actually address what she is talking about, but all the same, they are waved about as "proof" that women are fundamentally incompatible with things that men used to keep as their exclusive property.

Or that women are meant solely to be objects, with their nude bodies traded in pictures, with no hack too low to score such pictures. And that's before even the threat of violent possibilities dissuaded women from making complaints in places that have codes of conduct.

And even though progress is painfully slow on these fronts, the arc of the future also bends toward justice, turning what used to be effective attacks into kindling for a much bigger pushback.

Calling a person exotic is not a compliment, because it places them outside the boundaries of conventional words and descriptors. For people, and especially women, of color, there's a long history of bad things that come with being outside the mainstream. It piss up in other places, too, like how the systemic exclusion of women from STEAM means many of the things we expect from The Future aren't here yet because we're not devoting all the brains we can to those problems.

Cards Against Humanity, and many other forms of satire, often rely on us laughing at something because we think it's obvious how wrong it is, and how laughable the people are who would take it seriously. And then there's Poe's Law.

One might suggest that the entirety of the Congress be arraigned on charges, possibly including treason, as they continue to refuse to do the duties regarding War mandated to them by the Constitution.

Insanity is famously defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results. United States war policy and invasion policy has not been sane since Vietnam, if not earlier, even if the current incarnation is the return, yet again, to Iraq, now expanded to Syria as well.

Consumer debts from a variety of sources are ending up in court, where creditors will attempt to manipulate the situation into summary judgment against the debtor, allowing for garnishment of wages up to 25 percent of the paycheck. Additionally, any money in a bank account could be seized to attempt to pay the debt, immediately denying access to banking services and likely forcing overdraft fees and other additional costs of being poor on someone so manipulated. About the only thing not being done is putting them in debtor's prisons and forcing their families or friends to pay their debts.

The state of Tennessee (and possibly others) forbid parents from giving their children surnames other than a parent's surname or a combination composed of the entire surnames of the parents. The article doesn't adequately explain why, other than a vague wave at genealogy, which should mean nothing at all.

Abusers and the abuse cycle destroy the very things their victims need to be able to leave confidently, things like judgment, confidence, and the ability to leave someone without the guilt keeping someone there.

An interview with the librarian for Ferguson, Missouri, and how the library fared during the unrest and protests in the city over the death of Michael Brown.

A meditation on the idea of the librarian as educator, to help people develop their interests, and to provide resources to people to take those interests and go very far with them. Which works, even for those who work primarily with kids, babies, and parents - we just tend to have more structured opportunities for people to find and develop interests before we turn them loose in the resources.

And sometimes we get to go to nice places - like putting a library on a boat out in the middle of a lake.

Or giving more than twenty thousand dollars to the Ada Initiative, meeting a match goal on the first day it was offered, and then beating a second stretch goal fairly quickly, and then one more, and even one more, all within a seven day time period.

Copyright law has some interesting complexities with regards to both use and access of materials, including that contacts you or others sign may limit your ability to use both copyrighted and non-copyrighted material. Not under the law, but under the contract.

The top court in the European Union has ruled that libraries are allowed to digitize works without seeking permission from copyright holders, but that those digital works cannot be downloaded to a personal digital drive or printed without appropriate recompense to rights holders. So, if you want to read works at a library terminal, that's okay. But actually copying the digital copy would violate the law. This has interesting implications - I wonder whether such things could be made available with proxy access or VPN with appropriate authentication, such that the data was never moved from the dedicated terminal, but that would open up access.

In trying to scrub negative mentions of their company from the Internet, Sundance Vacations forged court documents and presented them to MetaFilter. The company denies doing so, but someone certainly did, and I wouldn't be surprised if they worked for the company.

Facebook gets wise, releases tool to help users make sure their privacy settings are set correctly.

Researcher danah boyd riffs on how those who want to surveil or data mine will use the excuse that your data is public (in that it is published) to attack your desire to be private (because your data is only intended for certain contexts and people). That assertion, and the contracts and courts that will validate it, is how many people are both unaware of what they are sharing, and entirely aggravated when that data appears outside of their desired context.

Devices meant to capture bank card information have undergone a swift evolution to become incredibly common. There's some things you can do to be aware of whether your ATM has been compromised, but that's not the only point where thieves can steal your information - your payment processors are tempting targets, for example. The Goodwill breach, for example, was 18 months long before anyone reported anything.

Lots of helpful links for tools and technology to help with your work or with organization of The Things.

Stress may trigger parts of our biology to attack the parts that deal with mood regulation and memory.

Sagging pants and hoodies may have more in common with zoot suits than at first glance - both appear to be statements made by young people that have been intertwined with criminal behavior and indecency.

We may have just invented computer-mediated telepathy, using brain-computer and computer-brain interfaces to encode, transmit, and decode thought-data. The implications are... many.

Computers and servers using the Bourne Again Shell as their default may be vulnerable to specially crafted attacks settling to take advantage of how the shell handles requests. Patches and fixes are available.

Last for tonight, let's make some great bread, plates with planetary images on them, how narcissistic personality disorder is now like paranoia and other issues where the brain doesn't see the illness as foreign and a problem, take a tour looking for benches based on books, the second part of the tour of book benches, and part three of the book benches tour.

Oh, and ways to stop the procrastination loop - deadlines imposed by others is one good way.

Okay, one more - Chris Hadfield, rock star astronaut, attempts to calm the fears of a five year-old who is worried that the Voyager spacecraft, now beyond the helioshock and truly in interstellar space, is lonely and what will happen if something breaks. The responses are excellent, age-appropriate, and qualify as heartwarming. Listen to the full conversation, recorded by the CBC.

Was a bit tempted...

Sep. 30th, 2014 07:59 pm
oursin: Painting of Clio Muse of History by Artemisia Gentileschi (Clio)
[personal profile] oursin

Well, actually, after I had already sent the email to the media researcher saying 'not a historian of early modern medicine', and not saying, 'so not about the What did they really die of thing', the thought occurred to me -

- that with a very minimal amount of mugging up, me and the Famous Shirt could probably go on telly and sound pretty authoritative in a brief soundbite.

(Telly researchers, by the way, never seem to google anything, otherwise they might have twigged that the C16th is not my patch, and deaths of people around the monarchy, not that either. But even though I try to eschew watching history programmes, even in the ones I've been in I have been moved to ask the heavens, 'Y O Y did they ask X to say anything on this subject?' Sometimes they are even visibly struggling. So perhaps as long as they can describe a person as 'historian' it doesn't really matter what they are a historian of.)

Also, I think that 'different theories of what the actual cause of death was' does not amount to 'controversy', rather that simply that there could be several possible explanations. When a woman dies some days after giving birth following an arduous labour, I don't think we need to start invoking sinister conspiracy. Maybe there's a desire to know The Real Facts but even if we had the contemporary case records, whether these would decode to anything that we could define in modern medical terminology, Clio alone knows.

Things on my desk: Part 1

Sep. 30th, 2014 02:54 pm
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
[personal profile] nanila
It occurred to me recently that a decade or so of working in and around space science has allowed me to amass an interesting collection of swag. The swag lives in, on and around my desk, depending on size, current relevance and preciousness.

One item that rocketed to the top of the list (and thus currently holds pride of place) was a gift I received at the end of my service at Space Camp in Austria in July. It is a piece of Genuine Space Rock. Observe its Certificate of Authenticity, which is lent additional gravitas (at least to me) by virtue of being in German.

[Image of Asteroid belt detritus]

Next time: pin badges galore!

Daily Happiness

Sep. 29th, 2014 09:16 pm
torachan: sakaki from azumanga daioh holding a cat, with the text "I like cats" in Japanese (sakaki)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I got Irene hooked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine! :D :D :D

2. Busy day today doing non-work stuff, but it was still nice to have a day off.

3. Got two of the three scanlations I need to post by the end of the month posted and should be able to post the third tomorrow no problem.

4. The kitten has been seeming like she doesn't feel too well for the past couple days, and then this morning I found tapeworms coming out of her butt. >:( So we took her in to the vet this afternoon and got her some worm pills and flea stuff (the fleas are what got her the worms yay). Hopefully she will be feeling better soon.

Scanlations: Himegoto ch. 26

Sep. 29th, 2014 09:12 pm
torachan: yoshiki from himegoto (himegoto)
[personal profile] torachan

Title: Himegoto
Original Title: ヒメゴト~十九歳の制服~ (Himegoto~Juukyuu Sai no Seifuku~)
Author: Minenami Ryou
Publisher: Big Comics
Genre: Seinen
Status in Japan: 7 volumes, ongoing
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations + Krim + Kurokishi Scans
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates

Summary: This is the story of three college freshmen with secrets: Yuki, aka Yoshiki, a boyish girl who gets off on wearing her old high school uniform skirt; Mikako, who acts innocent around her classmates, but at night pretends to be a 15-year-old and has sex for money; and finally there's Kaito, who's obsessed with Mikako to the point of dressing up like her.

Chapter Summary: Realizing that Mikako's shadow is always over her and Kaito when they're together, Yoshiki feels more alone than ever.

Chapter 26: Shadow


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