June 26th, 2017
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)

10 Famous Book Hoarders

(I think we may contest the term 'hoarders' for people with lotsaboox, hmmmm?)

In most of those cases I think we do see a real love of books, though I'm not sure about Hearst and whether 'ostentation' was not on his mind rather than use?

In some cases those appear to be the personal libraries that have fetched up in public collections, and one wonders whether there was a certain amount of weeding and selection at the point of accession. (I'm not saying that Houdini or Arendt also had vast collections of pulp westerns or school stories or whatever, but I'm not ruling out that choices were made at some point.)

And indeed, while calling your private collection 'the Library of the History of Human Imagination' is indeed quite a long way along the pretentiousness scale, I look at that picture: 'It has three levels, a glass bridge, floating platforms' and feel a certain covetousness.

And even if it's ponceyness turned up to 11, it's not as cringe-making as this, which crossed my radar pretty much on the same day: Meet The App That Revolutionized Book Reading For 2 Million People

We sort through the approximately 2,200,000 books published worldwide to find the best nonfiction books out there. Then, our subject specialists, writers, and editors identify the key ideas from each of these hand-selected books and transform them into smart, useful summaries of insights we lovingly polish and refine until they are nothing but the absolute most essential elements of the writer’s main ideas. We do the filtering for you, then we share those ideas with you the way your dream-friend would.
Tonstant Weader called for a stiff drink.

*'Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested the variety of his [Gordian II's] inclinations; and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than for ostentation.' Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol I.

June 25th, 2017
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
posted by [personal profile] oursin at 08:47pm on 25/06/2017 under ,

During the week, baked a loaf of the Shipton Mill 3 Malts and Sunflower Organic Brown Flour.

Friday supper: Gujerati khichchari - absentmindedly used ground cumin rather than cumin seed but I don't think the effect was disastrous.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft rolls recipe, 2:2:1 strong white/wholemeal/dark rye flours with maple sugar and sour cherries.

Today's lunch: redfish fillets rubbed with Cajun seasoning, brushed with milk and egg and coated in panko crumbs, panfried in olive oil, served with steamed samphire tossed in butter and baby leeks healthy-grilled in avocado oil and splashed with gooseberry vinegar.

white_hart: (Default)
I tend to buy books in the Women's Press SF imprint when I see them in second-hand shops, and picked up this collection of short stories (or really, one novella and some short stories) in a bookshop we passed while walking at Easter. It dates from 1986, although only one of the stories was published for the first time in this collection; the others, including the title novella, had been previously published at various points between 1971 and 1980.

The title novella tells of the adventures of revolutionary leader Jane Saint as she travels through an alternate dimension or astral plane, seeking to find a way to make a fundamental change to the natures of men and women which will allow humanity to move towards a more equal society. She moves through a shifting and often symbolic landscape, helped variously by an alchemist and his wife, a philosophical talking dog, a griffin-demon hybrid creature, Joan of Arc, and her own daughters; her adventures are absurdist and surreal and told with a great deal of subtle wit and humour.

The other stories are much shorter. 'Woe, Blight and, in Heaven, Laughs' is a rather grim postapocalyptic reworking of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; 'Gordon's Women' is a more cheerful variant on the total-male-domination-secret-female-underground setup of Suzy McKee Charnas's Holdfast novels; 'The Message', which was probably my favourite story in the book, is an almost-realist story of lonely, repressed fiftysomething Edna, whose attempts to deliver a message handed to her by a dying person in hospital take her on a quest around her neighbourhood; 'Heads Africa Tails America' was very surreal and really left me cold; and 'The Pollyanna Enzyme' posits a situation where it turns out that the one thing that really does drive humanity to live in peace and harmony is its imminent extinction.

Definitely worth a read if you happen across a copy.
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
posted by [personal profile] oursin at 12:34pm on 25/06/2017
Happy birthday, [personal profile] shana!
June 24th, 2017
jennaria: Sarah from Labyrinth, reading a book, captioned Storyteller (Storyteller)
moon_custafer: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] moon_custafer at 05:54pm on 24/06/2017 under ,
 I saw a reproduction of this poster today in a restaurant downtown, after the Dyke March*. It wasn't the first time I'd noticed, but it always pleases me because it looks like it was designed by a go-getting young demon in some 1920s British fantasy novel that successfully blends comedy and the numinous:




During which we sat next to a lady wearing rainbow ruffled leggings and this backpack.
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)

I am fairly hmmmm about this piece on empaths, and wonder if some of those consultant empaths are employing the cold-reading tricks attributed to psychics, but buried in it is actually an interrogation of how useful quivering responsiveness to emotion is and the suggestion that 'empathy alone is not a reliable way of coming to a moral decision', and

Empathy is not action. It’s much more useful to be knowledgable about what’s happening so you can effect structural change. If everybody’s swimming in a sea of feelings, it’s an impediment to action.

And possibly somehow related to this, on the advantages of scheduling over spontaneity.

See also, review here of Selfie by Will Storr: 'This engaging book links the ‘self-esteem’ industry to Ayn Rand and neoliberalism. But is the selfie-taking generation unusually narcissistic?'. And is there not something problematic about making a big deal out of a single young woman who takes a lot of selfies? (shoutout here to Carol Dyhouse's Girl Trouble and the constant motif of young women's behaviour epitomising what is supposedly wrong with These Here Modern Times.)

And in Dept of, Countering National Stereotypes, the French minister who wants sexual harassment fines and is annoyed by the cultural myths about Frenchwomen.

Born in 1799, Anna Atkins captured plants, shells and algae in ghostly wisps and ravishing blues. Why isn’t she famous? - how long have you got to listen to my answer?

A book on hares which is, it sounds like, more about hares than the writer's journey and epiphany from their encounter with nature

chickenfeet: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] chickenfeet at 07:55am on 24/06/2017
 I saw a performance of Dame Ethel Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate a couple of nights ago,  (Review).  I've been thinking about whether moving the setting from the early C20 to the 1980s(*) didn't rather undermine the unusualness of the strong and independent nature of Mrs. Waters, the pub owner and (ironically) the title character.  Then it occurred to me that inn keeper (with or without extra services) is the default role for the strong and independent woman in English drama down the ages.  Mistress Quickly and "Auntie" in Peter Grimes are probably but two examples.  Worth noting perhaps that the prim and feminist Dame Ethel does not even hint that Mrs. Waters' offerings extend beyond drinks.

(*)Don't get me going on productions set in the 60s/70s/80s by directors who are too young to remember them.  I am still laughing about an Albert Herring set in 1960s rural Suffolk that had white table cloths at the pub and a range of whole salamis at the grocer.
batwrangler: Just for me. (Default)
posted by [personal profile] batwrangler at 07:45am on 24/06/2017 under
So, this is a thing. I have a couple of the earlier NECA Coralines, including a 2009 SDCC exclusive that I picked up cheap right after its release, so I'll be on the look out for one of these as well (still kicking myself that I didn't get the full set when they were "only" going for about $50 a piece).
legionseagle: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] legionseagle at 08:30am on 24/06/2017 under , , ,
...except in the sense of the cover-up being worse than the original offence, but the strange goings on at Holman Fenwick and Willan's Christmas Quiz have livened up what was otherwise a rather dull crop of stories over at Roll on Friday.

(The most interesting thing which happened recently in the legal world prior to Quizgate was the merger between Bond Dickinson, a firm memorable for one associate complaining that "I have more chance of being savaged to death in the gents loos by a walrus than I have of making partner at Bond Dickinson" during a RoF Quality of Legal Life survey, and Womble Carlyle , a US firm, creating a "transatlantic giant" to be called Womble Dickinson which, as per a lawyer I bumped into at a recent course on digital rights confirmed, is as a result in the middle of a mass exodus of talent, since it's bad enough being expected to work US legal hours on a UK legal salary, but having all your peers at other firms singing, "Remember you're a womble" at you on every conceivable opportunity puts the cherry on top of the shit sundae.)

Anyway, Holman Fenwick are a traditional shipping firm, and those always have a bit of a reputation for excessive machismo, especially the "wet" shipping specialists, and as per people chipping in in comments, the partner in question has the reputation of being the biggest wanker in a tough field. When his team won the Christmas quiz by a large margin, it was whispered in the ears of HR that there might have been dirty work at the crossroads, and, indeed, it transpired that the quiz question and answer document had been opened on said partner's computer hours before the quiz commenced.*

Where things then took a turn for the worse is that the partner alleged that it wasn't him, squire, his computer must have been hacked. And while cheating on the Christmas quiz barely registers on the list of batty things I've heard of partners in law firms doing in my thirty-odd years in this profession (in no particular order, these include but are not limited to: ordering one's trainee to iron one's jodhpurs in time for hunting at the weekend, throwing a Company seal at the head of a trainee, ordering a trainee to mouth-siphon petrol out of another car in the office carpark during a fuel shortage, resulting in hospitalisation of said trainee, asking a dark-skinned and a light-skinned secretary at a Christmas party, "Well, girls, how do you feel about cafe-au-lait?", inviting two interviewees to a brothel as soon as the interview had finished with the words, "Well, now that's over, let's go and get our nobs polished" ....) allegations of hacking into partnerial computers** get the IT team really interested, officially because it threatens the integrity of client communications, but really I suspect because it gives them a chance to give the thing a right going over in the hope of being able to go "Good God, I'm glad you brought us in. The same person who framed you for the Christmas quiz must have also tried to frame you for the possession of porn! Look, this file here --and here -- and here -- there's terrabytes of the stuff! We'll have to extend the search to all your mobile devices too, I'm afraid."

Anyway, I'm going with "watch this space."



*HFM clearly take a Kingscote-like approach to security of examination questions and the like. It would never have happened in the Airedale Quiz league, in which I played for about five years.

** Which is usually like taking candy from a baby, tbf; I once many years ago took advantage of the habit one of our partners had of leaving his computer logged on and unlocked while he went off on hours-long gossip sessions with the other team partners to send round an email warning the department of the dangers of leaving one's computer logged on and unattended, and then departed on holiday before the fallout happened.
June 23rd, 2017
sartorias: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sartorias at 12:29pm on 23/06/2017 under
Home late last night after a lovely, lovely train journey up the coast to Portland, and then east to Minneapolis. Once I got there, I bumbled my way to the delicious breakfast place my daughter and I found last year (The Buttered Tin) and after that, in perfect weather--low seventies, cloudy, tiny drops of rain--made my way to the hotel for Fourth Street Fantasy.

Other than a somewhat jolting experience at the opening ceremonies, which made it clear yet again that many of those who have always assumed their perfect safety in any circumstance (and who thus find argument entertaining) simply do not comprehend the paradigm for those who have always had to be wary, to at least some degree, while maneuvering in public spaces. I trust that learning happened.

After that, things went so very well. So many great conversations, over delicious food. Interesting panels, lovely weather. Another thing occurred to me: I so seldom get that quick-back-and-forth of conversation, as my social life is about 95% online, that I found myself frequently behind a couple steps. At least, I think it's due to that and not (I hope) to me dulling with age.

The con was splendid right to the last moments: my return train was to leave Mpls. at ten-ten that night, and I did not particularly look forward to sitting at the Amtrak station for six hours, but I didn't have the discretionary cash for adventuring about. However after delicious ice cream sundaes (yum, yum, yum!) [personal profile] carbonel generously offered to take me home, then drop me at the station, though it was not even remotely in her way.

My six hours passed so pleasantly it was emblematic of the entire weekend for me: after the fast pace it was so nice to sit quietly, watch some BBC animal planet documentaries . . . and, to my utter delight, the resident kitting--after doing considerable showing off by leaping to wall and ceiling beams and down again--curled up in my lap to purr. When you realize that I rarely get to see cats except in youtube vids when the news is too fraught, you will understand how that was the perfect close to an excellent weekend.

Thence an equally lovely train trip back, much reading and some writing achieved.

And this morning, I hauled my aged bod to yoga, for a much-needed session. This last couple weeks has been all about the head. Exhilarating, but not good for the bod. I used to be so active, until the arthritis turned all my joints into a constant ache; now exercise is something I have to do, so I've some tricks to keep my lazy ass in gear.

Anyway, it occurred to me as I sweated and stretched that the fundamental good of yoga is to strengthen all those muscles we otherwise do not notice that hold the body upright. Especially someone like me with rotten posture (I've had the child-abuse shoulder hunch all my life, and when young fought against it in dance, constantly hearing, "Shoulders down, Smith!" The only time I didn't have it was in fencing, oddly enough) it's easy to turtle. But I feel much better and stronger overall when I keep up with the yoga.

So--that, and to my desk to catch up!

A bit of writerly stuff to pass on: an indie writer I met through a fantasy bundle project last summer, C.J. Brightley, has put out a call for fantasy stories of the uplifting sort, and asked me to pass it on. Submission data here.
white_hart: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] white_hart at 07:25pm on 23/06/2017 under , ,
If the Miles Vorkosigan of The Warrior's Apprentice is Francis Crawford of Lymond In Space, in the novella The Mountains of Mourning he's basically Lord Peter Wimsey In An Isolated Rural District On An Alien Planet*, as he's sent as his father's representative to investigate an alleged case of infanticide in a small village in a remote corner of Vorkosigan District.

For a short book, this packs a lot in. As well as a competent whodunnit plot, the story explores the backstory of Barrayaran culture and social attitudes, particularly attitudes to disability, and more universal themes of generational differences in social attitudes. It's the sort of science fiction that doesn't really feel like science fiction; with the exception of the interrogation drug fast-penta there's no futuristic techology and it's hard to believe it's set in the far future instead of, say, the 1930s. It's an interesting and thoughtful read, and I liked it a lot (though I was a bit taken aback at "Ma" apparently being a formal honorific for older women, but maybe that's just Barrayar).

*The presence of a minor character called Pym, on a planet where most names appear to be Russian or Slavic in origin, did nothing whatsoever to dispel the Wimsey associations my brain kept making, either.
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
posted by [personal profile] oursin at 07:57pm on 23/06/2017 under , , , ,

Well, not literally.

But I have finally managed to have a discussion with the editor at the Very Estimable and Well-Reputed Academic Press whom I had hoped to get together with during the Massive Triennial Conference the other week, which did not happen for, reasons.

And they are very keen about a book I have been thinking about for ages, which is not the Major Research Project of the moment, though somewhat tangentially related, and I'm hmmmmmm about it.

Because it's a book where I haven't done more than research rather a small part of one angle of the bigger picture, but on the other hand, I do know what has to be in there and where to look.

And unlike the Major Research Project, which is large and contains multitudes, this would be a discrete project that wouldn't (I hope) keep starting yet more hares for me to go baying after.

*Wibble*

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
posted by [personal profile] jimhines at 11:18am on 23/06/2017 under

Friday is almost finished with this first draft…

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 03:12pm on 23/06/2017 under
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative
Music:: Black Sabbath: Who are you?
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
I’ll never understand the pride people take in saying, “I was born and bred here” or the use of the same phrase to defend one’s perceived superiority or deservingness of housing, health care or other basic human rights.

I mean, what did you, yourself, actually do to influence where you were born or bred? Unless you were a particularly ambitious embryo, the answer is “nothing”. Sure, your parents might have made some kind of effort to select your place of birth. Maybe they strove to move to better housing in a neighbourhood with better services and schools. Maybe they’re even immigrants, like my dad, and they struggled long and hard to learn their fourth language in order to integrate into their adopted country. But you? You didn’t do anything. Why are you so proud of that? Think of the things you've accomplished in your life. Isn't it far more fitting and fulfilling to be proud of those?

And why the obsession with asserting the superiority of a single identity over the others? “I’m English first and then British.” Pro-tip: Most of the rest of the world considers both of those to be synonymous with “ex-colonialist imperialist arsehole” so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. ^.^

Here is a list of the geographically-linked identities that I consider myself able to lay claim to. I’m proud of some and not others.

  • American
  • British
  • European
  • Hawai’ian
  • Filipino
  • Olympian
  • Seattleite
  • Angeleno
  • San Diegan
  • Londoner
  • Brummie (this is a new one; still feels a little odd)


Today, I think I’m proudest of being European. I earned that identity and that passport, and I’m still very pissed off that some people want to take it away.

Today is also, weirdly, simultaneously:

  • the anniversary of Brexit, aka the Colossal Waste of Time and Money Foisted Upon Us by a Generation That Tore Down Decades of Painstakingly Won Goodwill with Our Neighbours and Won’t Live to Experience the Disastrous Consequences, Thanks a Lot, Dickheads.

    And

  • International Women in Engineering Day


So, to close this post, here is a peaceful photo of a woman doing some engineering.

Scientist at work
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
posted by [personal profile] oursin at 10:32am on 23/06/2017
Happy birthday, [personal profile] bessemerprocess and [personal profile] libskrat!
June 22nd, 2017
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
I have been outrageously busy at work this week and I don't have the brain to string these together into a proper narrative. My apologies. So: Have a series of happy photos from the past week or so.

20170617_171856
[Keiki with freshly dug potatoes in his fist, ready to deposit them in one of the two white bowls in front of him.]

We ate our first potato harvest tonight. Yum!

+6 )
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
posted by [personal profile] jimhines at 03:25pm on 22/06/2017

Senate Republicans have finally released what appears to be the draft text of H.R. 1628, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”

It’s 142 pages, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time deciphering it all. (Not a lawyer or a legislator.) But here are some things that stood out at me…

Elimination of the individual and employer mandate. (Pages 10-11)

Tax repeals on medications, health insurance, health savings accounts, etc. (Pages 25-29)

This includes the “Repeal of Tanning Tax” on page 29.

The continuing attack on abortion rights.

“Disallowance of small employer health insurance credit for plan which includes coverage for abortion.” (Pages 8-9)

“No Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity,” which is then defined as an entity providing abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. (Page 35)

#

According to a USA Today analysis, this bill would:

  • Reduce or eliminate most subsidies for individuals and families
  • “Eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what younger customers pay for the same coverage. Instead, those in their 60s could be charged five times as much, or more.”
  • Eliminate penalties to large employers who choose not to offer health insurance. (Elimination of the employer mandate.)
  • Make it easier to drop coverage for things like maternity care and mental health issues.

CNN points out that the bill would also:

  • Defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
  • Require coverage of preexisting conditions. However, it also lets states “waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover… This would allow insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered.”

A PBS article says the bill would:

  • Cap and reduce Medicaid funding, and allow states to add a work requirement for “able-bodied” recipients of Medicaid.
  • Provide $2 billion to help states fight opioid addiction

Fox News, unsurprisingly, focused on what they saw as positive in the proposed bill:

  • It preserves health care for people with preexisting conditions (with the potential exceptions noted in the CNN bullets, above), and allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
  • It expands health care savings accounts.
  • It provides a short-term stabilization fund to help struggling insurance markets.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their report on the senate bill next week. The CBO estimated that the House-passed bill would result in 26 million fewer insured Americans by 2026, and would cut the budget by $119 billion over the same time. (Source)

#

Nothing here is particularly shocking. I’m glad I and my family can’t be kicked off our insurance for our various preexisting conditions…though some of those conditions might no longer be covered, which sucks. It would hurt the poor, the elderly, women, and the mentally ill, among others. None of my readers will be shocked to hear that I think this is another step backward. The ACA was far from perfect — it’s like a patient with a broken leg, but instead of trying to fix the broken leg, we’ll just throw them through a woodchipper, because hey, it’s cheaper!

It looks like this may be a tight vote, which would make this an excellent time to call your Senator.

Please keep any comments civil. I’m angry about this too, but I don’t have the time or the spoons to moderate fights and nastiness today. (Which probably means I shouldn’t have posted this in the first place, but I never claimed to be that bright…)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

moon_custafer: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] moon_custafer at 01:05pm on 22/06/2017 under
 Not sure how I got to this topic, but I’ve been thinking about the variants I’ve been seeing lately on “realistic textures on a distorted form.” The least grotesque are the oil paintings (I think they're oil paintings) of Popeye. At the other end of the scale the most terrifying examples are those that start from children’s drawings. I think we’re dealing with two forms of distortion here – young kids’ drawing are typically “unrealistic” due to inexperience and fine motor skills that haven’t fully matured yet; adult cartoonists’ drawings are *distilled* realism.

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