nanila: YAY (me: abby)
[personal profile] nanila
[Admin note: Entry text has been lifted and modified from an earlier locked entry because PHOTOS! Please let me know if Google Photos is still being crap and I'll put them on Flickr. I hesitated to do so because I didn't take these pictures.]

Last week, I gave my first outreach lecture in just over a year. I'm not doing much outreach any more as my schedule is pretty full, but I made an exception for this Year 4 teacher. I've known her for a few years now, from when she worked at a charity called IntoUniversity that runs courses for children whose parents haven't been to university. She was always fantastic at laying the groundwork for an outreach event, arranging for a big audience and ensuring that the children understood that what was happening was quite special. This is a totally underrated skill in outreach and in general, I think. I knew that the students would be studying space and the solar system in their curriculum, that they would know of my visit in advance and thus that they would be able to extract the most from it.

Anyway, this time I unintentionally pushed this poor lass to her limits. I turned up a week before I was scheduled to do so. It was entirely my fault as I'd put the correct time but the wrong date into my Outlook calendar.

She rallied beautifully. It helped that, superstar teacher that she is, she had already been preparing the students and teachers for my arrival ("We're getting a NASA engineer to visit us!"). Her composure outwardly unrattled, she managed to get all the Year 4 and Year 5 teachers to rearrange their lessons, and bring their children down for the lecture. I'll never forgot those 180 excited faces staring up at me from where they were squooshed together on her classroom floor. They hung on my every word and pelted me with questions for 15 minutes at the end. Then they applauded me. Some of them stood up. Some of them were cheering and whooping. This went on for almost two minutes. I have never felt so embarrassed and so pleased in my life. As they were leaving they came up to me individually - one girl just so she could hug my leg.

"Doctor Nanila," said one smiling eight-year-old boy, "How do I become an engineer?"
"Doctor Nanila," asked a serious-faced child, "If you could go into space and live on your dream world, what would it look like?"
"Doctor Nanila," said a brown-haired girl, "I saw the blood moon through my binoculars! Do you know, it was the closest the moon has been to the Earth this year?"

I have permission to post the photos the teacher took from the event. Without further ado, me and her Year 4s doing the Vulcan hand salute. Please note that I'm wearing an ESA Rosetta t-shirt. Sadly the design is on the back.

Live long and prosper! Peace! Five! Uh...fingers!

+3 )

They've sent a bunch of handmade thank-you cards to my work, which I'll pick up next week. They're going to make me cry at my desk. <333333
lotesse: (freedom)
[personal profile] lotesse
Oh my god someone on ffa just mentioned the future possibility of Hamilton productions WITH ALL FEMALE CASTS. Oh my god. Hamilton and Burr as dueling antagonistic lesbians. Hamilton and Washington as a female mentor/female mentee pair. "My dearest ... Angelica"!
kaberett: A cartoon of wall art, featuring a banner reading "NO GLORY SAVE HONOR". (no glory save honour)
[personal profile] kaberett
[Content note: abuse]

There is a poem by Phillip Larkin. You know the one: They fuck you up, your mum and dad/They may not mean to, but they do...

It is bleak, and it is resigned, and it is gentle, and it is true.

And every once in a while I see somebody praising Adrian Mitchell's saccharine, self-congratulatory rewrite, and the world drops out from under me. Because: how dare you. How dare you. How dare you take my truth and painstakingly paint over it. How dare you take this thing, this thing that is mine, and tell me that it couldn't really have happened like that. How dare you look to me, smiling, and say -- no, that didn't occur.

You should be horrified by what has been done to me. I will not fold myself smaller for your convenience and comfort, to ease your forgetting. I will not fucking smile for you. Tell your own stories, by all means, but if you cannot understand what profound insult it is to hear my truth (my bitter, compassionate, accepting truth) and to twist it, to sweeten it beyond bearing and beyond breaking, because you cannot stand to believe me -- if you cannot understand what profound insult it is to smiling silence me because you do not wish to hear -- if you would look away and smugly say: the world is not, is never like that; let me tell you how it really is--

-- then you bear the guilt for the children who, like me, are ignored and overlooked and inconvenient.

How dare you chiding, stifling, hush us. How dare you bid us pray be sweet and silent. How dare you -- how dare you -- make of us a sacrifice to your comfort.

Shame upon you.
[syndicated profile] speculumannorum_feed

Drinking sub-par Starbucks and waiting for Being Awake Club to assemble. As is fitting for a club of that name, the other two defected for better coffee. Apparently my choice of location close to uni rather than best coffee was all wrong.

Two books I'm looking forward to

Oct. 8th, 2015 04:53 pm
hunningham: Woman reading book (Reading)
[personal profile] hunningham

Nina Allan has signed a two-book deal with Titan Books. They'll be publishing a trade paperback of the The Race and also a sequel called The Rift.

I originally read The Race because it was a BSFA nominee, and I was reading my way through all of them. And I loved it. It was so good, and discovering it made up for a couple of stinkers which were also on the list. I'm seriously delighted that it's going to get a wider audience and that I am going to get a sequel.

As for The Rift, I’ll have plenty more to say in due course. For now, I can tell you that it’s a science fiction mystery about a woman named Julie who believes she’s been abducted by aliens.

Secondly, the "Ex Urbe" blogger has written Too Like the Lightning. I love Ex Urbe - it's a wonderful mixture of history and travel and food, and the book sounds deeply fascinating.

When I talk about a "utopia"–a work intending to depict an ideal future–that is not quite the same as a work which is "utopian" i.e. addressing the idea of utopia, and using utopian positive elements in its future building, while still focusing on people, characters and events, and exploring or critiquing the positive future it depicts, rather than recommending it. 2454 as I imagine it is not a utopia. There are many flaws and uncomfortable elements. For example, there is censorship, a very uncomfortable (and traditionally dystopian) element for an Earth future to have. But there are flying cars, and robot trash-collectors, and low crime rates, and spectacular cities, and awesome jobs, and high-tech fashions, and cool new family structures, and all sorts of things which are, if not perfect, a bit better than 2015


Oct. 8th, 2015 11:25 am

National poetry day

Oct. 8th, 2015 10:36 am
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
It's National Poetry Day, apparently. And this one is actually based in my own nation, rather than just one of those vague nation-of-internet special days.

As it happens, yesterday the internet was full of people being cross about a project to produce contemporary English translations of Shakespeare. Now my opinion is that contemporary English translations are just one part of the myriad ways that modern audiences respond to literary classics. Certainly it's possible for them to be awful, but the idea of reworking Shakespeare's words isn't inherently awful.

[ profile] papersky wrote a sonnet expressing the general sentiment that changing Shakespeare is horrible. I commented that I really shouldn't try to write a response sonnet to express my alternative view, and certain people talked me into it instead of out of it. I'm rather charmed with the idea of an internet argument about Shakespeare in sonnet form, I must say.

So anyway, have a rather bad, dashed off hypertext sonnet about why I'm in favour of translating and reinterpreting Shakespeare:
True poetry is what survives translation,
An exiled Magyar poet told me once.
We're all time's exiles. Each one longs
To touch the past through each imagination,

But time excludes us from each treasured word –
No verse, no rhyme, no play remains pristine,
We'll never watch unchanged a perfect scene,
Nor ever hear what past play-goers heard.

Limelight's electric now and women act,
Some plays are filmed instead of staged,
The words, the sounds, the very rhymes have changed.
No fossil, this, to be preserved intact,

But living art in loving minds reborn,
Poetic truth translation can transform.
I do rather like writing poetry that responds to existing works. Pastiches and filks and metrical translations of poetry in other languages, too, but especially when someone writes a poem and I reply to it in similar style and metre.
[syndicated profile] speculumannorum_feed

Recently read, lit, rehearsed and otherwise consumed: Proof, David Auburn. I’m dying of academic jokes, and then there’s the bit where Act II Sc II is basically Joanna Russ’s ‘How to Supress Women’s Writing’ in dialogue and applied to pure maths.

[poem] Sonnet III: To make the dawn

Oct. 7th, 2015 09:06 pm
kaberett: Reflections of a bare tree in river ice in Stockholm somehow end up clad in light. (tree-of-light)
[personal profile] kaberett
-- two ways to break a world.
The first: an end by force; to grind to dust
and scatter to the heedless brilliant stars.
The second: love, and warmth, and gentleness.
This time an egg: the smooth horizon's curve
that shelters and thereby defines your dreams
will unchecked choke: a softer, smaller death.
Instead: take heart and hope; so startling bare
your fresh-cut teeth, and stretch across the shards
of every fear that held you small and close.
Bewildered, daring, raise your face anew
to unimagined unexpected skies.
If this is breaking -- oh, then let me break
and, having broken, break, and break again.
lotesse: (afrofuturism)
[personal profile] lotesse
some things about Hamilton:

-the George Washington/Alexander Hamilton drift compatibility is increasingly my fave. I could ship it or not but the intensity is delish. "Meet Me Inside," with the "Son/I'm not your Son" refrain: nnrgh. The overlay of Hamilton's voice over George Washington's farewell address in "One Last Time," his writing in his commander's mouth, saying the farewell that he himself finds nigh-unbearable: ffwahhhhppdp. Pwahhhd.

-the characterization of Eliza works really well for me sometimes and frustrates me at others. I think this has something to do with my dislike of romantic jealously/infidelity narratives as a whole. And I really like that there's none of that with the sisters! "Burn" calls up both of my reactions: the crescendo on "you FORFEIT all rights to my heart/ you FORFEIT your place in our bed" is glorious and invokes my Thing about honor, but the way that she opposes his public career and private life irks me, and the ending of the song always catches me off-beat, because when she says "I hope you burn" I always expect it to finish "mine" - I'm burning your letters, I hope you burn mine. But her final apotheosis as historian always gets me where I live.

-"Hurricane" might be my fave track. "She was holding me/ we were sick and she was holding me/ I couldn't seem to die"
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack

This obviously sounds completely made up, but was reported straightforwardly in a bunch of mainstream articles. I couldn't figure out what those articles were based on though, and I couldn't find any earlier references, nor any mention on Snopes, so I don't know how to tell. Other than "I refuse to think about it, it's just obviously true/false", does anyone know where to go from there?

Too many books!

Oct. 7th, 2015 03:47 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I have been trying to record at least a few thoughts about books or films I've consumed, but I've got too much of a backlog to think I'll actually do as much as I'd imagined, so here's a brief list.


Set in Ireland, about a member of a small town who shoots a very nice priest in revenge against the church for allowing another priest to abuse him when he was a boy. Well done, I don't know if the portrayal of Ireland is good or horrible, the subject matter is very uncomfortable.

Firefight, Brandon Sanderson

The sequel to Sanderson's overly-specified novel about anti-superheroes. It continues the same strengths (worldbuilding, consistency of superpowers), and flaws (characters, emotional satisfaction). It fills in backstory from when powers were first discovered and some major heroes and villains were scientists who'd hoped to use them for good. It progresses the plot. Overall, it felt a bit flat, but gave me a lot of good ideas and I'll definitely read the third one.

planetary comics

A collected series of comics about an alternate history where an alternate-version of (roughly) Fantastic Four are villains who control most of the world, and the Planetary organisation which does... various stuff. It's beautiful, glorious, in showing "here's a cool thing, here's ANOTHER cool thing, here's a cool character, here's an even cooler character". Lots of it stuck with me. It doesn't try for much consistency in worldbuilding, which disappoints me, even though it might have been incompatible with what it does well.

Beauty and the Beast

Judith finally showed me another of the Disney films I'd never actually saw. It's really pretty good, both in a good story, and a good overall message: Gaston creeping on Belle is a great portrayal of a socially-powerful person imposing unwanted romantic attention on someone, enough that it's really obviously creepy, without descending into torture-porn.

The Beast is scary without being creepy in the same way, and it's clearly shown that he's doing a bad thing by kidnapping Belle even if it isn't completely her fault, and him saving her life redeems him, not her.

I'm also quite amazed at the Beast's animation, that he's beast-like enough to be menacing, but humanoid enough to be plausibly romantic with Belle.
jjhunter: Serene person of color with shaved head against abstract background half blue half brown (scientific sage)
[personal profile] jjhunter posting in [community profile] poetry
J.J. here in my thirteen incarnation as your host. I have for you today two translations of a poem by the Chinese poet Li Bai, also known as Li Po, which I first encountered in a poetry workshop as an exercise in sharpening one's ear for nuance in diction. Writing a poem requires translating what is in one's head into specific words in the air or on the page; in reading and comparing translations of a particular poem from its original language to another, we can also get a feel for refining the act of writing itself.

If you only have time to read one translation today, read Pound's; but if you have a breath more to read two, start with the first translation by Witter Bynner, and then read Pound's. What images, what impressions do you get from the former vs the latter? Are there particular wordings that seem more or less effective in conveying the speaker's experience?

'A SONG OF CH' ANG-KAN' trans. by Witter Bynner )

trans. by Ezra Pound

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
      As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

For more translations of the poem in question, see Other Translations of 'A River Merchant's Wife", and A. W. Allworthy's review of 'the New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry', ed. Eliot Weinberger, which discusses Pound's translation of this poem in the context of translations by William Carlos Williams and David Hinton. If you have any particular favorite translation to recommend, or one you've done yourself, please share in the comments!

Back in the real world

Oct. 7th, 2015 01:35 pm
hunningham: Beyond Rosie the riveter - poster from WW2 by Donna Knapp (Riveter)
[personal profile] hunningham
I’m a freelance programmer.  Normally I work from home, I manage my own time, I’m in charge. And yes, I do know how lucky I am. I’m doing good work, I really enjoy it, I get good money, I get respect.

Current gig is a little different. I’m working as a contractor for a local company, and I'm working from their offices. So I’m commuting, and I’m doing the regular nine-to-five.  And wow, it’s weird.

It is so strange to come in in the morning and say, “Right, all my time now belongs to you. What do you want me to work on?"

Reading Wednesday 7/10

Oct. 7th, 2015 12:40 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: The first fifteen lives of Harry August, by Claire North. (c) Claire North 2014, Pub Orbit 2014, ISBN 978-1-4055-2825-2. The first fifteen lives of Harry August is the sort of book I normally really like, intelligent SF which explores a cool idea. but it didn't quite work for me.

read more )

[executive function]

Oct. 7th, 2015 11:01 am
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
tada )

todo )


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