What does this remind me of?

Mar. 28th, 2017 08:21 pm
oursin: My photograph of Praire Buoy sculpture, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana, overwritten with Urgent, Phallic Look (urgent phallic)
[personal profile] oursin

Yet another case in which a bloke who has committed significant violence against a woman, of which there is no possible doubt, walks free (well, suspended sentence) apparently on the basis that it would ruin a promising career if he went to jail. (Which it does turn out he was somewhat less than truthful about.)

And okay, I have been seeing these sorts of cases for a very long time now, and one might even have hoped that this sort of thing would have come to an end -

And we note that it is very, very rare for anyone in the legal system or even in the reporting, to express any concern over the damage done to the woman's potential through injuries, long-term effects of trauma, etc.

So, I was thinking about this, and what came to mind was a famous 'gotcha' argument popular among the anti-abortion forces c. 1970 or so, which was to posit a particular case of mother with several children, family straits, disease, and when anyone remarked that it seemed a clear case for termination would go 'aha! you have terminated Beethoven!' (there may have been other instances: that is the one I remember).

Because women's lives have no value except for the male offspring they bear... (though statistically, very few of those are going to be Beethoven*).

A thought which would have led me to hurl against the wall, except that they were library books, far too many works of sf/fantasy in which a woman underwent various adventures and travails and this was not to fit her for her own role as The Chosen One, it was to get her in place to bear The Chosen One.

*Given all the relative advantages in terms of education and parental investment, relatively few men have ever been Shakespeare/Newton/Beethoven/etc. I will also reiterate here my argument that Great Male Leaders were not necessarily able to outwrestle all the men they lead, it was not about simply physical superiority.

oursin: Photograph of Stella Gibbons, overwritten IM IN UR WOODSHED SEEING SOMETHIN NASTY (woodshed)
[personal profile] oursin

Mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport on Earth.... what does this bloody spectacle say about the world we live in?

I don't know what, if anything, it says about the world we live in, but that article suggests to me someone who does not know a great deal about the history of sport/popular entertainment - I am like, o tempora, o mores, what are these days when somebody can write an article on fighting as spectacle and not name-check gladiators in the Coliseum? Infamy, infamy, etc.

I am totally given to wonder what a person knows about the history of sport if they can write this:

Victorian rules of football and rugby codified an attitude towards team play that made sense in the factory and on the battlefield.
Victorian rules were the imposition of a disciplinary structure (where is Michel Foucault when you need him?) on the rather more freeform sports constituting various kinds of football: which pretty much combined the football and the hooliganism in one package.

See also, boxing before Queensbury: not that boxing in its present form doesn't have significant risks, even if they're long term ones about brain damage rather than blood on the floor.

I suspect that there is a significant history of sports starting as something close to a brawl and gradually developing rules, rather than the rules coming first.

On a somewhat less extreme level, beach volleyball has that pattern of informality to codification.

I am also, why is he not, if not doing historical analogies, linking this woezery to a loooong tradition of dystopian fiction? - because the concept was not a new one in The Hunger Games.

Culinary

Mar. 26th, 2017 07:21 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

Friday night supper: Gujerati khicchari.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft rolls: 2:2:1 strong white/wholemeal/dark rye flour, maple sugar, sour cherries.

Today's lunch: the gratin provencale thing, with sweet potatoes (I grossly overestimated the quantity of sweet potato I would need) and tapenade: with okra roasted in pumpkin seed oil and splashed with raspberry vinegar, cos lettuce dressed with lime juice, avocado oil, salt and pepper, and padron peppers.

Bread: Len Deighton's Mixed Wholemeal loaf from the Sunday Times Book of Bread: 3:1:1 wholemeal/strong white flour/mixture of medium oatmeal, medium cornmeal and bran, a little molasses, a dash of oil - v tasty.

(no subject)

Mar. 26th, 2017 12:30 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] robling_t!
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

Scarlett Thomas: Why I was wrong about children’s fiction.

I do see that she has come to realise that 'children's books: not the easy option',from trying to write one, because have we not, my dearios, seen an awful lot of celebs who think any fule can can write a kiddybook?

But, might we not also see in that article that she seems also to be coming round to the notion that fantasy is Not A Bad (or at least, a lesser, genre) Thing?

The two categories do seem to be somewhat assimilated, even conflated.

And I really don't think you get very far just by replacing one binary with another binary:

Instead of thinking there’s “literary fiction” and “everything else”, or even adult fiction and children’s fiction, I now believe that there are books with magic and without.

I don't think it's that simple, even if she's using 'magic' in its broader sense?

I think there are still some unexamined assumptions around canon and literary value going on there.

(no subject)

Mar. 25th, 2017 11:19 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] staranise!

Doesn't sound very close to me

Mar. 24th, 2017 09:16 pm
oursin: Hedgehog saying boggled hedgehog is boggled (Boggled hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

While I have quite oft remarked that, if you want to exercise regularly, it really helps if where you do it is easy to get to, and something that may not be the absolutely ideal thing but close at hand is more likely to actually get done on a relatively regularly basis than something that might be optimum but a faff to get to. (This probably applies to other things as well.)

But while this article more or less substantiates The Wisdom of the Hedjog in principle, I was a bit beswozzled by the travel distance cited - 3.7 miles - which does not strike me as what I would consider a walkable distance, at least if one's combining it (there and back) with a workout.

It's a different world. And I would like to know, are we talking public transport? or driving? to get there.

Reiterates anecdote of walking from where I was staying in Austin TX to Zilker Park, through entirely deserted streets, and found when I got there hordes of people who had driven there to walk, jog, etc.

nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
Location: my parents' house

Me: "Mom, where's Dad?"
Mom, without looking up from her crossword puzzle: "Oh, he's outside in the garden, making a note of all the things that need doing and deciding to do them tomorrow."
Me: *gales of laughter*

A day that started far too early

Mar. 23rd, 2017 06:57 pm
oursin: Sleeping hedgehog (sleepy hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

Meedja people wanted to film an interview with me in Former Place Of Work: this was supposed to happen next Monday, and ended up being today, this morning, before the facilities open to the public. (Greatly tempted to send The Famous Shirt on its own to do the job.) They did lay on a car to take me there. There was not a great deal of faffing about before we got to the, you know, actual interviewing.

This went fairly well, though I always suspect meedja luvvies to rave insincerely: this may be unfair.

I was fairly knackered after this, but yesterday I had an email from someone who wanted to discuss matters of mutual research interest, and was going to be visiting the Library today, so I said, could do coffee, or lunch, and we had a fairly intense and wide-ranging discussion of research over an extended lunch.

And when I got back to my desk, there was an enquiry from Another Meedja Person about a thing they're researching which is one that has (according to me) already been Done to Death, and they were very vague about what sort of angle they might be taking. But I thought I should at least get in a reply politely indicating that It's Been Done.

And then I came home, fully intending to rest for a bit and then go out again to the gym, but could not bring myself to leave the house again.

But at least I think I have done a fair amount of communicating Mi Learninz to people at various different levels today.

(no subject)

Mar. 23rd, 2017 10:57 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] robot_mel!
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished JA Jance, Cruel Intent, and am sufficiently prepossessed by the Ali Reynolds series to download the boxsets of the next three and a couple of novellas.

However, decided that perhaps I should take a little break and read something else, so I read Simon Brett, The Strangling on the Stage (2014), one of the Fethering mysteries, though I'm not sure one reads these for the actual, you know, mystery plot. This one had amdram luvvies.

Patricia Craig, Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading (2015) - charity shop find, about which I found myself a bit meh - it didn't seem to me to quite mesh the various elements, but that may have been me - even before the William Mayne apologism. I wanted perhaps more about the books themselves?

Robin Stevens, Jolly Foul Play (2016) from local indie bookshop sale shelf - I'm still not entirely sold on Hazel Wong - I feel there's a place somewhere between 'perpetuating Orientalist stereotypes' and having her be a standard 1930s boarding school girl who happens to be Chinese - but this did, I think, introduce some complexity in relationships and I think I shall be reading others in the series.

On the go

I am still very much enjoying the ongoing serial by Avoliot, The Course of Honour.

Still intermittently plugging on with the Inchbald bio - still not up to Wollstonecraft interactions.

The Dorothy Wrench bio is still very much backburnered - somehow I just slip off it whenever I pick it up.

Up next

No idea, find myself between books.

How does he know that?

Mar. 21st, 2017 01:43 pm
oursin: Cod with aghast expression (kepler codfish)
[personal profile] oursin

I suppose a 'visionary historian' might find this out by, you know, having visions?* rather than being able to substantiate the claim from empirical evidence?

But really, when someone comes out with the following:

[W]e have gained enormous power over the world and it doesn’t seem to make people significantly more satisfied than in the stone age.
my impulse is to snarl 'And you know the satisfaction index of the average Stone Age person on the Stone Age equivalent of the Clapham omnibus HOW exactly?'

It's a hard enough question to answer for far more recent epochs of history. Perhaps those Stone Age people were too busy surviving to the grand old age of 30 with enough teeth to eat with to pause and reflect on the quiet desperation of their lives. But I'm not sure that amounts to satisfaction with their lot.

I think there's a difference between 'gotta put up with stuff/make the best of things', as people did within really quite recent history if they can't see any alternative (this thought brought to you by a discussion last week about marriage and divorce in the UK in the second half of the C20th) and being satisfied with the way one's life is.

Will concede that, looking about at certain people in the world today who do have enormous power, and seem to spend their time in constant whingeing (one longs for the flounder to send them back to the vinegar-bottle [though I observe that I have conflated two versions of this folkloric motif]), perhaps 'enormous power' doesn't make for satisfaction, although I would hazard that a reasonable degree of control over one's circumstances does at least make for a more comfortable life.

*Or having that deep poetic intuition into Things claimed by Robert Graves re White Goddesses etc.

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

I liked David Mitchell's column in The Observer New Review section yesterday: Choose my own Netflix adventure? No thanks.

Apart from the point he makes that, actually, what one wants is to sit down and have somebody tell you a story -

- it also strikes me that in this particular allotrope of interactive narrative, presumably it is a case (as with the choices made by The Dice Man) that these are not entirely free and random choices but already set up by whoever's producing the thing.

So it's unlikely that you get the option to turn a grimdark noir narrative into an all-singing all-dancing extravaganza, or that you have the choice of observing that the ferocious monster has a thorn in its foot, the poor thing and, rather than fighting it or running away, you remove the thorn and you and the monster become besties 4evah.

So the choices are already made for you and the idea that the viewer is choosing their own adventure except within existing parameters is spurious.

Okay, I have sometimes read a book/watched a movie and thought things like, there ought to be a whole lot more of the snarky sidekick, or, get rid of that annoying child, but I'm pretty sure that the Choose Your Own Path thing would rest entirely on plot cruxes which might take the narrative in different directions.

The significant choice that one makes when reading/watching/listening is made before one starts, and has picked a noir thriller/screwball comedy/all-singing all-dancing extravaganza.

Culinary

Mar. 19th, 2017 08:54 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

Bread during the week: the Honey and Sunflower Seed Loaf from Cranks* Bread and Teacakes, actually 50:50 strong wholemeal/wholegrain spelt flour (as it was the end of the bag of strong wholemeal), and mixed seeds rather than sunflower alone. V nice.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the Tassajarra method, 50:50 strong white/wholegrain spelt flour, maple sugar and dried cranberries rather than cinnamon and raisins. Nice.

Today's lunch: yesterday Waitrose fish counter had small whole seabass, so I bought two (which they gutted and scaled for me), and had I thought to purchase enough salt while we were there, could have made another essay at salt-baking them. But instead I mixed up a paste of crushed garlic, minced ginger and soy sauce rubbed it into them, having made slashes along the sides, and baked them in oiled foil, turned out very nicely. Served with Charlotte potatoes roasted in beef dripping, buttered spinach and sugar snap peas stirfried with star anise.

*Cranks was a chain of UK vegetarian wholefood restaurants, now defunct.

I do not care for this strategy

Mar. 18th, 2017 07:37 pm
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

That thing when, in order to big up someone/thing, you put down some other one/thing.

Rereading: Henry Green’s Party Going: an eccentric portrait of the idle rich.

(I have lived long enough to see, I think, previous attempts to reclaim Green from the status of forgotten or neglected novelist.)

Fair enough: there are lots of novels/novelists not as well-known/as much appreciated as they should be (but, really, I don't think The Young Visiters should be on that list though I saw it there some time during the week on some list of the kind).

But really, do you have to say that other better-known writers and works have attained their position for extra-literary reasons?

Woolf was shockingly neglected; her present status owes not so much to literary critics as to feminism. Jean Rhys was utterly forgotten until her last work, Wide Sargasso Sea, allowed her to be annexed later by postcolonialists.

Yes, second-wave feminism was entirely the reason that Woolf was widely available in Penguin Modern Classics editions and taught in course modules on C20th modernism when I was a freshfaced undergraduate in the late 60s: no, really, historian says, chronology does not support this argument.

And I'm not so sure about Rhys, either, I think her earlier works were still around and mentioned but everyone was surprised that she was a) still alive and b) still writing, when Wide Sargasso Sea appeared. In fact have notion that it was discovered by someone who was a passionate Rhys-fan and tracked her down in her rural seclusion. And it got a fair amount of buzz even before post-colonialism was A Thing.

This categorisation thing is of course one of the Russ cases - women being pigeonholed as not universal but classified in region or genre.

We wish to remark that having heard well of Green via the critical writings of Walter Allen on the English novel, we did essay one or two of them but we did not, somehow, take him to our hearts.

(no subject)

Mar. 18th, 2017 11:39 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] sillymouse!

This all seems very retro

Mar. 17th, 2017 07:58 pm
oursin: image of hedgehogs having sex (bonking hedgehogs)
[personal profile] oursin

Revealed: The Amount Of Time Sex Lasts For The Average British Couple.

We note that the average British couple is heterosexual.

Those of us who have studied the history of sex advice would point out that Marie Stopes said at least 20 minutes was necessary - so if the average time is 19 minutes they're stopping just a little bit too soon.

I'm beswozzled by the emphasis on the 'shared orgasm', which appears to be that shibboleth of the 50s marriage manual (and also literary sources), the simultaneous orgasm, which tended to sound enough hassle to achieve as to rather undermine its status as the pinnacle of mutual pleasure. Is it really that great? It has always seemed to me that there was a good deal of ideology in its advocacy, especially as it was entirely contingent upon both partners achieving orgasm via penetrative sex.

We should like to know how the sex toy retailer who compiled the study obtained the sample of 4400 people (presumably 2200 couples? enquiring minds would like to know a leeetle more on this count). (We see that they retain a 'sex expert': enquiring minds would also like to know the qualifications for the post.)

Whoever they are, they seem to have a somewhat uncritical belief in the existence of the G-spot as a universal.

I am very inclined to be cynical and think that all those percentages and numbers and 27 degree angles are a spurious scientific coating to what we critical historians of sex would call, bollox and woowoo.

Expect the unanticipated consequence

Mar. 16th, 2017 06:51 pm
oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

The peregrine, once considered a bird of lonely rocky cliffs, almost fell extinct in Britain in the last century. Now it has reinvented itself as an urban creature.

Partly to do with highrise buildings that provide a reasonable analogue to the cliffs, also:

It seems ironic that this supremely wild animal is safer in a busy city than the countryside. In rural Britain, peregrines are still illegally shot or poisoned. Conservationists believe that these birds of prey are illegally killed because they threaten the profitability of lucrative grouse shoots. Lindo also points out that pigeon-fanciers “absolutely detest” peregrines. “Any peregrine nesting in an urban area is less likely to be persecuted,” says Lindo. “Becoming more urban is a blessing, but they still face dangers when they wander. When the youngsters move off into the surrounding countryside, that’s where their problems start.”

This seems to resonate for me with Rebecca Solnit's arguments that The true impact of activism may not be felt for a generation. That alone is reason to fight, rather than surrender to despair and also that the impact may not be where it was initially directed:

Actions often ripple far beyond their immediate objective, and remembering this is reason to live by principle and act in hope that what you do matters, even when results are unlikely to be immediate or obvious.

nanila: YAY (me: abby)
[personal profile] nanila
Last question on the college staff survey that I just filled out:

Q: What single thing should the College focus on to be a great place to work?

My answer: Minimising the negative impact of Brexit on our European colleagues.

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