highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Currently reading: For work, still La Belle Hélène de Constantinople. For funsies, alternating between Ken Liu's 'The Paper Menagerie and other Stories' and Heather Rose Jones' 'The Mystic Marriage'. I'm also working on a recording of 'The Night Fairy' for little sis' birthday.

Recently finished:

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this. I wasn't sure what it would have to offer that Oranges hadn't already covered - much of what I liked about the first half was the same as stuff I liked about Oranges. Not the narrative but the ways of phrasing and framing things. And that carried through into the second half - Winterson's ways of talking about literature, madness, family, and so on. I have highlighted many bits for savouring later.

Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1)Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the most adorable thing I have read for quite some time. I shall purchase more asap.

Daughter of Mystery (Alpennia, #1)Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What I expected: a decent pulp romance in a typically melodramatic pseudo-medieval setting, held together but juuuuust enough world-building to float the romantic drama.

What I got: a coherent, well-built 17th-century setting (identifiable as 17th c by dress, weaponry, and references to the 'French Wars'), a neatly plotted family drama, surprisingly complex legal sub-plots, and a reasonably well-structured magical-realist take on saint's cults, all laced together in an engaging and compelling fashion.

It's not dense - it's not a masterpiece of high fantasy or a historical fiction epic. But it's GOOD.

Peculiarly, the element I was most disappointed with was the romance plot. I simply wasn't convinced by one half of the pairing - I could see that one of them had fallen in love with the other, but it felt like steps were missing on the other side. I was also super disappointed with the 'rides into the sunset' ending, which... no. Everything previously established in this 'verse says you can't just DO that - neither pick up an heiress and ride into the sunset with her, nor in fact live out of 'one purse' as two unmarried persons! I'm also not convinced by the character work leading to the notion that either party would *want* to do that. Newsflash, universe: you can in fact have a lifelong partnership without complete financial interdependence! And in until very recently many if not all same-sex partnerships would have done just that - either because one of them depended primarily on the other (woman and 'companion'), or because from a more stable footing there simply was no legal capacity or need to effect such merger. If you aren't being married, then neither of you is property of the other, so *you do not need to utterly merge your financial and legal persons*, and you quite likely can't do so if you wish to!

Up Next: Hmm, well, I have another Phryne Fisher book for the UK trip - I probably need to make a few more kobo purchases before the card it's attached to expires (parents are bringing me the replacement, but it'll take some faffing around to activate the card).

Music notes:

I am suddenly and drastically obsessed with Amy MacDonald. Have purchased the 'This is the life' double album; have my eye on the orchestral collab as well.
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
1) It's not as simple as just overriding a referendum. Sure, the government can just choose to ignore the result, but the referendum was called because voters were abandoning other parties and moving to UKIP. And the people who voted Leave had a significant proportion of people who felt totally disenfranchised by the existing system, and like their vote didn't count. I remember the paranoia of the Leave voters who were convinced that no matter how the votes went They wouldn't let a Leave victory happen. Is the answer really to prove the paranoid right? Because what that gets you is riots, and a massive swing to UKIP (and worse). When we already have a majority government on only 35% of the vote, pissing off 52% of the population sounds...unwise.

2) Also, here's some stats relating Scottish voting in the Independence Referendum to Scottish voting in the European Referendum:

Which shows that the relationship is...nothing at all. Kinda fascinating in its own right. Which would mean that there will be an awful lot of people in IndyRef 2 who voted to stay in the UK but also in Europe, and would explain why the polls showed a 2:1 ratio in favour of Independence a few days ago.

(With gratitude to Kate Cross her crunching the numbers. She points out that some more analysis (maybe weight by population in areas, or get smaller area-level data) and considering the slightly different make-up of the electorate for each referendum would be useful areas for further study.)

Yad Vashem, and Archaeology

Jun. 28th, 2016 10:49 pm
zhelana: (Star Wars - Rey)
[personal profile] zhelana
This morning started out at Yad Vashem, which is the Israeli Holocaust memorial. An interesting thing I learned is that they have lots of color photos of it, but in order to minimize the horror so that someone can walk through such a museum, they digitally make them into black and whites. I think the saddest thing I learned was that I had assumed when they said 6000000 people died, that they knew who they were. That at least the Germans had kept records. But no. We only know 4 million names. 2 million disappeared without even anyone to remember them, nor any way to find out who they were. There were two really memorable moments of the tour. The first was as you walked out of the main museum. the museum is intentionally built to feel like the walls are closing in on you, and it's dark. But as you walk towards the light, Ha Tikvah, the Israeli national anthem is playing and things open up and you're overlooking Jerusalem. It's really like, "wow." Then the second was the children's memorial. 1.5 million children that we know of died, and their names are read aloud on a continuous loop in a room with 5 candles and 4 mirrors. So all you can see is infinite little dots of light. I was definitely crying. From there we said mourner's kaddish along with our Christian friends.

Then we had lunch in the cafeterias. It was a huge meal.

After lunch we were off to a national park where they found these Greek buildings. There are hundreds of underground rooms in various stages of being excavated. We actually got to sift through the dirt and find pottery shards that no one has touched for 2200 years. It was pretty cool to get to touch that stuff. Like, I've touched old Native American stuff before but that's a couple hundred years old mostly. This stuff all dated from the time of the Hanukkah story. We know that because they found a tablet that talks about the king mentioned in the Bible when we talk about Hanukkah. This is the first time there's been any proof of that story being literally true, so it's pretty exciting. We weren't allowed to take anything that we found since it's a real archaeological dig and they want to clean things up and look for writing, or piece that can be put back together or things that are otherwise historically interesting. However, they wind up throwing about 50% of what they find away, so instead of just throwing it away, they dump it under a tree and allow tourists to take it. So I have a couple pieces of pottery.

After that we walked from our hotels to Ben Yahuda street which is a foot traffic only street down the middle of Jerusalem. There's a lot of little shops, though they were mostly closed by the time we were done with dinner. We had dinner at this nice Italian restaurant that was kosher. Kosher means no meat with dairy, which makes Italian difficult, but I wound up with a 3 cheese pizza that was pretty good, and I think everyone else enjoyed their meals too.

After that I walked by myself for about 20-25 minutes to get back to the hotel. Then I packed my suitcase, and now, bed.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
[personal profile] ursamajor
Today's office. Nice and green, and the food is tasty.

Question demanding the answer, WTF?

Jun. 28th, 2016 06:53 pm
oursin: Animated hedgehog icon (Animated hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

A determined spammer keeps asking me 'interested in safe floors?'

And since one of my current occupations is channelling a renowned author of Gothick novels and horrid tales, the image this evokes is of floors that suddenly open up beneath one's feet leading to an Oubliette of Doom, or possibly Hell.

In fact, it seems to be about becoming a distributor for some product that promises 'slip-resistant floor treatment' for the kind of public premises that have slippery floors.


Also, requires a set-up fee of $5000 to get into this promising business opportunity.

One is so tempted to put them in touch with relicts of dictators...


In other news, and trying to look on the bright side (wot bright side there is no bright side):

The keynote talk thing that I have been sighing over has done that thing where it gives a little wiggle and suddenly looks a lot more close to DONE than I thought it was.

Also in being Some Kinda Academic, sent off the paper I gave in Montreal to the organising body's essay comp, as they had solicited attendees to do this.

In nature notes, today I saw a wee robin and some kind of tit (?) in my perambulations through local green spaces.

Also, have had the royalty statement for a particularly niche work of mine and it's still selling - the royalties are still pretty much tuppence-ha'penny once the non-sterling cheque has gone through the bank, but I never expected wealth beyond the dreams of avarice from it.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Getting ready for a conversation with my editor about the SF trilogy I’m working on. (Apparently they want this first book to have a title. Sheesh. So demanding…)

In the meantime, here’s an interview I did with Amazing Stories about the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop.

So, um … anyone have any brilliant title ideas they’re not using?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Jun. 28th, 2016 10:06 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Ever since I got back from Greece, I’ve had almost zero energy for anything.  I’ve had guests and all but fallen asleep on them.  Going out to dinner with friends leaves me stupefied. And I’ve written no fiction, so thank God I have the Clarion Write-a-Thon to goad me.

Is this a sickness?  Some jetlag hangover?  Who knows? Either way, it’s annoying. I’ve just got the energy to play videogames and sleep.

Which is especially irritating, as my birthday is this weekend – it’s the most important day of the year, y’know – and I can’t really muster enthusiasm for a party or anything relevant.  I’m going to see some movies with Gini, but largely I just want to collapse and play Doom.

And I have ideas for essays. Just dealing with the feedback seems exhausting, though.

I wish I knew how to fix this. I’ve crashed a fair amount.  But I haven’t been this tempted to take a couple of days off from work to just sleep in a long time, but weekends have shown that sleep isn’t this issue here.

Anyway, I’ll probably be back about the Internets at some point.  But if I’ve fallen off in my correspondence with you, I apologize; even texting seems kind of onerous right now.  Everything’s underwater.  It’s not awful, it’s just very few hours of productivity.  I’d like to do more with my hours in the day, honestly, but it’s not like my Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This is just me staring at a lot of things, vaguely perplexed as to why I’m not doing more with myself.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

So as of last night, I officially started writing my new music-as-magic novel and blogging about the process – showing you what professional writers think about when they’re starting the opening chapters.  If you’re interested in upping your writing game, or just want a sneak peek into my next novel, it’s only $10 to join for the next four weeks of watching me hone the opening chapters.

If doing this helps educate some people and keep the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop alive, I consider that a bargain of my time.  So would you help out?

Step #1: Donate at least $10 to the Clarion Foundation.  More is good if you can spare it.  You don’t have to donate in my name or anything, because honestly, their Write-a-Thon webpage forms are dreadful.

Step #2: If you don’t already have one, create a LiveJournal account.  Rejoice in this feeling of web page time-travel, as one suspects there’s not a lot of new LJ accounts created!

Step #3: Email theferrett@theferrett.com with your Clarion receipt and your LiveJournal handle, with a header of “HEY FERRETT LET ME IN.”  I’ll do the mystical LJ gestures to get you access.

Step #4: Watch me figure out how to introduce you to Gwendolyn, the protagonist, and how she’s sucked through to Backstage, the mystical world-behind-worlds that influences all other civilizations with the cataclysmic Battle of the Bands.

(Secret Step #5: Share this post if ya can.)



Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

(no subject)

Jun. 28th, 2016 08:53 am
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
I said I would put up a link when it was out. This was the June Puzzled Pint Puzzle Set. Grab the Map and the Puzzle/Answer sheet, grab some puzzle minded friends and have fun.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

Second book of Cornell's Shadow Police series (or, as some sources claim, the James Quill series, although I don't think that is the right name for the series at all). Starts a while after book #1, features more "London stuff" (or "proper London stuff", or maybe "old London stuff" and possibly, at a stretch, "a bit of the old London knowledge", although I don't think that's actually something it's called in the book).

Basically, bunch of the Met's finest find themselves in a new, interesting, supernatural pickle. And there's a fictional Neil Gaiman that is not at all like the real one.

All in all, an excellent read, even though I frequently question the protagonists' ability to make good decisions. And, yes, I do, but I understand why they made the decisions they did (partially "better story" and partially "as a reader you may well have more information than they do").

Does fall somewhat on the grimmer end of the spectrum, so probably not the best if you're wanting lightness and happiness.


Jun. 28th, 2016 12:48 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon
Just noting I've started adding my book reviews to Goodreads, see them here. The recent batch are up, I'll go through and add the older ones eventually.

I still plan on posting them here, so it won't make any difference, but if you have a goodreads account they're now there as well.

(Some of my fellow Pitchwars types have had suggestions it's a preferred form of web-presence when agents/publishers are evaluating new clients, so I've been meaning to do it for a while).

Interesting Links for 28-06-2016

Jun. 28th, 2016 12:00 pm

Game of Thrones 6x10

Jun. 28th, 2016 10:02 am
marina: (Default)
[personal profile] marina
So I apparently have things to say? This show is garbage and I wish I hadn't imprinted on the books at a young age, is my standard disclaimer.

spoilers )

(no subject)

Jun. 28th, 2016 11:39 am
ruthi: a photograph of a dormouse eating a berry (Default)
[personal profile] ruthi
Currently open tabs:

  • http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/archive/pages/info30.htm#1
    How you can intervene when witnessing racist assaults

    "This leaflet provides some suggestions for courageous action and shows that some small steps can change a lot."

  • http://tellmamauk.org/faq/

    In the wake of the Brexit referendum, racist attacks have gone up.

    I've seen someone reporting hearing that they thought voting 'Leave' meant voting for the immigrants to leave.

  • It was a dark and stormy night.

    Jun. 28th, 2016 10:38 am
    ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
    [personal profile] ursamajor
    It was a dark and stormy night.
    vatine: books-related stuff (books)
    [personal profile] vatine
    Previously unread.

    This landed in my digital bookshelf towards the end of last week. This is book #7 (I think) in the Laundry series and continues the trend from #6 of not having Bob Howard as our main viewpoint character. Instead, we're following Alex Schwartz, former HFT software visualization developer, recent Laundry draftee, also infected with V-parasites (that is, he's essentially a vampire, although technically not undead).

    Due to recent changes, Alex finds himself in Leeds, inventorying various pieces of infrastructure, doing measurements and what have you. As you do. Then, well, things happen in a rather unpleasant way.

    Overall, a pleasant read. There were maybe one or two small things that pinged my "I should take a mental note of this and comment on it", but alas I cannot recall specifics further than that (although I suspect at least one was computational substrates).

    2016 - #47, "Hellbent", Cherie Priest

    Jun. 28th, 2016 09:21 am
    vatine: books-related stuff (books)
    [personal profile] vatine

    Second (and so far, last) book in the Cheshire Red reports series (although I must confess that I think of it as mainly Cheshire Red). Our intrepid B&E artist is recovering from the advents of the first book (this book is, what, 3-6 months after the closing of book #1), when she's given a job that's hard to refuse. A box of magic-enhancing bacula ha sbeen found and retrieving it would be, ahem, very very profitable.

    So, she sets forth, with the intention of doing so. Then things snowball, there are complications and, well, all in all eminently readable.

    oops i missed monday again

    Jun. 28th, 2016 05:22 am
    synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
    [personal profile] synecdochic
    Every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

    (And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)

    (no subject)

    Jun. 28th, 2016 09:52 am
    oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
    [personal profile] oursin
    Happy birthday, [personal profile] rmc28!

    Cooking diary

    Jun. 28th, 2016 06:42 pm
    soon_lee: Image of yeast (Saccharomyces) cells (Default)
    [personal profile] soon_lee
    Tuesday: Salad made with leftovers from Sunday's roast pork dinner
    (Didn't cook on Monday as we went to The Grove for dinner)

    The prep:

    Wednesday: Chicken curry laksa
    (Made the curry on Tuesday night as the Tuesday night salad took hardly any time to make)

    The prep:

    Thursday: Lemon honey grilled chicken breast with a "no mayonnaise" 'slaw

    The prep:
    hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
    [personal profile] hollymath
    I woke up this morning still exhausted and sick at the world I find myself in. But I'm starting to, as I knew I'd want to, get back to my coping mechanism of Having Something to Do, so I'm aiming to get back to the Kickstarter book by finishing off my long-neglected citizenship application and starting some of the e-mail interviews with the (many!) people who volunteered to tell their stories.

    But first, I posted this update to my Kickstarter backers:
    I haven't done an update since the happy news that I'd more than reached my goal, sorry about that. But I have been busy since.

    Since the amount of money I got is pretty much (after Kickstarter fees and etc) exactly what I need to pay for UK citizenship application fees, I've been working on that application with the intent that the last stage of this "duel" is then something I can include in the book. I've got it nearly done (anyone know what I did with my passport-sized photos?!) so hopefully that'll be posted off soon. They say it can take up to six months for a decision to be made, though -- let's hope it's not that long!

    I've also been working on the book, of course. Current word count: 23,656! I don't know if they'll all be staying in, of course, but it feels good to know they're there.

    And that's just from me -- a conversation with a new friend, another immigrant to the UK, has inspired me to ask people if they'd like to be interviewed for the book. I know many other people will be as keen to tell their stories as I am, and I'm keen to illustrate that my experience isn't the only one -- and, since I'm a white English-speaker from a country that Britain more or less approves of, my experience is the furthest thing from the worst of them. I've been heartened and overwhelmed by the response I've gotten, from my friends and acquaintances but also their friends and acquaintances, people I don't know. I'm currently working on collecting their stories. If you are or if you know any immigrants to the UK -- wherever they're from, however long they've been here, no matter if they think they've had an easy time or a hard one -- who'd like to get involved, feel free to e-mail me.

    And in the midst of this...a British MP was killed by a right-wing terrorist, a white man radicalized by the UK media. And then the UK voted to leave the EU, and the rise in racist, xenophobic hate crimes since has been dramatic. Suddenly it seems like talk of immigration and immigrants is everywhere, and again I'm very aware I'm less vulnerable personally than many others, but it's still a really tough time for me, as I know it is for a lot of people here, British or not.

    I didn't set out to write a book about "Brexit" (a word almost as ugly as the concept it represents!) and I don't want it all to be doom and gloom because that wouldn't be a good representation of being an immigrant. But I feel this book's going to end up being a lot different than I thought it would be when I started.

    I'll do my best to keep you posted!
    And that goes for you, too, DW/LJ friends.

    Unconference Friday

    Jun. 27th, 2016 10:15 pm
    azurelunatic: Raven looking at the golden apple.  (shiny)
    [personal profile] azurelunatic
    I again woke up early enough to get to nearly the beginning of the day, the planning session for the unconference. It was quiet enough to check email and such in the corner of the hacker lounge. Later, I went over to the buttons table and put together a few buttons with [personal profile] shadowspar and [personal profile] silveradept. [personal profile] shadowspar shared half a lemon creme doughnut with me, which (predictably) got yellowish-white delicious lemon-flavored goo all over my hands and probably face as well. Commentary was made.

    It turns out that it's really hard to do tiny buttons with multiple colors of glitter-paper, so my first attempt at a bi pride glitterbutton went very badly. The second attempt was better.

    There was an afternoon trip to Knit/Purl, a Local Yarn Shop. [staff profile] denise and [personal profile] kareila wound up early, I came next (followed by [personal profile] silveradept, on a mission of What Craft Supplies Have They Got, Anyway), and F and [personal profile] shadowspar joined shortly thereafter.

    I escaped relatively lightly, with only one skein of yarn, which matches my hair. There was a collective attempt by all five fiber artists to get [personal profile] silveradept to join the cult club, but they resisted valiantly. I did, however, successfully coach them through Intro To Chain Stitch, and by the time the yarn group was leaving the yarn shop, they had progressed to making firm if not super even stitches at a pretty good clip.

    Conference wrap-up ensued, with what-went-well and what-could-be-improved, followed by a group effort at cleaning up. There's only a one-hour window to get the truck loaded, so it has to go quickly. Fortunately, we are nothing if not helpful, and there was a lot of furniture-slinging.

    Eventually the hacker lounge was at a furniture-to-workers ratio where my presence would have been more hindrance than help, so I wandered out into the lobby. Farewells were said. I threatened to get perhaps over-emotional, and fled to the sidewalk where I could have a little more space.

    Then it was over! Silver walked me to the correct streetcar stop, and I headed back to my dorm and started packing up and planning for next year. F had an early-ish flight out, but I slept overnight before checking out Saturday morning and making the long drive home.

    Thursday at the conference:

    Jun. 27th, 2016 05:47 pm
    azurelunatic: Teddybear that contains ethernet switch.  (teddyborg)
    [personal profile] azurelunatic
    Woke up early enough to hit the morning keynote, which surprised me! I was waking up earlier and earlier each morning there.

    Attended the long-form morning "Exit Condition" talk, which was very good and also I definitely had to due to helping bounce the name around! There are so many good and interrelated talks at this conference. "Exit Condition" was about the three options when things aren't going well: GTFO, yell, or duck and cover. My talk was on applied yelling. Last year, Heidi Waterhouse did a talk on whistleblowing, which is a specific kind of applied yelling. I recommend all three as a set.

    Parts of the greater #Dreamwidth crew went down to the diner from Tuesday night and had a nice quiet introvert lunch, during which time the following interlude occured:

    Azz: *reading email* *sudden double facepalm* *helpless giggles*
    Rah: "Silver, did you break Azz?"
    Silver: (unaware of where I was in my inbox) "No?"
    Azz: "YES."

    Much hilarity at my expense ensued, including F coming over, reading my phone screen, and then wordlessly slapping me on the back in such a 100% bro-tastic way that I sat up straight and (mock)protested "HOW DID YOU JUST MISGENDER ME WITH A BACKSLAP?!?!?!" because seriously, HOW EVEN do you do that???

    The afternoon was excellent as well. I vaguely recall sitting out for a session? But I was nowhere near as exhausted as I was last year, even on insufficient sleep.

    But then it was party time. I found a quiet corner, and some of the usual suspects joined. I took a moment to leave a birthday voicemail for a certain vividly colored geekfriend, then rejoined and spent much of the evening comparing notes and cracking up with the crew.

    Despite the lack of intoxicants at the party, I was in a bit of a pleasantly mentally addled state when it came time to walk back to the dorm, enough so that F found it prudent to get some rooibos tea into me before packing me off to bed.


    Jun. 27th, 2016 11:10 pm
    davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
    [personal profile] davidgillon

    I'm trying to get caught up on reviewing some of the books I've read in recent months.

    Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Lois McMaster Bujold

    The latest in Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga revolves around the two titular characters, Admiral Oliver Jole, commander of the Barrayaran forces on Sergyar, and Vicereine Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, the planetary governor. Three years have passed since the death of Aral Vorkosigan, and Cordelia has a plan for rebooting her life. Reproductive technology has been a consistent theme of the Vorkosigan books, yet Cordelia and Aral only ever had one child, Miles (at least directly and intentionally). But now Miles is Count Vorkosigan in his own right, an Imperial Auditor, with a beautiful and talented wife, and a growing brood of children, and he survived, eventually, the appearance of his clone-brother Mark. Galactic lifespans mean Cordelia still has time to raise a family, 76 is no age at all, and she and Aral had put by eggs and sperm in case of need.

    Cordelia plans to have only daughters, to avoid any complications in respect to Miles’ title, but there are a handful of eggs that have been adjudged non-viable, for the production of Cordelia’s children at least. Those eggs could still host a fused nucleus, and Cordelia knows exactly the two parents she has in mind. Aral, and Oliver. We’ve known Aral was bisexual from the start of the series, but now we find out he actively engaged in an affair, with a certain Lieutenant Oliver Jole, with the full knowledge of Cordelia, ultimately evolving into a polyamorous relationship between the three of them. The relationship splintered with the death of Aral, but now Cordelia has a proposition for Oliver.

    Oliver is poleaxed by Cordelia’s plan, a fairly typical reaction to any Naismith Vorkosigan plan, but the potential starts to grow on him, and as it does, it rekindles his feelings for a certain Vicereine. (All of this is on the table within the first chapter, when Cordelia has a plan she doesn’t hang about)

    And so GJatRQ becomes a comedy of manners, as Oliver and Cordelia slowly romance each other. And the comedy element is completed when Miles arrives, hotfoot from Barrayar, with his entire brood in tow, because he’s finally found out what his mother has planned for the eggs.

    This is Bujold in romance mode, Miles isn’t required to shoot anyone, and the deadliest threat to the core characters is a job offer. There are a handful of sub-plots, Oliver’s aide is being wooed by a rather ineffective Cetagandan attache, a ceramcrete company is trying to play the military for fools, and the plans for Oliver’s 50th birthday party keep getting more and more out of hand, but mostly it’s Oliver and Cordelia exploring each other, or trying to explore each other if their damned jobs wouldn’t keep getting in the way.

    If only Miles in manic berserker mode works for you, then you should probably pass on this one, but if you liked A Civil Campaign, then put this on the list.

    Gemini Cell, Myke Cole

    US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer gets home from a mission on which weird shit tm happened, only to have a hit team kick in his door in the middle of the night. He kills a bunch of them before they kill him, but not before seeing his wife and son hit.

    Then he wakes up, in a secret facility, with something sharing his head on the inside and spooks on the outside. After telling Jim his family was killed, the senior spook explains to him that magic is returning, and the Special Operations community have caught themselves an Afghani who knows how to stick djinn in dead people’s heads. The djinn gives Jim effective superpowers – he can now jump out of helicopters without bothering with a rappelling rope, manifest spikes and blades from his body and so on, which is ideal for the programme, which wants to use him as a killing machine against magical threats. And if he’s really good they might let him get revenge on the people who killed his family. As Jim gets used to being an undead weapon, he starts trying to talk to the djinn, who turns out to be the soul of a warrior king from somewhere around the Babylonian period, and after three millennia stuck in Limbo he doesn’t have much time for the niceties of warfare. Or for sharing control of the body. So with occasional intermissions Jim’s story becomes constant warfare between the two of them for control of his body.

    Meanwhile his wife wakes up in the hospital with minor injuries, as does their son. She’s told Jim was killed, and Oh, by the way, we cremated him for you, here’s the ashes. Needless to say she isn’t happy, and attempts by Jim’s injured buddy to take his place don’t entirely help.

    Then both Jim and his wife become convinced the other is alive, and things escalate.

    Which is the point I stopped reading, there’s a place for tension in a story, but this seemed to be nothing but, continually ramping up the threat level. The writing is fine, Cole knows his way around the military and at another time I might have finished it, but when the option to switch to another book appeared, I took it.

    Atlanta Burns, Chuck Wendig

    Described as 'Veronica Mars on Adderall' I think this suffered from being on the go at the same time as Gemini Cell; two stories dependent on ramping up the threat level towards their protagonists at once isn't a good combination. But the dedication, To the bullied, shows that the intent is very different here and Wendig does a fantastic job with Atlanta's voice. According to the copyright text it's a fix-up of a novella, Shotgun Gravy, and a novel, Bait Dog, both of which were originally self-published, which explains the slightly odd plot structure.

    Set in a run-down Pennsylvania town, by the time the story opens our eponymous high school heroine has already defended herself from attempted rape by her mother’s boyfriend using a shotgun to the groin. This gives her a certain reputation, and when she saves a Latino kid from the school bullies he enlists her to protect his gay friend, and a cycle of escalation starts. Before Atlanta quite knows what’s happening people are dead, she’s realised the whole town is run behind the scenes by a collection of closet Nazis, and she’s quite deliberately pissed off their boss.

    With that plotline seemingly exhausted (i.e. it's the end of Shotgun Gravy and start of Bait Dog) she gets herself hired to take down a dog-fighting ring, and you know you’re in deep when your only source of adult advice is your Adderall dealer. That's the point at which I stopped, with Atlanta on the way to sneak into the dog fights, but unlike Gemini Cell it's a book I dislike not having finished and I'll probably go back to it at some point.

    kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
    [personal profile] kaberett
    1. Oral-B Pro-Expert Clean Mint toothpaste. Blue, sparkly, and cinnamon-flavoured. I don't understand why it's called Clean Mint. It contains, as best I can tell, no mint, apart from a slight cold sensation. The flavour compound is cinnamal. It is blue and sparkly and cinnamon.
    2. UltraDEX mouthwash (previously RetarDEX). Optional mint-flavoured sachet. Absent the optional mint-flavoured sachet, it tastes slightly of chlorine.

    (I am Not A Fan of mint-flavoured things if they are anything other than field/garden mint, in which case I love them; peppermint and spearmint are Not My Friends because, approximately, they taste too loud, and given that I am utterly unwilling to floss because hands and only reliably brush my teeth twice a day if I'm living with someone who will coax me on the topic at bedtime because executive dysfunction and also hands, my dentist is much happier when I am using mouthwash. I am aware that other people feel similarly about mint, and a partially overlapping set of people are in a similar position with respect to this specific healthwork. Here are the things I use, people, and may they bring you if not actual joy then at least diminished resentfulness.)

    Short Fiction Recs for June 2016

    Jun. 27th, 2016 02:29 pm
    forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
    [personal profile] forestofglory
    Here are a few pieces of short fiction I read recently that I want to rec.

    The Sound of Salt and Sea by Kat Howard A pretty and slightly creepy story. I liked the main characters attention to detail.

    Whale-Oil By Sylvia V. Linsteadt I enjoyed this ecological themed story set in my home region of the San Fransisco bay area.

    Mortal Eyes by Ann Chatham I had to stop reading this story in the middle to tweet about how the author got coppicing right, because I was very impressed. It is also a very good story, with a pregnant protagonist and fairies.

    Not a short story or even SFF but I want to rec [personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan, which is the (fictional) memoirs of a Victorian courtesan. It is just lovey. It updates everyday and I always look forward to finding out what the characters are up to. If you need some sex positive domestic cheerfulness if your life The Comfortable Courtesan is for you.

    Something positive

    Jun. 27th, 2016 10:00 pm
    rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
    [personal profile] rmc28
    Tomorrow is my birthday and I have set up a fundraising page for the charity Bloodwise to celebrate.

    (no subject)

    Jun. 27th, 2016 03:27 pm
    seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
    [personal profile] seekingferret
    Maimonides: A Guide for Today's Perplexed by Kenneth Seeskin

    A fairly short, academic but Jewishly-guided synopsis of the arguments in Maimonides's Moreh Nevuchin, the 'Guide for the Perplexed'. Can't remember where I got this rec, probably from [personal profile] rhu, but though this was incredibly slow going and very apt to prompt me to get very sleepy and want to take a nap, (probably helped by the fact that I mostly read this on lazy Shabbat afternoons) I really enjoyed reading it and appreciated the insight into the Rambam's philosophy and its strengths and limitations. Seeskin provides a very strong argument for his interpretation of Rambam's envisionment of the radical unity of God and what that means for the viable methods for knowing God. And I particularly appreciated how Seeskin sees Rambam's conclusion as not representing a fully realized philosophical system, but as a call to constantly seek to perfect one's knowledge of God in the world- a call that is not merely theoretical and abstract but is incredibly concrete as embodied by performance of mitzvot. As I was reading Seeskin, I have also been studying bits and pieces of Mishneh Torah, and it actually does feel like Mishneh Torah and Moreh Nevuchin represent sort of dual keys to each other. Mishneh Torah on its own is a little unsatisfying to study, compared to Talmud, because it occupies a middle ground. It's not Shulchan Aruch, laying out a codification of the laws without citing the derivations: This is what we practice. But it's not Talmud, working out the laws in detail: this is where the laws come from. But Mishneh Torah as a deliberate cipher designed as a guide to perfecting one's knowledge of God through the practice of mitzvot makes sense, and its existence thus provides a guide to living out the life suggested in Moreh Nevuchin.

    G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

    Not my favorite in the series, because the interlocking mysteries were messy and disjoint and then resolved in a disturbingly neat way, but I enjoyed it enough to keep going. The first time in the series, though, that I felt like the idea of reading 20 of these is daunting, because it was for the first time a little bit of a chore to read.

    Currently finishing up NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season, midway through a reread of Gerald Schroeder's The Science of God, and starting George Eliot's Daniel Deronda.

    How is it Monday already?

    Jun. 27th, 2016 08:47 pm
    zhelana: (Marvel - I am a God)
    [personal profile] zhelana
    today started bright and early with a 6:30 am breakfast. By 7 we were on the bus heading to Masada. We got there right at 8 as the cable cars opened. We got on the first cable car, and met the 7 who had woken up at 3am to hike it before sunrise sitting in the shade. The first order of business were the b'nai mitzvot. A 13 year old kid had his bar mitzvah, and a 50ish year old woman had her bat mitzvah. The service was very moving, but has a kind of funny story. I kept looking up the hill at these old ruins thinking how cool it is we're so close to that. When the service ended, that building turned out to be the bathrooms that were just constructed recently to look like ruins. ANYWAY.

    We hiked around Masada for a while looking at the ruins. We saw the Synagogue and the bath house. But it was 127F out and Hillel didn't want to keep us hiking for too long, so we shortened our stay at Masada and lengthened our stay at the Dead Sea. Which is where we went after lunch. But first we had a "reception" for the bar mitzvah kid that consisted of some pastries and some lemonade in a room off the cafeteria. Then we went into the cafeteria and I ate a bagel the size of my head.

    Then we were off, to the Dead Sea. I was in a group of about 4 of us who were less than impressed. I went in. I tried to float but failed, and almost fell on my face except that someone caught me. Realized I had a cut on my butt because it hurt like hell. Besides that it was 127F in the air, and 100F in the water. So we got out, and took our butts to the slightly cooler pool. I mean it was still probably 95F in the pool, but at least that's slightly cooler than body temp instead of slightly warmer than it. So I sat in the pool for like an hour and a half. Then got dressed and got back on the bus.

    We went to this place called Biblical Times where they dressed up as Abraham and his servant and let us ride camels and and with an overlook of the desert served us dinner sitting on the ground around round tables. Dinner was several different kinds of salad, and several different things to put on a pita, followed by chicken and eggplant and rice, followed by some dried fruit. This was followed by a camel ride up the hill (I was smart - most people took their camel ride down the hill and walked up the hill).

    Then we drove back to Jerusalem.

    Looked this up this morning

    Jun. 27th, 2016 07:12 pm
    oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
    [personal profile] oursin

    I vaguely remembered this passage towards the end of Winifred Holtby's South Riding (1936), and looked it up. It's not sound-bitey enough to tweet, and probably needs the context.

    It's the Epilogue, just before the Silver Jubilee celebrations, a year after the main action.

    Sara Burton is talking to the pupils at her school just before the service, at which they will be singing 'I Vow to Thee, My Country':

    'There's a couplet in it I've been thinking about this morning:
    "The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test
    That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best"
    Don't take that literally. Don't let me catch any of you at any time loving anything without asking questions. Question everything--even what I'm saying now. Especially, perhaps, what I say. Question every one in authority, and see that you get sensible answers to your questions. Then, if the answers are sensible, obey the orders without protest.... This is a great country, and we are proud of it, and it means much that is most lovable. But questioning does not mean the end of loving, and loving does not mean the abnegation of intelligence. Vow as much love to your country as you like; serve to the death if that is necessary....' She was thinking of Joe Astell, killing himself by overwork on the Clydeside, dying for his country more surely than thousands of those who today waved flags and cheered for royalty. 'But, I implore you, do not forget to question.'

    South Riding was published posthumously: Holtby died aged 37 in 1935 from Bright's Disease.

    Steam and elastic bonds

    Jun. 27th, 2016 06:39 pm
    hairyears: (Default)
    [personal profile] hairyears
    All the news about share prices, especially prominent UK banks...

    We live in interesting times.
    ...Isn't it interesting that nobody mentions bond prices in the newspapers, even though the bond market is much, much bigger than equities?

    All right, maybe it isn't. Bond traders are rather dull chaps, and nothing about them will ever fill all that space between the adverts for mortgages and pensions.

    But this dull stuff is quite important for banks.

    Because of where I work, it would be improper for me to comment on specific institutions or on the minutiae of how companies are capitalised; so I must urge you to conduct your own researches.

    Sod's law...

    Jun. 27th, 2016 05:10 pm
    davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
    [personal profile] davidgillon

    Three sessions of working on the eBay chair setup, including straining to my limits to budge locked bolts and screws, didn't hurt myself once.

    Push a cupboard door lightly shut, left index finger bends back on itself and the joint pops.

    It'll probably be fine in a day or two, but just aarghh!

    Three things apparently make a post.

    Jun. 27th, 2016 10:40 am
    delight: (at home with stuff)
    [personal profile] delight
    I have been reading. I have been too overwhelmed by life to comment or to post. I need to amend that vaguely. Here are some things:

    1. I got that job, I started that job, I finished training. I now spend most of my life in a busy urgent care clinic in Hell's Kitchen. Overworked and underpaid, but it's really nice to be doing something, even if I am nervous about how beginning grad school will screw with my schedule/availability and hope they won't fire me! (I really need the health insurance, too. Even if it will eat half of my paycheck.)

    2. Dad is on hospice now; we have been given the vague prognosis of "maybe weeks or months," but he has multiple organ failure and no intake. We'll see. He's actually feeling somewhat better, which surprises no one, I think.

    3. The housing market terrifies me. Spouse and I do not make enough between us to afford a studio. Once we have to stop living in mom's house, we're in huge trouble. I cannot do roommates. Not will not, but actually cannot. I would never, ever sleep. I don't trust people. I couldn't even have roommates when I was in the dorms in undergrad, and had to prove my OCD was bad enough I needed to be given a single. The fact that that worked at an overcrowded state university just tells you a lot about how much I can't cope with roommates.

    Moby Dick Chapters 46-101

    Jun. 27th, 2016 10:11 am
    seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
    [personal profile] seekingferret
    Yeah, a lot of chapters. I've been reading the book in bits and pieces since I last posted in October 2013, and am getting fairly close to the ending now. It makes a nice filler in interstices of free time, because of how absurdly choppy it is narratively. Every chapter isn't just a new piece of story, it's a new way of telling the story.

    It's such a big piece of text that I'm ostensibly reviewing that I'm not sure how to review it. This section of the book constitutes a lot of the 'boring' parts, the chapter after chapter is intensive detail about how a whale is butchered and its oil extracted. But even the non-boring parts are written in strange ways. Massive amounts of plot happen in tiny bursts. People die or almost die, people lose limbs, people lose huge sums of money, and it's all reported as asides to the dense explanations of whaling technology. There's one chapter where the Pequod is chased by pirates in the straits of Malacca, and it's written in full-on 19th century adventure novel form for about a page, until Melville runs out of steam and switches to writing about sick whales and whether they still yield good oil. In another passage, Tashtego nearly drowns until Queequeg dives in and saves him, and then Ishmael immediately switches back to talking about the different layers of fat on the whale.

    Also, the 'boring' parts are not boring. They're technical and detailed and I'm never going to need to know them in a practical way, but they really give an impressive sense of immersion and they tell about a world I'll never get to experience, and that's honestly really exciting. I love reading the 'boring' parts of Moby Dick, I love learning little bits like how the Pequod is constantly illuminated at night with large numbers of oil lights because they have such a huge surplus of oil that they can afford to waste a little of this very expensive oil on the sailors. The almost surreality of the experience is brought to full attention.

    There is very little of Ahab in these sections. He pops up in the brief moments when the plot diverts to the quest for the White Whale, and then vanishes again. Starbuck and Flask and Stubb in some ways serve as stand-ins for his authority, particularly on the chase, but that hardly suffices. We know that Starbuck and Ahab are at odds, a tension perhaps most magnificently expounded upon in the strangely rhythmic chapter where each member of the crew provides a successively more unusual exegesis on the gold coin Ahab placed as reward for spotting the whale. Starbuck's orders represent the natural order of life at sea, efforts at continuity and stability that Ahab's obsessive presence incessantly undermines. No matter how routine the marine rituals Ishmael reports are, something is wrong with the Pequod.

    As to Ishmael himself, he gets stranger and obscurer as the book goes on, a fact even he acknowledges in the chapter on the whale skeletons where he concedes that if he were all he said he was, an inexperienced oarsman on a whaling boat, he would not be able to provide all the detail about whale skeletons that he does, in fact provide. Ishmael has seen an absurd amount of the world in an era where mass media was limited in its scope. He's seen so much that he can report casually on incredible adventures, doing whatever the opposite of burying the lede is. Countless times he starts off a story with something that requires explanation of how he learned it, and then veers off away from the part that would reveal how he came to be in that situation and tells the story as if the story were its own justification. The story of the "Town-Ho", Ishmael tells as he told it to the Peruvian Dons, without giving any reason why he would be in the company of such distinguished and dangerous figures. WHO THE HELL IS FUCKING ISHMAEL?

    We get this hilarious reversion back to Ishmael is such a Greenhorn in like, Chatper 98, when Ishmael falls asleep at the tiller and manages to turn around, standing up, until he is facing 180 degrees the wrong way. This scene is not actually hilarious. One thing that is clear by chapter 98 is that life on the Pequod is incredibly dangerous. It is a miracle that Ishmael is still alive. But Ishmael writes this scene with such dreamy whimsy that it's impossible to see it as anything but a joke. "My God ! what is the matter with me? thought I. Lo! in my brief sleep I had turned myself about, and was fronting the ship's stern , with my back to her prow and the compass." I think I said much earlier that this is how most of the humor in Moby Dick works- you're never quite sure if it's really a joke.

    I have several other similar epigrams recorded from this part of the book because they amused me. After a discursion about the absurd hodgepodge of laws regarding who has ownership of a whale, whether it be a 'fast fish' or a 'loose fish', he concludes: "And thus there seems a reason in all things, even in law."

    And this amazing mathematics joke that had me laughing for minutes, describing a scene in which Ishmael is cleaning the inside of a domed furnace: "It was in the left hand try-pot of the Pequod, with the soapstone diligently circling round me, that I was first indirectly struck by the remarkable fact, that in geometry all bodies gliding along the cycloid, my soapstone for example, will descend from any point in precisely the same time."

    And then I have some epigrams bookmarked because they are super-racist Melville. "The truth is, that living or dead, if but decently treated, whales as a species are by no means creatures of ill odor; nor can whalemen be recognised, as the people of the middle ages affected to detect a Jew in the company, by the nose." And "We can't afford to lose whales by the likes of you; a whale would sell for thirty times what you would, Pip, in Alabama. Bear that in mind, and don't jump any more." Hereby perhaps Stubb indirectly hinted, that though man loved his fellow, yet man is a money-making animal, which propensity too often interferes with his benevolence."

    In both of these cases, it's classic liberal paternalist racist Melville, where both of these statements can be read as excoriating 'actual racists', but both statements still, in their dark humor, deny the right to full personhood of the Jews and Blacks in question. Moby Dick is incredibly frustrating in so many ways.


    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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