oursin: My photograph of Praire Buoy sculpture, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana, overwritten with Urgent, Phallic Look (urgent phallic)
[personal profile] oursin

- just on reading the the cover of the Guardian Saturday Review, which promised its readers a letter from Karl Ove Knausgaard to his unborn baby.

And when Tonstant Weader had finished fwowing up, she wondered how much nappy-changing KOK (fnarr, fnaar: am 13 at the back of the class) signs up for, rather than providing Deep Existential Insights?

Will concede that I am somewhat cynical about the entire genre of 'Bloke becomes father and has EPIPHANY' - in particular we may note that KOK already has two children. Also KOK has admitted that 'he has achieved huge success by sacrificing his relationships with friends and members of his family'.

And in other bloke news, maybe it's just me, but why is Rosa Bonheur 'less well-known' than other French C19th horse painters whose names ring no bell with me, Vernet and Fromentin? If someone has a massive great canvas in the NY Metropolitan Museum... I think this is a deplorable case of the reviewer not having heard of her.

And also in Dept of Unexamined Assumptions, What Internet Searches Reveal: as I am sure I have heretofore remarked, what interests people in porn, what their sexual fantasies are, doesn't necessarily map to what they like to do. So not entirely sure that Big Data on the topic is quite as revelatory as claimed here.

nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
Poll #18711 Eye candy
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 46


Which?

View Answers

Vin Diesel
9 (19.6%)

Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock
18 (39.1%)

Yes, yes please
9 (19.6%)

Fast AND furious, hurr hurr
7 (15.2%)

No thanks, fit bald men aren't my thing
14 (30.4%)

I have a really short attention span. What was the question?
7 (15.2%)

Cake, anyone?
23 (50.0%)

Ticky!
16 (34.8%)

oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

Was lately reading something about (male) travellers and those Amazingly Beautiful Women they saw somewhere a long way away after arduous journeying, which might be partly about Exoticising the Other, but also, I think, about there being some place (or time) which is not boring old Here, where things are amazing.

On the, Not Like The Women I Have To Deal With Here And Now In The Present, a friend of mine has a piece somewhere or other (actually I think it's in a volume in which I too am represented) about certain late C19th French (male) intellectuals complaining that women of their day were by no means comparable to the HOTT witty libertine ladies of the Ancien Regime in their salons.

And this led me to the thought that maybe if you are living in it no time is Perfect and Ideal: some may be better than others, for more people, maybe. Just as there were people who found, for them, good lives in times/places that are not usually thought of as utopian eras and most time-travellers would not put on their bucket lists.

Anything close-up and quotidien is, I depose, something the flaws in which you are going to apprehend fairly acutely. Though possibly the upside of that is, that they are the flaws and hindrances that one has developed work-arounds for (see Katharine Whitehorn on the little niggles about one's house that one hardly notices any more but has to warn visitors about).

oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

I.e., this week has been mostly getting the new computer to do those things which it ought to do, and leave undone those things which it ought not do -

Among which the most disturbing was the discovery this morning that Thunderbird was marking ALL, yes ALL, incoming mail as Junk and also as Read, fortunately I did discover that this was happening.

There has also been wrestling with getting to be able to talk to the MyCloud as part of my home network rather than via a remote interface connection.

There was the oops, I needed to do a backup of This Thing, That Thing and The Other Thing from the old computer, and having to sort that out.

There is all the finding the passwords and activation codes for things for which I entered a password when I first activated the thing, and never since.

There is also the loss of some things - don't seem to be able to have the little slide-show widget thing of photos on my desktop, chiz - and finding that the new versions of things are Not What We Expect - the new Kobo Desktop App is quite horrid.

But on the whole, we are reasonably satisfied with the New System - its speed in particular is commendable.

However, I am annoyed with Opera, which I was intending using as my secondary browser to avoid Microsoft and Google, but the main thing I wanted a secondary browser for was so that I can log into The Other DW Journal without logging out of this one, but Opera, for some reason I wot not of, insists on autofilling the login screen with the details for this account rather than the other - la, 'tis tedious vexatious.

(no subject)

Aug. 17th, 2017 05:37 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] negothick and [personal profile] quiara!

Wednesday is positively summery

Aug. 16th, 2017 03:53 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished The Color of Fear: up to usual standard.

PC Hodgell, The Gates of Tagmeth: these have definitely succumbed to a kind of Dunnett syndrome, in which there is some huge mysterious meta-arc going on, occasionally alluded to, but each episode deals with some particular problem that Jame (mostly) has to face (there were a few other viewpoint sections in this one) in the foreground and doesn't seem to be advancing the longer game particularly. On the other hand, kept me reading. On the prehensile tail, so not the place to start. (Are there really only 8 books in the Kencyrath sequence? only I have been reading them for decades, so it seems more.)

JD Robb, Echoes in Death (2017), as the ebook had finally come down to a sum I consider reasonable for an ebook. The mixture as usual, pretty much. Okay, not the most sophisticated of mystery plots, I got this and the twist very early on, but it's the getting there, I guess.

On the go

Discovered I had a charity-shop copy of PD James, The Private Patient (2008), the last of the excursions of Dalgleish, which I had not already read for some reason - possibly because I wasn't at that time sufficiently keen on PDJ and AD to shell out for a trade paperback.

Up next

Dunno, really.

Vienna: Tiergarten Schoenbrunn

Aug. 16th, 2017 01:27 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
Fish
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.

The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.

Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.

Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.

It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).

We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!

Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.

Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.

It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.

Further photos beneath the cut.
+++ )
oursin: The stylised map of the London Underground, overwritten with Tired of London? Tired of Life! (Tired of London? Tired of Life!)
[personal profile] oursin

London garden bridge project collapses in acrimony after £37m spent.

And I can't help wanting to say to Boris J that in Ye Bygone Days when people built follies they did so on their own estates and with their own money (though on reflection this was probably ill-gottens from the Triangle Trade and dodgy dealings in India) and didn't ask the nation to pay for them.

(And aren't there already memorials to Princess Di? How many do we need?)

And, you know, it's a pretty idea and in theory I am there with Thomas Heatherwick that 'London needs new bridges and unexpected new public places': except that that is not a part of London that required Yet Another Bridge, there are so many that taking the boat journey along that stretch of river is more like going into a tunnel.

Also, it was not properly a public space:

a link that would be privately run, would be able set its own rules for access, and would close at night and be available to hire for private events.
Not dissimilar from those gardens in London squares to which access is by residents' key. I do not think that is a definition of 'public' that would have been assented to by those urban planners and reformers creating parks and spaces for the benefit of the inhabitants of the metropolis.

I am also boggled by the suggestion that the river is not already pretty much 'centre-stage' in our great city.

I think Mad William would have had things to say along the lines of

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
and whether if crowds flowed over the bridge, so many, common and routine usage would have meant that
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

I might go along on the line suggested by this to comment that what good is a garden bridge if the land lies waste?

Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum

Aug. 15th, 2017 01:26 pm
nanila: (me: art)
[personal profile] nanila
In early July, the bloke & I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days for my (very) belated birthday celebrations. His parents kindly looked after the children so we could have our first holiday alone together since they were born.

One of the things we did was go to an art museum and wander around for a couple of hours. This is not a thing you can do with small children, unless you have imprisoned them in a pram, and then there would (not unreasonably) be screaming.

I’d previously been to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The bloke had never been to the latter, but as it was the height of summer, it was not a good time to go. The place cannot cope with the number of visitors it receives, and unless you book days in advance, you can’t get in. When you do, you still have to queue, and you end up shuffling in a slow-moving crush of people past all of the artwork. It’s not a great experience. We opted, therefore, to go to one we’d never been in: the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to modern art.

I really enjoyed the collection. It was well curated and I now have a little list of new (to me) artists to keep my eyes peeled for in the London exhibitions.

Photographer Zanele Muholi takes photos of LGBTQ+ community members in Africa. I definitely want a book of her work. It was a little irritating to find, at the end of our visit, that of all the special exhibitions on display, hers was the only one without a corresponding product available in the shop. No books, no postcards, nothing. Hmph.

20170711_123055
From her “Brave Beauties” series.

+++ )

(no subject)

Aug. 15th, 2017 09:25 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] jcalanthe and [personal profile] muckefuck!
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

So, farewell then, printer which has been with me some dozen or so years, also previous computer.

Take it away Bessie Smith:

The usual sturm und drang over setting up the new All In One Computer and the printer which purports to be wireless, but refuses to connect thusly: however it will connect by cable.

Though alas, all the USB ports are on one side of the computer, the one away from where the printer has to go (unless I do some major rearranging), but I think I have contrived.

And of course, various other things still to get sorted.

But, getting there, sorta.

Culinary

Aug. 13th, 2017 08:58 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

Bread during the week: a Standen loaf, v tasty.

Saturday breakfast rolls: brown grated apple with molasses and ginger: using up two bags of flour probably a) rather more wholemeal than strong white b) probably quantities a bit more than usual; also using up ginger so these were quite gingery.

Today's lunch: small whole sea-bream baked in foil with ginger and lime; served with purple crinkle-cut sweet potato fries, garlic roasted sweet-stem cauliflower and bellaverde broccoli, steamed samphire tossed in butter, and padron peppters.

It R Caturday

Aug. 12th, 2017 09:04 pm
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila
Telstar
Handsome tuxie sticks his tongue out at you from his sunny perch atop the wood shed.
oursin: A globe artichoke (artichoke)
[personal profile] oursin

The Long Read in today's Guardian is on 'clean eating' and how problematic, not to say, entirely woo-woo, it is.

However, I think the author misses a trick because, even though she cites to a mid-Victorian food reformer:

In the 1850s, a British chemist called Arthur Hill Hassall became convinced that the whole food supply of London was riddled with toxins and fakery. What’s more, he was right. Hassall had done a series of investigations for the medical journal the Lancet, and found that much of what was for sale as food and drink was not what it seemed: “coffee” made from burnt sugar and chicory; pickles dyed green with poisonous copper colourings
it is claimed:
He started to see poison everywhere, and decided that the answer was to create a set of totally uncontaminated food products. In 1881, he set up his own firm, The Pure Food Company.
He was pretty much right to do so, rather than, as suggested, paranoid. An examination of the annual reports of Medical Officers of Health across London for the period, handily available digitised and searchable online at London's Pulse indicates how extremely yucky food practices in the metropolis could be at the period: food hygiene and contamination was a major concern for MOsH.

I also wonder how many people, and of what demographic, are actually into 'clean eating', given that most people don't even manage their 5 a day (I'm not honestly sure I achieve this every day myself). Well, presumably people with time and resources enough to worry over what they put into their mouths, rather than where the next meal is coming from.

***

And apparently some German politician has been complaining about the decline of the good old German nudist tradition. I remember some years ago at a conference when someone who works on sexuality in the former GDR was talking about the perception among its former citizens of the loss of body positivity of that kind when the Wall fell and exposure to consumerist capitalism happened.

(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2017 11:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] cynthia1960!
oursin: Hedgehog saying boggled hedgehog is boggled (boggled)
[personal profile] oursin

- because that's where I've gone to.

No, really, I am boggled.

So I bit the bullet and ordered a new desktop computer, a new notebook, and a new printer: because I realised that my existing printer, the one that is acting affectingly consumptive, was one that has been doing service for 12+ years and thus I think putting out to grass is the sensible thing to do. And if I'm getting a new printer, and I already had it in mind to get a new desktop, rather than having to faff twice over to get computer and printer to make nice to one another, I might as well combine getting these things and just have a massive getting up to speed with new electronics session.

And My Favoured Retailer did not have the desktop model I wanted so I had to go Elsewhere, but they did have the Yogabook and printer model I wanted: but then it turned out that these come from separate places, and there was some suggestion that the printer might take up to a week to arrive.

But, lo and behold, mirabile dictu: the desktop and the Yogabook arrived pretty much within 5 minutes of one another at a civilised time of day, and the printer at mid-afternoon.

What're the odds, eh?

Friday Five: Fashionista

Aug. 11th, 2017 12:08 pm
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila
  1. What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?
    Probably this one:

    (That's me in 2003, wearing a green vest, black trousers & boots, sunglasses and very long dreadlocks. I'm carrying the tiny metal box that functioned as my handbag in those days.)

  2. As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?
    As a young teen, I was trending toward goth, but I didn't go full rivethead until I was at university.

  3. Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?
    I have worn unnatural shades of hair colour: green, blue and purple. I don't really think of dreadlocks as "crazy".

  4. Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?
    Um, yes, definitely. Thank GOODNESS.

  5. Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?
    I would definitely love to be a bit more goth/rivet still. It's not that I lack the confidence, it's that I don't have the time, the money or the energy to maintain the look. I spend what resources I do have on my kids' wardrobes, not my own. Also, it would be pretty incongruous at my work, which is small-c conservative.


Questions are from the [community profile] thefridayfive community.
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Today's ODNB Life of the Day: Marje Proops by Katharine Whitehorn.

I daresay that many of my dr rdrs were in the wrong country to know of or born just a bit too late to recall Dear Marje, so I will copy a few choice bits here, as those links do not last:

[T]he editor of Good Taste magazine asked her to write an article on the problems of mothers coping on their own in wartime. A pamphlet on venereal disease for female servicewomen and other commissions followed.
My kinda gal! Sid sez HAI!
[A]t the end of the war she joined the Daily Herald as fashion editor, later graduating to woman's editor. And when the existing advice columnist, writing as May Marshall, left, Proops, unable to find a replacement, started answering the letters herself.

So began her career as an ‘agony aunt’, which gave her ‘Dear Marje’ column iconic status in journalism and the country, a role she continued when she moved back to the Woman's Mirror under Hugh Cudlipp in 1954. He had been impressed by the witty, forthright replies of American columnists Abigail van Buren and Ann Landers, and reckoned Marje could emulate them, and more. At first she was alarmed by how little she knew, but her friend the psychiatrist Dr Eustace Chesser let her bring round the letters in his lunch hour and gradually schooled her in their interpretation. She built up over the years not only increasing experience but a vast knowledge of the organizations and agencies where her troubled readers could go for help. She answered, or caused to be answered by her team of trained helpers, every one of the 50,000 letters she received each year; other readers telephoned her, and occasionally she was compelled to take practical action, for example when one girl rang from a call box to say she had taken suicide pills; Marje kept her in conversation for long enough for her staff and the police to locate and rescue her.

Her columns were distinguished from the more conventional and moralistic work of previous advice columnists by their frankness about forbidden areas such as homosexuality, impotence, divorce, and incest; she claimed to be the first person to mention masturbation in a family newspaper. She was compassionate but could be tough with her correspondents: her journalist colleague Felicity Green described her answers as being ‘brutally frank, sexually aware, liberal to the point of illegality’ (private information). Her writing bridged in its fifty years a change in public attitudes from that in which wives wrote about ‘submitting’ to their husbands to one in which, in her own words, ‘questions about orgasms are as common as questions about mothers-in-law’. She and those who followed her were even reproached for having accelerated the process, though she saw herself as struggling against hypocrisy and repression and cruelty.



The influence of a woman working in one of those derided womanly spheres of activity, eh? not just women's magazines, but the advice column.

And thinking about the spreading and diffusive effect of that sphere - well beyond the individuals actually presenting their problems - I was reminded of this which I came across linked from somewhere or other: I Was A Hardcore Conservative: What Changed My Mind and that thing about having arguments not to convince the person you're arguing with but the bystanders. Even if the advisees themselves did not take the very excellent advice offered by Ms Proops, I am sure I am not the only person who has picked up valuable life-lessons from reading those responses.

And, with a bit of a sigh - one of the areas that Marje was very active in getting the word out was contraception, still a bit of a no-no in many women's mags in the 50s and 60s, partly because of not wishing to publish an entirely separate Irish editions - I noted this article, The Swedish physicist revolutionising birth control, which is something of a reprise of 'no duckie, I don't think anything that requires 'complex mathematics and data analysis' to create an algorithm counts as 'natural'.

I also boggle at someone who presents the data that 'I discovered that you can see when you're fertile by your temperature' as, 'for me that was really a revelation.'. Nearly 90 years since the findings of Ogino and Knaus and the development of the rhythm method sez, WOT.

[ETA] And just came across this about the agony column in Just 17: 'Where has this fantastic, empowering advice gone?'.

(no subject)

Aug. 10th, 2017 09:45 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] loligo!
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished Buried Heart - well, I won't say, that went in directions I didn't expect, because I'm not sure it was ever that predictable that I thought I knew where it was headed.

KJ Charles, Spectred Isle (2017) - m/m occult thriller, v good.

Gail Godwin, Grief Cottage (2017): unexpected, but very good. At first I thought, this is too sophisticated for a young boy's viewpoint, but it turns out to be a retrospect from rather later in life.

Rose Lerner, All or Nothing (2016): Regency romance novella, was doing some unusual things but perhaps a bit slight (previously part of a themed anthology).

Dana Stabenow, Less Than A Treason (2017) - well, the end of the last one was a bit of a cliffhanger. Pretty much up to usual standard.

On the go

Marcia Muller, The Color of Fear (2017) - latest outing of Sharon McCone.

Up next

And in, Dept of Series that have been going on for quite some time and I have been following for decades, the latest PC Hodgell, The Gates of Tagmeth

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