Good Books Recently

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:56 pm
okrablossom: jasmine tea blossom open in mug (tea blossom)
[personal profile] okrablossom
Books I've read recently that I've really really enjoyed: Django Wexler's Ship of Smoke and Steel [kinda creepy fantasy with intriguing magic and some nice relationships], Jim Hines' Terminal Uprising [made me laugh out loud but also touched some genuine deep emotions], Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead [for the reasons I love most of her books: language, love, the hard work of doing right], Yoon Ha Lee's Dragon Pearl [for an old story through new (to me) lenses]. Oh! And Terrance Hayes' American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin for seriousness and beauty and Huda Fahmy's Yes, I'm Hot in This for the puns and the perspective.

And thank goodness I've got more library books stacked up, as there's snow on the way!
brithistorian: (Default)
[personal profile] brithistorian
 New Orleans' Krewe of Zulu[1] has issued a statement declaring that their black makeup isn't blackface.

I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this.  On the one hand, I respect their right to try to reclaim symbols that have been used against them and to continue with Zulu's traditions.  On the other hand, intent doesn't trump effect[2], and would not be surprised to find clueless white people running around saying "the members of Zulu wear blackface, so why can't I?"[3][4].  On the other hand, the members of Zulu are (rightfully) proud of their traditions, and if their chairman of their board has gone on record as saying "That would somehow indicate that we were complicit of the disrespect of black people for 115 years. That's no way going to happen," I'm not going to be the one to tell them they can't wear their traditional makeup.

[1]  Technically the "Zulu Social Aid and Please Club," but I've never heard anyone outside the organization and a few journalists use the proper name.  It's certainly not in common use in New Orleans, where people refer to "Krewe of Zulu" or just "Zulu"
[2]  I think I first heard this from Kat Tanaka Okopnik, but I have no idea if it originated with her or not.
[3]  Just like we still haven't heard the last person saying "Black people use the N-word.  Why can't I?"
[4]  Also deliberately overlooking that the members of Zulu wear black makeup in a particular context, related to an event that happens one morning of the year.

Really snowed in

Feb. 17th, 2019 08:52 am
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
The clumps are significant on leaves and branches, and details of the topography have all been smoothed to pure white softness. Tiny icicles, even, like crystal ear drops. Freshly fallen snow is stunning in its beauty, but I can see how trying to function in it would get toilsome and wearing.

Many thanks to those who answered my question yesterday. I expected a division, but what I got was another division among those who are okay with subscribing to serials--but save the whole until it's complete.

So! Time to get to work, but first, have a couple shots out window panes at the front side of the house:



Song of the day: Infinite, "Clock"

Feb. 17th, 2019 10:49 am
brithistorian: (Default)
[personal profile] brithistorian
 Ceci n'est pas une vidéo de musique.

Well, OK, it is, but I couldn't resist a little bit of art history humor there.  I'm just amused (probably more than I should be) by a video for a song called "Clock" that contains no clocks but dozens of telephones.  At any rate, it's a good song, it's a good video; I hope you enjoy.

BSFA Awards

Feb. 17th, 2019 10:06 am
marthawells: (Stargate)
[personal profile] marthawells
One piece of good news:

The Murderbot Diaries: Exit Strategy is up for a British Science Fiction Association Award for short fiction!


Congrats to all the other nominees!

https://bsfa.co.uk/awards-shortlist/



Best Novel

Dave Hutchinson – Europe at Dawn (Solaris)

Yoon Ha Lee – Revenant Gun (Solaris)

Emma Newman – Before Mars (Ace Books)

Gareth L Powell – Embers of War (Titan Books)

Tade Thompson – Rosewater (Orbit)



Best Shorter Fiction

Nina Allan – The Gift of Angels: an Introduction (Clarkesworld)

Malcolm Devlin – The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct (Interzone #275)

Hal Duncan – The Land of Somewhere Safe (NewCon Press)

Ian McDonald – Time Was (Tor.com)

Martha Wells – Exit Strategy (Tor.com)

Liz Williams – Phosphorus (NewCon Press)

Marian Womack – Kingfisher (Lost Objects, Luna Press)



Best Non-Fiction

Nina Allan – Time Pieces column 2018 articles (Interzone)

Ruth EJ Booth – Noise and Sparks column 2018 articles (Shoreline of Infinity)

Liz Bourke – Sleeps With Monsters column 2018 articles (Tor.com)

Aliette de Bodard – On motherhood and erasure: people-shaped holes, hollow characters and the illusion of impossible adventures (Intellectus Speculativus blog)

Adam Roberts – Publishing the Science Fiction Canon: The Case of Scientific Romance (Cambridge University Press)



Best Artwork

Ben Baldwin – wraparound cover for ‘Strange Tales’ slipcase set (NewCon Press)

Joey Hi-Fi – cover for ‘Paris Adrift’ by EJ Swift (Solaris)

Sarah Anne Langton – cover for ‘Unholy Land’ by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications)

Sing Yun Lee and Morris Wild – artwork for ‘Sublime Cognition’ conference (London Science Fiction Research Community)

Likhain – In the Vanishers’ Palace: Dragon I and II (Inprnt)

Bede Rogerson – cover for ‘Concrete Faery’ by Elizabeth Priest (Luna Press)

Del Samatar – artwork for ‘Monster Portraits’ by Sofia and Del Samatar (Rose Metal Press)

Charlotte Stroomer – cover for ‘Rosewater’ by Tade Thompson (Orbit)

Nubia! Abu Simbel! Egypt!

Feb. 17th, 2019 09:43 am
lsanderson: (Default)
[personal profile] lsanderson
More pics than you can shake a stick at from Upper and Lower Egypt as far as Cairo, including temples from drownd Nubia: https://public.fotki.com/lsanderson/travel/egypt-2019/

Gendered Classrooms

Feb. 17th, 2019 04:22 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 This was me.  I did this damn near every time someone tried to line us up by gender.  If I wasn't doing that, I was standing with the boys.  It drove many teachers so batshit that they quit doing gender lines rather than argue with me.

Ways to Improve Accounting

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:23 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 ... that will never fly in America, but would fix so many problems.

Refugees Then and Now

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:09 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Yes, some refugees today are in exactly the position of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.  They leave or they die, because some countries are killing Muslims or Christians or whatever else they've decided to hate; others are killing gays and transfolk and women who wear pants; quite a few are targeting doctors, scientists, journalists, and other intellectuals; and several just seem to be shooting anything that moves.  It's the same.  It's people fleeing genocide because they don't want to die.  

And countries are responding now just as they did to Jews: turning them away.  Oh sure, after  WWII everyone was "shocked" and "sorry" that Jews sent back to Germany were executed en masse.  After most of the Jews were safely dead and not in need of food, shelter, or any other assistance anymore.  People will turn back desperate masses and then be "shocked" and "saddened" when a toddler winds up drowned on their beach.  Well, when people are in dire situations, they will escape as best they can, and if nobody helps them do that safely then quite a lot of them will die along the way.  So everyone who supports  refugee-hostile polices becomes guilty of refoulement and shares part of the moral burden for those deaths, because their choices lead to actions that lead to dead refugees.  Those who fight for human rights are not at fault for the errors of others.

Stretching

Feb. 17th, 2019 01:02 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here's a post that says stretching has no benefits.  I have no idea how people keep generating these results.

When I was in school, everybody knew that stretching was a good idea.  That is, either we had personally ripped something or gotten awful cramps because we didn't bother to stretch out before doing something vigorous, or we'd seen other people make that mistake and decided to be more careful ourselves.  The connection was really sort of obvious.

Currently, I use stretching in small bits scattered throughout the day, because if I don't, my butt welds itself to the chair and my muscles lock up.  Stretch, or ache.  This also is really fucking obvious.  Some people's bodies don't knot up as much as others, but if you sit long enough -- and people nowadays tend to sit a LOT -- then eventually it will happen.  It can be fixed by stretching.

Anyone who's done a bendy sport -- cheerleading, gymnastics, bellydancing, yoga, etc. -- can tell the difference between people who do some kind of stretching regularly and people who do not.  Granted, there is a strong genetic factor in how stretchy your body is, but it will certainly bend better if you stretch it regularly than if you do not.  And if you haven't done it recently, you can sure feel the difference when you try to do it.

WTF even, science. >_<

I fucked up

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:56 pm
lydy: (Default)
[personal profile] lydy
I forgot that today is the Mnstf Pool Party.  It is one of the two (three, if you count Minicon) Big Deal parties of the year.  I have been having unusually bad brain weather, and so keeping track of things like, Today Is a Day I Go to Work has been difficult.  I didn't wake up until 9:30 p.m., and had to shower and red up the media room because Eric and Pamela are sleeping here to night, so I wasn't really ready to put on clothes and leave the house until 10:30 p.m.  By the time I got to the hotel, it would be 11:00 p.m., minimum, and many of my friends will have already left.  So, I've decided to stay at home and drink beer and eat nachos.

I'm really angry about this, but there's no one to be angry _at_.  It was no one's job to remind me, and no one's job to make me make plans, and I forgot, and I didn't make plans, and I haven't seen my Mnstf friends in forever, and I'm just really sad and pissed.

Possibly it will be more than one beer. 

Poem: "Experience Stinks"

Feb. 16th, 2019 07:10 pm
ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is the freebie for the February 2019 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam.  It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] zianuray.


"Experience Stinks"


Growing up
is learning that

not everything which
is black-and-white
and fuzzy is a kitten.

Sometimes,
experience stinks,

but it's still better
than ignorance.

* * * 

Notes:

This image was the other inspiration for the poem.

Virtual tea party...

Feb. 16th, 2019 05:25 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
I have a cold and feel vaguely terrible but also want company, so I’ll be watching this space.

My current tea: generic black tea a la Lipton, coz I can’t taste it. Going to make some peppermint sweet tea in a bit though.

What’ll you have? *puts kettle on*

ETA: Various folks have brought scones, ginger snaps, and Girl Scout cookies, which may be assumed to be baked in whatever sort of gluten-free, low-glycemic, dairy-free, or whatever manner the eaters desires and feels necessary. We also seem to have All The Tea at this point, with special attention to things that help knock back colds and other minor illnesses. Teatime manners here consist of being not deliberately knocking someone’s tea on the floor ( eying fellow felines known to exist in various households ) though if it should occur by accident I also have All The Paper Towels.

Old friends and new acquaintances are both very much welcome.
sartorias: SD (SD)
[personal profile] sartorias
A small subset of readers here read my stuff. I have a question for you. Bookview Cafe (currently in the midst of a move to a new and more reliable host service) is talking about experimenting with subscriptions.

I'm in the process of finishing up a very long project, and I'm thinking how best to put it out there. Would any of you be up for something like that?

If so, how often should bits be posted, if, say, it was put up at 99c cents a segment? I'm thinking segments ought to be novelette to novella length.

Snowy Retreat

Feb. 16th, 2019 02:25 pm
sartorias: (Default)
[personal profile] sartorias
So we have been snowed into very pleasant surroundings. Each morning I make tea and fill the gigantic bathtub, drop some essential oils in it, and soak and sip tea. These past two mornings, this is what I look out at:



I relish every moment, with a deep gratitude for how lucky I am. Though I'm aware of a residual guilt, though I have done nothing wrong. It's the sheer selfishness of my enjoyment--because of early conditioning, the very word 'selfish' connoted imminent fire and destruction, well deserved. Because I am not the fastest with a clue, it took me over fifty years to comprehend the difference between the selfishness that robs others, or glories in others' hurt, and the selfishness that does no harm.

Our first day here, the snow all melted in a crashing thunderstorm. We stayed in the cabin below the main house for the duration, playing with the cats as a fire leaped in the fireplace. I did some yoga while thunder and rain poured all around.

Yesterday I woke to snow. As well as today. We walked out yesterday, trying to get the feel for walking in it. Here I am in the winter coat I've owned for a number of years, but till now it's lived in my closet, only coming out when I travel back east:



I took a video of today's snow, which I won't put up as Dreamwidth has a truly awful media platform--it's awkward and time consuming to upload photos, and one is limited to a small amount of bandwidth to store them. I think a single vid would max me out--and of course snowfall would be no delight and wonder to most of North America, save my corner.

So I'll put up a picture instead:



Everything, everything is made beautiful by a lacy coating of pure white shading subtly to blue here and gold there. The landscape transforms, familiar landmarks changing or vanishing entirely. I can't tell where the road bends. The snow makes a subtle squidgy sound underfoot, not wet and mushy as it did yesterday.

Leading to another observation: it is always changing. There is no still like the photos: clumps drop continually out of trees, or shower down. The temperature rises and the snow changes shape, or turns to water, creating myriad little streams. Or, during the night, it turns to ice--which is why we haven't gone anywhere. None of us want to attempt mountain roads if there is ice.

So . . . back to writing projects, reading, and slowly watching, and loving the endgame of The Story of Minglan, which is simply phenomenal.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
In today's fragmented world, people can improve it by reaching out to each other. Here are some ideas for building community in your neighborhood.

Build a community garden. This is a time-tested way to promote community interaction in your neighborhood as well as share in a bounty of fresh veggies. Check out the American Community Gardening Association’s steps for getting started.

If you already have a community garden, then examine it to see if you could make any improvements.  Is it accessible to everyone?  If not, think about how you could add or change features to fix that.  You don't have to make the entire  space accessible as long as people can get into it easily and do all the things somewhere.  Alternatively, you could create a new community garden in another space that is fully accessible, which lets you do creative things -- such as putting roll-under beds above an abandoned parking lot -- that wouldn't be compatible with extant hardscaping. 

The same goes for other alternative or specialized approaches.  Organic gardens, vertical gardens, perennial gardens, and permaculture gardens, are all things that people sometimes squabble over in conventional community gardens.  Give them their own spot and you not only solve that problem, you also reduce crowding and create multiple locations to spread out the benefits of green space.  As with accessibility, some places unsuitable for ordinary gardens are preset for alternatives -- any sturdy old building becomes a frame for vertical garden, and so on.

Song of the day: Saturday, "WiFi"

Feb. 16th, 2019 01:02 pm
brithistorian: (Default)
[personal profile] brithistorian
I swear I didn't plan this - just a fortuitous coincidence:  The first Saturday since I decided to do SOTDs on weekends too, and the song is by Saturday!

Lyrically, "WiFi" is basically the same concept as Twice's "Signal" - trying to get across to a clueless guy that you like him.  The music reminds me of a sped-up version of Momoland's "Bboom Bboom."  Still, while I don't really think there's anything really groundbreaking in the song, it's a bop, and it totally gets me moving.

[syndicated profile] alpennia_feed

Posted by Heather Rose Jones

Saturday, February 16, 2019 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 31c - Reprise: Ordinary Women - transcript

(Originally aired 2019/02/16 - listen here)

I’m sure that some of my listeners are fanatic enough to go back and listen to all the previous episodes. But for those who are only lately come to the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast, every once in a while I’ll reprise one of the earlier episodes that I think new listeners might enjoy. OK, so really this is a way of filling in an episode when my interview schedule has a gap in it.

The following show, “Ordinary Women,” was the very first episode of the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast, originally airing in August 2016. I think it still stands as a good introduction to some of the very ordinary women who loved women in times past. I hope you enjoy it.

[Sponsor Break]

* * *

Let’s start this series with some ordinary women. Nobody special: they weren’t scandalous aristocrats or dashing adventurers or women who set out to transgress the rules of society. All they did was love each other. Perhaps not wisely, perhaps not always well.

In southern Germany, almost on the border with Switzerland, there is a town called Mösskirch. It has relatively few claims to fame: a composer, a philosopher, a painter whose name hasn’t survived, some talented brewers. In the 16th century, it was the residence of the Counts of Zimmern. But we aren’t concerned with any of them. We’re interested in a different 16th century resident, a servant-girl named Greta, who came to the attention of history in 1514 because she kept falling in love with girls.

Much of the solid historic evidence we have from medieval Europe about women who loved women is rather depressing, because the authorities only tended to pay attention to them when they’d stepped so far outside acceptable behavior that drastic penalties were invoked. But Greta’s story--as much as we know of it--is happier.

It is recorded that she loved young women and pursued them romantically as if she were behaving like a man. There’s no mention that Greta was masculine in any way other than falling in love with women--no indication that she dressed as a man, or tried to take on a masculine occupation, or that she made love to them using an artificial device. Those were the sorts of things that could draw harsh consequences. In fact, the only concern her neighbors seem to have had was to make sure that she really was a woman.

The concern wasn’t that she might have been a man disguising himself as a woman--that would have been a roundabout way to court girls! No, the problem was that her neighbors thought she might have been a hermaphrodite--something halfway between man and woman--and that this might be the reason why she felt erotic desires for women.

The idea of hermaphrodites as understood in that era is one of those odd social inventions. It probably derived in part from trying to understand intersex persons, who might have anatomy that seemed to be part male and part female. But it also derived from an inability to imagine anything other than heterosexual desire. So if a person who appeared female fell in love with or desired a woman, then that person must actually be a man.

The idea of hermaphrodites also overlaps with transgender history. Some historic individuals used the social belief in hermaphrodites as a legal tool to gain recognition as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Some even succeeded.

But all that is a side-note to Greta’s story. The midwives of Mösskirch examined Greta and proclaimed that she was “a true proper woman”. And as far as we know, that was an end of it. There is no mention of any legal charge against her. No mention of any consequences. And so we are free to imagine Greta von Mösskirch flirting with other girls at the market fair, perhaps saving her money to buy a hair ribbon as a gift in hopes of being thanked with a kiss.

The second example has a less happy end, though it’s likely that the women only came to the attention of the authorities because of a domestic dispute.

Our story happens at the very beginning of the 15th century in France. To set the stage, this is about a decade before the birth of Joan of Arc. In fact we’re concerned with another French peasant woman named Jehanne. Jehanne was married, as one was, but it seems that at some point she had discovered the entirely different joys of making love to women. She was friends with another married woman named Laurence. One day they were walking out to the fields together when Jehanne ventured a proposition, “If you will be my sweetheart, I will do you much good.”

Laurence may have been a bit naive, or perhaps she’d never had the occasion to consider the question of whether enjoying a roll in the hay with a woman would be a sin--a literal roll in the hay, as the testimony indicates. She told people later that she didn’t think there was anything evil in it, and presumably Jehanne’s offer sounded like a bit of fun. They made their way to a convenient haystack and Jehanne lay on top of her and made love to her. The end results were satisfying enough that the two continued to meet for erotic encounters: at Laurence’s house, in the vineyards outside the village, or near the village fountain.

But eventually things soured. We don’t know whether Laurence started to get nervous about what they were doing, or if one of their husbands started asking questions, or perhaps it was just one of those things.

One night, when Jehanne came to Laurence’s house, Laurence told her she didn’t desire her any more. Jehanne, let us say, took the breakup badly. She attacked Laurence with a knife and then ran away.

Although the records don’t say so in as many words, it’s likely that this attack and the consequences of it are the only reason their relationship came to the attention of the authorities. In fact, the record skips entirely over any original accusation or trial and brings us in when Laurence is appealing for a pardon on the basis that the relationship was all Jehanne’s fault.

People are people, no matter what the century. And if society and the law imagines forbidden sexual relationships to involve an aggressor and a naive victim, then there will always be a temptation to throw one’s partner under the bus when push comes to shove. Laurence’s appeal was successful and she was pardoned. This is no small matter, given that the original sentence might well have been execution. There is no word in the record about Jehanne’s fate. It would be nice to fantasize that she ran away entirely, changed her name, got ahold of her anger management issues, and found happiness in some other woman’s arms eventually. It probably isn’t the way to bet, but we’re free to dream.

Links

The historic records concerning Greta von Mösskirch and Jehanne and Laurence are discussed in detail in the following publications.

Major category: 

Rest In Peace, Bruno Ganz

Feb. 16th, 2019 10:24 am
calliopes_pen: (tarlanx Jonathan Lucy consolation comfor)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
Bruno Ganz passed away yesterday, at the age of 77, following a battle with colon cancer. May he rest in peace. He was apparently better known to most people for playing Hitler in the movie Downfall (2004). However, as I’ve never seen it, I probably know him best from Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979), where he played Jonathan Harker.

The icon I’m using for this post is from there, actually. It’s from a scene early in the film, where he and Lucy* stare out to sea and wonder what the future will bring (since she was having a premonition of danger). Here, have a few clips from the film.

*It's another of those where the names get switched around. Mina is Lucy and Lucy is Mina.

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