Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 09:13 am
Happy birthday, [personal profile] elisem!
Monday, August 21st, 2017 07:29 pm

Actually it was yesterday, rather than today, that I spotted this work recently made available through the good offices of Project Gutenberg:

William Carpenter, One Hundred Proofs that the Earth is Not a Globe (1885) -

- and I can't see that he entirely manages to give a plausible explanation for eclipses, but then he does think that the sun is a lot smaller than those there astronomers declare, and goes round the earth...

We do feel that Alfred Russel Wallace would have been better employed than debating with members of the Zetetic Society.

One is - a little - intrigued at what was published in Flat Earth journals (o, say, do, that it was Flat Earth hymns such as feature in Kipling's The Village That Voted the Earth Was Flat...)

But I was fascinated by this, in that Wikipedia article on Flat Earth Societies:

In 1969, Shenton persuaded Ellis Hillman, a Polytechnic of East London lecturer, to become president of the Flat Earth Society; but there is little evidence of any activity on his part until after Shenton's death, when he added most of Shenton's library to the archives of the Science Fiction Foundation he helped to establish.
The lengths to which librarians will go to add some particularly rare and choice material to their collection.

Monday, August 21st, 2017 11:01 am
The spouse and I watched the eclipse on tv (showing a town on the Oregon coast). Once they had totality, which was very cool, we went outside with our pinhole and paper; here it was seventy-something percent, and of course it happened a few minutes after the Oregon coast one because of the way California coast curves in.

We watched the crescent, came back in, and people on TV in Oregon were watching the sun shadow retreat. I came up to get back to work, reflecting that it was so very nice to pass through the kitchen and tv area and not be hearing the words "terrorists" "Nazis" "Republicans" or "Trump." So very nice.
Tags:
Monday, August 21st, 2017 09:20 am
Happy birthday, [personal profile] kerrypolka!
Sunday, August 20th, 2017 09:57 pm
I picked up the first of these in a supermarket the other day because I could not resist the eight-poster bed, read it yesterday, and today picked up the next two volumes. They are

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death
Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright

by Chris Ridell.

Young readers (the alleged intended audience) will probably enjoy them - they're not quite graphic novels, but they have a lot of graphic elements[*], and very silly plots - but well-read, pun-loving adults with a good grounding in literature and contemporary British culture will probably enjoy them even more.

Since I started reading them the air has been punctuated by laughter every now and again when a penny drops. I am halfway through book two, and there seems to be a puddle of pennies at my feet...


And now I shall return to the statue of a sulking-looking seamonster known as 'Mopey Dick'.

[*] extra points for innovative use of footnotes
Sunday, August 20th, 2017 09:44 pm
My cat is a mouser. He catches mice, brings them into the flat, and releases them.

I can always tell when he's got a mouse - I can hear him all the way up the stairs going "I gotta Mouse! I gotta Mouse!".

It's loud. Muffled (because his mouth is full) but loud. He's always vocal, but the Gotta Mouse! voice is very different to his normal "Hi honey, I'm home!"

Today I have made an app and released it for beta review. And now I'm going around going "I gotta App!" Come and behold the wonder of My App for it is like no other mouse app. Marvel at it.

Miaow. Caterwaul.
Sunday, August 20th, 2017 08:44 pm

Bread: on Monday, Greenstein's 100% Wholewheat Loaf, made up of ordinary strong wholemeal/wholemeal spelt/einkorn flours. Tasty but a bit crumbly for some reason.

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

Today's lunch: quails, which I cooked yesterday as they were well pushing their use-by date, according to a recipe from Clarissa Dickson Wright. The Game Cookbook, only that used fruit chutney, which I did not have, so used damson jelly instead, roasted in foil at Mark 3 for 30 minutes: not bad. Served with sticky rice in coconut milk with lime leaves, buttered spinach, and asparagus healthy-grilled in olive oil and splashed with aged organic balsamic vinegar.

Have started the overnight rising version of the bread recipe in Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, which I haven't made for ages.

Sunday, August 20th, 2017 12:28 pm
Happy birthday, [personal profile] gmh and [personal profile] ravurian!
Saturday, August 19th, 2017 03:29 pm

- just on reading the the cover of the Guardian Saturday Review, which promised its readers a letter from Karl Ove Knausgaard to his unborn baby.

And when Tonstant Weader had finished fwowing up, she wondered how much nappy-changing KOK (fnarr, fnaar: am 13 at the back of the class) signs up for, rather than providing Deep Existential Insights?

Will concede that I am somewhat cynical about the entire genre of 'Bloke becomes father and has EPIPHANY' - in particular we may note that KOK already has two children. Also KOK has admitted that 'he has achieved huge success by sacrificing his relationships with friends and members of his family'.

And in other bloke news, maybe it's just me, but why is Rosa Bonheur 'less well-known' than other French C19th horse painters whose names ring no bell with me, Vernet and Fromentin? If someone has a massive great canvas in the NY Metropolitan Museum... I think this is a deplorable case of the reviewer not having heard of her.

And also in Dept of Unexamined Assumptions, What Internet Searches Reveal: as I am sure I have heretofore remarked, what interests people in porn, what their sexual fantasies are, doesn't necessarily map to what they like to do. So not entirely sure that Big Data on the topic is quite as revelatory as claimed here.

Friday, August 18th, 2017 11:57 pm
On Tuesday we decided to get out of the house and away from our area, so we drove over to Shropshire - about an hour and a half away. The plan was that Dave would walk up a couple of Big Hills and I would do some drawing/painting.

Nice idea, but... )

Yesterday, by contrast, we drove 'Oop North', stopping for lunch with friends in Selby and arriving here at half past six.
We're in Washington. The original. )
Distinctly interesting news. The horror of Catalunya, the sadness of the passing of Brucie and the hmmm of Bannon, all within 24 hours. We stayed in a Barcelona hotel on Las Ramblas, which has been in a lot of the news footage. Why must we live in such interesting times?
Friday, August 18th, 2017 09:57 am

Was lately reading something about (male) travellers and those Amazingly Beautiful Women they saw somewhere a long way away after arduous journeying, which might be partly about Exoticising the Other, but also, I think, about there being some place (or time) which is not boring old Here, where things are amazing.

On the, Not Like The Women I Have To Deal With Here And Now In The Present, a friend of mine has a piece somewhere or other (actually I think it's in a volume in which I too am represented) about certain late C19th French (male) intellectuals complaining that women of their day were by no means comparable to the HOTT witty libertine ladies of the Ancien Regime in their salons.

And this led me to the thought that maybe if you are living in it no time is Perfect and Ideal: some may be better than others, for more people, maybe. Just as there were people who found, for them, good lives in times/places that are not usually thought of as utopian eras and most time-travellers would not put on their bucket lists.

Anything close-up and quotidien is, I depose, something the flaws in which you are going to apprehend fairly acutely. Though possibly the upside of that is, that they are the flaws and hindrances that one has developed work-arounds for (see Katharine Whitehorn on the little niggles about one's house that one hardly notices any more but has to warn visitors about).

Friday, August 18th, 2017 07:24 am
Last year I spent some time on Facebook arguing with people who thought that the "Rhodes must fall" campaign was wrongheaded because it was erasing history.

I suggested that putting a statue up to someone was generally (and in this case undoubtedly) not intended as a dispassionate recording of the fact that such-and-such had occurred, but rather a celebration of that person's life and deeds. In this case, the statue of Rhodes marks the approbation of the Oxford college he had endowed with some of his very ill-gotten African spoils.

True, came the reply, but that approbation is itself a historical artefact, and to take down the statue is to erase it. Well then, why not put it in a museum, along with the other historical artefacts, and stick a label on it detailing exactly how Rhodes came by the money to endow colleges and scholarships? Why keep it in a place of honour, thus perpetuating the honour done to Rhodes?

Of course, taking down a statue can never be more than a symbolic act, any more than raising it, or indeed keeping it. Symbolism is the currency of statues. To try and pretend that they are naturally evolve into some kind of historical resource is profoundly disingenuous. (In the case of Rhodes, I don't think anyone tried to argue that the statue was a thing of beauty, but aesthetic arguments fall into much the same category.) Museums and art galleries are themselves far from politics-free zones, obviously, but at least they make some overt attempt to defuse and reframe such things as historical and/or aesthetic objects rather than direct political statements.

In the end, Rhodes stayed of course, because Rhodes's successors (the college's current donors) threatened to withdraw funding if it was removed. ("Now I see, I see, / In Fulvia's death, how mine received shall be," as they put it.) As ever, money shouts.

Anyway, I was just wondering to myself how the people I was arguing with on FB last year (nice liberal types, every one) feel about Trump making exactly the same arguments this week? Were they nodding along? If not, why not?

As a tangential postscript, I gave my friend Haruka a lift to Brighton yesterday (I was helping my daughter move some of her things back to Bristol), and we stopped in at my mother's for a cup of tea en route. Haruka took this picture of my mother. It was only after five minutes that I noticed that it also includes her care assistant, Haawa. Talk about hidden black history!

IMG_3680

Can you spot her, readers?
Thursday, August 17th, 2017 08:47 pm

I.e., this week has been mostly getting the new computer to do those things which it ought to do, and leave undone those things which it ought not do -

Among which the most disturbing was the discovery this morning that Thunderbird was marking ALL, yes ALL, incoming mail as Junk and also as Read, fortunately I did discover that this was happening.

There has also been wrestling with getting to be able to talk to the MyCloud as part of my home network rather than via a remote interface connection.

There was the oops, I needed to do a backup of This Thing, That Thing and The Other Thing from the old computer, and having to sort that out.

There is all the finding the passwords and activation codes for things for which I entered a password when I first activated the thing, and never since.

There is also the loss of some things - don't seem to be able to have the little slide-show widget thing of photos on my desktop, chiz - and finding that the new versions of things are Not What We Expect - the new Kobo Desktop App is quite horrid.

But on the whole, we are reasonably satisfied with the New System - its speed in particular is commendable.

However, I am annoyed with Opera, which I was intending using as my secondary browser to avoid Microsoft and Google, but the main thing I wanted a secondary browser for was so that I can log into The Other DW Journal without logging out of this one, but Opera, for some reason I wot not of, insists on autofilling the login screen with the details for this account rather than the other - la, 'tis tedious vexatious.

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 05:37 pm
Happy birthday, [personal profile] negothick and [personal profile] quiara!
Thursday, August 17th, 2017 08:29 am
Everything they have worked toward is . . . here.

Mei Changsu's reason for existence is just about to be completed, but what about Lin Shu? The man wearing Lin Shu's body is not a nineteen year old battle wizard impervious to cold and pain anymore. The mask is less a defense than a wall.
Read more... )
Tags:
Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 04:52 pm
I found a meme I like. It's just an equation on a plain background:


YOUR FIRST NAME
+ YOUR LAST
NAME = YOUR
NAZI-FIGHTING
NAME


A friend posted it from the author Amy Stewart's Facebook page. I like the meme because it worked on me exactly the way it was supposed to work – my eye skimmed over it (ah, one of those name memes), stopped on “Nazi-fighting”, then went back to scan the first line and register the joke.

I like, too, the implication of adequacy here – no need to take on another identity or a new name. Your name is enough as it is. You're already ready.

And look at the cleverness of that line break: "+ YOUR LAST / NAME" – expecting some quirky interpolation of randomness (possibly designed to help hack password recovery questions) – last food eaten, last book read – we find instead just what we already possess.

(The text was probably just centred in a box of fixed size, but that doesn't make me wrong. It just makes me an English major.)

Silliness aside, I like the simplicity of this call to arms.

{rf}
Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 10:52 pm
I haven't written fic since *checks* May, huh. But then suddenly I got an idea, and now in the past three days I've written over three thousand words and it feels amazing. Story writing is a thing I can do! Oh man, I missed this feeling of getting words onto a page, instead of being stuck at the image-to-word conversion process in my brain.

Btw, I recently read a piece on writer's block that I liked a lot, So you're having a bad writing day: Consider: the act of telling a story is you CONJURING AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE INSIDE YOUR MIND and then using words as knives to CARVE THAT UNIVERSE INTO REALITY SO THAT OTHERS CAN VISIT YOUR IMAGINATION. “Today I am going to make a world out of my brain that you can go to in your spare time,” you say aloud, hopefully realizing that this is far more significant and far more bizarre than tying your shoes or blowing your nose.
Writing is hard, and that's okay. (Clearly prolific authors who update frequently are wizards.)
Tags:
Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 09:30 am
This is the second climax, as tense and emotionally powerful as the Hunting Lodge battle--and there is a third to come.

One of the many things I love about this series is that now, so near the end, it could easily have descending into all grim all the time, but first there was Nie’s surprise reappearance, and then Lin Chen strolls in, and proceeds to tease absolutely everybody with his insouciant wisecracking and unruffled competence.

The result is, the serious scenes still hit with resonating impact, carrying all the emotional velocity of the storyline so far, but we get these delightful moments of relief and delight that keep emotional reaction swinging from bright to dark and back again.

Read more... )
Tags: