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Thursday, February 4th, 2016




The cure for cancer
Thursday, 04 February 2016 at 01:04 pm
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Some months back I read and was very impressed by Brooke Magnanti's long, erudite and informative article: The drugs won't work. It's basically an explanation of why the pharmacological revolution we have been expecting for the past ~20 years is probably not happening, and it covers a lot of information about how the pharma industry works and doesn't, as well as scientific information.

burbling about cancer researchCollapse )
So yeah, I feel positive about the idea that research is leading to better cancer treatments, even though I don't believe that The Cure is just round the corner.

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Whereaboooots: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Moooood: optimisticoptimistic
Tuuuuune: Jennie Abrahamson: What is true
Discussion: 4 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016




Reading Wednesday 3/02
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 at 02:32 pm


Recently read:


Whereaboooots: Barrayar
Moooood: contentcontent
Tuuuuune: Oysterband: One green hill
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Wednesday, January 27th, 2016




Reading links Wednesday 27/01
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 12:10 pm


Work has been intense lately, mainly because I'm about to go to Amsterdam for a conference where I'm presenting the data that my senior PhD student only actually finished on Friday. So apologies for radio silence; more when I get back.

I'm also studiously ignoring Holocaust Memorial Day because I just can't deal with the pieties in conjunction with the actual treatment of refugees and disabled people. Being away is a good excuse not to have to attend this kind of event. And yes, I know some people are actually doing valuable educational work, both on the internet and in person, but those people are not the ones who keep inviting me to stuff.

So, anyway, Reading Wednesday, just quickly.

Recently acquired: I had a very successful charity shop raid with [personal profile] angelofthenorth when she visited a couple of weekends ago, even acquiring some clothes that fill gaps in my wardrobe. We drove out to Buxton mainly to enjoy the view of the Peak District in the snow, and Buxton is one of those down-at-heel towns that has really good charity shops and antique shops and not much actual economic activity.

So anyway, I snagged King's Dragon by Kate Elliott, an author I like in principle but I'm a bit scared of her tendency to write huge multi-doorstep fantasies. So since I found the first in a definitely finished three-part trilogy, I thought I'd give it a go. And The constant gardner by John le Carré, which I've been intrigued by for a while.

Recently read: No fiction. I have been thinking a lot about this longread on disability by Johanna Hedva: Sick woman theory. I am not often convinced by the kind of extreme social model view that what we experience as illness is mainly a problem with capitalist society, but Hedva is saying something a lot more nuanced than some of the examples I've come across, and certainly doesn't fail to note that chronic pain is in fact objectively unpleasant, regardless of how society is organized. She's also discussing a wide range of interconnected topics, including the concept of "public", and she brings in a lot of fairly serious references to contemporary feminist thought.

Currently reading: More or less nothing, which is less weird for me than it was a few years ago, but still weird.

Up next: I'm not sure if I'm going to have time for reading when I travel or not, there's quite a lot of time on trains and ferries involved. Perhaps some long fanfics will get me back into the reading mood; I have both Your Blue-Eyed Boys by [archiveofourown.org profile] laleitha and and The World that You Need by [archiveofourown.org profile] dsudis on my e-reader, so I'll see.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: rushedrushed
Tuuuuune: Jewel: La morta
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Thursday, January 21st, 2016




Film: Tangled
Thursday, 21 January 2016 at 06:33 pm
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Reasons for watching it: I've seen lots of commentary about how Tangled does interesting things with the mother-daughter relationship, and anyway I was kind of interested in a novel take on the Rapunzel story.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] angelofthenorth and I were trying to watch The perks of being a wallflower, but the file on her computer was messed up somehow. So we took a break and went to the supermarket to pick up some supplies, and I grabbed the DVD from the rack there.

Verdict: Tangled tells a great story with some really strong characterization.

detailed reviewCollapse )

It's also a very pretty film, I enjoyed the imagery throughout. The music is not amazing but Mother knows best is a pretty good number. So yes, on the whole I'm glad I bought the DVD on a whim because I wanted entertainment for the evening.

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Whereaboooots: Fairyland
Moooood: coldcold
Tuuuuune: Alice Cooper: Go to hell
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Tuesday, January 19th, 2016




Life
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 at 02:27 pm
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I ought to write a review of the year, I'll be glad to have done so when I look back at old journal entries in future. But I keep getting stuck because I have strange feelings about 2015. It feels like a year I will look back on and conclude that it marked the start of a change in my life direction, but that change hasn't happened quite yet.

2015 was the year of being in love, the year of establishing lots of new relationships. I mean, it was late in 2014 that I realized my friends were romantically interested in me and [personal profile] jack, and I think by Christmas 2014 I was unquestionably and intensely in love, but it was the months of 2015 when the new relationship energy coalesced into actually functioning as a quad. 2015 when all four of us told our parents and where applicable sibs about the relationship, when we started to have tentative discussions about some kind of future together, though we still don't know exactly what shape that will look like.

2015 was also my worst year at work. Not really horrible compared to a lot of what people experience in a bad workplace, but it's been difficult and at times I was really scared for the future. I had a 'not meeting expectations' appraisal in early summer, which is not a terrible disaster in the scheme of things, but it was the culmination of several months when I found myself really anxious and just somehow falling more and more behind and not keeping deadlines and that all spiralled a bit. Some of this was related to the fact that my senior PhD student has had a pretty troubled final year of her studies, and it's still not certain whether she'll come out of all this with a PhD. To recap, I have essentially two half-time jobs, one in the medical school and one in the research institute; the medical school have been very helpful and supportive and done all the right managerial things and given me lots of support to make sure that one bad quarter remains only a blip and chances to sort things out. The research institute not so much; they've switched unpredictably between ignoring me and leaving me to struggle, being actively hostile, and occasionally coming through with some random and not very systematic help.

I spent the summer clawing myself up out of the mess I'd got myself into. And of course starting from behind made that hard, and I was scared, and I suffered somewhat of a setback when my junior PhD student failed her "Progression", the process where the institute decides at the end of first year whether a student is suitable to go on and do a full PhD. She and I both worked really hard through the last few months of the year, and the medical school supported me by reducing my teaching and admin load so I could be there for my students. And this week she passed the resit panel, so as soon as that is formally ratified I can breathe much more easily again. So in many ways I can be proud of myself for extracting myself from a bad situation, but somewhere along the way I lost track of my love for research.

so what now?Collapse )

So anyway, yes, that's 2015. I really don't know where I'll be by the end of this year, but I expect to look back on 2015 as a kind of watershed. Any comments or advice very much welcome!

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Whereaboooots: ST5 5AX
Moooood: confusedconfused
Tuuuuune: Was (Not Was): Shake your head
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, January 13th, 2016




Reading Wednesday 13/01
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 06:28 pm


Recently read: Between planets by Robert A Heinlein. (c) 1951 McCall Corporation and Robert A Heinlein, Pub 1968 Gollancz. ghoti lent it to me as a book she liked when she was a kid, and indeed, it's just the sort of book to appeal to my inner 12-year-old: a fun adventure story that feels sciencey and doesn't benefit from too much thinking.

thoughtsCollapse )

Currently reading: In theory, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, in reality I just haven't touched it in two months. I don't know why, I don't have anything negative to say about the book, it just somehow doesn't have momentum.

Up next: I'm somewhat tempted by Chocolat by Joanne Harris, another present from ghoti.

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Whereaboooots: Venus
Moooood: hungryhungry
Tuuuuune: Renaud: Dès que le vent resoufflera
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Tuesday, January 12th, 2016




Christmas etc games
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 12:00 am
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Over the present-giving season we (that is me and my partners and my OSOs' kids) gave and acquired lots and lots of new games as presents, so I shall try to write not too extensive reviews of some of the ones we've played.

lots and lots of gamesCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Cambridge, England, UK
Moooood: happyhappy
Tuuuuune: The Raincoats: Lola
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Thursday, January 7th, 2016




Not the chosen one
Thursday, 07 January 2016 at 10:57 pm
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Over the Christmas break I watched two animated films, Ratatouille and The Lego Movie. I loved both of them, they're happy, compassionate, well-animated and fundamentally sweet films. And I'm not sure if they're actually thematically connected or if I'm just doing superfluous pattern spotting because I happened to see them near eachother, but indulge me here?

spoilersCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Paris
Moooood: cheerfulcheerful
Tuuuuune: Beborn Beton: The edge of wisdom
Discussion: Contribute something
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Wednesday, January 6th, 2016




Film outing on Sunday
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 at 09:56 pm
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[personal profile] sunflowerinrain alerted me to the existence of a film, Draw on sweet night, that sounds really cool, a historical drama about the Hengrave Madrigals. Since I have a strong connection to Hengrave Hall, I've been trying to arrange for a showing in Cambridge, but couldn't get hold of anyone. But just when I'd given up on it, bugshaw let me know that it's showing at the Arts Picturehouse after all. So that seemed like a birthday present from the universe in general, and I'm really really pleased I will get to see the film.

In fact, it turns out that Capriol films did answer my enquiry, sending me several emails about the Cambridge showing. But the mails got eaten by my spam filter and I only discovered them today. So now I feel even more inclined to give the filmmakers my money!

The film is showing this Sunday, 10th January, at 1 pm at the APH. I'm going with my partners, and my parents have been inviting old friends who used to go to retreats at Hengrave with us. You are extremely welcome to join us if it sounds like your sort of thing. I understand the music is very good, with serious period musicians involved, but I'm not sure about the historical accuracy otherwise. Also Kentwell Hall is playing the role of Hengrave; I know some of you have connections there.

I have dozens of things I want to post about, so of course I'm blocked on all of them. So let's start with this announcement, because it's time-critical even though not Wednesday Reading or a long thinky post or a review of 2015 or anything like that.

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Moooood: excitedexcited
Tuuuuune: Autechre: Teartear
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something
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Monday, December 28th, 2015




Happy
Monday, 28 December 2015 at 07:22 pm
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I finished university work on 18th, and since then I've had the most perfectly wonderful break. Generally I've just been glorying in uninterrupted time with various of my people, in groups and one-on-one, and I'm really happy.

while I was offlineCollapse )Basically I want this to be my life and not just a special couple of weeks at Christmastime; I mean, I want a job, holidays are only fun for so long, but I would really like to be in Cambridge full-time so I can be with my people and not be constantly pushed for time. I will see if I can make that happen in 2016.

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Whereaboooots: Cambridge, England, UK
Moooood: satisfiedsatisfied
Tuuuuune: Kings College carol service on iPlayer
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, December 16th, 2015




Reading links Wednesday 16/12
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 02:57 pm
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Not really reading fiction atm. And all the books I've bought recently are Christmas presents so I don't want to list them here. So have some links to other people's stuff.



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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: sickbecolden
Tuuuuune: Lycia: Where has all the time gone?
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Monday, December 14th, 2015




Telling the story
Monday, 14 December 2015 at 11:43 am
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So [personal profile] ruthi asked me a very good question: How do you tell the Hanukka story? What do you tell?

what is chanukah?Collapse )

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Whereaboooots: Stoke-on-Trent synagogue
Moooood: happyhappy
Tuuuuune: Peggy Seeger: Little girl child
Discussion: Contribute something
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Wednesday, December 9th, 2015




Interfaith family
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 at 09:51 pm
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I've had such a lovely weekend! Though very little like I ever imagined a lovely weekend would look. contains religionCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Modi'in
Moooood: lovedloved
Tuuuuune: Madonna: Ray of light
Discussion: 5 contributions | Contribute something
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Monday, December 7th, 2015




Bike!!!
Monday, 07 December 2015 at 04:42 pm
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I bought a bike! I've been trying to for ages but not had time to get to bike shops when they were open. Today we went to John's Bikes in Arbury Court and explained what I wanted and John pointed me out a bike he reckoned would be suitable. It's not a classical Dutch bike but it has some similar characteristics, upright and sturdy. John only sells new bikes, and I sort of wanted to get second-hand but on the other hand, this bike fits my requirements, it's in my price range, and available now. I tried it by riding up and down the road and it felt pleasant, so I decided to go for it.

Talking to John, who is clearly a bike enthusiast, reminded me a bit of my Grandad who use to run a bike shop. But he died before I really got to the point of having adult conversations with him, so I mostly know about him from stories. I do feel sort of wistful that I can't tell him all about my new shiny bike and all the advances in technology of the past three decades, but I suspect that if my Grandad were actually still alive I wouldn't have gone 20 years without owning a bike of my own.

New bike is shiny and black and has Python written on it, so it needs a pythony name. Top candidates so far are Regulus and Apodora. But suggestions welcome, very much including programming jokes.

Getting the bike home was interesting; it's only a mile but it's along a lot of main roads. I ended up wheeling the bike halfway up Campkin Road, and then found one of those barely functional cycle paths by the school, one that has junction boxes in the middle of it and only goes for a few hundred metres before disappearing into road and pedestrian-only pavement. And then I turned off into the little backstreets where our house is and bravely cycled the rest of the way on the actual road. Going round parked cars is still scary but I think I will get used to it.

Definitely need practice at cycling on roads, but acquiring the bike gets me over the major hurdle.

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Whereaboooots: Pumbedita House, Cambridge, England
Moooood: accomplishedaccomplished
Discussion: 6 contributions | Contribute something
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Thursday, December 3rd, 2015




Recs for turn-based mobile games?
Thursday, 03 December 2015 at 01:02 pm
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So months ago [personal profile] lizcommotion wrote a really interesting post about bad childhood experiences of games. And it's a theme I've seen quite a lot, that the only reason adults would want to play competitive games with children is to bully them. Which is very different to my experience; adults played games with me mainly because they wanted to entertain me and spend time with me. And in fact I turned out to like gaming a lot better than most of my influential adults did, so I carried on playing games into adulthood. My parents play bridge and Scrabble voluntarily, for example, but generally otherwise see games as something they don't really have to do any more now their offspring are adults.

So when I play games with kids, particularly my partners' kids, I'm mainly trying to share an enthusiasm with them. I play games because I enjoy it and I hope they will too, but accounts like [personal profile] lizcommotion's make me worry that I'm creating experiences which will undermine their confidence and that they will grow up resenting me for making them play games and possibly with anxiety around competition. I mean, I don't think it's very likely that I'm inadvertently harming the children, because if I thought it was likely I wouldn't be doing it, but, well, I personally enjoy competition and I am aware there's a fine line between purely playful competition and actually overpowering people. Also my OSOs are pretty intensely a gaming family, and I generally trust the parents' judgement that their kids are actively enjoying the games we play and not being coerced into anything by domineering adults.

I wrote a long comment on [personal profile] lizcommotion's post, which I probably should have yoinked over here as a top level post because it's mostly about me. So I shall reproduce it here now, belatedly. gaming experiences, as a child playing with adults and as an adult playing with childrenCollapse )

Many of my friends are gamers too, which is not surprising since I hang out in geek circles mainly. And many of them are introducing their kids to their hobbies, and I really don't think they're being horrible in the ways portrayed in the linked post. I think part of not being awful is picking games carefully, ones that don't require unreasonable amounts of analysis or long-term strategy, and certainly not ones that depend on world knowledge. Trivial Pursuit is kind of a terrible game anyway but it's particularly terrible with mixed age players. And honestly there's such a wide range of games available these days, I feel there's a cornucopia of options of things that are simple enough for children and fun for habitual gamers. I don't really like the solution of pure chance games because although it means younger players win a proportionate amount of the time, they're just not fun.

Anyway, one thing that seems to be working quite well is playing games on smartphones or tablets. Not video games in the conventional sense, but traditional or Euro-style multiplayer games that happen to be instantiated on the phone. I'd really like some recommendations for more of those! One that we've been playing a lot is OLO (basically digital shove-ha'penny). What I want primarily is games that can be played on a single device, passed between players.

I'm also interested in asynchronous games, essentially play-by-mail but with the phone handling the tedious bit where you have to write your move down and put it in the post. The sort of model espoused by Draw Something, a very good implementation of digital Pictionary except that it got bought out by evil Zynga the day after I bought the app. And along the lines Yucata, but for phones rather than desktops. Yucata is a website, so it works approximately on modern smartphones, but it's fiddly on anything less than 10'' and all the development work is geared towards desktops. Those games are nice to play with adult friends because I can make one move a day or even slower than that, and it's a little bit of connection and a few minutes at worst of distraction. I can imagine in the not too distant future such games might be nice to play with the kids as well, just as a way of saying hi while I'm not around.

I'm specifically not looking for networked games, where you both have to be fully concentrating and reliably connected to the internet for the whole duration of the game. That's less interesting to me whether I'm in the same place as the people I'm playing with or whether it's a long-distance thing. There seem to be a lot more of those around, which is a bit surprising to me as I'd imagine it's more difficult to code a networked, synchronous game than a turn-based game. But for example, I really like the phone version of Ticket to Ride, except for the fact that if you want to play with humans you have to both be online at the same time and there's not even a way to save the game, you have to play through the whole game at once. If I have an hour free to spend time with a friend, I'd rather chat to them than play a phone game. Also, I want to be able to add friends by username much more than I want to play against strangers, but I really don't want to sign up to the horrible Google Play Games thing which will spam everybody I've ever contacted through Gmail every time I get a highscore in a silly casual game, and force me to join Google+ (I just can't wait until Google finally admit that horrible travesty is dead and stop trying to trick people into signing up).

I'm sure turn-based asynchronous games like this must be out there, but I'm having a hard time finding them as all my searches turn up everything that's vaguely in the genre of electronic versions of board games. So I'm hoping my human friends can do better than search engines. Even really traditional games like chess, go or backgammon would be lovely to have, as long as I can play with specific individuals not anybody who happens to be online, and I can make a move and have the phone transmit the changed state to my opponents, allowing them to respond in their own time. Any ideas?

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: hopefulhopeful
Tuuuuune: Emmy the Great: Swimming pool
Discussion: 10 contributions | Contribute something
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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015




Things to read elsewhere
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 at 08:39 pm


I've been in a funny mood these past couple of weeks. There have been lovely things, viz:

misc bitty things; mentions deathCollapse )

Anyway, it's been the kind of time when I keep opening compose windows and not knowing what to say. And I haven't got anything new for Reading Wednesday as I have read basically no fiction in the past couple of weeks. So have some links to other people's writing:



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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: sadsad
Tuuuuune: Thunder: Love walked in
Discussion: Contribute something
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Thursday, November 26th, 2015




Punching up
Thursday, 26 November 2015 at 06:35 pm
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A locked discussion on my reading page reminded me that I've been meaning to talk about this: I basically hate the framing of "punching up versus punching down" as ways of analysing interactions. [twitter.com profile] lollardfish expressed my views rather well:
First of all - I don't like punching. Second, I think the simple verticality of power spectra is almost never clear [...] Instead, I recommend thinking about whether a given situation undermines hierarchies and stereotypes or replicates them.
In fact I think Perry's entire piece on public shaming is worth reading.

I don"t like punchingCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: annoyedannoyed
Tuuuuune: Leonard Cohen: So long, Marianne
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Monday, November 23rd, 2015




World affairs linkspam
Monday, 23 November 2015 at 09:19 pm
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I don't often talk about news events; I don't particularly need to participate in the social media circus of uninformed opinions about headlines. I haven't suddenly become an expert on terrorism and international security, but I do have pretty strong opinions about blaming Muslims, or even worse, refugees, for terrorist attacks.

Anyway, several of my circle have said really wise things about terrorism and xenophobia and I wanted to draw attention to them. links and commentaryCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: scaredscared
Tuuuuune: Renaud: Société tu m'auras pas
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Thursday, November 19th, 2015




Dressing up
Thursday, 19 November 2015 at 12:01 pm
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So one advantage of being out is that I can write diary posts about what I'm up to without being coy about spending time with my partners. Terminology wise, we've more or less settled on saying OSOs when we want to make a distinction between spouses and other partners, so I'll probably use that term a bit going forward.

In fact, ghoti introduced herself on the coming out thread and offers: But friends-of-Liv who'd like to get to know me better perhaps may wish to know that I will be doing December Days and that might be a good place to ask questions? ghoti is very much an LJ person and doesn't really do DW (indeed, DW-[personal profile] ghoti who is in my DW circles is an entirely different person whom I'm not dating, so I hope this does not result in any confusion.)

recent fun thingsCollapse )

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Whereaboooots: Cambridge, England, UK
Moooood: happyhappy
Tuuuuune: VNV Nation: Chrome
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Wednesday, November 18th, 2015




Reading Wednesday 18/11
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 at 01:29 pm


Recently acquired There were three books I positively wanted in the campus Blackwells' 3 for 2 offer, so my physical to-read pile has grown by:
Recently read
Currently reading Still The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. I don't have much new to say about it, it's one of those books that I enjoy a lot while I'm reading it but don't have much urge to pick up again when I'm not.

Up next Not sure. The next item on my Bringing up Burns challenge list is a book at the bottom of your "to be read" pile, and my TBR pile doesn't actually have a physical instantiation, it's scattered between my two households and some mental notes about what I have my eye one that I should probably write down.

Likely the draft of my junior student's first year report at some point in the next couple of weeks, plus an ongoing pile of undergrad coursework that I'm probably going to be marking through about January.

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Whereaboooots: Istanbul
Moooood: workingworking
Tuuuuune: Aqualung: Tape 2 tape
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Tuesday, November 17th, 2015




Film: The lady in the van
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 at 03:31 pm
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Reasons for watching it Maggie Smith, primarily. And the set-up of an indigent woman living for many years in a van in Alan Bennett's driveway sounded interesting.

Circumstances of watching it We're doing some fairly intense prepping the first years for practical exams at the moment, which involves repeating the same mini-lesson 12 times in 8 hours spread over two days. So several of us were pretty shattered by 5 pm yesterday, at which point a colleague offered, who wants to go out for a bite and a film?

We ended up at Hector Garcia's, a chain Mexican place that's mainly good for cocktails and tapas. Since that's a bit intimate for a meal out with colleagues, we ordered entrées instead, and I was kind of disappointed with my chimichangas which just about rose to the level of pleasant, but were more heavy than hearty and more spicy-hot than interestingly flavoured. Plus one colleague who joined the expedition is one of those awful diets where you don't so much change what you eat as talk constantly about how bad you're being for eating food.

Verdict The lady in the van is a technically clever film which fell down for me because it doesn't respect its characters.

detailed reviewCollapse )

Basically I spent way too much of the film cringing compared to how much time I spent laughing from genuine enjoyment, though there were some of the latter moments too.

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Whereaboooots: Camden
Moooood: uncomfortableuncomfortable
Tuuuuune: Bangles: Walk like an Egyptian
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Thursday, November 12th, 2015




Coming out
Thursday, 12 November 2015 at 08:55 am


I missed National (nation of internet?) Coming Out Day, partly because I was busy, and partly because it wasn't the right time to make this post.

coming out thoughtsCollapse )

So with that preamble, I too, a much lesser writer than Penny or Monroe, have something to tell you: I am polyamorous. That is to say, I'm currently in romantic relationships with several different people, all of whom know about eachother and are completely happy and supportive. I don't think this is likely to be a surprise to most of my readers; I've not been making huge efforts to keep it a secret, and I'm sure many of you whom I haven't told directly will have found it easy enough to read between the lines. But this is the first time I've actually said the sentence, I'm poly, on my public blog. And part of why I'm saying it now is that it's not only a fact about my philosophy of relationship, and I'm not even sure it's a fact about my identity at all, poly is more a thing I do than who I am. It's also a fact about my life and the people who are important to me.

A year ago I became part of a quad, four people who are in relationships with eachother in various combinations. And it's been a completely wonderful year, full of new experiences, and we're all really hopeful that this can be a long-term, potentially a committed thing. When I was poly in the sense that I had various shapes of romantic-ish connections alongside my primary relationship, it didn't matter so much, partly because I don't identify as poly as such. People knew who I loved and who I was close to, and that was great, and it wasn't really anybody's business but the people involved exactly what form those loving relationships took. Now that I'm part of a quad, it feels like a different situation. Unlike with being bi, it's not that people need to know this fact about me and who I am, it's that I want people to know whom I love and the relationship structure I'm in. Every time in the past year I've referred to, or even introduced, my partners as "my friend" instead of "my partner" I've cringed internally; it's like going back 20 years and playing the pronoun game because I wasn't sure how safe it was to come out.

The thing about coming out about relationship structures rather than identities is that you're telling other people's secrets. The other three people in the quad needed to be free to make their own decisions about when and what to tell their respective parents. I told my own parents as soon as I was reasonably confident that the relationship was stable and not just a passing fling, and as when I told them I was dating a woman, they said supportive things and didn't entirely understand what I meant and have been slowly coming to terms with the idea that I'm in this multi-person relationship network instead of the dyad they expected when I got married. But, well, four people have a lot of parents between them, and part of why I missed National Coming Out Day was I didn't want to put anything on the internet until all the parents had been informed directly.

And even now I've made this post, I haven't just flipped the switch to being Out instead of Closeted. It's not that hard to connect this journal to my wallet name if you go digging, but I hope that a cursory web search on my wallet name isn't going to find this pseudonymous blog. I'm not out at work and I have no immediate plans to be; I'll carry on saying "spending some time with... friends" when people ask me about my plans for the weekend. And I'm not fully out within the Jewish community (though I'm out to individual Jewish people including obviously my parents), and both those things mean that I'm not likely any time soon to mention poly on Facebook.

In some ways being out about poly feels more scary than telling people I'm bi. That's partly because I've been lucky that I've experienced relatively little homophobia or biphobia. And I generally hang out with liberal tolerant types who at worst accept the culturally prevalent idea that gay people are just like "us" except that they happen to be attracted to the same gender. Poly in that sense is less "normal"; there are many people who generally see themselves as non-judgemental but have no paradigm at all for multiple or multi-person relationships other than having affairs and deceiving or cheating on one's (singular) partner. Even some LGBT campaigners and activists are so fixated on the assimilationist paradigm of "just like heteronormative dyadic relationships" that they are eager to distance themselves from any kind of poly or open relationship situation. But at the same time, although it's harder to tell people about my relationships with several people than it is to tell them about my (past) relationships with women, it still feels like it's my choices that are being disapproved of, not that I'm being oppressed because of something I just can't change about myself.

Anyway, I'm very happy and in love, that's the other thing I wanted to say, aside from all this political and angsty stuff. It's been a wonderful amazing year, in so many ways.

Please feel free to ask questions; I personally don't mind being a resource if you've not had much exposure to poly relationships before now. As you can see from this post, I'm being a bit cagey about the actual identities of my partners, but if you ask me general questions that I can answer without disrupting anyone else's privacy, I'll do my best.

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Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
Moooood: nervousnervous
Tuuuuune: The Levellers: Men-an-toi
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Wednesday, November 11th, 2015




Reading Wednesday 11/11
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 02:04 pm


Recently acquired The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble, from the giveaway shelf at work. I sometimes like Drabble and sometimes don't, but I find it hard to resist free books. And if I don't get on with it I'll put it back on the giveaway shelf.

Recently read
  • Via [personal profile] khalinche, The lonely death of George Bell, by NR Kleinfield. One of those really excellent pieces of non-fiction writing which takes a single individual who's not particularly famous or exceptional, and conveys their character and situation. This is a portrait of what happens when someone dies having no real social connections, while also showcasing a bit what the bureaucracy manages to discover about Bell.

  • And from the other pole of human life, Parenting and pronouns, by Dorian at Beyond the Binary. Some really interesting observations about what happens if you actually take seriously the idea that you can't guess a baby's gender by looking at its genitals, an experience some of my friends are are also going through.

    Currently reading The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. I'm reading this slowly, because it's dense, but in a good way. I love the world-building of near-future Turkey, seen through the eyes of disparate characters who have the sorts of totally coincidental connections that only happen in fiction. As with some of McDonald's other stuff, it's SF in that it has nanotech and political extrapolations, but the atmosphere feels more like fantasy in some ways, partly because magical things happen and it's very ambiguous whether there's an underlying scientific explanation, and partly because the language is really lush and poetic.

    Up next Not sure; I've got a bit under a third of The Dervish House still to go. I'm kind of pining to read Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, partly cos the whole internet's talking about the third in the trilogy and I'm behind! The main reason I didn't get to it sooner is because [personal profile] jack lent his copy to someone and we can't remember whom, and I'm irrationally reluctant to buy it again when I "could" just borrow it from J. Except that's silly, because obviously I can't borrow it if we don't know where the copy is, and I'm rich enough these days that it won't hurt me to buy the same book twice and I'm happy to support Leckie, she's writing good stuff and seems like a really nice person.

    Today I did good adulting. I saw the nurse practitioner at the campus GP practice, and endured her telling me off for being two years behind on dealing with minor medical stuff, in exchange for her prescribing me some non-expired asthma inhalers and administering a flu vaccine. And I have another appointment for a proper asthma review, which will be tiresome as I've been taking the same medication for 25 years and I know it works for me, but I understand why they want to do this with a new patient, and the nurse agreed to combine (!) this with a cervical smear, which I'm also overdue for and won't be any fun, but hey.

    And I dealt with some email, and other generally useful but boring work tasks, and I showed my face at the Remembrance service in chapel this morning. They got about a hundred people, I think, some of them in military uniform. And the Catholic (with a red poppy) and Free Church (with a white one) chaplains did one of those very Keele ecumenical services which was sweet and sincere and generically theistic rather than intensely Jesus-y, and definitely not about glorifying war and brave soldiers' heroic sacrifices etc.

    I'm doing our Remembrance in synagogue this Friday; I usually try to do it the Friday before Remembrance Sunday, but I ended up just picking the closest Friday to the actual date of the 11th without looking up when the official commemoration was going to be. My Facebook is absolutely lousy with arguments pro and contra marking the day at all, and honestly the people whose politics are generally most congruent with mine are against it. There's not really any question that I'm going to mention it in synagogue, because it's something we've always done since 1918, you don't change the community's customs based on how you feel about Cameron versus Corbyn. But I think it's time for some Sassoon; he was at least arguably Jewish and it feels like this year is his year, everybody's quoting him.

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  • Whereaboooots: Istanbul
    Moooood: contentcontent
    Tuuuuune: The Imagined Village / Bejamin Zephaniah: Tam Lyn retold
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    Tuesday, November 10th, 2015




    Learning in public
    Tuesday, 10 November 2015 at 09:37 am
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    I am more and more thinking I want to contribute to Open Source. Now, one way is to overcome all the inertia and get going again with Dreamwidth, but I don't want to put all my eggs in one dubiously viable basket. So I'm considering other possibilities.

    noodlingCollapse )

    Anyway, I have so far failed to get Ubuntu onto my netbook, and I'm framing this as a success at gathering data on how hard it is, rather than a failure at installing the OS. And like a good little scientist, I've documented the experience in my dev journal; you're welcome to take a look if you're curious but I don't want to shove that kind of boring detail stuff in everybody's faces.

    Advice is cautiously welcome. I really don't want to hear all the arguments for why Ubuntu is rubbish, I have my reasons for starting from there, and if I find that it isn't the system or the community I'm looking for, fair enough, but I have made up my mind to try at this point. Equally I don't want people to offer to take over and sort stuff out for me, however well-intentioned, because I want the experience of figuring it out at least as much as I want the end goal of having a netbook running Linux. But if you want to give me advice on where to start with troubleshooting my installation process, I would be grateful.

    And if you want to give me more general advice about getting started with contributing to Open Source, then I would definitely like to hear it. I'm most likely to listen to advice that takes into account that I'm reasonably intelligent even though I'm female and don't have much in the way of programming experience, but also doesn't assume any prior knowledge at all.

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    Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
    Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
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    Friday, October 30th, 2015




    Keeping up
    Friday, 30 October 2015 at 12:35 pm
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    Some time ago, [personal profile] cjwatson and siderea asked:
    it generally seems that working scientists have to spend a sizeable proportion of their time keeping up with other people's research, since after all that's at least theoretically the point of publishing in the first place and unless you're a genius in a tiny field you'll get further that way than by ignoring everyone and striking out on your own! But scientific publications are generally pretty information-dense and there are a lot of people publishing in most fields, so I'm guessing that just keeping up with your reading could use up all your time if you let it. What strategies do people use for selecting out the most important things and keeping the firehose of incoming information under control?
    It's a good question, so let me give it a go, albeit belatedly. I'm not sure I can talk about what strategies people in general use, only what I do, but I don't think I'm that much of an outlier.

    work nerderyCollapse )

    Does that help? Please feel free to ask more questions, including the rest of my readers beyond the ones who asked me in the first place.

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    Whereaboooots: Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
    Moooood: workingworking
    Tuuuuune: Oi-Va-Voi: Look down
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