This book is a fantastic example of why I love Science Fiction: alien cultures, developments over loooong time spans, humans at the very edge and beyond their understanding and horizon. I loved it. It's half fascinating and never dry spider civilization worldbuilding and half about the last humans trying to survive in an ark ship; the way they mirrored and played off each other was great, but the contact moments were the best.

More details with spoilers )
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staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
([personal profile] staranise Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:46 pm)
Yesterday afternoon I was in a weird mood--I thought I was going over to [personal profile] goshawk's house for an hour or so to cuddle with her cat and do some writing, but I ended up wanting to be alone to think and brood and sleep, and ended up skipping dinner and staying until ten PM. The cat was glad, since he's lonely without his human, but I'm still not quite sure what's up with me. Then I went home and ranted about the adults involved in the Indigo Children idea, which was very soothing.

I nailed today's job interview, or else I've never nailed anything in my life. I want the position desperately. But they said they'd take "a few weeks" to decide. Siiigh.

On the upside, Mom was able to afford to pay someone to come in and drywall my kitchen and bathroom. So yes, everything there is now covered in drywall dust, but once I clean it off I get to paint and make things look actually inhabited.
This morning I signed and initialed four copies of a contract, wrote a deposit check, and shoved it all into a FedEx envelope so it can arrive at the seller's attorney's office tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed that it goes better this time than it did the last.

L keeps saying she has a good feeling about this, but I had a good feeling about the other one right up until I didn't, so I am not doing any premature celebrating at this point. I mean, I think last time everything went so smoothly and I was basically carried along feeling incredulous and lucky and we saw how that worked out so. Back to cautious optimism and trying to manage expectations. And looking at potential furniture and paint colors, of course.

Gosh, the carpeting is so bad. I mean, first of all, I don't like carpeting but secondly, why white shag? why brown? These are not appealing (to me, and given that the apartment was still available when I got to it, to a lot of other people). If you are trying to sell your apartment, maybe make better aesthetic choices! Don't even get me started on the number of really terrible photos I've seen. I realize that taking pictures is a skill, so if you don't have it, find someone who does to take your pictures and then - protip! - upload them in the right orientation. I closed out of so many potential listings because the photos were a. terrible and b. rotated 90° counterclockwise, making them impossible to parse without a lot of neck craning. Don't do that!

I mean, re: the ugly carpeting: I'll have money left to rip it up and sand/polish/seal the wood floors beneath, but I've seen apartments in the same neighborhood and price range that already had that done, and they look so much nicer. *hands*

Anyway, now the seller just has to sign and we can officially be "in contract" and move on to the next step in the process.

*yawns*

I'm so sleepy. I want to go home. All day I've thought it was Wednesday and that I would be off work for 6 days (I'm taking Thurs/Fri/Mon/Tues off), but no, it's only Tuesday. Stupid Tuesday. Always the worst.

***
mildred_of_midgard: (Eowyn)
([personal profile] mildred_of_midgard Aug. 22nd, 2017 05:07 pm)
The last week has been a bit...much. Today has been the first inkling that things are starting to calm down.

Several very boring (except maybe the neighbor) hassles below.

neighbor )

collection threats )

back pain, TaskRabbit, wall damage )

databases )

stepdaughter's internet )

dentist paperwork )

eye exam )
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yhlee: Flight Rising Spiral dragon, black-red-gold (Flight Rising Jedao baby Spiral)
([personal profile] yhlee Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:23 pm)
For [personal profile] storme.
Prompt: dépaysement.

The Statue Beneath the Sea

Once upon an ocean, a statue dwelled beneath the waves. In days past the statue had been brightly painted and crowned with gilt, with jewels for eyes and jewels set in its magnificent wings. It remembered dancers crowding its plaza and lovers exchanging promise-poems beneath its benevolent gaze, parades of helmeted youths and prophetesses giving speeches in the sinuous language of time unwound.

It had never met the general whose victories it was meant to commemorate, although it knew that some statues had that privilege. But it had their smooth face and their smile, and even though the jewels of its eyes had long ago been stolen by treasure-scavengers, it had something of the general's vision. It knew the stories of the general and their honored lover the lady scholar, and how they had built the old city to a precipice of grandeur.

Those days had passed long ago, however, and the wars of weather-mages had sunk the city below the sea. No one now living remembered the city's name the way it had been spoken by its inhabitants, although it lingered in distorted whispers and siren-songs that wound through the tides. The statue remembered its people and yearned for whatever scraps of myth it could gather from the gossip of gulls and sailors.

The fish and the anemones, mindful of the statue's melancholy, spoke with it little. In truth it would have welcomed their chatter. But when it asked them for stories of war (in honor of its general), they could only share tales of cannonades and blood staining the foam, so different from the swift chariots and dust-clouds it knew of, and its melancholy only deepened.

At last an entourage of dragons, distant cousins of the Dragon King Under the Sea, visited the sunken city. One of the dragons, hardly more than an eggling as dragons reckon time, especially liked to explore vanished civilizations. She was particularly taken by the statue's eroded marble surfaces, seeing in them the litany of years gone and years to come.

The statue told the dragon of its vanished city, and its general's victories--more fable than truth by this point, not that there was anyone to correct it--and the dragon listened eagerly. She began telling the statue's stories to the sharks and the seahorses, the terns and the turtles. Soon the creatures of the sea came to listen to the statue as well, and to honor it with their tribute.

It wasn't long before the statue's old plaza was surrounded by nets woven of pirates' beards, and strands of coins marked around the rim with praises to octopus gods, and bits and pieces of filigree armor snatched from soldiers fallen overboard. The creatures of the sea, not to mention the dragons, began frequenting the statue's plaza, and carrying out their own ceremonies there.

While the statue knew that the people it had once known would never return, and that the old city was dead in truth, it found some comfort in seeing a new one arise where the old had been.
oursin: image of hedgehogs having sex (bonking hedgehogs)
([personal profile] oursin Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:38 pm)

Spotted this the other day and then forgot to mention it:

Sex Festival in Tunbridge Wells.

Actually, not in Tunbridge Wells, which evokes images of orgiastic goings on in the Pantiles amidst a crowd of the local denizens being Disgusted.

In fact, in a wood nearby.

'People living in the area have expressed concern over noise, parking and decency': which is almost in the fine tradition of the inhabitants of Hampstead not minding so much about the actual cruising taking place at the famed gay cruising grounds of the Heath, but that they were leaving litter.

A local farmer reported 'Locals that hadn't bought tickets posed the biggest problem for event organisers, with hundreds of people trying to get in on the action'.

A man was found dead and a woman unconscious at the campsite this morning: while all the reports namecheck the festival, it sounds as if it was over by then. The report in the Telegraph suggests that it is possible that fumes from a barbecue were to blame, and the death is so far described as unexplained. But obviously, all reports are going to mention the kinky sex party.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
([personal profile] asakiyume Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:29 pm)
Something you notice very quickly when you start reading Ninefox Gambit is the importance of the calendar. It’s the foundation stone of empire: things that subvert empire cause “calendrical rot,” and, conversely, things that cause calendrical rot are subversion, or, as the story terms it, heresy—like rebellion but even more rebellious.

This focus on calendars is a stroke of genius. Calendars **are** powerful mechanisms of cultural control. Think about how the international standard calendar for business and commerce is the Gregorian calendar, which ties its start date to Christianity. (People do use other calendars in various places and for various purposes, but the Gregorian calendar dominates for international exchange.) Less so now than in the past, but Sunday is designated a no-work day in accordance with that tradition. And think how the rest day figures for other calendars, too—the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar. If you don’t know the proper rest day, you can be in trouble—and this is even if you’re an outsider: things stop. And if you don’t stop—depending on the degree of observance—you might be punished. And if the community gradually moves away from this, it can be perceived by the more-faithful as cultural weakening. Calendrical rot is threatening!

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar that has complicated, intersecting base 10 and base 12 recurring features and indicates certain days as auspicious or inauspicious for various activities. When you combine it with geomantic principles (powers or traits related to compass directions—feng shui), which happens naturally, as feng shui is tied to the solstices and equinoxes, which are calendrical as well as astronomical occurrences, boom, that’s a whole lot of Chinese folk culture you’ve got—and, like the Chinese writing system, it spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

In Japan (and probably in other East Asian countries, but Japan’s the one I know about), magical powers were attributed to people who could advise on and manipulate the calendar—something that required some good math skills, what with those mixed number bases and various repeating units. If you’ve ever seen the film Onmyōji, you’ve seen the story of one famous example of such a person, Abe no Seimei. In Ninefox Gambit, this magic translates to the “exotic effects” that can be generated in war, relying on the calendar. These same effects don’t work if the calendar is subverted—beware calendrical rot!

There’s one notable instance in Ninefox Gambit in which the protagonist manipulates the heretics’ calendar to gain a tactical advantage—Buuuuuut I can’t spoil it.

This isn’t a review of the book—I have one of those at Goodreads, covering some of the same territory, but in less detail—it’s more of an appreciation of this one aspect of the book. It’s me saying “I SEE WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOON HA LEE! VERY CLEVER!”
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
([personal profile] selenak Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:38 pm)
Defenders:


Gone for Soldiers: Claire and Jessica at a certain memorial service post show. In which two backstories the series left out are addressed. Excellent Claire and Jessica voices.

Above, but undermined: neat missing scene between Matt and Jessica.

Orphan Black:

The sun that's setting in the east: what Rachel did next.

Tatiana Maslany about Orphan Black interview: in which she looks back on the show, sees P.T. Westmoreland as the perfect analogue for a current head of state (hint: mediocre man in his early 70s with his power based on lies, obsessed with himself, no regard for anything not him) and thus a good final villain, and reveals which Clone was the most fun for her to play.
monanotlisa: (natasha - avengers)
([personal profile] monanotlisa Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:54 am)
Yesterday post-swim (!) the first time after endoscopic surgery (!!) I was patting myself dry. I looked at my towel and found bright red on it. Eek! I looked at my abdomen -- all good -- and then at my hand, where a long, slice-y cut was oozing a little blood. To add insult to injury, it wasn't even on my fingers, where one might feasibly mishandle the courtesy razor: It was right between my index and second finger, actually requiring a butterfly bandaid.

I'm just not meant to shave, y'all. Most of my leg scars (in spite of several knee surgeries and a few IV port leftovers from hospitals), are from cutting myself up trying to get hair off that belongs there in the first place.

In other health news, I found the world's tiniest malpractice problem! So, here was the success of the above-mentioned fifty minutes of swimming without aggravating my Problem Incision, the rightmost one, which of course includes some details, but not gory ones after all )
umadoshi: (Orphan Black - Cosima 01 (teaotter))
([personal profile] umadoshi Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:31 pm)
Fannish/Geeky Things/SFF

"Tatiana Maslany Says Goodbye to 'Orphan Black'". [series finale spoilers]

Sarah Rees Brennan wrote "Our Winged Brains: The Appeal of Winged Creatures in Genre Fiction" for Tor.com.

[twitter.com profile] seananmcguire wrote a fantastic Twitter thread about the awesomeness of In Other Lands.

"'Atomic Blonde' Doesn’t Pretend Women Fight Like Men, And The Result Is Awesome".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] recessional, a Tumblr post about Atomic Blonde...which is really hard to describe without spoilers. It has to do with a plot point that many people have warned others about in advance of their seeing the film (a warning for which a lot of people have been grateful, whether or not it dissuaded them from seeing the film themselves), and offers a take on why the "this horrible thing happens [so the movie failed us/is bad/perpetuates the same bad things that always happen]!" warning is misleading and the event is in fact genre appropriate.

"Doorways to Fantasy: Rovina Cai Illustrates Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children". [Tor.com]

"You're screwing this up: An open letter to Hollywood from your mortal enemy (the female comic fan)".

"N. K. Jemisin’s New Contemporary Fantasy Trilogy Will “Mess with the Lovecraft Legacy”". [Tor.com]

"Library of America Recognizes Ursula K. Le Guin (and Science Fiction)". [Book Riot]

"Robin McKinley: A Pioneer in YA Fiction". [Book Riot]


Miscellaneous

"The masseuse who pulled my arm out". [BBC] "Life with a disability can sometimes give rise to unspoken questions and sensitivities, but amid the awkwardness there can be humour. The following is an edited version of a sketch by Angela Clarke who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, delivered for the BBC at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival."

"Confessions of a Costume Curator: As a fashion historian, my job is to learn from other people’s clothes—a task that is challenging, messy, and often spooky".

I think I may've linked this before--it's from last year--but I came across it again and still really like it: "24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear".

"Swan, Late: The unexpected joys of adult beginner ballet". [Note: the writer frequently uses the term "oriental dance" when talking about bellydance; I'm not sure if that's a standard term in those circles? It pings me uncomfortably, so I figured I'd note it.]

"‘Kids are gross’: on feminists and agency". "What I’ve come to suspect is that many feminists’ failure to recognise the autonomy of children is, at least in part, symptomatic of the way children have for many feminists become symbols of oppression. But when we are unable to separate the systematic discrimination that makes mothering a ridiculously difficult and often oppressive role from the fact that children are sentient, autonomous human beings who deserve dignity and respect, we are in danger of allowing glaring hypocrisies to creep into the way we construct and use feminist principles and ideas."

"INFOGRAPHIC: A world of languages - and how many speak them".

"N.K. Jemisin’s #AntiFascistSFF and Gail Simone’s #ComicsHateNazis Are the Inspiration You Need on This Monstrous Day". [The Mary Sue] (From earlier this month.)

"Eisner Nominee Renae De Liz Shares Short Guide for Artists on How to De-Objectify Female Characters". [2016]

"A Sweet Valley High Movie is Coming (from the Writer of Legally Blonde!)" [Book Riot]

"How to Keep a Roomba Vacuum Cleaner From Collecting Data About Your Home".

"A New Canon: In Pop Music, Women Belong At The Center Of The Story" and "The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women". [NPR] (Tori's Little Earthquakes is #27.)
sartorias: (white rose)
([personal profile] sartorias Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:24 am)
I have been using up my birthday treasures so fast that I've changed my strategy. Yesterday's eclipse was so lovely not just in itself but the relief from the news, that when I woke up to the prospect of the orange horror playing video games with people's lives in Afghanistan I made a conscious decision to look for moments of beauty every day--moments of other human beings making art.

I found this wonderful dancer with a hoop--and this young man doing same..
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movie poster
This weekend I saw the movie Dunkirk. In case you haven’t heard, it depicts the 1940 evacuation of British soldiers from the beach at Dunkirk in France as Nazi troops overran the area. The Nazis attempted to block the evacuation every way they could. Eventually, more than 300,000 men were rescued, but 68,000 were killed, wounded, missing, or captured.

The movie depicts the battle with continuous, terrifying action.

Because so many warships and other vessels were sunk or damaged and the evacuation was so desperate, Britain pressed 850 small civilian craft, such as yachts and motorboats, to help. The movie focuses on the attempt of one soldier to get to safety in Britain, one small craft that comes to the rescue, and two Spitfire airplane pilots fighting to protect the ships.

We see no Nazis in the movie, just the death and destruction they cause. But Nazis are in the news these days, and it may be a good time to remember, as the movie does, what Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to say after Dunkirk:

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”

— Sue Burke
naye: mihashi from oofuri with a confused look (?)
([personal profile] naye Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:54 pm)
I... really don't understand how my wife's family works. As evidenced by this chain of emails that started with a photo my Sister-in-law sent of a white Beats-branded USB cable.

Not our cable! Because we'd know if we owned something like that. But no. Clearly this is something that's up to debate rather than a fact - and my SIL is not planning on losing a debate with her little sister. It went something like this:

SIL: You forgot this cable. Should I send it?
Wife: That's not ours.
SIL: It is yours.
W: No, it's not.
SIL: Well, my son saw you use this cable, so it must be yours.
Wife: No, we used a cable with the same color that we brought back home with us.
SIL: Oh well you must've grabbed it from the cabin.
Wife: We really didn't.
Me: What is happening.
SIL: It says 'Beats'
Wife: We don't have any white Beats cable.
SIL: (We'll see about that. *hands over*)
11-year old nephew: HI THIS IS YOUR PS4 CABLE WE'RE SENDING IT NOW
Me: What. Is. Happening?!?!
Wife: *shrug* Welcome to my family this is a thing here.
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yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
([personal profile] yhlee Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:02 am)
Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2nd ed.) has been on my wishlist for something like the past five years. I picked it up recently by ordering it through my local game store (which is technically also a bookstore and is in the process of signing on with distributors or however that goes). It is an absolute delight.

I'm glad I sprung for the hardcopy of this for two reasons: one, I like to mark up my nonfiction, and two, its formatting! The left-hand page in every two-page spread is text; the right-hand page has an illustration related to the material on the left-hand page. While the illustrations are not technically the most accomplished, they are generally extremely effective communicative cartoons or diagrams.

This book comes with a ton of blurbs, and Cory Doctorow's--"Does for games what Understanding Comics [by Scott McCloud] did for sequential art"--pretty much sums up how I feel. I've read other game design books that were insightful, or thorough, but the Koster is accessible and very interesting in its approach to what makes games games, and how to make them fun (in the instances where that's a thing--cf. Brenda Romero's Train).

One of Koster's arguments is that "with games, learning is the drug" (40)--a game that interests us is one that strikes the necessary balance of not too easy (Tic-Tac-Toe, for most adults) and not too hard (multiple failure modes possible, depending on the individual--witness me and chess or go [1]). He suggests that games (and play, which is common in a lot of young animals!) are an artifact of how we try to learn survival skills, and moves forward into making suggestions as to how to move the form forward into values/skills more suitable for the modern era than "kill things" or "jump over things" or "search for all the things."

[1] Joe gave up on teaching me go when I told him I have severe difficulty with visual patterns. In fact, I am starting to wonder if aphantasia just screws me over for this kind of game in general. :p

There's also a particularly interesting chapter on ethics and entertainment where he discusses the difference between the game system and the flavor/dressing:

The bare mechanics of a game may indeed carry semantic freighting, but odds are that it will be fairly abstract. A game about aiming is a game about aiming, and there's no getting around that. It's hard to conceive of a game about aiming that isn't about shooting, but it has been done--there are several gmaes where instead of shooting bullets with a gun, you are instead shooting pictures with a camera. (170)

The bare mechanics of the game do not determine its meaning. Let's try a thought experiment. Let's picture a mass murder game wherein there is a gas chamber shaped like a well. You the player are dropping innocent victims down into the gas chamber, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are old ones and young ones, fat ones and tall ones. As they fall to the bottom, they grab onto each other and try to form human pyramids to get to the top of the well. Should they manage to get out, the game is over and you die. But if you pack them in tightly enough, the ones on the bottom succumb to the gas and die.

I do not want to play this game. Do you? Yet it is Tetris. (172)


In general, Koster has a background in game design AND writing AND music, and he draws on all three in his analysis of games, as well as other disciplines (e.g. psychology). It makes the book a scintillating read. I can't believe I waited so long to read this--but it was exactly what I wanted to read last week, so hey. Highly recommended.
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
([personal profile] oursin Aug. 22nd, 2017 09:13 am)
Happy birthday, [personal profile] elisem!
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
([personal profile] sovay Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:59 am)
I looked at the calendar, Ray.

The HFA's all-night half-marathon this year is vampires. Of that lineup, I have seen only the Hammer Dracula (1958), but some of the rest—Near Dark (1987), The Hunger (1983), Dracula's Daughter (1936)—I've had designs on for years. This should be great. People are going to be so nervous, stepping out into the ash-making sunlight at the end of that long, bloody night.

I see also from the October and November calendars that the archive appears to be embarking on a William Wellman retrospective. The trick here will not be living in the theater for most of the fall. I've seen a number of the titles announced so far, but hardly any of them on a big screen—they're pre-Code, they turn up on TCM. I know I want to see Night Nurse (1931), Heroes for Sale (1933), and Wild Boys of the Road (1933) because they are three of my favorite pre-Code movies, period. Maybe Other Men's Women (1931) just because I like Grant Withers and all five minutes of James Cagney in it so much. Safe in Hell (1931) is one of those titles you can't turn down. I've been seeing stills of cross-dressed Louise Brooks in Beggars of Life (1928) for years. For some reason I always forget he directed Nothing Sacred (1937) and think of it as an unusually cynical Frank Capra.

I'd ask why I have a real job except I worry it would trigger irony, so I'll just wish I had a real job with more time to write about movies.

Budget also couldn't hurt.
When I posted about A Girl and Her Fed last week, I mentioned that [dreamwidth.org profile] davidgillon had warned me that the very beginning of Act 2 of the comic had a major spoiler for the as-yet-unwritten/unpublished Rachel Peng novels.

I did indeed press on, bracing myself for a spoiler. (And now I'm completely up to date on the comic; yesterday was the first new installment I read as a Caught-Up Reader. I think the only material I have left to read now is the handful of mixed comics/prose shorts on Spangler's store site, and I've made it as far as buying them all.) And many things happened, because there'd been a five-year timeskip since the first act of the comic, and I thought, "Okay, I don't know which of these things is the spoiler [dreamwidth.org profile] davidgillon mentioned, but many things happen very early in Act 2 that leave things in a very different place than they are as of the published Rachel books, so presumably it was one of those..."

Except then I read all the way back through the posts at [tumblr.com profile] agirlandherfed, and due to a couple of Asks there, the nature of the early-Act 2 spoiler was spelled out.

It was an offhand reference--a panel's worth of mention, at most--and so far the comic hasn't mentioned it again, and I completely failed to process it for what it was. But now, belatedly, I know.

And my heart broke a little.
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
([personal profile] yhlee Aug. 21st, 2017 10:21 pm)
Read more... )

Also, now I have an incredible desire to watch the Clone Wars cartoon so I will have to save up for the DVDs. Maybe Christmas? XD
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