Pathetic fallacy in search of a story

Oct. 16th, 2017 03:55 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

There has been the most ominous-looking light over north London for several hours now - a sort of copper colour. The sky is covered by a greyish cloud with wisps of whiter cloud drifting across it.

No rain, a bit of a breeze wafting through the trees in the street, but so far, nothing stronger.

The effect is somewhat John Martin-esque, or possibly requiring figures to run through the pocket park behind the house crying 'Heathcliff!' 'Cathy!'. Or at least, the foreshadowingly brooding overture to such.

I assume this is something to do with Hurricane Ophelia, even if so far this part of England is not supposed to be affected. This morning when I went shopping it was sunny and unusually warm, but I put that down to the Little Summer of St Luke.

(no subject)

Oct. 16th, 2017 09:14 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] desayunoencama!

Culinary

Oct. 15th, 2017 08:18 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

This week's bread: the Blake/Collister My Favourite Loaf, white spelt/wholemeal/einkorn flour, made up with the remains of the buttermilk.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft roll recipe, 4:1 white spelt/buckwheat flour, maple sugar, dried blueberries.

Today's lunch: New Zealand venison loin medallions, panfried in butter, served with sweet potato oven fries, cauliflower florets roasted in pumpkin seed oil with cumin seeds (I think these could have done either with being cooked a bit longer, or broken up into smaller pieces), fennel cut into thinnish strips, healthy-grilled in olive oil, and splashed with elderflower vinegar.

What we tell them and when

Oct. 15th, 2017 10:24 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Friday night Mark and I took our ten-year-old goddaughter to her first jazz concert, a real grown-up concert in the atrium at Orchestra Hall, not a kids' concert, tailored to her interest in drums. It was a smashing success and I have been telling people the joyful parts of being able to share this with her, how captivated she was, how the other concertgoers were delighted by her.

There's another tiny piece I haven't mentioned, but it's the week it is, the year it is, the world it is.

When I went out to the bathroom at intermission, Orchestra Hall had the pre-ordered drinks sitting on a table completely unattended. No staff near the table, no staff even visible. People's names were under the drinks, patrons were milling around. I was appalled. And when I went back in, I mentioned this as a terrible idea, and I said to Lillian, "Sweetie, don't ever, ever, ever take a drink that's been left unattended. You always, always, always watch who has had control of your drink." And she nodded solemnly and said, "Yes."

She is 10.

I did not say "rape" or "rohypnol" or "GHB." At her age, she probably honestly filed it away as "someone could spit in that, gross." But...she is 10. She will be in high school before we know it. And you have to grab the moments you can. You have to take the opportunities. If you sit a kid down for a lecture, here is all the stuff you need to know, some of it will fly past, some of it will not go in. And you will forget to say some of it. If they only hear stuff once, some important stuff will be lost.

I was not that much older than she is when my cousin told me the same thing, always know who has had your drink, do not drink an unknown punch at a party, even if they tell you it's non-alcoholic, maybe especially if they tell you it's non-alcoholic. Watch them make your drink, keep your drink with you, do not leave it on the table if you go to the bathroom, finish your soda, get a new one after.

She is 10.

She is 10, and I hope no one has said Harvey Weinstein's name to her. She watches Big Bang Theory, and I wish she didn't, because it's full of toxic bullshit, and because Mayim Bialik is trying to tell her that if only she's good enough, if only she dresses the right way and wants to be a good smart girl it will be enough. It will not be enough. This thing I am telling her, at 10, about control of her drink, about how to hold her hand when she punches, about kicking for joints and soft places on the body and running like hell, about how she is worth it and never think she is not worth hitting as hard as she can, as hard as she has to: it will not be enough. I cannot promise that it will be. It is what I have. I can give her that my friends think it's amazing that she loves the drums, my friends want to introduce her to the lead percussionist and help her see all the cool percussion instruments. I can give her grown-ups who see a tiny pixie child intent on listening to jazz and want to give her more of the world, not less. Who say, when you go out in the world, this is what you do--not, don't go out in the world.

She is 10, and I told her, never take a drink that's been left unattended.

It will only get more like this, in the years ahead. As the adults, we always want to think it's too early to have to say the words, and by the time we're comfortable, it's too late, they needed to hear them already. We want to protect them from the words, and we can't protect them from the world. So the opportunities come in the strangest places. It's fun when it's "do you know what Cubism means?" This one was not a fun one. But you take the moments you get. She didn't have to dwell on it, she nodded and went on with her evening, which she declared to be joyful hours. It's still lodged in my heart, though. She's 10, she's 10, she's 10. I want that to be a magic incantation, but it isn't.
oursin: hedgehog carving from Amiens cathedral (Amiens hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

Oh, David Mitchell, I normally like and approve of your columns, but this one?

Our forebears’ unquestioning belief in a higher power gave them a confidence that it’s hard not to envy.

Which made me think of pretty much all societies, 'throughout history', where just because there was a belief in a higher power didn't mean that there wasn't massive conflict over: who was the real higher power and how best to worship that higher power. And even when there was a generally accepted overall belief system, there are differences within between schools of thought and practice (cf persecution of Christians or Muslims who are not of the predominant category within a particular nation). Heretics get persecuted at least as much as infidels.

And you may like to think

I know in my heart that had I been brought up in such a setting – say, in Anglican Victorian England – I wouldn’t have quibbled with those answers and would’ve been comforted by them.

That would Anglican Victorian England which a) pretty much invented the concept of honest doubt and b) within the C of E, massive conflicts between High and Low Church, no? Not so cosy.

Paging Mr Blake and the Ever-Lasting Gospel. Written at the same time that a large number of actual clergymen had gone into that line of work because they were the third son and it was a living, and why would anyone trouble themselves over the 39 Articles? and it gave them plenty of time off for hunting.

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Oct. 15th, 2017 12:19 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] akuchling, [personal profile] brithistorian and [personal profile] mamculuna!

Oh, I think it goes back before that

Oct. 14th, 2017 03:32 pm
oursin: My photograph of Praire Buoy sculpture, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana, overwritten with Urgent, Phallic Look (urgent phallic)
[personal profile] oursin

Article in today's Guardian Weekend by a bloke whose wife earns a lot more than he does in a high-powered job, and he is stay at home dad. And it's not egregiously annoying, but I was taken aback by this line, which is a quote from something else:

The post-industrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength

The guy in question was a journalist and his friends do not sound as though they were pursuing careers as stevedores, miners, steelworkers, etc etc, before the economy took a downturn. They had office/creative-type jobs.

And surely it's been true for quite a long time that, just as the majority of men have not been called upon to defend their country in arms, the majority of men have not been working in fields where size and brute strength were necessarily particularly relevant.

This is a point I tend to think of when I see some man sounding off about women can't [X] or there has been no female [Y], and I think, you know what, mate, I don't suppose you're all that fit for doing [X], and on the basis of your Facebook post/tweet, I don't think you're the new [Y]. They take the credit to themselves for any achievement by a man that demonstrates, they suppose, the ultimate superiority of their gender, rather than having a component of chance and opportunity (cf V Woolf on J Shakespeare).

Which I don't think is so much the case with women? if we cite e.g. Ada Lovelace, or Serena Williams, it is more to say, well, actually, women can.

julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
[personal profile] julian
My very own own Senator Ed Markey, along with California Congressman Ted Lieu, has created a bill that would require authorization from Congress (either as a declaration of war or the more-common- of-late authorization of force) before a nuclear strike.

This is a wonderful bill, as it both addresses certain Trumpian problems, /and also/ reinforces that Congress is, actually, the branch that was given the power to declare war in the Constitution. This is a thing that has been taken out of their hands for a long time, which is a problem, separation of powers-wise. (The last declared war? 1942, against some Axis allies.)

I mean, also, I really truly don't think that our current president is the best person to have that kind of unalloyed power in the hands of, but that's only one reason for being so glad about this bill. (It is probably many other people's reason.)

Anyway, it's HR 699/S 200. (House/Senate version. House text.)

If you are so inclined, call your Senators and Congressfolk to urge them to pass it. (202) 224-3121, or use Resistbot. (Text the word "resist" to 50409 to begin.)

Rachelmanijia (who is spearheading this) has more info, a script, and other ideas here, and the campaign is hashtagging it up at #PullTheFootball, if you're Twitter-inclined.

If you're not American, feel free to share the info around anyway; the more folks who get this info, the better.
oursin: Frankie Howerd, probably in Up Pompeii, overwritten Don't Mock (Don't Mock)
[personal profile] oursin

Because, at first, larf, I far lay on the ground, about this: First Meeting of Society to Establish a Minister for Men passes off without incident

But two door supervisors were deemed necessary on Wednesday evening to stop anyone entering the Pulteney Room who was not sympathetic to the views of the fledgling Society to Establish a Minister for Men.
....
What was scheduled to be the first meeting up the M5 at a pub in Cheltenham earlier this week was cancelled after – according to O’Pie – the landlord was warned there would be repercussions.

“We thought we had better be safe rather than sorry,” he told the Guardian. “We don’t want people to be frightened by feminist people shouting with banners.* I’ve had that before, it’s ridiculous.” But he added: “I’m being totally paranoid because nobody has turned up.”

The Pulteney Room and its environs were not packed. Around a dozen people, including one 18-year-old woman, attended the meeting. And there was just one protester outside.

As the Bath Choral Society rehearsed in a nearby room, O’Pie set out the society’s objectives. The Guardian was not allowed in, but was provided with a handout in an envelope labelled: “Please read BEFORE you condemn.”

The handout argues that “male-specific problems and issues” rarely appear in the media, are deliberately neglected in schools and universities and are not addressed anywhere in the political system.**

It states that male MPs do not represent men but female politicians do represent women, because they “think, bond and therefore act as a political gender group across party lines”.











*Aw, diddums.

**In the splendid tradition of 'Why is there No International Men's Day'***/White History Month/Straight Pride'.

***19th November, for your information.

This, we may add somewhat wearily, in a week during which Men Are Terribly Poor Stuff And They Get Away With It was turned up to 11 or more.

O’Pie, a father of three, said he was not disappointed at the turnout and vowed to press on.

O’Pie is a veteran of the Fathers4Justice movement, which involved activists taking part in stunts and demonstrations dressed as superheroes. He has written a book called Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism, and earlier this year, he and Holbrook unsuccessfully took on the Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips by delivering leaflets asking constituents if they really want a “feminist as your MP”.

One is inclined to think 'lone crank', and that anybody who turned up was either coming in out of the rain, waiting for their spouse to emerge from the Choral Society rehearsal and their phone charge had died, or were merely there for the lols.

On the other paw, when I think of all the good causes that began with a very few people regarded as crazy or evil, historian is not entirely sure that this paradigm does not also work for really bad causes.

(no subject)

Oct. 13th, 2017 09:19 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] mystefaction and [personal profile] norabombay!
oursin: photograph of E M Delafield IM IN UR PROVINCEZ SEKKRITLY SNARKIN (Delafield)
[personal profile] oursin

Horseshoe bus seats introduced to encourage passengers to talk to each other.

(And I really don't think it's going to discourage people putting their bags on the seats: in fact I envisage them building a defensive redoubt of the things.)

People don't want to talk to one another on public transport, or at least, not to random strangers. I am moderately amused that this is being put into practice in one of those parts of the country which one vaguely assumes is not like the Anomic Metroples, full of atomised sad lonely individuals who can only be brought to exchange words in the face of disaster, when Blitz Spirit kicks in and we all start singing London Pride.

Though, honestly, Wiltshire and Dorset? are we not then in Hardy Country? would you want to get into conversation with a Hardy character on a bus? We think not. Who knows what it would lead to? (even if they were not clutching a boar's pizzle.) Also, they would be on the wrong bus going in the wrong direction.

(no subject)

Oct. 12th, 2017 09:30 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] kalmn!

Wednesday was out to lunch

Oct. 11th, 2017 06:58 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished the book on the Frankaus - less on Pamela than I should have liked, and the overall structure was non-linear but not thematic, so occasionally a bit confusing. It looks as though as a literary family they had serious form over including real people thinly disguised, or at least, plausibly identifiable, in their fiction, and also in not being entirely reliable narrators of events in their own lives.

Simon R Green, Dead Man Walking (2016) and Very Important Corpses (2017), 2 & 2 in the Ishmael Jones sequence, which combine the usual eldritch horrors and snarky fighter/s against the powers of darkness within a riff on the country-house (or other isolated enclosed community) mystery.

Matt Wallace, Envy of Angels (Sin du Jour #1) (2015): because this was a freebie of something that keeps popping up on my recs lists. Enjoyable - would not say 'hilarious' - might read another.

Margaret Maron, Take Out (2017). The long-awaited return of Lt Sigrid Harald (though there was a cross-over with the Deborah Knott series), and as such, a fair amount of catch-up on various existing strands, and that problem that the last entry in the series was over twenty years ago, but this takes place in real time just after that, which can sometimes feel a bit weird.

On the go

Finally have a copy of Roberta Rubenstein, Literary Half-Lives: Doris Lessing, Clancy Sigal, and Roman à Clef (2014) - not only was her relationship with Sigal the inspiration for Saul Green in The Golden Notebook (and other works) he too made use of the episode in his own (I would guess, much less well-known) works (though I think I read Weekend in Dinlock very many years ago; also have a - charity-shop find - copy of his novel based on his experience at RD Laing's Kingsley Hall); and am working my way through it.

Up next

Apart from various things which have either finally appeared, or the ebook price has come down to what I consider reasonable for an ebook, have also got some academic press freebies for refereeing.

Pearl-whistling*

Oct. 11th, 2017 07:45 am
batwrangler: Just for me. (Default)
[personal profile] batwrangler
I get that "take a knee" is a rest position in some circumstances, but kneeling in the USA is so culturally encoded as respectful (religious worship, marriage proposals, vestiges of knighthoods, etc, ad nauseum), that I CANNOT BELIEVE that anyone ACTUALLY thinks that kneeling in protest is in any way disrespectful. 

That is all. 

*Pearl-[clutching + dog-]whistling

(no subject)

Oct. 11th, 2017 09:13 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] carbonel!

I think my imagining was better

Oct. 10th, 2017 04:00 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Spotted a newspaper placard saying something like 'Johnson threatened by imposters'.

And where my mind went to was a zap action* involving people in Boris masks and wigs showing up and taunting him in public places, which I think would be rather cool.

But apparently it is Boris fulminating that a 'sinister band of imposters' was using his name to post social media attacks on T May, P Hammond, etc.

*Though I'm not at all sure that that article is entirely correct, because it seems to be claiming that they were a means of LGBT protest in the early 70s, and there were various feminist zaps in the late 60s by e.g. the Redstockings and WITCH (Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), like hexing Wall Street, and indeed I have a recollection that they were practised by other radical groups of the day.

mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Review copy provided by Tor Books. Also the author is a personal friend.

This is the beginning of a new trilogy for Bear. It's set in the same universe as Range of Ghosts and its sequels, which I loved, but it is not a sequel to them per se. As such, this is a great place to jump right in. Different things with different characters! Doing their own stuff with their own themes and foci! Readers famously--infamously--want "more of the same, but different"; this is definitely different, and I think setting it in the same universe will push enough of the "more of the same" buttons for many people.

What has it got in its pocketses? Well, the opener is an ice wyrm attacking a caravan on a frozen river. Frozen riverrrrr. So I'm in. The travelers there center on a pair of roving adventurers, who...don't share a lot of the traits you expect of the classic fantasy traveling adventurers. Like being alive in all senses and human in all senses--though they are more human than many of the adventuring pairs I've read whose authors meant them to be human in all senses. The Dead Man and the Gage are my new favorite buddy road trip pair.

But it's not just their book. There are also--for more than balance--two rajnis. Two princesses whose not-princess title matters, whose ruling roles are complex and who must make calculations about their own power, the power of those they care about, their people, their people's relation to the environment. The water divers, the snakes, the elephant and the lilies...these are some of my favorite elements in a modern fantasy novel, pulling in politics and setting as they do. The way that rajni Sayeh's life as a third sex person within her culture matters, the way that it does and does not change how she sits on her throne--but also the way that her motherhood changes everything she does. I love Sayeh best. There is always a risk that there will be one favorite character, with multi-POV novels, and I love Sayeh best--but not to the point where I was impatient to get through the other scenes, not to the point where I wanted to be done with Mrithuri or the Dead Man and the Gage.

This is definitely the beginning of a trilogy, so we have miles to go before we sleep. But I'm pretty eager to go those miles.

Please consider using out link to buy The Stone in the Skull from Amazon.

(no subject)

Oct. 10th, 2017 09:17 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] busarewski and [personal profile] hano!

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