liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
My plan for [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw had been that between 25th April and 15th May I'd post three diary entries, surveys or queries, one substantial thinky post, and ten pointers. In fact I did manage 13 posts, which was about right, but they don't quite fit [ profile] siderea's classification scheme.

I didn't really make a substantial post at all, but then again I did put lots of thinky thoughts in my five link posts. So instead of 10 quick "here's some content" things and one essay, I made five posts that fall somewhere in between those two stools. In terms of posts mainly about me, I did in fact make two diary posts and one post asking for advice and opinions, plus bits of diary and survey style things in the other posts. So that's about right.

The rest of my activity was two reading Wednesday posts, one meta thing about DW and the fest itself, and two posts about the UK general election, which happened to fall within the fest but was important enough that I wanted to talk about it. I think that constitutes a reasonable contribution to keeping up activity on DW, even if it doesn't quite match what I set out to do.

I'm about to go away for an exciting trip with [personal profile] ceb and some other awesome people, so I expect to be quiet for the next week and a half. I'm just coming to the end of my busiest time at work, and I've been as usual cramming a bit too much into the weekends in between. Highlights were [personal profile] kaberett's party at the weekend, and dinner with [ profile] ghoti at the Plough last week, and with [personal profile] cjwatson at Mestizo on the way to [personal profile] kaberett's party.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
I posted yesterday about hosting a friend with two very young children, and the ensuing discussion reminded me about the broader issue of how adults can keep children safe without over-protecting them. noodling, I promise the actual links are coming up eventually )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
My brother the poet has been involved in activism for and outreach work visiting the occupied territory of Western Sahara for some years now. His latest big project was bringing poems from the Saharawi bardic tradition to an English audience; he worked with interpreters who provided him with literal translations, which he then interpreted as poetry. And he's made them into a book alongside expert commentary and beautiful Arabic calligraphy illustrations by the senior translator and some original poetry.

I'm an academic, so I find it a bit strange that the first ever Saharawi poetry in English is coming out from a tiny little indie publisher and funded by a Kickstarter campaign, rather than being a scholarly work. But also admirable in the sense of trying to bypass the master's tools approach, it's somewhat less than it might be another incident of privileged people from former colonial powers continuing to profit from studying colonized peoples.

Anyway, it's a bit late to tell you about this, but in case anyone is free in London tonight, Sam is launching the book at a music and slam night this evening.
liv: Composite image of Han Solo and Princess Leia, labelled Hen Solo (gender)
Via [personal profile] marina on Twitter, [personal profile] rivkat's absolutely fascinating summary of a book titled Not gay: sex between straight white men. Really amazing stuff about the amount of homosexual contact involved in heterosexuality! It relates to some ideas I've come across before, heterosexuality as a constructed identity; contexts in which straight masculinity may include seeking sexual contact with other men; challenging the idea of sexual orientation.

It's also making me revisit the concept that at least some of homophobia isn't really about who one is attracted to or about what sex acts one enjoys; it's primarily about gender policing. This sense that men may want to take part in sexual acts with other men, but as long as they don't form loving relationships or have mutually consensual, respectful sex, then they're not gay. Which has the terrifying corollary that this construction of straight masculinity implies that men who behave lovingly and respectfully towards female partners are also targets for gay-bashing. Example: the Sad Puppies accusing Scalzi, who is well known to be a man married to a woman, of being gay, because he's also well known to care about not being a sexist jerk. Example: pre-adolescent and young teen boys somewhat illogically calling it "gay" when a boy expresses romantic interest a girl instead of talking trash about her.

[personal profile] rivkat's piece almost flips the common wisdom about orientation. It almost seems like straightness is an identity, nearly independent of attraction and sexual behaviour, whereas gayness / queerness is mostly something that emerges from choices about sex and gender expression or performance, or even a political stance. Anyway, read [personal profile] rivkat's post, she's saying all this stuff much more articulately than I can.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
It's the day after the election. We're probably doomed. And [ profile] ghoti has provided that well-known antidote to bad news: KITTENS! So I recommend you should all go and look at teeeeeny new-born kittens until you feel enough better to figure out what to do next.

I am not refraining from posting about the election because I have awesome self-control, but rather because I have no time. And I want to come at least close to the [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw challenge I've set myself. Hence, kittens.

brief medical stuff; contains breathing trouble; tl;dr: I'm fine, just sore )

Many thanks to everybody who send supportive messages here, on Twitter or by text. I felt really cared for.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I have what is by now looking like rather an ambitious goal to post 10 pointer posts to other content by 15th May. Anyway, here's the first: did you know that Jan Morris has a Tumblr, [ profile] janmorris? (Discovered via a Making Light comment thread, I think.)

commentary, plus Reading Wednesday )
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I've had really not a minute to update DW since I decided that I'd post a bunch of short pointers to other content. And I'm not doing at all well about even writing my diary here. I'm going to put a brief summary here because I had a really great April this year and I want to remember it.

social diary )

Still, in spite of all this wonderfulness in my life, I've been feeling more or less perpetually anxious for much of the past couple of months. I think it may be partly the imminent election, for which I see basically no possible outcomes I'm going to be happy with. But it's mainly a work thing; there's not much specifically wrong, I'm just really struggling with the balance between short-term urgent stuff and long-term career goals, and I'm finding impostor syndrome feelings harder to ignore. My chest hurts pretty much all the time I'm alone and paying attention to my body rather than interacting with other people, and it doesn't quite feel like asthma and it doesn't quite feel like a cold and it doesn't quite feel like heartburn, just... sore. I have a bad feeling that this is somatizing a proto-decision I don't want to face that I don't have a future in academia. But I might actually be ill, and I might just be anxious in a way that doesn't mean much long term, dunno.

Anyway, I started the bit of the course that I'm somewhat in charge of today, and having started it feels a lot better than waiting expectantly for it and dreading that I'm not well enough prepared. So hopefully I will be busy in a positive and satisfying way for the upcoming three weeks. And at the end of that I'm going on a really really exciting trip with [personal profile] ceb and some other excellent people, so there's that to look forward to.
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
Dreamwidth officially came into public beta on 1st May 2009, and I started using it as my primary journalling space then. So today approximately marks the day that I've been on DW for as long as I was on LJ (I actually joined at the end of May in 2003). Twelve years of blogging, six there, six here.

anniversary thinky-thoughts )

People are doing [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw again this year, and I've slightly missed the boat as we're already a week into the three week fest. But I might try to repeat what I suggested a couple of years back and follow [ profile] siderea's community building recipe. In the remaining two weeks, I can probably manage three diary entries or surveys and one long thinky post; I am not sure about ten pointers, as that will require me to post nearly every day, but I'll have a go.

In honour of the fest, [personal profile] nanila has created [community profile] bitesizedreading, which I think is a really good idea. And another way to make sure that supposedly little, unimportant things end up here rather than just forgotten about or posted to more ephemeral places like Twitter or FB.

And [personal profile] oursin is posting dear little original fiction snippets which I highly recommend if you don't already follow her.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
[personal profile] kerrypolka asked for:
what you think about Anglo-Jewry and its funny internal politics, the Board of Deputies, how well all the branches get along (and don't)
I said that sounds more like a late-night booze-fuelled rant than a DW post, but she still wanted to hear my opinions, so here goes.

personal opinions )

OK, this is over 5K words, I had better shut up and post it! I may do a separate post on how this relates to the Board of Deputies, particularly since both my parents are currently Deputies, so I might ask them for some input. As before, if you have any questions I am happy to try to answer them, if you have factual corrections that would be great because this is mostly just my personal opinions with a lot of over-simplification. [personal profile] kerrypolka, I hope this satisfies your desire to see me ramble!
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
[personal profile] forestofglory asked to hear more about how your research is going. Goodness only knows I'll take any excuse to talk shop, but I have to be a bit cautious about what I post online regarding work that's currently in progress. So I'm going to take a slightly different tack approaching this question, and instead talk for a bit about why I'm interested in what I'm interested in.

cancer cell biology )

I am going to have to keep the exact details fairly vague, but with that caveat I'm totally happy to answer any questions. These sorts of essays always end up being both too technical and over-simplified, especially when I just type them as the thoughts occur to me, without very much planning.


May. 2nd, 2013 06:47 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
I officially started using DW as my main journalling / blogging home 4 years ago. That's not when I created the account; I was helping with documentation and testing and a teeny-tiny bit of development when the site was still in closed beta, so I had one of the first small handful of accounts back in January 2009. But I didn't want to "move in" here until it was opened for people who weren't connected with developers to use as well.

Dreamwidth celebrates its birthday on 1st May, so this seems like a reasonable point to count from. Four years on, I'm still pretty happy here. babble )

Anyway, while I'm marking time passing, I have been blogging for most of 10 years; DW opened just a couple of weeks before the 6th anniversary of starting my LJ. I've made just over 1500 posts in that time, and I reckon that probably puts me close to 2 million words since most of my posts are long-winded. Certainly a couple of million if you include comments. And those words have described getting a PhD, several different romantic relationships including the one with the person I eventually married, three jobs, living in Scotland, Sweden and moving back to England again, a bunch of travelling, reviews of several hundred books, and some pretty major shifts in my thinking about topics such as politics, feminism and others. I've met any number of new friends and got glimpses into the lives of, oh, a good several hundred people, many from very different backgrounds to me and whom I might never have imagined if I hadn't been on LJ/DW. I don't know if I've achieved the kind of competence that is supposed to come with writing a million words of crap, but I do think I'm a better writer than I was in 2003. All in all it's been a blast, and I'm certainly looking forward to the next ten years.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Got into a discussion with [personal profile] damerell about the fact that so many people have left LJ and DW and all gone to Facebook, which is just unspeakably awful. And [personal profile] ayngelcat chimed in with the comment that it is't Facebook that everybody's gone to, but Tumblr.

I tend to pontificate about FB fairly regularly, but hey, one more can't hurt. pontification within )

Is there anything DW can do to get these people back? One thing that would help would be having a usable mobile app, and another would be replacing the sack-of-crap RTE with a modern point-and-click system for posting, including pictures and embedded media without having to hand-code your own HTML. But I suspect that even if those features ever get further than a half-hearted spec, it may not be enough or too late to deal with fragmentation. Trying to be a rival to FB and Tumblr is a mug's game, that much is sure. The only hope I have for getting people back is for DW to be a place people go as well as Facebook and Tumblr (and Twitter, Pinboard, Instragram and any number of other sites that wouldn't be on topic for this post). However, to end on a positive note, these days DW is far more active and lively with ongoing conversations than LJ, and in lots of ways I like that it's small, I like that it still has the ethos of what [staff profile] denise calls a "Mom and Pop business". And, y'know, I've been here 4 years and I'm still very content with my online home; four years in to my time on LJ I was already casting around for some less evil / annoying alternative.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
In my original 3W4DW post I asked for suggestions of topics for me to ramble about, and [personal profile] wychwood asked for the Books of Maccabees:
Could you talk about the Books of Maccabees? Like, are they part of Jewish scripture? What do they mean to you? I read something about them being marginalised as part of a political agenda, but Hannukah has obviously survived - what's up with that?
In short, no, none of the Books of Maccabees are part of Jewish scripture. At least Maccabees 1 and 2 have acquired more importance than most other Apocryphal books because of chanukah, as you Wych points out. To dig into that a bit more, though:

as promised, off-the-cuff ramblings without pausing to look stuff up )

So there you go. Brain dump of what I know about the Books of Maccabees. Corrections from people who are more expert in any of this stuff most welcome! Any more topic suggestions, anyone?


Apr. 24th, 2013 12:28 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
According to some, April is National Poetry Month. (Pace [ profile] siderea: what nation? The Nation of Internet.) My brother is a poet, and I feel like a bad sister for not paying enough attention to poetry, not really having any opinions about it let alone engaging with the form. So I'm going to make some attempt to mark the season.

The other day I was talking to a friend from synagogue and he spontaneously recited WH "Supertramp" Davies' Leisure. It is an utterly terrible poem, it's Hallmarky and bathetic and doesn't even really scan properly. But my friend still has it by heart from his schooldays some three quarters of a century ago. I wonder if when I'm in my 80s I will be able to recite Stopping by woods on a snowy evening (which I learned for a recitation competition when I was seven) or some of the mostly Romantic poetry I learned from my father.

Talking of recitable, rythmic verse, [personal profile] legionseagle posted a rather good Kipling pastiche recently. It's very common to write more or less parodic versions of If, but surprisingly hard to do it well.

I've also been moved by several less formal, almost tending to the blank verse pieces recently. [ profile] ursulav made a poignant post reaching out to Muslims in the wake of the Boston attacks and the inevitable wave of racism in response. And someone in the comments posted a snippet by Adrienne Rich which maybe helps, if anything can help in the face of shocking violence like that.

And in a locked discussion, a friend linked to a poem called Hair published in Stone Telling. That touched me somewhere very deep. It's not literally true of how I feel about my hair, but it's a poem, it's not a political manifesto for me to sign up to or refute. I'm not genderqueer in the way Gurney describes in that poem. But it's true that my hip-length hair is a part of who I am that is much more significant than the fact that I happen to be female, and it's also true that people make assumptions about my gender because I have very long hair. And I don't think I can claim the fierceness of that closing line: This is the flag I bring to the battles of my days., not for myself, but I am somehow heartened to know that someone out there is saying that.

[personal profile] highlyeccentric is one of the people who have been posting a bunch of poems, not just for April but for the whole of 2013. There's a lot of stuff that is completely new to me, some I bounce off because I don't have the degree of literacy in poetry I do in prose, and some I really like. In particular, this piece entitled The failure of language, by Jacqueline Berger (according to Wiki a contemporary American poet), really meant something to me. I want more people to see:
Everything we love fails, I didn’t tell my students,
if by fails we mean ends or changes,
if by love we mean what sustains us.
Language is what honors the vanishing.
Or is language what slows the leaving?
Or does it only deepen what we know of loss?
I am even considering copying it into my book of true things, which a dear friend gave me a long time ago when I was dealing with loss, loss of a friend and loss of a childish worldview built on a sense of fairness. Except in the 15 years since I've never quite found anything I'm certain enough of to write in the book, it's remained blank. If I wrote poetry, I'd write something about the symbolism of a friend comforting me with the gift of a blank book, and how it still comforts me that I might one day find something true enough and important enough to write down in it.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Back in 2010, I celebrated St George's day by setting up a book-recommending meme. I had a lot of fun with it, and discovered some cool new books, and expressed my fluffy-liberal-patriotism in a way that feels comfortable to me. It seems to be in the spirit of [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw since people are making an effort to meet new folk, so I think I'll run it again.

The idea is that you comment and recommend me a book, and I will rec you one in return. If I don't know you you can give me some clues as to what you like, or you can let me guess based on a snap judgement from scanning your profile. I'll keep trying until I find something you haven't read and like the sound of.

For my tastes, here's 10 years of booklog, if you're really keen. I read most genres with some preference for science fiction. I want books with good characters, then plot tied about equally with interesting ideas, and I like beautiful prose but I'd rather have a book with merely functional language and interesting characters than the other way round. I don't particularly care for horror or most action / thrillers, especially not if there's graphic violence. But I'm willing to expand my horizons if you suggest something really good! In any case I'm very happy if you just suggest something that you yourself like and you think isn't well known. Oh, and as well as English I read French and can sort of manage Swedish if it's not too dense / old-fashioned.

Who's on?
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
I haven't seen any signs of people doing the [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw thing this year. If we were doing it, I think it would start today, cos it's usually the end of April and beginning of May, around the anniversary of open beta. So let's say hypothetically 22nd April – 12th May.

It's no longer really the case that DW is limited because people here aren't actively enough posting content; people who want to be here are here, other people aren't, and lots of people have drifted away from this type of journalling / community-based long-form blogging altogether and probably there's nothing DW can do to get them back. There are still basically no active communities here other than RP communities, but personal journals seem to be pretty solid, I have plenty to read, I'm meeting new interesting people and most of my posts get lively comment discussions.

This time last year, I posted about community building. Although I didn't do a formal Three Weeks thing, because I was a month from my wedding at that point, I have for the whole of the year tried to follow [ profile] siderea's advice and make more frequent "pointer" posts with links to other content. I haven't managed three link posts a week, nothing like, but I have definitely noticed that pointer posts do encourage discussion, and they do encourage me to post fairly regularly even when I feel like I don't have time to make a full, polished post. I was remarking to a friend recently that I love the curate / propagate internet less than I loved the original content internet that dominated a few years ago, but if that's the milieu we're living in, it certainly does seem sensible to participate in curating and propagating to the best of my ability.

Anyway, I don't want to commit to post every day during the Three Weeks, especially not if I'm the only person who has noticed the season, that really wouldn't make for much of a meme! But I would like to increase my posting rate a bit if I can, because I think that's good in general, and the season is just an excuse. In order to achieve this, I need to resolve to be less perfectionist, so I want to make some off-the-cuff posts, not waiting until I have a honed argument with lots of detailed citations (and ending up never posting half the things that come into my head).

What I'd most appreciate would be some suggestions of topics. Please comment with titles, questions, prompts, or just general topic areas about which you'd like a few paragraphs of my random opinions. And feel free to join in with any degree of challenge to post a bit more during the coming three weeks, you're very welcome to borrow my idea or not if some other motivation for posting more suits you better.
Post queue
  1. The Books of Maccabees
  2. Why has everyone gone to Facebook?
    2a... or Tumblr
  3. My research and supervising a PhD student
  4. Anglo-Jewry, politics, the Board of Deputies
  5. Baking experiments
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
I'm not going to participate in [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw this year, because the fest coincides with the three weeks leading up to my wedding... However, I did want to link to this post of [ profile] siderea's from a few months back, about patterns of posting to build community.

thoughts )

Adapting this for the Three Week fest, and rounding up because after all the point of the fest is to encourage people to post more, I propose the following challenge for anyone who'd like to give it a try. Between now and 15th May, can you post:
  • Three diary entries or questions to your readers (I reckon polls and surveys count in this category)
  • Ten pointers to other content worth reading / listening to / watching (doesn't have to be on DW)
  • One long form post about something other than yourself and your daily life
[The dates of the three weeks are a bit messed up because the anniversary of the site launch kind of snuck up on everybody when we weren't quite ready for it, so we're going by the 2011 dates, and I'm afraid that a third of the three weeks have already gone. In the circumstances I reckon it counts if you make your quota by 20th May.] I know some people are already doing much harder challenges, like posting 100 things, or posting every day for three weeks. But I think it's good to have some easier challenges as well, to allow more people to participate. And this one I think might be sustainable after the fest is over.

What I don't know is how (if at all) this recipe applies to journals that are primarily fannish. Any thoughts on that? Also I definitely don't have the talent to make banners for people who complete the challenge; anyone want to take that on?
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
I wanted to do [personal profile] finch's 21 Days of Dreamwidth meme, but I am generally hopeless at daily prompts, so I will just fill in the whole survey at once so I have at least some contribution to the Three Week fest!
memery )


May. 12th, 2010 03:23 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
This posting everyday for three weeks thing hasn't worked out well at all! Mind you, Dreamwidth and the Three Weeks for Dreamwidth festival seem to be doing very well without my input, which is very reassuring.

where were you? )

If I had more time online I'd definitely want to get involved in [personal profile] damned_colonial's discussion about body image and geek gatherings. But let's start with a link anyway, cos I think there's some really interesting and chewy stuff there. Slightly related, and also really really thinky: [personal profile] ajnabieh on Mom jeans.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
So, the election is tomorrow. I am still not one hundred percent decided, and anyway I do actually have a bit of a thing about ballot secrecy even though it's not very fashionable in the internet age. Many thanks to everyone who commented helpfully on my what's so bad about the Tories? post. I really enjoyed some intense political discussion that managed to stay friendly and intelligent and did not degenerate into name-calling.

Anyway, here's where I am: still swinging )

I can't vote independent cos lots of the independents here are BNP or similar racists in disguise and I'm not confident enough that I can pick out he good independents from the evil ones. I am leaning towards Lib Dem, but I am going to spend one more night sleeping on it and see how I feel in the morning. Feel free to argue with me if you think it would help to sway me; I genuinely am undecided, so it could be a good use of your time.


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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