non-parents

Sep. 22nd, 2014 09:37 pm
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
My mother and I took the kids out to dinner tonight.

Sitting at the next table on the patio were a group of people with a number of small dogs in doggy football jerseys. They looked at the 12-month-old, with his toothless grin, who cannot speak English, feed himself properly, or stand up without holding on to things; and then they looked at the 3-year-old, three times his age, who speaks in complex sentences, walks for blocks, pretends to be an airplane, pours his own water, butters his own bread, and cuts his own meat; and then they asked me if they were twins.

Non-parents, I know it's just three short years since I left your ranks, but you are hilarious.

(no subject)

Sep. 23rd, 2014 04:06 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Pic is incredibly dark and blurry, sorry! but i wanted photographic evidence that the kitten just climbed into the trash can. i swear i did not throw her away myself. Read more... )

Gentle Readers: inheritance powder

Sep. 23rd, 2014 01:57 am
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 3
22nd September 2014: inheritance powder

What I’ve been up to

Firstly, a very happy birthday to my (no longer little!) brother Andrew, who is rather younger than eleventy-one today.

As for me: I'm still ill, still working on getting better. Here's a story: a few months ago I was hit by a car when crossing the road. I escaped with only a sprained ankle and bruised ribs, but I was so anxious to get over it that I ignored much of the advice about keeping my ankle iced and raised. Instead, I took painkillers and went on with my everyday life. This certainly had its problems in the short term-- I attempted to carry a powered wheelchair through a doorway, put weight on my bad leg, and ended up dislocating my shoulder-- but I suspect it made the sprain slower to heal as well. And now I'm thinking about this as a metaphor for healing in general. What are the equivalents of ice and elevation, for example, in living with chronic depression?

A poem of mine

REQUIEM FOR AN OAK

I thought I saw an execution there.
The fascinated public gathered round.
The cheerful hangmen stripped the victim bare
And built their gibbet high above the ground.
The rope was taut, my wildness filled with fear.
I saw him fall. I heard his final cry.
Yet when the hangmen left I ventured near
To find my fault: I'd never seen him die.
In fact, I think he'd died some years ago.
There's blackness of decay in every breath.
The sound of flies was all that's left to grow,
Now free to come and feast upon his death;
Prince of the trees, I have a simple plea:
I will not die till death has come to me.

A picture


http://gentlereaders.uk/pics/sheep-worryingDog, to sheep: "I saw the farmer making mint sauce."
Caption: My dog has been sheep-worrying.

Something wonderful

In 1800, there lived in Berlin a young woman named Sophie Ursinus. She was married to a senior politician, who was much older, and (possibly at his suggestion) she had a boyfriend, who was an officer in the Dutch army. Between 1800 and 1801, both her husband and her boyfriend died suddenly; so did her elderly aunt, leaving her a good deal of money. No questions were asked. But in 1803, shortly after Mrs Ursinus argued with her servant, he became ill, and became suspicious; he took the plums she had given him to a friendly chemist, who confirmed that they appeared to have been laced with arsenic. The law was called in.

But there was then no reliable test for arsenic, and the pathologists could not confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that the exhumed body of her husband contained the poison, any more than it could have been detected at his post-mortem. Fortunately they were more sure when they examined the body of her aunt, and so Mrs Ursinus was sent to prison for thirty years.

Arsenic was nearly the perfect poison: readily obtainable if you claim you're trying to kill rats, easily administered by mixing into your victim's drink, causing symptoms plausibly similar to those of various then-common illnesses such as cholera, and-- should you be found out in the end-- almost undetectable in the body by any reliable test. So many people used it to remove rich and elderly relatives who had survived inconveniently long that it became euphemistically known as "inheritance powder".

In 1832 a man named John Bodle was accused of murdering his grandfather by putting arsenic in his coffee, and the prosecution called a chemist named James Marsh as an expert witness. Marsh discovered arsenic in the body, using the test developed by the homeopath (!) Samuel Hahnemann, which was the best available method at the time. But a positive result with Hahnemann's test deteriorates so fast that by the time of the trial the jury were not convinced, and Bodle was acquitted; he confessed his guilt as soon as he was protected by double jeopardy. Marsh was stung, and set out to discover a reliable test for arsenic.

He found one, and published it in 1838: it has become known as the Marsh test. It builds upon the previous work of Carl Scheele, who had shown in 1775 that arsine gas (AsH3) would result from treating arsenic with zinc and nitric acid. Marsh's breakthrough was to set fire to the arsine gas in the presence of charcoal, producing arsenic and water vapour, and staining the vessel with a silvery-black colour that came to be known as "arsenic mirror". (I apologise to my chemist readers if I have misunderstood any of this, and invite corrections.) Marsh's idea had its first successful outing in 1840, in the trial of a French poisoner named Marie Lafarge; so widely was this success reported in the news that poisoning one's relatives with arsenic became passé almost overnight.
 

http://thomasthurman.org/pics/marsh-test
Marsh and his test

One interesting footnote: modern detective fiction began in 1841, with Edgar Allen Poe's story The Murders in the Rue Morgue. I doubt there's any direct connection, but the timing amuses me: detective fiction would be far less interesting with the easy availability of undetectable poisons!

Something from someone else

LUCIFER IN STARLIGHT
by George Meredith (1828-1909)

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
above the rolling ball, in cloud part screened,
where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careened,
now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
     Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
     with memory of the old revolt from awe,
     he reached a middle height, and at the stars,
     which are the brain of heaven, he look'd, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
the army of unalterable law.

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at http://gentlereaders.uk/ , and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. Love and peace to you all.
 
 

my fannish signal-boost of the week

Sep. 22nd, 2014 06:42 pm
cofax7: one red stick figure in a sea of black ones (Fannish Statistical Anomaly)
[personal profile] cofax7
So Henneth Annun is closing. This is a major curated archive for a lot of really good Tolkien fic.

At the moment, they're looking for volunteers to check the stories to see if they're archived anywhere else, but I suspect the best move would be to port the entire thing over to AO3 (which I also suspect won't be easy).
raven: TOS McCoy and Kirk frowning, text: "Well that's just maddeningly unhelpful" (st - MADDENINGLY UNHELPFUL)
[personal profile] raven
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CAN'T SLEEP FOR WEEKS, OKAY. You write stories like this.

And then you find yourself googling, at 4am, "how long does it take to drive from Pasadena to San Francisco", oh really, how about in A FLYING CAR.

Be kind to me right now, please, I write Star Trek AUs in times of trouble. :)

fic:: we get on just fine (on those long long drives)
by Raven
10,000w, The Big Bang Theory (in a Star Trek AU! bet you didn't see that coming), gen(ish), Leonard/Penny, Sheldon/Amy, and Bernadette/Raj/Howard. In the autumn after the Federation goes to war with the Dominion, Penny moves to Pasadena to star in a mostly-Vulcan production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Captain Proton, defender of the universe! Only, I haven't built him the rocket ship yet )
yasaman: a tv with a little heart on the left (tv)
[personal profile] yasaman
So I totally spent most of this past weekend watching TV. I regret nothing. (Okay, I regret it a little. There was some other stuff I should have been doing.)

There was new Doctor Who! Also behind the cut, some thoughts on last week's episode. Read more... )

Outlander finally reached the long-awaited episode where Read more... )

I also marathoned much of the first season of Masters of Sex, and while I liked it, I'm not sure if I'll continue. It has some of the same issues as Mad Men for me, in that it's a period piece where people are terrible to each other, and there's really only so much of that I can take. I like watching the occasional isolated episode of Mad Men, particularly when the episode stands well on its own. At its best, a Mad Men episode functions as a great hour-long play that works equally well as a standalone and as part of a larger series/season. "The Suitcase" for example was a stunning bit of drama, and really powerful even for someone like me who's only watched about a third of the show at best.

Masters of Sex doesn't have the same standalone value, but I do find it more fascinating and affecting for the way it explores sex, sexuality, and gender roles in the late 1950s US. It's a great idea for a show to cover the (dramatized and not entirely accurate) history of the landmark Masters and Johnson sex study. There's a lot of fodder for drama there, and most of it isn't even of the prurient tee-hee sex variety. But oh my god, there's just something grindingly awful about watching these people struggle with the giant issues they have, all the things growing up in their time and place have left them with, all the things we as a culture have and haven't moved past. It's kind of exhausting and depressing. I mean, I was looking for a drama that wasn't about cops or murder or lawyers, and this fit the bill. It's certainly well-made and very well acted, but my taste just trends towards the more lowbrow, or at least the marginally more hopeful.

(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2014 12:26 pm
synecdochic: speech bubble: "You are a TERRIBLE PATIENT." (terrible patient)
[personal profile] synecdochic
I have reached the stage in my post-surgical recovery when I am clearly healed just enough for my Houdini instincts to kick in. Three days running I woke up to find I had woken up and not only unwrapped the Ace bandages being used for elbow compression, but rerolled them as I went. (In the proper direction, even -- they're Velcro-close, so you have to wrap them correctly as you take them off.) I've been leaving the arm unwrapped during the day a lot of the time because my skin is so irritated from being all wrapped up and I'm sick of my hand swelling up so much, but I really didn't want to just skip the compression completely, so I switched back to sleeping in the light compression sleeve I was using during the day pre-surgery.

I woke up at one point last night to pee, and discovered that not only had I taken off the compression sleeve, I'd also taken off my usual wrist braces. Apparently my sleeping self is really sick of wearing supportive gear :P

(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2014 08:05 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways To Give:

[tumblr.com profile] amemait linked to [tumblr.com profile] chomei, who is raising money for their father's medical treatments and living expenses for both of them after he lost his job. You can read more here and support their gofundme here.

[tumblr.com profile] wehaveallgotknives linked to a fundraiser for Matt, a disabled trans man from North Wales who is trying to move to England for better medical treatment and (hopefully) less persecution. You can read more and help Matt and his fiance move here.


[tumblr.com profile] amemait linked to a fundraiser for Heather Ratcliff, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and is raising funds to help with past medical bills and expenses while she's been off work and recovering. You can read more and give to her fund here.

Ashley linked to a kickstarter for Quaint Magazine, an online women's literary magazine "strongly committed to publishing work from traditionally marginalized writers". They're raising funds for their fourth issue, as well as for attendance and a sales table at AWP this coming year. You can read more and support the magazine here.

Duckie's friend Odyrah is raising money for surgery for their rescue kitty, Hacker. Hacker needs surgery to correct an oronasal fistula; you can read more (and see some adorable photos) here; scroll to the bottom for their paypal information.


News To Know:

Ashley linked to a call for papers for the Pop Culture ASsociation/American Culture Association convention that is taking place in New Orleans on April 1-5, 2015. Submissions are open until November 1st; you can check out the conference and get more information about submissions here. Academic fans, you should take a look!

[livejournal.com profile] light_of_summer linked to an action site for the People's Climate March, to raise awareness about a world climate change meeting taking place this Tuesday. I'm going to admit I am not really sure I understand what this is or does; the site's a little short on details, but you can read more and explore it for yourself here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form or via email at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!).

*yawn* oh hey it's monday

Sep. 22nd, 2014 08:53 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)

Stross's Laundry series

Sep. 22nd, 2014 06:46 am
puzzlement: (Default)
[personal profile] puzzlement
A while back I asked for SFF recs. I'm frankly unlikely to pick up everything suggested, but when I read someone's suggestions, I'll try and review them to some degree for you.

This week, I read the entirety of Charles Stross's Laundry series (5 books, 2 short stories and a novella) which reminds me of why I am hesitant to buy fiction. It and clothes were the two goods that were Money We Didn't Have when I was a kid. And I can understand why at 8 works in a week. (Per previous entry: I know about libraries and am bad at them and not currently seeking library-related advice.)

So. Occult secret service stuff.

Cut for: extensive spoilers for the Laundry, and some for Lukyanenko's Night Watch series, fictional child death, and paraphrasing of horror scenes )

Summary: it's fun and I'll buy the next one when it comes out. It's not my heart series but I didn't expect it to be.

with no power

Sep. 21st, 2014 11:34 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
I was talking to [personal profile] rosefox the other day about the futility and counterproductiveness of staying informed about everything horrible that happens in the world everywhere, that has nothing to do with me. Remember the wise words of Uncle Ben, guys.With great power comes great responsibility. The converse is also true. With almost no power comes almost no responsibility.

And let me give you a little depressive realism here. You know about depressive realism, right, depression has a fun little party trick where mostly it lies and lies to you about yourself and everything and how you are a loser and everything is awful but in one respect it tells the truth? There's evidence that depressives tend to more accurately estimate their level of control over external events that they have no control over? Y'all, go ahead and accurately estimate that "ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country." I mean, you know it, I know it. [personal profile] rosefox was saying the other day that they've been futilely protesting US involvement in the Middle East for 24 years. It is wasted time. I don't go to marches anymore. Right here, right now, they have no effect. I marched on Washington for abortion rights, I marched in my city against war in the Middle East, I wasted my time. With power comes responsibility. What that means to me is that I have to learn where I do have power and where I don't. And I need to focus my actions on where I have power.

Like for example, "staying informed" is an amorphous concept that sounds righteous and important but, really, being informed changes nothing unless I do something with the information. There's stuff I'm never going to do anything about, because I can't. I have no power over a kid being bullied by her school system over on the east coast somewhere, to take one example of something I was exhorted to care about by Tumblr this week. Look, I am sorry about that kid, but it would be creepy and wrong if a random person on the other coast had the power to significantly change her schooling experience based on information off of Tumblr, and in fact it is not the case. I have no power there. So it's not my responsibility. It's not important for me to be informed of that. On the other hand, it is important for me to inform myself of the way the police work in my country and in my city to the point that I finally, finally, really internalize that I should never call the cops again unless I am prepared for someone to die. And not necessarily someone in the situation that I wanna call the cops about. Maybe some random dude five miles away who fits a ~profile~. And I am so embarrassed that this took me so long to realize. And I am scared because the next time I hear slight thuds and a crying woman begging her boyfriend to stop hitting her, underneath my window, I can't call the cops. What am I going to do? I'm going to have to go down there and talk to them myself, and I don't want to, and probably that's what I always should have done, and I don't want to. And the next time I see thick black smoke coming from a van parked under an underpass downtown at 1 A.M., I'm not fucking going into that situation myself - so what am I going to do? Will someone die if I call the cops, or if I don't? This sucks, but it is about my actions, so it is my responsibility.

And of course this also sucks because it is limited to my individual power, to my individual actions. So neoliberal, right? I want to believe that people would be stronger if we acted collectively but maybe Ferguson is putting the lie to that. See this post: "if they can lie to us to our face and us KNOW the truth, what power do we have , then?"

Well…not a lot. And - didn't we know this already? Why didn't we know this? This isn't new, right, the people in power lying to the people without, and us know they're lying, and they know we know they're lying, and they don't have to give a shit, isn't new? I've been reading The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, about the AIDS crisis and its aftermath, and that's just the 1980s. Not even that long ago, don't we remember how the government let a gay generation die before Ronald Reagan would say the word "AIDS", let alone put some damn money into the problem? Schulman writes that ACT UP forced the government to finally take AIDS seriously as a public health menace, but….how? I know a little bit about ACT UP and its actions, but…. how do these demonstrations force people with power to do things differently? Do they? I've been reading about this, I've been listening to Revolutions - which is a great podcast by the way - I've been trying to learn how, fundamentally, people convince other people to do things. How people get other people to stop doing one thing and do something different. I swear this is a huge flaw in my education, this is a place where we have been let down. I should know this and I don't and I don't even know how to find out.

capitalization style question

Sep. 21st, 2014 09:44 am
kaigou: Happy typing on mac. (1 Hyperbole and a half)
[personal profile] kaigou
This summer I attended a writing retreat, and the critique I got back from the instructor made a number of corrections in capitalization. I was kinda like, hunh? because no one else has ever noted an issue with the same, until nagasvoice's comment in another post.

(I don't recall ever being taught the rules of punctuation/grammer/capitalizing in school -- fiction-writing wasn't ever a major focus, as I recall -- so I've mostly gone by what I read in books, and using that style. I guess you could say osmosis and a bit of logical guesswork taught me things like that punctuation goes inside the quotes (at least in US-based publications), etc.)

Normally, I'd write a sentence with dialogue like this.

"Hello," they said.

The entire sentence is hello-they-said. First word is 'hello', so it's capitalized. Since 'they' is not the first word and not a proper-name, it's not capitalized. Thus, it made sense to me that when the order is rearranged, the capitalizing is also rearranged:

They said, "hello."

I'm pretty sure this is a pattern I've read plenty, 'cause I had to have gotten the impression from somewhere that this is alright. It's also why/how I learned that when you've got a tag in the middle, capitalizing is still applied as an overall:

"Yesterday," she said, "it was sunny."

First, 'yesterday' is the first word. Second, the actual sentence -- 'yesterday it was sunny' is an entire sentence and the tag 'she said' is just inserted. Similar to the way if I had [ed: hi there] in the middle, it inserts, not halts the sentence and forces a new one. It's like a paren.

In my mind, if I've got a sentence like the following:

"Yesterday it was sunny," she said. "We napped."

...then the "we" gets capitalized because it's a new sentence; if it hadn't been, then it'd be a comma after 'said', not a period, and there'd need to be some kind of a tag -- ie, 'and', 'but', etc -- before 'we' to indicate there was more to the first sentence.

I'm not sure whether this is a house-style thing or just something I've completely misread/ignored all these years.

Anyone?

The Aubergine Song

Sep. 20th, 2014 10:20 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
Probably the most risqué song I've ever sung on stage. Now with dynamic text: tell your friends!

(no subject)

Sep. 20th, 2014 04:48 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Cutest damn blissface in the world. Read more... )

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