It's very good at what it does.
It's very shivery when they realise how far the horrible grey mist on the universe has spread.
It sets up a very convincing backdrop of angels and other beings fighting against badness with human help, in ways where this is how the universe works, and what people stumble upon is the same stuff that scientists like the childrens' parents are just starting to discover.
The characters of the children (well, mostly Meg and precious Charles Wallace at this point) are very good.
I stumbled on the narrative convention of mentor figures swooping in and saying "hey children, only you can do this, you need to go through this set of trials, when this happens, do this, you don't need to know about X, good luck". Like, that's a common narrative convention that works very well: you just don't question too hard the mentor figures have some special insight into how quests turn out. It's especially useful in childrens books because you can explain what needs to happen directly to the main character and reader. (Think of all the stories of stumbling onto the first person you meet in a secondary world who says, you need to do X, Y and Z.) But eventually you read too many books where it doesn't work like that that you start to question. Even if you don't ask if they might be lying, you wonder, could they really not spare twenty minutes to summarise the biggest risks and how to avoid them? How do they know what's going to happen? If this is all preordained, they why are they providing even this much help, and if not, and the fate of the world hangs on it, can they really not provide any more help?
This is partly me having been spoiled for some simple narrative conventions by being exposed to too many variants, and possibly (?) me not understanding theology well enough (I'm not sure how much this is something that is supposed to actually happen for real, and how mcuh it's just a book thing?) It doesn't always fail me, this is basically how Gandalf acts all the way through LOTR "OK, now we're going to do this because, um, fate" and I'm happy to accept it all at face value, even when other people quibble, but in some books it bothers me.
( spoilers for An Unsuitable Heir )
Tuesday: I managed to get out to the post office and send out three things.
A small pen-knife a friend found in her pocket before a flight, which I took and promised to mail to her.
A bread-maker baking tin, which I ordered and sent onwards, as the people selling it were not shipping to Israel. My parents' bread-maker that they bought in Israel but somehow getting a replacement part for it to Israel was impossible.
A drawing of a bunny I made as part of Inktober. A friend saw it on twitter and asked if I was selling prints. I said I could do a deal on the original. By which I meant: I have too low energy to organise a print. So I have sent that out.
On Saturday I went with the beloved and with Derek to an evening of comedy and song : Midnight Apothecary Goes Down the Shaft hosted by Tricity Vogue on ukulele (with guest, Matthew Floyd Jones, at the grand piano). It was at the Brunel Museum.
It was described very glamorous on the website: - so much so , it was almost intimidating - but as it was, only the beloved and Derek were even wearing waistcoats. (🎵I was all dressed in black , we were all dressed up in black.🎵)
There was tasty food- greek-style wraps with beef or with feta. There were many and various cocktails, and even a couple of mocktails, (and also glasses and water freely available to drink, which I like)
At a roof-top garden there was a bonfire and pointy sticks and a steady supply of marshmallows to roast, And lit torches all around. I was glad it was a clear night and not raining. At one point someone came up and asked for a light for a cigarette, then used a torch to light it.
There were bars providing drinks both at the rooftop garden, and at the bottom of the shaft, where the performance was, (the stage and the grand piano and the speakers and the projector, which was useful for lyrics for the singalong.
Tricity Vogue was charming and funny and full of innuendo, I enjoyed it very much.
I like this photo because the silhouette on the wall matches levels of double-entendre that were bandied about.
Also I got to be introduced and say hello, because Derek knows Ms. Vogue. Then I got shy and ran away.
Memo to self: the Brunel Museum is quite easy to get to. (Jubilee line to Canada Water, Overground to Rotherhite)
When the beloved and I got home, Shadow, next-door's cat, was waiting on our doormat. We opened the door and he came in for a visit. He's a beautiful cat, but mostly he's inquisitive and friendly and charming and he climbed on me and tried to get up my nose, and he climbed on the beloved, and he was so affectionate and we have fallen in love with this cat.
At one point he fell asleep snuggled on the sofa between me and the beloved, and I tried to get a photo of it, but between us both wearing black and Shadow being a black cat, the charm of the moment did not come through.
When the next-door neighbours came home from their night out, Shadow ran to the door, and I let him out and knocked on their door, and he went back home.
( links and personal observations about sexual violence against women )
I absolutely believe everybody else's experiences, people I know and strangers writing brave, brave columns and blog posts. I am just a total outlier, and I really shouldn't be. So I'm signal boosting others' accounts, because I know that I needed to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and perhaps some other people reading this could also use the information.
And I showed them the script
That I held in my hand.
“I call this play Catching-The-Mouse.
I'll fish for the king
With a play for a net.
I said, "With my net
I can catch him, I bet.
I bet, with my net,
I can catch the king yet."
"My head needs a pillow!
Your lap, to be blunt,
Is soft, and to hand,
And it’s pretty vacant."
So I went to her room.
But I passed, on the way,
A room where my uncle
Was kneeling to pray.
This must be the moment
To cut off his head!
But as I crept closer
I heard what he said:
“I murdered my brother!
I freely admit!
Dear God, please forgive me.
I’m rather a git.”
And I couldn’t kill him.
My blow was prevented.
For if he should die
Now he’s prayed and repented,
He’d go up to heaven;
That’s all very well,
But doesn’t seem fair
When my father’s in hell.
So I went on my way
As he muttered amen,
I hope that he’s sinned
When I see him again.
"And here is the head
Of a person historic!"
He gave me a skull.
And alas! It was Yorick!
I looked at the bones
And I thought as I sighed,
How he kissed me, and gave me
A piggyback ride.
And now he’s a skull
And he’s silent and scary!
Now what has become
Of your dancing so airy?
The songs that you sang?
And the jokes that you said?
Now all that you have
Are the bones of your head?
The Lady Ophelia
Of whom you were fond.
She climbed up a willow
And fell in a pond.
And most of her talk
At the times she was verbal
Was straight from the pages
Of Culpeper’s Herbal!
I'm quiet, and I'm dead,
And I’m tired of my quest.
I’m glad of the silence.
I needed a rest.
In this case, there were some failing tests and I was trying to debug some of them, and the result was the same every time, but only when I ran a failing test by itself and it passed did I realise that the tests weren't actually independent. They weren't actually non-deterministic in that the same combination of tests always had the same result, but I hadn't realised what was going on.
And in fact, I'd not validated the initial state of some tests enough, or I would have noticed that what was going wrong was not what the test *did* but what it started with.
I was doing something like, there was some code that loaded a module which contained data for the game -- initial room layout, rules for how-objects-interact, etc. And I didn't *intend* to change that module. Because I'm used to C or C++ header files, I'd forgotten that could be possible. But when I created a room based on the initial data, I copied it without remembering to make sure I was actually *copying* all the relevant sub-objects. And then when you move stuff around the room, that (apparently) moved stuff around in the original copy in the initialisation data module.
And then some other test fails because everything has moved around.
Once I realised, I tested a workaround using deepcopy, but I need to check the one or two places where I need a real copy and implement one there instead.
Writing a game makes me think about copying objects a lot more than any other sort of programming I've done.
Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights. Give us the ballot, and we will no longer plead to the federal government for passage of an anti-lynching law; we will by the power of our vote write the law on the statute books of the South, and bring an end to the dastardly acts of the hooded perpetrators of violence. Give us the ballot, and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill, and send to the sacred halls of Congress men who will not sign a “Southern Manifesto” because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.
Sixty years on, one in thirteen black men in the United is still disenfranchised. In many southern states it’s far worse: the Florida figure is one in four.
A song by a band you wish were still together. A band breaking up is like any relationship coming to an end: if the people involved don't want to be together any more, who am I to wish they stayed in a situation no longer good for them?
It's also partly another example where I don't have the relationship with music that the meme seems to assume. I don't really have any bands that I follow in the manner of eagerly anticipating a new release, therefore none that make me sad if they split up and there won't be any new material coming. The existing songs that I like are still there for me to listen to. I do occasionally go to live gigs performed by ageing rockers, and that's cool, but it's not something I wish for more of in my life.
So I'm going to pick Joy Division. I wish at least that Curtis had lived for the band to split up due to creative differences, rather than coming to an end with his death. He'd be 60 now, and it's hard to imagine what Joy Division might have done if he'd had even one more decade with them let alone four. A lot of other bands from that sort of era, if they have carried on, have tended to get more bleepy and less raw noise, and New Order certainly went in that direction, but Joy Division were something else, and I imagine that they might have continued to innovate musically, maybe not all the way through to the 2010s but through the 80s and 90s at least.
Here's something a bit more gentle and thinky than their big hits like Love will tear us apart: Passover, by Joy Division.
( video embed (audio only) )
I have an Android phone and tablet. The sound quality is eminently usable, and I have Skype to call people on!
How the arsing fuck do I record it?
There appears to be no standard option. Skype itself has no facility for recording calls. There are assorted extremely dodgy apps that claim to do the job, none of which I want to go near. I can Google for dodgy apps as well as you can — I’m not asking you to do a quick Google for me. What I want to know is — has anyone reading this done this personally, recording a Skype call? How do you do it? What do you use?
(Last time I did it on a Linux desktop — I had to run Audacity capturing the microphone and Audio Recorder capturing the speaker, then put the two recordings together. Hideous and stupid and I don't want to do that again.)
Hi, I'm Alex, my pronouns are they, I have hilarious boardgame-related trauma; I'm going to want five minutes to read the rules in silence before we start; and if I ask a question about gameplay that isn't addressed to you by name and you're not me_and, please pretend I didn't say anything.
As I periodically mention, mostly whenever I make notable progress of any kind, for a variety of hilarious reasons I find the vast majority of boardgames intensely stressful, and this gets worse the less I know the people I'm playing with. Like I said in my previous post, over the past two years I've gone from "cannot even start to play a game I've had long-term interest in, in my own home, with my partner, who I trust, with no-one else present, without bursting into tears twice just reading the rules" to "getting a bit of an adrenaline kick when I start my second new game of an afternoon with strangers, in a pub, when I was already primed for social anxiety for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture".
( Read more... )
Things that are even further unhelpful: colleagues who observe that I am coughing a little bit (due to the smoke exposure), and passive-aggressively tell me that I ought not to be at work while I'm sick. I mean, I agree with the general principle that people shouldn't come into work with colds and infect and annoy everybody else. But nobody realistically expects anyone to actually stay off work for the several weeks it can take for a cold to completely clear from one's chest, once past the stage of being actively infectious and unable to think clearly. And I'm annoyed at not being believed when I said that my asthma was making me sound sicker than I really am.
To be fair, I'm annoyed at busybody colleagues due to factors which are not entirely their fault. Not their fault that I'm sensitive about being told off (even gently) for having asthma, due to a miserable year when I was 9 and my class teacher was convinced I was faking not being able to breathe for attention. (I certainly didn't want the kind of attention that involved an adult in a position of authority standing over me and yelling my face and never letting me be absolutely certain she wouldn't hit me, though she never quite got to the point of physical violence.) Not their fault that work has an annoying policy where being allowed to work from home is reserved for people more senior than me. But the upshot is that I've been given special permission to work from home today, and I resent being made to look like a slacker, but there you go.
So I have a moment to catch up with the meme that I've entirely abandoned for a month and a half while in the middle of moving jobs. And I find that I'd stopped just before the section where I have philosophical objections to the questions.
A song you think everybody should listen to: there's no such song, because everybody has different tastes in music! And I don't believe in a moral obligation to listen to music, because it might be very good, but people get to decide what to do with their own listening time.
But let me try and post something anyway, cos I am completionist even when I'm very slow. I have sometimes wanted to sit people down and make them listen to The house of Orange by Stan Rogers. It's a very good song, with a message I think is important. But by no means everybody should listen to it, only people who have managed to pick up the foolish notion that sectarian violence is romantic. And, well, people who appreciate well-written but hard hitting songs might get something positive out of it, but I wouldn't go as far as to say should.
I think if I have to pick one song that if not everybody, then at least lots of people who are generally in political and musical sympathy with me might appreciate, I'm going to go for Tam Lyn retold by The Imagined Village and Benjamin Zephaniah. Because Zephaniah is an amazing poet, and The Imagined Village is an exceptionally interesting and innovative folk project. And because it's a really brilliant reworking and interpretation of the Tam Lin story, which itself one of those core folk pieces. I recommend it even if you don't generally like folk music; it's not in the musical style associated with folk at all. And because it's musically great, it's nearly ten minutes long and I usually have to repeat it several times every time it comes up on my playlist. And finally because I agree with its pro-refugee and pro-migrant message, so if I'm going to impose one song on everybody, this is my pick.
( video embed )
Most of the national anthems in the world are about the countries concerned, or about people (sometimes The People, sometimes a monarch, and so forth). A few are about battles, or about military prowess in general. There are only five in the world (four, if you don't count Somalia as really being a state at the moment) that are specifically about flags. Not nations, not people, not great deeds, but sheets of cloth. It's quite unusual for the flag itself to be revered in this way, rather than it just being seen as a symbol of what is actually valued.
There's a neat map here.
To recap: After publishing their original paper, one of the paper's authors published an article on Carbonbrief explaining it in non-technical language, in which he said that his findings showed that we probably have a bit more leeway in the emissions budget to keep below 1.5 degrees of warming than we thought. Basically everybody in the world except climate scientists took this to mean that the climate models had been overpredicting temperature rise slightly, and the usual suspects went off on a "IT WAS ALL A HOAX" trip.
A day (?) later, the authors of the paper put out a press release saying that this interpretation is incorrect. Carbon Brief posted a new article trying to explain this in more detail. For anybody with time to read it carefully (I didn't), here's RealClimate on it.
I've only read these fairly quickly, but not in detail. I don't fully understand the distinctions between what seemed to be said, and what is actually said. I suspect it may be a difference between the results of a single model, and a full ensemble of different climate models. But I'm not sure - and that's fine, because I trust the experts here.
But I'm a relatively well-informed, if time-poor, reader, who doesn't doubt the existence of anthropogenic global warming, and even I read the original Carbonbrief post and came away thinking that the models were overpredicting (by a small amount - the situation's still dire, however one reads it, but slightly better is slightly better). If I can read the article and get a misleading impression, then most of the population - and, importantly, the press - will too. And they did, and the deniers had a field day. And I bet we'll still be hearing about this "admission that the models were wrong" for years, because the subsequent clarification will never see the light of day in denialist outlets.
So IMHO this was a major failure by the author. Sure, one can expect the journal article to be technical and not to spell things out for laypeople, but to write a non-technical version that is so misleading? He needed to stop for a minute, and think "what will a layperson understand from this?". And if unable to step that far back, get somebody else to do it. No, media management is not his job, but for somebody working in such a (outside science) controversial field, I think some responsibility applies. And frankly, writing a non-technical article that is misleading to laypeople is rather missing the point of doing the non-technical version in the first place ;-)
(I still feel bad about having a strong opinion on this without fully digesting the various things I've linked and understanding the detail of what was and was not said - but I guess that's kind of the point. Most people won't do that, and the impression that they come away with is important)
EDIT: This is not directly related, but is worth a read anyway: Interpreting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature limit. CarbonBrief seems to be becoming a rather excellent site for thoughtful and scientifically-literate lay comment / discussion.
2. The casserole my mother bought me (I think when I started the PhD) is currently full of apples I brought home from my parents' on Saturday evening; I've done about half the bag, and everything smells correct. (It's James Grieve; they're mostly not available commercially, but they're what I grew up with, and I'm always faintly disappointed by apples that aren't them. So: I gathered up a quantity of them, and I'll gather up a quantity more when I go for dinner tomorrow, and I'll jar them, and I'll have enough to put on yoghurt and in crumble and in cake for the next year, I hope.)
3. Passing a pound-a-bowl market earlier today, it transpired that the cardboard crates of two-or-so kilos of blueberries really were one quid each. So I got one of those (I was not going to buy more, to get home on public transport), and I need to decide how many to freeze and whether o jam any and if I want to make clafoutis happen, and so on and so forth. This is a lovely problem to have.
4. Shortly afterwards, while poking around charity shops looking for yet more tablecloths (pace the Graun), on my way home from a hospital appointment that was uninspiring but unproblematic, I found a pasta maker for fifteen quid. Nobody I asked said it was a bad idea quickly enough, and that's how I ended up heading home on public transport with a lap full of pasta machine and two kilos of blueberries. "...", said a friend. "How does this stuff even happen to you so much" "I really don't know how you live like this" "But well done" -- which I will take. (This also, conveniently, provides me with My Next Cooking Goal. I think I probably don't care about the spaghetti attachment but I am eyeing up the ravioli one...)
5. I am sitting in the corner of my sofa, facing the French windows, looking out on the grass and the sunshine. (I love this house.)
6. I am now, after today's adventures in public transport, most of the way through CN Lester's book Trans Like Me. I keep crying over it in public. I have been earwormed with a song off Come Home, Not Again (and have just put it on: I'm used to breaking - but not this time/Of all the things you've taken, I'm not giving me from mine/I know I'm better lonely but alive).
7. On which tangentially-related topic, I recently got my act together to actually listen to Jesus & His Judgemental Father's latest, It Might Get Better, and I just absolutely adore the lyric my breakfast is an existential crisis. And I have a whole pile of books to curl up and wallow in, which I'm very much looking forward to -- Provenance, which I haven't yet had brain for, and the new Max Gladstone, and the new Nnedi Okorafor along with some of her back catalogue, and all the Kai Ashante Wilson I just acquired, and...
8. Board games! On Sunday I went to a board game social being run by my BSL-teacher-now-friend (having been a longstanding friend of A's)! I negotiated social anxiety in the run-up! I played two new-to-me games, with one person in the group each time that I didn't previously know, and it... worked? I didn't cry? I panicked a bit at the start of the second one but actually it was okay? I did the thing? I won one of them? I... am really, really proud of myself. I am so aware of how much progress this is: eighteen months ago, or thereabouts, I finally finally managed to persuade myself to sit down with a rulebook and an Adam in our living room and have a go at playing Thud!, which I'd wanted to basically since I saw it being play-tested at a Discworld convention. I think I ended up crying twice just reading the rulebook, while A was in the kitchen carefully giving me space to have a panic? I ended up crying a bunch more over the course of our couple of experimental collaborative games? ... I just played two new-to-me games with strangers, on no more prep than breezily informing people that I have hilarious boardgame-related trauma, would want to spend five minutes anxiously reading the rules in silence before starting, and that if I asked a question about game mechanic and it wasn't addressed to you by name then pretend I didn't say anything and let A answer. I... am so pleased with myself.
9. ... slipper socks. I sort of resent that I like them so much, and they are the precise opposite of what the podiatrists I was seeing wanted me to do for wearing around the house, but fundamentally I really hate slippers and would by defaul be barefoot but also my feet get really cold really quickly. So now I own two pairs of ridiculous slipper socks, and I wear other socks underneath and slouch around in them, and I spend much less time with my feet painfully cold?
10. ... and on Thursday I'm heading down to Brighton for The October Ritual, an aquarium trip, and Terre á Terre, which I've been curious about for a while.
There is lots that is good that is going on. I'm spending the weekend in Cornwall (well, driving to and from -- a lightning visit is To Be Made), and while there will be Wrangling To Be Done I am also, very much, looking forward to going (however briefly) home.
The next Tube Walk will now take place on Sunday 29th October. We will be walking from Royal Oak to Westbourne Park. Do come if you'd like to, and meet at Royal Oak station from 2pm for a prompt 2.30 start.
( includes breathing difficulties, but not gory )
At this point, comments I would find helpful are: expressions of sympathy; discussions of healthcare policy. I would prefer if you could skip telling me your own stories about asthma and breathing troubles, and I don't really want to hear any experiences with prednisolone right now. I know that's not very socially appropriate of me when I've just told you a long story about my asthma experience, but I find other people's descriptions of asthma triggering and my breathing still isn't quite right. And prednisolone has an effing scary side effect profile, so I'm trying not to scare myself into believing I have any symptoms, so I would rather wait until after I've finished the course to compare experiences.
I liked it a lot. I was surprised and happy that it had a hopeful sort of ending.
Given the dark things that happen in the book.
I liked the very distinct character voices, the pull of the story wanting to see what happens to them, the way people grow and change. The dark humour. The way it had poetic streaks once in a while. The way the world was big and had many and varied people in it.
It starts with a feel that reminds me of 1984, which is both a good book and a book I like. It has in it men who were boys who endured a Lord-of-the-Flies like situation. It goes deeper and wider than that: it is a large and interesting world.
I did pause in the middle and went to read a bit of gay erotic romance for fluff, because I got worried for the characters and I needed a bit of a break.
( quotes, which may or may not feel like spoilers )
( Content notes, possibly incomplete )
I did SO MANY THINGS in August, and then basically spent September recovering. August was working a lot of twelve-hour days (it’s the busy season), going away for two long weekends, and seeing twelve different flats before I found this one. Plus actually moving!
( stuff about moving & the new place )
Meme time, I think; it’d be nice to chat properly.
Give me one or more characters, and I'll tell you:
Ship them with
Idea for a story
Remember, YOU'RE TOTALLY ALLOWED TO DISAGREE WITH MY OPINIONS IN PUBLIC. Just be prepared for me to be all 'no, because...' but none of that means I like you any less :)
Fandoms: Potter, Buffy/Angel, MCU (including TV except for Agents of Shield), Steven Universe, Supergirl/Flash/Arrow, Glee, Dark Angel, AtLA/Korra, Orphan Black, Doctor Who, White Collar, Black Butler, #6, Pretty Little Liars. Also Diana Wynne Jones books. IDK I'm pretty flexible :D
Orrrr if that all seems too much like hard work, we can turn to my favourite old stand-by: you ask me a question, and I'll answer and also ask you a question that's somehow related to yours.