Reading Wednesday 28/06

Jun. 28th, 2017 01:42 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I borrowed [personal profile] jack's copy to read this for the Hugos. It's thinky and original, but also rather unpleasant.

detailed review )

Currently reading: All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Partly because it's Hugo nominated and partly cos several of my friends were enthusiastic about it. I'm a bit more than halfway through and finding it very readable and enjoyable. Patricia and Laurence are really well drawn as outcast characters and their interaction is great. It feels very Zeitgeisty, very carefully calculated to appeal to the current generation of geeks. The style is sort of magic realist, in that a bunch of completely weird fantasy-ish things happen and nobody much remarks on them. I find that sort of approach to magic a bit difficult to get on with, because it appears completely arbitrary what is possible and what isn't, so the plot seems a bit shapeless.

Up next: I'm a bit minded to pick up Dzur by Steven Brust, because I was enjoying the series but very slowly, and it's been really quite a few years since I made progress with it.

The bespectacled wizard grimaced....

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:40 pm
tree_and_leaf: HMS Surprise sailing away over calm sea, caption "Sail away" (Sail away)
[personal profile] tree_and_leaf
In Potter related news (is it really twenty years? And how many friends would I not have made were it not for Potter?), Stephen Bush of the New Staggers has done a director's commentary of his ancient Harry Potter fic, and it's one of the funniest things I've read in ages.

(He had an LJ aged 12? Precocious or what?)
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
A few days ago, Mum found out that she may have a close blood relative she didn’t know about, who was the product of an affair and put up for adoption after he was born. Details are sketchy but we worked out from his birth year that it’s possible his birth parents met at a party my mother’s parents threw. 

I only know all this because she asked me to look into him and make sure it wasn’t a scam, and while it’s not a scam it’s also fucking uncanny how similar he and I are – not just physical appearance but hobbies and personality (as much as you can get personality from a facebook and a blog). He’s ten years older than me, but otherwise we’re pretty similar. 

I emailed her like “I think this guy’s on the level, he’s just looking for a missing piece of his family” and had to stifle a strong urge to be like “Also I want to hang out with him, so be nice.” 

I hope Mum likes him, I want to be his Facebook Friend. 

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via IFTTT

Music meme: day 10 of 30

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:43 pm
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
[personal profile] liv
A song that makes you sad. It's hard to find anything sadder than one of my friends who posted a video of a scratch orchestra playing the European anthem Ode to Joy the day after the UK voted to leave the EU. But the song most likely to make me cry, personally, is the aria Voi che sapete from Mozart's The marriage of Figaro.

break-up sadness, plus video )

Music meme and gaming

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:00 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Day 9 of the (in my case very slow-running) music meme asks for a song that makes you happy. And I have quite a lot of those, making me happy is a big reason I have a music collection at all. I think I'm going to go for Complex person by The Pretenders. The lyrics are not all that cheerful in some ways, but I love the bouncy tune and I always hear this as a song about determination and not letting things get you down.

video embed, actually audio only )

Also I've had a good week for playing games: mostly list with short comments )

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:25 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[personal profile] dreamwaffles linked to a fundraiser for Kaye, who has been researching Rat Lungworm, a disease that almost killed her son Graham, who is now disabled and uses a service dog for everyday life. Kaye was a crucial part of the University of Hawai'i's RLWD research team and also the team trying to get legislative support and grant funding, but she's fighting medical debt for Graham's treatment and ongoing needs. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and is now dealing with an eye infection they need to get treatment for before their roommate and her toddler come back from vacation, so they don't infect the baby. They're raising $50-$60 in the short term for medical treatment; they also have a long-term fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] anna-guth is a student from Germany who was recently accepted to Redroofs School for the Performing Arts in England, but her parents can't afford the full GBP24K tuition. She is raising E6.5K for tuition and school fees; you can read more and reblog here, or give directly to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] echosiriusrumme is a student trying to buy her own clarinet; at present she doesn't have her own instrument to practice with but has a pressing need to practice before auditions and recitals for a Performance track next fall at her university. She has a few options lined up for between $800 and $1.3K, but needs to raise the funds to cover the cost; she is offering to repay over time any funds contributed to the purchase. You can read more and reblog here (plus find a ko-fi link) or give to her paypal here.


And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

The level of anxiety is unreasonable

Jun. 25th, 2017 06:37 pm
hunningham: (Default)
[personal profile] hunningham
My brother lives in the US. He & his family coming over to the UK, and the children will stay with my mother for some quality granny time while he and his wife bugger off to Paris for a week.

Tomorrow I am going up to Scotland to stay with my mother and be her chief assistant child-wrangler. I volunteered for this, I wanted to do it, but now I am really panicky about it.

It's partly child-related anxieties (small people! what do I do! aargh!) and partly just the prospect of my mother for a week unleavened by any other adult.

She will want to talk about politics. To give you a flavour, she's against wind-farms, believes that nationalisation improved the railways and thinks that Corbyn is the Anti-Christ.

I am also having packing panic, and trying to decide what I want to wear next week. It's Scotland. It will be cold. It will rain at some point. I want all the clothes and then some more.

Today - the things

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:45 pm
hunningham: Person sitting quietly on bus, contemplating life (man on bus)
[personal profile] hunningham
1) It has stopped being hot. This is good. It is so good. There is a cool breeze and I have had to go and shut windows and put on a jumper. I work from home, my house is cool (old, high ceilings, inadequate insulation) so I can cope with a heatwave, but oh, 30oC is a very bad temperature.

2) I have started coding an update for an open-source project on github. Also good. I have been meaning to this for a very long time. Today it was my displacement activity; I have another (big horrible) project which I really didn't feel up to, so it's my equivalent of scrubbing the floor under the fridge instead of revising for exams.

3) My period has started. Not so good. Pain and exhaustion. I feel as if I have been hit over the back of the head with a cartoon brick.

4) And now... I am going to have a hot bath, and then I am going to have some good whisky, and then I am going to bed with a book.
watersword: Keira Knightley applying lipstick and looking in a mirror, with the words "a work in progress" nearby (Keira Knightley: lipstick)
[personal profile] watersword
Today I called Sen. Schumer and Sen. Gillibrand and said the following:
Hi, my name is [[personal profile] watersword] and my zip code is [redacted]; I'm calling to ask you to add a tally mark to your count of constituents who have called and are very angry about the Republican anti-health care bill.


Both times I was answered fairly promptly, the staffer was clearly charmed by my "I know you are on my side, I'm trying to help," and I was informed that Schumer's office has gotten ~500 calls over the past ten days on the issue (I'm not sure if that's all the offices, including Washington, or just the NYC office I called), and the Gillibrand staffer I spoke was on his ~60th call on the subject for the day. This is a horrible slog but I am going to keep showing the fuck up.

Religion and sexuality

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:12 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
I’ll never understand the pride people take in saying, “I was born and bred here” or the use of the same phrase to defend one’s perceived superiority or deservingness of housing, health care or other basic human rights.

I mean, what did you, yourself, actually do to influence where you were born or bred? Unless you were a particularly ambitious embryo, the answer is “nothing”. Sure, your parents might have made some kind of effort to select your place of birth. Maybe they strove to move to better housing in a neighbourhood with better services and schools. Maybe they’re even immigrants, like my dad, and they struggled long and hard to learn their fourth language in order to integrate into their adopted country. But you? You didn’t do anything. Why are you so proud of that? Think of the things you've accomplished in your life. Isn't it far more fitting and fulfilling to be proud of those?

And why the obsession with asserting the superiority of a single identity over the others? “I’m English first and then British.” Pro-tip: Most of the rest of the world considers both of those to be synonymous with “ex-colonialist imperialist arsehole” so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. ^.^

Here is a list of the geographically-linked identities that I consider myself able to lay claim to. I’m proud of some and not others.

  • American
  • British
  • European
  • Hawai’ian
  • Filipino
  • Olympian
  • Seattleite
  • Angeleno
  • San Diegan
  • Londoner
  • Brummie (this is a new one; still feels a little odd)


Today, I think I’m proudest of being European. I earned that identity and that passport, and I’m still very pissed off that some people want to take it away.

Today is also, weirdly, simultaneously:

  • the anniversary of Brexit, aka the Colossal Waste of Time and Money Foisted Upon Us by a Generation That Tore Down Decades of Painstakingly Won Goodwill with Our Neighbours and Won’t Live to Experience the Disastrous Consequences, Thanks a Lot, Dickheads.

    And

  • International Women in Engineering Day


So, to close this post, here is a peaceful photo of a woman doing some engineering.

Scientist at work

Reading notes

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:22 am
wildeabandon: (books)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Gosh, I've not done one of these for a while...

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
This is a series of essays about the experience of being an ethnic minority in the UK. A lot of the ideas were things I'd encountered before, but all presented thoughtfully and engagingly, so it would be a really good starting point for someone who hadn't thought much about race relations to introduce themselves to some of the common ideas and experiences. But there was also a lot that was new to me. Thoughts about representation and tokenism in popular media, about the relationships between generations with different levels of integration, about colourism and casteism, and about the impact on ethnic minority children of growing up learning that stories are about white people.

Seed to Harvest (Wild Seed, Mind of my Mind, Clay's Ark & Patternmaster) by Octavia Butler
This is a collection of four of the five Patternist novels (the fifth is set in the same universe, but I understand doesn't include any of the same characters, and is disliked by the author). These are all exciting and easy to read novels, but other than that and the plot thread that runs between them, they have surprisingly little in common. Wild Seed is alt-history, Mind of my Mind is a near future story about psychic mutants, Clay's Ark is gritty apocalyptic stuff, and Patternmaster is in a distant future that feels more like fantasy than sf. They're all great though - lighter than Kindred, but still packed with ideas about society and hierarchy.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe
This book has a phenomenal amount of detail about the anatomy involved in five major lifts - the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, and power clean. A fairly tedious read, but one which I hope will make me less likely to injure myself.

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity by Fr James Martin SJ
I really like Fr James Martin, and his "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything" is one of the best books about life and religion that I've ever read. This is a short book in two parts; first an essay based on a talk about how the Church hierarchy and LGBT Catholics can heal the divide between the two groups, and secondly a series of suggestions of bible passages and questions that LGBT Catholics and their allies might find useful in prayer and reflection. I liked the essay, although more because it echoed a lot of my own thoughts back at me than because I learned much from it. I think that the more traditionalist members of the church could benefit a lot from reading it and taking it to heart. I think that most LGBT people, especially those who aren't Catholic, would find the suggestion that they too need to show respect, compassion and sensitivity towards those in the hierarchy who have hurt and oppressed them quite frustrating. I have a lot of sympathy with that, but ultimately I think that Fr Martin is correct, both because we are called to love all our neighbours, not just those whom it's easy to love, and because I don't think we will see change any other way.
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
I have been outrageously busy at work this week and I don't have the brain to string these together into a proper narrative. My apologies. So: Have a series of happy photos from the past week or so.

20170617_171856
[Keiki with freshly dug potatoes in his fist, ready to deposit them in one of the two white bowls in front of him.]

We ate our first potato harvest tonight. Yum!

+6 )
hunningham: (Default)
[personal profile] hunningham
And because I haven't posted in ages, I keep on thinking that I need to do a great statement of All The Things, and give my (portentous) thoughts on The Election, The State of the Nation, The Fire and why we are living in the end times.

Can't cope with that. Really can't cope with that.

Instead here is a picture of my cat. He really has gone to sleep with his feet in the air. He's an ungainly beast.
Read more... )

Hobbyish revival

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:51 am
wildeabandon: musical notes on a stave (music)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Apparently it's the time of year for reviving old hobbies. I recently got to the top of the waiting list to join the London Gay Men's Chorus, so I'm going to be starting rehearsals with them in September. I'm a bit nervous about this, because singing in public is scary, but also really excited. I'm switching my piano lessons to singing ones for the time being, which should help with the nerves, and having external things to practice for will hopefully mean that I'm a more assiduous student than the last time.

Yesterday I also went climbing for the first time in years. I used to climb quite a bit when I was a teenager, and then about five years ago I tried going with [personal profile] emperor as a day trip from Ardgour, and found it depressingly difficult. Since then my strength to weight ratio has improved significantly, so last night I had a much easier time hauling myself off the ground. I was still distinctly conscious that the kind of strength you need in order to lift a heavy thing and then lower it five times before putting it down and having a break to recover is quite different from the kind of sustained effort you need to put in climbing a wall. I started with what was probably the easiest route on the wall, and then gradually increased in difficulty until I found a couple of routes that I made it up but just barely, and a couple more that I couldn't manage, but which are now on my target list for next time.

Reading Wednesday and music meme

Jun. 21st, 2017 06:06 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Not reading much or posting much at the moment because [personal profile] cjwatson is visiting and I'm mainly paying attention to him. I'll update here later in the week, probably.

Currently reading: Nearly finished: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm really enjoying the resolution of the political intrigue plot, but I'm a bit annoyed by the sophomoric speculation on the philosophical implications of sadism.

Up next: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders.


Music meme day 8 of 30

A song about drugs or alcohol

Two from opposite ends of the spectrum: my ex-gf used to sing me this ridiculously soppy song, Kisses sweeter than wine by Jimmie Rogers. Which is really only tangentially about alcohol but it's connected to happy memories for me. And I couldn't leave out the most explicitly druggy song in my collection, Heroin, she said by WOLFSHEIM.

two videos )
copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I was reading this one at the same time as I was reading Sorting The Beef From The Bull, which was like a natural sciences one-two punch; I would read Sorting while commuting, and Remarkable Creatures in bed at night. 

Remarkable Creatures is the fictionalized story of two real-life people, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, who were fossil hunters in Lyme Regis in England back when we were just starting to like, figure dinosaurs out. It follows their relationship, and their struggles to be seen as legitimate contributors to the scientific record, for several years.

I didn’t actually know the account was based in real life until after I’d finished reading, which did ameliorate some of my disappointment with the book, because it’s hard to make a climactic narrative out of peoples’ real lives – reality just doesn’t flow as smoothly as fiction. But I won’t lie: I am still pretty disappointed that Elizabeth and Mary didn’t end up together. I thought that was totally where we were heading.

Mind you, the story of their friendship is compelling, and Chevalier did find a way to create rising action within the story, even though as she put it in the afterword, Mary Anning basically did the same thing every day for years, in terms of hunting fossils. 

As an account of fossil hunting, of the religious wrestling that people had to do with the concept of extinction, and of the way women were treated in the era, it’s a really great book. And it’s also a fast read, which I’ve come to expect from Chevalier. And honestly, this is the first book of hers I’ve read where the female leads don’t get married, though this is in part because the real-life Mary and Elizabeth didn’t either. 

But it still feels like Chevalier’s books are always about women settling. It’s the same problem – I know that’s what women have had to do, and I’m sure she does it intentionally at least in part to remind us of that fact. I just want more for these heroines. 

But if you’re interested in paleontology, Do Recommend, it’s a good book. Less frustrating than The Last Runaway, certainly, and the characters feel more compelling, more three-dimensional, than some of those in Girl With A Pearl Earring. 

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via IFTTT

Somebody’s woke af.

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:01 am
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
Humuhumu: “Keiki, are you a boy?”
Keiki: “No!”
Humuhumu: “Keiki, are you a girl?”
Keiki: “No!”
Humuhumu: “What are you, Keiki?”
Keiki: “I’m a KEI-KI.” syllables of name drawn out emphatically

20170620_194627
[Humuhumu and Keiki in the bath, giving themselves bubble beards.]

Uuuupdates

Jun. 20th, 2017 07:35 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
(1) I am a bit groggy and out of it post Minor Medical Procedure for Mystery Menstrual Symptoms; A was v good about shunting me around the hospital when I was too sore to particularly want to push myself/bringing me things/etc. Everything looked healthy; I was a Model Patient; biopsy results are unlikely to show anything concerning, so ??????????

(2) House viewing this morning was VERY CONFUSING. It has a garden! That contains a well-tended hydrangea, and rose bushes, and fruiting apple and plum and probably-cherry (there's definitely a cherry, I'm just not sure whether it's ornamental), and maybe a crabapple, and a vegetable patch, and a patio. And a nice kitchen. And the conservatory would be dining room/games room/music room and would be lovely esp. in the rain. So now I'm just trying to convince us (... myself) that we'd actually be able to fit the furniture into it, which is currently proving Difficult; I am intending to ask to have another viewing and actually take a tape measure this time. (Wider wheelchair just about fits in the front door. It's rampable. I should be able to get a powerchair in. There's an airing cupboard for letting dough rise in. Etc etc etc...)

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