Hollow larfter

Jul. 23rd, 2016 03:22 pm
oursin: Painting of Clio Muse of History by Artemisia Gentileschi (Clio)
[personal profile] oursin

Letter in today's Guardian Weekend, which I am unable to find in order to link to it, in which someone whom we presume a scientist or an engineer claims that arts graduates find employment in 'politics, journalism and managing, often badly, organisations where science graduates do the actual work', and that

after the shitstorm created by arts graduates, it will be left to scientists and engineers to solve the economic, social and environmental problems they have left. It's what we are trained to do.'

Historian larfs liek drayne.

Quite apart from the recent reports about various scientific centres and departments in which bullying and harassment by Top Scientist People are rife - which doesn't suggest that they are that great at managing and running things - and the inglorious history of scientists so committed to a theory that they would commit fraud -

- so, really, not pure, disinterested 'experts' -

- I have lately been reading the latest in Jo Walton's 'Thessaly' trilogy, and considering HG Well's notions of 'samurai' and 'Open Conspirators'

- and the Platonic notion of disinterested Guardians guided by philosophy, and Wells' rather similar dedicated elite, run aground on the notion that everyone, including your Guardians or Samurai, will all be in entire accordance once they have seen the revealed wisdom.

I just don't think that any set of people, even if they are in general accord over some basic principles, will all inevitably agree at any given moment about What Is To Be Done.

And let's just not go into the wild generalisations about 'arts graduates', 'scientists', and 'engineers', which flattens out very diverse groups with different disciplinary training and biases, even before you get into questions of individual personality differences.

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2016 11:27 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] oyceter!

That is given us

Jul. 23rd, 2016 06:57 am
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
[personal profile] selenak
You've probably heard by now what happened in Munich last night. I wasn't anywhere near the Olympiazentrum, I'm in the mountains an hour form Munich right now and in another part of Germany tomorrow, so I did what most people outside Munich did - follow the news and social media in between texting friends to check on them.

Incidentally: re: social media, the people managing the twitter account for the Munich police did a great job (as they've done last year when the refugees from Hungary arrived), reporting what happened, explaining as far as they knew, providing people with landlines and coordinating efforts from helpers. (Not just in German but also in English and French, and Turkish.) Also, the press officer, Marcus da Gloria Martins, who had to do the press conferences, became everyone's instant hero for refusing to be drawn into baiting and insinuating questions, staying calm, and projecting gravitas. (This is him.) Given that wild rumors had several shootings happen all over Munich (not true), and that for hours it wasn't clear whether it was one shooter or several, up to three (it was one), having someone providing information who refused to speculate and stuck to the facts while also communicating, not shutting people's questions down, was really a good thing.

Still: people are dead, killed in the city where I live. Within a week of the axe murderer in the train from Würzburg (which I often take). And a friend of mine, who is working in an organization devoted to helping underage refugees, says they're getting vile hatemail now. (Which has also been reported in the news.) These are terrible times we live in. Which reminds me of something Tolkien wrote:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Well, that happened

Jul. 22nd, 2016 09:39 pm
oursin: a hedgehog lying in the middle of cacti (hedgehog and cactus)
[personal profile] oursin

My father was taken into hospital again last night - I got b-i-l's text when I was standing on Tower Hill Tube Station and then connectivity went.

(It was his 94th birthday.)

So he's still there today under observation, and we don't have any info as to what might be happening, how long he's likely to be there, etc.

So, I said that I would go down to visit today, and b-i-l said he would pick me up at the relevant station at [time] as he would be taking my sister when she got off work.

So I got to the station, and went and waited outside (fortunately although it had started to rain in London it was still fine elsewhere), and then I got a text from my sister to say that there had been an incident on the motorway and traffic was being held up.

Perhaps I should have said stuff it and taken a taxi but we really didn't know how long the hold-up was going to be -

- which was rather longer than anticipated -

- but anyway they eventually turned up and we went to the hospital and found my father and he seemed in fairly reasonable spirits for someone in hospital and on antibiotics.

Still no news of what might happen next.

Anyway, this was all running later into the evening than I had anticipated, and by the time I was dropped off at the station to catch a train back, I was too hungry to wait until I got to St Pancras and bought what turned out to be a rather disgusting sandwich at the station snackbar.

But home now, anyway, and awaiting further developments.

History Exchange

Jul. 22nd, 2016 09:10 am
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
[personal profile] selenak
The History Exchange 2016 has gone live!

I received an intense, vivid poem on Artemsia Gentileschi, portrayed, as is only fit, through her paintings. I think it's accessible even if you're not familiar with Artemsia's work and history: In the days of Jael

This is a small exchange - 15 works all in all, so I hastily started to devour it. Here are two stories I found outstanding so far:

What dreams may come: Akhenaten, the Heretic Pharao, grows into himself. Poetic and terse at the same time, drawing a great portrait in short space.

i have cut a ribbon of skin from another man's body: Olympias encounters Zeus four times throughout her life. Olympias in historical fiction tends to be invariably described through her son's or her son's companions' eyes, and with the son in question being Alexander the Great, that's not so surprising. But it makes it all the more welcome to see a take on her from her own pov, in the centre of her own story, and one that uses the myth of Zeus as Alexander's father in a really creative way.

As for my own story, I think, as always, it's a bit obvious, but have a guess anyway!
oursin: Photograph of Stella Gibbons, overwritten IM IN UR WOODSHED SEEING SOMETHIN NASTY (woodshed)
[personal profile] oursin

Beast of Dartmoor mystery solved as zoo admits it 'released Pumas into the wild in 1980s'

No, we are not entirely convinced, when the guy who now owns the zoo in question makes the following claims:

"There were lots of rumours and many different stories about how they got out,” Mr Mee said.

"Some say they were released from the old zoo either by mistake or on purpose - we just don't know - while some others say they were being transported here at the time from the zoo in Plymouth.

"They either came from here or were being transported here from the old Central Park zoo and did not quite make it.

"I have no knowledge of the circumstances about how it happened. But at the time there were three pumas that should have been [at Dartmoor Zoo] that were not.

"I have had it verified from very reliable sources over the years - gamekeepers and farmers and I am totally sure that I saw one myself".

Hmmmmm. To start with, we do not get the sense that he was there and saw them 'released'; and there's the some say this and others say that (has anyone checked with Plymouth Zoo?).

Also Hmmmmm:

"The farmers don't want the publicity and wouldn't tell you this if you asked but there were a lot of animals lost to the pumas during those years."

Not quite the 'conspiracy goes right to the top!', more like those curiously taciturn peasants living in the vicinity of Castle Dracula.

O well, I suppose this counts as the Silly Season and this is quite archetypally Silly Season news.

(no subject)

Jul. 21st, 2016 09:14 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coughingbear and [personal profile] kerkevik_2014!

More Links Than A Bag Of Sausages

Jul. 21st, 2016 03:10 am
petzipellepingo: (more links by eyesthatslay)
[personal profile] petzipellepingo
Giles haiku by [profile] saxnfoos.

Giles wallpapers by [profile] saxnfoos.

VampireReviews chooses Drusilla as No. 7 in their "Top 10 Female Vampires".

Wednesday is sweltering in the heat

Jul. 20th, 2016 05:45 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

The only thing I finished in the past week was Jo Walton, Necessity (2016), which perhaps I didn't enjoy quite as much as the preceding two volumes - though at some time I must reread the entire trilogy.

On the go

Still making my way through the Merrill Theory of Lit'ry Criticism, which is very good, though, by the nature of thing - collected prefaces, editorial matter in anthologies, review columns, essays - has a certain amount of repetition. But lots of great insights and a substantial degree of plus ca change, in her accounts of the tensions between the Old Thing and the New Thing in sf, the nostalgia for the gosh-wow of adolescent encounters with the genre vs the pushing of the boundaries, questions of style/substance, etc.

Also making my way through Chris Kraus, I Love Dick (1998, recently reissued). Which is weird and amazing autofiction, around her infatuation with an acquaintance of herself and her husband - lots of interesting stuff, including How To Suppress Women's Creative Endeavours, inverting the usual gendered muse narrative - I am slightly amused by the one star reviews on GoodReads that are horrified by this and her 'stalkery' behaviour, when I think that this obsession with someone known only slightly who becomes a major figure in the imagination is such a trope the other way round. It's using the situation in a very knowing way. I'm a bit irked by the use of the schizophrenia metaphor in the section I've just read, which I think is awfully Laingian romanticisation that I suspect one wouldn't use these days. I'm a bit surprised that when she and her husband (at one point I was, the whole thing is just finding a way to leave him and their relationship) are citing all sorts of literary/other cultural analogues, that they don't name-check Liasons Dangereuses...

Up Next

No idea. Possibly something a bit lighter...

Stranger Things (Review)

Jul. 20th, 2016 10:35 am
selenak: (Werewolf by khall_stuff)
[personal profile] selenak
And I've finished the marathon now. Overall, I still love the series as a whole (miniseries? first season?), with some tiny nitpicks, which, however, fit with the very conscious 1980s atmosphere.

Haven't you read Stephen King? )

More Links Than A Bag Of Sausages

Jul. 20th, 2016 03:18 am
petzipellepingo: (more links by eyesthatslay)
[personal profile] petzipellepingo
Spike's Family , Spike/Dawn and A Real Bitch , Faith/ Cordelia by [personal profile] katleept.

Giles in Five Unexpected Places: The Mall, Giles/Xander by [personal profile] lycomingst.

William banner and icon by [personal profile] comlodge.

Storywonk podcast talks Crush.

Soundcloud podcast talks Band Candy.

Storywonk podcast talks The Thin Dead Line .

Redemptioncast podcast talks Dad. And "Lonely Hearts" .

Hypable podcast talks In the Dark .

USAToday talks about Season Eleven. "We discussed the tumultuous times we live in, the way it feels like we as Americans, and as citizens of the world in general, are perhaps more divided than ever. And we realized that Buffy and her world are able to reflect ours as well now as they did at the turn of the century.”"

Ddoplayers previews the 2016 BtVS board game.

Back Again for a Limited Time

Jul. 19th, 2016 03:27 pm
yourlibrarian: iPod Sam and Dean (SPN-iSlash-nyxocity)
[personal profile] yourlibrarian
1) I'm a Monkees fan from way back though I've been out of touch with the fandom for ages. I was startled to hear they made a new album which came out last month. I think it has a number of good tracks Read more... )

While I find the song humdrum, their first single's video has nostalgia packed into it to warm an old fan's heart. Apparently it was made by Mike's son Jonathan, and I love the nods to both their performing outfits and the morphs of their album covers.

2) It seems that Houdini & Doyle is being cancelled, which is a shame. Although I was so-so about the first two episodes, it and the characters grew on me. The plots were ok, but they were going to interesting places in terms of character development, I thought. It made Mike interested enough to get some books on the history of both men.

3) After some years where they seemed to disappear, this summer has been rife with fireflies at night. I heard something that it was the return of heavy rains that brings them back -- and that fireflies are also cannibals, so some of that signaling is to entice other fireflies to get eaten o.0 Still, since I'm not a firefly I can at least enjoy the magical lights.

4) *sigh* I get that most people are accessing the Internet these days (especially for non-work purposes) through mobile and that site layout optimized for small screens is necessary. But is it really necessary to screw up what's been working for your users so far? Read more... )

But I wouldn't want to go there

Jul. 19th, 2016 08:50 pm
oursin: Fotherington-Tomas from the Molesworth books saying Hello clouds hello aky (fotherington-tomas)
[personal profile] oursin

To the launch of a book about the Woodcraft Folk, in which, as my dearios may know, I have a research interest.

I'm not sure I was even aware that there was such a thing as the Woodcraft Folk when I was a young thing: the Scouts and the Guides, along with Brownies and Wolf Cubs, seemed to have the place pretty much sewn up.

And I am somewhat of a mind to suppose that had I been sent to the Woodcraft Folk rather than the Brownies and the Guides, my reaction, which was towards the apathetic end of the spectrum, it was a thing one seemed to be obliged to do but I had no great enthusiasm about or commitment to, would have been much the same.

It is one of those things that I consider perfectly okay, even admirable, per se, but really, not per me (see also, the Brixton Squats and everything in common including underwear).

(Struck me, listening to the talks at the launch, to wonder whether anyone has ever written a children's/YA book based on the party of Woodcraft Folk who went to an international camp in 1939, and smuggled back as part of their group Czech children with no passports or papers whose parents were under imminent Nazi threat.)

But there are lots of things like that: that I am glad that are in the world, or at least, I have no objection to their presence in the world, but my own feeling is 'thank you, I would prefer not to'.

oursin: Photograph of Stella Gibbons, overwritten IM IN UR WOODSHED SEEING SOMETHIN NASTY (woodshed)
[personal profile] oursin

Re contender in Labour Party leadership contest claiming himself as normal because he has a wife and children.

(NB: does Maureen Colquhoun not count as first out lesbian MP in the UK because she was outed?)

Let's face it, few politicians in any party have been quite so philoprogenitive as George Lansbury (12 children! 12! 10 survived to adulthood, which was probably extremely good going for Bow at the period).

I suppose indicating that you have a wife and children is to prevent any suggestions that actually you nurture a gigantic FLEA upon blood in the secrecy of your bedchamber (yes, I did see Tale of Tales recently) or are an android that plugs itself into the mains at night to recharge?

But really, this emphasis upon women's involuntary or chosen childlessness is beginning to sound weirdly anthropological: WOE, the land will become WASTE, just like it did under Elizabeth I - oh, wait.


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