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    Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
    [ liquidmistletoe ]
    Photo of the week contest! 4/13/14 - 4/19/14
    Poll #1965620
    Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13

    Tell us your pick in pics!

    View Answers
    5 (38.5%)
    0 (0.0%)
    0 (0.0%)
    6 (46.2%)
    1 (7.7%)
    0 (0.0%)
    1 (7.7%)
    [ liquidmistletoe ]
    Congratulations to liquidmistletoe!
    Congratulations to, erm, liquidmistletoe (hehe-thanks guys!), who won our 218th lj_photophile contest!

    Click here to vote for next week's winner!
    Big Significant Harry
    Viserys Targaryen is helping to kick off the Santa Fe Film Festival this year.

    The festival proper runs from May 1 - 4, and the Jean Cocteau Cinema will be one of the main venues, along with the CCA's two screens on the other side of town.  But to open the festivities in grand style, we're having a special One Night Only screening of a terrific new road movie on the evening of April 30.

    BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS is the tale of a young man who sets off on a quest across America, in search of adventure, meaning, and... ah... Big Stuff.

    The film stars HARRY LLOYD, better known to GAME OF THRONES fan as the late great Beggar King, Viserys III, last having molten gold poured over his head by Khal Drogo.


    Harry will be on hand personally come Wednesday night, to introduce his new film, meet the fans, and answer your questions... about BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS, his new TV series MANHATTAN (now filming outside Santa Fe), DOCTOR WHO, GAME OF THRONES, or whatever.  He's really a MUCH nicer guy than Viserys, so do come meet him.

    BIG SIGNIFICANT THINGS will be playing ONE NIGHT ONLY at 7pm, Wednesday, April 30.   We will have big drinks and big snacks and we expect a big crowd, so get your tickets early at the Cocteau website:  http://www.jeancocteaucinema.com/

    Current Mood: amused
    ... made glorious summer ...
    Book Review: Time and Chance, by James Callaghan
    I picked this up second-hand as a counter to Edward Heath's autobiography, which I read some time ago. Both proclaim modest upbringings, but once Heath arrived at Oxford he writes as if he was destined; Callaghan on the other hand was brought up mostly by a single parent following the death of his father, and entered the civil service directly upon leaving school. Nevertheless he rose rapidly in the party following the general election of 1945, becoming a Parliamentary Secretary within a couple of years and entering the Shadow Cabinet in 1951. To date he is the only person to have held the four "great offices of state" - a position unlikely to be assailed in the foreseeable future (only John Major and Gordon Brown come close and I don't see any prospect of either of them returning to complete the set).

    His autobiography therefore naturally divides itself into sections up to 1964, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, and Prime Minister (there is little material to speak of on Labour's period in opposition, 1970-74). The material on sterling crises and devaluation in the 1960s is particularly interesting, and the experience was certainly useful to Callaghan in later times. Shortly following devaluation he was moved to be Home Secretary in a reshuffle; the issues he chooses to write about here are clearly strongly felt, particularly on care of children and prison reform. As Foreign Secretary he dealt with the referendum on the UK's EEC membership, plus events in Cyprus, Portugal, Rhodesia, and a watchful eye on the Falklands. The final chapters, on his Premiership, provide a coherent an honourable case for the government's policies and actions in the mid-to-late 1970s. Callaghan does not deny there were disappointments and failures; I don't think it justifies being described as "bitter", but he doesn't shy away from pointing out the catastrophic consequences for the Left in 1979, in no small way self-inflicted by militant unions and activists. It has made me look differently on the Winter of Discontent.

    Interestingly, one common theme between both this and Heath's book is the way they both imply acceptance of the political as well as economic aims of European union. Callaghan felt constrained by the divisions in the Labour party of the time from pursuing a stronger line.
    Wednesday reading
    Assassin's Quest, by Robin Hobb
    The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, by Neil Gaiman
    Cheese, by Willem Elsschot

    Last books finished
    The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, by Alexander McCall Smith
    Deathless, by Cat Valente
    Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler
    Understanding the Lord of the Rings, eds. Rose A. Zimbardo & Neil D. Isaacs

    Last week's audios
    [Doctor Who] Moonflesh, by Mark Morris

    Next books
    Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
    Dawn, by Octavia Butler
    Need for Certainty, by Robert Towler

    Books acquired in last week
    Elric of Melniboné and Other Stories, by Michael Moorcock
    Corum: The Prince of the Scarlet Robe, by Michael Moorcock
    Crash, by J.G. Ballard
    The Ginger Star, by Leigh Brackett
    My tweets
    Half the battle, or Why James Began Hearing Sad Cat Meows
    Ibid has worked out how to get up to the top shelf of the book case in my bedroom and from there to the top of the door, just as Fig did months ago.

    What he can't do is get back down....

    Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
    [Writerverse Challenge #22: Spring Break]
    Title: Another beach
    Word Count: 270
    Rating: G
    Fandom or Original: Original (Those Who Wander Remain Forever Lost)
    Pairings (if any): Rose/Thalia
    Warnings (Non-Con/Dub-Con/etc): /
    Summary: Despite her initial protests, Rose is glad Thalia convinced her to go on a trip to the beach with her.

    Read more...Collapse )

    tinmanic 5:15p
    Observing Passover



    Last night was the end of Passover. This year I stuck to the holiday’s dietary laws more closely than I had in a long time: no bread or other products with leavened flour, no corn or rice or oats. (So much for my morning oatmeal.) I did eat beans, and we had a container of eggplant spread that apparently contained breadcrumbs, although I couldn’t detect them. But this was the most strictly I’d followed the laws of Passover in many years.

    I think it’s because we hosted our first seder this year. It was small, just me and Matt and my immediate family, but it made me more aware of the holiday than usual. Even though I don’t believe in God, I’m still Jewish, and it was nice to be reminded of the cultural traditions in which I grew up.

    Of course, the best part of following the Passover laws is the end of Passover. I had a burger last night on a bun. I had oatmeal for breakfast. I had a sandwich on a bagel for lunch today.

    Delayed gratification never tasted so good.


    only nine days left to support C.J. Henderson!
    Only nine days left to help out C.J. Henderson by supporting the Monkeying Around for A Good Cause anthology! All proceeds from this anthology, which has tons of cool authors in it (like Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Tanya Huff, Nancy Holder, Michael Stackpole, Gene Wolfe, Mike Resnick, and tons more) will support Ceej in his fight against lymphoma. Please help an excellent writer and a fine human being out!

    Current Mood: busy
    Farm and Livestock Update
    We're having a spate of cold mornings, in the mid-40's, and I'm glad I haven't transplanted the Roma tomatoes yet. Some neighbors have, but the danger is that the cold will stunt them, and later will result in poor yields. It's better to be patient.

    Poor Pogi has had diarrhea, and I've tried medicines, but it's a diet of boiled chicken and rice that seems to be helping. I hope he appreciates all the trouble I'm going to.

    A big farmer nearby is doing high-tech plastic mulching in the furrows of the newly planted field. He's sealed the moisture and seed under a tight bio-degradable cover that also inhibits weeds.

    There's no shortage of bees around. My lemon tree had been swarming with bees for weeks.
    There are lots of wild and cultivated fruit trees in the neighborhood, and they're not sprayed like commercial orchards. In a perfect world, it would be fun to keep a hive of honey bees, but honestly my plate is full.
    A question of scale...
    Naturally, yesterday—out of the blue—a completely workable approach to this past week's LJ Idol prompt ("step on a crack") pops into my consciousness. Why this (or a cousin) did not emerge earlier may be due to several factors:

    (a) Fixating too hard on one approach. This has the effect of "grinding the gears," mentally. This is, I think, closely related to the definition of insanity that goes, "doing the same thing repeatedly, hoping to obtain a different result."

    (b) The "overshoot" effect, which is a term I use to describe what happens when you're unable to perform some task because you're trying too hard. I've touched on this phenomenon several times over the years (links to come later, maybe).

    Back to work!

    The context is this is by the organization that currently enjoys a near-monopoly on beer sales

    Under Ontario's Liquor Control Act, Brewers Retail is the only retailer permitted to sell beer for off-site consumption, except for stores on the site of a brewery, locations of the provincial government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), and LCBO-authorized agency stores in certain smaller communities.[...] The act and the company's articles of incorporation further stipulate that Brewers Retail cannot sell "hard liquor" (spirits), or consumer goods (like groceries).

    Reaction has not been 100% favourable.

    Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
    Trigger warnings in higher education
    I've been meaning to post about this for a while. [personal profile] cereta just made a post which reminded me. Apparently offering trigger warnings in higher education is a trend:






    Now, there are circumstances in which I think trigger warnings would be a basic courtesy: if you are about to show a film with graphic content which students might not be expecting.

    But from the standpoint of a historian I think that warnings for any given historical subject would basically approximate the warnings for human existence itself: racism, sexism, colonialism, slavery, religious bigotry, war, disease, child abuse, grinding poverty, exploitation, suffering, death, etc. However innocuous a subject you might be able to imagine - "Jane Austen's world," for instance, which included just about all of the above.

    For that reason I found Oberlin's previous - now removed - policy on trigger warnings a little bit chilling:
    • Remove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.
    • Sometimes a work is too important to avoid. For example, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read. However, it may trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more. Here are some steps you, as a professor, can take so that your class can examine this source in the most productive and safe manner possible:
    • Issue a trigger warning. A trigger warning is a statement that warns people of a potential trigger, so that they can prepare for or choose to avoid the trigger. Issuing a trigger warning will also show students that you care about their safety...
    • Tell students why you have chosen to include this material, even though you know it is triggering. For example:
    “…We are reading this work in spite of the author’s racist frameworks because his work was foundational to establishing the field of anthropology, and because I think together we can challenge, deconstruct, and learn from his mistakes.”
    “…This documentary challenges heterosexism in an important way. It is vital to discuss this issue. I think watching and discussing this documentary will help us become better at challenging heterosexism ourselves.”
    • Strongly consider developing a policy to make triggering material optional or offering students an alterative assignment using different materials. When possible, help students avoid having to choose between their academic success and their own wellbeing.

    Why is it worth studying history? That's a good question and well worth discussing with undergraduates. But I strongly refuse the idea that one should have to justify to students the reasons for not sweeping (tw: sexism) "man's inhumanity to man" under the carpet.

    I wonder whether Oberlin's sweeping policy was a result of concerns about legal liability more than anything else? Or perhaps I'm being ungenerous.

    This entry was originally posted at http://naraht.dreamwidth.org/564402.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
    Alleluia, alleluia! Hearts to heaven and voices raise:
    Alleluia, alleluia!
    Hearts to heaven and voices raise:
    Read more...Collapse )
    My tweets
    My tweets
    My tweets
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    xkcd_rss 4:00a
    Slow Clap

    Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
    Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
    World War II: Still Fascinating
    World War II still dominates alternate history, and least in the online forums, in spite of being done to death. I've posted various scenarios and a few stories on Alternate History forums and watched the views and comments. It's pretty obvious. World War II, especially the big battles everyone has heard of, draws eyes. Other periods, and even less familiar aspects of World War II don't draw anywhere near as many eyes.

    The problem is that it's getting harder to find anything fresh to discuss in the way of World War II alternate history. Sealion? Pretty much no way it was going to succeed given a divergence after say April 1940, and it would have been a very long shot even before that. Eastern front? The Germans were going to have a large part of their army tied down essentially indefinitely as a best case scenario, and most of the widely discussed magic bullets that supposedly would have given them a victory wouldn't have worked. D-Day was extremely unlikely to fail, given the avalanche of hardware the Allies threw at the problem.  The Japanese could have, and in a few cases should have won victories over the US when they in reality lost, but given US productive capacity those victories would not have been militarily significant, though they might have had some political impact.

    What's left to discuss after you write off all of that? Increasingly obscure possible turning points that almost nobody has heard of. Here are a few:

    1) During the Spanish Civil War, the rather large Spanish gold stock fell into Republican hands, and ultimately into Soviet hands. If the Nationalists had managed to grab that gold, they would have probably spent it on German and Italian weapons. Historically, the Italians drained themselves economically by giving or loaning weapons to the Nationalists, while the Germans limited their commitment and made the nationalists pay for what they did send by bartering industrially valuable minerals. Meanwhile, historically the Soviets supplied the Spanish Republic with all the odds and ends of weaponry that the Russian empire and then the Soviets had collected up since the 1870s, and overcharged the Republic for the munitions, while testing out a few of their newer tanks and planes in the battles. If the Nationalists had been able to pay in gold and the Republicans hadn't been able to, presumably both the Germans and Italians would have ended up with much of that gold, strengthening their ability to gear up for the war, assuming they still fought it on the same side.

    2) Japan actually did the honorable thing when they pulled out of the various naval limitation treaties, giving the required notice. What if they had continued to pay lip-service to the treaties until they could no longer hide their naval buildup, then attempted a breakout? Another option: what if the signatories had patched together some kind of compromise that kept Japan in the naval limitation treaties for another couple of years. That might have kept them from breaching the treaties altogether, because once the China incident started, the rational response would have been to hold off on starting a naval arms race until the China situation was settled. Of course rational responses and the Japanese of World War II don't fit well in the same sentence. In either case, the idea would be to avoid the US pre-war ship buildup that made it so much easier for the US to build up during World War II, probably cutting a year or two off the time it took us to ramp up. Another Japanese option: building up a lot more "commercial" ships that could quickly be converted to military use as a way to skirt the limitations treaties. Historically, the Japanese built two fast liners that were designed from the start with the idea of being converted to aircraft carriers. They didn't end up as particularly good carriers, but the intent was there and the Japanese could have expanded the effort.

    3) Japan knocks the Nationalist Chinese out of the war. That's most like around 1938 or early 1939, or in 1942 in the absence of a US victory at Midway.  With the Nationalists out of the war, China would still suck down a lot of Japanese resources, but the Japanese would be more formidable in Manchuria and more capable of moving further into the Pacific, though moving further into the Pacific would be very counterproductive.
    A slow loris being brushed

    Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
    strangemaps 7:26p
    654 - Making Maps of France (Nudge, Nudge)



    Cuddly toys, ripped to pieces. Their limbs and tails, snouts and eyepatches strung up and nailed to a museum wall. Teddy bears and their furry friends are supposed to be a child's last line of defence against night terrors. But here, perversely, they themselves become the terror: cruelly chopped up ...

    Read More
    Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
    Easter Chicken #2
    I made this one for my friend Galya.

    It perched on the remaining Easter eggs at home.

     photo DSC02125_zpsfc5c457b.jpg

    Then it went to the cafe with Galya and me and sat on the table...
     photo DSC02129_zps5b2382df.jpg

    ... and leaned on Galya's Coca-Cola bottle. :)
     photo DSC02132_zps6c4c68a0.jpg

    I finished one more chicken in the evening, but it's waiting for the daylight for its own photo session, and I have one more to finish.
    Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
    Star Wars fans shocked to learn that their novels aren't canon, either
    So there is nerd outrage over the (completely predictable and reasonable) comment made to the Hollywood Reporter by Simon Kinberg, one of the screenwriters of the upcoming Episode 7 of the Star Wars film saga, which boil down to, "We won't be paying attention to the SW novels and comics when we write our screenplay." Which means that, yes, SW novels and comics are not canon and never were, claims by the fanbase and Lucas to the contrary.

    Here's my response (originally posted on Tor.com as a comment to Emily Asher-Perrin's article on this revelation):

    Canon arguments/discussions always make me want to beat someone until they bleed. I really do not understand why people get arsed over what's real in a fictional construct.

    Yes, the novels and comics and cartoons aren't canon. So what? You know what else isn't canon? The Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Christopher Nolan Batman movies. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Arrow. All totally, thoroughly, and in all ways not canon. Not even a little bit.

    There are three different versions of Sherlock Holmes currently being produced, none of which are canonical, yet all of which are immensely popular and fun to watch and enjoyable and nifty.

    Episode 7 does nothing to the EU one way or another. The books and comics and cartoons are still there, still good stories, still there to be enjoyed. Honestly, the whole "the novels are canon toooooo!!!!" argument was pretty much shitcanned with the prequel movies, and never held up to scrutiny, especially if you look at, say, the history of the Fett family.

    SW fans could take a lesson from Star Trek. Two of the most highly regarded Trek novels are Imzadi and Federation. The former novel was heavily contradicted by a TNG episode ("Second Chances"); the latter was totally nuked by the movie First Contact. Yet the two novels continue to be well regarded -- and so does that episode and that movie, even though they contradict each other.

    If you think that contradictory versions of stories in the same universe ruins one of the contradictory ones, then you don't understand how storytelling works.

    Current Mood: busy
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