liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read
  • The girl with all the gifts by MR Carey. read more )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Which is the kind of thing I not only don't do, but never have done. Only [livejournal.com profile] ghoti wanted me to go to a Blue Öyster Cult gig with her and although they claim they're always on tour they are not so very young any more and their only UK gig was Ramblin' Man Fair. So we decided to attend the fair, and in fact had a great time.

not very successfully pretending to be cool )

So yes, I'm really too boring for rock festivals, but it was fun to pretend for a few days that I'm the kind of person who travels across country and sleeps in a tent (albeit a posh tent) and stands around in muddy fields in the rain to hear bands I like.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I took Monday and Tuesday off work, mainly because my friend SA was visiting from Sweden, but it was actually really good to have a decent break.

diary stuff )

I do in fact have some opinions I'll post about soon, but I'm off on another adventure this weekend, going to a music festival. Which is really not the kind of thing I do, but I am pretending to be a much cooler person than I really am...
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read:
  • Finished the draft of my friend's unpublished novel that I've been reading for some weeks now.

  • In a blue velvet dress by Catherine Sefton. read more )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I was really excited to hear the book had been made into a TV series, although in practice I don't actually have time to watch TV series. But anyway, we had a couple of hours between social events on Saturday, so I sat down with [personal profile] jack to watch an episode. Which in fact ended up being the second episode as we'd somehow failed to record The friends of English Magic, but having read the book, watching the title sequence was enough to make How is Lady Pole? comprehensible.

Basically the episode was pretty much what I wanted from an adaptation of the book. Pretty BBC costume drama, well acted, telling Clarke's story without being slavish about it. It's ten years since I read the novel and I don't remember the details that well, though the emotional impressions have stayed with me; this probably makes me a good audience for the show since I'm not going to be offended by what they've abridged to fit the very long novel into seven hour-long episodes.

Some people have complained that the colour palette is too dark, but I didn't find that bothered me. I found the fairy magic really impressively spooky and other-worldly, and Marc Warren is particularly good as the Gentleman. I don't know if I'll ever get round to watching the rest, but in theory I'd like to. And perhaps I should take this as a cue to reread the book, it has a lot going on and the fact I don't really remember it well means I might enjoy a reread.

Clever

Jul. 15th, 2015 06:41 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
[livejournal.com profile] woodpijn is having a discussion about IQ. She says she doesn't want to debate the sociological criticisms of IQ, so I'm following up the discussion here. Personally I am pretty much anti IQ, I am doubtful whether the thing it measures is meaningful and I am very conscious that more often than not it gets used to add quasi-scientific respectability to oppression.

mixture of personal anecdote and the beginnings of political commentary )
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I had a really lovely weekend. diary stuff )
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
So I thought some people might not know and might be interested in what my job actually looks like. So here's a summary of how today has gone. It's not a typical day as such; one thing I really like about being a university academic is the variety, but it's also not wildly atypical either, it's a non-special day of the summer season.

so how was your day? )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Recently read
  • I don't believe in God, but I believe in lithium by Jaime Lowe. It's a really gorgeously written ode to the element lithium, centred around Lowe's experiences taking lithium to control her bipolar illness. She's not taking an ideological pro- or anti- meds stance, but is really clear-eyed about the compromises involved in medicating mental illness with blunt-tool drugs.

  • On Tumblr, [tumblr.com profile] helloelloh wrote a very sweet thing about romantic relationships, specifically about established relationships where love is not a fire in your soul, but one in your hearth, keeping you warm and comfortable. I mean, I haven't been in a really long-term relationship, I'm looking forward to finding out what living as a couple is like after decades, but I have been with [personal profile] jack for 7½ years now. And it's nothing like the story in pop culture where you get a few months of happy sparkly being In Love and after that it all degenerates into bickering over chores and feeling vaguely resentful that you don't get to hang out with your friends any more. It's not exactly like Elo describes either, but much closer to that.

    Currently reading
  • Still reading my friend's long unpublished novel.

  • And we've got up to The shining wire in [personal profile] rmc28's Watership Down readthrough. It's an amazingly powerful, and terrifying, piece of writing, to the point that I keep trying to compose a comment and get completely blocked on how emotionally intense it is. I mean, there's a scene in my friend's novel which I read in an earlier draft 10 years ago, and it had a similarly powerful effect on me, but coming back to it my reaction is much more detached, cerebral. And that's not the case with The shining wire; rereading it now, probably closer to 30 years later than the first time I encountered it than ten, even knowing exactly how it turns out, I'm just as much caught up in the emotions.

    Up next I have a yen to read The girl with all the gifts by MR Carey, mostly based on [personal profile] rachelmanija's informative review. I have borrowed it from [personal profile] jack, partly because I couldn't find his copy of Ancillary Sword (has anyone reading this borrowed it, by any chance?)
  • liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
    ...To [personal profile] nou on turning 40! [personal profile] nou organized a most excellent celebration, including walking under the Thames through Woolwich foot tunnel. I did not know there was a tunnel under the Thames, but [personal profile] nou is really good at paying attention to things like that.

    And then we spent the afternoon in the Greyhound pub, a proper trad drinking hole sort of pub, not ye olde, not hipster, just a place where you can sit and talk and drink lager. It was basically too hot to move, though a few people did manage some walks and visits to the local artillery museum. Me, I just had fun talking to [personal profile] nou's excellent crowd of friends. Walking people, geeks, local history people, and a bunch of people from Oxford who all have second-degree connections to me. I was in extrovert heaven, in spite of the heat.

    We moved on to a Chinese restaurant in Surrey Quays, Noodle Family. It wasn't in fact the restaurant that [personal profile] nou was expecting in that location, though they confirmed it was the same place when she made the booking. But it served very very tasty food, including things like thousand year eggs and sea-spiced aubergines and Chinese style potato salad made out of raw lightly cooked grated potato in vinaigrette.

    I headed to [personal profile] nanaya and [personal profile] alextiefling's after the meal. And in that part of south London it's often easier to get around by bus rather than train or Tube, so I ended up with a change that involved walking past the restored Cutty Sark at sunset. So I got an evening and morning of chatting and catching up with good friends I don't see often enough, as well as being enchanted by their two young kids, the older of whom is just about learning to talk.

    ...And to [personal profile] adam_in_rabbinical_school whose username is no longer accurate, as he is now Rabbi Adam. The ordination service at Southgate Progressive was amazingly moving; the focus was on the wonderful friendship between our two newest rabbis. And R' Mark Solomon was leading the singing, which is always a treat.

    I met up with [personal profile] jack before the service for lunch at a very good Lebanese place, Warda, and for a chance to chat as we haven't seen eachother in three weeks, for various reasons. And the service was, as these things are, full of old friends, including [personal profile] pseudomonas's parents. We stayed on for a reception and dinner, and by about 7 pm I'd just got to the point where I couldn't deal with being out and about for one moment longer. So [personal profile] jack drove us home, and being in my husband's car on the way home is enough like being in my own space that I started to unwind. And we had a couple of hours before bedtime to sit on our new sofa and drink tea and chat (mostly ranting about Princess Celestia and about Git). It is so, so good to be home.
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
    I often worry about the filter bubble thing, that I surround myself with people who have similar opinions to mine. Equally I take pride in being open to changing my mind, but I'm not sure how much that's really true and how much I just like to tell myself that's who I am. And, well, I don't want to spend my time and energy re-examining everything that ever gets challenged by a crackpot or someone with an agenda other than establishing the truth about the world.

    noodling )
    liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
    In an astonishing feat of logistics, we've managed to organize things so that I got to spend two consecutive weekends with [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and [personal profile] cjwatson and their family. And it was awesome.

    diary stuff )

    So two really lovely weekends, which have done a lot to make me feel relaxed and connected and good. I think I never really imagined my life as containing entire weekends planned around "family" activities, in the sense of family that means adults with children. So I'm doing quite a lot of assimilating of new experiences and building new skills, and it hasn't all quite melded together in my mind into something I can articulate usefully.

    Narnia

    Jun. 25th, 2015 10:12 am
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Narnia-related conversations in several places have sparked my curiosity: where were you when you understood that the Narnia books are about Christianity? Or did you always know?

    my experience )
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Recently read Some very good stuff on my DW reading page:
  • [personal profile] lizcommotion is hilarious on the subject of cats and internet security

  • [personal profile] seekingferret challenges the popular simplification that Einstein overthrew Newton

  • [personal profile] jack wrote some interesting meta on Magic in Jo Walton's Among Others. Personally I found that one of the most satisfying depictions of magic I've encountered in fantasy, precisely because it falls into neither of the traps of being completely random and depending on the needs of the plot, nor completely systematic so that it's just like a parallel type of physics or a dice-based role-playing system. The linked posts are somewhat spoilery, mine more than [personal profile] jack's, but don't completely reveal the main plot; anyway they probably won't make much sense if you haven't read the book.

    And one Tumblr post, which is just quintessentially Tumblr, a conversation between people geeking out about the ridiculousness of folk song tropes. I particularly liked [tumblr.com profile] elodieunderglass' contributions, including a playlist of I guess my corpse is a swan now: a weird folk education. Well worth following that link for [tumblr.com profile] elodieunderglass' annotations and the discussion, even if you don't want to listen to the songs themselves.

    Currently reading Most of the way through my friend's long unpublished novel, so hopefully there will be interesting reading Wednesday posts again soon.

    Up next Possibly Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, as I'd like to read that before Worldcon.

    I'm also pondering what leads to interesting online conversations. I had my first actual interesting discussion on FB in the decade or so I've been (mostly reluctantly) using the site, because I Tweeted that I'd found myself trying to explain to a Christian child the difference between magic and miracles. Turns out lots of people have opinions about that topic. And FB have sort of half-heartedly introduced threading, which maybe helps a bit. Whereas over here, people had absolutely masses to say about the topic of modest dress, which I had expected would be one of those obscure things that only one or two religion geeks would care about. I'm really enjoying the discussion, anyway.

    My post about the broken system that is PhD training still reliably accounts for nearly a fifth of all the traffic to my DW, even two and a half years after I wrote it. Again, I didn't expect it to be of more than specialist interest, but it's turned out to be the thing that made me internet-famous. And I'm reminded of it right now because both my PhD students are having struggles and I'm trying to be more supportive than a typical bad supervisor, but we'll see.

    Also today I initiated my newer student into mammalian cell culture, and I'm reminded of when I got sent to a collaborator to improve my technique and she informed me that her culture hood was 'The Holy of Holies'. I'd been missing the mental focus of trying to work 'in total purity', and I even almost miss my hands smelling of disposable gloves. And now my student knows I talk to my cancer cells; I reckon she still respects me.
  • liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
    I confess, I'm feeling a little depressed about the whole Tim Hunt thing. Partly because Hunt's work is foundational to mine, so he's someone I looked up to, and it's always a blow when you learn that your heroes have feet of clay.

    sexism and free speech )

    Which is all by way of telling you, I'm finding it hard to find room for a lot of sympathy for Tim Hunt, who frankly should have known better.

    Modesty

    Jun. 11th, 2015 10:25 pm
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    Modesty is something that's valued in my religious tradition, and also something that's difficult for me personally as well as being politically fraught. Recently a friend was kind of vehement about modesty, specifically women's modest dress, and as it happens we didn't have time to have a proper conversation. So I've been turning the question over in my mind in anticipation of having the conversation, and I think it's enough thinky stuff for a blog post, so:

    swirly thoughts about modesty )
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Currently reading: Still my friend's unpublished novel (which is awesome and also long, so apologies for the rather samey and uninformative Reading Wednesday posts).

    Up next: My plans for this weekend include a charity fête which usually has a very good second-hand bookstall, so I shall see if I can pick something solely for the cover.

    This being the case, my recently read is just a handful of links I think deserve more attention, so:

    linkies )

    I have spent a very long and tiring day running practical exams, so I'm kind of exhausted. If anyone's around and would like to chat in a not too energetic way, I'd enjoy some company.
    liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
    This weekend was one of my Saturday morning services, so it wasn't entirely sensible to go home for a truncated weekend of barely 24 hours. I'm glad I made the decision to do so anyway, cos I had an excellent time. I was able to join [personal profile] hilarita briefly for birthday drinks, and to help [personal profile] jack acquire and assemble a proper barbecue grill, and [personal profile] cjwatson came over for supper and Agricola. And on Sunday [personal profile] jack and I actually hosted a barbecue party, which is something we'd been talking about doing since we first started househunting. The excuse was to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and Judith's karate grading, and amazingly, for a long-planned summer Sunday event, the weather was perfect.

    So there was sunshine and Pimms and grilled halloumi and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti's homemade icecream. And [livejournal.com profile] alextfish and [livejournal.com profile] woodpijn brought bubble mix, and [personal profile] ptc24 brought his camera which prints out instant photos like the old Polaroids used to. And relaxing in the sunshine with lots of people I really like. I really really didn't want to leave to catch my train, especially as [personal profile] pseudomonas and [personal profile] hairyears arrived just as I was leaving.

    Anyway, I am quite proud of my sermon on last week's Torah portion, Behaalotecha. It's Numbers 8-12, and as you can see from the link it has a lot of different stuff in it, including some very obvious sermon fodder, and I was quite pleased to find a moderately original angle on it. I decided to use the parshe as a spring-board to talk about gender and sexuality. Partly because certain people in my community have developed an annoying habit of interrupting at any random moment to rant about same sex marriage, and I wanted to address that. In fact the worst offender was not present, which is good in that I wouldn't have wanted her to feel passively-aggressively attacked, but less good in that, you know, she did kind of need to hear my points.

    Now, I appreciate that a great many people have real trauma around the way that religious communities deal with gender and sexuality, so I want to offer the opportunity to decide not to read further. But some people have encouraged me to post my sermons, so I think at least a few of you might be interested. I've annotated this a bit because it might not make total sense out of context; my comments to you here on DW are in square brackets, some vague approximation of what I actually said to the community is under the cut.

    reading Moses as genderqueer )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read I've been travelling and had more time than usual for reading, so there's a few reviews to catch up with. read more )

    Also, I'm having lots of fun with [personal profile] jadelennox's Dreamwidth Friending meme. Welcome, new people, and current readers, if you are looking for more people for your DW circle, the meme is well worth checking out.
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    ( You're about to view content which the poster has advised should be viewed with discretion. )

    Soundbite

    Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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