Who has the worst job in the world? My choice this week is Austin Holland, the state seismologist for the state of Oklahoma. For years, this must have been a very sleepy job, tantamount to having a job studying coastal erosion in Iowa. But then Oklahoma has been on yet another oil and gas binge, and this apparently has made Austin Holland's life a living hell.
Meanwhile, the state seismologist, Austin Holland, readily acknowledged that the industry has tried to influence his work - even as he and his colleague, Amberlee Darold, are pelted with "hate e-mail" from quake victims. "I can't really talk about it," Holland said, taking a cigarette break from the dirty work of burying instruments near a cow pasture southwest of Oklahoma City. "I try not to let it affect the research and the science. We're going to do the right thing."
At that point I went to the opposite platform and took a train going the wrong way until I got to a station far enough from the core that I could finally switch to one going the direction I wanted.
This is such bullshit. We needed a downtown relief line 20 fucking years ago. But taxes are bad, right?
 The bus that D calls "the honey badger". Because it just doesn't give a fuck.
But this is because I'm inherently a contrarian, and last night during class I was thinking "wow this is an awesome plan", as I can't take one of the courses I'm taking this semester, so my alternate plan was to go, "oh hey why don't you take a org health lit class so that you feel like you have some agency as a patient when you're dealing with the system, rather than feeling alone, trapped, scared, and hunted."
Now I am thinking this is perhaps not the right context for taking a graduate level course, which is more specifically for intermediaries between patients and the broader organizations that handle them.
But if I do, I will understand wtf is going on, as my recent involvement with the healthcare system as a patient has been the first in about a decade. And as my condition is not self limiting, will not get better by itself, and I will be seeing a specialist for the foreseeable future, it might be a good idea to understand rather than suspect and fear the system.
I'm a fucking moron.
Right now I'm baking a cheesecake. We'll see how it goes. It was pretty easy to mix up, even though it did require separated eggs and whipped whites. If it turns out it'll be an easy addition to the list of things.
I did some steamed custards last year, but had trouble figuring out how to sell them. I've found and bought some disposable ramekins, so that problem is solved...but I haven't actually gone back to them yet.
This is an ultra-HD time lapse of planet Earth in infrared. Infrared light is absorbed by clouds and water vapor, so the result is a sphere of roiling storms and trade winds.
Here's a video with both hemispheres at once and another offering a closer view. If you've got a 4K display, this will look pretty incredible on it. James Tyrwhitt-Drake has done a bunch of other HD videos of the Earth and Sun, including Planet Earth in 4K and the Sun in 4K.Tags: astronomy Earth James Tyrwhitt-Drake time lapse video
A contemporary twist on an old fisherman’s myth complete with an immensely atmospheric setting, a strong yet sympathetic central character and a missing persons mystery that’ll keep you guessing till all is said and done—and then some—The Visitors by Simon Sylvester has everything including the girl going for it.
For all it has to offer, Bancree has seen better days. As a remote island off the coast of Scotland—bleakly beautiful, to be sure, but truly brutal too—it and its inhabitants have been hit hard by the economy’s catastrophic collapse. “There was nothing on the island that wasn’t already dying. Half the houses were for sale. The island population numbered only a few hundred, and that dripped away, year on year.”
Little wonder, as the only booming business on Bancree is whisky, and Lachlan Crane, the son set to inherit the local distillery, is at best “a bully and a womaniser,” and at worst? Well. Time will tell. For him and for Flo.
He's Mitt Romney, bitches. And he's still all you've got left.
Regular visitors to the shebeen will recall that, during the previous presidential election, I took some time off occasionally to help the campaign of G.I. Luvmoney with some speechwriting advice, which he never took, poor man. But he was listening. Oh, dear, was he listening.
The main rationale on the "go" side is Mitt and Ann Romney's strongly held conviction that no one in the current field would make a better president. Critics in both parties and the press may scoff at this view, but the Romneys believe it to their core and thus feel Mitt has an obligation to his country to once again shoulder the mantle. Following his crushing defeat in 2012, Romney has deemed Obama's second term an utter failure, particularly on issues of national security and the domestic economy. Furthermore, those in Romney's orbit are convinced that Mitt is not just best qualified, but almost uniquely qualified to turn around the nation and help guide the world to safer pastures. The Romneys consider this assessment a clear-eyed, rational analysis of his skills as a manager and a leader, augmented by the sense of duty he was raised with in the Mormon faith.
Super Bowl Sunday in Arizona is just days away—so it's that time of year when Homeland Security and other US officials take the stump to announce a multi-million dollar cache of counterfeit NFL merchandise the authorities have seized—all in the name of consumer safety.
"The sale of counterfeit products are connected to smuggling and other criminal activities and threatens the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of US workers, and in some cases the health and safety of the consumer," R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said at a Phoenix news conference. “CBP works closely with our federal government partners to protect the United States from these damaging and unsafe goods.”
The "unsafe goods" confiscated from online stores, flea markets, street vendors, and other venues during "Operation Team Player" include counterfeit NFL jerseys, hats, shirts, jackets, and other clothing. As many as 52 people connected to the operation have been arrested, the authorities said.
For me, the most difficult part of refusing to be silent about the fact that I am a survivor of childhood sexual violence has been figuring out when and under what circumstances to reveal it to my students at the community college where I teach. Some of you reading this may think that nothing could justify such a revelation, and, for at least the first half of the nearly thirty years I’ve been teaching, I agreed with you. Not only did I see the fact that I am a survivor as part of my personal life and therefore not at all relevant to who I am professionally, but I also worried that telling my students would, by revealing myself so intimately and vulnerably, violate the professional boundary it is my responsibility to maintain, potentially undermining my authority as a teacher and threatening the integrity of my classroom. Then, in 2001, I changed my mind, deciding to share my history with two students, each of whom chose to trust me by revealing that she was herself a survivor and then asking me to help her learn how to make that identity and that subject matter part of the writer she wanted to be. I wrote about that experience and how it changed my life here.
I’m thinking about this issue now because the first question I was asked on the first day of class in the Women’s Studies course I am teaching this semester, Gender in Popular Culture, was how and why I became interested in feminism. Most of the students in the class are women, and I could tell from the nodding heads I saw that the woman who voiced the question was not the only one who wanted to know. I encountered this curiosity the last time I taught Women’s Studies as well, except the woman who asked then was more blunt about it. “You’re a man,” she said. “Why do you even care about this subject?” It’s a fair question. The fact that I sometimes teach these classes is, for the obvious reason of my gender, counterintuitive for many people I meet. “You’re teaching Women’s Studies?” at least two people I know outside academia have asked. “I’ll bet. I’m sure you really like to study women.” My students, both this time and last, may indeed have been wondering about my motivations for teaching this subject, but their questions contained no snark, no implicit accusation of dirty-old-man-sleaziness. They simply wanted to know, and since I think they have a right to know, I gave them the only honest answer I have, which I wrote about in my last post and which I have articulated most explicitly here: my commitment to feminism is a direct result of the role feminist thinking played in helping me heal from sexual violation.
The other class in which I am sometimes confronted with the question of how much about myself to reveal is creative writing. Students, especially those who are serious about being writers, occasionally google my name and/or get a copy of The Silence of Men, my first book of poetry. In either case, once they do so, the fact that I am a survivor is hard to miss. It says so, for example, in the marketing copy on the front inside flap:
Becoming a poet was, for Richard Jeffrey Newman, a matter of survival. “The Taste of a Little Boy’s Trust,” a poem in this collection, dates from the author’s mid-twenties. In it, by naming what the poem names–his experience of child sexual abuse–he defines the difference between thinking of himself as insane and accepting that he is not.
The answer I give when students ask in creative writing, however, where the critical focus is on making art out of language, starts from a very different place than the one I give in Women’s Studies, where the focus is on social and cultural politics. Each answer ends up, however, in the same place: the power of naming.
In the early 1980s, when no one was talking about the sexual abuse of boys, and people were just beginning to speak openly about the abuse of girls, the way feminism helped me name my abuse–because I essentially coopted the language feminists used to describe men’s sexual violence against women–also helped me see in my experience a structure that included a way to fight back, to begin to see myself as a survivor, not a victim. Talking about this in a Women’s Studies class, then, in addition to being a direct answer to my students’ question, is also a way to demonstrate feminism’s power as an explanatory framework, one that makes visible, and therefore potentially changeable, the sexual politics not only of an individual life, mine, but also of a society organized around male dominance. I will mention feminism when I talk in a creative writing class about the connection between my writing and being a survivor–because not to do so would be to leave out an important part of my own experience–but my focus is more on the power and politics of naming itself, on what it means to see language not merely as a way of expressing one’s feelings, but also as a way of knowing the world, as material out of which to make something that names your world.
In these creative writing discussions, I often refer to this quote from Sam Hamill’s essay, “The Necessity to Speak,” from his book A Poet’s Work:
The first duty of the writer is the rectification of names–to name things properly, for, as Kung-fu Tze [Confucius] said, “All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by the right name.
At this point in my career, I tell my creative writing students, what “the rectification of names” means to me is pretty much inseparable from my commitment to feminism and my identity as a survivor, but it was not always the case. I started writing poetry long before I consciously saw feminism as something I needed even to pay attention to. I don’t tell them this story quite the way I am going to tell it to here, but the gist is still the same.
I couldn’t have been older than fourteen or fifteen when I took Conrad Aiken’s Selected Poems down from the shelf in the library and started to read the first poem, “Palimpsest: The Deceitful Portrait.” It was, I’m sure, the first book of poetry I’d ever even opened, having read till then only those poems assigned to me from my textbooks by my teachers in school. I didn’t get much further than the first eighteen lines or so when I realized I was holding my breath. I sat down on the floor in the middle of the stacks and read them again, and again:
Well, as you say, we live for small horizons:
We move in crowds, we flow and talk together,
Seeing so many eyes and hands and faces,
So many mouths, and all with secret meanings,—
Yet know so little of them; only seeing
The small bright circle of our consciousness,
Beyond which lies the dark. Some few we know—
Or think we know. Once, on a sun-bright morning,
I walked in a certain hallway, trying to find
A certain door: I found one, tried it, opened,
and there in a spacious chamber, brightly lighted,
A hundred men played music, loudly, swiftly,
While one tall woman sent her voice above them
In powerful incantation… Closing then the door
I heard it die behind me, fade to whisper,—
And walked in a quiet hallway as before.
Just such a glimpse, as through that opened door,
Is all we know of those we call our friends.
The image of the woman whose music others could hear only if they bothered to open the door to the room where she was singing held me captive. On some level, I felt, she was me, I was her. Aiken’s poem gave me the experience of being known, being seen, being, in other words, recognized in a way that allowed me to recognize myself, and I understood something I had not understood before: that I experienced myself as voiceless, not because I had nothing to say, but because I didn’t think anyone would listen to me, or even that anyone who tried to listen would ever really hear me.
Now, of course, I understand this feeling of voicelessness–however much it may also have been a common experience of adolescence–to have been deeply rooted in the fact that I’d been sexually abused, that, no matter what else I might be trying to say, there were things to which I simply could not give voice because I did not yet have words for them. They were, at the time, for me, literally unspeakable. All I knew while I sat there reading Aiken’s poem, was that I had something to say, or at least that I wanted to have something to say, the way the woman in his lines had something to sing–and, most of all, I was determined to be heard. I didn’t know quite how, and didn’t know by whom, but Aiken’s lines named this desire for me, and I wanted to learn how, without even knowing me, he had done that. That’s when I started writing poetry, and, years later, when feminism helped me name my abuse as abuse, this second act of naming did not merely dovetail with my emerging identity as a poet. It gave that identity a form and substance I continue to explore to this day.
For my creative writing students, the main point of this revelation, I hope, is that they need to find what gives their desire to write form and substance, what matters to them enough that the time and energy they devote to naming it will have been worth it. For my Women’s Studies students, besides demonstrating on a personal level that my interest in the content of their course is not merely academic, and certainly not prurient, and in addition to whatever lessons about the explanatory power of feminism it might teach, I hope revealing that I am a survivor makes the feminist adage “the personal is politcal” come alive for them in a way that broadens the impact of the work we are going to do togther.
I don’t have these discussions with my students unless one of them asks a direct question to which revealing that I am a survivor is the only honest way to answer. I tell them that I’m going to reveal something very personal, which for some of them will likely fall into the category of “too much information,” but that it is the only honest answer I have to give them.1 I tell them I think they deserve that honesty–that, in fact, they should insist on it whenever and wherever possible, especially from anyone who presumes to have something to teach them, or who sets themselves up as a role model, or as a leader. Not only do I think students can learn from that kind of honesty lessons that will impact their lives far more profoundly than anything that comes from a textbook or class syllabus, but I think teachers, when we are willing to give those kinds of answers, learn lessons of our own that are just as profound. That has certainly been the case for me.
- Some of you may be wondering about whether, in the spirit of trigger warnings, I offer students the opportunity to leave the class if they need to, or some such thing. On the one occasion when my students wanted to discuss in class a piece of my writing that deals quite explicit with my own abuse, I did. I told students they did not need to come to class that day if they felt they couldn’t, and I told students who did come that if they felt like they needed to walk out during the discussion, they should feel free to do so. However, when it’s simply a matter of my revealing that I am a survivor—when the discussion, in other words, does not get graphic, and I am simply stating a fact about myself—I have not done the same thing. I simply warn them, as I described above. If the subsequent conversation were to develop beyond that, I would stop it and offer people the chance to leave if they felt the need to.
1. Many people have assured me it's never too early for whisky when things like that happen. I haven't had any yet, but I feel buoyed up by the reassurance.
haggis offered to come round after work if I still wanted company (but I'm so tired now I might have a nap instead!), magister even managed to surprise a laugh out of me when he called to see if I was all right. And of course if I do end up drinking any whisky it'll be because I have been given it by lovely people. My partners and my friends are the best.
2. I made hummus, inasmuch as you can without a food processor and without measuring anything. With toasted cumin seeds, mm. The stick blender didn't blend everything perfectly, of course, but I don't mind some of the chickpeas remaining whole. It is a great comfort food and reasonably healthy, and I made more of it than I intended to so I won't have to worry about what to eat for a while if I don't want to.
2. I made these cakes, which I slightly overbaked so they're a bit dry and crumbly but no less nice for it, and it's not as if pairing them with a cup of tea is much hardship.
3. I did dishes and laundry, and tried to fetch Andrew's new glasses from the optician (they've been delayed, unfortunately). Keeping busy is the best cure for me.
4. The sun's out! After the gale-force winds and the snow of the last two days, it's especially welcome.
5. Fed up of faulty and easily-lost headphones, I spent £6 on some new ones this morning. They work very well (good noise-canceling too, for earbuds!) and they're bright orange so hopefully I won't lose them as often as I have recently become accustomed to.
Me: YES! ...oh, yeah, um.
I'm sorry. TV is making me cranky this month. I don't even know why, as it's not any worse than it usually is. I'm otherwise happy in my life, and things have been going really well elsewhere. For some reason I'm just unable to let the crappy bits of tv slide and let go enough to enjoy the good bits (Except when watching Sinbad, which is lovely), so everything is pissing me off, and thus your daily dose of cranky reviews from me. I'm sure that this too shall pass?
Femslash February in two days. I can't wait to get my bingo card.
I read a book that I liked!
Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer Hickam
Very similar to the film, for those who have seen it, though lacking the extra drama in the second act. Unsurprisingly, the book pulls most of its tension from Sonny's emotional state, not from external threats, which, when they pop up, are dealt with almost immediately. It worked in the book, and the prose is smooth and humorous. The author mentioned changing things around a bit for narrative flow, but it made a good enough story that it's difficult to mind.
All of the rocket building and explosions were fun, and I appreciated how clearly explained all the science was, but the core of the story is Sonny's family and life in a coal mining town just as coal is going bust. I loved the portrayal of Sonny's complicated relationship with his father, and the strength of his connection with is mother. I know there's a million coming of age stories featuring boys and difficult fathers, but the balance of being a competent and even heroic man and still kind of failing at human interaction really grabbed me here. I also liked that the labour politics were more nuanced than in the film.
It's very much a boys own adventure story, and while women aren't completely excluded or unimportant, you get a pretty strong idea that they were not going to get to build rockets any time soon. Nor were the black people down the way, given how heavily Sonny relied on his father's patronage and the town's support. Additionally, one has to wonder if the conversation regarding the ethics of hero-worshipping an ex-Nazi actually happened, or was added after the worst about Wernher von Braun came to light.
And my library list is down to manageable.
† Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Translated by Julie Rose
Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in An Age of Anxiety by Ian McKay
The Treasure of the San José: Death at Sea in the War of the Spanish Succession by Carla Rahn Phillips
Inda by Sherwood Smith
Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
† The Landmark Herodotus by Herodotus
The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Great Bear Rainforest by Ian McAllister
Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood (in transit)
‡ When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (3 on 21 copies)
* Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente (2 on 2 copies)
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (5 on 2 copies)
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong (7 on 10 copies)
The Back of the Turtle: A Novel by Thomas King (54 on 15 copies)
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (21 on 2 copies)
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (43 on 3 copies)
† Probably mostly going to skim
‡ I don't know what's going on with this book. It came out, and they put it on order; it got nominated for a Governor General's Award (like the National Book, but Canadian) and it was on order, and I requested a copy; it WON the GG and it was on order; it got nominated for Canada Reads and they put more copies on order but hadn't yet gotten the first batch, and I still haven't gotten the book! It's baffling. I know it takes the library a while to purchase and process books so that members can borrow them, but this is a very high-profile book, and it's been out for MONTHS. Anyway, it's good for me in the long run, as I have (many) other things to read.
* Still on order.
"Is your life lacking in hysterical sobbing and 24-hour binge watching of television in a language you don’t understand? Have you always craved an excuse to watch a genre of television that will destroy you so completely that watching someone robotically hug another person from behind is enough to break you into shattering tears? Do you need plotlines that include time traveling aliens and wealthy sons of industry who stand around bleakly with their hands in their pockets all the time? Do you like watching people get hella drunk in tents and then throw up around children’s playgrounds? Then Korean dramas are a thing that you need in your life, and for the first time since S1 of /report, Pru and Waldorph are here to deliver."
then listening to the gory details for 90 minutes and deciding, YES. This is EXACTLY what I need in my life.
( This is my life. This is my life on kdrama )
Scott's parents came. The four of us sat in the second row. We couldn't see Cordelia at all because she was directly on the other side of the orchestra teacher from where we were sitting. The orchestra went first and played two songs. Then there was a soloist, a drummer. Then there was singing. I think that was the lunch time choir that Cordelia declined to join. Then the band did four songs. After that, we were done.
I did take an Ativan before the concert. I probably could have gotten through without, but I didn't see any reason to do that to myself.
Scott is going to have more evening overtime for a while. He was hoping that there'd be less overtime because they actually hired someone on third shift, but they just fired someone on second shift. That means they need three people to stay late from first shift every single day until they fill some positions.
I have a bit of a headache. I'm trying to decide if it's enough to merit medication or if I should first try hitting it with some caffeine (I already had my morning coffee)
There's something weird going on with our internet-- I can get DW and the local public library website, but I can't get LJ, AO3 or Google. It seems unlikely that all three of those would go out simultaneously, but I can't figure out what would be wrong with our internet to block those three sites while still letting me reach other things. I'm only getting email from two of my five accounts. I can't tell whether or not chat is still there. The program I use doesn't tell me when it drops the connection. It just sits there, looking like no one's saying anything.
At any rate, if you're expecting to hear from me online today, I may or may not be able to get through. I may or may not get comments or other messages.
I hate when this happens. It makes me feel so very, very isolated.
A staggering seven years since his last novel for adults, The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie—winner of a bunch of Booker Prizes, including the Best Of and the Booker of Bookers—is ready to re-enter the literary fiction fray with a book said to blend “history, mythology and a timeless love story to bring alive a world that has been plunged into an age of unreason.”
Based on the Arabian Nights, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is “a rich and multifaceted work [inspired by] 2,000 years of storytelling tradition yet rooted in the concerns of our present moment.”
Comcast’s broadband market share just got a huge bump.
Yesterday, the FCC decided to raise minimum broadband speeds from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, over the objections of the cable industry, which has argued that it faces serious competition from DSL.
Comcast, the nation's largest Internet service provider, dominates the country at the higher speeds, in large part because today's DSL networks can't keep pace with cable. According to the company’s filings with the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast has more than half of all the customers in the United States with home Internet connections of at least 25Mbps.
Sega will be reducing its workforce significantly as it goes through a "group structure reform" to refocus on digital PC and mobile games, the Japanese publisher announced overnight.
As part of the plan, Sega will offer an early retirement package to "around 300" employees and seek to "rightsize" an undeclared number of other employees to reduce labor costs and streamline its packaged games business overseas. The company had about 2,200 employees as of the 2013 fiscal year.
Sega of America will also shut its San Francisco headquarters and move to southern California in a move to reduce fixed corporate expenses. A Sega representative tells Eurogamer that the restructuring will only affect "a limited number of staff" in Europe.