just out of curiosity

Jul. 31st, 2014 12:03 am
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
Is the Latin in Warhammer 40,000 any good?

Like, it looks suspiciously hashy in places to me, but my Latin was never good enough that I'd be able to tell. (And what the heck is Adeptus Astartes derived from anyway, for "Space Marines"?)

(I may read a grimdark 40k novel for fun after I finish reading this BattleTech novel...Vlad/Katrina 4eva! ♥)

wednesday reading

Jul. 30th, 2014 09:27 pm
cofax7: Zoe Washburn: Dong Ma? (FF - Zoe Dong Ma -- Sabine101)
[personal profile] cofax7
Currently reading: The Golem & the Jinni, courtesy of the public library e-book lending program. I'm quite enjoying it: it's quite well-written, and the characters are interesting and the world of late-19th Century NYC is very well-drawn.

Finished: Finally finished The Long Ships, which was entertaining but not surprising. Also Shattered Pillars, and I'm eagerly awaiting the library's purchase of Steles of the Sky.

Oh, and I did want to note Deborah Coates' Wide Open, which was a really good paranormal mystery. The characters are well-done, and the sense of place--rural South Dakota--is distinct and vivid. I really liked it, and one of the things I liked was that the paranormal element was just weird and unsettling: it wasn't paint-by-numbers magic, and everything was not, in fact, explained by the end. I will happily read more by this writer.

Up next: Not sure. Maybe the newest St. Mary's novel, which just dropped onto my Kindle. The St. Mary's novels are a series of madcap time-travel stories by Jodi Taylor: sort of Connie Willis-light, with an entertainingly bullish redheaded historian as the narrator. They're far from brilliant, but they're pretty entertaining: the series so far has included Mary Queen of Scots and the Earl of Bothwell, dinosaurs, the burning of the library of Alexandria, and the Seige of Troy. If this is the sort of thing you like, you might like these.


In other news, I made these chili-cherry brownies tonight and they came out very tasty! NOM.

In other other news, I'm apparently on a rewatch of SG-1, as I watched two more episodes of Season 2 tonight. Including "Holiday", in which we learn that RDA was really crap at playing anyone other than O'Neill. Chris Judge, however, must have had a ball, being able to emote so much.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I have owned this ever since that day long ago when I didn't remember to send back in the little SFBC card, which was one of my standard ways to diversify my library. Perhaps the success of that method explains why I am so comfortable letting other people choose my reading material now?

My copy is missing its dust jacket but the art is on isfdb and I wonder if the lackluster cover is why I passed this over for 30+ years?


I prefer the art on this this later edition but it's still not quite right.


I am not sure I actually ever read Riddle of Stars (I have a number of late-1970s SFBC books set aside for a rainy day). In fact a detail at the end of the first novel suggests strongly that I did not read it because it's the sort of detail that is quite memorable and I did not remember it.
Read more... )

Happiness is --

Jul. 30th, 2014 11:25 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
-- realizing that your back is hurting horribly from having spent too much time in your desk chair this week, so picking up your laptop and moving to the hammock on your front porch.

(It's a balmy 72 degrees outside right now.)
wiscon_posts: (Default)
[personal profile] wiscon_posts posting in [community profile] wiscon
The WisCon concom has begun the voting process in its appeal of the subcommittee's decision on Jim Frenkel. In addition to reviewing the subcommittee's decision, the concom is also considering information that has been brought to its attention in the weeks since the July 18th announcement from the subcommittee.

Voting will close over the weekend. The concom's decision will be announced Monday afternoon (Seattle time).
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Click here to view the embedded video.

“It’s based on a legend where three supremely powerful goddesses asked a worthless male mortal to rank them in order of attractiveness in order to win a sculpture of a fruit. Which says so much in such a short amount of time about ancient Greek sexual politics, I think.”

And then there’s the Japanese word tsundoku, which perfectly describes the state of my apartment.”

Did you ever think Cosmo would run an image of dermestid beetles nibbling on a goose carcass? Well they did.”

Rev. Maupin says that while he has never been a patron of the strip club, he was told by the owner that the dancers voted to give him their endorsement due to his support of issues important to workers: all-day kindergarten, an increased minimum wage, and making student loans more affordable.”

It just didn’t seem right, the Cincinnati mom [said], after she found her son’s ice cream sandwich sitting mostly intact on the patio table, 12 hours after he left it there, on an 80-degree day.”

Harriet“All I can tell you is that we have people that know how to make a Hydrox, that they might have made it in the past, maybe.”

American tabloids picked up the story, and gussied it up, and then the Internet arrived.”

“At many schools – although they may not know it – liberal arts majors are in effect helping to underwrite the high cost of science and technical education.”

“One time I was visiting a church and the pastor got up and started preaching a sermon about people not being related to apes, and he started talking about this scientist in Montana who discovered red blood cells in dinosaur bones — he didn’t know I was in the audience — and it was my research he was talking about! Unfortunately, he got everything wrong.”

“Say what you will of hypocrisy, at least it maintains the possibility of an ethos.”

“In other words, the way to make reason more comprehensible in today’s world is through revelation.”

“You could be the only person who gets it for somebody else out there.”

“Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.”

“So a guy walks into a bar one day and he can’t believe his eyes. There, in the corner, there’s this one-foot-tall man, in a little tuxedo, playing a tiny grand piano. …

Click here to view the embedded video.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

My theme for 2014 seems to be a year-long scramble to keep up on everything. As evidenced by the fact that I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT IN SIX DAYS!

Codex Born CoverOkay, it’s not a brand new book, but it is the mass market release of Codex Born, coming on August 5. And with that release, the ebook price should also be dropping very soon.

If you’ve been waiting for this, here’s a convenient set of links:

Amazon | B&N | BAMM | Mysterious Galaxy | Schuler Books | Indiebound

The paperback also includes the first few pages of Unbound, which comes out in January of next year.


Other stuff I’ve been meaning to talk about, or at least link to:

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Tor's publicists are swift indeed

Jul. 30th, 2014 04:54 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Three Max Gladstone novels in hand, mere days after my request. Even better, via a shipper whose office is a few minutes away by iExpress, not lost out in the wilderness so even if I not happened to be next to door and able to hear the tap, I could have just nipped over to snag it.

Media consumption Wesnesday

Jul. 30th, 2014 01:44 pm
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat

The Tuskegee Airmen
1995 made-for-HBO movie (supposedly very lavish for its time). Stars Laurence Fishburne. Historical film about the first African-American fighter pilot squadron in WWII. Supposedly fairly historically accurate.


Rhys Bowen, A Royal Pain (Her Royal Spyness series #2)
Audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Light historical mystery / romance series set in England and Scotland in the 1930s. Lady Georgiana is 34th in line to the throne and has a family mansion in London but no money, so she puts on a disguise and cleans people's houses for a living, while the Queen involves her in matchmaking schemes. The Lady Georgiana character is a foil for the more broadly comic characters she interacts with. Many of the characters are kind of stereotyped and Kellgren's voices are sometimes a little forced so I am not quite sure why I like this, but when it came time to pick a new audiobook I felt like downloading this one instead of starting any of the ones I already have.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Captain of the Pole Star"
Not a Sherlock Holmes story, more of a ghost story. I love Conan Doyle's writing and the way he draws characters so I thought the story was fun, although it's not as intricate as many of the Holmes stories. However, the audio version I had, narrated by Walter Covell, was awful.

Tananarive Due, The Good House
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Robin Miles. Due's second novel uses classic horror tropes about haunted houses and dysfunctional families with secrets and voodoo and multi-generational curses and small towns. But what's different from other horror stuff I've read is that every single one of her human characters is at least a little bit sympathetic and at least a little bit flawed. The protagonists are a mother and son, and there are occasional shifts to other characters' POVs. Race and racism are part of the their world but not constantly in the foreground. The horror comes from bad things happening to characters I care about, and characters making poor choices (either on their own or under outside influence) much more than from, e.g., the inherent ickiness of bodies (dead or alive). For example, mud and leaves aren't inherently scary, but when they show up in places they shouldn't be with no explanation, that is scary. The novel was longer and more rambly than I would have preferred, and there are a couple of plot points that I really disliked (one of these is a pretty big spoiler: (animal abuse, and a woman lying about having been raped [the "woman" is actually a demon in disguise, but it still bugged me]). But overall I'm glad I read it and if more horror were like this (making me feel "I really hope they figure a way out of this" instead of "everything is dooooomed for all time") I would read horror more often.

By the way, Due wrote a wonderful eulogy of Octavia Butler here: http://www.tananarivedue.com/octaviaebutler.htm

Rex Stout, The League of Frightened Men
Second book in the Nero Wolfe series. A while back, a fraternity hazing prank went wrong and resulted in a young man losing his leg. Now members of the fraternity are dying and it seems as if the man with one leg is murdering them, but nothing can be proved. The main plot was pretty easy to figure out but there were a couple of subplots that were more interesting. I really liked a lot of the Wolfe–Goodwin byplay in this one, but I don't think it's one of the best in the series.


Pure Hidden
This is a hidden object game with puzzles, but it has no plot laid on. It's kind of like an adult's activity box (many of the puzzles would also be suitable for children). You open boxes that grow on a vine and interact with what's inside, which include searching for different objects, searching for many of the same object, picture-assembly puzzles, pipe-fitting puzzles, apps that create music or pictures (one of them was that typing on the keyboard caused different kinds of flowers to grow on the screen). You're also occasionally decorating a bathroom. The images you put together or search inside are beautiful and come in many styles. Once you've finished an image, it becomes part of a gallery and you can set it as desktop wallpaper if you want. Different ambient music goes with each hidden object game, and the music also comes in many styles. You can play in an easy mode, with copious hints and the ability to skip many of the puzzles if you want; or you can play in a point-scoring mode (I didn't try this). The hints come in handy because at least on my non-Retina screen a few of the images were impossible to see. But otherwise this is a really great casual game.

I do not have a pet squirrel

Jul. 30th, 2014 04:31 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But I think the opportunity offered itself this afternoon.
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

I.e. I have already exposed my dr rdrz to thortz on Clutch of Constables and The Three Hostages, with passing comment on The Bridge (still not finished, but I got to the bit from the POV of the bisexual, academic historian, wife of the protag, who is probably most interesting and sympathique character in the book and ought to have left him years before she did).

Also read The Man in the Queue, which came up in a discussion on Tey and which happened to surface.

Reread Barbara Hambly, Good Man Friday, which was on my to reread list.

Indulgence: J D Robb novella,Taken in Death.

Currently reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah, which is amazing, as well as continuing to make my way through Women Destroy Science Fiction.

All the lonely people

Jul. 30th, 2014 07:49 pm
liv: Composite image of Han Solo and Princess Leia, labelled Hen Solo (gender)
[personal profile] liv
This is liable to be controversial, and I should emphasise that I'm trying to work out what to think here, not proclaiming the right answers.

So it happens that the latest Captain Awkward discussion is about loneliness and how it can be a vicious cycle, if you don't have enough fulfilling social contact you can become miserable and self-hating and push people away or think everyone's out to get you.

The Awkward Army are being very good at firmly squashing the idea that all problems are just caused by bad attitudes, and pointing out that plenty of people have disabilities or external circumstances meaning they can't "just" make more friends. But still, loneliness is one of those types of suffering that people seem to treat as mostly the sufferer's own fault; the most comparable example I can think of is physical fitness. Like somehow, if you're likeable enough, whatever likeable means, in a fallaciously just world you should have as many friends and lovers as you wish. But that means it's very common to assume that anyone who complains about being lonely must in fact be an obnoxious person. And problems which are stigmatized like that are particularly hard to tackle!

The other thing is that "lonely" means two related, but to my mind different, things. Sometimes it means not having enough social contact, but sometimes it means not having a romantic partner. Or perhaps more precisely, the feelings of sadness and inadequacy that come from not having those connections. A really striking example is the guy in the Captain Awkward comments who says
The article is bull. I am horribly lonely. I shoot pool with friends once a week. I go to church every week. I go out to a party every month. I am active in two local communities. I have hundreds of friends [...]
I mean, sure, it's possible to be lonely in a crowd, but it's clear from the rest of the comment and subsequent thread that what's eating this guy is that he's middle-aged and doesn't have and never has had a romantic partner. And being stuck without a partner but wanting one means being perceived as a failure, to an extent that really worries me.

I think loneliness is a very serious problem, and from what I can understand a pretty widespread one. Some people are lonely because they're obnoxious, yes, but it's still a problem; you have to be a lot worse than just obnoxious to deserve how miserable it can be to be deprived of meaningful contact and emotional support. Anyway, lots of entirely lovely people are lonely because they have other stuff going on making it hard to make friends, or because they're just plain unlucky. That includes the not having a spouse-type partner side of being lonely. It's easy enough to say that marriage isn't everything, that people should be able to manage without that specific type of relationship set-up, but the fact is that lots of parts of society are set up so that it's really hard to function at all if you're not in a romantic dyad. Also, it's perfectly reasonable for an individual to want that in their life, even if it's not necessarily the only road to happiness for everybody.

This issue also intersects with gender stuff; people of all genders can be lonely, and people of all genders can be excluded because they don't have a spouse or aren't romantically "successful" as society measures it. But I'm getting the strong impression that there are aspects of this problem that affect men specifically, and that there are very few sensible conversations covering male experiences of loneliness. I doubt we can magically fix this, but I'd most certainly like to start some discussion if I can.

One thing that prompted me to think about related issues is Lis Coburn's essay Anatomy of a scar, which has an original and really insightful take on what's sometimes called the Nice Guy™ phenomenon. In some ways Coburn is much more sympathetic than a lot of the folk on the internet who use the term Nice Guy™, while she also buys into the idea that Nice Guys, men who are upset because they don't have a girlfriend even though they do their best to behave decently and treat women well, are potentially dangerous misogynists.

wild speculation about gender and relationships )
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Posted by Fred Clark

The Gospel of Matthew ends with Jesus giving his disciples one last charge, what has come to be called the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

What does that mean, “make disciples”?

Well, one thing that can help us understand the Great Commission is the latest buzz from the set of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. The rumor has been confirmed: Andy Serkis will be playing a small part in the movie.

Warner Bros. photo of Andy Serkis at work via Screen Crush article at link.

Warner Bros. photo of Andy Serkis at work via Screen Crush (click photo for link).

Serkis is a movie star, but he’s not a familiar face. He played Smeagol/Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies. He played Caesar in the recent Planet of the Apes movies. He played King Kong. All of those characters appeared on screen as computer-generated graphic animations, but their movement — their acting — wasn’t the product of animators. It was the result of an actor, Serkis, doing a new kind of acting involving performance-capture technology.

Like most people, I don’t really know how that works, exactly. Most actors don’t really know how that works, exactly. Actors have been performing and perfecting their craft, passing it down to the next generation, for centuries, but this is something new. And the first actor to figure it out, to master this new means of performing, is Andy Serkis.

Serkis now has a consulting company that helps teach other actors, directors and filmmakers learn this new form of their craft. That’s part of why he wound up on the set of Avengers 2 — Marvel Studios hired his company to help their company as a business transaction.

But it wasn’t only a business transaction. Andy Serkis was able to master the technological craft of motion-capture acting because he loves acting and he is committed to doing it right. That commitment to the thing itself compels him to help others who are trying to get it right. James Spader and Mark Ruffalo and Paul Bettany are talented actors, but they haven’t yet learned to do what Serkis has learned to do, so he goes and teaches them.

He’s making apprentices, which is to say, he’s making disciples.

Here’s video of one of those apprentices/disciples, Spader, gushing with gratitude and praise for what he was able to learn from working with Serkis.

The tone of that reminds me of this, from the comments to an article I linked to a while back, “I Was Tony Gwynn’s Bat Boy“:

I was playing JUCO at Grossmont, and was working for the San Diego School of Baseball at the time as an assistant (shag balls, set up, clean up, basically do whatever they ask). One afternoon after one of the hitting clinics was over, there were 2 of us assistants hanging around getting things cleaned up. Tony stayed late to sign autographs for every kid in attendance (well over 1000). I had spoken quite a bit to Tony over the year, he knew me, he addressed me by name, he never made me feel like just a random person, anyways as he was walking out one day, he asked me how my season was going. I was doing pretty good, and had been working on taking the ball the other way (as a lefty) so I brought up my approach to him.

He put down his stuff and went into the cage with me, asking me to show him rather than tell him. For about 15 mins he sat and watched as I attempted to replicate his 5.5 approach. … He didn’t say anything for 15 mins. …

After I was done he took a few swings, and showed me a couple tips. It was amazing. When he hit in the cage, he wasnt that 5.5 guy, and he explained to me that when he is at the plate his approach is always to hit it through the pitchers legs, cause there is nobody there to get you out. So while hitting he proceeded to hit 10 consecutive pitches right back through the hole in the net where the ball came out (roughly the size of a softball) I was in shock. He told me also that if you work on hitting the ball the other way in the cages, when you get in the game that pitch is going to be coming a little faster, and you are going to foul a lot of pitches off, which made sense.

To wrap up, I thanked Tony and started about my cleanup, he said goodbye and was walking to his car, when I saw that 32-30 still leaned against the cage with a pair of brand new Franklin batting gloves on it (the ones he wore that day at the camp) I grabbed them and chased him to his car, saying Tony you forgot your stuff, to which he replied.

“Those aren’t mine D.”

That’s what making disciples looks like.

What’s going on there? Partly what we see is Gwynn’s generosity toward a young ballplayer, but if it were only that — only his kindness to another person — then he could’ve just autographed that famously tiny 32-inch, 30-ounce bat and given it to the kid and driven home. But Gwynn was compelled to stay and help this kid become a better hitter because Tony Gwynn loved hitting. He loved the discipline of it. He had devoted much of his life to perfecting that discipline and that craft, to getting it right. That devotion meant he couldn’t ever be satisfied with just doing that himself — hitting his way to Cooperstown while almost never striking out. It also meant that he would drop everything to study the swing of a junior college novice, watching, listening, and then showing him how to practice and what to practice, leaving behind a little bit of equipment and a big dose of inspiration.

There are all kinds of books we can read about hitting, or about acting, and plenty of those books probably include lots of practical wisdom and sound advice. But we can’t really learn to do those things by reading books. To learn to do them properly, we have to pick up a bat or step on a stage. We can learn a bit on our own, by trial and error (and error and error and error …), but it’s better to learn from someone else who has been studying and practicing the discipline for a long time.

That’s what it means to become disciples. And that, of course, is the necessary first step for anyone who wants to eventually make disciples.

In Memoriam

Jul. 30th, 2014 11:05 am
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
  • Margot Adler, journalist and writer (also the founder of WBAI's Hour of the Wolf, for which I used to get myself conscious at 5 AM and switch on the radio.  I met her a few times).
  • James Shigeta, actor.
  • Bel Kaufman, Up the Down Staircase.


Jul. 30th, 2014 09:59 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase

Now to see if it can get to size and ripen before the birds find it. Somehow I doubt that'll happen. :D

Cut for pic of our Gardening for Dummies-type garden, taken last week )


cynthia1960: me from Wiscon Chronicles v. 3 (Default)

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