liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Two powerful pieces arguing that there is a systematic problem of violence in schools that needs to be addressed:
  • On Reforming Schools by [personal profile] slashmarks
  • violence is violence; the trick is making violence stop by [ profile] drakkinabrarian. CW for discussion of many forms of violence against children.

    I'm definitely mulling over [personal profile] siderea's recent post on [Marie] Kondo and the Bibliophibians. I haven't quite worked out what I think about all of it.

    Some is reminiscent of that Twitter or Tumblr thread that kept being quoted all over the place about how Millennials and younger generations buy and hoard luxury items, because living frugally doesn't allow you to save up enough to afford decent and stable housing, so why not own stuff? (But ignorant older people may assume that the reason younger people are poor is because they spent too much money on pointless luxuries, hence the much-mocked 'avocado toast causes the housing crisis' takes.)

    I'm not completely sold on blaming Marie Kondo for anti-intellectualism and the erosion of the middle class, and the idea of a Japanese woman being colonialist towards Americans doesn't sit well with me. Regarding books specifically, well, lots of people have opinions about whether you should or shouldn't own more physical books than you can read, but I didn't take that as the main point of the post. The bit that's striking to me is Section 6: Our TVs scrupulously taught us not to have sympathy for people of other classes, other industries, other ways of life. So I think it's not about books, it's about learning not to despise people from other cultural backgrounds.

    Currently reading: Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman. I'm appreciating this book, but it's hard work; it's written in a strange language that is almost Anglic (it's not quite, there are occasional Latinate words in it). Reading it reminds me of being a ridiculously hyperlexic child, and reading all kinds of adult books and only forming vague impressions of what was going on. It's not just the language, it's about a fantasy world that blends with an intrudes on this one, and the narration builds atmosphere by not making very clear distinctions between dream and reality, secondary world and this world.

    (I have read several articles about precocious readers being traumatized by reading stuff that they could decipher but where the emotions and events were beyond them, but I never really had that problem, I just felt confused a lot but still enjoyed what I could glean from my reading. I think the truth is I was never really gifted as a child; I was an exceptionally young reader and had a very good working memory, which led to measuring as gifted. But basically I accepted swimming in a sea of general adult weirdness and wasn't particularly bothered by it.)

    Up next: Something written in standard English, I think! [personal profile] angelofthenorth lent me Conversations with friends by Sally Rooney, which is apparently about young poly people in contemporary Ireland.
  • liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Courtesy of [personal profile] hollymath, another cool regional dialect quiz. This one is helping students practise linguistic research.

    What's cool about it is that it shows each individual response as a dot on the map, instead of shading regions like the other one that was doing the rounds recently. And it separates out regional words for different things, accent and pronunciation variations, and variations in grammar. So even if you can't do the survey, they have some really fun results to explore. (There are tabbed menus that give you the actual data; the landing page confused me briefly because it's just an image of a map and not itself clickable.)

    The reasons you might not be able to answer the survey are two-fold: one, it's only for people who spent most of their childhood in the UK. They're a bit short of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish responses compared to English, though, so readers from the nations are especially encouraged to play. And two, it's only for people who are willing to identify as either male or female (you can decline to give a gender at all, but you don't have any other options). So apologies to NBs and speakers of non-UK English.

    Meanwhile, in a personal linguistic report from the youth: I said to my 10-year-olds the other week, "OK, that's enough gossip, time to concentrate on the lesson". And they laughed at me: "I can't believe you actually say gossip!" I asked what word they would use instead, and they only said that "It's like saying 'Ell Oh Ell' out loud". But I couldn't get an explanation of how the word 'gossip' is like pronouncing 'LOL', beyond that they're both uncool. Does anyone who has either academic or practical knowledge about how kids speak know what's wrong with the word gossip? In my head it's a normal word, it's not slang or something that marks a particular subculture.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Recently read: A skinful of shadows by Frances Hardinge. (Well, actually I read this like a month ago and then didn't get round to posting a review.) (c) Frances Hardinge 2017; Pub 2017 Macmillan Children's Books; ISBN 978-1-5098-3754-0. A highly original ghost story set during the English Civil War.

    detailed review )

    I will definitely be looking out for more Hardinge, because I can quite see why she's sweeping all the awards.

    Currently reading: Dream Daddy: a dad dating simulator, by Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray. Technically this is a game, but since it's a dating simulator / interactive fiction, the experience feels more like reading than like playing. I saw various controversy over trans representation on Tumblr, and can't remember the details. Anyway when it showed up for cheap in a bundle I decided to give it a go.

    I like the art style a lot, particularly the fact that you've got an actual range of body types and appearances, not only skinny and really skinny white guys. I am impressed the way that the story actually explores your character's relationship with his daughter; the dad thing isn't just a frame for the dating, it's actually developed as part of the story. On a narrative level I'm interested to find out how the dating will go, how the plot will unfold with the different characters, so it's working as a story as well as just a romantic fantasy.

    Up next: [personal profile] rysmiel gave me Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman. The physical book screams 80s high fantasy, so I probably wouldn't have picked it up spontaneously. But [personal profile] rysmiel has been recommending me excellent books for 20 years now, so I'm pretty excited to see what it's actually like.


    Mar. 26th, 2019 05:51 pm
    liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
    So one of my partners is leaving for a long roadtrip. I'm unreasonably sad and anxious about being apart for several months.

    complaining )

    So, uh, in theory I may have more free weekends for the next few months. Would anyone like to make plans to hang out? I will do my best to be actually fun company and not just sit around complaining.
    liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
    I had a very nice Purim, on the whole. But I'm not really coping with politics and the uncertainty over whether we'll still have a functioning country by the end of the week.

    religion and politics )

    Anyway, I enjoyed spending Purim with my community and my friends who are silly in geeky ways, but I was also glad not to have to pretend to be happier than I am, given the timing.


    Mar. 7th, 2019 09:57 pm
    liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
    There are a couple of interfaith text study things I've been meaning to talk about for a while.

    religion )

    Anyway, please feel free to ask questions, especially if I'm using too much jargon. My head's really deep in this at the moment and I'm really happy to explain more. But I've tried not to write too much detail while I'm summarizing four weeks of discussions!


    Feb. 24th, 2019 09:24 pm
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    This week I took a couple of days off work, mainly so I could organize a treat for [personal profile] jack.

    diary )

    Since we got back we've played a couple more games of Terraforming Mars, which we're borrowing from OSOs while they're away, and one of Scythe which we're still hooked on. And I think we both feel better for a break specifically dedicated to relaxing.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    In the spirit of just posting rather than worrying about whether it's worthy, a brief update on the state of the Liv.

    misc stuff in my life; mild medical )

    Also, wow, 80 people had opinions about not seeing the wood for the trees. I also learned something new from my silly poll: in other Englishes and other languages, it's unambiguously a wooded area, not the material. I love you guys.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Not exactly a shitpost, but an entirely frivolous poll. While I have an influx of new readers!

    Consider the expression They can't see the wood for the trees:

    poll )
    liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
    I am completely overwhelmed by all the responses to my brainweasels posts! You people are just incredible. Partly the specific helpful and supportive things people said. But massively the sheer volume of comments from lurkers, from people I've been admiring from afar for ages, people I don't know at all. The fact that so many of you bothered to comment to tell me I should keep posting is incredibly heartening.

    Among a range of thoughts sparked by the discussion, I've been thinking about the etiquette around posting Jewish-related stuff. noodling )

    I have a rotten cold and I am not sure I'm making sense, but anyway, this is something that's been on my mind based on recent discussions.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    I mentioned that this present-giving season was less book-focused than usual for our families. Instead, we exchanged a lot of games and puzzles.

    games )

    Rediscovered: Other than that, we managed to get a family game of Mysterium in at the weekend. 10yo Judith has been watching Tabletop videos about it, and really got into playing as the ghost. And Andreas, at nearly 7, really got it and joined in effectively as well as enthusiastically, so we had an awesome time.
    liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (_support)
    So a perfectly lovely person posted a request for cut-tags on long posts, and happened to give an unfortunate example of the kind of thing they scroll past. It's pretty clear they weren't actually aiming at me, because I do in fact cut almost all my posts, but I've got suddenly self-conscious.

    grumping about social media etiquette )

    I am not especially looking for reassurance here, but if you do want to reassure me, please don't tell me I'm not boring. I am boring at least some of the time, even the best writers are boring to people who don't share their interests or don't like their style. I think what I want to hear is that it's ok to be boring, that it's not better to just shut up and never bother other people.
    liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
    I try to avoid new year resolutions, but I've been having a January of getting round to stuff and learning new skills, and I'm hoping to continue with it. A big help was [personal profile] ceb who organized a usefulness party.

    examples )
    liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
    So my lovely husband had a birthday, and we had a tasting menu at Navadhanya. I'm really pleased [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait discovered a restaurant which is so well suited to our tastes. We had a bottle of Indian white wine, and I should probably be less surprised that Indian wine exists, but it was merely pleasant rather than exciting. I think in future I will go back to drinking their extremely exciting passion-fruit and chilli lassi.

    Then at the weekend we had a birthday party; we seem to be reliably hitting really good house parties these days. Lots of people from different bits of our social group, lots of really good interactions and conversations.

    The third part of celebrating [personal profile] jack is that he asked for a spa treat for his birthday. Does anyone have any recommendations at least vaguely local to Cambridge?

    I've never really found the idea of a spa appealing so I don't know anything about it. Ideally we want to avoid anything too far in the "woo" direction; we're looking for someone who is going to do nice things to muscles, not chakras or auras or chi or that sort of thing. I don't really want to join in with the massage because I have some mild but annoying trauma around massage, but if it's possible to pay for a couple of hours of hanging out in a nice relaxing environment then I could keep [personal profile] jack company.

    The most plausible option I've found so far is The Glassworks. They don't seem to offer the option of just paying for spa time, though. I would be glad to hear if anyone's been there and can tell us personally if it's any good.
    liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
    2018 was the year of living stably in Cambridge and staying in a job where, and I keep coming back to this with amazement, there's a concrete set of expectations of me which I generally live up to. And spending lots of time with my husband and our OSOs and their children. And doing Jewish community stuff to a level that's fulfilling without having to carry a whole community single-handed. And I had a few really exciting trips, too.

    Significant events:
    • I published articles! For the first time since 2009, and for the first time at all in education journals rather than science ones.
    • I went to Legoland.
    • [personal profile] hatam_soferet spent time in the same country as me and I met her baby daughter.
    • I returned to my community in Stockholm to help out with their siddur launch, and got to show [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait and the children a little bit of one of my places.
    • I turned 40 – my birthday is right at the end of the year and often feels like part of the following year, or gets drowned out by Christmas, but this year it was really special.
    various lists )
    Previous versions [2004] [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010] [2011] [2012] [2013] [2014] [2017]
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Usually Christmas involves everybody giving everybody else lots of books. But this year we mostly focused on non-book presents.

    Recently acquired: From Benedict, my partners' eldest, Team-ups of the Brave and the Bold, by J Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Jesus Saiz. This is a DC comic book, which is a part of culture I don't know much about. So far, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, but I've read two stories I hugely disagree with philosophically. One where the death of a bum and petty thief is celebrated because his life wasn't worth much anyway and at least he got the chance to be a hero, and one where a superhero time-travels back to WW2 and relaxes his principle against killing others because he's also a patriotic American with a duty to fight for his country. I need to read this more carefully, I think.

    Recently given: Only one book Christmas present: The Book of Lights, by Chaim Potok, for [personal profile] cjwatson. One of my formative books as a teenager, and it is very Jewish, like all of Potok's stuff, but I hope there's enough in it that's interesting to a non-Jewish reader. It's about Kabalah and Jewish identity, yes, but it's also about the Korean war and the atom bomb.

    Recently read: As promised, What Katy did next by Susan Coolidge. Originally published 1886, ebook obtained from the lovely Guenberg project. detailed review )

    Some interesting DW posts, while I'm here:
  • Adapting a medieval recipe, by [personal profile] ursula, who's working through a really interesting January Journal based mostly on SCA-related themes.

  • So another Jack Lewis thing happened by [personal profile] legionseagle, with some real insight into the Problem of Susan in historical context. Great discussion in the comments, as well. Everybody has lots of opinions about Lewis.

  • [personal profile] slashmarks is coming out with a lot of really interesting posts lately, mostly book reviews. This discussion of Literacy in the Ottoman Empire is from a few weeks ago, and absolutely fascinating.

    Up next: Dunno. I'm poking at my tottering to-read pile and not pouncing on anything much. A skinful of shadows by Frances Hardinge is probably looking the most tempting.
  • Break

    Jan. 7th, 2019 08:17 pm
    liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
    I had such a delightful and relaxing gap between the last working day of 2018, which for me was the Friday before Christmas, until yesterday.

    happy things )


    Dec. 24th, 2018 03:09 pm
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    I will post a review of the year at some point but it might be a bit into January. I'm also about to turn 40, so it seems a good time to look back over my 30s. It's quite nice that all of it is documented on DW (apart from the first few months of 2009 when I was still on LJ), but I'm not going to get too much sucked into re-reading old posts.

    reminiscences )

    It's a real luxury to have Christmas Eve completely free like this. My work and Jack's both didn't feel it was worth opening for half a day between the weekend and the holiday, so we are at home with no particular responsibilities.


    Dec. 19th, 2018 03:07 pm
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Reading: I just finished The masked city by Genevieve Cogman. (c) Genevieve Cogman 2015; Pub Tor 2015; ISBN 978-1-4472-5625-0.

    TMC is a romp, with a wonderful swashbuckling librarian-spy-magician as the protagonist. It's a bit middle-book in some ways, there's a lot of drama and jeopardy packaged up as a nice episode. The main antagonist is barely mentioned, and the book ends with the immediate crisis resolved but the characters in trouble. I love the portrayal of exactly how dealing with the Fae is so dangerous. Nobody much is straight, and there are a lot of platonic relationships as well as flirting and sexual yearning. Looking forward to where this series goes from here.

    Watching: Wreck-it Ralph 2: Ralph breaks the internet. I enjoyed the original, which I watched on a plane some time. And the sequel is everything I hoped for. Lots and lots of jokes, most of them just in the background scenery. Lovely exploration of the tension between Ralph wanting to be with his friend and keep her safe, and Vanellope wanting to have adventures. And the ensemble of Disney princesses is just brilliant (they reunited all the original actors except Snow White's). A very good film for a mixed age audience, which is how I saw it, with my OSOs and their children. There are two absolutely brilliant bonus scenes after the credits, so if you see it in the cinema, do stick around.

    Playing: Tabletop, a bit of Codenames which I continue to love, and which Judith is rediscovering with a bit more world-knowledge than a couple of years back when it first came out.

    And video games, a lot of Alphabear 2, the very worthy sequel to the best mobile word game ever. They've improved on the original by introducing rotating types of bears so that you don't keep playing the same top three all the time. I also like that levelling up the bears is more intentional and less random. I'm a bit annoyed by the story mode not letting you replay levels, but it's a pretty good story mode. The difficulty ramps up very nicely; I'm ludicrously good at word games and I was finding it challenging by level 4 or so. Its monetization model is a bit odd; it does have microtransactions, but not in a pay to win way and it genuinely doesn't degrade game play if you ignore them. I made a one-off payment to remove ads, because I've easily had £4 worth of fun out of it. But the ads are, admittedly, more intrusive than the ones in the free version of the original game.

    Also Stellaris on PC; I've started a co-op multiplayer game with [personal profile] jack, and we rarely have an evening free to get stuck in, but we're having fun. I was impressed with how multiplayer mode via Steam just works.
    liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
    Recently acquired: Did I mention that [personal profile] cjwatson found me the most extraordinary book for an anniversary present: a graphic novel version of The castle by Franz Kafka, translated by David Zane Mairowitz, illustrated by Jaromír 99. I've flicked through it a bit and the illustrations are the most gorgeous monochrome, almost wood-cut style, and very appropriate for Kafka.

    Currently reading: The masked city by Genevieve Cogman. It's the sequel to The invisible library which I enjoyed very much. I started it while I was ill as it's quite light, and I'm enjoying it, though I'm not hugely drawn into the story yet.

    Up next: Probably What Katy did next by Susan Coolidge, in preparation for spending Christmas in Nice like she did.

    And since I never manage Follow Friday, let me recommend a few people who regularly write thinky stuff likely to be interesting to people who don't know them personally.

  • I assume everybody is already reading [personal profile] siderea? But in case any new people don't know of her, you should definitely check out her journal. She's a genius of the DW medium specifically, which is related to being very good at general blogging or essay writing, but it's more than just that. Also incredible levels of insight into how humans behave in relationships and groups. Lots of super-interesting stuff lately about public health and the practice of medicine.

  • [personal profile] melannen is really riding the wave of the DW revival. She's good on meta-fandom and blogging about blogging, but also random interesting stuff like fisking bad psych papers and discussing the implications of Le Guin's fictional group marriage system.

  • [personal profile] silveradept is fantastic at exploring interesting ideas in a lot of detail and depth. They're doing writing advice for December Days, but I also strongly recommend their linkspams, and essays on other topics. I am getting a lot out of this post about Advent, for example.
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    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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