Getting old is kind of a drag, but at least there is lots of guidance for dealing with back pain. (Not all of these will work for everyone, etc etc.)
Nom, I shall have to make this at some point.
I did not expect to find in this essay about Watership Down such a clear statement of the thesis of Carpetbaggers: There is ... more to being in a position of authority than getting to boss people around; might does not make right; "leadership" is our society's debased shadow of something more than a mere gimmick to make other people do what you want; that neither having all the answers nor having it all together are the requirement for Kingship nor its identifying characteristic; that the King and his energy are not optional, but not necessarily tyrannical; that for all that some are born with talents and inclinations in that direction, the craft of Kingship is always something learned.
... although, reading on, I can see that there is more I could have done there. Ah, well. Live and learn.
Noted for this weekend: I'm going to taste pinots with my oldest friend in the world. Yay!
The #hometovote hashtag on Twitter is really inspiring. If you don't know what that is: it's Irish expatriates traveling home to vote in the referendum on marriage equality. Rock on.
Planet Money posted a guide to determining whether your job will be automated. My job doesn't even show up on the list, although several similar jobs seem safely un-automatable.
I did go see Mad Max: Fury Road the other day, and although my ears are still ringing, it was hella fun.
Job situation: not resolved, but signs are looking better.
I missed reading Wednesday, but:
Just Finished: English Creek by Ivan Doig. So very much a book about a specific place and time. Suffers a bit in comparison with Molly Gloss, although they are doing different things. But so very vivid and well-written and small-towny.
Currently reading: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, as noted above. Fun!
Up next: Maybe Hugh Howey's Silo, or some Flaubert for book club.
And now back to my book, as my laptop battery is dying...
Epic literature has always interested you very much, hasn’t it?
Always, yes. For example, there are many people who go to the cinema and cry. That has always happened: It has happened to me also. But I have never cried over sob stuff, or the pathetic episodes. But, for example, when I saw the first gangster films of Joseph von Sternberg, I remember that when there was anything epic about them—I mean Chicago gangsters dying bravely—well, I felt that my eyes were full of tears. I have felt epic poetry far more than lyric or elegy. I always felt that. Now that may be, perhaps, because I come from military stock. My grandfather, Colonel Francisco Borges Lafinur, fought in the border warfare with the Indians, and he died in a revolution; my great-grandfather, Colonel Suárez, led a Peruvian cavalry charge in one of the last great battles against the Spaniards; another great-great-uncle of mine led the vanguard of San Martin’s army—that kind of thing. And I had, well, one of my great-great-grandmothers was a sister of Rosas—I’m not especially proud of that relationship because I think of Rosas as being a kind of Perón in his day; but still all those things link me with Argentine history and also with the idea of a man’s having to be brave, no?
But the characters you pick as your epic heroes—the gangster, for example—are not usually thought of as epic, are they? Yet you seem to find the epic there?
I think there is a kind of, perhaps, of low epic in him—no?
—an interview with Jorge Luis Borges
--Signed, newbie cat slave
• A Unitarian minister in Alabama was fined $250 and sentenced to six months of probation for “disorderly conduct.” Her crime? She was trying to conduct a wedding for a lesbian couple who had already secured a legal marriage license.
My guess is that Todd Starnes and the rest of the Christian hegemons whinging about imaginary “persecution of Christians” won’t be rallying behind this minister crying “Religious liberty!” But then, for Starnes et. al., Unitarians don’t count as Real, True Christians (except for the ones who also signed the Declaration of Independence and/or served as president), and “religious liberty” is reserved only for RTCs.
(I fully appreciate that others are likely to arrive at the point at which this is no longer funny before I personally arrive there. But I’m not there yet.)
• Rival white motorcycle gangs got in a shootout in Waco, Texas, leaving nine of them dead. Matthew Hagee says this is a sign of the End Times. Because, for the Hagees, everything is a sign of the End Times.
“The Bible says that in the End Times, lawlessness would abound,” Hagee said. This is what utter devotion to the Narrative of Decline does to your brain. He saw news of the shootout and concluded that the Rapture must be about to happen because lawlessness has reached an all-time high in Waco — the city that previously gave its name to the Waco Siege and the Waco Horror.
• Anne Graham Lotz cites far more generic signs of the End Times, but like the Hagees she’s convinced that those signs are clear and the Rapture is overdue. And she’s willing to offer a fairly specific time-range for that prediction: “I believe that in my lifetime, if I live out my lifetime, a natural lifetime, I believe I will live to see the return of Jesus in the Rapture when he comes back to take us to be with himself.”
Lotz is 67, but her dad is still hanging in there at 96, so let’s estimate this “natural lifetime” to be, say, the next 30 years. Put a marker on 2045. If Left Behind doesn’t turn into a documentary between now and then, then we’ll all know that Anne Graham Lotz is full of it.
Of course, the beauty of this prediction is that, by design, she won’t be around to have to defend herself once she’s been proved wrong. Like climate-denialists, she’s making a death bet. And, like all death bets, it’s based on the moral principle of “Screw everyone else, I’m getting mine and who cares about anybody else once I’m dead?”
It’s moral principles like that that make me think of Anne Graham Lotz as Franklin’s sister rather than as Billy’s daughter.
• Sikhs have a rule that says they cannot remove their turbans and uncover their heads publicly. But it is not their only rule and it is not the Most Important Thing (via):
A young Sikh man has been praised for breaking religious protocol and using his turban to cradle the head of an injured child in Auckland.
Harman Singh, 22, was one of the first at the scene after a 5-year-old was hit by a car while walking to school.
Singh said he didn’t think twice about removing his Siropao (turban) to help the child, who was bleeding from the head.
“I wasn’t thinking about the turban. I was thinking about the accident and I just thought, ‘He needs something on his head because he’s bleeding.’ That’s my job – to help,” Singh told nzherald.co.nz.
• That story recalls the story in the Gospels of Jesus healing a woman’s spine on the Sabbath. And also the story in the Gospels of Jesus healing a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. Matthew’s story is slightly different from Mark’s, and the story in Luke is different enough that it might be a completely separate story. Or not. So how are they all related? Which story came first? Is one more “accurate” than the others, or does that question miss the whole point?
This brings us back to the always-fascinating synoptic problem — which Paul Davidson continues to discuss here.
I’m one of 474 Creative Market shops donating some or all of their shop proceeds for the Month of May to Nepal earthquake relief efforts. Creative Market will match shopowners up to $20,000. I’m donating 50%.
Throughout the month of May, participating Creative Market shops will donate up to 100% of their earnings to Nepal disaster relief. And in partnership with the Autodesk Foundation, we’ll also match the first $20,000! These funds will be sent to All Hands, a non-profit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. So purchase great design assets, and join us in our efforts to help Nepal.
Together, we can make a difference.
At this point, I only have one product in my shop grunge textures photographed off the front of an M60 Sherman tank. It sells for $7, my usual royalty is 70% ($4.90), so half of that ($2.45) will be going to All Hands for each sale.
If that’s not your thing, and you buy some other participating store’s products by starting at this link, you’ll help both Nepal relief and me.
(Note: I did previously post this on my desamo.graphics blog, but the way the two blogs propagate to third parties is different.)
Al Mohler still hasn’t given up on his awkward crusade to turn “erotic liberty” into a hot new buzz-phrase. He seems certain this is clever — and wholly unaware that he sounds like poor Gretchen from Mean Girls trying too hard to make “fetch” happen.
Apart from just sounding silly — I’ve noted earlier that “Erotic Liberty” sounds like a bootleg album from Prince or P-funk, or like a “new reality series from Cinemax exposing the sordid post-curfew nightlife of Jerry Falwell’s flagship fundamentalist university in Virginia” — it’s also a dehumanizing reductionist insult. It’s intended to be a dehumanizing, reductionist insult. Straight-married white Christians, Mohler is suggesting, are capable of love. But LBGT people, he is saying, are capable only of “erotic” lust.
The nastiness of this newfangled slur is transparent and deliberate. Al Mohler is pushing the phrase “erotic liberty” because he wants to be a jerk. And, well, that’s one aspect of this effort that’s actually working — it’s certainly succeeding in making Mohler more of a jerk. (See Brian Pellot’s Religion News Service piece “Al Mohler’s ‘erotic liberty’ is an offensive misnomer for LGBT rights” and my earlier post “Al Mohler’s ‘erotic liberty’ is a sinful, unbiblical, indecent, nasty lie“).
Inventing new dehumanizing slurs might help Mohler to rally his most-committed troops, but it’s not an effective approach to persuading any of his would-be followers who might not already be 100-percent devoted to Mohlerism. Yes, I’m sure that when they first heard him try out the phrase, Denny Burk and Owen Strachan said, “Awesome, boss! That’s great! Someday I hope I’m just like you!” But that’s what they say in response to everything Mohler says, and outside of his circle of obsequious henchmen, this “erotic liberty” business is a punchline and a horrifying embarrassment.
Perhaps the main reason the phrase is so ridiculous is Mohler’s inability to understand how it is heard and perceived by anyone who’s not desperately seeking tenure at Southern seminary or Boyce College. Mohler and his circle can only hear “erotic liberty” as an accusation, but the rest of the world hears it as an unconscious confession. The phrase, as Mohler is trying to use it, only makes sense if you accept Mohler’s premise — which is that “erotic” has, and can only have, negative connotations. For Mohler and his Mohlerettes, “erotic” means dirty. It means sex — and sex is a bad, naughty, nasty, filthy thing. (And not, like, the good kind of naughty, nasty or filthy.) For Mohler, in other words, “erotic” means “shameful.”
Thus the vast gulf between what Mohler intends his new slur to communicate and what the rest of us actually hear whenever he employs it. He denounces “erotic liberty” intending us to understand that LGBT people are subhuman beasts, slaves to their genitalia who are incapable of the emotional and spiritual depth we fully human persons possess.
But every time he says “erotic liberty” and tries yet again to make this buzz-phrase a thing, all the rest of us can hear him saying is this: “I, Richard Albert Mohler Jr., am deeply ashamed that I have a penis and that it sometimes gets hard.”
And, yes, that makes us laugh — and, yes, we’re laughing at him. But it’s a nervous laughter, tinged with sadness and pity for this miserable creature so horribly uncomfortable in his own skin — so horribly uncomfortable that he has skin. For Mohler, this apparently goes beyond the mortification of the flesh. He’s mortified by his flesh. His confession is unwitting and unaware, but it’s so vulnerable and nakedly genuine that we can’t help but feel that tinge of pity even despite his making that confession in the midst of his attempt to insult, demean and dehumanize others in order to deny them their civil rights and human dignity.
But there are other important reasons that “erotic liberty” will never work as the slogan Mohler thinks it can become. To consider those, we will have to do something Mohler himself is apparently incapable of doing — which is to set aside all thoughts of the shamefulness of Mohler’s penis in order to consider what this phrase, “erotic liberty,” could possibly mean legally.
What could it possibly mean to say that citizens’ “erotic liberty” is not their essential human right, but some kind of limited, contingent privilege to be monitored and regulated by the state? What would it mean to empower the state with the authority to carry out such monitoring and regulation? Could any state so empowered to govern the most intimate thoughts and consensual deeds of its subjects be limited or restrained in any other area? I don’t see how.
Mohler is determined to invent a false and weird conflict between “erotic liberty” and “religious liberty,” but the two things — as actual meaningful concepts rather than pliable slogans and epithets — are actually closely linked. Both belong to the category of things that must be regarded as intrinsic human rights because any state empowered to monitor or regulate them would be invited to become totalitarian.
So again, please, Al Mohler: Stop making the rest of us have to think about your penis. Stop trying to make “erotic liberty” your hot new slogan. You’re not doing what you think you’re doing. It’s not working.
I applied, and was accepted, to the one-week Advanced Icelandic Vocabulary and Reading course in charming, cosmopolitan Suðureyri. This involved painstakingly writing out a 100-word personal statement in Icelandic over several days after procrastinating for several weeks. The course is a CEFR B2 level and my powers of expression in Icelandic are nowhere near B2 (neither are my powers of reading, honestly - more a B1+), so naturally I'd expected to be rejected out of hand. Even though I'm sure the main criteria for acceptance are "do you want to improve your reading knowledge of Icelandic in charming, cosmopolitan Suðureyri?" and "do you have 300 Euro that you would like to give us?" (The course fee includes materials, five days of lunch, and transport to and from the airport which is a good twenty minutes away, so really rather reasonable.)
My itinerary looks as follows:
• Flying from Birmingham to Keflavik, a nice short hop in the afternoon.
• Late evening flight the same day from Reykjavik to Akureyri.
• A whole full day in Akureyri. Might do this tour if I'm feeling energetic.
• Then all day on a coach back to Reykjavik - sort of the point of the whole jaunt as it's right across the deserts of the highlands, which I've always wanted to see.
• Evening flight the following day up to the Westfjords for my course. Study; peace, quiet and fresh air; and a hot tub with lovely views of the snowcapped mountains. I even have a private room for this week. Luxury I tell you.
• A week later, back to Reykjavik and a couple of days relaxing there before I fly back to the UK.
I think it looks good! I need to check tomorrow if I've missed any nights in the process of stitching together my itinerary as it's sometimes difficult to keep track of the days of the week...
If it's anything as good as last year's trip it will be very good indeed!
I'm @vicki on twitter (I signed up early and then ignored it for ages).
Which cover design???
something else I will specify in comments
tacky ticky techie
This is for an ebook collection of the flash fairy tales, The Fox's Tower & Other Tales. I can't decide which of these two cover designs works better. Votes?
(And OMG, I still cannot get over what a fantastic job the cover illustrator, Mariya Olshevska, did. Worth every penny.)
What I read
Points of Departure was lovely - thought that the stories here hung together as a group even if I might at some point go dig out my Liavek anthologies to remind myself about various characters who were on the peripherals here.
More reading for Wiscon panels - finished the Melissa Scott trilogy which did not quite match up to the fond memories I had of it, also, had forgotten enough of final vol that couldn't tell what changes were in the revised end.
Diane Duane's Tale of the Five however holding up a lot better.
Didn't remember anything much about Emily Devenport, Scorpianne and on re-read not surprised as it struck me as not very good.
'Gordon Kendall', White Wing, still pretty readable though.
Also inhaled several Jane Duncan My Friend books as travel angst reading.
On the go
Still only part-way through The Door into Sunset.
Not sure I will have much reading time over next few days!
My mother, who had been great up to that point (and as we know is generally great these days), said something to the effect of "Ugh, I don't think it's fair that any one group should get the monopoly on bits of clothing and what they mean."
That's the context; this is my attempt to put my thoughts in order enough to e-mail her an explanation. (It's extremely focussed on the context of choosing to make legible otherwise invisible characteristics; obviously I'm leaving a very great deal out for the sake of Explaining Stuff To My Mum.)
( Read more... )
Two excerpts today. Double your pleasure, double your fun, or something like that…
Excerpt the First:
Slash pushed him roughly to the other side of the tunnel. “See that patch?”
Jig stared. The ground was dusty rock, the same as the rest of the tunnels.
“We spread a mix of blood, rock serpent venom, and diluted honey there. The venom keeps the blood from clotting, and the honey makes it stick to whoever steps in it.” Slash licked his lips. “The tunnel-cats love the stuff. If you step inside the lair wearing that scent, they’ll be on you before you can draw your sword.”
Before Jig could say anything, Slash was yanking his arm again. “Watch out for those spikes.” Jig had to squint to see the tiny metal shards resting on the ground.
“They’re so small.”
“And they’re coated in lizard-fish toxin,” Slash said.
Oh. Jig looked at the hobgoblins with new respect. If he tried to set up such traps to protect the goblin lair, the only thing he’d accomplish was to kill off half of the goblins.
Happy Bonus Excerpt:
When the hobgoblins materialized beside him, Jig jumped so hard he knocked Smudge to the ground. “Where did they come from?” he asked as he retrieved his fallen spider.
“Author’s tweaking the storyline again,” Grell muttered. She glared at the sky. “Try writing an outline, ya damn hack!”
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.