( 44. Jem and the Holograms - Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell, and M Victoria Robado ) Fun teenager comic, even if you don't know the original.
( 45. Starfarers - Vonda McIntyre ) I am very conflicted about this story, but I might read more McIntyre in the future?
( 47. Little Fuzzy - H Beam Piper ) Some incredibly 1950s attitudes and fridge-logic plot issues, but honestly this was rather cute, and I enjoyed reading it.
( 48. Anne - Constance Fenimore Woolson ) Very odd, even by Victorian-literature standards.
( 49. American Indian Stories - Zitkala-Ša ) A very mixed bag, and I'm not entirely comfortable with reading something so clearly written for a white (ignorant) audience.
( 50. Mindplayers - Pat Cadigan ) Fun worldbuilding, but not much else. This is not Cadigan's best, by any means.
( 51. The Nursing Home Murder - Ngaio Marsh ) Good enough, but not better; I like Marsh, but I mostly don't love her, these days.
Lean training is finally done and done. I have a full week of work coming at the tech services. Can't wait. I miss being in my office. I wanted to go to the Museum day today in Montreal but my body would not be functional tomorrow. So today, is do nothing day. No cleaning, no laundry (that's done), no gardening (the dandelions are going to be left alone). So reading, playing video games, knitting. Not very different from other week-ends.
So reading this week was so-so...
Inbox (Books acquired)
Two ebook titles :
Susan Kaye Quinn's Third Daughter. Bollywood meets Steampunk. It was on sale and got a rec at SB.
Jacqueline Winspear. The Mapping of Love and Death. Maisie Dobbs. Was on sale. I kinda collect them when they are so read when the whimsy takes me.
D Bombshells #44 and 45.
Outbox (Books finished)
DC Bombshells #44 and 45. The action is in Berlin 1941 where our heroines all converge. We say hello again to Selina and hello to Renee (aka Gotham Central Renee) an old flame of Batwoman. We get a big Spanish War AU flashback.. Collisions are bound to happen with Harley Quinn in town.
Always Mine. Ruth Cardello. That was a catastrophe for me. I hated the hero from page one. It didn't get better or so little better. Emily, the heroine, is kinda letting herself be run over by this, well, alpha hero would be too mild to describe this walking aggression on two legs. I liked the art parts of the story. There are really good plot points in there but the male lead made the whole story leave a very bad taste. I finished it because I am a perfectionist when I should have just stopped reading.
In the Queue (Books I'm reading now)
Jed Perl's New Art City : Manhattan at Mid-Century. Which is still a heaven for my tired mind. Almost at the half way point if you don't count the more than 100 pages of notes.
The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan. Contemporary sport romance. Football not hockey. I'll have to find a hockey one because of the NHL final beginning tomorrow. Sharks against Pens.
ETA: Power's back on.
There have been dire warnings of storms over the past several days, but although there was at least one in the early morning one day (at least, the streets were wet), the threatened thunderstorms did not come, until this evening when I was out having dinner with coffeeandink when it started chucking it down and there was a great deal of flickering lightning. However, it passed off - at least, the rain did, there was still a certain amount of flashing - in relatively short order and we got back to the hotel only having been dripped on by soaked trees en route.
Although there was a good deal of lightning, didn't hear that much in the way of thunder, so am unable to state whether it said Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. Shantih shantih shantih.
I did my reading this afternoon and think I may have gleaned a further fan or two for Madame C-...
Further to the discussion of Vom Fass in the comments yesterday, I find that they do have a UK website, however it is a maddening website that will not even take one to somewhere where one may view their collection of vinegars, let along order online, even though it is indicated that that should be a possibility. None of the links to that section work - though I inadvertently did get to the Oils bit - and I also get dire warnings about insecure connection.
Mishnah Berakhot, Chapter Eight, Mishnah Five
In this Mishnah Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel debate various details of the Havdalah ceremony.
I will focus on just one of these disputes.
"Bet Shammai says [the blessing over the havdalah candle concludes with the words],
‘Who created the light of the fire.’
Bet Hillel says:
‘Who creates the lights of the fire.’"
What is the point of their debate? It seems like hair-splitting at a first reading...until you realise that light is often used as a metaphor for “Torah” or "truth".
This, it seems to me, is actually a coded philosophical debate about the nature of truth (or in their terms perhaps they would have said the nature of "Torah").
Bet Shammai say that there is one single absolute Truth, created at the beginning of the world, never-changing. “Created” is therefore past tense and “light” is in the singular.
Bet Hillel say that there are multiple truths and they are constantly being created all the time. “Creates” is present tense and “lights” is in the plural.
As is the halacha, we follow Bet Hillel in this world, though in the world to come Bet Shammai's opinion may prevail.
The Havdalah candle with its multiple wicks burning as one flame symbolises these multiple truths that merge into one single ever-changing flame of Torah.
It is the Jewish equivalent of the story of the blind villagers and the elephant http://www.jainworld.com/literature/sto
( Honestly largely irrelevant snark about the quality of the writing, presented mostly as a framing device. )
Which is all fine as far as it goes, like, whatever, I read a lot of pulpy speculative fiction, but then there are the fucking trigger warnings. And oh dear me are there a lot of them. (At some point I will try to usefully articulate the distinction I make between "content note" and "trigger warning", but that time is not now; just... bear in mind that I'm using the latter not the former.)
( The overview. )
( The detailed trigger warnings. )
Just... if you decide to read this, you might wanna be prepared going in.
Another entry into "occult police procedural", London-based rather than various US states. Cornell has been writing for a long while, and according to the author's afterwords, this started as a TV series pitch for the BBC, never got accepted and eventually mutated into this, which mainly shares characters (and, one guesses, some concepts) with the original TV pitch.
We follow four of the Met's finest. Two of them are undercover operatives, one of them is an intelligence analyst. They start out with no interest in (or indeed specific knowledge of) the occult. This... changes.
All in all, a pretty good read. There are further books in the series. Not sure if I'll go for "sequel to this" or "sequel to previous book" first, though.
I read an HP story a while ago, a post-DH story in which a bunch of the characters, including Malfoy & other Slytherins, were treated for PTSD by a Muggle therapist. IIRC, Hermione sets up the treatment and one of the women at the clinic is a former friend or lover of Susan Bones (?).
I cannot find this in any of my bookmarks; anyone know what story this is? I thought it was by Vera Rozalsky, but I can't find it on her FFN page.
Yes, really, as I walked down State Street this evening, somewhere further along there was a bagpiper.
Am at Wiscon, which has started and I have done my first panel on Waves of Feminism (as I confide my dearios know, hedjog skorn utterly the wave theory of feminism, and may have mentioned that It's Orl Moar Complyk8ed).
Have remet with various auld acquaintance tho' there seem several of the old familiar faces not here this year - most of which I anticipated in view of health stuff, job changes, house moves, etc.
Have acquired from the soap shop some vetiver soap, which has been peculiarly unobtainable in my native land - Roger and Gallet stopped doing it, and so did L'Occitane de Provence, Y O Y do they do these things?
There is a poncey new place that sells, along with wine and other spirituous liquors, various culinary oils and fancy vinegars. I am so in the market for some fancy vinegars - one has great difficulty in finding fruit vinegars or lavender vinegar these days for some reason - but I nearly ran out of the place when surged up to by the owner or manager or sales person saying it was a tasting shop and let her know if I wanted to taste anything. (No, really, Just Looking.)
Dept of Lewd Smirking, at a book in a shop (no, no, it was a respectable knickknackery shop) window all about Pocket Billiards - is that like Pocket Pool? Get those 'ands out of yer pockets!
A Mystery! Solved (2641 words) by molybdomantic
Fandom: Edward Gorey's PBS Mystery Intro, GOREY Edward - Works
This was my assignment; the canon is a collection of short animations by Edward Gorey for the opening credits of a mystery TV series. I had great fun seeing how many of the elements I could shoe-horn into a story, and less fun trying to concoct a plausible ending, which was quite hard. Not helped by damerell's beta comments which attempted to convert the entire thing into an extended Flash Gordon pun. :-P
"Just because it says READ ME doesn't mean you should" (1650 words) by molybdomantic
Fandom: Nethack (Video Game)
NetHack fic, because how how often am I going to get the chance? The title, and the calendar's helpful mottoes, are all from rumors.tru (which is the source of the minor oracularities). I loved the idea that the Oracle might be lazily repeating aphorisms from an aphorism-a-day desk calendar rather than making them up herself.
And then two poems that I'm quite pleased with:
Survival Is Insufficient (106 words) by molybdomantic
Fandom: Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
Tell Them What You Know, Little Bird (118 words) by molybdomantic
Fandom: Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants (Song)
The Station Eleven one came first, because the world NEEDS Station Eleven fic in the shape of Shakespearean sonnets and I was just waiting for the excuse to write it. I've got Shakespearean apologies for the roughness of the production (Oh, for a muse of fire &c.), and after careful scanning of the sonnets for typical Shakespearean images I could use I settled on stars. Not as common as flowers but way easier to squeeze in. That rhyme scheme is just how sonnets come out of my head, apparently; they feel wrong without the extra syllables.
Then I saw elisem asking for _Birdhouse in your Soul_ fic, and having been thinking in iambic pentameter all week I found myself with 'There IS a LITtle BIRDhouse IN my SOUL' running round my head and then that had to happen too. (Well, strictly, I tried to banish it, and then I was ambushed by the bees line and *then* it had to happen.)
2. I picked up two cheap tin outdoor candle-holders at Target, so I can light Shabbat votives on the deck and hopefully the breeze won't blow them out.
3. This is a week to which I will not be sorry to bid farewell when I kindle said Shabbat candles. Just saying.
4. There is mango lemonade in my fridge and it is tasty.
5. I had reason to reflect earlier today on how far I've come in a year. I've come a damn long way. Go me.
A gecko shifter secret agent joins forces with a dragon shifter gambler to fight crime aboard a ship shaped like a giant sphinx, while also playing in an underground, I mean illegal, high-stakes poker match. Cue hijinks and every trope ever.
A charmingly over the top fantasy adventure with a bit of romance, but definitely action with romance rather than the reverse. Great action, great characters, utterly cracktastic, and really, really funny. Part of a series about shapeshifter secret agents, but the books are all standalones and you can easily start here. If you liked Marjorie Liu’s Dirk & Steele series, you will like this.
The heroine, Jen Cho, is an adrenaline junkie caffeine addict gecko shifter secret agent who enjoys rock climbing in her spare time and spends much of the book clambering over unlikely places in both human and gecko forms. Jen is hilarious and her unflappable POV is the best.
The hero, Lucky, unsurprisingly has the power to influence luck, which is one of my favorite mutant powers and is played out in consistently entertaining ways. (He can apply it with a purpose, but unless he’s trying for something vey specific, he doesn’t know how it will work. For instance, “Leave the window open” will make the window get left open. But “help me win this fight” could do just about anything.) He is also a dragon shifter, but the way this works is pretty original and clever, not to mention often quite funny.
I don’t want to ruin the hilarity of their meet-cute, but it is truly hilarious. I’ll put it behind a cut, but if you think you might want to read the book, don’t click.
( Read more... )
Most of the book is set aboard a giant floating sphinx on which a secret, illegal, incredibly high-stakes poker game is being played. Despite the total ridiculousness of this, so much thought went into the details of how all of that might actually work that it feels weirdly credible.
The supporting cast all feel like real people with lives and motives of their own, down to ship workers who appear in one scene and have two lines.
During the climax, almost everyone aboard the ship is high as a kite for plot reasons, and while the heroes and villains are having their dramatic final battle, they keep having to dodge random people attempting to pet their hair or tell them all about the pretty pink bubbles.
Fluffy and delightful. Definitely a read-in-one-gulp type of book.
Dragon's Luck (Shifter Agents Book 3) is only 99 cents on Amazon!
I just had the most awkward 7-minute phone conversation with a Midwestern customer rep of a bathroom fixture company -- the company that d.irge had install her shower. Because damn if I could figure out how to switch the water stream from faucet to showerhead on my own.
(To my defense, I once broke that same mechanism in a New York Upper West Side apartment where I was visiting a work buddy of mine...the look on his and his wife's faces discouraged me from ever pulling hard at unknown nubs sticking out of shower walls and faucets.)
Why does no one move from Midsomer? Why are only two bumbling yet affable detectives in charge of a string of seemingly unrelated murders instead of a giant task force full of forensics people? Why is it still seen as a pleasant destination?
The Doctor knows some deeper work must be at play. His only regret is that it has taken him so long to investigate...better get ready to RUN.
All of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel have been recently been republished with beautiful covers showing elegant & sophisticated women.
This is my copy of Something in Disguise from 1980. It’s not one of Penguin’s greatest moments.
This is the most recent edition of the same book. It's about some truly appalling awful marriages, so I can’t say the joyful cover is very representative of the content, but such an improvement.
A few weeks ago, I asked people who host kink parties how they’d deal with one guest claiming that another guest was under investigation by the police for sexual crimes.* And I’d say about 75% of the respondents said some variant on:
“Well, I’d talk to both sides and see who sounded more reasonable to me.”
Now, let’s set some opening criteria here by invoking the nerdiest possibly comparison: The Kobayashi Maru.
In Star Trek, there’s a training mission called the Kobayashi Maru, which puts Starfleet cadets into an unwinnable situation to see how they deal with defeat. (Kirk won, but only by reprogramming the computer to allow a victory.)
People do not like unwinnable scenarios. People like to think that their tactics have no down sides, and once they’ve decided on a course of action, they have this funny habit of shrugging aside the costs of doing business as somehow not being harmful.
My point in these writings on public spaces is that no matter what you choose, your choice carries the risk of harming someone innocent.
Ban people based entirely on hearsay accusation? Well, false reports do exist, and even if you act discreetly – because remember, you don’t have to tell someone why you’ve banned them from a private event – you still risk ostracizing an innocent who’s been targeted by a malicious person.
Ban people based entirely on whether the law has taken action? That’s got two problems: first, the sexual offender registry is notable for sweeping up teenagers who’ve accidentally had sex with someone a year too young, and second, have you noticed the humiliation that rape victims have to go through on the stand in order to get a 7% conviction rate? The court system is designed, as I’ve noted in the past, to make it very hard to convict – and for good reason! – but “not being convicted in court” does not mean that someone is harmless.
And you know what I feel the result of “We’ll just talk to them and see” is?
That you should stop fucking being surprised when yet another charming predator turns out to be a serial offender.
“I’ll determine who’s guilty based on who feels right to me” is as decent a method as any other, but you give up your right to go “HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?” when hey, the person who’s very convincing turns out to merely be a great liar.
Because what you do in situations like that is to send a clear message: If you want to get away with abuse, make sure you’re likable. And the top-tier predators are smart. They figure out really quickly that “doing favors for other people” is a great way of incurring likeability, and they learn how to spin stories to gaslight other people, and they’re smart enough not to victimize every person but to only target a precious few.
And that’s not even counting the charming folks who’ve gone all rock star and have come, quietly, to believe that they’re such studs in the community that every person desires them. These folks can do serious damage – not because they’re trying to be evil, but because they’re like “Hey, if I’ve got her tied up, the last five people liked it when I stuck my fingers inside of them without warning, so this is sure to please!”
When you ask them? They’ll be confident, poised, sure that this was just a misunderstanding. They’ll be Very Concerned, just enough to ensure that you get the impression they’re a good person –
– and then the flip side of the “Who feels right to me?” test comes in, because not only are you disproportionately rewarding people who are charming, but you’re disproportionately punishing people who are traumatized in ways you think are unseemly.
Because not everyone’s a convincing victim. There’s a scene in the movie Spotlight, where reporters find a guy who’s on a crusade against molesting priests – and this guy is stuttering, and alternately brutally nasty and then cringingly apologetic to the reporters. He’s literally got folders full of sketchy evidence that he hands out to anyone who asks.
He looks like a complete nut case. The problem is, he is a complete nut case – but that’s because the abuse made him unhinged. He didn’t react well to being betrayed by an authority figure he idolized, and as a result he’s not together enough to present himself as being convincing.
And like him, lots of legitimate victims are angry, and appear vindictive, because shit, if someone hurt you or someone you loved, wouldn’t you want them not to get away with it?
Being violated is like grief: there’s a script you’re supposed to follow when someone you love dies, complete with weeping at the coffin and clutching loved ones for support, but everyone reacts in different ways. Some people go for isolation. Some people get nasty. Some people run away to drugs or sex.
That doesn’t mean they’re not in pain. It just means they’re not following the script.
So what happens when you adopt the “Who feels right?” means that you reward socially adept people and punish those who don’t follow the “good victim” script. And as such, when another superstar turns out to have a rotting underbelly, you shouldn’t really be too shocked.
Our community, largely, rewards these behaviors.
Now, at this point I anticipate a lot of rage and people shouting, “Well, I’m not a trained investigator! Yet you’re telling me not to necessarily trust the court system, and you’re telling me not to automatically believe the victim, so what do you want me to do?”
I want you to acknowledge the path you’ve chosen has drawbacks.
I want you to be aware of the failure modes of your choice, and to be prepared to walk things back when something hits those failure states.
I want you to admit fallibility.
Look. When I say, “My preference is to believe the victim, in the absence of better evidence,” I do so knowing full well that some percentage of victims make false accusations. And were I running an event, I’d be prepared for the eventuality of uncovering a false accuser, and ready to potentially undo a ban based on new evidence.
If you talk to people to see whether they feel right to you, I’m asking you to recognize that you’re not trained at this, and that manipulators can abuse your system just as off-the-script victims can fuzz your senses, and to be ready to try as best you can to correct for that liability.
If you only ban court-convincted people, acknowledge that the court is not a perfect method of safety – it’s the best way we have to administer justice, but “justice” and “safety” are not always linked.
This is the Con-Bayashi Maru. There’s no perfect solution. And what you do in a time of imperfect solution is to acknowledge the failure modes and try your best to apply workarounds whenever you can.
* – The actual investigation was for possession of child pornography, and there was some discussion of whether having child porn was a bannable offense or whether even “being an active child molester” was reason to bar someone from a party, but most people seemed to take this specific instance as a more general “What do we do when someone comes to us with serious hearsay?” Some may have altered their answers if it had been a case of, say, rape, which is a failure state *I* heartily acknowledge.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
I’ll be in Wyoming next week for Launch Pad, so there probably won’t be a Cool Stuff post next Friday.
- Unflattering animal pictures. Exactly what it sounds like.
- Star Wars-themed wedding pics. Hey Amy – want to do a wedding vow renewal ceremony? 🙂
- Cats on (or in) pizza boxes.
- Baby foxes!!!
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.