troisoiseaux: (reading 2)
[personal profile] troisoiseaux
Last Chance to See is a travel memoir about sci-fi comedy author Douglas Adams’ and zoologist Mark Carwardine’s trip around the world in search of highly endangered species, and the people who dedicate their lives to protecting them. (The trip was to make a radio documentary series for the BBC, and the book is like… part ‘novelization’ of the radio show and part behind-the-scenes commentary?) I’m genuinely shocked it took me until 2019 to discover that this book even existed, because I was obsessed with animals and wildlife conservation as a kid, and Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series are some of my favorite books ever— he can do truly magical things with the English language.

(Last Chance to See is not quite as Douglas Adams-y as Hitchhiker’s Guide, probably because he has the slightly easier job of explaining things that actually exist, but it has some great lines in unique, iconic, Douglas Adams fashion: “If you took the whole of Norway, scrunched it up a bit, shook out all he moose and reindeer, hurled it ten thousand miles around the world, and filled it with birds, then you’d be wasting your time, because it looks very much as if someone has already done it.”)

One thing that Adams reflects on throughout the book is the human tendency to anthropomorphize animals— he recognizes, and reckons with, his own impulse, especially as an author, to ascribe menace to a Komodo dragon, a philosophical air to a lounging silverback gorilla. I personally think there’s a fine line to be walked here? The human ability to see the ‘humanity’ in animals is good for conservation— it encourages people to care about what happens to them. However, the risk in this is 1. only caring about what happens to the cute cuddly ones, and 2. being surprised when animals act like, you know, animals. (I think this is also the root problem of the vegan food movement for cats/dogs? Like, if you don’t feel comfortable having a pet that eats meat, get a rabbit.)

He similarly muses on the question of conservation tourism— is it exploitation? Does the net benefit that comes from encouraging public interest, and making the continued existence of vulnerable species more profitable than, say, logging or other environmentally destructive industries outweigh the cost? He doesn’t quite come up with an answer, which is totally fair because I don’t think there is an answer, at least not an easy, one-size-fits-all, capital-A Answer.

The part of me that ended up studying international affairs, overruling my childhood life plan of a. working in marine life rescue and conservation or b. becoming the Jane Goodall of elephants, was particularly fascinated by a chapter in which Adams and co. visit China in search of Yangtze river dolphins— in 1988, just months before Tiananmen Square and a few years before China’s economic growth really took off. I visited China on a youth cultural exchange-type program in high school, and I went to many of the same places that Adams discusses (Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing) but the world he describes is so radically different.

(The one complaint/critique I have is that Adams can be, uh, terribly English about the places they travel to, which considering that many of those places were former colonies, led to a couple of cringey comments. 😬)

The book was written in 1990, so reading it 20+ years later, the good news is that a lot of the critically endangered species profiled in this book aren’t extinct yet! However, this is very much the type of good news that’s followed with “…but.” The kakapo population of New Zealand has more than tripled since Adams’ and Carwardine’s visit, but their numbers are only in the hundreds. The pink pigeon of Mauritius has improved from “critically endangered” to merely “vulnerable,” but that still means it’s a threatened species.

Some of the other species were less lucky: there are only two northern white rhinos left in the wild, and the baji, or Yangtze river dolphin, is assumed to be extinct since the early 2000s. 🙁

My rather idiosyncratic opinion...

Feb. 16th, 2019 03:27 pm
oursin: Photograph of James Miranda Barry, c. 1850 (James M Barry)
[personal profile] oursin

That Dr James Miranda Barry would have wished to be remembered for outstanding achievement in the fields of medicine, surgery, and sanitary and hygienic reform.

That if, by some miracle, Barry were to be transported into the present day, I think the things that would be arousing the famed incandescent fury would be things like anti-vaxxers ('they've eradicated smallpox and people are wilfully refusing to prevent measles??!!') and advanced societies unable to guarantee a clean water supply to all citizens, that sort of thing.

And that Wakefield would find himself in receipt of challenges, if not Barry, with a sword, on his doorstep.

We doubt, however, that however remarkable, without some additional cause of interest, a pioneering doctor and sanitary reformer would have generated over a period of several decades a number of novels and biographies (going back at least to 1932).

OUAF 2019

Feb. 15th, 2019 09:28 pm
desertvixen: (Default)
[personal profile] desertvixen
oursin: Animate icon of hedgehog and rubber tortoise and words 'O Tempora O Mores' (o tempora o mores)
[personal profile] oursin

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction.


Puts on her orl moar komplik8d hat.

I have been thinking lately of the idea that is there in that piece that in the past books were revered and people were engaged in deep and reverent and serious reading -

And wondering a bit to what extent some of that is an artefact of survival, because what survives is mostly the more serious literature in the form of bound books -

And I am very like to think that far more people were reading or having read to them broadsheet ballads and so on which were produced in great number and survive very sparsely, because they fell into the category of the ephemeral. Rather than the Bible or Paradise Lost or The Pilgrim's Progress -

I choose those examples on account of much of our knowledge of broadsheet ballads comes, I understand, from the collection of Samuel Pepys (who, however, threw into the fire certain other kinds of literature he consumed, hem-hem).

Plus, almanacks, and Aristotle's Masterpiece, and a whole range of things that are not considered litry textz.

I might also remark that people who read, read all kinds of different things and do not always read in the same mode. One may immerse, or one may skim. One is large and contains multitudes.

Space Swap 2019

Feb. 15th, 2019 12:53 pm
desertvixen: (Default)
[personal profile] desertvixen

Still haven't seen a bear

Feb. 15th, 2019 04:27 pm
[personal profile] karinfromnosund
The creature that skipped across our road about five metres fram the car yesterday looked like a cat. I'm not going to bet a fortune that it wasn't just that: a large cat, with yellow-brownish fur and no tail to speak of. There are cats like that. But I keep telling people that I saw a lynx. Two hundred metres from the house.

Heading towards half term

Feb. 15th, 2019 11:35 am
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
[personal profile] smallhobbit
It's been a bit of an odd few weeks at Brownies, for reasons which I shall explain later.  We've continued to work on the new programme.  The girls chose "Express myself" as the theme we shall follow first, and from that we've selected "Communicate" as the Skills builder.  So they've told stories one sentence at a time, and drawn pictures of their days.  The Brownies seem to be enjoying themselves, although we're not particularly convinced by the new programme.

Last week we had Brownies Got Talent.  Two-thirds of them performed gymnastics, singing, dancing, and a puppet play.  The other one-third joined me and we designed costumes for entertainers, using cut out dolls and either felt pens or coloured paper.  They enjoyed this, and were happy to show what they'd created to the rest of the pack.

A number of them have been working towards one of the interest badges which fit the theme, both Performing and Baking.  So for the last two weeks we've had iced buns to try out.

There's a district thinking day service coming up, which I can't get to as we're in London that weekend.  So whilst the service planning was going on with those who will be attending, I took the others and went through the origin of Brownies and then we talked a bit about what they thought was important about a group.  The ideas which came out very strongly was that everyone should be welcome, should enjoy what we're doing, and that it should be inclusive.

This was our last meeting at the school, for which we are all very grateful.  Hopefully being in the sports pavilion will be a lot easier.  And Glitter Owl has said she will finish at Brownies at the end of May.  She's going to help with Rainbows.  It means Doodles and I will then be running the pack between us, with hopefully someone else joining at some point.  Doodles is quite happy about this - we work well together, and tend to complement each other.  After the discussion we had a few weeks ago, she's accepted my thoughts on supporting the quieter members and is keen for me to do that.  I'm happy too - having seriously thought about finishing last Christmas, I now feel I have a proper role within the pack.  Yes, the new programme is going to cause problems, but it's something we'll tackle together.
nanila: (kusanagi: aww)
[personal profile] nanila
As you may have gathered from yesterday's post, I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. However, as a regular donor to the Abortion Support Network, who help women to access safe, legal abortion from Ireland and Northern Ireland, I couldn't ignore their appeal to help establish branches in Malta and Gibraltar, where abortion is (functionally) totally illegal. I have donated to the campaign here; please consider doing so if you are able to as well. If you can't donate, please consider my donation to have been given on your behalf as well. ♥ ♥ ♥


Feb. 14th, 2019 08:57 pm
mildred_of_midgard: golden retriever puppy (dog)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
It's been a while since my last navel-gazy post, right? I feel like I need a navel-gazy tag.

As part of my ongoing quest to figure out what makes my brain tick, and get as much ability to hack it for my own ends as possible, I had been left in the last couple years with a major question mark: where did the wanderlust come from?

I had gotten as far as saying that it's an "arational" hobby, in that it's not irrational as in harmful, but not rational as in derived from my values and commitments, aside from the fact that I think people should do what makes them happy if it doesn't actively harm other people.

Now, I readily acknowledge that all my interests and passions are at some level arational. Being an intellectually driven individual may keep me and my family fed and prosperous, and may make some small positive contributions to the world, but I could have been driven by some other passion, like landscaping, and been really good at it and made people happy and fed my family. Many people live rich and rewarding lives without ever cracking a book for pleasure, and I respect that (more than a lot of bookworms, I think). I think education is important for a number of reasons, but if you want to treat it as a means to an end and only get what you need for the purposes of being a veterinarian and devoting your whole life to your passion for animals, more power to you.

My brain happened to give me passion for learning, and I'm fine with that. I value learning, and my passion feels very ego-syntonic.

But while I can tie a lot of my interests and preferences together under an "intellectual/living inside my head" umbrella, I couldn't fit wanderlust into that umbrella. It's an obvious outlier.

To the point where on the drive through Alaska last year, I was telling my travel buddy that I can sit for hours in a car quite happily doing nothing, as long as the car is moving. And I am someone who can't stand to sit around doing nothing, I have to be mentally occupied at practically all times. It's why I have such a low tolerance for casual social interactions.

This navel-gazing came out of reading and watching famous free climber Alex Honnold, so I'm going to quote here from Alone on the Wall to give you an idea:

Recently a journalist asked me if I could stop climbing for stretches at a time.

“Sure,” I answered.

“You mean you could go for, say, a month without climbing?” he asked.

“Hell, no!” I blurted out. “Not a month! I thought you meant three days.”

That's pretty much exactly how I feel about reading/writing/learning. Actually, three days is pushing it, but I suppose I've managed it when I'm severely sleep-deprived or injured.

Unless I'm on a road trip. If I'm in a car and the car is moving, and my basic food+water+restroom needs are met, a month of not being intellectually challenged wouldn't be hard. Yet traveling isn't that important to me at a deep passionate level. It's just something I've found I enjoy doing, to the point where it's how I like to spend my couple vacation weeks a year.

Much to my surprise, because all my historical and art historical interests are in Europe and I have *no* interest in the United States, I discovered in the last few years that I would actually choose a North American road trip over a European tourism trip. Yes, it's cheaper, yes, I plan on going back to Europe (and in fact had a British Isles trip lined up last year before I had to cancel it), yes it's largely about the relative ease of getting those food+water+restroom* needs met in a country where I speak the language and am familiar with the options, but a huge component in my willingness to invest in a road trip through the States is that, when you factor in the stress levels of navigating an unfamiliar location, the value of sitting in a car surpasses the value of getting excited about any particular destination, which is why I've been to 49 states and still haven't been to Greece (okay, as a semi-classicist, I'm sort of ashamed of the Greece thing, but I will get there eventually, promise).

* I'm not saying Europe is short on these things. In fact, they're often superior to ours. The problem is that I have extremely many food constraints, and have gone entire three week road trips eating at IHOP literally every day, and that made the trip a million times easier, and Europe doesn't have IHOPs!!

So why the *hell* is sitting in a moving car such a big deal?! It's such a big deal that when my boss and the sysadmin and I were driving up to visit another company office, I really just wanted to ask if we could keep driving nowhere in particular, not because I didn't like work, but because I really just wanted to keep sitting in a moving car. I am someone who will desperately try to get out of company social events because I'd rather be working! (I dislike attending social events than anyone I know.)

But moving car!

What the hell, brain?

So as part of my quest to build an increasingly fleshed out but always oversimplified model of the human brain, I recently read that dopamine is what gets released when you travel and see new places. It's specifically dopamine because of that moving goalpost: the thing is exciting when it's new, but boring as soon as it's familiar.

Well, that was a huge click! for me. I have always been extremely dopamine-driven. I mean, humans are, but I'm pretty in touch with how my constant need for intellectual stimulation, the fact that I was singled out by a bunch of students getting a PhD as the "goal-oriented" one, and the way I can get absolutely in the zone when writing or coding or some such, is driven by dopamine. And the fact that I got much more willing to have casual chats with my wife when I started knitting, because even though I wasn't knitting anything in particular (because I'm unwilling to come outside of my head long enough to learn more than one stitch), the act of knitting was releasing just enough dopamine in my brain that I was able to talk about something that wasn't on its own stimulating enough. Also, there's a whole discussion to be had about the fact that my relationship with my partner is an extremely goal-oriented, dopamine-driven one.

So..."sit in car, car moves, brain releases dopamine" goes a looong way toward explaining what's up with my wanderlust.

But why car? Other people get their dopamine kicks from gambling, from substance addictions, from shopping, from all sorts of things. I happen to get mine from seeing new places.

Was getting dinner tonight, and I was asking myself this question *yet again*, and I was talking to myself, and I said, "I wasn't born with it, that I recall. I remember when it started, around age nine--"

And that's when the other penny dropped. What happened around age nine for me? My parents' parenting techniques started to feel restrictive, as right around the same time I started to feel intellectually starved as well as tied to the house and overprotected. I was going crazy from lack of dopamine. This is, I eventually figured out, twenty years later, why I started fighting with my parents around age ten, and didn't stop until I moved out and went to college. The ways in which you keep a six-year-old safe results in a much happier six-year-old than it does a ten- or twelve- or fifteen- or seventeen-year-old.

Around age nine/ten, I was ready to start doing things my parents weren't going to let me do until I moved out.

My very first memory of wanderlust was sitting at the school bus stop half a block from my house, and looking across the street at one row of houses, the small field behind the houses, the fence that marked the edge of the base, and the wooded area on the other side of the fence, and desperately wanting to cross the street and at least walk up to the fence.

I was not allowed to walk across the street on my own.

That was fine when I was six. When I had this memory, it was right before we moved back to the States from Japan. We moved a couple months before my tenth birthday.

My second memory of wanderlust was the road trip we did from Seattle, where we landed, down to our new home in New Mexico. Yes, I was going crazy sitting in a car with three younger siblings all driving me crazy. But I listed off the states we were going to travel through to my mom, and I deviously snuck Nevada in there, and when she agreed those were the states, I said, "Ha! Now we have to go to Nevada. No, you said those were the states we're going to!" Then I got a patient explanation of how my dad only had so many days off work to make this trip and we had to use them wisely. So we didn't get to go to Nevada.

Once we arrived in New Mexico, my childhood is one long memory of desperate wanderlust and wanting to escape and feeling trapped. It's the story of my next eight years of life, but perhaps most intensely the next four, because that's when I was most intensely intellectually starved.

This is also EXACTLY when I latched onto Tolkien. Right as we were leaving Japan and the house was devoid of entertainment for small children, my mother mentioned hobbits and told us to pretend we were hobbits. She gave me a vague explanation of what she remembered a hobbit as being. In the base library, we took The Hobbit off the shelf and read the first page, but we couldn't check it out because we were leaving imminently and didn't want to risk losing it.

Upon arriving in New Mexico, what should my fifth grade teacher be reading to us but The Hobbit? I read ahead during lunch, of course. Once the majority of our belongings got out of the storage unit where they'd been kept during our entire stay in Japan, my mother passed on her half-read copy of LOTR, and I read it until it fell apart, and then read it some more.

I've been planning an entire post on just how desperately obsessed with Middle-earth I was, and I guess now's as good a time as any. I was so obsessed that no matter how obsessed you think I was, I was more so. I played jacks at this age. I had three bouncy balls for this purpose. I named them Thorin, Gandalf, and Elrond. AT NO OTHER POINT IN MY LIFE DID I FEEL ANY NEED TO NAME JACK BALLS. On the rare occasions during monsoon season when it looked like it might possibly rain, I pretended my umbrella was a sword and carried it at my waist like one. Not once, but every time I carried an umbrella for four years. No, I did not care how it looked.

I spent all recess, every recess, swinging on a swing pretending the swing was transporting me to Middle-earth, and while swinging I made up fanfiction in my head. All recess, every recess for two years until I went to a school that didn't have recess. During music class, I imagined Galadriel singing all the songs.

At age 11, I wrote in my diary about a boy I had a crush on. To keep his identity secret, I wrote his name in angerthas. When we did square dancing at school, and all the other kids were being silly and he wasn't, I wrote that night about how the other students reminded me of elves, while he reminded me of a dwarf, sober and grim (which I crossed out and replaced with solemn and grave). All four adjectives were words I had learned from Tolkien.

I had imaginary dwarves watching over my shoulder as I sat in class and did my homework, and I explained what I was doing to them. I had imaginary elves walking home from school with me. I had a dress that was an "elf dress."

Every year, the StarDome project came to my elementary school to teach us astronomy. Every year, I got excited that I knew that "Star Dome" was what Elrond's name meant, and that this was a word for the sky. (My indelibly inscribing this association into my brain led directly to my first Tolkien paper ten years later, because while I was reading up on Indo-European comparative mythology, my brain a reference to twin sons of Zeus (the sky god) immediately triggered a memory of the twin sons of Elrond (whose name means "sky"). The paper was published in Tolkien Studies.)

I turned my two younger sisters entirely off Tolkien. I used to make them play a game where I handed them my copy of The Hobbit, had them open to a random page, read a line of dialogue, and I would name the character who said it. They did not want to play this game, but I was a bossy older sister. On one memorable occasion, I made them re-enact the Rankin and Bass film with me. I had memorized the entire film, so I gave them their dialogue line by line and made them repeat it after me, and pose according to instructions, as we went through the film.

We lived near some mountains. Believe me, one of them was named the Lonely Mountain even though it was not remotely lonely. I wanted to go there *all the time*.

I am still deeply in love with Tolkien's works, but I no longer name everything in my life after his characters, nor do I relate every single thing in my life to his legendarium, nor do I pretend to be in Middle-earth at all time.

I toned it way down once I hit high school and while still very underchallenged, had at least a few more intellectual resources. Then I went to college and finally stopped imagining escaping every day of my life, and my love of Tolkien stopped being escapist.

But I still have this wanderlust, coupled with the fact that I see no need to ever leave my house, and I wonder how much of that was because at an age when I was starved for sources of dopamine, being in the car going shopping on Saturdays (or--heaven--occasional road trips when we lived in New Mexico) was like an oasis in the dopamine desert. And my brain formed this association between moving vehicles, new sights, and dopamine release.

And then I wonder what I want to do with this information. Do I want to retrain my brain and stop spending money on this? Do I want to limit my travels to places where there's some point to the destination? There are plenty of those, although I'm still convinced the travel=dopamine equation is the main motivator there. Do I want to accept that I have this arational neural pathway and keep pouring thousands of dollars into it, because we're all going to die someday and I might as well do something I enjoy with all that money? I've spent the last few years being torn between "Rationally, I spend 350 days a year in my house, and my family and I all agree we'd like a nicer place," and the way emotionally I keep coming back to my wife and saying, "But what I really want to do is travel."

I have not yet decided on that. I'm sure I'll talk it out with my partner the next ten opportunities, that's how we swing. :P But for now I'm happy to have an etiology for this outlier preference of mine.

I may have been drinking

Feb. 14th, 2019 10:33 pm
nanila: <user name=pearl_oquote> made this from something <user name=slodwick> said. (capslock)
[personal profile] nanila
A) Fuck Valentine's day

B) Donald Trump is a fucking racist wanker

C) Sense8 is awesome


Feb. 14th, 2019 08:10 pm
green_knight: (Cygnet)
[personal profile] green_knight
No, this is not a post about the pirate tarot, which remains a marvellously funny deck (and which may or may not be authorised) – but I was looking at decks on Ebay to see a) how much the Art Nouveau really sells for, and b) what people charge for postage. The options there seem to be either 'free' (buyer never knows) or under £4; I think 'free postage' will work better for me - I know I'm going to eat some of the money I earn for postage, and that way I don't have to box it up and make it to the post office twice; I only need to go once, to actually post it.

The cheaper decks have high international postage, so it looks as if £75 is the low price point for this deck. (Do they actually sell? I have no idea. I assume that the £200+ decks don't sell quite as quickly.)

What I hadn't expected was that tarot decks are apparently big business in China. There are a number of decks that are available in large quantities for very small prices. Two - Shadowscapes and the Wild Unknown - are relatively recent and very popular decks; a third (Witches Tarot) is... kind of ordinary? Interesting RWS variant, nice graphics, but not special. Someone is printing these and selling them in large volume; there are plenty of sponsored listings (all around the same price point, all apparently different sellers, and some evidence of AB testing: does it sell better if we offer a volume discount? free shipping or lower price and inexpensive shipping?)

I'm surprised this is A Thing.

And while I have mixed feelings about people who download ebooks without paying the author (it's complicated), I draw a line at paying the pirates. (I have inadvertently bought one of these decks back in January when I was still figuring out and hadn't seen a lot of decks; it looked like fun, it was cheap, price and product seemed a decent match, and I had no idea what was going on. I was a bit baffled at the shipping time (it still hasn't arrived; right now it's Schroedinger's deck) but it appeared to be a remainder, not a pirated item. (If I like it, I will put the kit on my to-buy list.)

I'd like to work out why the mere _idea_ of selling something on eBay is such a problem for me. Part of it is the whole 'fear of rejection' thing and the memory of a catastrophic car boot sale (I spent four hours, made 50p before petrol, and got bronchitis in the bargain; this was when I was desperate to make SOME money for groceries, and nobody wanted my stuff. Not even for 50p. Not even, when I was packing up, for free.) But anyway, I seem to be plenty apprehensive.

In other news, Kew Gardens' Orchid display is as good as ever, and really worth seeing (Free with standard entry. Sadly, I can only take members of my family, but if anyone ever wants to meet up, I'd love to.)

Snow :/

Feb. 14th, 2019 09:57 am
azurelunatic: The Space Needle by night. Slightly dubious photography. (Default)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Snow is melting!

This morning on my way from the poorly-cleared drop-off point to the bus, I slipped and nearly fell on some wet-looking ice.

The transit system is slowly becoming unfucked. As the streets de-ice, they're repairing the buses that have been damaged by their own tire chains.

As I told Toronto Ponytail this morning downstairs, it's not specifically that the snow was that bad, it's that the snow was that bad for the infrastructure we have. Nobody* has shovels, there aren't enough snowplows, and he agreed that it's actually entirely sensible for people to assume they're not going anywhere for a week and to shop accordingly. Especially when the store's incoming deliveries are going to be disrupted too.

This climate stuff. It just isn't natural.

* People who have lived here through the last big snow probably have shovels, unless their evil ex took them on the way out. Cough, glare, spit.

** Climate change deniers will be vaccinated and fed to starving polar bears.
oursin: Hedgehog saying boggled hedgehog is boggled (Boggled hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin
Received via my Former Workplace Account, which has pretty strong spam traps in operation:

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The lawful basis we use for this processing is "Legitimate Interest" for "direct marketing". It is recommended that companies using this basis conduct a "Legitimate Interests Assessment" (LIA), which we have done. You subscribed to our offer for a no-obligation scalar light healing session or heard about us and subsequently subscribed to our newsletter.

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Colour me, my dearios, BOGGLED.

Valentine treat

Feb. 14th, 2019 08:53 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan
 [From the AMacD Commonplace Books]

Perchance I may yet come about to be a dancing fellow. Sure, I was in some despair of the matter after the departure of the dancing-master, that I could see endeavoured to look encouraging while sighing inwardly that he had such poor stuff to work upon, and exhorted me to practise betwixt lessons. Finding myself with a little leisure from my duties, and the rain precluding any exercize in the nature of a walk, I therefore addressed myself to the task, in which I was discovered by G, coming to find where I was.

My dear, he said, and I observed that he was in some difficulty in concealing mirth, I am indeed gratified that you take so to heart the necessity to study upon these social frivolities, now that you concede to mingle more in Society. But I fancy that there is somewhat missing.

I snorted and said, innate physical grace in movement, I confide, I am an awkward gawky fellow.

O, said he, I do not think so, but do you suppose that to be so, why, you will be awkward. No, what I came at was that what was missing was a partner – I fancy that did you have one to dance with, you find the whole thing a deal easier to come at.

At this I frowned and said, I supposed I might ask Clorinda, but that I was in some concern that she would teaze

Dear Sandy, said G, I should be entire delighted to take the lady’s part in such an endeavour, I think it would answer exceedingly. He went to ensure that the door was secured, and came over to me. Here, let me come demonstrate. For 'tis easier to see how arms should go do they not clasp a phantasm, and how feet should move are they to avoid a partner’s.

And he came up and made a dip as if to curtsey, and I made a leg as I had been instructed, and he commenced to hum a suitable melody, and took my hands, and conducted me through the various figures that had been presenting me with such difficulty, and indeed I found this answered very well and I began to think that mayhap I should not disgrace myself was I obliged to lead some lady out to dance.

Now, said G, there are still those will entire refuse to countenance it, but nevertheless, 'tis becoming common enough that I think you should be able to undertake it should the occasion arise: let us essay to waltz.

He clasped me in his arms and began to hum. O, indeed I can see why there are those that make moral objections to this dance, for, though I found myself waltzing most satisfactory – once one has caught the trick of it, 'tis an easy enough thing – there came a moment when we danced no more.

'Twas a little reckless, perchance. Yet – I fancy I might require a few more dancing-lessons, to entire polish my capacities in the matter.

(no subject)

Feb. 13th, 2019 09:27 pm
troisoiseaux: (noot noot)
[personal profile] troisoiseaux
I didn't expect to be brought to tears by the "death" of the Mars rover, Opportunity, but I think part of my emotion is the outpouring of love on Twitter and Tumblr. It's the classic process of public grieving for a celebrity that's come to be a part of Internet Culture, but for a robot! A thing made of gears and wires and human ingenuity and curiosity and sent 55 million kilometers away, on a 90-day mission that ended up lasting 15 years, and people are posting bittersweet artistic tributes (x, x, x) and Lord Byron poems in its honor.

Humans will pack bond with anything and I love that???

(I'm particularly tickled about the Lord Byron poem, since his daughter, Ada Lovelace, is commonly considered the first computer programmer for her work on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, and of course we couldn't have robots or space travel or robots in space without computers! I swear, Six Degrees of Lord Byron should be the new Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.)

Thorin and Dain

Feb. 13th, 2019 07:52 pm
mildred_of_midgard: (Aragorn)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard

Dwarves believe in reincarnation. Therefore, naming your child after someone living is Not Done. (This doesn't mean that no two living dwarves have the same name; it just means you don't name someone after a close family member, friend, mentor, or the like. You give them a common name that isn't of someone particularly close to you.)

When you name someone after the dead, you're saying, "I wish that they might live again."

When you name someone after the living, you're saying, "I wish them dead." Dwarves are divided on whether this can actually contribute to someone's chances of a premature death, but it's definitely considered an ill wish. When it does happen, it's the equivalent of putting a curse on someone.

For someone to name their child after someone they love and don't wish dead, two factors need to be met. One is distance. Great and permanent distance. It happens sometimes, when the dwarves are driven out of their home and separated, like after Smaug came to the Lonely Mountain. When it happens, it's a way of saying, "I wish you were here; I don't expect to see you again."

But it's generally *not* done when someone has disappeared with their fate unknown, because if they come back, it's the equivalent of saying, "I gave up on you." None of Thrain's children would have named a son after him until he was confirmed dead, for example.

The other factor is trust. There needs to be a great and profound trust on the part of the person being honored. To the point where they're willing to deal with the fact that other people are going to hear about it and assume the worst. And the person doing the naming needs to have confidence that the other person won't be offended, and won't mind other people being offended on their behalf.

This kind of confidence doesn't come easily when you're that widely separated and never expect to see each other again.

Getting to the point where you're willing to name your child after someone who's alive but physically separated from you but still so close to you that you need to take this leap instead of just naming your son after your dead great-grandfather means you're making a really, really pointed statement about your devotion to this person.

Canon: Dain named his son Thorin while Thorin Oakenshield was alive and well in the Blue Mountains and Dain was on the other side of Middle-earth in the Iron Hills.

Thorin had been king for about 16 years when his namesake was born.

Headcanon: Thorin and Dain hit it off during the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs. Intense war buddy relationship there.

Headcanon: Most dwarves, as a rule, don't like wandering around above ground when they could be below ground. They do it when they have a strong reason for doing so. They don't do it for fun.

Canon: Thorin liked wandering around for no reason other than pleasure.

Headcanon: Thorin went to visit Dain in the Iron Hills sometime between the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs and Thorin III's birth. He took a perilous route through the Grey Mountains, where there are still some small, hidden dwarven strongholds, but where travel requires a great deal of physical prowess and there's often no road. Not the path he could have taken his whole company on during the quest to reclaim Erebor. Also, there weren't as many orcs in the area right after the dwarves had killed off a bunch of them in the war.

(Okay, prooobably not consistent with canon, but leave me my fantasies, okay?)

Headcanon: Dain was staggered that Thorin would have come all that way on a social visit, even if there were also sound political and economic reasons for the two heads of major strongholds of Durin's folk to meet up. Wanderlust notwithstanding, Thorin was still making a profound statement about his love for Dain.

The only way Dain could see to make an equally powerful statement was to name his heir after Thorin.

Headcanon: Thorin has a gift for making enemies, along with a gift for inspiring intense, lasting loyalties among select individuals.

competence; Dick Francis

Feb. 13th, 2019 07:31 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu

My new motivational reminder is "be the competence porn you want to see in the world," because I realized that I get the same nice warm glow when I accomplish what I know that I'm capable of. (Shocking, I know.) We'll see how long that is effective.

Meanwhile, rec your favorite competence porn, ideally text because time and access, and ideally not dude-heavy, as I have just finished an Aubrey-Maturin skim/skip re-read and am likely about to embark on a Dick Francis binge.

Also, speaking of Dick Francis, rec me your favorites. I think all I've read is Proof--or at least if I've read more, I don't remember a thing about them. I've already checked [personal profile] rachelmanija's tag and seen [personal profile] skygiants's review of The Edge.

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links; imaginary pet rock characters

Feb. 13th, 2019 07:28 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu


[personal profile] skygiants had a dream that "Will Scott, in the Lymond Chronicles, was just a pet rock that Francis had hallucinated was a human being," and now all I want to do is think of other works that would be improved by, or at least lend themselves to, characters actually being pet rocks.

Here's what I've got so far:

  • Draco Malfoy, imagined by Harry;
  • Moby Dick, imagined by Ahab? (I haven't read it);
  • Appa, imagined by Aang; and
  • take your pick of Steven Universe spoilers, and not only for the terrible pun.

What else?

(I did not realize until now that 3/4 of that list are not actually, uhh, human beings; but I think it's within the spirit of the thing.)

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Three Icons meme

Feb. 13th, 2019 10:18 pm
nanila: Will not be surviving the zombie apocalypse (me: braaains)
[personal profile] nanila
[ profile] hamsterwoman choose three of my icons for me to explain.

“OMG iz fulla stars.” The problem with responding to this meme is that the last time I added an icon which wasn’t a Pokémon commission was probably about five years ago. I saw this somewhere and asked if I could use it. It’s for me “I’m going to write about geeky (space) science things” posts.

“If an opinion is worth having, it is worth having in capslock in public.” Once again, I’m pretty sure I got this off the [community profile] capslock_dreamwidth community. Possibly from [personal profile] azurelunatic? I DON’T KNOW. But the sentiment stands. I don’t ALL CAPS often but when I do, I MEAN IT.

“Will not survive the zombie apocalypse.” Ooh, now this one I think is particularly cool, and I don’t use it enough. A few years ago when I went to San Diego, I visited with My Mate Josh. One of the things Josh does as part of his living is operate an MRI scanner. You know, for SCIENCE. He asked if I wanted to have my brain scanned. Which, HELL YES I want my brain scanned, tyvm. So he scanned my brain, and then he did some fun visualisation with the data, and voila: I now have an icon featuring a view through the top of my skull into my brain. My brain appears in all respects to be physically healthy, at least, so clearly I will make a delicious dinner when the zombie apocalypse does finally strike.

I know the tradition is to continue the cycle of icon explainery by asking if others want me to choose three of theirs. However, I am already behind on comment replies and I do not see that getting better until the middle of next week at the earliest, so I ask forgiveness for taking without giving back in this instance.
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