June 28th, 2017
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 01:42pm on 28/06/2017 under ,
Recently read: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I borrowed [personal profile] jack's copy to read this for the Hugos. It's thinky and original, but also rather unpleasant.

detailed review )

Currently reading: All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Partly because it's Hugo nominated and partly cos several of my friends were enthusiastic about it. I'm a bit more than halfway through and finding it very readable and enjoyable. Patricia and Laurence are really well drawn as outcast characters and their interaction is great. It feels very Zeitgeisty, very carefully calculated to appeal to the current generation of geeks. The style is sort of magic realist, in that a bunch of completely weird fantasy-ish things happen and nobody much remarks on them. I find that sort of approach to magic a bit difficult to get on with, because it appears completely arbitrary what is possible and what isn't, so the plot seems a bit shapeless.

Up next: I'm a bit minded to pick up Dzur by Steven Brust, because I was enjoying the series but very slowly, and it's been really quite a few years since I made progress with it.
Music:: Placebo: Nancy boy
location: San Francisco
Mood:: 'content' content
sparrowsion: (psychedelic)
posted by [personal profile] sparrowsion at 10:49am on 28/06/2017
Ever since the [in]famous #WALRUS match of the (men's football) European championship last year, I've been wondering how many other matches could provide similar amusement. Possibly none, because of the inherent comedic value of a walrus, but there must be scope for further confusion. #HUNGER was the only one that occurred to me at the time, and I kept meaning to knock up a script to work out others.

Needing distraction from pain, I've just done it. If we're sticking with international football, I've got 96 matches (using OSX /usr/share/dict/words) many of which are, as you'd expect, ridiculously obscure. And many are also rather unlikely matches. But there is some tasty, quite literally, stuff in there. Highlights include:
#ANGLES: Angola v. Lesotho
#BANGER: Bangladesh v. Germany
#BELUGA: Belgium v. Uganda
#CAMPER: Cambodia v. Peru
#CANNED: Canada v. Netherlands
#COLLIE: Colombia v. Liechtenstein
#FINGER: Finland v. Germany
#GIBBER: Gibraltar v. Bermuda
#HONEST: Honduras v. Estonia
#HUNGER: Hungary v. Germany
#ISLAND: Iceland v. Andorra
#LESLIE: Lesotho v. Liechtenstein
#MARTHA: Morocco v. Thailand
#PURPLE: Puerto Rico v. State of Palestine
#SAMPLE: Samoa v. State of Palestine
#SINGER: Singapore v. Germany
#SOMBER: Somalia v. Bermuda
#TANNED: Tanzania v. Netherlands
#TRILBY: Trinidad and Tobago v. Libya
#TRIPLE: Trinidad and Tobago v. State of Palestine
#TURBAN: Turkey v. Bangladesh
#TURBOT: Turkey v. Botswana
#TURNED: Turkey v. Netherlands
#WALRUS: Wales v. Russia

One thing to consider is that this is only FIFA's country codes, which includes nations (like Wales) which aren't acknowledged by other organisations. Like the IOC. Who have their own set of codes anyway. (Which also aren't 100% in agreement with ISO country codes.) IOC matches (which include hockey and rugby as well as football) have 109 real-word hashtags, and provide 29 which FIFA matches can't, including:
#ANGINA: Angola v. Indonesia
#BARBEL: Barbados v. Belgium
#BARBER: Barbados v. Bermuda
#BURBOT: Burkina Faso v. Botswana
#BURDEN: Burkina Faso v. Denmark
#BURNED: Burkina Faso v. Netherlands
#CAFTAN: Central African Republic v. Tanzania
#COMMON: Comoros v. Monaco
#GAMMON: The Gambia v. Monaco
#LATEST: Latvia v. Estonia
#MARINA: Morocco v. Indonesia
#SUDDEN: Sudan v. Denmark

I don't think there's anything quite as good as #WALRUS, although there's plenty of scope for confusion, and all the fish names are always good for a giggle.
Mood:: 'silly' silly
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I'm forty years old today. My second birthday Since Cancer.

I've not done much about it: cakes in the office yesterday & I may get a takeaway tonight rather than cook.  I am vaguely thinking of doing Something on the weekend that includes 1st October (my arbitrarily-declared Happy Being Alive Day) but I haven't worked out what Something will be yet.  In the meantime, a good friend is holding a party on Saturday so I'm going to enjoy being part of their celebration instead of organising my own right now.
June 27th, 2017
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 12:43pm on 27/06/2017 under ,
A song that makes you sad. It's hard to find anything sadder than one of my friends who posted a video of a scratch orchestra playing the European anthem Ode to Joy the day after the UK voted to leave the EU. But the song most likely to make me cry, personally, is the aria Voi che sapete from Mozart's The marriage of Figaro.

break-up sadness, plus video )
Mood:: 'melancholy' melancholy
location: 1990s Oxford
Music:: Emily Smith: The Mermaid of Galloway
June 26th, 2017
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 08:00pm on 26/06/2017 under ,
Day 9 of the (in my case very slow-running) music meme asks for a song that makes you happy. And I have quite a lot of those, making me happy is a big reason I have a music collection at all. I think I'm going to go for Complex person by The Pretenders. The lyrics are not all that cheerful in some ways, but I love the bouncy tune and I always hear this as a song about determination and not letting things get you down.

video embed, actually audio only )

Also I've had a good week for playing games: mostly list with short comments )
Music:: Poe: Hello
Mood:: 'cheerful' cheerful
June 25th, 2017
fluffymormegil: @ (Default)
posted by [personal profile] fluffymormegil at 04:04pm on 25/06/2017 under

Due to my job involving taking phone calls from people living in London, I have noticed a linguistic phenomenon that intrigues me: some people whose first language seems likely to not be English display a tendency to use /jespliːz/ (with timing as if it was a single word) as the affirmative rather than simply /jes/.

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Last weekend we made a family visit to the inlaws in High Wycombe, for some low-key hanging-out time together for the cousins to play together and the adults to gossip.  It was Too Hot, but at least every train on the way home had aircon, as did the taxi.  We experimentally departed from Cambridge North, as we are roughly equidistant from the two railway stations.  Advantage: not going through the centre of Cambridge. Disadvantages: only one direct train per hour to London on the weekend, no cafe or shops (yet), slightly more expensive by taxi.  But it was worth conducting the experiment to be sure.

We all struggled with the heat this week.  This house does a good cross-breeze when such a thing is worth doing - this week that was usually from approx 9pm to 7am, so a lot of opening and closing windows and doors according to temperature and people being awake.  We acquired a standing fan to help. I did a lot of waking up about 5am to open things and then droop back on my bed waiting for the breeze to help. I think I'd be a lot less resentful of the lost sleep if I'd been able to be productive with the time, but no.

I went out to a PARTY yesterday and enjoyed catching up with people, and being introduced to Subjective Guess Who?  This is played using the standard board game set, but you can only ask questions which have no objective answer - some memorable ones from last night included "Have they ever played World of Warcraft?" and "Are they a morning person?".  The kibbitzing from the audience is the best part.

Going to the party was utterly self-indulgent given the state of my studying since the election. Today will probably not include much studying either, as plans already include: taking C to see Transformers: The Last Knight, attempting to get some sandals beforehand, getting in my weekly call to my mother before she gets on a bus to San Francisco, and making the cheating version of Tudor costume for C's class trip to Kentwell this week.
June 23rd, 2017
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
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Music:: Black Sabbath: Who are you?
June 21st, 2017
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 06:06pm on 21/06/2017 under ,
Recently read: Not reading much or posting much at the moment because [personal profile] cjwatson is visiting and I'm mainly paying attention to him. I'll update here later in the week, probably.

Currently reading: Nearly finished: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm really enjoying the resolution of the political intrigue plot, but I'm a bit annoyed by the sophomoric speculation on the philosophical implications of sadism.

Up next: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders.


Music meme day 8 of 30

A song about drugs or alcohol

Two from opposite ends of the spectrum: my ex-gf used to sing me this ridiculously soppy song, Kisses sweeter than wine by Jimmie Rogers. Which is really only tangentially about alcohol but it's connected to happy memories for me. And I couldn't leave out the most explicitly druggy song in my collection, Heroin, she said by WOLFSHEIM.

two videos )
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Mood:: 'satisfied' satisfied
June 19th, 2017
jack: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jack at 05:23pm on 19/06/2017 under ,
I've bashed my head on this before but not got a specific answer. Now I read through it in some more detail.

Summary

In West Wing episode 1, Josh insults some evangelical christian leaders. In a meeting trying to resolve this, the following happens.

* One of them proposes a radio address (presumably by the president) on a topic important to them, including public morals, school prayer or pornography. Apparently meaning "people in school should not have access to condoms", "people in school should be forced to perform christian prayer" and "we don't quite know what we want you to do but we're very upset about pornography".

* There is a muddle of people speaking at once, and he cuts in again, saying, "I'd like to discuss why we hear so much talk about the First Amendment coming out of this building, but no talk at all about the First Commandment."

* He says, "The First Commandment says 'Honor thy Father'."

* Toby breaks in, and says that's wrong, that's the third commandment. He is very long-suffering.

* He says, what is the first then?

* The president enters the room and quotes: "I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt worship no other God before me."

Analysis

I'm fairly sure the intended impression is, talk show guy spoke without thinking and screwed up something basic, Toby and the president correct him.

But firstly, the first commandment seems SO basic, it's hard to see how he could get it wrong. Whether or not he's a good Christian overall, quoting the commandments, especially the first one, seems like the sort of thing he'd do all the time.

Secondly, when I first heard it, I assumed this was "honor your father and mother", but now I wonder if it's supposed to be honoring *God* thy father. Although that doesn't quite fit any of the specific sentences either.

I'm not sure if the commandment he was quoting was supposed to be directly related to the previous discussion or not. Either of the possibilities doesn't seem directly relevant to the school stuff, but it's possible it is in a way that's only familiar if you know the usual arguments people make.

Several people point out that all the people involved have *different* traditional commandment numbering. Toby is Jewish. The christian leaders are protestant. And the president is catholic. I assume in America the protestant version is widely known and often considered canonical? I spent some time on wikipedia checking the different traditions for how to break up the commandments into ten.

But that doesn't seem to fit much better. The president could be quoting the protestant version (or possibly a slightly abbreviated catholic version?)

There's no way to make "honor thy father and mother" into 1 or 3, it's 5 for both protestants and jews (and 4 for catholics).

It could instead be "have no other god" or "don't take God's name in vain" but that doesn't quite fit, either the numbers or the quote.

My best guess is that someone wrote an exchange that worked, probably based on the traditional protestant numbering[1]. And then it got edited for various reasons, and ended up in a version which sounded good but didn't actually make sense.

The best alternate explanation is (a) Christian leader guy genuinely didn't know what the first commandment was (or forgot in the heat of the moment) (b) Toby was trolling by deliberately making something up, knowing no-one could call him on it as he had a different numbering anyway (c) the president (an intellectual catholic) knew the confusion of the numbering, but quoted a first commandment that would be expected to protestants and wasn't exactly wrong by his own tradition.

But to me that seems too complicated, if all that was supposed to be there, there'd be more indication. The mistake would have been one where it's more clear how he came to make a mistake. Toby would have sounded different if he was blowing smoke than if he was correcting people. There'd be some acknowledgement that SOMEONE would have known the first commandment, that this isn't exactly an obscure piece of theological trivia the president researched.

[1] West Wing does much better at research than most shows, but they seem to research a particular topic, it still seems like minor things not the main theme of an episode get overlooked sometimes.

Transcript: http://www.westwingtranscripts.com/search.php?flag=getTranscript&id=1
sparrowsion: (mini-sparrow)
These rules describe a game which has been given much thought but not play tested, distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The Rules of Tesseri )
Mood:: 'hot' hot
jack: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jack at 12:00pm on 19/06/2017 under ,
Community. Rewatched first two series. Got bored in series three. I think there was still a lot of good things after that, but I wasn't as excited by each episode.

Rewatching s1 of west wing. Still very good. See twitter for running commentary. It's strange that WW made so many things famous you can't look up if they're true or not, you just find they were in the WW.

When I was being excited by Natural History of Dragons #3, I forgot to say, they investigate translating an ancient syllabary language. made me think of rochvelleth :)

Watched Doctor Who "Veritas". Some things are tedious: that's not how computers work, and that's not how random numbers work. It's almost the opposite. But overall I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Read the latest wild cards. Weird that it just happens to be set in Taraz (Talas) in Kazakhstan when ghoti et al are visiting that country. Although it unfortunately doesn't include much actually specific to Kazakhstan.

There's so many things that are really interesting about the wild card books. Partly that lots of famous authors show up writing a really different style of thing to what they usually write, often more straightforwardly engaging. Partly that main characters in one story thread show up as minor characters in other story thread, and you get a good triangulation on them, how they think of themselves vs how different people see them -- often with no Word-of-God on which is more accurate.
June 18th, 2017
jack: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] jack at 05:07pm on 18/06/2017 under ,
http://cartesiandaemon.livejournal.com/1030046.html

OK, I'm going to assume everyone who wanted to think about the original problem unspoiled has probably done so, and assume comments have rot26 spoilers from here on.

Read more... )
fluffymormegil: @ (Default)
posted by [personal profile] fluffymormegil at 11:12am on 18/06/2017 under

stratocracy, n. - Rule by electric guitar.

Music:: Andreas Waldtoft, "Battle of Breitenfeld"
June 15th, 2017
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 12:46pm on 15/06/2017 under
A song to drive to. I don't drive, and most of the drivers I'm frequently a passenger with don't listen to music while they're driving, or just listen to the radio rather than deliberately chosen stuff. What I most associate with driving is that when we were children we used to go on long drives to go on holiday, usually to Wales, sometimes to the north of France by ferry, and that was the only time we were allowed music in the car. We only had a few tapes, so what I most associate with driving is several Flanders and Swann albums. Probably my favourite is Misalliance: video embed, actually audio only )
Particularly because it manages to find some really brilliant rhymes for honeysuckle: We'd better start saving - many a mickle mak's a muckle / and run away for a honeymoon, and hope that our luck'll / take a turn for the better, said the bindweed to the honeysuckle.

Also because it works as a straight love story about anthromorphized plants, and also as a joke about political polarization which feels surprisingly current for a song written in the 1950s: Deprived of that freedom for which we must fight / to veer to the left or to veer to the right. A lot of F&S stuff has been thoroughly suck-fairied, because a key part of their humour is about men hilariously tricking women into surprise!sex, but I always liked the stuff that was dated because it referred to celebrities from well before I was born, because my Dad would carefully explain the obscure references to us.
location: Keele University, Staffordshire, England
Mood:: 'amused' amused
sparrowsion: (mini-sparrow)
June 14th, 2017
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 08:20pm on 14/06/2017 under ,
Recently read: Some interesting bits and bobs about gender and sexuality:
  • Me and my penis by Laura Dodsworth and Simon Hattenstone. It's mostly an interview and excerpts from a book where Dodsworth photographed 100 men. In each photo, you see penis and testicles, belly, hands and thighs [...] then [I] spent 30 to 60 minutes interviewing them. The article is illustrated with photos from the book so it's not very SFW. Honestly the penis thing is a bit of a gimmick, I'm mostly interested in people talking about some everyday aspect of their lives, and of course the Guardian article has picked some of the most dramatic subjects, an elderly man, a disabled man, a trans man etc.

  • [community profile] queerparenting linked me to Inside the struggle queer, Indigenous couples must overcome to start a family by Steph Wechsler. It's specifically about First Nations Canadians and the issues they face accessing assisted fertility services, and includes the quote Fertility is where eggs and sperm come together, and it’s embedded with heterosexist and heterocentric assumptions. Which reminded me of something a new colleague pointed out regarding teaching medical students about human reproduction (for various reasons I ended up in charge of that bit of the course):

  • The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, by Emily Martin. This is apparently a classic of medical anthropology, and it's really old but a lot of what it says is still true, even in our cutting edge modern course which tries pretty hard to be non-sexist. Basically Martin points out how supposedly scientific discussion of the biology of reproduction is absolutely chock full of sexist assumptions, which apply even to gametes, let alone the humans who make the gametes and gestate the babies. Also really charmingly written and much more accessible than I'd expect from academic anthropology papers.

    The link I've given is a PDF hosted at Stanford, which I'm not entirely sure is compliant with how JSTOR wish their material to be used; if you are picky about things like that, you can read the article via JSTOR's online only system if you register with them.


Currently reading: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. About halfway through, still enjoying it in many ways. It's definitely original and thought-provoking, but also continues to be somewhat annoying with the narrator rabbiting on about his opinions about gender and race, most of which are pretty uncool. I think it would be possible to have a main character with regressive views without constantly shoving his opinions in the reader's face. The other thing I'm struggling with a bit is that it's clearly a far-future book, with lots of tech that doesn't have any real science explanation, but there are also some elements of the book which are considered to be "magical" from the characters' point of view, and the distinction between two categories of impossible stuff seems arbitrary.

In spite of those quibbles I'm quite caught up in the plot and also really interested in the cultural world-building and generally enjoying the novel. Presently I rate it below Ninefox gambit but that is far from calling it bad.

Up next: Still thinking of All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, if nothing else jumps out and grabs me before I get to the end of TLTL.
Music:: Faces of Sarah: When the mourning comes
location: Romanova
Mood:: 'content' content

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