What Are You Reading Wednesday

Apr. 24th, 2019 07:07 am
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Currently Reading:
Fiction: NK Jemison, 'How Long Till Black Future Month'. I did not manage to get to feminist book club for this, but I'm enjoying the book. Brian Jacques, 'Redwall', which: wow, that is some mediocre prose right there. Also some incoherent monastic structures.
Lit Mag: Technically still Meanjin summer 2018, but I've not looked at it for a while
Academic: Nothing
Other non-fiction: Laren Elkin, 'Flanêuse', which... is aggravating me. The woman has a PhD, she knows how to analyse, but this is not an example of analysis. It's just... stuff. Mostly stuff about white women. It's not even particularly engagingly written.

Recently Finished:

Nothing, not even podcasts.

Up Next: I need to get to Hand of Knaves, and I bought both 'Educated' and 'Banana Fish v 1' (wild mismatch, much?) in Kino on the weekend.

Music Notes:

I'm listening to a lot of Janelle Monae this week, cut with occasional Alannah Myles, and when I'm at home, Lady Gaga via spotify. I somehow completely missed her 2016 album Joanne (weirdly country turn?), and I like it a lot. I have also listened through Lizzo's entire spotify catalogue, after hearing good things about the new album. New album is indeed good, but I think I like 'Lizzobangers' better.
oursin: Picture of Fotherington-Tomas skipping, with words subversive male added (Subversive male)
[personal profile] oursin

Because usually when people are talking about the problem of BOYZ in the educational system and under-achievement, it is all about defeminising the curriculum and catering to their masculine needs and so on.

Well this guy, 'who shaves his head and has an East End accent' is, I suspect, secretly Basil Fotherington-Tomas: Boys will be boys? How schools can be guilty of gender bias. Too many teachers think boys can’t do as well as girls, says the teacher on a mission to change attitudes.

There’s a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude that plays into a narrative that says boys produce more testosterone, and that’s why they fight and punch, that’s why they don’t sit quietly in lessons, that’s why they’re harder to control, that’s why we have different expectations about what they can do.” But the hormone system is much more complex than such a binary reading reveals; and for every study that links bad behaviour and testosterone, there’s another, says Pinkett, that suggests it’s more about environment than biology. “The ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ philosophy neglects two key facts: firstly, that there are more similarities than differences between the sexes, and, secondly, that our brains are plastic and changeable, especially during the early years.” What teachers have to get past, he says, is the belief that if a boy doesn’t comply, doesn’t hand in homework or is misbehaving, that it’s because he’s male. “We need to stop ourselves: because maybe whatever is going on isn’t, after all, because he’s a boy. And it’s that realisation that can free pupils from stereotypes, and give them the chance to do what everyone wants, which is truly fulfil their potential.”
There’s a danger of treating boys differently and patronising them, says Roberts. “So, for example, you’ve got a boy you think doesn’t like reading, so you decide to pander to his love of football and give him a book about that to read. But in narrowing your expectations, you’re narrowing his. It’s the same with, for example, teaching boys about Shakespeare by concentrating on the sword fights or the fighting: it’s like we’re hoodwinking them into learning, and it doesn’t work. What we need is a big shift in ethos: too many teachers believe boys can do less, they don’t think boys can succeed as well as girls at school. I don’t think it’s about watering it down: it’s about having high expectations for boys as well as for girls.”

The content being taught is also relevant, and connected, of course, to everything else. “The English curriculum is unfairly and disproportionately dominated by men, and many of them are deplorable men like Macbeth and Dr Jekyll. And Dickens: a lot of his writing is unsavoury. So we need to challenge that in school, and we need to think about issues around sexist male behaviour and violence in the texts they’re reading.”

Go, guy!

highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Despite earlier gloomy predictions, tonight's dinner is an Achievement. It would be a lot simpler if you had a larger kitchen or bigger pots than I do, too.

I think the ancestor recipe is a recipe by [personal profile] killing_rose, but despite remembering the existence of the recipe, I don't seem to have saved it.

Diet and access notes )

Read more... )

Makes two small or one very large serving.

(no subject)

Apr. 23rd, 2019 09:20 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] damnmagpie!

IONA Vancouver

Apr. 22nd, 2019 06:21 pm
[syndicated profile] gemaecca_feed

Posted by Nicola Griffith

Last week I spent five days at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, to attend IONA: Early medieval studies on the islands of the North Atlantic—transformative networks, skills, theories, and methods for the future of the field. If you are an early medievalist, you should go the next one at King’s College London, November 2021.

The new IONA Association website explains that:

IONA is a professional organization of early medieval scholars whose work extends from the islands of the North Atlantic; however, we do not perceive our field to be limited by periodization or by place. IONA seeks to develop knowledge, networks, and skills that will not only reinvigorate and rethink early medieval studies but also denationalize and decolonize the field.

Their aim is transformative. And they are not kidding. I’ve never been to anything like IONA Vancouver. It was a purely academic conference that felt like the best WisCon or ICFA ever. Super collaborative and cooperative. (I’ve already started talking to a couple of people about Hild-based collaborative projects. It’s exciting!) If you’re even remotely interested in either the early medieval or the future of academic conferences, you should go read the full IONA conference programme. And perhaps start planning to attend the next one.

I was one of the plenary speakers. Here’s the description of my lecture:

This plenary presentation discusses how Griffith’s most recent novel, Hild (2013) operates as a second-order discourse on the illusory nature of history’s immutability: how the novel deconstructs the intersectional development of oppressive discourse on gender, sexual orientation, race, and (with forthcoming Hild sequel Menewood) disability. Central to Griffith’s address is why she chose a queer female protagonist for these novels set in seventh-century Britain, and era of ethnogenesis and cultural change. In doing so, Griffith focuses on the embodiment of the novel, protagonist, and author to argue for the urgent necessity of acknowledging and incorporating one’s understanding of embodiment—and, therefore, identity—into not only the creative arts but scholarly inquiry. [Links to full PDF of plenary, plus slides.]

I talked for 45-50 minutes, and the rest was a lively back-and-forth with the audience.

I was very tired at the conference (I’d just come back from 10 days in the UK for my father’s funeral and was emotionally drained, as well as jet-lagged out of my mind) so didn’t get to go to as many sessions as I would have liked. I did get to all the plenaries and the welcome reception, and a three-part seminar The Contemporary Medieval: Critical and Creative Methods, Practises, and Environments, organised by Joshua Davies, Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing. Every morning from 8:30 to 10:30 about 20 of us crammed into a small room to explore and develop ideas about the contemporary medieval. In each session, four or five participants each gave a 5-minute position paper and then we all just talked, asked questions, and figured out how things like communities of attention, birds, American/Medieval, and humour in early Irish texts might fit together and/or illuminate one another. I loved it. This is just the kind of connect-the-dots idea-testing that works for me.

There were so many sessions I longed to attend but perhaps the three I was most interested in but had to miss were:

  1. a workshop/seminar on fibre and decorated textiles where participants had a hands-on opportunity to learn about tablet-weaving, fish-leather, spinning and carding, etc.
  2. a multi-part seminar on borders and indigeneity in the early middle ages
  3. a multi-part seminar reconstructing history through landscape and practice

Maybe next time…

Meanwhile, thanks to Clare Lees for the lovely introduction, Matt Hussey for organising a splendid conference and inviting me to speak, Gillian Overing for the Champagne, Jay Johnston for the welcome, all the participants in the Contemporary Medieval seminars, and to the many people I had a series of splendid conversations with. Thank you!

oursin: Cod with aghast expression (kepler codfish)
[personal profile] oursin

Goodness knows of the bonkersness of the people who get grassed-up on Ask A Manager there are, I fear, depths still unsounded, because every time one thinks it can't get any worse, lo and behold, something else comes along, and well, WOT??!!

My boss wants us to go on an all-day rafting trip. There is a new director with (okay, these would always be red flags for me) 'outgoing personality', 'emphasis on team-building events. And during a corporate conference there will be 'an all-day rafting trip as a break-out event'.

(Am I being perhaps too bleak in my thought that this is like the famed Hancock episode 'The Bowmans': 'Oh look, they do all have fallen down the old abandoned mineshaft'?)

The person who has posed the question to AAM has already raised the issue of being a weak swimmer and not comfortable around deep water: the director's response was what does not kill us makes us stronger 'she’d rather see me focus on how to meet a challenge rather than how to get out of it'.

Do we think that 'With your shield or on it' is really a suitable management strategy for the current era? Or indeed, playing chicken to test people's commitment and dedication?

AAM has pointed out that enquirer is very likely not the only person for whom there may be access/H&S issues.

(no subject)

Apr. 22nd, 2019 09:17 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] mme_hardy and [personal profile] polyamorous!

Les Liens du Lundi

Apr. 22nd, 2019 06:55 am
highlyeccentric: An underground street (Rue Obscure, Villefranche), mostly dark. Bright light at the entrance and my silhouette departing (Rue Obscure)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Short pieces, current affairs, hot takes:
  • Jason Burke and Amantha Perera (Guardian), Sri Lanka death toll expected to rise: leaders condemn killings. I was initially impressed with the government line, which was to officially Not Speculate on the motives of the bombers or comment on their religious alliegance, but it looks like that has started to fracture overnight (with the police circulating information they hadn't previously shared). And given the Sri Lankan govt's track record, I'm... not convinced the social media blackout and enforced curfew will be a net good.

Longer pieces - essay, memoir, natural history, other

Comments policy: Everything I said in the caveats to this post applies. I teach critical thinking for a living, but I'm not *your* teacher, and this blog is not a classroom. That means I don't have to abide by the fallacy of 'there's no such thing as a bad contribution to discussion'.

OK, I admit, this is not a temple

Apr. 21st, 2019 09:02 pm
[syndicated profile] 10_century_europe_feed

Posted by Jonathan Jarrett

I often hark back to much older posts on this blog, which I suppose is part of having been blogging for more than a decade. Still, you would have to have a special kind of memory to remember my theory about the so-called ‘tomb type’ deniers of ninth- or tenth-century Barcelona, which is just as well as I think I now have to admit that it was wrong.1 So, I probably ought to explain a bit, and then show you why it’s wrong and wonder what’s right now.

So, when the Frankish kings took over in what’s now Catalonia, they set up mints in four towns, Girona, Barcelona, Castelló d’Empúries and either Roda de Ter, Roda d’Isàvena or Roses, with the balance of likelihood for now on the third.2 These mints struck the regular Carolingian coinage of silver pennies, which Simon Coupland has called the ‘medieval Euro’, which under the rule of Charlemagne (768-814, here 785-814) and his son Louis the Pious (814-840) was standardised pretty much across their empire.3 The principal design of that is the so-called ‘Temple’ type, which you see here.

'Temple' type denier of Emperor Louis the Pious

‘Temple’ type denier of Emperor Louis the Pious, uncertain mint, 822-840. Image by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The reverse design is fundamentally Roman, the closest resemblance being to a coinage of Emperor Antoninus Pius, but as befitted their new dispensation the Carolingians converted the once-pagan temple into a Christian space by adding the cross at the centre and the legend, PXISTIANA RELIGIO, with the first two letters being Greek, the chi-ro monogram meaning Christ, so, ‘Christian religion’. Visually, it’s fairly clearly a design in three registers, the pediment, the pillars and cross, and the fundament. This type continued to be struck in the West under Louis the Pious’s son Charles the Bald (844-77), but at a decreasing standard until in 864, at the Council of Pîtres, Charles ordered a reform and brought the coinage back up, more or less, to the standard of his grandfather, whose KAROLVS monogram he also reinstated on the coins.4

'Temple'-type denier of King Charles the Bald, struck at Reims 840-864

‘Temple’-type denier of King Charles the Bald, struck at Reims 840-864. Image by By Numisanticahttp://www.numisantica.com/, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons.

Now, somehow or other the Catalan mints don’t seem to have got that memo. There’s no specimen of a post-Pîtres coin so far known from any of them—although as this post shows, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one waiting to be found—and it seems therefore that coinage in Catalonia either ceased to be made for a while or they carried on making the previous issue. I favour the former, simply because Charles stayed in fairly close touch with his distant province in his later years, but it’s possible an exception was made.5 The real difficulties for numismatists however start after Charles’s death, because while we have one or two not very good temple-type coins in his name from Barcelona, we don’t have any clearly in the names of his successors. What we have instead is a set of three types of coin, all rather below even pre-Pîtres standard in size and weight, all lettered in more or less junk characters, As, Vs, lozenges and triangles, and all with a small cross in a circle on one face. They’re distinguished by the other face, which carries either another such small cross in a circle, a triangle of three annulets in a circle, or a blocky design in three registers which we know as the ‘tomb’ type, and which has been guessed to represent the then-recently-discovered tomb of Saint Eulalie of Barcelona. Here is a typical example of such a coin.

Silver transitional denier struck at Barcelona in 865-1018, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, CM.345-2001

Silver transitional denier struck at Barcelona in 865-1018, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, CM.345-2001, image by your humble author

As you can see, that’s not a lot to go on. You may remember me being sceptical here about our ability to date the supposed rediscovery of Eulalie’s tomb, and of course we can’t independently date the coins except by hypothetical seriation, so neither one thing can be used to date the other, though people still do of course. The three known coins of Count-Marquis Ramon Borrell (992-1018) use the triple annulet device, so it seems likely—no more—that the anonymous ones with the annulets come before his. Eulalie’s tomb was supposedly found by Bishop Frodoí of Barcelona, who was around in the 870s, so we usually put the ‘tomb’ type first, and the cross type has to fill the gap. Braver souls than I have even assigned each type to a known ruler, Bishop Teuderic of Barcelona for the ‘tomb’ type, Count-Marquis Sunyer of Barcelona (911-947) for the cross and my own favourite, his son Borrell II (945-993), for the annulets.6 That could certainly be, but equally, we don’t know from what we have that they weren’t all issued simultaneously in a fifteen-year splurge under Count Guifré I the Hairy (870-898) and then just used till they wore nearly blank, and then a century later Ramon Borrell decided to revive his great-grandfather’s coinage, on a current standard, as a sign that he was taking up the fight against the Muslims anew. That could just as easily have happened from this evidence.

Anyway, whenever it dates from, this post is about the ‘tomb’ type. It is very rare to have a clear, unworn specimen of any of these coins, and all the ones I’ve seen hitherto of the tomb type have left me quite dubious about its iconography. It’s often no more than three raised rectangles, the uppermost slightly domed, and the repetition of the triple register has made me wonder before now whether it’s not in fact just a rather degraded recollection of the temple type that the revelant mint, wherever it is (we usually assume Barcelona, but again don’t actually know), had probably once struck. And, as I now know, that’s where I’m wrong, because in April of 2014 (and why, yes, I have had this post stubbed for a while), there passed through the sale-rooms of Aureo & Calicó in Barcelona this example:

Silver denier struck in Barcelona, probably in the late ninth or early tenth century. Aureo y Calic, Ramon Muntaner sale, April 2014, lot 211

Silver denier struck in Barcelona, probably in the late ninth or early tenth century. Aureo y Calicó, Ramon Muntaner sale, April 2014, lot 211

Now, they attribute it to Bishop Frodoí of Barcelona, but you know from the above how much that’s worth. It probably is very early in the possible timeframe, at least, because its weight is high (1.36 g), the obverse legend is still legible as +CARLVS REX rather than being pseudo-literate and the cross is longer than on the later ones. The reverse legend is pretty clearly +BARCINONA, Barcelona, too, even though whoever engraved the legend on the die didn’t realise it needed to be in mirror-image and so it has come out, as the numismatists say, retrograde. That implies that they were copying a Carolingian-era denier, however. So perhaps this is the earliest tomb-type denier we have so far, and in that respect maybe it could be Frodoí or Teuderic (or Guifré the Hairy or his son Guifré II Borrell). Mainly, though, it’s really clear, even though someone apparently put a knife point right through its middle at some point in its history. The device on the reverse does have three registers, though the top one is subdivided vertically into two or three. But they plainly aren’t the temple. I’m not saying I know what it is. It could be Eulalie’s sarcophagus, but I’ve seen that myself and it’s not an obvious resemblance to me, plus which I don’t see how anyone who hadn’t seen it could possibly be expected to recognise it.

Crypt of Saint Eulalie in cathedral of Santes Creu i Eullia de Barcelona

Seen but not photographed, alas. The thing you’re looking for is not the raised-up Gothic box in the middle but the rougher-cut one lurking between the pillars and behind the railings at the back, almost invisible from any available angle of approach. Image by Bernard Gagnonown work, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

But it’s not the temple. The omission of the vertical elements when the horizontal ones are so clear is impossible to explain. So, I have to retire that theory and another one is needed. But this is the fun thing about medieval coinage, and I suppose material culture more widely except that coins were produced on such a scale; our understanding can genuinely be transformed by one new find. I would love to know where this coin came from, which I probably never will. Its pedigree is likely to be dubious, but that it got to a sale-room and they photographed it gives us more than we would have known otherwise. In this case, what we now know is that my idea doesn’t work, but that’s OK; now, whatever idea we come up with will have to work better than that. This is how scholarship progresses, and I have plenty of other progress to make, I hope.

1. Not least, I think I actually first expressed the theory in print, in my “Currency Change in Pre-Millennial Catalonia: Coinage, Counts and Economics” in Numismatic Chronicle Vol. 169 (London 2009), pp. 217–243, online here, at p. 220, though I was then less dubious about Bishop Frodoí of Barcelona’s rôle than I am now (and below).

2. See Miquel Crusafont, Anna M. Balaguer and Philip Grierson, Medieval European Coinage, with a Catalogue of the Coins in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, volume 6: the Iberian Peninsula (Cambridge 2013), pp. 70-73.

3. See Simon Coupland, “The Medieval Euro” in History Today Vol. 54 no. 6 (June 2002), pp. 18–19, or in a bit more depth Coupland, “Money and Coinage under Louis the Pious” in Francia Vol. 17 (Sigmaringen 1990), pp. 23-54, online here, repr. in his Carolingian Coinage and the Vikings: Studies on Power and Trade in the 9th Century, Variorum Collected Studies 847 (Aldershot 2007), chapter III.

4. See Philip Grierson, “The Gratia Dei Rex Coinage of Charles the Bald” in Margaret T. Gibson and Janet L. Nelson (edd.), Charles the Bald: Court and Kingdom, 2nd edn. (Aldershot: Variorum, 1990), pp. 52–64.

5. He issued all of Ramon de Abadal i de Vinyals (ed.), Catalunya carolíngia volum II: Els diplomes carolingis a Catalunya, Memòries de la Secció històrico-arqueològica 75, facsimile reprint (Barcelona 2007), Arles IV, Banyoles III & IV, Particulars XXVI, XXVII & XXVIII, Sant Andreu d’Eixalada I, Sant Julià del Munt I, Sant Llorenç del Munt I & Sureda III & app. VII & VIII to recipients in the area of modern Catalonia after the date of P&icrc;tres.

6. Miquel Crusafont i Sabater, “La moneda barcelonina del segle X. Altres novetats comtals” in Acta numismàtica Vol. 38 (Barcelona 2008), pp. 91–121, modified by Crusafont, Balaguer & Grierson, Medieval European Coinage 6, pp. 74-76.


Apr. 21st, 2019 08:19 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

No bread made during the week.

Friday night supper: a rather nice, though I say it myself, sardegnera with salami.

Saturday breakfast rolls: basic buttermilk, 3:1 strong white/buckwheat flour.

Today's lunch: cinnamon aubergines, which turned out v nicely (I thought they might have got a bit burnt, but not), okra and purple sprouting broccoli simmered in coconut milk with ginger puree, minced green coriander (cilantro) and fish sauce (a little bland - perhaps needed more coriander &/or fish sauce), and sweet potato crinkly oven fries.

Bread tomorrow, I think.

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2019 12:27 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] ankaret and [personal profile] lexin!
oursin: image of hedgehogs having sex (bonking hedgehogs)
[personal profile] oursin

Bedroom confidential: what sex therapists hear from the couch.

We confess ourself unimpressed at the entirely false dichotomy set up that in Ye Olden Dayez what sex therapists saw was physical problems, and now what they see are 'bio-psycho-social' difficulties.

Aphrodite knows, I wish somebody would set to and research the history of sex therapy in the UK, because it is a Different Story from that in the USA, and I know where the bodies are buried where a whole lot of extremely pertinent archival material may be found. But my distinct sense is that they were working on a fairly holistic (though I doubt that back in the 1950s they would have used that word) model, what with calling on the insights of the Balint Method and so on. It was by no means mechanistic. See also this blog post re a friend of mine's research on a particular woman doctor's work in marital counselling in private practice in the 1950s.

So there's that about The Past.

And as far as physical problems go, these seem fairly prominent in contemporary consultations, what with the prevalence of ED and 'increase in women with vaginismus'.

And in the realm of plus ca change, or maybe things are even going backwards

For all the talk of lifting stigmas, therapists say uniformly that, for many people – even the majority – sex remains a taboo. Moyle points out that society is still predominantly heteronormative and kinks are not openly discussed. “We’re in this really weird paradox where everybody looks like they are having sex and is talking about sex, but the realistic, normal conversations are not happening.”

Even at the individual level, Lovett says conversations today are no more frank or open than they were in the mid-1980s. Buchanan finds there are more barriers than there were 15 years ago. “A bit of me is still surprised by people’s ignorance around their own bodies and their partner’s,” says Knowles. More pragmatic, robust sexual education is sorely needed.

Review: Proper English, by KJ Charles

Apr. 20th, 2019 08:07 pm
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Cover: Proper EnglishAs you may know, I am among those who have been desperately hoping for KJC to turn her hand to f/f romance. And, given my preferences among KJC’s previous work, I was hoping for a romance/action or romance/supernatural or romance/mystery blend.

This is is the romance/mystery blend, and although it leans a bit further into the ‘frothy period setpiece’ than my preferences do, I was delighted by it and, having received the ARC in return for honest review, swallowed it in one intoxicating sitting. It’s so much more My Jam than… almost any f/f on the market (and unlike a few others out there that are My Jam plotwise, it also has engaging, amusing prose!), so it’s quite hard to review this book.

Things I am delighted by
  • Top notch period history work. Far cry from the widely recommended f/f historical that I threw across the room on page three because the MC was angsting about being seen in physical contact with another woman in what was, if you knew the slightest thing about the period, a perfectly normal social touch. Instead, Patricia and Fenella have both been negotiating the fuzzy boundaries between what is considered normal female homosocial bonding for young women and preferences or desires which are more firmly deviant. (Spoilery note: I love that one of them has been desiring life partnership, but not really thinking about sex as a possibility re: women, while the other has rather more sexual experience but never really thought about forming a life partnership with a woman. Variety! Nuance!)
  • A romantic plot that consists of something other than the lesbian sheep poem in narrative form! There *is* a fair bit of staring, and some ‘well okay, she kissed me, but that doesn’t mean…’, but the main bulk of the romantic plot line is taken up with the two women figuring out the difference between each other’s external social presentation and inner self
  • Hilarious subplot involving a gay male couple, which I shall not spoil. That subplot also turns from hilarious to serious toward the end, and provides some real depth to Patricia’s emotional arc that isn’t dependent on the romantic arc
  • A good range of supporting characters. I was particularly fond of one Ms Victoria Singh, vegetarian and animal rights activist. KJC’s side characters are always a strength, bringing both engaging personalities and ties into various streams of historical demographics and politics. And - pleasing me, personally, in my specific pet interests - a male-female friendship that’s strong, unique, and just… there, providing depth to both the MC and one of the secondary characters.

Things that are less brilliant: I feel bad listing these, because I love that this book exists! I want KJC to write more of them! But, uh. You may have noticed I measure most historicals against KJC? I also measure KJC against KJC, and this is - while not her weakest - definitely not her strongest work.
  • Pacing: The mystery and romance plots were out of sync. The latter had pretty much resolved by the time the former exploded. There was also no point in the overlap where either MC had a real reason to mistrust each other, and I feel like that was a missed opportunity there.
  • Sex: It’s fine! It’s fun! It’s better than many f/f romances out there! If you *don’t* like KJC’s kinkier work, then this book is definitely for you. I’m… just going to be over here feeling bad because I liked this but am still wishing for something more, and that something more can basically be summed up as ‘the kind of dynamics KJC writes for period historical MEN at terrible house parties’.

In short: I loved this book, but I loved it in the way that you love things for existing so you can’t hold their weaknesses against them the way you would for something that existed in abundance. I would definitely pay for it. It’s not KJC’s best work but I devoutly hope it’s not her last in the f/f market.

(no subject)

Apr. 20th, 2019 11:31 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] forthwritten!
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
[personal profile] oursin

I know there's probably entirely justified concern about what information Facebook is gleaning about people who use it - and even if my use of it is pretty minimal it would still be problematic to give it up when there are people in my life who do use it as their primary means of contact.

But I have been lately been given to wonder exactly how granular and detailed is the information that is gleaned, and, okay, I daresay my adblocker is blocking ads so I'm not seeing these anyway, and I've gone into the ads settings and turned off just about everything that might be deployed to advertise things to me -

Which hasn't stopped, once or twice over the past weeks, sponsored advertising posts popping up in my timeline WOT, but after I have spent some time clicking to hide these, the hint appears to be taken...

But, anyway, in the wholly Point Thahr: Misst stakes, when I go into Settings/Ads/Preferences/'Advertisers', and find a whole swathe who come from 'contact list added to Facebook', they are 99.9999 recurring US-based, most of them realtors, with a tiny sprinkling of health-related organisations. And I go through, and I delete them, or at least remove them from view, and wonder Y O Y? how pointless is that? given that my location is one of the few bits of public-facing information available?

Or is this a subtle misleading? and in fact I am being bombarded with subliminal wombattery, because their algorithms have noted that what I post is mostly wombats? and I am being lulled into a false sense of security?

Friday mystery object #354

Apr. 19th, 2019 07:26 am
[syndicated profile] zygoma_feed

Posted by PaoloViscardi

It’s Good Friday, so it seems only appropriate to give you a nest with some mystery eggs to identify: Hope you have an eggselent Easter!
oursin: The Delphic Sibyl from the Sistine Chapel (Delphic sibyl)
[personal profile] oursin

Apparently there was some hoohah lately about people's degrees not matching up with their A-level results?? and people doing better than their A-level grades might have suggested so it was grade inflation? (whether there was evidence of the converse, and people with smashing A-level results and mediocre degrees, deponent knoweth not).

And I feel this fits in a bit with my post earlier this week in that it is weighted to one moment of shining early promise...

Years ago, I read somewhere about somebody who had, after a perhaps not very starry start, become an internationally renowned expert in, I think, educational theory, had published widely in the relevant peer-reviewed journals and with top publishers, won awards etc: and applying for some post, somebody on the panel looked at the c.v. and said, 'huh, they only got a 2.2 from [might have been a polytechnic? anyway, non-elite institution]'.

Okay, with the numbers of sly hoaxers there are in the world, perhaps it is a necessary check on people being who they say they are to have them put down educational information from decades ago, though I very much doubt this sort of thing gets checked ('Did XY attend your school and did they take and pass Geography O-level in year in question?') But there comes a point when the exact grades at least should no longer matter?

I also think of those young persons of promise who perhaps did something - a first book or whatever - that was considered a major achievement and the precursor to very great things indeed and basically either never got the second album together at all, or it was not quite all that.

Or, they got some cushy post and sat back. Or didn't even get the first book out in spite of being considered sure to do great things.

While others do not really hit their stride until much later - this is not, I think, the same as those women artists who have to wait until they are 90 and all their male competitors and critics have died off to be recognised, I'm thinking more of people who get it together, not entirely unlike oneself, in the middle way of life. And possibly not having given any particular signs of remarkable shiny promise.

I think there are lots of different trajectories possible, and I'm not sure that whooshing upwards like a rocket from the get-go is a terribly encouraging model to have in front of one.

Les Liens du... Jeudi

Apr. 18th, 2019 06:52 am
highlyeccentric: Me (portrait by Scarlet Bennet) (Not impressed)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Supplement to monday links, occurs irregularly.

Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:

Subset: On Cathedrals and Cultural Heritage
In case you live under a rock, Notre Dame cathedral caught fire on Monday evening and burned throughout the night.
  • Here is one of many twitter videos of the crowd on the banks of the Seine singing Ave Maria as the cathedral burns. I still can't watch without crying.

  • You may have heard by now that the main structure survived (the roof beams burned, and took with them the lead roof, and the 19th c grotesques, but the stone nave vaulting survived). Here is Matt Gabrielle on medieval architecture and fire. TL,DR that's no accident, a significant motivation for rib vaulting is it survives fire better than barrel vaulting. (NB Gabrielle is now tweeting this with the caveat that his statements on rebuilding need to be qualified with a call to reckon with the structure's history, including the nasty parts.)
  • Damian Fleming has a good thread about the craft of roofing, and how we should feel for the unfortunate restoration worker(s) who accidentally lit a spark in the attic:

  • Luke Gabrielle (ThinkProgress), Decoding the far right's language about Notre Dame and 'Western Civilisation'

  • I had a lot of feels all over twitter about the destructions we DON'T mourn, but here, here's a fabulously timed piece from the previous Friday:

  • Nayuka Gorrie (Guardian AU), The government wants to bulldoze my inheritance: 800-year old sacred trees. Same age, give or take, as Notre Dame. One's a globally mourned accident; the other collatoral damage to a road expansion.
  • Related to which: Protest camp site, including donation page. I don't like using gofundme, but... money where my mouth is, and all that. Sent through what I think of as my Hot Take Fee today, and intend to make a more substantive contribution next payday.

  • Also I heard from Facebook that the last Yangtze Softshell Turtle died on the same day as Notre Dame burned.

Longreads - essay, memoir, natural history, other
  • Lane Sainty (Buzzfeed Aus), How The Geoffrey Rush #MeToo Defamation Case Went Disastrously Wrong For His Accuser. Starting with the fact that she had to discuss it in court in the first place, which she never wanted.
  • Kevin Sieff and Carolyn Van Houten (Washington Post), Her ancestors fled to Mexico to escape slavery 170 years ago. She still sings in English to this day.. Photo-essay focusing on the matriarch of the Mascogos tribe, descendents of African slaves who fled America. The tribe now speak Spanish, and seek work across the border in the US, but matriach Lucia Vazquez Valdez retains a trove of hymns in English, passed down through generations. There's audio. It's gorgeous.
  • S. Bear Bergman (Ask Bear), How do I know when to stop trying to fix myself and everything else.
    Some people are just do-it-make-it-fix-it oriented, and others have other skills and talents. That’s okay. The world needs its capable stewards as much as its disruptors. Some people are making glorious impassioned quotable speeches on the steps of a venerable monument and some people are bookkeeping for the revolution. All of these people are valuable to the work of justice and liberation. Let’s make sure we are valuing people for what they’re good at and their choices to lend some of that time and talent, whatever it looks like, toward the goal of a better world instead of always valorizing the person doing the face work. The one who spends their Sunday coding and categorizing a list of doors to knock on for the local municipal election doesn’t get much recognition, but without them the entire enterprise crumbles. Let’s be sure we have a clear sense who the entire iceberg, is what I’m saying. For everyone who is at the protest or action with a cheeky sign there’s someone who spent the entire previous day meticulously serving as an expert witness about sexual harassment taking a needed break with whiskey and comic books.

    I'm a little confused about how Bergman drew the conclusion the LW was primarily concerned about social justice inaction - that's really not the implication I drew from LW's frustration with people who were inactively happy with where they are and what they're doing. But hey, it's good advice anyway.
  • Joshua Mostafa (Overland), Mistaking symptoms for causes: the link between moralism and anti-semitism.

    A sensible place to begin thinking about the problem is to consider the nature of contemporary antisemitism and the ways it differs from other types of racism and xenophobia, as well as from older forms of antisemitism – and therefore might not be adequately addressed by generic condemnations of ‘all forms of racism’.

    Racist ideologies provided an intellectual cover for the depredations of European colonialism and the slave trade; as such, they presented the racialised Other as inferior, subhuman, irrational, irresponsible, incorrigibly violent and therefore in need of subjugation and oppression. Antisemitism, on the other hand imagines ‘the Jews’ not as inferior but as a global cabal of master manipulators )

    I have two qualms here: one, not particularly serious, but it baffles me that an Australian publication would run an article opening with an analysis of 'The Labour Party' without insisting on a specification of which labour party where. Yes, someone paying close attention can tell that the U means it's not the Australian Labor Party, but there are other countries than the UK with Labour-with-a-U parties! NZ, for one!
    Second qualm: I saw some Australian-twitter mutterings this week about it being a mistake to theorise contemporary anti-semitism separate from islamophobia, and I wonder if they were subtweeting this article. Even if not, I would be interested in seeing this article dissected by someone who holds that opinion.
  • Peter Greste (SMH, speaking as director of the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom), Julian Assange is no journalist; don't confuse his arrest with press freedom.

    Instead of sorting through the hundreds of thousands of files to seek out the most important or relevant and protect the innocent, he dumped them all onto his website, free for anybody to go through, regardless of their contents or the impact they might have had. Some exposed the names of Afghans who had been giving information on the Taliban to US forces.

    Journalism demands more than simply acquiring confidential information and releasing it unfiltered onto the internet for punters to sort through. It comes with responsibility.

    To effectively fulfil the role of journalism in a democracy, there is an obligation to seek out what is genuinely in the public interest and a responsibility to remove anything that may compromise the privacy of individuals not directly involved in a story or that might put them at risk.

Useful links (for varying definitions of 'useful')
  • Neli at Delicious Meets Healthy, How to make perfect hard boiled eggs. Hard boiled eggs, like mashed potato, are one of those things I know how to do in theory, but there are so many variations I have never memorised a good one, and often end up picking a Terrible One. The hard boiled egg recipe in The Commonsense Cookery Book is particularly bad. But this one is not bad! I have bookmarked it and now I have eggs for workdays!
  • The Thesaurus Linguae Latinae is now available open-access. Let the angelic chorus rejoice.

Comments policy: As per this post. With the added note that, if you have a lot of Feels in the vein of 'stop policing grief! value all sacred sites equally', take them somewhere bloody else until you've learned how cultural hegemony works. I spent yesterday talking down a white guy on Twitter from the claim that 'people' (read: non-white commentators, and those white twittizens who like myself had *complicated feelings*) were 'creating enmity' or... some fucking thing. I have no spare energy to rehearse that, there's plenty of actual opinion pieces out there today (and if you can't find one, refer to the ones from #weareallparis in 2015, it's the same basic principle except with heritage instead of terrorism).
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Finished A Duke in Disguise - I thought the early sections dragged a bit, or maybe I am just a bit impatient of that particular kind of UST going on and on. But pace did pick up. Also title is a little bit misleading as he's not so much in disguise as unknowing? Also some slight improbability given what we learn about the hero's sexual experience... But, on the whole, the usual page-turner.

Catherine Dain, Luck of the Draw (1996), still waiting on replacement copy of Dead Man's Hand, no 7 in the series.

However, while waiting, embarked on Dain's later series, Death of the Party (2000), which feature an amateur sleuth (actress turned therapist in LA) and found it very generic compared to the Freddie O'Neals: so DNF and that and the second in the series have gone into the charity shop bag. I suspect the other one of hers ('A New Age Mystery'), if I have it, I think it's somewhere about, is likely to be similarly disappointing.

Re-reads of Gail Godwin, Father Melancholy's Daughter (1991) and Evensong (1999), very good but although I felt I wanted to reread these, somehow not quite hitting the spot where I'm at at the moment.

On the go

A bit more of Charlotte Lennox, and pottering on with The Strange Case of Harriet Hall - I have sufficient curiosity to find out the resolution of the mystery, especially after the most recent plot twist, not to abandon it entirely, but it's not exactly an edge of the seat page-turner, so it gets put aside a lot.

Lara Elena Donnelly, Amnesty (The Amberlough Dossier #3), which turned up yesterday: as twisty as ever.

Up next

Dunno: maybe a bit more going through the crime shelves in a picky and critical fashion?


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